The Last Man on Earth
“Dios mío, this is really it…” Adán Fuentes plopped down in the La-Z-Boy of his dreams. Memories of his father flashed through his mind. Days from his childhood, days filled with stories of his family’s immigration to the United States. Days filled with hope, that one day they too would be a prosperous American family. Hope in a future where they could sink into their La-Z-Boy recliners after a long day’s work and just let their worries melt away.
But those days would never come. He didn’t know how or why, but as far as Adán could tell, he was alone. The nuclear fallout had devastated the land. The battle between the nations – “the war to end all wars” as the reports called it – had resulted in mutual destruction unlike any the world had previously seen. Even if Adán wanted to, even if he had the knowledge to sustain himself off the land, he wouldn’t have been able to. There would be no soil that could take crops. Not during his life time, anyway. And if he truly was the last person left standing, not in anyone else’s lifetime.
Adán pressed his face into his hands and began to weep. He wept for himself. He wept for the family and friends he lost. But most of all, he wept for the extinction of humanity. “I’m here, papa,” Adán sobbed aloud. “I made it. I sunk into the chair, just like we talked about. I hope you can hear me, papa… I hope you’re looking down on me from heaven, waiting for me to join our family…” Tears continued to stream down his face as he thought of the futility of his situation. Oh how he wished the chair would melt his worries away, just as he and his father had talked about in his youth.
A sudden sound caused Adán to bolt upright. He waited. Silently he sat to ensure he had not made the sound up. Then it came again. Knock, knock, knock. He pushed himself out of the chair and rushed to the door, throwing it open so that it slammed against the wall. What lay beyond made him quickly shield his eyes, as the moment the door was opened light came flooding in to the previously dark room. This was not natural light, though. It did not come from the sun, as the sun was now permanently hidden behind a layer of… something. He did not know which aspect of the war had resulted in the sun being covered. All he knew was that this light had to be man-made.
“Mi amigo, please, turn off your light. I thought I was alone, it will be more relieving than you can possibly understand to see the face of another survivor.” Adán tried to peer through the light but it was too strong. He found it odd, though, that the light did not burn his eyes as he expected. Instead, he simply could not make out anything beyond it. He lowered his hands to his sides and looked deep into the light, trying to make out any sort of figure within it. “Please, turn off the light and come inside. It’s safe, I promise.” From within the light came a booming voice, one that both comforted Adán and filled him with fear, “I know, child. All is safe within my presence.”
Realization fell upon Adán instantly. He dropped to his knees and began to cry, calling out, “My Lord, please forgive me for disrespecting you! I did not know, I-“ His words caught in his throat as a great calm washed over him. His tears stopped, and he once again looked up toward the light. This time, a figure did emerge from it. The being which entered into the building could be described neither as a man nor a woman, nor anything in between or beyond. For he was both, and yet neither. He was all, and yet he was nothing. Adán now stood in the presence of God.
The deity silently led Adán back to the La-Z-Boy, which now mysteriously had a duplicate across from it. The two took their seats, and the man who had previously been sobbing in that very same chair now simply sat in quiet reverence. Long moments passed before God finally spoke, in a voice that was powerful and yet not wholly concrete, as if it were constantly shifting in timbre and tone. “My dear child, I know you are afraid. I wish this process were easier for the chosen of each age, but alas, it must be done within the confines of the era it is performed in. I will not waste words with you, Adán. I have once again purged the earth, and you are to be the template from which I remake humanity.”
Adán’s mouth dropped open. He sat in stunned silence for quite a while before muttering, “Why me?..” God laughed, a hearty laugh that fills those who hear it with joy, even in the darkest of times. “I’m sure you’re expecting me to say something like, ‘Because you were the most pure man on earth,’ isn’t that right?” Adán shrugged and nodded sheepishly. The deity continued, “No, I don’t mean to insult you but that’s not quite it. Purity isn’t the only thing that matters when choosing the template. To explain my criteria to you would take eons, and I’m afraid your lifespan is a mere fraction of that. Just know that I have my reasons, and you were the best candidate for the job. I know this is sudden, but we mustn’t waste any time. When you are ready, let me know, and I shall begin the rejuvenation of your world – with you at its center.”
It felt like days, maybe even weeks, before Adán moved again. He simply sat there, in the La-Z-Boy recliner, thinking about… everything. His past, his current situation, and the amazing future he now had in front of him. Finally, though, he was ready. He stood up, faced God, and said boldly, “I am prepared. Or at least… as prepared as I can be.” God chuckled and gestured toward the door. It swung open, and outside the ground was beginning to become green again. The sky was clearing up, and animals could be heard scurrying about. “Good,” God said, “then let us begin.” With that, he reached a hand into Adán and pulled out a rib.