Nikolaus Steinauer

I slither lazily through the street, kicking up swirling dust in my wake. The sunlight streams through a gap in the clouds, catching the dust particles alight, making them look like tiny fairies. I sigh, singing past the buildings, smelling the distinct, putrid stench of rotting wood. Paint peels and crumbles from the side of buildings. Broken bricks scatter the cracked concrete. I pass carcasses of trees in a park where life once flourished, their shrivelled-up limbs, long since leeched of water and colour, rattle as I breeze past.

I pass by the Ferris wheel. It rises into the sky with a rusty frame, and sun-faded box seats. It creaks and groans as I sing through the gaps in the thick metal arms, protesting my presence. In the absence of humans and civilisation, the Ferris wheel no longer receives regular maintenance. I suspect it will collapse and crumble within the next decade, succumbing to the rust and decay left in the catastrophic wake of the humans’ devastating error.

I blow past a library and the books, stained yellow by the sun, ruffle like fallen autumn leaves as I move, chattering and sending more dust into the otherwise stagnant air. The wooden doors in the library flap, smacking against the walls, trying to free themselves from the hinges like an enraged monster shackled in a dungeon.

A decaying abandoned hospital stands in my way. The maternity ward makes me icy with sadness. Rusting cribs are still arranged in neat rows. A baby doll lays in one with its legs sticking towards the ceiling. Everything is a frozen moment in time. I twirl towards the old school and nursery. More dolls and school shoes, left where they fell, are covered in dust and rubble. Gas masks, collected by tourists, have been piled in one classroom. There is a puppet propped up on a rickety school chair, wearing a gas mask, and positioned in the smashed frame of an old television. If you were here, you wouldn’t shiver from just my icy breeze. The cold, hollow energy in this town is enough to run claws of terror down your back.

I make my way back to the park.

It didn’t use to be like this. Before it happened, the sound of children and families playing at the park filled the air. The trill of laughing children running around the dewy, manicured grass, chasing one another, would calm me down. They would often point at me, as I danced with the leaves. I didn’t want to disturb them, so I’d be little more than a warm, gentle breeze. Now, the park is little more than a stretch of dirt. More masks litter the vicinity. There’s some graffiti on a wall left there by tourists, painted in an array of pink, yellow, and indigo. It is the only patch of colour in this entire town.

That’s when an enormous expanse of brown, just outside the town, appears before my eyes. Tree skeletons are drooping towards the poisoned earth. The disaster has long since sucked the life from the dried up, radioactive soil. Trees will not grow for many millennia.

The heat of a fire billows through me. Fury. How could they do this? To their only home. They have so little regard for their environment. Now they’ve moved on to another place which they now call home. They never stop to think, that sooner or later, they will eradicate their own species.

I spin, gaining traction, faster and faster until I form a tornado fuelled by rage and dripping with disgust. As dust churns with me, I plough through the town, screaming and wailing as I rip it apart. I tear the bricks from the buildings and tear up floorboards. Windowpanes and glass rattle and shatter as I batter past. Books and toys and shoes fly in every direction as the

Ferris wheel groans and shudders against my force. Buildings protest as they thunder to the ground. With each brick I tear apart, the rage ebbs away, little by little. But I don’t stop. I must rid this town of any memory of their rotten species. I must wipe away any evidence they once lived here. I must wipe away their definition of life. Only misery and the ghosts of their existence shall remain.

To make way for new life.

Tears stream from my tornado body, splattering the ground. I do not stop my rampage, even when the sun dips below the horizon, and the clouds gather across the sky, blanketing the town in liquid darkness.

Just as I am about to tear apart the Ferris wheel, something catches my attention. The sky opens. Clouds shift, moving aside until a sliver of the abyss beyond makes an appearance. A bright full moon stretches a finger of ghostly light onto a small patch of land not too far from the town. Pale white light glints on the violet petals of large flowers. Pink mushrooms the size of dinner plates sprout tall and proud above the evergreen grass. They are mutated plants. But they grow taller, and more powerful than ever towards the stars. The mushrooms’ silhouette against the backdrop of the clouds shall be the only reminder of the events that transpired 36 years ago. I gasp. Then everything falls silent. No more wailing or shrieking. This has become one of the few places, where you can see the future of life.

Nikolaus Steinauer studiert auf der Sekundarstufe I

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