The Last Two

by Chris Buchanan
Flash fiction, 2013

It doesn’t matter when it happened for now. It happened. It will never matter whose fault it was, and it doesn’t matter if it could have been prevented. It was not. There were billions of survivor stories and all of them would have broken your heart or re-affirmed it and those stories meant everything to the people involved. But they don’t matter now. They are all dead and none of you have time or a special purpose to hear any of it.

If there really must be a eulogy, the ending was a nice story and fairly representative of how they all lived. The very last two human beings were a man and a woman. They had only known one another for a few days. Both of them were experiencing severe shock from their loved ones’ deaths, which made them appear calmer than they were. They had gotten themselves trapped in a collapsing building in what had been one of the first cities ever built, and they had lost the other people they were with. They had no energy left. They might have survived longer if they had found some.

What was nice was that neither one of them held any sort of illusion that their reasons for not running were anything other than exhaustion. They slumped down against a white wall covered in scuff marks that looked like a pattern, then they fell into place like discarded dolls in a toybox. They held eye contact but not because they were in love or holing onto hope, or telling themselves that they were having some sort of beautiful epiphany in the final moment: something that made it all worth while.

Nothing like that. They just slumped and looked at the most interesting thing in the room, which in both cases was another human, and thought about whatever they had to think about. No pressure, no urgency to say something important, no need to communicate. It was no great thing, but if the two people had been slightly more lucid, they would have thought that was quite good. They would have enjoyed something about the position they were in.

They never knew that they were the last two. There was so much they didn’t know, now that there were so few of them. The species had lost more than it understood with every set of lungs that stopped. Two didn’t do much.

It doesn’t matter what their names were, less still what they looked like or how old they were, what particular places they had fitted into and how. No-one would know the differences now, and they made very little difference to what happened.

Amid the familiar sounds of crashing glass and slamming concrete and metal, in a moment there was something harsher, some noise. Both of them jumped a bit and held their shoulders tense. it was the beginning of an electrical fire but they would never know it. For no reason other than that it seemed true, one of them said, “You have beautiful eyes”. That was the last piece of language. The ceiling caved in. The power went out and then, as though there was a consideration for modesty, we lost our last eye.

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