Yes, it happened at last. Everyone thought it would, no-one dared assume it wouldn't, yet still there was panic, terror and surprise expressed by all when it did. As it turns out it was the Portuguese that did it. They were testing a new technique and going for a fusion bomb. From what I've heard, they didn't succeed in that but did succeed in splitting the proton. Many millions of billions of protons. Causing a bit of a, shall we say, political faux pas. I shouldn't think they'll be invited to join any more federations, put it that way. Partly because all hell broke loose as most of Portugal was wiped out simply by the explosion, and most of the rest of the world by the nuclear holocaust. Don't they wish now that they'd gone for the good old fashioned French method of doing it deep below an ocean where the worst that could happen was a few million people would feel very ill. Still, the Spanish coastline is apparently much more aesthetically pleasing now.
Well, there's your background. Or at least, that's what I've found out. As far as I know it's just me now; well, there must be others somewhere in the world, but I've not managed to find them yet. It's no fun you know. Watching the unlucky ones who were still alive after the explosion die of radiation sickness amongst other things. God only knows why I'm still alive. As far as I know I'm not special in any way. So I just keep driving around trying to find people, stealing a new car whenever I'm out of petrol. I don't like the word stealing really. After all, the owners aren't going to be needing it. It just feels like I'm stealing them. I find myself looking round very cautiously before smashing the window, even when I have investigated the neighbourhood for miles in each direction before deciding to move on. I suppose it's still illegal. But that only really matters when there's police. Anywhere. Travelling that way is fine, but when you're going thousands of miles it isn't fun.
I don't have much to eat either. Every so often I'll find some grotty back road café with easily breakable windows. It does worry me sometimes: I tend to go for the food that doesn't go off like cans and things, but even those have been around for over five years. Whenever I find some sparse vegetation I make the most of it, as there is precious little left You have no idea how depressing it is to find a poisonous plant thriving like nobody's business. Whenever possible I catch fish in rivers, as the fish in deep rivers somehow seem to have survived this long. Looks like that's my renewable food source for the foreseeable future, which is a bit of an arse. I don't really like fish. Except tuna. Needless to say I don't catch many of them, even if they are still around. The cockroaches survived you know, like everyone said they would. But they're having a bit of a problem now. You know all that stuff you do in school about ecosystems? It works. There's nothing for them to eat. Their numbers are rapidly diminishing, but some of them I think have started eating wood, and those ones I'm afraid will be around for some time to come.
I suppose I ought to tell you why I'm here. I was on a trip to a friend's house in the states when it happened. As soon as I got there most of them were ill, and the deaths happened a week or so later. It's quite a mind expanding experience. Seeing so much death of so few people you know in such a short space of time. When my friend died, I took some supplies and went out into the desert. I took enough supplies (including fresh water: that could have been my saviour) for two weeks, and when I got into the next town after that time, everyone was gone. Whether there's a sanctuary somewhere that I don't know about, who can say. You'd think that somewhere they'd have found a way of advertising it on the radio or something but I've tuned and tuned while in my various cars, to no avail. Speaking of which, after two weeks and three towns of trying to find someone, I finally decided that there were few if any people left and so I'd have to start driving: the next town was miles away, and I couldn't carry enough supplies to get me there. So I needed to learn to drive, What a time to learn. I broke into a car and taught myself. Well, I wasn't a complete beginner. I'd played those crappy driving games when I was little which taught me the basics, and I'd seen plenty of films. I just didn't have a clue about the left hand pedal: most cars didn't have one, but it's quite important when you get one that does.
Motivation was difficult. It's an incredibly mind crushing experience to go through hundreds of towns and many cities without finding a single soul. I don't know what I told myself at the start. I suppose it must have just been that it was a survival trial. But now I'm pretty sure I can keep on going until my natural death (let's face it, the chances of me walking under a bus are pretty slim). So now I've got my dream to keep me going. Not a day goes by without me dreaming of finding someone. Anyone really, but I always dream of a beautiful woman. It's only natural I suppose.
I'd drive into a city some time, and there she'll be, walking down the middle of the road. Small but perfectly formed, with long dark hair, just like this girl from when I was at school. I hadn't realised until I started dreaming of this woman who looked like her, just how attractive Lucy was. It would I think be wishful thinking to imagine I'd find her here, but we need some sort of dream to cling to. We'd meet each other, and immediately know. Even if we weren't suitable for each other, we'd have an obligation to continue the human race. But it wouldn't matter, because we would be ideally suited. I'd pull up the car, get out and ask her to join me, and we'd spend the rest of out lives together. We'd drive for hours every day, walk through any parks we'd find, we'd sit and eat together, we'd laugh together, in essence living the whole of each other's life. We'd start a family to continue the human race, and be as close to each other and our children as it's possible to be.
I know it's a flight of fancy, but I have to have something to keep me going. And it does, it makes me want to get from city to city, in the hope that, when I arrive, I'll see her there, sauntering down the road. I hope it will keep me going for as long as I can. Last week, when I arrived in some town in Texas, I saw who I thought was her: the most beautiful woman in the world, lying face down in the gutter, her skin slowly rotting and slightly eaten by roaches. Obviously one of the last ones. Maybe it's her. Maybe I wasn't meant to meet anyone. But I'll stick to my hope, as it is the only thing keeping me alive. Someday, I'll know. Whatever was meant to be, will be. There aren't many people to interfere anymore. My destiny will show me the way.
I only hope my destiny doesn't give up as well.
© Henry Bush, 2013
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