The last knight

The old knight paced through his makeshift library, running his hands over the spines of Aurelius and Epictetus, Antistenes and Aquinus, and many more who had shaped who he was. What he had was left to him by his father, a man he barely remembered but whose impact he felt to this day. It was his father who had left the knight all these books, remnants of a past long forgotten.

He trudged through what remained of the place he called home. It was old and falling apart when his father took over, and now it was even worse. When the big storms rolled through, he was sure that it would be the last the house would see. Thankfully she managed to stand strong every time.

As the thud of his boots echoed through the empty rooms, the knight tried to remember the last time someone besides himself had been inside the old building. It had to have been decades as near as he could figure. The last person he could remember was a young girl he saved from bandits who had less than pleasant intentions with her. A smile slowly formed on his face. He remembered swell of joy he felt, fulfilling his duty, protecting someone who couldn’t protect themselves. Despite him saving her, the young girl held little trust for the knight and vanished in the night not long after her rescue. The smile slowly faded.

In his daily attempt to try and keep his spirits high, the knight decided to patrol the exterior of the property he called home. He made his way to his armory and readied his equipment. Despite not having seen anyone in almost ten years, the old warrior never left his house without protection. Experience had taught him that the world wasn’t always what it seemed.

As he stepped into the morning sun, he felt the cathartic rush of a new today. As he did every morning, he started with a quick prayer to whatever higher powers that existed that he be put to good use and that if he couldn’t protect anyone, to at least allow him to bring some good into the world.

As the soles of boots crunched through the drying grass, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. The biggest lesson his father had taught him was to always trust your intuition. The mind often picked up on subtle changes that weren’t always apparent and it did it’s absolute best to warn you before trouble arose.

The knight raised his weapon and scanned the area as best he could. Old age had set in the last few years and his eyesight and hearing had been fading more and more each year. He did his best to squint and bring the world into focus as best he could, but a creeping sensation told him that it wouldn’t be enough. Making his way around the corner of his domicile, he noticed light reflecting from the trees. He smiled at his opponents novice mistake. As he made his way towards the treeline, he heard the unmistakable crack of a large caliber rifle being fired, and a split second later felt himself lurch forward.

As the proud old man lay face down in the dirt, three figures converged on him. The first one to reach him grabbed the AK-47 that had been the knight’s trusted weapon and claimed it for themselves. The other two laughed with joy at their fortune.

“Stupid old fucker,” the first one said.

“I told you we had nothing to worry about,” the second man said to the third. “You were all paranoid that he was going to figure out we were scoping the place.”

“Justifiably so,” said the third. “For being a ‘stupid old fucker’ he kept his place extremely well defended. If we had tried to just rush in, he would have mowed us down where we stood.”

“What’s he got all them t’s on his clothes for?” The second asked.

“They’re crosses you invalid,” the third said. “The old man must think he’s some kind of knight.” The trio’s ringleader felt a tinge of respect for the man laying in the dirt before him. His old man had told him stories of medieval knights and he couldn’t help but be impressed at this man’s dedication to living with some code of honor.

“Dan, flip him over so we can get this vest off and start salvaging what we can off him.” The second man went to comply and cried out in shock to see the man who had just had a bullet tear through him was still alive and laughing at the trio. In his hand was a small plastic square with a switch built into the side. The ringleader immediately knew what it was.

“Not such a stupid old fucker after all, am I?” With a smile on his face and content knowing he was able to do one last act of good in the world, the last knight flipped the switch on the detonator and made sure the three men wouldn’t be able to harm anyone ever again.

thirty minutes

Thirty minutes. That’s how long everyone had. Down below, the streets were chaos incarnate, but up here on the roof of the apartment, all was calm. Jon saw no point in panicking, nothing he could do would get him out of harms way, so why worry.

As he sat and listened to the half million people below him, he looked back on the life he had lived. He knew he could have been a better brother, a better son. He felt a tinge of sadness at the fact that he never did anywhere near the amount of traveling he wanted to do. All those regrets were now moot.

He looked down at his phone for the time. Fifteen minutes. So close.

It was odd, he thought, that he didn’t feel any of the expected emotions in those final minutes. There was no sadness, no anger, no real fear. Just calm. Such an odd feeling at the end of the world.

Five minutes.

He could see the harbinger of death now. Down below the cacophony in the streets grew louder. Jon wondered if his voice would be among those crying out if he were down on the street. He liked to think that his rational mind would prevail, but he knew himself well enough to know that wouldn’t be the case. He knew that if he chose different that his monkey mind would take over and panic, just like everyone else. What did it matter at this point, time was up.