Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the FANTASY and/or SCI FI Genre (10/16/14)
- TITLE: The Last Man On Earth
By Rick Higginson
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Eugene Fitzsimmons snatched the revolver from the table, sweat beading on his brow as he crept to the secured hatch of his bunker. “Who’s there?”
“Just open the door, Eugene.”
Someone knows me? Eugene pulled the hammer back on the revolver before releasing the locks., then yanked the hatch open with the gun aimed at chest level. “What do you want?”
A skeletal face stared back from beneath a black hood. “Weapons don’t work on me. Never have.”
Eugene felt a strange calm. “Is it… my time?”
Death laughed. “Oh, heavens, no. You have plenty of time left.”
“Then why are you here?” Eugene stepped back, the gun hanging loose in his grasp.
Death glided into the bunker, settling into a seated position on empty air by the table. “Would you believe I’m bored?”
“You’re bored?” Eugene secured the hatch closed. This is smart. I’m locking myself in a survival bunker with Death.
“I never thought I’d say this, but yes, I’m bored.” Death rested his scythe over his shoulder. “Things were crazy busy for a short time, but now, nothing. You’re the last person alive, and I have nothing to do until it’s your time to go.”
“How do I know I can trust you? What if the only way you can take me is if I invite you in?”
The skull tilted to one side. “Really? Is that myth still floating around? If it were that easy to defeat me, you wouldn’t be the last man on earth.”
Eugene sat in his chair. “So, you’re just going to hang around here until it is my time?”
“Well, I could, but it occurred to me that you might enjoy some company, too.” He crossed a bony ankle over his knee.
“I never pictured Death as the kind to want company.” Eugene scratched at his beard.
“Yes, that old ‘Lonely One’ title… that’s another myth. I’m really quite sociable.” Despite the fleshless face, he seemed to smile. “People thought I just came to snatch their souls from their bodies. Actually, I escorted them from here to the hereafter. I’m more like a cab driver than an assassin.”
Eugene blinked. “Seriously? A cab driver?”
“I tell you, I’ve had some great conversations with my charges over the millennia.” Death flipped his hood back and put his thin phalanges behind his skull. “The most fun are the atheists that want to argue that I’m nothing more than random synaptic impulses in their dying brains, or some scientific sounding stuff like that.”
“To be honest, I’m not sure I trust my senses right now either.” Eugene sniffed the water from his filtration system.
“Don’t think too much about it. Just enjoy it.”
There must be some serious chemicals in my water now. Eugene pushed the water container away. I wonder if I could find some beer in a store somewhere.
Death sat upright. I’ve always wanted to try a beer.
“How did you do that?”
The bony jaw gave the impression of an amused smile. “I’m Death. I can hear your thoughts loud and clear.”
“This is going to take some getting used to.” Eugene stood up and tucked the revolver in its holster. “So, you wanna go get a beer or something?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Death glided halfway to the door before standing up.
They traversed the long tunnel to the outside world, emerging onto the streets of a ruined city. Animal howls reverberated down deserted alleyways before getting lost in the heavy air.
Eugene glanced at the tall figure beside him. “Man, we should find you some food, too. Your ribs are sticking out, dude.”
“Oh, good one.” Death chuckled. “If you start that, you’ll find I have a bone to pick with you.”
“I can guess which one… the humerus.”
“Ah, Eugene, this is the start of a long and beautiful friendship.” Death clapped him on the back. “Hey, look! Pale moonlight. Did you ever dance with Death by the pale moonlight?”
“I think that’s supposed to be ‘dance with the devil by the pale moonlight.’” Eugene nudged him with an elbow.
“Really? The devil? I could’ve sworn it was Death.”
“Huh. Do you wanna dance anyway?”
“How about after we find that beer?”
“It’s gonna take a LOT of beer.”
“Thanks for letting me in.”
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