“Owaru no Sekai” - A World Which Has Ended. A short story detailing the days of a young girl who finds herself all alone inside a world which has ended.
“This is a world which has ended.” The girl extends her arm as though inviting some invisible spirit to join her.
“Inside this room there is only a wooden table with a single chair.” Her hand indicates both pieces of furniture. “ This building is old, with no signs of its original function remaining.”
She remains quiet for a moment, then speaks again, more subdued: “It was empty like now when I awoke here in this place.”
She turns towards the large window behind her.
“Outside the window of this room I can see only a wasteland lit by a dim sky. Only silence lurks between the buildings of the city, a city deserted by its people. Whenever I go outside the room, I walk through empty streets, watched upon by the empty eyes of deserted buildings.
“There are no friends in this world. No enemies either. There is nothing left but the last memories of existence. The dim luminance invaded by these drops of pure light, which slowly descend to the ground like tears from the skies.”
The girl moves to arrange a pile of seemingly random parts from various mechanical and electronic devices which are lying on the table. Her slender pale hand caresses some of them. As she moves her head forward a bit her blonde hair falls around her face.
“Why I'm here in this world I do not know. I do not even remember the people who once lived in this city... it's as though I'm a ghost trapped forever in the last illusion of life. Yet I have not a single memory of this place, this city, this room. It often makes me wonder whether any of this is real, if anything can ever be defined as such.”
Her gaze wanders about the room. Suddenly a hint of a smile plays around the corners of her mouth.
“How long I have been here? I don't know, there are no days or nights, no time pieces indicating any flow of time. I only know that I have always been alone.”
The girl focuses again on the parts lying on the table. Reaching for a particular component, she lifts it between a thumb and finger and holds it up for a moment, then reaches forward, as though placing the component somewhere.
Suddenly I can see where she placed the component; it's a collection of parts, assembled in such a way as to roughly resemble a humanoid figure, the size of a small child, only without any of the elegance. Its eyes, or at least the non-symmetric parts resembling eyes, look straight ahead, without any thought behind them. None of its limbs show sign of movement as it stands there on the bare wooden floor.
Curiously, the girl picks up another part from the pile and inserts it somewhere in the head portion of the figure. Using a crudely shaped screwdriver from a collection of tools lying elsewhere on the table, she seems to turn something inside the head section until a sudden click can be heard. Satisfied, she puts away the screwdriver and squats down in front of the figure.
“Now, can you move?” She says in a voice which suggests that she fully expects the figure to do exactly that. A sudden flash of... pity? I don't remember feeling anything before.
Before I can think anything else, however, I feel something has changed. It's not the room, the girl or the figure. A sudden thought flashes through me, of how nice it would be if that figure could really move and be a companion of some sorts to the girl. Almost immediately the crudely formed left arm of the figure moves forward by a small amount.
Intrigued, I explore some more and suddenly find myself looking through the eyes of the figure, as though I have been sucked into its head. I can also see the room from outside the figure, which is confusing. The figure's body feels clumsy, at least as much a miss-mash of parts as it appears, but it feels sturdy. It does, however, seem to lack a mouth.
The girl, seeing the figure's (my?) arm move excitedly claps her hands, smiling happily.
* * * * *
I do not remember how long after that moment we spent together in that room, with her talking about all her experiences, things she had seen, theories and everything else she seemingly could come up with, and me listening to her every word, occasionally moving one of my arms as to indicate something, or least to attempt to do so. It is hard to communicate when one's body is a nearly random gathering of miss-matched parts, yet things still feel right.
“I wonder who you are.” She suddenly says, after finishing an earlier line of thought. “I haven't met anyone in this entire world, or what's left of it, and yet you are here.”
I respond by moving my arms to and from, as to indicate that I do not know the answer either. I wish I could tell her that I do not remember anything other than this room, but I think she somehow understands.
Startled, I suddenly notice that she has leaped up to her feet from her previous sitting position. She smiles and says while looking at me: “I know, let me show you the outside world, and my favourite place.” I move my left arm. Still smiling, she takes a hold of my left hand and together we walk out of the door, towards the outside I have only glimpsed before via the window.
As it turns out, the world outside the room is even more impressive than I could have imagined. The light has a yellowish-golden tint to it, like that of a sunset ('what's a sunset?'), making everything look even darker. Abandoned, ruinous buildings line the streets we traverse, yet it is hard to tell whether anything but time caused them to look like this. Small sparks of light gently float down from the sky above us, disappearing the moment they reach the ground.
After what seems like an eternity, if such a thing is possible in this time-less place, we arrive at what must be the limit of the city; a landscape formed by countless hills covered with long, green-golden grass. A gentle breeze stirs the grass, like the waves on a lake.
As we reach the top of one hill, the girl stops and lets go of my hand. She turns around to look at the infinite, golden hills around her and closes her eyes as the breeze caresses her face. As I watch her I suddenly realize that 'eternity' as a word can have many meanings as an intense feeling of peace descends upon me.