There came a time when the world seemed to stop. It wasn’t at a time that I thought would be an appropriate stopping place. Rather it wasn’t at midnight on a full moon lit night. More so it was only a half moon. I could see it in the sky even as it was sharing the view with the sun. The sun hadn’t travelled behind the mountains. Though it felt as it might soon, the way it kissed the tops of the peaks in an almost motherly affectionate way.
That was when it happened. The event was sudden and not easily dismissed as an ordinary moment. Even as the sun began to hide her face the light emanating from her gradually diminished as it lowered. It was the lack of the amount of the sun visible from the mountains that first alerted me to the strange event that followed.
A blast of light so bright it felt nearly as though a match had been struck right in front of my eyes. So bright it filled my entire view leaving no room for anything else to be seen but the white flash surrounding me. Though it must have only lasted a mere moment my eyes interpreted it as lasting nearly an hour at least. Wherein the thought of shutting my eyes against it seemed an impossible feat I could scarcely accomplish. So I didn’t. I took it all in. My sight of everything was unobstructed by shadows, plants, and every living thing around me. The light took everything, covered it, enveloped it, consumed it.
When the light seemed to dim enough for me to take in my surroundings there was nothing left. The plants that danced in the wind before seemed to have burrowed themselves in the ground. Covering themselves with dirt leaving not a trace that they were ever there to begin with. Though my eyes widened they took in nothing around me. There was nothing for them to take in. Even as the sun continued it’s descent down the other side of the mountain and the moon seemed to gleam with the knowledge that it might soon rule the sky alone.
Alone. That was an interesting thought as it seemed I had that in common with the moon as it were. Looking around there was nothing. The fields of weeds that once surrounded me were gone without so much as a disturbance of the ground where they once were. I felt it. Felt it in my very soul even as I was alone with myself before. I knew I was even more alone in this moment than any moment before. Something had happened. Something dreadful had taken place and I was alone at the center of it.
“Parcy!” I croaked out a shout that broke from my lips in a desperate sound foreign even to my ears.
Running across the ground my shoes gathered the soft dirt keeping it between my heel and soul making my travels all the more difficult and slow. Still I ran until I reached the edge of what used to be a great field, the small stone road still winding through the dirt. Letting out an exasperated breath I tried to control my breathing exhausted from my impromptu sprint. Parcy was still there nuzzling her nose through the dirt. Walking up to her I grabbed her reins pulling her close and rubbing her side affectionately.
“Strange things are afoot,” I whispered, throwing myself into the side saddle and arranging my skirts to cover my ankles appropriately. “Let’s get home quick as a flick.”
Clicking my tongue I urged Parcy into a soft gallop turning this way and that taking in the bare surroundings. The trees were gone, any sort of vegetation had thus disappeared. I closed my eyes against the sight knowing that Parcy knew her way home as well as I did.
Coming up on the old manor house I heard the comforting sounds of the other animals from the barn. Opening my eyes to the near dusk covered surroundings I could still make out under the moonlight everything was the same as when I had left. The house, the barn, the trees, and all the other plants. Everything was in order. Blinking rapidly I took it all in, shock momentarily forcing my body to remain stiff in the saddle as I took in my surroundings.
Forcing myself back to reality I hurried Parcy into the stables. I looked around Carles, our stable boy, had already retired it would seem. Not wanting to wake him at this hour and alert the house to my evening disappearance I hurried through brushing Parcy down and put everything away as silently as I could.
Hurrying into the house I raised a brow at how silent it was. Even at this hour there was a footman or a maid scurrying around finishing some task or other. A sickening worry feeling crept from the silence and erupted over my skin in a form of gooseflesh that covered every inch of my arms and the back of my neck.
Scurrying down the hall I threw open my parents doors not concerned about waking anyone up now. I gasped at the sight of their bed rumpled sheets empty but not thrown open. As if they had just simply vanished from in their blankets. I ran my fingers through my hair frantically pulling at the roots.
A sickening feeling flew through me and settled into my stomach making my body feel heavier than I thought possible. I was alone. It was obvious after searching the other rooms that usually occupied the various staff that I was the only one in the manor house. I sunk down wrapping my arms around my legs drawing everything to my center as if I too could simply disappear into nothing.
