“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
I made my last walk down Richards street towards the laboratory. This was the most quiet of the one hundred and thirty-five walks I made down this street. One hundred and thirty-five days was the time I spent as the last man on Earth. When you are the last man on Earth, there is nothing you can do but accept the fact you have lost everything. Your home, your family, your hope, your sanity, there is nothing that remains. When you are the last man on Earth, you can only walk hoping it’s all over soon. I step into my office one last time; I walk over towards my desk where a picture of Valoryia and Nikolai sits, along with a gun that has been waiting for me.
“We need your help.” That’s the call I received twenty-one months ago, I was here for research on the Ebola virus, which was on the brink of finally being contained with a newly discovered cure because of a group of the most elite doctors from every corner of the world. I came to California in March of 2015. After nine sleepless months of testing and research, a cure was discovered; the virus could be contained. The Ebola virus killed 15,000 men, women, and children, but after nearly two hopeless years, the virus could finally be put to rest, and I could finally go home to my family. I hadn’t seen Valyeria, my wife, or Nikolai, my son, for almost two years. On December 18th, 2016, I was cleaning out my apartment in preparation for departure day the next morning; I was in reach of all that truly mattered to me anymore, which were seeing Valyeria and Nikolai’s faces again. These twenty-one months made me realize this.
Because I never met my mother, I became quite aware of the conformity and manipulation people were cursed from in the real world. I spent a lot of time with my father and grandpa, until my father was killed in a drunk driving accident when he forgot to put on his seat belt. I was a rebel when I was younger, much like my grandfather and father before their deaths. My grandfather told me before he died that “living behind the shadow of fear is to not be living at all.” After he bit it, I was stuck with my aunt Lada. She was not like my father or grandfather; she was like one of the “brain washed” people they always talked about. I spent a lot of time reading while I lived with her. I was at the top of my class in every subject all the way until graduation. The summer before my first year at I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, I became introduced to parties, alcohol, and substances that convinced me I wasn’t human and could conquer the world with the snap of my fingers. It was the most fun I had had ever since I moved in with Aunt Lada, I was worryless. One night I came home drunk to Lada, who screamed at me reminding me what life I have that lies ahead as long as I didn’t mess up these next six years. I ran away four times that summer, it was the only thing that could get me through living with a brainwashed woman like her. I kept thinking about my father and grandfather, I could not live behind the shadow of fear, which shadowed a life I wanted, a life I was in reach of this entire time.
The second time I ran away from Aunt Lada was when I happened to meet Valyeria for the first time while at a bonfire at the edge of Moscow with some friends and their friends. Her brown hair and brown eyes that resembled the beauty of a springtime forest where the sun glistened on the trees made it impossible for me to let her go without making her my very own. We became best of friends in a matter of days, and more than that in just a couple of weeks. We dated on and off for two years while I was in medical school, and after two years, Valyeria and I got married on December 20th. Four year later, I graduated from I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University; all was well.
Of the sixteen years Valyeria and I were married, I cannot recall a worse year than the twelfth. It was two weeks before I left for America, I was living with my friend since birth Abram. Valeryia insisted if she were to see my face again she would leave forever. I remember the night vividly that set her off like a stick of dynamite. It was the darkest and coldest night of 2014’s winter, and it was the night I almost lost my wife. Despite being thirty-four years old, my soul still had some party left inside of it, a little too much party for a doctor if you were to ask anybody. We were at Benedivt’s pub; it was a surprise gathering that was organized by Abram and my other friends. In was basically a “good luck saving the world” party before I departed for America to research Ebola. Dozens of friends showed up, beer was flowing, apparently there was an Ox that men started placing rodeo bets on in the parking lot, but I’m not sure if that was just substances doing what they do, or if the memory is vague from the hangover of the century that the morning after had in store for me. What I do remember was seeing Valeryia’s stunned face in disbelief when she saw me. At some point in the party, somebody called a dozen exotic dancers and hookers to the pub because “there was too much beef at this party.” Abram took out a flask of cocaine and he apparently was saving up for me as a gift, and he lined it up across one of the woman’s bare chest. A line he insisted I took “for good luck.” The moment I placed my nose on that girl’s chest just so happened to be the moment Valeryia walked into the pub. It was four in the morning and she was worried sick about me when I didn’t come home at two, so she came. We had always gotten through our rough patches, but I was not really sure this one would be resolved. I spent the rest of that night at Abrams, then the moment I woke up in the morning I made my way back to our house as fast as possible. She was already gone and so was Nikolai, my five-year-old son.
Because of my occupation, I spent over twelve hours at the Bizknov Medical Center every day, so I never really had much time to be the family man. When Nikolai was born in June of 2009, I only saw him once in the hospital before him and Val came home. Before I left for California, my relationship with him was not as strong as other fathers with their sons. He loved to write poems and was showing signs of a prodigy at hockey when he was four, but Val coordinated most of that because I simply did not have the time to do so. I really regret some of those nights I spent at the pub rather than at home with Val and Nik when I got off work early. I wish I spent some of those nights taking lines and shots with Abram, I spent at the dinner table with Val and Nik listening to his poetry, rather than just having to read it to myself when I got home. I missed five years of Nikolai’s life that I will never be able to get back.
