Remembering People

By Frank Eagle, PhD

As is well known, the sudden extinction of human beings in April of 2031 silenced the Animal Kingdom for nearly two years. Animals were neither stunned nor even surprised by the passing of so vain and troubled a species, yet the ugliness of the event—the sheer savagery of the spectacle—left them mute. It seemed that everything in nature turned to the contemplation of people and their demise.

Here was something to ponder. Human beings, whose religions upheld love of God and love of others as the highest values, slipped into a pit of hatred so dark and violent that no one survived. Each and every person, or what remained of them—each crushed skull and shredded face, each severed limb and charred torso, each mangled body and disfigured corpse—all sank into the pit and were swallowed entirely.

How could people have let the gap between their ideals and their actions grow so wide? Without chirping or croaking or bleating or hooting or snorting or squawking, animals sought an answer to that question. While puzzling over the many issues involved in so vexing a problem, though, they didn’t just stare at the ground in grim concentration; occasionally they lifted their noses and caught the scent of something either worrisome or appetizing not far off. Sometimes they thought of the future and wondered which impulses—those of goodwill or of bad faith—would prevail in their own lives.

It was clear which impulses had led to humanity’s destruction.

In mulling over the catastrophe, animals that were anatomically capable of shaking their heads did so; the others simply twitched or blinked. They were all staggered by what now seemed to them to have been an apocalyptic failure of will and imagination in people, in Homo sapiens—a species smart enough to identify love as the supreme value in human life, yet not clever enough to act on it.