Two months later
Wiping my brow from the salty sweat I found there I urged Parcy to continue on. Each town we crossed each abandoned empty building we broke into my hopes diminished. I was utterly alone, there was no one anymore. Stopping at an empty tavern I led Parcy to the stables to the left of the building.
Pulling her into the stable I startled surprised to see another horse feasting from a half filled trough. Shaking my head I let out a breathy laugh.
“At least you find yourself in company tonight,” I laughed at Parcy.
Undoing her saddle and throwing it over a stand I looked around the stable. It was a well kept place with fresh hay strewn about. I wouldn’t mind staying here a few days before journeying on again if the tavern had the same amount of inside care and looks to it.
Turning I looked as Parcy began quenching her thirst at the water beside the feeding trough. Rolling my neck to the side I sighed heavily pulling my skirts up in my hands and striving toward the outside world once more.
Striving toward the tavern I threw open the door unaware of the force I put toward opening it. Jumping slightly as it hit the side wall and seemed to come back in agitated revenge towards my face. Surprised, I threw up my hands to block its approach, closing my eyes against the onslaught. Though the impact I awaited never came as the door hit something else on its return before reaching me.
Opening my eyes I looked to see what had impeded it’s journey and was shocked to see a bare hand holding the edge of the door. Blinking rapidly my eyes traveled of their own accord up to the wrist the hand seemed attached to before traveling further up a green sleeved arm. The end of the journey revealed a man. Stepping back in surprise I opened my mouth finding the need to speak my surprise aloud though my voice thought differently and no sound left my open lips. Instead I found myself standing with my mouth open silent only on the outside as my mind raced.
My thoughts immediately went to my hair. As it were strewn about my face after my hours of riding at varying speeds. My dress had not been changed since the last trading post I found that had appropriately fitting attire and I thought of every wrinkle in the dull brown riding fabric. Urging my hands to attend to one or both of these grievances I found myself utterly frozen in place staring at the man before me. He wore a green riding coat that seemed to be in just the same amount of disrepair and wear as my own riding attire. It gave me little comfort to find his attire in such a sight as my eyes took in his otherwise alarmingly handsome and chiseled features he sported.
“I find that urging the door open gently persuades it to function in a rather pleasing manner,” the man’s voice held humor instead of judgement as his words might be interpreted as without the lilt of a smile I could see on his lips.
“I beg your pardon,” I stammered my voice returning to me at last though my hands remained unattending to my will and remained at my sides.
“Perhaps you would beg the pardon of the door,” the man laughed eagerly rolling onto the tips of his toes before leaning back as if he had a nervous energy that needed to be expelled by some physical action. “It is the door that you have so horribly offended in such that it would come after you in such an aggressive manner.”
“I see of course,” I tried a laugh but it came out as an imitation of a speckle bellied frogs croak. I immediately ceased the activity, a blush coming up to cover my cheeks unflatteringly.
“I suppose you were planning on entering at some point.”
The man motioned for me to step inside a smile on his face and a light in his eyes. I nodded my head though my legs still refused to abide me in stepping forward. His eyebrows furrowed in worry and he stepped closer to me. This action seemed to hurry my recovery as I took a step back away from him before raising a hand to my chest. Widening his eyes the man stepped back apologetically raising his hands in front of him.
“Is anyone with you?” He eagerly looked around me as if in hope of better company to come up beside me and save him from our awkward encounter.
“I’m afraid you are the first person I have seen since….” I turned my eyes down to my hands finding them a far less distracting view than the man in front of me. “Well, I fear I have lost the sense of how many days have passed.”
“Yes,” I looked up at his speaking again and saw his face fall in disappointment.
It would seem he had realized I was his only option for conversation and was thus despaired. I swallowed hard. I was usually apt to converse of many things in the company of others. Why my tongue had lost its ability to convey the thoughts of my mind was beyond my comprehension. I rolled it around in my mouth as if urging it back into active duty after so long an absence of the challenges of use.