Once all of my bags were packed, I made my way towards my taxi, which was going to bring me to LAX, which was going to bring me home to Val and Nik. When I stepped into the cab, there was a man already waiting in the back seat, it was Dr. O’Connor. Instead of the LAX, the cab was headed back towards the laboratory; a chill began to run down my spine. When we returned to the laboratory, all but one of the doctors were in the conference room with looks of shunned disbelief on their faces which were stuck to the television that had the news on. In just three weeks, 16,009 people who had taken the vaccine for Ebola were dead. The one doctor who was missing was Brandon Bruckenheimer, who was reportedly killed three days ago. His wife had Ebola and had taken the vaccine that was supposed to cure it. Both him and his wife were both found dead in their house.
All airlines were closed down in the United States after just five weeks of having a “cure” for the worse outbreak of the twenty-first century. Nobody could get into America, nobody could get out; this included me. After four months, 243,500 people were dead from the new virus that was simply nicknamed “Armageddon.” Research showed that when the vaccine made contact with the Ebola virus, it caused a reaction with the Ebola virus that mutated it, causing it to attack the central nervous system, and the lungs. Anybody who had taken the vaccine would die in no more than three days. What made this worse was that simply shaking somebody’s hand or even standing within a three-foot radius next to somebody infected by the virus could result in contracting the virus. 243,500 turned into 2.4 billion deaths globally over one year. Not only was the disease spreading, there was anarchy across the world from the tension it put on countries relationships with one another. Nuclear war incinerated the Middle East and South America, governments and economies collapsed across the entire globe, especially in the United States and in Eastern Europe. Riots broke out from citizens, which law enforcements could not contain. The more violence that broke out across the world, the faster Armageddon would spread.
I could never get a grip around why I was immune to the mutated virus. Because most of the laboratory was cleared out, and all of my colleagues were killed in riots and becoming infected, I was never able to conduct immunization tests. Could I have possibly kept all of this from happening? Much like how I could have kept the things that happened with Val and I from happening. According to satellite radio, there are approximately just one hundred and fifty people left on Earth, eighty reportedly in New Zealand, the other seventy being in Japan, but have only an expected time of six days to live until the now airborne virus completely blankets country. The next day, satellite radio reports that the Earth’s population is at one, the lone survivor being the broadcaster in an unknown desolate area. He makes his closing remarks to his imaginary audience, and then a loud gunshot goes off. I am the last man on Earth.
The last walk I had down Richards street was the longest, the coldest, and the quietest. I have spent one hundred and thirty five days as the last man on earth, surviving off of emergency food the laboratory had stored for situations like these. Once I made it to the laboratory, I take a walk down the halls one last time; halls that were once filled with the best doctors on the planet who were going to be the saviors of the human race. Nobody expected things to escalate the way they did, but in the grand scheme of things, the fact I would never see Val’s brown eyes or hear Nik’s voice as he recited poetry again was the most painful part of this all. Once I got to my office, I walk towards my desk to grab the gun in my drawer. Underneath the gun lied an envelope that read, “Open this when you aren’t busy saving the world.”
I want you to know that no matter what happens you are always going to be the love of my life. You and I have been through several difficult times ever since we got married sixteen years ago. Although I have had my doubts about us in the past, all of those doubts are overshadowed by my love for you. Not a minute goes by where I think about how happy I am going to be to see you walk through that door when you return home. I understand how difficult it was for you growing up without parents. I forgive you for that night at the pub, I just want you back in mine and Nik’s life. Nikolai is an incredible writer; he absolutely loves it. He loves to read, and is a stand out center for his hockey team. His blue eyes remind me of yours and that brings me joy. I have not yet told him about the sister he will be getting because I figured it would be just as sweet for us to tell him together. I hope all is well in the United States and I hope to see you soon. Write back to me when you can.
Forever and always,
I saw mommy writing to you so wanted to too. I can’t wait for you to be home because I miss you! Mommy promised me we are all going to have so much fun when you get home. I really want to go to a hockey game. Can we go to a hockey game? I want to go skating with you so we can play hockey too. I scored a goal today for me team that won the championship! Don’t tell mommy I said this but I think her tummy has been getting bigger, but I dont want to hurt her feelings if shes just getting fat. I have to go to scool now but good luck with what you are doing and i will see you verry soon dad.
Reading those two letters changed my outlook on my life forever. For those last couple of moments of it at least. I think at some point in time we all realize that we are just specks of dust in this universe, and nothing we do, discover, create, or change will matter by the time we are all gone. It’s who and what was with us that truly matters before our time on Earth concludes. We all have our own regrets, especially me; I do regret the late nights at the bar and I do regret missing Nik’s first five years of life, and I do regret what I put Val through for sixteen years. I’m sure every doctor in that laboratory regretted creating that “vaccine” and I guarantee in the last year of planet Earth, all 7 billion of us had something they wish they could take back. What has happened has happened though and none of us can go back and change the past. All we can do when we have regrets are to resolve those, rather than let the past haunt you with guilt and sorrow when you could have done something so it does not permanently damage others and ourselves. I did not resolve my regrets when Val and Nik were on this Earth, but I cannot wait to be able to when I am with them in just a couple of moments. I got down on both knees, said one last prayer to God before I took out the gun from the drawer. “All is well,” I tell myself. “All is well.”