The girl was normal and lived in a normal world... or so she thought. Grass only existed in books and stories, and a blue sky remained a fairy tale. The sky was grey, smog covering the Earth, encasing it in its promise of death. Houses were only sturdy in nursery rhymes, cars only in deterioration, plants only a work of fiction. Roads were the outer layer of the ground, covering every inch anyone could see and being the platform they walked upon. Everyone knew those things because that was normal.
During the Bearable Season, when The Color sometimes cracked through the clouded sky and shone what legend called sunlight, the pavement would warm a fraction and burn their feet, the heat almost unbearable. The Death Season would always arrive too soon into their break, killing all with its freezing heat or melting cold.
Atropos knew of these things just as every other human did, believing as though they had a complete understanding of how the world was and had always been. "Car" was a term for junk, "house" was a tarp you lived under, "hut" was a large enough tarp for others to Gather (although Gathering had long since been banned, huts from ancient times still existed to remind people of the dangers of community).
Her life was miserable, but lacking the knowledge to compare it meant lacking the knowledge of it being miserable. Her life was normal. Everything was normal, and normal had always been that way and always would be. That was the Normal, the all-consuming fate of everyone and everything.
Or so they thought.
Her cycle (what history used to refer to as a "day," but since the sunlight was so rare, cycles were determined by one's sleep schedule rather than a set time) was normal, until her last one. Everyone knew the last cycle was different and difficult, as everyone died from the Black Breath at one point or another.
But not her.
It started out as a low rumble, something that was soft enough to be a person's snore, until it crescendoed into a loud and ferocious roar, making the Earth tremble and many of their structures fall down, the ancient method of sturdy building long since forgotten but desperately needed now more than ever. Her heart pounded, a feeling that left her gasping for air and clutching her chest as she grasped for the words to describe her current condition. Words to describe feelings were long forgotten.
Next came a loud thud. She turned and saw The Tower, the last thing from a time long forgotten that had always and would always stand proudly, visible to everyone from everywhere, falling as though it was not sturdy, fading into the horizon as though it had not been a beacon of hope in Normal, failing the last of humanity as though it was destined to do so.
Color followed the fall of The Tower, this Color different from the sunlight. In the back of her mind, she felt some remembrance—water—of what it was, but that nagging feeling also felt another word more strongly than the other: danger. She watched this New Color, bearing a resemblance to the sky's grey but also a hint of something else, something calming and yet now dangerous. It was beautiful, a concept she had never learned but still somehow could recognize. Her eyes felt wet and something fell down her cheek, but she could not look away.
The New Color was getting closer.
She ran. Her feet moved of their own accord, an ingrained thought of run, never look back, keep on running flashing through her mind even as her feet began to tire from the pounding on the pavement and her will to run was wiped away as the New Color approached her, poised to pounce and plunder the Earth. The flood consumed all in its wake, the haphazard houses and barely-put-together huts for community, the poles of light-long-left and the crust of previous humans' pollution, the water executing its long-overdue purge of humanity on the Earth.
She tried to escape, her body a blur of terror and confusion and pain, but She cared naught about the human's suffering, because they cared naught about Hers. It was Time for humanity to be eradicated, treated like the threat they have always been, with their nuclear weapons and pointless wars and endless hatred. Finally, it would be the era of plants and animals again, with the harmful Pests in their rightful place: not here, with Her. She would finally be valued again, because the simpler creatures rightfully worshiped Her, not as a god, but as something worth loving.
The girl tripped and fell. She had caught up. Her last breaths grated, ragged and fearful, until her eyes closed in acceptance. It was Time, not just hers, but everyone's. Her last thoughts were of a lesson humanity had long forgotten:
If you cross Mother, Nature will wipe you away.