She stood at the water’s edge, the sand steamy and sharp. The moon was visible, hot-red and bloody through the haze. Night brought no relief anymore, but she walked here with a vestigial memory that the water would feel cool. There was no surf spray, no crash of waves. Just undulating water depositing and re-depositing metal, plastic and skeletal remains. Although she could see the silhouettes of the debris piles free-floating on the surface, she was surprised there were so few of the greasy, hairy balls along the tide line. Was the oil bound together in the bigger, industrial clumps or on the sea floor now? They used to scavenge for shelters out of the bigger garbage patches, and she remembered an old cupola with the arrowed horse on top. It really wasn’t functional as shelter, and the world now had no need for decoration. Survival was beauty enough. Teeth and nails – these were tools now. Hair better off gone, too, if the chemicals hadn’t burned it away.
The ocean was turgid and tepid, but she couldn’t smell it anymore. She was used to that smell by now. Used to the smell of decay, sometimes overly sweet, like petrol. She didn’t know if she would even turn around and go back. Why? It was no better inland and the scavenging might be better here. There was no winter anymore – only the spiky heat in both the light and the night. She could shelter and keep watch until anyone else came to join, or kill, her.
She would never live to see the prophecy fulfilled, but she could remain on watch. There must be some sign of the ocean cleaning, healing herself after Man had gone? Somewhere, anywhere in the whole of the ocean wide and deep, there had to be something alive to crawl back onto the land and create the world again.