I'm not sure how I know this; but I know it will happen, and soon. Gathered with a
group of people, I'm sat on a beach. I'm a girl, I think; no older than fifteen or sixteen, ridiculously long brown-black hair, clad in a white dress. A quick glance around proves fruitless; the people surrounding me are faceless, save for one man. For a moment, I'm amused when I realize that he's in fact Gendou Ikari and the tug of recognition in my stomach tells me that this man is my father. So I'm a female Shinji, this time? The tide draws in closer, lapping at out feels, for me, my knees, and somehow I know that this is all my fault. Everyone else is gone but the last few of us can face our deaths with a little dignity.
The ocean draws in closer, partially submerging us. Those standing are covered up to their ankles, while the cold water laps at my chest. For a second, I'm scared, wondering if I'm going to drown. But the feeling passes as the people around me begin to melt into the water and I wait, patiently, for my turn.
It doesn't come.
People continue to vanish, melting and blending with the seawater until I am the only one
left. The sea slowly draws back and if I squint at the horizon, I can see a tsunami building. The wind carries over the sounds of the ocean and impossibly, the ocean is screaming at me. It's the people in this new cyan sea of LCL, and they know that this is all my fault. I scramble to my feet and run, climbing up the sides of the sheer cliffs that flank the beach, trying to reach high ground.
I am not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of drowning.
I reach a field, thick with flowers, and there is nowhere else to go. I'm at the top of the cliff, the highest ground I can reach, but I can tell that the tsunami will still reach me. I'm terrified; am I going to drown?
Then, a giant hand rises from the field and another voice probes into my mind. This, I somehow know, if the hand of one of my friends. He died, his sister died, and it was all my fault, the voice tells me. Exhausted, I give up and curl into a ball, waiting for the hand to crush me. At least if I die here, I won't drown. The hand drops and covers me completely, an airtight prison and I wait for it to crush me completely.
The hand rocks with the impact of the tsunami and I whimper aloud in fear. For some reason, the hand isn't going to kill me. I'm fine with that; as long as I don't drown. Even when I was a little girl, I was terrified of drowning. I can hear the water rushing by and eventually, I fall asleep, hoping that when I wake up, this will all be over.
When I finally crack my eyes open, the tsunami has passed. The hand seems to have merely
vanished and I can't help but wonder if I'd merely hallucinated it. The field is soaked, as am I, from being unknowingly curled up in a puddle. I struggle to my feet and glance down at my clothes. They'll have to do for now; if I'm the only one left, I'd better see if I can keep myself fed. A quick exploration of a nearby supermarket shows that all the food is still safe. It's been several days since anyone rotated the stock, so I give the perishables a hesitant sniff and then a taste. They're fine; they're not rotting or drying out. Is this, I wonder, something to do with the instrumentality, too? Has all the bacteria in the air been killed as well?
Days turn into weeks and I'm still alone. At first I'm scared but eventually, my fear fades into calmness. There's nothing I can do about it, so I just have to deal. The cliffs flanking the beach make a good place to stay. There are multiple ledges, some of them choked with flowers like the field. I'm sunbathing on one, some weeks after everyone died. My dress, in surprisingly good condition after so long is soaking in a pool of water not infected by the tsunami. I don't trust the seawater; it's an unnatural cyan and looks poisonous. I've been surviving off water in the local reservoir, and it should last me for long enough. For the first time in my life, I'm unembarrassed by my nudity; you don't really need shame or embarrassment when you're the only one around. Or so I think.
Out of nowhere, a voice speaks into the silence and I jump violently. Scrambling over in the direction of a rock that I can peer around, I look over to another ledge. While the one I'm standing on is bare, with only the pool of clean water being notable, the one the voice came from is covered in grass and flowers. My heart simultaneously leaps in excitement and sinks in disappointment when I see the source of the voice. My father, who I'd seen melt away before my eyes, Gendou Ikari.
He's talking aloud; not to me but as I eventually realize, to my mother. She's not sat with him, thank goodness, but I get the feeling that he's half-expecting her to answer anyway. Still hid behind the rock, I call out to him a few times. He ignores me but eventually, he turns around. There's a pause as we stare at each other. There are a thousand questions to ask; why aren't I dead? Why is he still here? We don't say anything; it's much too awkward. We've never been particularly close but it seems we will need to be forced into proximity with each other for lack of any other human company. In the end, I don't ask him about the cyan ocean, about where everyone is or why I am still here.
I ask if he wants to get some food.
He appears surprised and asks if we really have enough food and if we should ration it. I point out that since we're the only ones here, we could have a feast if we wanted to. After a moment, he agrees. Once I'm dressed, we leave the beach and head down to the supermarket where all the food is and for the first time in months, I eat a meal with someone else.
Time passes again. The months that follow prove my private theory that none of our food will perish. We make occasional trips to other stores and cities to raid their food and bring it back to our own supermarket, turning it into a warehouse of food and first aid. Our initially forced proximity does wonders for the relationship between my father and I; at first, it's an alliance to stave off madness and isolation and eventually repairs the bridges that had been burned a very long time ago. It's funny, almost, that it takes the end of the world to bring my father and I back together. Whatever the case, our relationship has healed enough that one day, we take a walk along the beach together.
Suddenly, there's a splash and we both look up, gazing out across the unnaturally blue ocean. Standing knee-deep in the water and looking very confused is a girl my age. When she turns around, my heart flies into my throat and and tears spring into my eyes. It's impossible, but my best friend is stood in the ocean; the girl who I knew for a fact had melted away into that same ocean almost a year ago. Calling out to her, I race into the ocean and we meet in the middle, flinging our arms around each other and crying with relief. For the first time I begin to wonder; is this just temporary? Will everyone else come back?
Slowly, painfully slowly, people begin to emerge from the ocean. Some I recognize, some I don't. But it doesn't matter; people are coming back to the world. In the end, our supermarket becomes to small for everyone to sleep in and we hesitantly begin to move into the vacant houses. On the way to the house that we'd chosen for our own, my best friend, the second girl to emerge and now my sister in all but DNA takes my hand and smiles.
"Are you scared?"
"Yeah. Me too."