April 2470

I should have started this journal sooner so there would be some record of the final days of our species. But how was I to know I would be among the last?

If we don’t make it, I hope there will be other life forms after us that can read. If they read this, maybe they’ll make better choices than we have.


My name is Novelia. It means “new one.” My parents told me they chose that name because by 2432, the year I was born, there were so few births.

They hoped I might represent a new beginning. But by the time they died, my parents had lost hope.


We’ve been walking for about a month. We’re somewhere in Pennsylvania, heading for Chicago. We’ve heard there’s a colony there.

For the most part, we walk along old roads. Some are barely visible, with trees and whole fields grown up through the crumbling pavement. Occasionally, we come upon the rusted shell of an old car.

There are four of us, two pair bonds: Aliyah and Santiago and Andrew and me. Andrew and I have been together for six months. That’s the longest I’ve been with a man.

My parents were a pair bond, too. They were together for 20 years. My mother told me I kept them together. But I think she loved my father, and I think he loved her.

People used to fall in love and get married—in churches. Now no one gets married, and churches have either fallen into ruins or been hollowed out, their pews used for firewood.

And these days, love is no use.


My great grandparents went to school. I can’t even imagine it. The last schools were closed a century ago. There weren’t enough children, and education was no longer a priority. Teachers died off, and no one took their place.

I was lucky. My great grandmother believed it was important that her daughter, my grandmother, learn to read and write, and so she taught her at home. My grandmother did the same thing with my mother, who did the same with me.

None of these women talked much about it because, more and more, reading and writing were viewed with suspicion. Books and the Internet were filled with new ideas, and it was new ideas that got us into this mess.

But it’s a moot point now because books and the Internet are long gone.


Who knows how many of us are left. I mean in the world.

The last official estimates go back a century. At that point, the world’s population had dropped to around one billion. Since then, the rate of decline has been even steeper. I doubt there are even a few million people left on Earth.

We may well go extinct. How did we get to this point?

Climate change. The rejection of technology. The biggest reason, though, has to be that we’ve nearly stopped reproducing.

That trend started more than 300 years ago. Since then, the population has aged dramatically, and deaths have greatly outnumbered births. Without health care, most people these days don’t make it to 40.

I’ve long dreamed of having a baby. But like most men, Andrew is sterile, and I’m almost 40.


Our days are long, framed by the sun. We live in pairs and pods. Wild animals of all sorts now roam free. We have no guns. Spears, knives, and bows and arrows are our only defense.

I do hope we make it to Chicago. Not knowing how long it might take us, we waited until spring to leave New York. The nights are chilly. We huddle together.

But the days are warm, and we’ve found great fields of winter wheat and rivers and lakes teeming with fish, so we’re getting enough to eat.


Life is lonely. I have no friends. Meeting Andrew was such a pleasant surprise. He is much more than a friend.

The first time I saw Andrew, I noticed he wasn’t carrying a bow. I asked him why. He told me he doesn’t kill animals for food. He said he doesn’t believe it’s right.

Andrew told me he wants to marry me. I asked him why. He said he wants God to join us.

How refreshing to meet someone so kind, someone who still believes in God.

Andrew tells me he loves me. I had almost forgotten about love. Now that I’m in love, though, it makes me want to live.


I wish we still had medicines. Lately, I’ve felt nauseous. My belly’s been bloated, too. I’ve lost track of my time of the month.

Am I sick? Maybe I’m nearing the end of my life. I don’t know. I hope I’m not dying.


The sun is rising. When we got here last night, it was dark. We camped under some trees for protection. Now I can see we’re in a grove of cherry trees. The sweet fragrance of pink and white blossoms fills the cool morning air.

Andrew is still asleep beside me. The cloudless blue sky looks so pure. Beyond the trees, a green meadow with white, red and yellow wildflowers stretches for as far as I can see. I hear birds singing. I do believe the Earth is healing.

I look around and see the skyline of a city in the distance. I see smoke rising and tall buildings. This must be Chicago.

I stand up. I feel something move within me, a sensation I’ve never felt before. Could I be pregnant? I am overwhelmed by the very idea.

I am trembling. My heart is racing. My legs feel weak. I sit back down. Something, or someone, inside me is moving again.

I must be pregnant. But how can that be? I don’t know. It must be a miracle.

I wonder if it’s a boy or a girl. I begin to cry. I hope I live to see my child grow up. I hope I am part of a new beginning.