These are some fragments of a dream about how the world was to end, choked in pollution. In the dream, a friend and I were present in the final days of the world and for some reason, I was being reincarnated backwards in time. It was one of those dreams which jumped from scene to scene, but which preserved the main theme.
The air was thick and malodourous, barely breathable with its stench of rotting vegetation and nauseating gases. A green-hued form scurried across the sizzling street, its resilient skin unaffected by the acidic downpour. Humanoid in form, it had a bright green skin, patterned with red veining where its surface capillaries were visible, and was devoid of hair. Its eyes were white-less and it possessed no outer ear.
"What's that?" she asked, pointing at the creature.
"An Ay'mees," I replied. "The Ay'mees came to this planet as the methane content in the air began to rise. Their metabolism needs methane and their own planet's atmosphere was changing. They landed in France and called themselves 'Ami' meaning 'friend'. They lived among us, extracting methane from the atmosphere and piping it into underground caverns where they made their home,"
"They couldn't live aboveground?" she asked.
I laughed. "Nothing like that - they needed methane chambers to give them a high concentration of that gas. As the atmosphere of this world got worse..." I gestured at the ochre and iron grey drizzling skies, "..we blamed them for causing it - we said that they wanted to make our earth like theirs. It was not true, of course, the Ay'mees wanted only peaceful co-existence but it was enough to cause a witch-hunt. Their space-craft was no longer operable, our acid rain had seen to that, and the humans lacked the advanced technology to build them a new one so they retreated into their underground homes to breathe their methane rich atmosphere and be supplied with food by the few sensible humans who did not stoop to witch-hunts. In the bad times, when the atmosphere was even worse than this with thick a smog of suspended chemical effluent cloaking the entire planet, they sheltered humans in oxygen-rich caverns until the atmosphere stabilised into what you now see."
"And the witch-hunts?"
"There aren't any more witch-hunts but the Ay'mees prefer their methane-rich caverns to the overground world of humans. I have been down there quite a few times when the air turned bad. Believe me - it has been far worse than this and it will soon get far, far worse than anything the human race has ever seen."
"How do I know all this?
"Have you heard of life after death - memories of other lives? My earlier lives are all in the future. My memories are memories of times unborn. You are sharing one of my memories.
"Do you wish to come into the burrows of the Ay'mees and escape the polluted air or do you wish to see the world after man?"
A silent world. Scattered bones discoloured by the rain protrude from chemical mud. No birds. No creatures. No humans anymore. The houses are dissolving ruins, little stumps in the red broth of mud. The sky is yellow-green with thick yellow clouds scudding across a surreal, flat landscape of blood-red. A stark outcropping of pitted grey granite is being worn down by the changed elements. There is no water, only noxious solutions rained down from the yellow sky or spewed forth by the red earth. The bones will soon be gone; I wonder how they have survived so long? This is earth after man. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, chemical soup to chemical soup. I wonder what will rise from this sludge or whether the earth-mother will ever heal herself.
Even the Ay'mees have gone, rescued by other Ay'mees who heard their distress beacon. There was no oxygen left and they could not keep us alive in their caverns and burrows so some went with them, searching new worlds with a breathable atmosphere. And will they pollute those worlds too? This world is rich in methane but there are other gases now, gases poisonous to the resilient Ay'mees.
Maybe, given time, molecules will combine into amino acids, into proteins, into DNA. the first unicellular organisms will begin the long haul towards sentient life. What flora and fauna will evolve to cover our grave?
I'm sorry, I have no memories beyond that. I am the last one here. I will be reborn again and again, carrying my memories with me into the past. I will be a stone-age man painting pictures of spacemen on my walls. I will build metal model aeroplanes which will be dredged from watery Atlantis. But you - you have this barrenness to look forward to.