Only six of us remained on this earth.
It could’ve been worse. There were only two in the Garden of Eden, and yet those two managed to spawn humanity. Why shouldn’t we, then?
The women spent much of each day tending to the crops they’d coaxed into existence, here in this place. This place, this tiny rift in the hills, hidden from the searing winds, blessed with good soil and mild winters. Why was it spared? I have no explanation. Perhaps it was, literally, a Garden of Eden – a place of refuge designated by God, in which he could conduct His second experiment, after the first had failed in such a spectacular fashion.
And so here I was – me, and the five girls. In the old days I’d sometimes fantasised about this very scenario – being the only man left in a world of women. I say women, but two were infants and one had not yet reached puberty.
I had it good. I didn’t have to prove my manhood with my wallet. I no longer had to envy those guys born with even teeth and swinging shoulders and snake-narrow hips. I didn’t even have to pretend to listen. I was all they had, and they better appreciate me.
But for me, the human race would dwindle and die, right here, right now. The women – Karen, Juanita, Bonnie, Sigrid and the chick whose name I couldn’t pronounce – knew that, and treated me as careful farmers treat their only bull. No hunting and roaming for me: no sir, I stayed safe in the camp, while the women went gathering for my supper. If I didn’t survive, no one was going to. I might have been one of those big cats in the zoo that used to be on the news before it happened – you know, the last Siberian tiger or whatever. Breed in captivity or perish. I didn’t mind captivity, though, not a bit.
It sounds like Paradise, you say? Indeed. But there was one thing that I knew and they didn’t. If they ever cottoned on, I’d be done for. One day, sooner or later, they’d notice that despite the nightly couplings – the dutiful, frantic, purposeful pounding and grunting and squirming – nobody got pregnant. So I used my spare time – and I had plenty of that – to think about what I’d say, when the inevitable questions were asked. Any excuse would do for a while, except the true one.
You see, before the world fell apart, I’d had a vasectomy.
You’d probably say – yes, you, my vanished mates, whose voices I still hear in my dreams – what have you got to complain about? And it was true, I had more sex than I knew what to do with, and it was gloriously free – I didn’t have to pay for dinner or mow the lawn or fix the deck. Apocalypse had its advantages. For once, eggs were in over-supply and sperm – well, there was just one store left that sold it, ladies, and those little wrigglers were as precious as pearls.
Before the fall, my feminist friends used to carry on as if a world without men would be a paradise, and they couldn’t wait until we all died. Well, we did all die – except for me – and look what’s come to pass. Need me now, don’t you ladies? I’d laugh my head off, if I wasn’t so nervous.
But, you know, after all the fire and fury, the death and destruction had settled – it really wasn’t too bad for me, personally. The sky was blue, the birds – at least, what was left of them -sang, and love was on tap at the only pub in town. It was Eden, of a kind, and no God to order me out of it. I had it made, really.
Until he came. Out of the woods. Eighteen or so, handsome – even I could appreciate that – and virile. He came upon the camp when no one was there but me. He was thin – he’d obviously been fending for himself – and not very clean.
I don’t know how he’d survived, nor how he’d found us. I knew for a fact that the world outside our valley was scorched and barren, a thousand miles of ash-grey death. Beyond that, more of the same.
But somehow out of this desolation he’d managed to find the one, last refuge of the species – God’s little afterthought. He saw me, and held out his hands in the universal gesture of those in need of help. He wanted shelter and food. He wept to see a human face: I guess it must have been a while.
I came forward with a smile and took him by the elbow. I was much stronger than he, though with food and care, he would fill out and our positions would be reversed. I led him gently towards the hut that the women had constructed from me and gave him a meal of yams, and water. While he was eating, I went to get the axe.
I buried the young man in the pit we’d dug to shit in. The smell of him, when it rose, would surprise no one.
Now, I was once more the only male, and the human race was doomed. I admit, I didn’t give a fuck. I survived. That’s a man’s purpose, when you come down to it. You can’t blame me for trying.
Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash