Just when you think you've got the whole world to yourself...
|It wasn’t easy living in the apocalypse. Sure, as the last woman alive I had my run of the whole world. I could wander with ease through abandoned buildings and homes to gather what little I needed to survive. I could spend the night at the fanciest hotels and I did, at first. Eventually the glitz and glamour began to bore me so I left the Ritz and headed for the country.
I sighed as I kicked my bare feet in the lake next to the cabin I had claimed for the night. I had hoped the cold water would be a distraction from my lonely thoughts but instead, it just numbed my toes. The sun was setting and a few stars started to twinkle. I grunted as I stood. My thirtieth birthday was fast approaching and I was starting to feel my age. As darkness descended, I hurried to the cabin and the light of a wood fire. I needed to get inside before the scary things came out to play.
The door latched safely behind me and a log added to the fire made the little home cozy. I grabbed a single cupcake with sprinkles, flopped onto the couch, and nibbled the frosting before setting it aside. It just didn’t taste as good without a cold glass of milk. I was on the lookout for a goat or a cow, but animals were scant. At least, good farm animals were hard to come by. Like the human race, they had fallen to The Plague. Yet, the creepy things made it through. The wolves and bears and...it suddenly hit me that the herbivores had taken the hardest hit from the plague while the carnivores thrived. Perhaps that’s why all my vegan friends had died first…
The morbid thought was too much. I shook it away and pulled a heavy wool blanket over my shoulders, watching the flames flicker in the wood stove. My eyes grew heavier. Sleep lured me closer and closer...and then fled as the dog barked.
I blinked. Did I really hear a dog bark? I frowned and shook my head. It had to have been a wolf.
“Hellooooo the house!”
That couldn’t have been my imagination. I sat bolt upright on the couch, my breath caught in my throat. A voice. A human voice! No, it was impossible. I was the last human alive. After all my wanderings and travels, after only finding death and destruction in every place I looked, I knew there was nobody else alive in all the world.
“Hello?” the voice called again and I couldn’t help but chuckle. In every horror movie I had watched before The End had, well, ended everything, the main character always yelled out “hello” like an idiot. An idiot that would get eaten by zombies if he didn’t shut up. At least, in the movies. There were no zombies in my apocalypse. Just lions and tigers and bears.
“Oh, my!” I gasped as a face materialized in front of the cabin window. A nose smushed against the pane of glass and a pair of eyes fixed on my face.
“Can I come in? It’s awful cold out tonight.”
I shook my head. I might have been the last woman on earth but I wasn’t stupid. There were no limitations as to how many ways sideways this encounter could go.
“Please? My dog and I have been walking all day and –” his voice muffled and faded as he moved his face away from the window to, I guessed, look at the mutt that must be near him.
The dog barked again, as if begging me to open the door. I crossed my arms across my chest.
“No! Go away!” I yelled.
The silence stretched for so long I wondered if I had dreamed the encounter until the dog’s face appeared in the window. I rolled my eyes.
“You can hold that mutt up to the window all night, dude. I still won’t…” I trailed off when the yellow lab whined and felt my resolve weaken. Suddenly, the dog snarled and fell. There was a crash against the cabin that rattled the window and the man outside shouted.
“Cody, no! Leave it! Come, boy!”
There was a feminine scream from outside. I would have giggled and presumed it was my gentleman caller except I knew too well the cry of a cougar. A quick peek outside and I knew I was going to have to save the day. Snatching up my shotgun, I threw open the door and fired into the air. The cougar hissed, her teeth glinting in the moonlight, before turning tail and running back into the cover of the trees.
I glanced at the only other human being on earth and grimaced at the blood on his leg. “Come on inside, let’s fix that wound before you die of infection.”
He flinched as he took a step toward the cabin. His dog followed close at his heels. “I think…I think…”
I imagined he was about to say something poetic about being saved by a beautiful woman. Or that he would claim to forever be in my debt. I held my breath, waiting for a compliment or praise or something.
“I think I dripped my iphone…”
I gasped as his eyes rolled up in his head and he crashed at my feet.
“Dang it,” I said to the dog. “Now I’m going to have to drag the big oaf inside. I suppose you’ll be no help, huh?”
I grabbed the man’s arms and started yanking him toward the cabin. “Last man on earth...you better be worth all this effort!” I grunted. As his boots passed the threshold I shut the door firmly in the face of the night.