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Lifespan
By
paulus

Lifespan

He was old. Older than anything he knew, except maybe that murderous sun and this planet, it was roasting. As far as he knew, he was the only living thing left, and his time was running out.

The sun used to be hot when he was young too. But that was not the same kind of hot. It was nice then, to be on the surface of the cool water, feeling the rays of the sun pooring warmth into his body. He wasn't alone then, there were others like him, swimming in the same ocean, hunting the abundant fish, enjoying life. The oceans were filled with life then, and so was what he could see of the land above the surface. Lush green woods, grassy dunes, lots of animals, most reptilian like himself. And even in the sky there was life. Big animals with leathery wings slowly flew overhead, looking for prey. There was also other heat than the sun's, where the insides of the planet seeped out through the crust, red hot, turning the cool water into a painfull mass. It would cool down and turn into solid black rock, still to hot to touch. But there too life teemed. Life was good back then.

That all changed, when something really big fell from the sky and slammed into the ocean. Giant waves turned the waters into churning masses, crashing over the edges of the ocean, taking everything with it, destroying all in it's path. He had been taken by the water too, far away from the places he knew and far away from the creatures he knew. He searched but found no others of his kind. And then the warm sun dissappeared. A grey shroud covered the sky, shutting out the light of the sun and its warmth too. The once green coasts became barren, frozen landscapes. Almost everything green withered and died, and with it, first the planteaters, followed by the ones that ate the planteaters. Only small creatures survived, small enough to hide from the cold. The oceans cooled too, but there was always the deeper water, where darkness had always reigned, and where the freezing cold could not reach. But life dwindled there too. He had searched every piece of ocean he could reach, but never found any of his kind again.

When, after many, many years the shroud started to lift from the sky, and the sun was able to give some light and warmth again, slowly life returned, though everything was different know. The plants seemed less lush, but sturdier. Not as fastgrowing but with longer lifespans. Where once large reptiles had walked, now smaller hairy creatures had appeared. Even in the oceans, his oceans life had changed. There too all the large reptiles had gone, except for himself. For some reason he had survived it all and now he was alone. Ever searching he swam around, from ocean to sea, from sea to river, from river to ocean. Food, fish, became abundant again, but he remained alone. As years grew into centuries and centuries into eras, he witnessed the lands change. He saw continents drift apart and collide, rivermouths come into existance, move, and disappeare. He saw new species coming, some to disappear soon again, some to stay, he saw species go extinct, and somehow, inexplicably, he remained as he was.

He watched as two-legged creatures started to spread and started to reshape the world. Curious he hid in a long and narrow lake in a mountainous land and watched as the creatures developed, changing the face of the planet ever more. They even started to change the air and the oceans with all their waste. And he was spotted by them, and for a long period of time they searched for him in their small and noisy floating contraptions dragging all kinds of strange objects along under water. Some of them buzzed, others pinged, and some even sent out bright flashes of light. Eventually he had quietly moved out of that water and back into the oceans, where nobody would detect him.

He had suffered, as those twoleggers poisoned the waters and the air, and as they dragged almost all the fish out of the ocean. He managed to avoid attention, but other large oceandwellers, friendly and intelligent creatures, some even larger than himself, were mercilessly hunted and butchered. Slowly the twolegged creatures almost emptied out the oceans with their poisons and their nets. And on the lands things seemed no better. Green forests were replaced by ugly square boxes, where the twoleggers dwelled. And all the time they were fighting and killing eachother somewhere, untill one day, they created big fireballs, hotter than the sun, all over the planet, apparently trying to exterminate eachother. They succeeded, because he saw less and less of them after that, and the ones he did see, appeared to be sick and weak. After a few years they dissappeared altogether. The planet slowly recovered, the dwellings and other remnants of the twoleggers crumbled as the ages went by, untill no trace of them was left.

Still he lived on, watching the ever changing world around him. And then slowly, unnoticed at first, the sun began to change. It slowly developed a reddish hue, and it seemed to grow. It became much hotter too. Glaciers that had existed for eons began to melt, lakes and rivers started to evaporate and again plantlife started to disappear. After a while it stopped raining and life became impossible on the land. The sun kept growing bigger, redder and hotter and even in the oceans life became harder. They too had begun to evaporate, making the water salter and salter. Ever fewer fish were able to survive and now for the last months he had not found anything alive, nothing to eat at all. The ocean he now lived in was but a fraction of the large waters he used to know and more than three times as salt. He was weak, hungry and lonesome and the salt burned on his skin and in his eyes and throat. He was old and he longed for rest. One last time he looked up to the now threatening sun. Then he exhaled his last breath and let his body sink to the bottom to rest.

And as the sun expanded to where the planet orbited and the last remnants of the oceans evaporated, his salt-encrusted corpse was briefly exposed, before the heat of the giant red sun turned it to ash and dust too.

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