The Last Human in the Milky Way — 2
Excerpt from Chapter 2 She Looked at Him, and He Felt Warm Sunshine on His Face
It was like a dark dream. Everyone was gone. He was the last to live in the Milky Way. His house was at the top of the road, so he had barely noticed the changes. It had happened gradually, with fewer and fewer people who in the afternoon came home to the neighbourhood from work, from shopping or school.
Up from his porch he had had a perfect view, and he had long thought that everything — or at least most of it — was as it had been before the move had begun.
He had been one of several who had chosen to move here to this neighbourhood which was a bit remote, miles away from the big cities where people lived much closer to each other. As the town was far from areas with large population concentrations, house prices had been relatively moderate, and for his own part, that was one of the main reasons why he had bought the house.
He discovered that he himself had thought the same as several others, that this was a good place to settle down and build a future. He had talked to several people while he was moving into the house with his few things. They had exchanged information about where they were from, and some small talk about why they had chosen to move to this place. Almost everyone preferred to avoid talking about what they had left. He was happy about that, because then he didn’t have to invent a story about himself and what he had gotten away from.
The neighbourhood was a collection of old, painted houses along two parallel streets, a derelict, village-like area that had grown up in a short period a few decades ago when optimism and children’s laughter reigned, and the sounds of children playing could be heard from the gardens around the houses. There was even a school building and a small assembly hall, both of which testified that there had once been life and bustle in the neighbourhood.
He had become acquainted with some of the other newly moved people one evening with a brilliantly beautiful starry sky. It had been a hot day, almost without a breath of wind, and the heat still lingered in the air after the sun had set. They stood in small groups and talked together, and he had gotten to know Kevin, who told him that he had been a lorry driver for many years before most things started falling apart. The trucking company he drove for went bankrupt, along with thousands of other vital companies in the machinery of society.
“There was only one thing to do,” said Kevin, “it was to pack up everything we could get in the cars and on the trailer, and set off.
Kevin looked at him with an ironic smile.
“In the city we left there were empty shelves in the shops. Nothing left of many of the things we needed in the grocery stores,” Kevin said.
His wife Liz, added to what Kevin said: “Yeah, the shelves in the shops were empty, we couldn’t get hold of normal foodstuffs such as flour and sugar, or meat and vegetables.”
“Yes,” Kevin said, “and the water supply in the town failed. We didn’t know when we had clean water, or when we had to boil our drinking water.”
Kevin said that it had gotten really bad after the hundred-year storm hit the area. At the time, there were many who had seen no other option than to leave their homes. Preferably travel as far away as possible.
They had stood for a long time that evening in the playground by the decommissioned school and talked. Some people had made a small bonfire on the gravel in the middle of the schoolyard, and the children got roast sausages on sticks that the men forged for them.
Light from the flickering fire played with the faces of the men and women who stood talking. When the fire had burned down and there were only embers left, they could see the mighty starry sky with thousands, perhaps millions of small luminous points sparkling towards them.
The author is currently reviewing and editing the manuscript for the novel The Last Human in the Milky Way. Excerpts from selected chapters will be published as previews on Medium.
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