You wake up from an intense dream in which a voice spoke: Two more days and it’s just you two. You later talk with your friend, who tells you that he slept badly. The next night you have a dream in which pet dogs, even the friendly breeds, circle you hungrily. A man’s back presses against yours. You don’t see his face but you trust him. Then that same voice tells you: One more day. Everyone dies except you two. The next day is heavy. Bright sun and cool air, just like on the morning of 9/11. It’s just your grogginess, everything else is normal. You feel a yearning to hug the most beloved people in your life. You shrug it off and make it a normal day. Impulsively, you stop at your friend’s house but his wife says that he had slept badly the last two nights so he has turned in early.
You go to bed too.
Light blasts the unconsciousness. It’s only the two of you in the whole world.
You wake up. In due moments, you see bodies. Maybe in your bed and your home, maybe when you step out of the house (this depends on your living arrangement). This is not a dream. You are energetically making telephone calls but no one picks up, except automated systems. You hold the lifeless weight and you are never, ever letting go.
Outside, a small dog is licking the bits of capillary blood from the nose of a man who collapsed on the sidewalk in predawn hours. On the street, a car with a slumped-over driver had drifted into a parked car.
You hear nothing but birds, and they own the air.
The two grey plumes of smoke in the distance are jetliners that had dropped out of the sky.
You make more telephone calls. Everything works but no one picks up. Not anyone here, not anyone in any other countries. The internet works, but there are no new comments, on any site around the world that would have been posted after that predawn hour.
You remember your strange dreams. Everybody in the entire world is dead, except you two. You and who?
“Oh my God, thank you thank you, your’re here!” cries a familiar voice. It’s your friend. You compare your dreams, they were the same. You come to accept that you two are the only two people alive on this whole planet. You are grateful, beyond the human capacity for imagination, that the other’s there.
You and one person of your choice will be the only two people in the world alive. Whom do you pick? It cannot be a family member (blood or in-law), must be of your sex, and the difference in your ages cannot be greater than five years.
There are many man-alone stories like Robinson Crusoe. There are stories about pockets of survivors after a plague, such as The Stand. Two men? There is Cain and Abel. What now?
First things, you both agree that you want to live and stick together, so you asses your environment. What are your immediate potential threats? It’s flattering to realize that you have always been the planet’s apex-predator. It makes sense now, as you relax. No men, no danger.
You live in a temperate climate. It’s still your country if you call it that and if you remember its history. There are no concerns about wild animals in your area. Dogs, though. Some of the dogs will have been free or broken out at police station kennels. Homes had pets. Some of those dogs are large but most will have been spayed. Accustomed to being cared for, they will be friendly, maybe eager to have you as their new master. But they will also be hungry. Those dogs that break out of their houses will explore the streets.
Over the first few weeks, they will have destroyed all of the small-snouted, short-legged breeds. Some in their hunger will have broken the human-flesh taboo, having nibbled on bodies. They will form packs and they will hunt. You will be easier to take down than a deer. You two will decide if you want to adopt large dogs as your own security, feeding them the plentiful pet food from grocery stores and eventually the deer you kill.
You can live in a castle if you want. Just be wary of physical security systems in banks or former government buildings. You don’t want to get sealed in a room. Get a truck. Plenty of those around. Gasoline has three months of shelf-life, diesel has about a year. Siphon it from other cars or from gas station tanks if pumps don’t work. Engine oil is good for five years.
How long can you run a generator? Do you need one? If you can build a steam engine, you will have power for life.
Can you command a horse?
Load up on batteries because it might be nice to hear music sometimes. You’ll miss it. Simple vocals and melodies though, not the studio pop songs. Those will strike you as absurd after a month of not hearing one. Get some acoustic instruments, teach yourself to play and sing.
Nuclear power plants. You know of ones in your region right? The internet should work for another few days. Look up all locations of those things on your continent, especially if you plan to travel. Safety systems will fail and you don’t want to be down-wind. Then, if you don’t already know, find out the direction of prevailing winds on your landmass.
Grab a paper road atlas from a store. Get guns, bows and arrows, knives, lighters and matches, clothes and boots, first-aid supplies, and canned food. Canned food can be good for up to six years, but you’ll learn to hunt and farm by then. Deer will be everywhere.
With you and your friend out there alone in a new world, chances are you’re just figuring out the do’s and don’ts of survivalism. Common sense will take you far.
Do the two of you want to be mobile or stay in one place? You might well want to travel. Marvel at how fast nature reclaims what was once hers. Travel exposes you to physical risk, but beware staying in one place. Cabin-fever will drive you two to madness.
If you opt to dig in, find a brick-construction house near a river. It should have a water well, be above likely flooding levels, in a climate whose extremes you can tolerate. A perimeter fence and with grounds large enough to farm. The fence will keep carnivorous animals away. Eventually, bears, wolves, and feral dogs will roam freely. Animals can escape from zoo enclosures when electrical fencing fails.
Summers and winters go by.
Do you trust your friend? He can disable you with a shot to the leg and then do whatever he wants. What if what you were told is a lie and there is a living woman. She will stumble out of the fields, in which case one of you two will have to go. What if one day you two come across a constellation of seven virgins. He’s thinking the same when he looks at you at night.
You’d mourn the closest people in your past life. You will probably bury them. Will you? I wonder, how soon do the big questions start hitting you: what is the purpose of doing this or that, when there will never ever again be another human being on this planet. There are no rules. Nobody will judge you. There is no future.
Banish any impulse toward homosexual relations. It will creep up in the absolute absence of the natural scent, sound, sight of a woman to maintain your hormonal equilibrium for the remainder of your lives. Nobody will judge you but that way lies a downward spiral.
You might be alert to signs that your friend is going crazy. But you should also recognize the signs of your own creeping insanity. It’s not always the other party that’s wrong. If you find yourself intensely dwelling on things and anger brewing within you, it’s not him, it’s you. Snap out of it, take stock of your mental condition before he rightfully kills you. Help one other stay healthy.
It’s so quiet by day. Just the breeze trying to tell you something. Throughout the night, it’s symphonies of wildlife, big and small. The song of the nightingale soaring up into the arm of the Milky Way. Anything is allowed. It’s not like you’re watched and judged.