After Humans (an excerpt from a short story)
The group spun through space to land in the middle of an overgrown city.
Futuristic buildings of super-light alloys were bent and twisted with signs of war. Their walls were still gleaming and immaculate, despite the grass and moss that snaked up them.
Stain and rust-proof, Bailey guessed. She was studying structural changes of metal on a molecular level. To design new alloys with precise characteristics. Down to the last atom.
Although it looked abandoned, the city was far from empty.
Giant rats scurried through their feet, darting in and out of holes in broken, black concrete. They travelled in packs that would break into mini squeaking wars.
Bailey noticed slight differences in the body-types. Some were longer and leaner, with the first hints of long legs showing from their furry bodes. Others, had broader heads and teeth that looked halfway to being fangs. “The rats are evolving.”
“Well spotted,” said Gazelle. "The only animals left, are the ones that thrived under human conditions.”
The air was thick with insects, too, which, thankfully, buzzed right through the group without a clue they were there, unable to see or bite them.
There were swarms of giant mosquitoes and iridescent flies.
A strange kind of insect that looked like a cross between a wasp and a dragonfly, buzzed around feasting on other insects. They had long bodies and wings like dragonflies, but the yellow and black stripes and distinctive stingers of a wasp.
“Dragon wasps,” Gazelle said, when she caught Bailey watching them. “When plants became scarce, wasps grew longer bodies and wings, to travel longer distances between pollinations. Then they developed a taste for the live smorgasbord that exploded to life.”
She must have meant the millions of bugs swarming the air. So thick, it was like a living black mist.
Above the clouds of insects, giant crows floated with wingspans as wide as falcons, diving into the swarms to scoop up great mouthfuls with long, flattened beaks.
“Fascinating,” said Ranger Pat. “Life goes on.”
“As it always does on earth. Empires rise and fall. Species rise and fall. They all think they’re immortal when they’re at the top. By the time they realize they’re not, it’s already too late.”
“Every time?” said Swift.