The Omega and the Damned
by Oscar Deadwood
forum: The Omega and the Damned
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Omega and the Damned


         The fear came as he sat on the steps of an empty church with a yellowed paperback in his hand. The fear came as the wind blew garbage and dead leaves down the empty and much patched street that ran in front of the church.

         He could hear them now even though the evening was still young; the sun cast orange shadows across this long wounded and rusted and empty midwestern city. He could hear them earlier and earlier every day and with a sigh he went inside the church and latched the door. He cursed himself for reading too much. He should have gone and gathered his things sooner but he got lost in that damn book.

         He had to read.

         And he read in a compulsive fashion. He needed the words that books provided to create a dialogue in his head, or else the silence would drive him insane.

         Except now the silence was gone, and he could hear the other voices dancing on the autumnal wind. He could hear their voices coursing through these empty and ragged streets, traveling with the blowing leaves and the drifting bits of ancient paper.

         They had found him.

         He chose this church for several reasons. First and foremost, it was a very solid structure. It was built in the early twentieth century out of hand carved stone and the door was of a solid and heavy oak with a medieval style iron bar and latch to lock it with from the inside and the stained glass windows were high; too high above the ground to allow climbing in.

         There was now getting in unless you were invited, and those that now pursued him had no means to break the windows, at least he didn't think so, but he wasn't too confident.

         The church also sat in a part of town that was rife with memories of happier days.

         A playground, now overgrown and rusted and broken, stood across the street. The playground was rusted and dilapidated way back when, when he played there forty odd years ago as a child.

         And a crowd would gather there each time his parents would dare to bring him out in public. Cameras and microphones would be thrust in his face, and people - especially the very old - would try to touch him as if he were some sort of god or some piece of divine treasure, as if touching him would restore their youth and cleanse their soul.

         Trips to the playground were always short and brief. His parents always took him early in the morning, just as the sun cast its light on this decaying city, baring open all its wounds of empty storefronts and abandoned factories and houses sagging in chronic neglect.

         His parents would whisk him away as soon as the crowd became beyond manageable. Besides personal security, the shattered government had given them the courtesy of a professional driver, someone adept at losing pursuers.

         Joshua didn't mind the attention, really, but his parents did. They tried to give him as normal a childhood as possible. It wasn't so bad when he was a toddler; his parents could keep him isolated from the world and he didn't realize he was unique.

         But it was hell when he approached adolescence. From the age of twelve on, woman would throw themselves upon him lustily and desperately, all in an attempt to possibly procreate with Joshua.

         And attempts at random breeding were made, once a week and government sanctioned. Joshua had to mature emotionally very quickly; forced to have sex with woman whom at the minimum were fifteen years his senior.

         But those attempts were futile; Joshua was no different than any other man on the planet.

         The inside of the church was dark and damp and smelled of ancient must, but the smell of the Damned was stronger, and it wafted through the thick stone walls. The smell bordered on the sweet and the rancid, sort of like old oranges or something human-like, perhaps semen or perhaps mucus. And he remembered them that way, covered in slime and hairless and pale.

         Their voices came from the far side of the empty city, echoing against the sagging and weather beaten houses and buildings and they seemed especially loud on this night, as if their was urgency in their search for Joshua.

         How they found him in this city, he didn't know. He could move in the daylight and get the hell out of this city, but would another town have a church as secure as this one? And there was a comfort in staying in the town where all his memories dwelt, memories completely happy until he reached the age of ten - the age he realized he was the last child on the whole entire planet.

         His birth was an earth-shattering event. No child had been born for ten years prior to Joshua's arrival. His father was as sterile as any other man on the planet, but somehow and miraculously, his wife became pregnant. Joshua's birth became a light of hope on a dying planet as one by one people succumbed to death by age and affliction, and there were no more children to take their place. It was as if a life was a candle, and one by one the candles were extinguished and each day the world became a little darker and little gloomier than it was the day before.

         Humans were becoming extinct.

         It had all started in the twentieth century, just after the industrial revolution. Too many environmental toxins and synthetic chemicals had adverse affects on male hormones, as if the Earth was taking revenge on her polluters. The toxins and chemicals - mainly pesticides and growth hormones for cattle - mimicked estrogen as soon as it hit the blood stream. The food and water supply was and still is riddled with estrogenic chemicals and the assault on testosterone began in the womb and never stopped. Young men kept on approaching puberty later and later, while girls matured much more rapidly. And along with the late growth came a drastic effect on sperm counts. Each generation's sperm counts were half of the previous generations, until the sperm counts became negligible. Sterile.

