The Apocalypse

The apocalypse was supposed to be more fun.  A band of plucky survivors, odds stacked against them, find a way to persevere in the face of constant danger.  Nobody ever talks about the loneliness and endless boredom.  Of course, in the stories, most of the survivors eventually end up dying anyway, so maybe this is better.

The problem is I never found another survivor.  I’m sure there must be others.  After all, what are the chances that I’d be the only one?  They have to be small.  I just haven’t come across any.  It is a large world.

To be fair, I haven’t gone anywhere.  Everything I need was right here.  Food.  Shelter.  Nothing was around to threaten me.  For all I knew, the rest of the world was a hellscape full of monsters or cannibals.  Traveling, just to find another person, seemed like an unnecessary risk.

The research base I had been stationed at was restocked just a week before the world went dark.  By the time I ran out of supplies, I expected to be too old to care.  The only reason to leave was boredom.  And that was not yet reason enough.

I wished I knew what had happened.  Abruptly, all communications had gone silent.  That was not supposed to be possible.  Before that moment, there had been no indication of a war, or a natural disaster, or some other catastrophe that might have been the cause.  There was just no one out there to talk to.  I was alone and didn’t even know why.

So when an alarm went off signaling someone at the external hatch of the station, I was understandably nervous.  The best case was that someone else who had survived had found this place and was looking for survivors.  The worst case…  Well, I didn’t want to think about that.  The camera showed someone in a parka.  Perhaps another member of my team, hoping this place was still safe?  Or someone who had killed someone on my team, taken their clothes, and now come to take from me as well.  I couldn’t know.

I sat, staring at my monitors but not really seeing them, wondering what to do.  If I didn’t let the newcomer in, they could die in the harsh environment outside.  But if I did, they could kill me.  Or worse.  What was the right thing to do?

My indecisive paralysis ended when I noticed the newcomer was gone from the door.  I hadn’t seen them leave.  They couldn’t have gotten in, I was sure.  Unless the security had failed.  I started scanning through the internal cameras.  Before I got halfway through them, the door to the operations room slid open.  Frantically, I looked for something to use as a weapon, but there was nothing obvious nearby.  I froze when the newcomer yelled.

“Mathis!  What the hell is going on here?”

After a stunned moment, I recognized one of my team members.  “Jackson!  Thank god.  You survived.”

He scowled at me.  “No thanks to you.  Why didn’t you let me in?”

“I wasn’t sure who it was.”

“Well why have you been offline for the last month?”

“What do you mean?”

“You haven’t reported in.  You haven’t responded to requests.  Are your comms broken?  What about the backup?”

“What are you talking about?  Everyone’s gone.  There’s no one out there to talk to.”

“What are you talking about?  No one’s gone.  Except you.  You just went silent.”

“That can’t be…”

He pushed past me and looked at the control board.  After a few moments, he got on the floor and pulled a panel off the underside.  “Here.  There are a couple of wires fried.  Let me just…”  Another minute or so, and he got up.  “Now try it.”

I flipped the switch and radio chatter flooded the room once more.

“See?”

“I just thought…”

“You didn’t bother to check?”

“Well…”

“Unbelievable.  You better call in.  You’re going to have explain all this.  Good luck.”

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