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The last human?

by ayushinav


“DANGER. Evacuate the place now!”

“DANGER. Evacuate the place now!”

The small device kept on buzzing the same thing until I switched it off. The weather was very foggy, or rather smoggy. I faced difficulty in seeing through even 10 meters. I wanted to pull off the mask and feel the air once cool and fresh and which I now long for. I glanced at my watch.

4:13 a.m.

I turned towards home. I felt really fatigued. There was nothing unusual around me. The temperatures were all normal at -40 and not a box had moved from its place. I drove the rover rather slowly because the acid levels were on the rise that day. That was, maybe, something unusual about that day. Acid levels had surged after a very long time for as long as I could remember, 6 years, maybe 7, who cares. Such a phenomenon held even more mystery owing to the fact that it had rained only an hour ago. I could see the glass of the rover corroding a bit so I slowed down my speed. I did not want to lose the left air with me.

Arsh took out a knife and sliced the apple. He would sometimes skip the meal but today he could hear his stomach gnawing. He opened the door to the BREATHING chamber, taking care that he does not leak any air. Finally inside, he sat down on the grass and took the slices of apple and began eating them.

When I reached home, I found something really unusual, more unusual than the sudden surge in acid levels of the air. The doors to my house were open. I could give plausible explanations to the increased acid levels, maybe a volcano erupted or another factory blew up but this was something I could never imagine. To add to the mystery was the fact that there were footprints entering my house. I believed that 6 years of isolation had made me resistant to the fear of death but that day I felt scared. I was sitting in my rover and the sight of the opened door and the prints of mud on entrance gave me goosebumps that day. I stayed in the rover for some minutes, imaging what thing would have entered my home. Another human? No…... It was just not possible.

Having satisfied his hunger, he reclined down on the grass and began staring into the skies. For the moment, he did not want to think it was virtually created and all that 3-D imaging thing. He wanted to sleep but after a long time, some thought had troubled him so much.

After what could have been an hour, I mustered enough courage to get out of the rover and entered my house. A closer look at the doorknob showed it had some bloodstains on it. This sent shivers down my spine. It had been quite a time that I had to think of my safety against any life-threatening species. I did not have anything to protect or even defend me, no ammunition or anything of that kind. Unarmed, I entered the house, convincing myself that there was someone injured and in need of help. There were no marks of steps after the door. Was it decent enough, really? I just did not want it to be human. I preferred thinking it were some monster hiding inside to kill me

He wished he could never leave this BREATHING chamber. Though artificially created, it seemed so natural, much natural than the natural world out there. He filled his lungs for the last time, before he got up, took the empty plate and got out of the chamber. He pulled on the mask and went out of the door and sat on the steps. He could remember that day very well. He had seen them flying away from this planet to Earth 29.16. They left him behind. He was sent to pick up some medicines from an underground chamber but when he reached there, a gas rendered him unconscious. By the time he woke up, they had already left. He ran outside and saw the last craft taking off. He ran after it like one runs to catch a bus. He cried for days after it but then one fine day, when he felt some problem in breathing, he began his quest for survival as the last human on Earth. Since then, he had been alone. He did try to find any other human, if left, on the planet but repeated searches that continued throughout the first year did not lead him to any success. Now he had become so much accustomed to the loneliness that being in any sort of company might feel absurd to him.

He was still contemplating over who or what had entered the house. The day had finally stretched out and he could see a brown thing lying some 50 feet away from his house. He had initially thought it of as some garbage or plastic bag carried to the front of the house by rains but in the dull daylight, he could see it was not. He got up to unveil the identity of the brown thing. As he neared it, he saw it was an orangutan. Something had pierced through its heart. With the mortality or birth rate of anything around him zero for the past several years, this incident revived in him the emotions of life and death after a long time. His throat tightened and he could feel his heart thumping against his chest. The cold atmosphere could not prevent him from sweating. Sensing it was dead, he dropped the dead body there and ran towards his house. He had checked every corner in his house. He had not found anyone or anything inside so, at this moment it was the safest place for him.