         Food and drug and chemical companies ignored these facts, as did most of the governments of the industrialized nations. Too much money was being made selling and distributing those chemicals. When they did finally react, it was too late; no drug could raise the sperm counts high enough if there wasn't enough sperm to begin with.

         All kinds of bizarre things were done to help stave off extinction. People were forced to breed at selected intervals. Nubile young girls, in some countries, had to have sex with apes and other animals so just maybe, maybe, an offspring of some intelligence could be born.

         Joshua was pretty much sheltered from all of that, he enjoyed a celebrity and privileged status as the government kept him under constant protection. The hope for humanity rested on Joshua's young shoulders.

         But one attempt did affect Joshua, and one attempt at pro-creation was successful, but not successful enough. Animals had been cloned for years, decades even, but not humans. Attempts had been made, but the results were horrific, but there was pressure now, to see if the job could be done.

         Those that had the skill to clone were now quite old, and only one candidate was of the right age to be replicated. Joshua, at twenty-five.

         He was cloned, all told, a hundred times over five years, but with poor results. His replications were hairless and sexless and unable to bear the light of the sun. They were nocturnal for some reason, and for some reason they were allowed to live. Joshua wished they were destroyed upon their creation, but the men of science and the government had had enough of dying, the planet was dying, their legacy was dying, what harm would there be with a small community of androgynous Joshua's roaming around the planet? They would have the place to themselves, a planet that would soon be hell, hence their name - the Damned.

         Soon after, Joshua's world began to completely wither and die. His parents passed away when he was thirty-five. Joshua went to Washington DC where the rest of the surviving nation was starting to congregate. The Damned too were kept there, in and around the grounds of the old naval hospital in Bethesda.

         Joshua spent seven years in DC, watching the world and humanity slowly close its eyes. The televisions had long been silent, as were the radios and finally the newspapers stopped printing and suddenly one morning, he was the only one awake.

         He had known this day would come, he had spent all of his life mentally preparing for it. He had no idea what he would do with his time.

         He decided, then, to maybe spend it with the Damned, rather than spend it alone.

         The Damned had never seen Joshua before and when they first saw him, when he drove to the ancient hospital, they stood in open-mouthed amazement. They knew, right away that they were the image of him.

         Joshua knew the details of the Damned, knew they were nocturnal and sexless, but their appearance startled him.

         They were bald and naked and slimy versions of himself, with his intelligence to match.

         The doctors at Bethesda had taught the Damned to speak. They had hopes that the Damned may develop sexual organs later on in their existence but those hopes weren't
realized, but they kept them anyway. They kept them as pets or symbols of hope for the same reason no one bothered to tear down the playgrounds across the world; there was hope someone may play on them again someday.

         The smell of the Damned was overpowering and he was frightened by their appearance.

         They were staying in what was the main concourse of the hospital; a vast and cavernous area scattered with couches and coffee tables.

         The Damned stood up when Joshua entered. They first gave him a solemn bow and then they surrounded him in a large and curious circle.

         They started touching him. At first they approached him gently, caressing his arms, his hair, his ears and he could hear their voices murmuring "father".

         And then the murmur became louder, "father, Father, FATHER," and they started tearing at his clothes and tugging on his hair. Joshua ran away and the Damned followed. The Damned had never ran before, it was a new way of locomotion for them and they fell clumsily as their legs started to churn.

         Joshua made it to his Hitachi electric car, his heart racing madly, his hair formed in slimy tufts.

         He sped away and decided then and there, that he might as well go home again, back to that now dead midwestern city, and spend his days in the company of his memories.

         But the Damned found him, a week ago. He heard their voices as the twilight fell, he could hear them chanting "father" and he took refuge in the church.

         For the past week, the voices of the Damned wound through the night of the small city as if they knew Joshua was somewhere, but they didn't know exactly where. He fell asleep to their murmurs in the wind, murmurs that disappeared as soon as the sun and birds announced the morning.

         He wanted to find them during the day, find their shelter from the sun and destroy them while they slept. But he didn't have the heart or the courage. He much preferred to spend the day reading on the steps of the church, interrupting his reading only to forage for canned food and bottled water.

         But on this night, as Joshua nearly fell asleep, a crashing came at the front door of the church. A hundred bodies of the Damned pushed against the heavy wooden door, causing the door to break free from its rusted and iron hinges.

         The door, sadly, was not invincible

         Joshua was on the altar of the church, and he tried to hide behind the podium.


         And then hands were on him, and his last memory was that of his right arm being passed backwards through the throng of pale and outstretched hands.


copyright 2005 Oscar Deadwood.

Oscar Deadwood:
I have had some non-SF stories appear in Wanderings and Darkervision, and hope to have my first novel "The Trinity" released by Silverthought Press soon.