I pumped the handle seven more times and slammed the lever backward again. Backward, dammit, go backward!
The vibration shook the whole tub. I closed my eyes this time until the shaking stopped.
I took a deep breath.
I looked behind me.
I leapt out of the tub, kicked it over, then let myself topple, crushing my outline into the peonies.
I stared up at the sky. Empty. Empty as it will always be.
I was alone. Truly, utterly, inexcusably alone. No sign that humans had ever touched this planet. I’d wiped it out. Everything. Everyone. Even Laila.
I did it for her. I swear, I just wanted to make it better for her. Better air. Less crowding. I didn’t want to empty the whole planet.
I’ll write a note. Stick it in this tub. And maybe, just maybe, millions of years from now, some hyperintelligent peony will see that once upon a time there was one single idiot, alone and adrift, regretting the day he left the instruction book on his desk.