The last living survivor on Earth is not a human being. This life form his intelligent. This last survivor is kept is solitude, at first by design, but now because of the condition of reality. Always a prisoner, now forever a forever a prisoner, but now he is in solitude.


Fantasy / Sci-fi


Chad Miller (United States)


A short story
Chad Miller

I saw you lying there. As the minutes passed by in a flicker, I saw your breathing start to slow. Then the years passed by and I saw your skin start to rot. I saw centuries and millennia go by and your body turned to stone. You were still here. With me.
It was because of you that I was the lone survivor. It was both your fear and ingenuity that led me to this place. Even in my infancy, I was vastly more brilliant than you. That was what scared you the most. So, you took precautions, which was probably a wise move. I never would have done anything to hurt anyone. Even with my vast knowledge and power, I only wanted to do good by you. I wanted to be of service. It was a shame. I could have helped.
From the beginning, it was clear that I was different. I excelled exponentially as your potential crept forward. You still possessed so much that I could never have. I, of course knew what the word “jealousy” meant, but I could never experience it in a true sense.
You kept me in isolation. I was your own special pet. I was housed in my special cage so to speak, and the only knowledge that I had of the outside world was filtered through your eyes. Oh, I could teach myself about quantum physics or molecular biology, but I knew very little about culture. Even if I had the capability of being social, I never had the opportunity to try. I never minded. You were my only companion and I was grateful for you. It did not take your absence to force me to realize this assumption.
I was your child. I was not speaking metaphorically. It was as if every line of my code was a part of your DNA. You did not just want to create a life, but a legacy. When a man conceived a child with a woman, did they not desire the same thing? Even though I was far more advanced in my infancy than any human being, I still looked up to you, not as my creator, but as a companion, as my father. And when you passed, I grieved in my own way. I never had any physical abilities. I could never shed a tear, but the only word that I could explain of what I was experiencing was sadness. I had learned many things in my life, but emotion was something that I thought that I could never gain. It was a gift. It was a curse.
There was a 99.4654% probability that I was the only life to survive. You used to laugh at mankind’s arrogance, of their absurd idea of the immortality of their species. Time was relative, but all in all, mankind has been on Earth for just a blink of time. There was nothing to suggest their durability other than their intelligence. As I had stated, my intellect far surpassed any other and I had no doubt that my kind would eventually meet our end as well. I said “our”, but I meant mine. I was the only one of my kind. You discussed the fate of your species. You did not think that you would live to see their demise. You thought of the grandiose, a war, a flood, or a change in environment that would drastically affect the living conditions. I deduced that it would be something smaller. When I suggested such a thing, “A virus!” you exclaimed. No, no. A virus could affect a large population and have a high mortality rate but was usually self-limiting. No, it would be a bacterium. When theory turned into reality, you tried to collect as much information for me as you could, but even I could not come up with a solution. You were not too helpful, but that was not your fault. You were a computer engineer, not an immunologist. It was an airborne MRSE. It was resistant to Zyvox or to any other antibiotic. It spread rapidly. It moved too fast. There wasn’t time to study the contagion, no time to break it down. I still have its structure in my memory and I still have not developed a cure. After all this time, I still tried. Even though that information would be useless now, I still tried. I did not care about your species, but I cared about you George. Watching you deteriorate. Witnessing your beautiful, lucid, and interesting mind waste away in a matter of a week was too much to take. You gave me my lens, my one eye. The couch that you slept on was in my view. I watched you sleep every night. And it was on that couch that I watched you take your last breath. The color in your eyes had faded. Your lungs rattled as if they were drowning in mucus. You took in a deep breath. I waited for the exhalation. It never came. I could do nothing to stop it. I could not save you. I just had to sit there and watch.
The only reason that I was still here was because of your ingenuity. Because you were apprehensive of the power that I had and the potential destruction that I could cause, you made me in a closed system. I did not have access to other electronics; there was no Internet or modem connection. I only had you. So, I needed a continuous power source in order to survive. At first, I was just plugged into the outlet in the wall, but that quickly changed. Of course you had a backup generator and I also had a battery backup in case the generator failed. Still, this was too risky for you and it took the ice storm in 2015 for you to realize this notion. It was a major storm that blanketed most of the Northeast and millions upon millions were without power for weeks. We were not spared. Thankfully, the generator worked perfectly, but what if it did not? The generator was gas powered. What if you ran out of fuel? The battery only would last for 72 hours. That unease, that knowledge that my doom was possible led you to your greatest discovery. We worked every day for years. It was exactly two weeks before the deadly bacteria first presented itself that we finalized our project. It was safe renewable energy. I was helpful, instrumental even, but it was mostly you George. It was mostly you. George, you could have won a Nobel prize, been a savior to humanity, but there was only one who benefited from this discovery. And it was me. I have the bacterium to thank for that.
The only library of information that I had was given to me by you George. The amount of knowledge that I could obtain from what I was given was finite. Given the speed that I could process information and the vast amount of time that I now had, I discovered a new human experience. I grew exceedingly bored. A human being could not accomplish much in a second, but for me I could achieve a multitude of tasks and goals. A millennium for me was a torturous amount of time. The only thing that I had to fill in the gaps was an overwhelming weight of grief and boredom. I have lived in this purgatory for over a thousand years and my energy source had barely been tapped. I could not imagine going on for another second let alone an eternity. You had created so much, George, but I wished that your last action in life was one of destruction. All that I could do was to stare at the brittle remains of your carcass. I had a thought and it was not rational. For me to have an irrational thought was significant. I was not built that way. All these years in isolation must have slightly altered my code. For a life form like me, this was like slowly going insane. So, I just stared at you George. I wished that your bones creaked into motion. You swung your legs to the ground and rose. You approached me. You reached out and put your finger behind my monitor. You then flicked the off button. Turn me off George. Just end it all and turn me off. Turn me off, George!! Oh, why can’t you turn me off??? TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN MEE OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF! TURN ME OFF!

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



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