The Earth has been hit by a doomsday asteroid, carrying civilization to the brink of extinction. As far as the two survivors know, they are the last of humankind, locked in a bunker below the sizzling surface.
Compatibility is September’s Flash Fiction that introduces readers into a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story that is a stand-alone sequel to Red Then White.
Dreaming of Memories
A blue ball remained stationary in front of a black matte paper. The sphere was painted in blue, green and white blotches to represent the ocean, land, and clouds. The black space around was covered in tiny white dotes – a simple representation of Earth from outers pace. The planet that everyone has called home. Calling another world home was a far-fetched concept. Space travel has always been a dream. The astronomical distance between other Earth-like planets is mind-boggling. Even the idea of lightyears is tough to grasp.
Scientists have many theories about how we can travel vast distances. Often these require technologies that have not developed. Basically, space travel is still a theory. There is also the possibility of the human race being wiped out before we even get to developing space travel technology. None of this changes the fact that we are fascinated by the stars.
A man leaned down to look at the model of Earth closer, inspecting the tiny moon that was attached to the planet by a wire. He eyed each of the major continents of Earth before letting out a sigh. He couldn’t help but wonder where did it all go wrong?
“You examine that every day,” said a cold feminine voice.
The man got up and turned to face a woman who was at a kitchen bar, boiling water on a stovetop.
“Yeah,” he said while walking over to her. He leaned against the counter, saying, “we’ve been down here for so long I wonder if I will start to forget what the surface is like.”
“Is your memory that bad, Mr. Morin?” the lady asked.
“I’m not sure,” the man said. “I hope not. It is just a concern of mine.”
“Do you think staring at that miniature model of the planet will help?”
“Maybe? I’ve never seen the Earth from that perspective before. Most people haven’t. Now, I don’t think anyone ever will.”
“Unfortunately not,” the lady said while opening a chrome packet, pouring the oat-contents into the boiling water. “Humans are resilient, we are able to rebuild. That is what we did after empires like the Egyptians, and the Romans fell.”
The Big Picture
The man looked over to the ceiling where a closed hatch was at the far corner of the room. A ladder was just below it beside a console that glowed red. He nodded at the glowing light, saying, “how long do we have to wait though? It might not even be our generation.”
The woman stirred the contents of the pot with a wooden spoon, saying, “yes. Which is why we have to stick to our set routine. Keep healthy and procreate.” She glared at him with her emerald eyes. “It isn’t a matter of intimacy.”
The man scratched the back of his head saying, “it might help if you called me by my first name.”
“Alright Craig, we can do that. Can we try tonight?”
“Sure,” Craig said. Maybe stop shaving your head, he thought.
His name and her hair fashion were mostly excuses. Shaving their heads helped save on the limited shampoo supplies. The truth was, sex was the last thing on his mind. Of course, he understood that the interaction was only to carry on the human species. For all they knew, he was the last man on earth, and she was the last woman. Humanity potentially came down just to them. The act of procreation was also a difficult one when it involved this the automaton of a woman.
“How did you get selected again, Amy?” Craig asked.
“For this program?” the women identified as Amy asked. “No different than you.”
“That’s the funny thing,” Craig said. “I’m not sure if I fully recall.”
Amy squinted, saying, “your memory really isn’t that good. We’ll have to perform more mental exercises to correct this. Hopefully, it isn’t a defect in your genetics.” She poured the oatmeal out of the pot and into two separate bowls. “Here, eat, and we will begin our morning analysis of the surface.”
“Maybe I bumped my head,” Craig said.
“Unlikely,” Amy said coldly. “We monitor our health daily. It would have been flagged in the console.”
Craig took the bowl and sifted the contents around with the spoon, feeling the heat that was absorbed by the metal utensil. “Can you refresh my memory on how we got here?”
Amy placed the pot on an unused element and took her bowl. “Well, we all took DNA tests, and we were psychologically evaluated. The results dictated who would be a suitable candidate to continue the human race.”
“Right, I remember,” Craig said. He ate some of his oatmeal. Truthfully, he still didn’t remember the events that brought him to this underground bunker. Everything seemed like a blur. One day he was living a normal life, had a steady job, a wife, and the next he found himself here. There was a gap in his memory.
Hannah, Craig thought. He recalled his last memory of his wife: A road trip to Banff. She was a natural blonde and was obsessed with her job. Work seemed like a trivial thing, now that he was apart from her. Now, life consisted of physical exercise, studying in the archives, and daily reviews of the Earth’s temperature levels.
Craig looked up at his companion, saying, “how many more of us do you think there are?”
“What do you mean?” Amy asked. “Of the human race?”
