On the last day of Marshall Lawrence Rawlings life he didn’t have any money left to burn to stay warm. His eyes opened as the dawn had started to lighten the night sky and peered in through the white sheers covering the windows surrounding the room that he lay in. He awoke on the couch in an expansive vacant room and threw the old plaid wool blanket that covered him to the side and he sat up. He let out a sigh and could taste last nights bourbon in the back of his throat. The taste was thick on his tongue. His head was spinning and throbbing at the same time, but all of that stopped as he sat up fully, swung his legs out and placed his feet on the hard cold wood floor below him. He wasn’t sure if he was hungover yet, or still drunk from the night before, but he knew whichever it was to become in the next hours it would leave his head and stomach numb from the pain of the day before. He ran his hands over his unshaven face and through his hair, pushing it back from his forehead. His palms rubbed the nights sleep from his eyes until he opened them and took a moment to adjust focus on the objects on the table in front of him. A half empty bottle, a small glass with light brown water from melted ice, and a handgun. He looked around for a while for someone to talk to before he remembered he was the only one there. The house was vacant, except for him.
Marshall lived in a large multimillion dollar home that sat on top of a broad hill that overlooked the entire neighborhood. The home was sleek and modern, comprised of crisp edges and corners and white walls inside and out to brighten the open space that was surrounded by large windows that did little to separate the inside from the outside world. The home contained ten bedrooms and double as many bathrooms. There were four levels including the theater and a bar and game room in the basement. A pool and sun deck were on the split level roof. He’d lived in the house alone for sometime and the eerie echo of the silence was beginning to get to him. The home had been well kept for years wile his family had inhabited it. Marshall and his wife had designed and constructed the house some years before. Before she had become too ill to function. The style on the inside was crisp and clean and modern. Everything was designed with edges and corners, nothing was circular. Everything had a distinguishable beginning and an end. Both he and his wife were minimalists in their younger years, so there was not any clutter or any items laid out around the house that didn’t serve a functional purpose. Somewhere along the way she had been debilitated by her sickness and could no longer take care of the house, and he had brought in a maid to take over. But that was long ago. The lack of a good cleaning in a long time was evident and had left the house in a state of disarray. A thin layer of dust glimmered in the sunlight the windows let in. But it was hard to tell, even with the sunlight peering through the windows and reflecting off the white walls, the house was dimly lit. The lights had been turned off for months as there was no electricity. The pantry was empty. The refrigerator was empty and the door hung open. There was no running water.
His family was gone. His parents and other relatives. His wife. His children. His friends. His neighbors. His coworkers. His dog. They were all dead now. Marshall looked out the large windows into the distance but there was no sign of life in the surrounding homes. There was no movement outside whereas there would usually be people getting ready to start their day. Lawn sprinklers would be spritzing, garbage trucks would be beeping as the reversed to pick up the trash, garages would be opening as cars pulling out the drive as people left for work. School buses would be passing by and stopping to pick kids up for the short ride to school, after which women and housewives would be walking dogs and jogging around the neighborhood on the many side walks. But there wasn’t any of that now. There hadn’t been for many months. Marshall hadn’t seen or talked to anyone outside his home in months. He stood up from the couch and walked to the window. He looked out into the distance and could see the large extravagant homes and the many acres that each sat on in the valley below. In the past he enjoyed counting the roof peaks on each of the surrounding homes and comparing them. None of that mattered now. He stared across the entire subdivision at the gate that blocked his neighborhood from the rest of the word. He knew that it no longer separated anything from anything else.
He could feel the tears forming first from his throat as he choked up, but his eyes were too dry to produce any tears. The pain from the day before was back, he looked towards the half empty bottle of whiskey on the table. He had been forced to live with the outcome of his decisions. An irreversible consequence of the scientific discovery that he was solely responsible for. He sold it to the entirety of the human population thinking it would change lives everywhere for the better. He now knew that he was the sole reason that everything around him had been lost. The earth was dismal and devastated. Humankind was decimated. All animals and insects were gone. The remaining natural plants struggled to survive. The weather was unpredictable and rash. These were the unforeseen consequences of what he had once said was well within human nature. He could still hear his own voice say, ‘anything that humankind can conceive is essentially within the boundaries of human nature, so why should we stifle our own potential with these unnatural rules and regulations.’ He wished he didn’t now realize that he’d been so wrong. None of it was natural. But it didn’t matter now. It was too late to save all that had been lost. As he gazed out the window his eyes glazed over and the world blurred. He could see where he’d gone wrong. It came clearly into focus now as he reminisced how the end had all began. He remembered how he had single handedly started what was termed at the starting point to be a pivotal point in human evolution and global sustenance. Somewhere between the audiences clapping and cheering in vigorous acceptance, and the silence that now deafened his ears, he was surprised that he could still sense his own humility from years before the flood of fame, fortune, and irreversible devastation had taken hold.