Free Story: The Last Man on Earth
Back in the days when I was posting free stories on a certain website, for a while writers participated in a short story contest based on a weekly theme. One week the theme was “The Last Man on Earth.” This was my contribution:
The Last Man on Earth
He came awake with the sun blazing down on his face.
His head hurt so badly! What had happened to him? He raised his arm to shield his eyes and opened them and sat up with great care, because his body hurt too.
He looked around and saw nothing but sand in every direction, for as far as he could see.
Sand and sun.
What had happened? Was it an explosion? He thought that he remembered a burst of light…somewhere…somehow.
But he couldn’t remember; couldn’t think.
His head hurt so badly.
He stood up, and winced at the pain in his side.
He turned around; looked around.
Nothing but sand, everywhere. Except…
He squinted and used his hand to shield his eyes against the blinding light. Through the shimmering heat he saw it. Far away, but it was there.
A respite from the heat.
Water to slake his thirst.
He ran his parched tongue over his cracked lips, already tasting the cool, sweet water.
Ignoring as best he could the awful pain in his head and in his side he hurried across the sand toward the oasis.
As he ran he looked around.
Nothing but sand and sun.
What had happened?
Was he the only one?
That thought filled him with dread.
To be alone.
The only one…
He ran for a long time, toward the oasis. He wasn’t tired, but his head hurt so badly, even worse than the pain in his side.
What had happened?
He was closer to the oasis, almost there. Soon he could drink, and eat and rest…
There was something ahead of him, between him and the oasis…moving…
Running like him, toward the oasis.
He ran faster, his heart racing, calling out to the one who ran ahead of him.
He wasn’t alone!
“Do you know what happened?” he asked as they entered the oasis together, walking now.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I can’t remember.”
He looked at her.
She was beautiful.
He smiled at her.
They sat together in the shade of a willow tree, enjoying the respite from the sun as they talked.
“You haven’t seen anyone else?” he asked.
“I don’t think there is anyone else,” she said.
“I think we’re the last ones,” he said.
She sighed. “I agree.”
“I wish I could remember. I should remember. But my head hurts so.”
She reached out to him, caressed his brow. Her fingers were as soothing as the cool shade.
He looked at her, smiled at her.
“Where did you come from?” he asked.
She smiled back at him and shrugged.
He moved closer to her, held her close. He couldn’t help himself.
Touching her, holding her close was ecstasy, like cool water slaking his thirst, like coming home after a long journey. He knew that she felt it too. They moaned their bliss together.
If felt so wonderful being close to her. He felt right being close to her. He felt whole.
She turned her beautiful face to him. “We can’t be the only ones,” she whispered.
“But we are,” he said.
A tear slid down her face. “We can’t be the only ones.”
She pressed her lips to his, a tender contact that awakened a yearning within his spirit.
But his head hurt so. He wished that he could remember.
What had happened?
Where had he been before?
Who was he before?
“Is your pain very bad?” she asked.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “If I could just remember, I think the pain would go away.”
“Lie here and rest for a while,” she said. “We have time.”
He awoke in the evening of the day, with the taste of sweetness upon his lips.
He opened his eyes and saw her smiling down at him.
He smiled up at her.
“Where were you while I slept?” he asked.
“Not far away.”
“Where did you come from?”
She caressed his face, his chest, his side, and after each gentle touch, replaced it with a kiss.
He sighed his contentment.
“Would you like more?” she whispered.
In answer he reached for her, drew her close.
Tasted more of the sweetness.
“You’re wonderful,” he said.
“I’m yours,” she smiled. “How is your pain?”
He’d forgotten about his pain. She’d made him forget. He could think again. He could remember…
“Hello?” The voice called out from another part of the oasis.
He took her hand, pulled her into the shadows of the trees.
He was afraid. So afraid.
“Where are you?” the voice called.
“Don’t come closer!” the man called out.
“Why not?” the voice answered.“It’s me.”
“Because we’re naked!” the man cried.
“Who told you that you were naked?” the voice asked.
His pain was gone now. Now he remembered. He remembered what happened. He remembered the burst of light, and its source. His heart filled with despair.
He looked at the woman.
She smiled at him and licked the sticky sweetness of the fruit from her fingers.