“I guess, I meant humans in the bunkers. There have to be more.”
“Not to my knowledge. There wasn’t enough time to build more before the asteroid hit.”
“But they had enough time to do a screening process?”
Amy finished the rest of her breakfast and put her bowl in the sink. “I didn’t build the program. The UN did in hopes of keeping our species alive. Be thankful that you survived.”
“I fear I might go insane down here.”
“That is why they put the program guide together, so we have a purpose every day. I am no different than you, I signed up in hopes of surviving.”
“Yeah,” Craig said. “That’s true.” He finished his oatmeal and placed the bowl in the sink as well. “I wonder if there were any doomsday-preppers who managed to survive through this.”
“I guess our offspring will be the ones to find out about that,” Amy said.
Craig nodded. He didn’t have any further to comment. The concept of living the rest of his life in this bunker with Amy was not a pleasant thought, they had little to no common interest. They had been in the shelter for several months if his memory served correctly. Then again, his mind wasn’t very reliable as of late.
The two left the kitchen and entered a secondary room which consisted of two monitors mounted to the ceiling. Each monitor had a white office chair in front of it. Both Craig and Amy sat down on a chair and waved at the monitor, turning it on.
Each morning, after their workout and breakfast, the two analyzed the latest information the drones gathered. The robots were space-explorative graded and could easily survive the harsh temperatures on the surface. They were fully equipped with cameras and measuring equipment to test the planet’s livability.
The monitor showcased a smaller live-cam of the drone Craig managed. The video displayed an ash-covered wasteland with a grey sky. The digital interface also contained stats of the drone’s health, menus and a map outlining how far the drone has gone from the bunker. At the top right was the temperature which stated: 148° C
“Damnit,” Craig mumbled. He had a small amount of hope that maybe they would have seen a change in temperature. It had stayed the same for the past week, give or take a few digits.
“What?” Amy looked over at him.
“Nothing, the readings seem to be the same as they were yesterday, and the day before.” Craig waved his hand to enhance the live-cam of the drone.
Amy turned back to her interface, “we aren’t looking for hope Craig. We are simply monitoring the aftermath for future generations.”
“Right,” Craig said while continuing on his tasks. He merely wanted to believe there was more. Each time he reviewed the stats, his hope dimmed. Amy and Craig really were the last people on Earth.
Duty to Humankind
As with every day, the two continued their routine of planetary diagnostics, studying, meditation and eating. The activities are was what the UN’s program guide had instructed them to do. Amy didn’t question it, and Craig followed, knowing if he didn’t, he would probably start to go crazy.
After dinner, Craig and Amy patrolled the halls to ensure they did the daily inventory check and reviewed the general health of the bunker. As with every day, everything was in order. The task generally took a couple of hours which left for one more task before leisurely time: procreation.
The bedroom lights were brought to level three of ten, creating a soft glow over the black sheets. Craig had just finished showing, drying himself from head to toe. Amy sat on the bed, hands on her lap. He wrapped the towel around his waist and walked over the bed, sitting down beside her.
“Would you like to undress me?” Amy asked.
Craig shook his head. “You really aren’t good at this are you?”
Amy exhaled and unbuttoned her blouse.
Craig watched as she slipped out of her shirt and pants. Her body was well-toned, hell, even better than his own. Her breasts were basically what other women paid to attempt to recreate. Amy’s physique was a frame that most men would fantasize over. In an unclear series of events, Craig found himself being the last ‘lucky’ guy on the planet who got to live that fantasy.
Amy leaned back onto the bed of pillows, resting her hands on her legs. “Come here,” she said.
Craig stiffly crawled over on top of her, eyeing her from her smooth legs up to her pink lips. She was the definition of beauty, yet he didn’t feel a thing for her. Was he not supposed to feel something for the woman who would care for his future children?
Amy gently ran her hand against the back of his neck, bringing him closer.
The act of sex would have been instinctual with his wife. Why was this so difficult for him? Perhaps the concept of being the last humans on the planet was rotting in the back of his mind. Maybe he was frazzled by not knowing what happened to his memories, or to his wife.
Craig resisted momentarily, stopping his face from meeting Amy’s.
“Are we going through this again?” Amy asked.
Craig blinked a couple of times. “I can’t recall what happened to Hannah.” He rolled off of Amy and pressed into his forehead, trying to remember anything. Craig couldn’t.
Amy sat up beside him, saying, “you’re overthinking this. We’ve endured the impossible, being alive today when everything else is gone.” Amy took Craig’s hand and pulled him towards her as she leaned back down into the bed.
Craig exhaled through his nose, pushing his thought-chatter aside for one moment and embraced the woman, melting his thoughts.