The Last Man on Earth – Take Two (1989)

          He had returned too late.  The city stood before him, empty and silent save for the endless moan of the wind slipping between the darkened buildings and rustling the weeds growing up through the cracked pavement.  Too late.  Of the numberless throngs which must have crowded the streets and filled the buildings to bursting, there was no sign.  No bodies, no bones, no feeling of kin spirits.  He was alone.  Absolutely alone here.  He had returned too late.

Suddenly he had an urge to laugh.  The irony of it.  He remembered the crushing masses of people he had tried to accommodate and later to avoid.  The predatory masses who threatened to absorb him, devour him.  He had moved, built fences and gates to keep them away, but to no avail.  He had finally fled to a tiny atoll in the Pacific, safely sheltered from his fellow man.

He believed the world would die a nuclear death.  A Geiger counter accompanied him into his self imposed exile.  Every morning, he rose and patrolled the beaches in all directions, but the signature static roar of nuclear exchange never came.  And, as the years passed, he began to remember the fonder moments of his old life.  His child, now a grown woman and perhaps married and a parent herself.

The boat was in ill repair.  He had used it only once.  It took weeks of labor, back breaking toil for he was no longer a young man, but at last it was ready for the voyage home.

He discovered the disaster while still at sea.  The shipping lanes were surprisingly empty.  Then he came across a fishing boat; half submerged, her crew nothing but corpses.  A faded newspaper he had recovered was in a language foreign to him, but its message was clear.  Plague.  The end of the world.

He had returned too late.  Peace had finally come to the world, eternal peace.  For he was the last man on Earth.  The Last Man.  He cut another laugh short, fearing once he started he might not be able to stop.

A small sound made him jump.  He whirled and found himself facing a woman.  Dressed in rags and eyeing him with something like fear and awe.  Her mouth opened once, twice, lips trembling until words finally fell out.

“Are… are you real?”

He nodded and moved towards each other cautiously.  She held out a hand.  He took it and they pulled each other into a long embrace.  He stood with is arms around her, inhaling her essence as she clutched at him, laughing and crying.  They held each other in the deserted city until the shadows from the buildings stretched long into the east from the setting sun.

Suddenly she began to laugh.  He was startled by the sound, but realized it was a genuine laugh; of joy, not hysteria.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

She stifled a final giggle.  “My name is Eve,” she explained.  “Your name wouldn’t happen to be Adam, would it?”  Finally, he could allow himself to laugh.

“No, ma’am,” he said.  “It’s Elvis.”


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