“I have the same affliction,” His smile came again, lighting up his face. “I would apply towards the manner of counting the sun setting but those seem to have gathered such a large amount I lost track of them a few sets ago.”
“I’m sorry,” I stammered taking a breath as I eased myself back into the conversation.
The surprise of seeing another person slowly easing the discomfort of my appearance. I took a step forward making sure to keep a respectable distance from the man as I stepped away from the door watching it close softly behind me.
“I find myself at a near loss of words,” I attempted to reapply myself to conversation between us lest he bore too soon of my company and leave me alone. I found in that moment being alone again when I had found another to be ill inducing. “Seeing another has been shocking to say the least. I hope to find you well?”
“As well as one can be when they find themselves to be the last person on a vastly large continent,” The man urged her forward and they walked forward as he spoke leading her away further down a hall. “I have travelled through many towns and found them to be almost hauntingly empty. That is until this one. I came from the far east and it is desolate. How is it you came upon this town?”
“I left no one behind me on my journey if that is your wondering. I came from the west riding as oft as I could through the day stopping only to rest dear Parcy. I stopped at posting inn’s taverns and I fear I broke into many homes in search of another person.”
“Have no fear I have not seen a magistrate to which I could turn you in if that is your fear in telling me. Though it would be foolish of me to turn you in when I have done the same dishonour on my neighbors in search of another.”
“Then it is true?” I turned to him as we reached the top of a staircase “There really is no one besides us left? What ever is it we will do?’
“I find myself not nearly at a loss for the idea of what to do,” the man smiled at me urging a smile from my own contenance in turn.
Turning to the side he faced me head on raising a hand he brushed my errant curls away from my face. I felt the coolness of his fingers brush against my hot skin.
“What is it you had thought to do?” I leaned against his hand the comfort of physical touch, something I did not know I yearned for so aggressively until this moment.
“Why we must stay by one another lest we never find another,” His smile was calm and inviting. “I will never stop my search for answers but I will confess your beauty gives me pause on my search that I might bask in the glory of your company. I find your contenounce humorous and I am sure with more familiarity our personalities might match most favorably.”
“You speak with such fervor,” I nearly laughed if it wasn’t for his serious contanence. “Though I would not subject you to my outright personality so soon I find myself in agreement that over time we might each other of an agreeable nature.”
“I find you of an agreeable nature already. I am speaking of a far more alluring familiarity we might find ourselves in. Surely even if there were other’s about, I would scarcely find my eye straying from you for more than a dark moment of reprise.”
“You flatter me.”
“I should hope so. I have spoken so honestly of your good graces that it would do me wrong to have my intentions so misconstrued.”
“I find you captivating and I would even if we weren’t alone I know not your name your family or many of your mannerisms, but I find myself thrilled at the prospect of familiarizing myself with everything about you.”
“You are very forward sir.”
“When one finds oneself the last man on earth finally finding the last woman on earth is in fact the most bewitching creature he has ever set his eyes on. I apologize for it seems my utter astonishment and happiness can know no bounds. It is with great tragedy that I found such happiness and I fear my lack of conversation has pushed me to become a rather impeding force in my greeting.”
“It is all surprising though I find it utterly romantic as well. I always wanted to be a part of some gothic romance. Though it saddens me at the circumstances that led me here I find myself alarmed at the happiness I feel at the chance meeting I have acquired.”
“My dear, you are utterly appalling and I find that I love it!”
Laughing as he picked me up at the waist and spun me around I had a moment of pure bliss. Reality begged at my keyhole but I ignored the sharp note of reasonable words in my ear that this couldn’t possibly be real. How could I have found a perfect man after months of being alone. Why was he so perfect? What was his name? What did he do to get here? What were we to do after this? Nothing of good and honest inquiry left my lips toward his odd mannerisms. He could be a mirage of madness for all I care. I was just glad that I, the last woman on earth, had found one other person, the last man on earth as it were. How perfect that we should have been two pieces of a puzzle fitting so perfectly in place. This in no way could go in any other direction than the inevitable happiness of us both surely it could not. For whatever could go wrong?