Dreaded Surprise

Robert’s phone chimed for the first time in two years. The forgotten sound distracted him from his lunch and he stared at his phone in silence. After several seconds he reached for the phone with a shaking hand and checked the notification.

No way…” he navigated to the message; a comment on his latest video.

“Awesome skating!” from a user named ‘Star35Torque’. The video showed Robert skateboarding an obstacles course he built himself through a mall. Thanks to not having to run the rat race, Robert was able to devote all his time to his passion. He recorded his course run with different cameras and edited them all together into one smooth ride. It started on the second floor at one end of the mall and ended on the first floor at another end.

“Who are you?” he replied to the comment. Robert stared at the phone intently for 10 minutes, but no reply came. He sighed and set the phone down, but he was not discouraged. “They probably got busy,” he reasoned, then looked around at his mess. It was about time to move again anyway. Robert became lazy about his personal space and tended to change houses instead of cleaning up. The brief hope that he might have visitors soon prompted him to relocate to the next house he had his eye on.

He drove to the small two-bedroom brick house. Robert spent the rest of the day organizing his new home and gathering supplies. No one had replied by the time Robert got into bed, nor by the time he woke up. He was in the middle of breakfast when his phone chimed again. He grabbed it without hesitation then navigated to the message.

“Britt (not Brittany!). Who are you?” the reply said. He hurried to type a reply.

“My name’s Robert. I’m the last man on Earth.” He did not get a reply until two hours later.

“LOL! Lucky you!” That was not the response he expected.

“Not lucky! Where are you? Can you help me?” he responded. He wasted the day waiting for a response that never came. He wanted to be close to home in case Britt stopped by. Britt replied while Robert was eating breakfast the next morning.

“Help you what?” She answered. Robert wondered whether she deliberately avoided the ‘where are you’ question or not; and, it bothered him. After two years of not worrying about what anyone else thought, he found himself searching for meaning in each interaction.

“Help me,..” Robert typed his reply but stalled. He actually didn’t know what he wanted help with. Aside from the lingering loneliness, he loved the freedom he had. “Help me not be alone.” He waited in bed until her reply came.

“Are you asking me out?” Britt replied after two hours. Robert chuckled when he read her question, then responded.

“I don’t know you enough to ask you out. I’ve been the last person on Earth for two years. Where did you come from? Can I go there?” He tried being as direct as possible. His notification chimed during his usual breakfast time the next morning, but he was not eating anything. He skipped cooking breakfast because he did not want to have his hands occupied when she answered. Not that she answered anything.

“Why?” she asked.

What do you mean, ‘why’?” Robert mumbled to himself. It seemed obvious. But the more he searched for a why the less he found one. Robert realized he had not been as lonely as he thought he should be until another human interacted with him. He loved the freedom. He loved making videos with the expectation that no one would see them. The videos were just something he enjoyed. Robert realized he had not enjoyed making a video in two days. He took his time thinking. If she stuck the pattern he had two hours to answer. Finally, he found a ‘why’.

“I’ll run out of food eventually.” He answered.

“K. I can bring you food if you want to stay, or give you a ride if you want to leave. Where you at?” Britt replied. Robert figured out her schedule and knew he had time to think about it. She responded twice a day and he got the impression that he would not be able to leave until the second time.

If I want to leave?” Robert scoffed at the suggestion, but deep down he knew the answer. “Of course I don’t want to leave,” he said to himself aloud. He loved his life except for the background fear of starvation, and occasional loneliness. Britt solved both problems in a way that did not require him to leave.

“Food would be great!” Robert pinpointed his location and shared it with Britt. He knew she would not respond until the morning, but he did not feel tired at all. His decision energized him and he sat down to plan his next video.

“K. See ya at 11ish.” Britt’s morning reply said. Robert spent the two hours cleaning up and making himself presentable. He sat down by the door at 11 on the dot and waited. At 11:05 there was a light knock at the door and Robert threw it open without checking the peephole. He discovered four teenage girls standing on his doorstep. The tallest one, a pale girl with white spiky hair, held two large red and white bags that Robert recognized as Chinese food.

“You said you were lonely, so I brought friends,” the dark-skinned girl stepped forward and smiled. “I’m Britt. That’s Dread,” she pointed at the tall girl. “Jenny,” she pointed at an Asian girl with black spiked hair. “And the tiny one is Dirge,” Britt pointed at a  short girl with black flowing curls.

“Man…,” Dread stepped into the house without being invited and placed the bags of food on the first surface she found. “You got a whole Earth to yourself, you’re so lucky,” she grinned. Robert nodded.

“Yeah I am!”

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