The boy ran holding the ivory box close to his chest. Running on bare legs was nothing new for the boy. When two square meals a day was considered a luxury, bare feet were quite common place. The vagabonds of the area had finally set their mean eyes on the boy. It was for two years the boy had succeeded in hiding away the ivory box during the night time scavenge raids. Quite an accomplishment it was given the situation they lived in. The box itself exuded a glimmer of something priceless. It had an intricately carved exterior inlaid with shining jewels forming a rivulet over it. It was of course locked, you don't expect such things to be open all the time. Another pang of hunger shot at the boy's stomach. The frail physique indicated the lack of nutrition. Again a common characteristic.
The box had been with the boy since a time even he couldn't remember. It was as natural as his own existence. Orphaned at birth, poor, frail, lonely and all such paraphernalia of adjectives were the only other heirlooms the boy could boast of. the eerie moon splashed the tarred road with a stream of silver light. The boy was finally at the extreme of human endurance. He had been on the run for a couple of nights finding his way in the desolate city they called Khlameen. Khlameen was by far the haunted cities of the year 2178. With an Armageddon a century ago the Homo Sapiens had been almost wiped off. It was the doom for this race which now had only 100 individuals. All had changed. Water was something which you could validly kill for. The source of food if you could call it food was the scraps left over by the near extinct race a century ago. Animal meat was abundant yet tainted by the remains of the radiations of the spectacular nuclear explosion. The boy dived out of the tarred road and stumbled on to a ruin. It was quite unfamiliar, at the very edge of Khlameen. The structure was one the boy had never seen. A few steps and an oblong metal structure hanging from the ceiling. At the far end seemed another small room with an outline of a person standing still in it. Hope sprang like a nimble cat in the boy's heart as he made his way towards the sanctum. It was impossible to find a Homo sapien at the vicinity of Khlameen. Where all hope vanished into an abyss. There were just a 100 left on this cursed planet.
The boy clutched his ivory box. The world seemed to spin in a dizzy. His feet felt wobbly. A sarcastic grin sparked the boy's famished face. Finally it was coming to him, hunger clutching his insides beckoning IT. The boy grasped at the metal structure for support and the structure rang. Like a bell. The gong pierced the dead silence. The boy stumbled towards the person in the room with open arms, free of suspicion only acceptance in his soul. As the outline cleared he saw the person wasn't moving at all, strange. What was it! The person seemed so lifelike yet supernatural. Oh! it was all but a statue and yet again all Hope spilled from the boy as did the ivory box. The boy fell in a swoon at the statue's feet with the box tumbling in.Crack it sounded as the box opened and out fell a strange thing.... A flower at the feet of the statue. And that was how the census Khlameen went from 1000 to 999....!