Let me tell you of a vision that has been haunting my sleep of late.

On a barren plain, more lifeless than an alkali flat, I see a skeleton approaching me stark against a rising curtain of katabatic wind. There is a malevolence to that chalky wall, and a hint of fire deep behind it, that leads me to believe neither I nor the fleshless traveler approaching will long survive its coming.

The skeleton is garlanded with flowers, a chain upon its bleached brows and a bouquet clutched in one ivory claw. The blossoms are ancient and dried, though still colorful, and with the first stirrings of wind they were beginning to shake out their death-rattle. Only moments separated the flowers from scattering as butterfly dust on an isotope breeze.

I am rooted to the spot, too terrified either of the spectral traveler or my own impending annihilation to move. The bones turn to regard me as they pass at an easy walk, mummified blossoms rustling. “Do not be afraid,” it says, in a voice as thin and bleached as its double row of jutting ribs.

“I’m going to die here,” I say. In the dream, it is not so much a supposition as a certainty. “I have so much left that I wanted to do.”

Past me now, still making its slow saunter away from armageddon, the skeleton speaks some final words over its shoulder. “You and I have both existed,” it says. “We must both be content that, though we be cast down and forgotten, our existence was real.”

I wake up before the blast wave can strike.

How typical–how human–the need to be important to someone. To be remembered. Yet as I lay there, shivering between my sheets while rain smashes gently against the windows, I know that I have no answer to the specter’s assertion. What is there that I have done, who is there that will remember, when I am a generation in the ground?

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