The last man on Earth takes his last breath, and with that, the Earth itself seems to exhale in relief. The angry waters of Mother Nature had long ago peeled away the roads and swallowed everything created by humans, revealing the wet, closely packed soil which had been hidden underneath.

That’s how it all began, with the regal ice caps shrinking upon themselves, melting into the ocean until the water spilled over the shores and onto the land. The people tried to run or climb to higher land, but they could not escape. The water, which had once been the reason this very Earth was habitable, now stole back the life it had given.

But Mother Nature’s vengeance did not stop there. The fragile climate was shattered from the pollution which clogged the atmosphere and disintegrated the ozone layer. It lashed out in anger and confusion, whipping up colossal tornadoes which drilled whatever massive manmade structures were left into the ground.

Violent thunderstorms lit up the sky and showered the Earth in torrents of rain, which washed away the debris of mankind. Metal scraps and wooden planks sunk to the depths of the sea, which never had, and now never would be, seen by humans.

What beauty lies at the bottom is made an eternal mystery, an answer to a question that nobody would ever be around to ask. For eight days and eight nights, the sun disappeared, and the darkened Earth froze into dead silence.

Had any astronomers been alive, they would have speculated perhaps the sun had been eclipsed by something larger than itself, or something had blocked Earth from the sun’s light. But the last man on Earth was not an astronomer. He barely clung on to life, had there been any physicians they would have said it wasn’t possible that his heart continued to beat.

Yet it did, it would be another unexplainable phenomenon that disturbed the world during mankind’s final days. Mother Nature didn’t care about the sun, or the man, hidden deep underground in the room he had created for this very situation. This was the room which had ruined his life, which had consumed his every waking moment and severed whatever human connections he had forged before its construction.

It was also the room which had saved his life, but during his last conscious thoughts, he wondered if it was worth it to have outlived everybody else. There was nobody to mourn him, only billions of bodies for him to mourn for.

He wept for everybody, people he knew, people he didn’t know, people he had heard of but had never met in person. He celebrated accomplishments that nobody would remember, that hadn’t changed the Earth or course of history in any actual way. He wondered if there was any point in outliving everybody, when there was nobody to tell this to, when he was the only one who could pride himself in having been the last human.

There would be nothing recorded about him, no history textbooks, no documentaries, no thousand-page novels. It didn’t matter whether he died today, or tomorrow, because either way he would be another name in the endless list of casualties that nobody would ever read.

So, when Death finally decided to take him, he was ready. He grasped Death’s hand and vigorously shook it, pulling him into an embrace; he hadn’t touched another being in, well, he didn’t know how long, but it had felt like an eternity. Death led him away from Earth’s devastation, and the Earth could finally grow again.

It took a long time, enough time that the human civilization could have lived and died all over again, but, eventually, the Earth rebuilt itself. The trees burst from underneath the soil, all it took was a single seed to grow a forest, the grandest forest the Earth had ever seen, with trees that touched the clouds and branches which twisted into smooth wooden loops and coils.

The flowers sprouted from the healthy warm soil, in shades the human eyes had never seen before. A completely new color spectrum had been created and it was more magnificent than anybody could have imagined. The sky was vast and blue, more vibrant than it had ever been before, and at night it darkened to a royal navy. The sky was no longer a small glimpse into the universe, but an open window.

Stars trillions of light years away seemed close enough to touch, supernovas were like spilled watercolors across the sky, and shooting stars rained across the galaxy. The Earth was completely and utterly one with the universe. And as the sun slowly rose at the beginning of each day, it stained the sky with oranges and pinks, soft colors melting into each other, blending together to create what painting artists could only dream of.

The Earth was at its prime, stronger and more beautiful than ever before. It was ready for a new generation of life.