“You have to live, Arsh. If only as the last hope of this planet… Damn, am I overreacting? It’s not an alien attack. C’mon cool down now. You’re safe in here.”

His mind drove him crazy as he slammed the door shut behind him. He rushed into the kitchen.

“Hell! Where’s the knife?”

His hands trembled as he searched the whole place for the knife. He remembered to have kept it here after slicing the apple. He felt short of air, he rushed towards the BREATHING chamber. It was dark inside. Maybe, the visual systems had run down. It had happened earlier also.

He sat on the grass. Something metallic and sharp touched his hands.

“My knife.”

Before he could think of having left it there mistakenly, he found its blade dripping wet. Without thinking anything else, he got up. He could sense someone inside the BREATHING chamber. He rushed towards the door. The door was locked. He shouted and he shrieked. Amidst the loud calls for help, Something entered his back. His chest glowed. Comatose, words came out of his mouth,

“Cyborg 8085, sleep mode on.”


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13 Reviews


Points: 418
Reviews: 13

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Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:48 pm
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GreyMatter wrote a review...



Hey there,
Let's jump right into it. I liked how you kept switching the narration between the first and the third person. Considering the short length of your story, you managed to show me your world and explained the major questions such as the who, why and where of this world (Earth 1.0?). I couldn't understand the significance of the apple, a harmless object. Equally vague was the knife, but it came out okay-ish considering the threat that a knife poses. There was tension at the end. The twist at the end was most unexpected yet incredible. Is the orangutan actually the last human?
There is room for doubt in the climax. I believe it can be cleared up and polished along with the rest of the story (significance of apple, how he came to believe himself human).
Overall, it is a complete story and I liked it. But if I'm being honest with you, I couldn't grasp it by myself. Only after I went through the comments, everything came to me. Your story perhaps lacks coherence and fluidity. The words register in mind but their meaning is sometimes lost in irrelevant details or abrupt words. For instance, this line:
"Acid levels had surged after a very long time for as long as I could remember, 6 years, maybe 7, who cares. "
The 'who cares' threw me off. The narrator is speaking a rather long sentence and ends it as if the facts that he gave held no meaning to him. This line shows the indifference that the narrator feels towards the given circumstances. This character trait doesn't really fit with the rest of the story and could be avoided. It also hints at how many years the human/cyborg has already spent alone. A better way could be:
"In the past 6 years that I have been here, acid levels never rose so drastically as they have now."
All in all, great job in thinking so creatively. I was pleasantly surprised.




ayushinav says...


Thanks, Greymatter for the review. Deeply appreciate the fact that you read and reviewed it so sincerely. XD
I intend to answer your questions over Discord. :)
See ya there.



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Points: 161
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Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:27 pm
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Fearful wrote a review...



I clicked on this story as soon as I saw it was science fiction, because, to be honest, what genre is better? :) I certainly wasn't disappointed with this story. I really liked and thought it was easy to understand and had a nice setting. You leave the reader a little bit in suspense as they wait for the confrontation between the two "humans", and I thought the idea of the story was very interesting. The only thing I couldn't really understand was the ending. Is the intruder a cyborg? How does something enter his back? Why is he eating an apple? :)
Otherwise, I thought this was a lovely story, well-written. You had a few mistakes here and there:

He opened the door to the BREATHING chamber, taking care that he does not leak any air.

I think this sentence would sound better if "does" is replaced by "doesn't".
I preferred thinking it were some monster hiding inside to kill me

Just missing a period here.
Though artificially created, it seemed so natural, much natural than the natural world out there.

"Much more natural"? Natural in front of world is a little redundant, I suggest you take out one of the naturals.
There are also quite a few sentences in which I think you could put in some commas or shorten a little bit, so you won't have run-on sentences. I won't list them out here, I trust you can probably find them if you want to.
My favorite part of this story is probably that bit about the orangutan, I thought that was kind of sweet and I loved how you described the thoughts of the protagonist in that paragraph.
I hope that my review is helpful, it's my first in a long time, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions (though I can't guarantee I will be able to answer all of them). I enjoyed reading this story, and I hope there are more to come (especially if they are sci-fi).
Sincerely,
Fearful




ayushinav says...


