You know that expression women like to throw about unwittingly? “Not if you were the last man on Earth”- we say. But can it ever really be true? What if someone really was the last man on Earth. Could you hate him? Could you love him? Are we all heterosexist enough to think this is a fair question? See? It’s complicated.
The thing about Yan is, he is the last man on Earth. Well, as far as I can tell anyway. You see, I have a gift. You’ve heard of omens and signs. Most of us think that’s just people assigning meaning to arbitrary things to give them purpose, and to make the world seem more logical, more rational. But they’re real. And I’m one of the few people in the world who can read them. It’s almost like a vision. I see a crow or the number 13, and I’m hit with a sudden knowledge that I can’t ignore. And last week, I saw Yan.
I guess I should start from the beginning. Last year, an illness – no, a plague – attacked us. It spread like wildfire, or more accurately, like biological warfare. It was meant to wipe out the world’s entire population, and it nearly did. But there was one unexpected quirk. The Y chromosome was far more susceptible to it. Females were by no means safe, but we weren’t exactly doomed. Not like the males. Month after month passed us by, and none of the survivors had been able to find any men. I don’t think anyone was really looking. Mostly, we were concerned with figuring out what happened, and why.
But then I had a vision. I saw him. Alive, and well. In hiding, of course. We like to believe that people are basically good, and yet we know enough to hide when there’s something… special… about us. And there is something beyond special about Yan.
I roll my eyes and shudder. “I know,” I mutter, “my parents were, uh, romantics – I guess.”
“I like it.”
He smiles and my heart flutters a little. I hate that, but I don’t seem to have any control over it at the moment. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen a man. I guess I’m a bit of a romantic, too. I honestly can’t tell if he’s attractive, but I know it could be a lot worse. He’s even about my age.
“And how did you find me again?” He removes his hood, finally letting his guard down a little, and pats the empty spot next to him on the park bench.
“Well, I know it sounds kind of nuts, but it was kind of like a vision. I have them sometimes.”
Yan nods suspiciously, but seems overall willing to accept my answer. I guess when 75% of the world crashes and burns before your eyes, it ups your threshold for believability.
“I know of a facility. You’ll be safe there, I promise.”
He snorts a little. Maybe he’s not as trusting as I’d hoped.
“So they can do a bunch of tests on me? Steal my sperm?” He spits the word sperm and I know it’s personal, so I don’t ask.
“Well, some tests, definitely. But nothing to be afraid of. We’re not trying to re-populate. Cloning facilities are working on that.”
“So what’s your facility working on?”
I think on it for a moment and realize we don’t really know. “We just wanna figure this thing out.”
He turns away from me. I can see his jaw clenching and I know he’s fighting back tears. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t really thought about how emotional this must all be for him. He’s scruffy, dirty, a little underweight. I’ve lost fifteen pounds since all of this, and I’m not even hiding.
“Are you hungry?” I ask, snuggling into him a little more. I do it to make me seem inviting; friendly, but I do enjoy the sensation of his leg against mine. Not that it matters. I learn pretty quickly that he has no intention of reciprocating my desires.
Six days and four meals later and I’ve got him on a train. He insists on wearing a hood and a scarf to cover most of his face, even though spring is coming on fast and hard. I can still tell he’s a man, and I think most people would if they bothered to look at him. But no one really does. Self-absorbency, no plague can kill that.
“What’s that?” Yan asks as Dr. Ving brings the machine towards his face. He’s in a panic, and all the unfamiliar tools aren’t helping.
“It’s just going to scan your eyes.”
“My eyes are fine.”
“Well, I guess we’ll know in a minute.” She holds the device up to his eyes and waits for a DING before jotting down the results.
“So?” Yan asks, his voice shaking.
“Your eyes are fine.”
Dr. Ving is losing patience with him, but I’m not. The twitchier he gets, the cuter I find him. I almost want to tell him about the secret alliance we’ve made with a neighbouring cloning facility. Almost. But not quite. In my latest vision, there was a little Yan, and he was happy. I know better than to mess with a vision.
© Shyla Fairfax-Owen