30 Stories in 30 Days #12 – “Dust to Dust”
Dust to Dust
As Pete walked from his front door to his car, his eyes never left the screen of his phone. He had already checked and replied to the messages he had missed while asleep, so now he checked football scores, the weather, his stocks. He did glance up when he reached his car and was confused by what he saw. The normally bright blue coupe had a layer of grey dust on it. He wiped his finger through it, leaving a clean streak. Looking around, he saw that the other cars on the street were similarly coated. “That’s weird.” Pete wiped his finger on his pants and got into his car.
Almost two hours later – as he sat in his cubicle typing up a report – the tip of Pete’s finger began to hurt. He stopped typing to look at it, and saw the tip was red. He shrugged and went back to typing. The pain went away in a few minutes, and he forgot all about it.
Just before lunch, Pete went to the restroom. As he washed his hands, he noticed a drop of red in the sink. Pete looked at his hands and saw some blood seeping out from under his fingernail. “What the fuck?” He dried his hands, then wrapped a paper towel around his finger.
A few minutes later, he knocked on Joyce’s cubicle. She swiveled around in her chair and smiled. “What can I do for you?”
“I need the key to the first aid closet.”
“What did you do?”
“Something to my finger. It’s bleeding a bit,” Pete showed her the paper towel, “figured I should put some gauze on it.”
Joyce took a clipboard off a pin in the wall and handed it to Pete, who signed and dated it. When he handed it back to her, she handed him a key. “Thanks. I’ll be right back.”
Once inside the first aid closet, Pete took down a roll of gauze and some tape. It took a minute or so for him to find a packet of antiseptic gel. With everything ready, he removed the paper towel.
He knew something was wrong. It took him a second to realize what. The tip of his finger was missing. He looked in the paper towel and saw only a small, black mass of … something. His brain was so short-circuited he could only look from the stub of his finger to the paper towel. It was several seconds before he began screaming.
When the paramedics arrived, Pete had stopped screaming. He only sat dumbly staring at where his finger – which had gone the way of the tip – had been. The paramedics gave him a sedative anyway.
Less than an hour later, still numb from the shock and sedative, he was put under when the doctors amputated his arm above the elbow to stop the spread of … whatever. They were unsuccessful. Pete died half-an-hour later, and shortly after that, his body was reduced to its basic elements.
Over the next thirty hours everything and everyone on the surface of the planet was reduced as well. Every field and forest, every village and city, everything became a sea of carbon and iron and silicon. Millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of human civilization was wiped out in a little over a day.
The day after that, the aliens arrived and began building their new world.