There were no longer nights or days.
The sun, which now dominated the skies overhead, was a constant and overpowering presence, bombarding the rapidly depleting ozone with a cosmic tidal wave of lethal radiation, bathing the barren landscape of the ruined earth in a dark purple the color of bruised flesh. The life giving light that had once supplied the green things of the planet with the necessary nutrients to grow and flourish had long since scorched the land dry, had long since evaporated every drop of moisture from the oceans and rivers and streams, had long since burned away any signs that the earth had ever been inhabited by even the lowliest of creatures. Even the microbes had perished.
There were no people now to bear witness to the final hours of the planet they so arrogantly claimed as their own. They had perished hundreds of years earlier, wiped out by a devastating and especially virulent disease that sprang up from nowhere and swept around the globe in less than six months, killing billions. The few thousands that survived in enclaves around the world either died from the famine and drought that followed or killed one another when their own animal natures took them over, preying on each other in a futile attempt to gather unto themselves what the dead had left behind, the relics of a time awash in greed and avarice, useless flotsam on a dead sea. They had all died, their piteous cries unheeded by the Gods they had created to placate their consciences and justify their actions toward their fellows. All of them - save one.
Danny Ashton, or what was left of him, crouched clutching his bony knees to his skeletal frame with near fleshless arms, naked in the mouth of the only shelter available, a cave in the side of a mountain in what was once Colorado one hundred fifty years earlier. He squinted through watery eyes at the bloated sun and tears streaked the dust that plastered his face in a permanent mask. The cave reached deep into the earth, how far Danny did not know for he had not the strength left to explore it, but it mattered little. He knew that soon the tattered remains of the ozone would burn away completely as the sun expanded even further, morphing into its red giant phase on its way to its own final death throes, eventually to become nothing more than another cold, dark lump of matter floating in the vast panorama of space. Danny hoped it would end soon.
He shifted and moved back further into the cave, sliding on his haunches until the exertion drained the little energy he could muster in his diminished state and then collapsed against the wall of the cave, heedless of the burns caused by the overheated rock. Pain was not a concern for Danny Ashton. Not anymore. He had endured pain before, more pain than any other being that had ever lived on this dying earth had ever endured, more pain than the fevered mind of man could imagine in their worst imaginings. Pain was second nature to Danny, like breathing, an automatic reflex that he had long ago learned to accept as inevitable and unavoidable. The pain kept him going, kept him alive, reminded him that he was, ultimately, the last living creature on Earth and for that reason alone he hated it.
Danny closed his eyes against the stinging hot dust the solar winds drove into the cave and as he rested against the burning rock, his thoughts drifted back to another time in his past, another time when he felt the heat and sand stinging his flesh, a time he wished with all of his heart he could go back and change, a time nearly two thousand years gone. As he breathed the acrid fumes that were all that was left of the once oxygen rich air around him, he let his mind remember the days before he had drunk the Water of Life and cursed himself into oblivion.