By 2014 it was all over: a pandemic had spread through a planet called Earth. Sentient beings on that said planet were disastrously injured by it, their numbers decreasing significantly until very, very few remained.
It started in the summer of 2011. Felix Assa, the son of a Brazilian ambassador was brought to an emergency room after having convulsions, seizures, and a 15 day coma.
He woke up.
He died in his mother’s arms two days later while still in recovery.
The Felix strain was born. Fourteen weeks later, it spread through the entire American continent. Ten days later it devoured Asia, Europe and Africa. In less than half a year, the human population dropped from around 7 billion to 1 billion. By mid-2012, a few days shy of the one year anniversary of the first case of the virus, the human population was down to four hundred million members. News of uninfected zones and the rate of infections and deaths spreading through social media like wild fire until eventually no one cared to report it.
By 2014, humans became a self-proclaimed endangered species on a planet they once almost destroyed.
Life didn’t take notice of what happened. Birds sang, the earth rotated around the sun, and the sun arrogantly and slowly spun around itself. Rain cleansed the fields of the dropped remains of digested vegetation that the earth’s creatures left behind. A pack of once tame Homo sapiens scurried behind the younglings of a herd of goats, trying in vain to acquire sustenance so that they would endure their sudden downfall. Trees shook and withstood the shoving of wind, while birds upon them took cover from what helped them fly. The sky was theirs once again.
Gibb threw away the plastic container that held the last of his rotten bread. The food he stored in his bag was almost done. Every scent and morsel of fresh food he accumulated over the past year was now consumed. Fruits and vegetables were the first to go. He was forced to consume them first before they perished (reminding him of his own impending demise). He had bread. Pieces of it had started to rot but he had no choice but devour them in hopes that his body would be able to fight the mould. He searched for canned foods but so did every member of his own kind. Those were the hardest to come by.
Whatever cans of edible food substances he found he held onto like a newly born animal to its mother’s breast. Those he saved.
He finished the last piece of bread he had and licked his bony fingers to suck in any flavor that could be left outside of his mouth. He found his backpack and opened its front compartment. He looked around and dragged the bag to a wall which he leaned on. He spotted his cans among the ropes and counted them. Seven cans. Enough for two weeks, if he was lucky to survive so long. He quickly slung the bag on his shoulder, grabbed the umbrella that served as a staff and walked down the highway as fast as his dying body would allow him. There was a mess of cars that offered him no help; and now melancholy drove him past it.
Two hours into his trip north he came into a desolate city. Void of its inhabitants, vegetation had now claimed it back and the grey buildings were now broken and clad with various shades of green, red, yellow and orange – an interlocking array of colors indifferent in their occupation. Gibb slowed down. He had to; his species was now in danger and no longer on top of what was called ‘a food chain’. He was prey, a sad withering throwback to his bygone ancestors. He peered around a corner and saw lines of parked cars with their windows broken, scattered on the ground like spilled blood. He spotted a couple of rotting bodies. A chill ran down his spine and he drew a breath that almost made him cry. Loneliness was the hardest thing for a social being. The human species’ civilization was cultivated by society. Gibb’s loneliness was eating at his core, rotting away the flesh of his self and sense of being. He felt a connection to those he saw dying on the streets. They were holding hands. He had no hand to hold, no shoulder to cry on, no one to ask him what they should do or how he was feeling. He had no way to communicate what his heart ached to spill out. That heart that harbored all this agony decided to destroy the body that held and nourished it so it would seize its own suffering.
The human heart is the cruelest instrument.
There were no more tears, only the pain and nothing to wash it away. Gibb tried to steady his fluttering breath then headed towards the bodies. He stopped at their heels. The lump in his throat ached as he removed the shoelaces off the bloated feet, every second fearing they would explode. When he was done, he looked at the decaying bodies and uttered a prayer for them. He didn’t finish it, his confidence in such acts finally dying away at the sight of hands rotting into each other and connecting two humans in death. He envied them.
He turned from his dead torturers and carefully headed down the street. Cities had stores and supermarkets. Those contained food, something he was always on the hunt for. He came to an intersection and decided to turn right. He slowed down again and flattened himself against a dirty building. His head guided its eyes up the street it was facing and scanned it for signs of interest, then he turned his attention to the street he decided to take. A moment of hesitation flooded him before he finally was scanning the street he was about to walk. Funny how humans were now uncomfortable in the environment they built.
There was what looked like an alleyway down the road and Gibb carefully trudged towards it. He braced himself for a look and as soon as his head peeked into the alleyway, a dog ran out of it, startling Gibb to the point of falling down. The dog ran away up the street as Gibb’s body hardened from the shock. He hadn’t the energy to run after what was a considerable meal and it pained him. He took deep breaths and tried to steady himself. Time to scavenge whatever the dog was eating. Inside the dreadful alleyway lay another rotting human. Gibb gagged at the sight of mangled flesh and bone and ran out back into the street. He walked down that street intent on removing the memory of the rotting body from his head and taking the next left to see what it held.
A few minutes later he was walking into a supermarket storeroom which was devoid of anything except for some rags and blood stains. Drag marks indicated that animals heaved outside whatever carcasses they found. The storeroom was empty so Gibb turned to hit the streets again. His body was unable to process disappointment anymore. Not finding anything was a way of life now.
Out on the streets again, he was wandering aimlessly thinking of what to do next. He had to rest, and one of the thousands of building was his refuge. Plenty of space available. He chose a nice fancy looking building, one that had paint all over it and walked in to pick a room that offered relative safety. Noise startled him as he headed for the stairs. Friction. Movement. He froze, his mind telling him that he was about to cut down the species by one. He closed his eyes and slowly turned to what used to be a reception desk. Wide eyes welcomed him as soon as he opened his. For a moment he felt the shadow of a teardrop fall down his cheek. A living human head was staring back at him in disbelief.
For long minutes they sat by the bonfire and candle light on one of the balconies. Sara was a 16-year-old native of the city he was wandering, and despite the wear and tear of the weather and the fast approaching demise of their species she looked more beautiful than anything he’d ever seen in his thirty years of existence. Her eyes were booming with soul and her body still firm despite the hardship of the past four years. She was resourceful in ways he’d never seen, accumulating and securing in her house food that would last for months to come. She gave him a hearty meal and, now that his stomach was satisfied, they sat in silence as Gibb took in her young body, enjoying every curve on it. She was attractive, he’d give her that. They’d exchanged stories and she now offered him some wine she’d found on her journeys through the city. The bonfire died out as their eyes met and their souls entwined. Humans they were.
Inside the apartment, she showed him a bed he could sleep on and he enjoyed the sight he hadn’t seen in ages. He found her standing next to him, her hand embracing his as he took a deep breath of comfort. He moved his hands on her body, led her to the bed and sat her down on it. Her fingers dug into his back as he ravaged her. Her moans echoed through the house as he dug into her. He stayed on top of her long after the moans subsided and her orgasm woke the sleeping windows.
For two weeks he enjoyed her and she enjoyed him.
Outside a candle burned.