A Fearful thanks for your review, :D
The questions you put up, in the beginning, are not intended to answer, well, to keep things a bit ambiguous and mysterious.
Also, I'd been trying to give "2 2" to the audience instead of 4 because that's what keeps them trapped. You made a slight reference to it in the initial part of your review. I'd really like if you could give me some suggestions about it.
Thanks once again.



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Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:24 pm
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Que wrote a review...



Hey there ayushinav! Hope your day is going well. :)

Okay, normally I start out with some smaller comments, but there's one really big thing here that I just want to bring up before anything else. Your story is really intriguing and filled with tension, but you sort of sell yourself short. You open up like a flashback, then interrupt with the character slicing and eating an apple. So you've got some suspense, but then the promise of safety if the narrator is still around to reflect back on that moment--which, for me, pretty much kills the suspense. I suggest keeping to one straight narrative. You can skim over the beginning bits if you don't feel like they're your main emphasis, but start there and lead up to the mud footprints and the blood. From there, you could have the narrator think, "It's a normal day, isn't it? I mean, the acid levels are higher, and it just rained, but..." so that you could still include some of that information.

That was pretty much the major thing--I think if you change the structure of the story, you impact will be so much more powerful! Now onto some more minor things.

I drove the rover rather slowly because the acid levels were on the rise that day.

So, I thought he was on earth? And earth doesn't typically have rovers--unless this was another planet that humans also destroyed and abandoned.

He wished he could never leave this BREATHING chamber.

Why can't he? What does he really have to do outside of it in the world? I don't know if that's really made clear here.

He was still contemplating over who or what had entered the house. The day had finally stretched out and he could see a brown thing lying some 50 feet away from his house.

Okay, two things here. Why did he wait so long to investigate? Was he just hiding from what he worried might be another human? And also, why did the orangutang open the door of the house just to go back outside and... die? That doesn't make a lot of sense. How did it even survive that long in -40 degrees and high acid levels??

“You have to live, Arsh. If only as the last hope of this planet… Damn, am I overreacting? It’s not an alien attack. C’mon cool down now. You’re safe in here.”

If there's no one else around, how can he be the hope for the planet?? What can he do? Why does he really need to live?

His mind drove him crazy as he slammed the door shut behind him. He rushed into the kitchen.

“Hell! Where’s the knife?”

Has the orangutang spooked him into fearing for his own life and searching for a defense? I'm just unsure why the knife is imminently important here, why he suddenly remembers it.

“Cyborg 8085, sleep mode on.”

Ahhh!! Was he not even human all along? Who stabbed him with his own knife? Can you hint at it a little more, or is your goal to preserve the mystery? Because it's such a cliff hanger!

Okay, so I already told you my biggest suggestion for here. I asked a lot of questions about your story because I think in sci-fi, you've got to handle a ton of information, and it's up to you how much you want to include ,but I just wanted to prompt you on some things you can think about.

On a whole, I really like where the plot is going! You've got a strong mystery, some sense of background and the abandonment of the human race, even some specifics about what has happened to the fallen world climate-wise. A little more description of the desolate world would be awesome as well. Great job with writing the story! :)

-Q




ayushinav says...


Thank you Querencia for your review. Glad that you liked it.
You mentioned that the presence of rovers confuses you about the setting of the story, well it could be Earth in 2090's or any other planet that humans habituated and abandoned, open to your wild interpretations.
You questioned why can't he remain in the breathing chamber forever. I'll have to agree that there was some information lacking.
Hey, I never mentioned orangutan entered the house. Okay, I find that you pointed out a catch right, how could an orangutan survive in such a cold climate?
%u201CYou have to live, Arsh. If only as the last hope of this planet%u2026 Damn, am I overreacting? It%u2019s not an alien attack. C%u2019mon cool down now. You%u2019re safe in here."
Well, here I tried to point out how his mind went crazy and unless really depressed, one thinks there is a need for one to live.
Well lastly, I prefer to preserve the mystery.
And yeah, you mentioned something about the structure of the story in the beginning, a little help on that would be deeply appreciated.
Thanks once again.




I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.
— Thomas Edison