There was a time when there used to be stories here. These fires, burning through the night, would be where the people gathered as they waited for sleep to come. We would tell each other tales; sometimes the tales of The Old Used to Be, sometimes tales of hunts, scavengers, loves and loses.
Even then, I think we knew the people were dying. Back in The Old Used to Be, there were many more people, at least according to some of those old stories, there were people beyond number. Some dismissed this as talk, as only stories. But we all know about the old places, what were called towns and cities. There are people even now who claim these were once the homes of the gods. But this is a land without gods. If there ever were any gods here, they are long gone. Gone like the people of The Old Used to Be.
The people of The Old Used to Be left their scars on this land, from the towns and the cities to what still remains of their roads. Even though what’s left is now almost lost now under the spreading grass and the undergrowth. Some of those old places even have trees growing on them. So they will become little more than the half-forgotten memory of a road, like the towns and the cities that are now just little more than undulations in the undergrowth as the buildings, all long fallen into rubble, are lost and overgrown.
The stories, the tales of The Old Used to Be, used to say that one day, we the people would rise again and take back our rightful homes. That one day we would return to our towns and our cities. The tales told of how we would rebuild the roads and learn how to fly again.
But another legacy of the people of The Old Used to Be are the scars they left on us, those who came after, the ones that survived. Children are rare now and people die too easily. There are few guns left and too many wild animals. There are no medicines anymore, except a few that have lost their magic and serve only to hasten death rather than save lives. All too often that too hasty death is preferable, as accidents, illness, and misfortune claim just as many of the few that remain as those taken by the beasts who now own this land.
Then there are the others, the victims of The Old Used to Be, the ones who changed, lost the human and became something else. They are now another of the creatures that herd us ever onward, not letting us rest and recuperate. They hunt us down, tribe by tribe, family by family, person by person. We know they cannot rest until we too are as extinct as those from the times of The Old Used to Be.