The Last Of Them

In an unknown city in the United Kingdom, a man lives by himself in an ancient, scenic city. An ancient, scenic city decimated by a fungal infection which has destroyed humanity as he knows it.

In the man's past is trauma and horror. The loss of family and friends and everyone he could ever think of meeting. Yet more importantly, in his past is the secret to where the world-ending Cordyceps fungus originated.

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2. II.

Sitting in the living room, Ged puts on the tone of voice which suggests he is about to burst into a rant.

‘The problem with GM isn’t that it’s bad for you, isn’t that it will damage us by eating it. That’s just lies and paranoia. The problem with GM is that it’ll ruin ecologies,’ Ged leans forward in his chair onto the small coffee table. ‘You’ve heard about killer bees, right?’

‘Who hasn’t heard about killer bees,’ Neville said, and the room of four laughed.

‘Ha ha. It’s not the killer bees we should be worried about though. Not the actual creatures. The initial damage was that they ruined the whole bee ecology.of the Americas after they were genetically modified in Norway, and taken to South America. But even worse is what happened after this. They kept regular bees trunked up in vans, and drove them cross country to be released periodically and pollinate different areas. To avoid the danger of the killer bees. So what they would do, is they would drive along to a field in huge states like Utah or Iowa, open the van doors, let the bees pollinate a field for a good while, then they would would wait for all the bees to come back,, in theory, to cater to their queen. And you know what happened?’

We all rolled our eyes and exchanged “I’m bored” glances.

‘They stopped coming back. We interfered so severely with their ecological process that they stopped having the inherent drive to come take care of the queen. They started just flying off to pollinate and then buzzing away into the distance. Purposeless. Now they’re dying out. In China a lot of farmers have to pollinate by hand now, using feathers attached to long poles.’ He slowed down to nearly a stop by the end. His listeners could tell he was talking himself into a melancholic crash.

Neville knew all this, he knew the damage of playing with nature, yet he also knew that esoteric topics like that did nothing for the others in the room. Doris looked numbed with boredom. His own wife Bronwyn’ had waning eye contact. He tried to cater to them: ‘Yeah, thanks for the cheery explanation of that particular topic.’ Doris and Bronwyn laughed.

‘Shut it,’ Ged replied, wearily smiling, and took a sip of tea. ‘Listen, Andy will be back home soon, we better get the dinner on. We’ll see you for the new Cronenberg the day after tomorrow, yeah?’

‘Oh god, I forgot about that,’ Bronwyn piped up, and looked at Neville.

‘Nuts,’ Neville added. ‘Well we should be able to make it along, I’ll let you know,’ they stood and left the room, exchanging mild farewells with Ged and Doris.

Neville and Bronwyn left by the spiral staircase, and returned to their own house nextdoor. Ged and Doris’ place was one to be envious of: a spacious loft-penthouse with a basement beneath, and an incredible view over the city at the top of its entrance staircase. The Masons didn’t need as much space as them, hence their ground-floor flat next door, but still envied the wide square rooms and long central corridor. Neville in particular often thought about what he would do with that basement underneath.

They got in next door sighing with exasperation. The kettle was lit. The radio turned on. Then Bronwyn told Neville to sit at the kitchen table.

She said: ‘I’m pregnant.’

They held each other.

They were happy.

Then they went to bed, with the prospect of another week’s hard graft ahead. Neville considered the monotony of a laboratory, Bronwyn the intensity of a local magazine office. Bronwyn’s news, however, made the graft seem like nothing. They had their next generation on their minds.

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