The last man in the world woke up. He cursed his fate; perhaps one of these nights, he would die in his sleep and not have to face yet another bloody day of solitude. A nice, quiet heart attack would suit, in the wee small hours, so slight he wouldn’t feel more than a pinch but enough to finish him off, once and for all.
And then what? If I, the last man in the world, pop my clogs, what next for this poor, benighted planet?
Not my problem, the last man in the world shrugged. Whatever transpires, planet Earth will be a lot better off, finally cleansed of its human infestation. The Earth will be able to heal itself at last, and Mother Nature will be able to reassert herself as the dominant force. Thinking of the fresh air and the renewed greenery almost made the last man in the world wish he’d be around to see it, to breathe it, to run around barefoot in it…
He got out of bed. He considered having a wash – which was the closest he had come to actually washing himself in… how long? He couldn’t remember. And who cared? There was no one around to complain about his b.o. or the halitosis that wafted through his unbrushed teeth.
And you might feel better
A small voice popped into his head.
Better in yourself if you have a wash. Refreshed. You don’t have to go the whole hog, just spruce yourself up a bit. Change your socks at least. Drag a comb across your bonce.
“What’s the point?” the last man in the world cried out, silencing the small voice for a moment.
You want to watch that
It piped up after a brief but deafening silence.
Shouting at me like that. If I stop talking to you, there really will be no one left. And then where will you be, eh? Well and truly on your lonesome. And that way, madness lies!
“Shut up,” the last man in the world grumbled. He padded across the apartment to the kitchen and put the kettle on.
No sugar in mine
“Make your bloody own!”
He stood by the kettle, listening to its rumbles growing to a roar and an eruption of steam. He made camomile tea but left it on the counter and it went cold, forgotten.
The last man in the world decided to put some music on. It would help him to ignore that small, nagging voice in his head. But the more he scanned the rows and rows of albums he had collected over the years, the less able he was to make a selection. Nothing appealed. Nothing took his fancy. Pieces he had loved for years had taken on the appeal of cold vomit.
It was the same with films. Nothing in his collection seemed worth watching. Nothing suited his mood. Unable to choose, he stood dithering at his shelves for an hour. At least that killed sixty minutes, he supposed. He went back to bed.
It’s too soon. You’ve only just got up. You haven’t done anything. You should get up. Move about a bit. Tire yourself out.
“Leave me alone,” the last man in the world put a pillow over his face. “Just let me lie here in peace, damn you.”
Sleep would not come. Why would it? The small voice was right: he had not used enough energy for the slightest amount of physical fatigue. Energy? That was a laugh; the last man in the world lacked the energy to do anything.
But I am so tired, he wailed. Tired of the same thoughts going around and around in my head. I just want them to stop.
The small voice interrupted the last man in the world’s thoughts before they could begin another cycle.
There’s still running water
In the taps. You filled the kettle – There’s still electricity to boil the water! There’s still power for all the music you no longer listen to and the films you don’t want to watch
The last man in the world lifted the pillow from his face. “What do you mean?”
Think about it. If there’s power and there’s water, there’s somebody else! Out there! You’re not the last man in the world after all
The last man in the world shook his head. “Automated systems. Same goes for the food delivery, before you say anything. It’s all drones and such.”
But the small voice would not be appeased.
Wouldn’t hurt to go and have a look. Get some fresh air, feel the sun on your face
“Get lost!” the last man in the world snarled. “Get out of my head!”
He clamped the pillow to his face and thrashed around on the unmade bed.
What are you afraid of? Are you afraid you’ll find others out there? Other people who think and feel the way you do. Or are you worried that you won’t? That you’ll find out once and for all that your truly are the last man in the world. Instead of just carrying on as though you are. It’s pathetic. You’re pathetic. You’re not the last man in the world; you’re depressed, that’s all. Pick yourself up off this bed this minute. Put your shoes on and march through that front door
Or else I’ll stop speaking to you
And then you really will be all alone
“All right, all right!” The last man in the world hurled the pillow across the room, sat up and snatched his shoes from under the bed. “If it’ll make you stop nagging,” he muttered, tying the laces.
You’ll feel better
The small voice promised.
The last man in the world stood. He froze. He looked across the apartment. The front door seemed an impossibly long way away.