The Last Man

Isaac had seen it far too many times. He had long lost the ability to feel any disappointment. After all, it was only to be expected. The strange land he surveyed hardly felt strange at all. Home would be strange. Normality would be strange. He swore that if he ever found home, he would punch anyone that ever said the word “exotic” in the face.

That was a big if, of course. There were literally trillions of trillions of trillions of realities that resided in the omniverse. Finding his universe among the plethora of others was about as likely as pinpointing a single atom among a single grain of sand along the entire east coast of the United States. Isaac could barely even remember what the U.S. looked like anymore, but there was still that small sparkle of hope that kept him going when he knew it was probably best to just give up.

The small, strange looking ship that Isaac resided in didn’t travel “through” space as much as it traveled “throughout” space among dimensions. Warping space to a theoretically infinite extent and creating powerful wormholes allowed Issac to travel to any universe and any location within that universe in a microsecond. A kind of warp drive on steroids. Too bad the automatic controls were destroyed. He knew he couldn’t have destroyed them. Even with his memory gone, he knew that just wasn’t possible. The engineers must have done it for some sort of test, or maybe one of those bastards from mission control decided to play a sick joke.

That was one thing Isaac couldn’t figure out. The brain formatter in the medical bay had obviously been used. The computer’s log displayed it quite clearly: “Patient: Isaac Reeve – Initiating level 2 hippocampus & cortex format.” It was seven years since that date. It must have been the date he left Earth. But why did he leave? Was it because something happened? Something terrible? No, it must be part of the test. He’ll find his way back, and everything will be clear. The bigwigs will explain everything, he thought. Maybe there was some sort of accident during launch, or maybe these wasted seven years of his life were for a greater cause. Who knows.

Obviously no one in this universe.

He could remember everything except for why he was here. He remembered his kids, his wife, his house, his entire life up until seven years ago. He definitely knew who he was: Isaac Reeve, Class 4 Systems Engineer. He remembered how to operate the ship, but he couldn’t remember being selected for any mission. The question “why me?” tugged at his brain every day. “Just what the hell happened?” was the other popular question.

Isaac had to wait three days for the ship to absorb the surrounding energy and recharge enough to make another warp jump. He knew that if he jumped to a similar universe to home, even only slightly similar, he would be able to narrow his search, and if he was able to keep narrowing his search after a certain number of warps, the computer would be able to scan for universes in a realistic amount of time. It wouldn’t take thousands of years for a scan, but only hours, or even minutes. He knew this was the only way. On the third day, Isaac made the jump. The globe he saw before him triggered a sense of shock he never knew a man could experience.

Blue water, white clouds, those familiar continents, and a yellow star 93 million miles away. Atmospheric readings were equivalent to Earth. But it wasn’t Earth. There were life readings, all the familiar flora and fauna of Earth, save for one species. They were intelligent organisms, but they weren’t human. Isaac made sure to activate the cloaking device so as not to alarm them.

As Isaac observed the behavior of the human-like aliens, he found that nearly everything was the same. Same societies, same customs, same food and drink. Only one thing was different. This species had several biological sub-divisions among its members, but it had only two major divisions that were most curious: Reds and Greens.

Isaac decided to limit his observations to the Red and Green aliens of the United States of this world. What he found was very peculiar.

Reds are taught from a very early age to “never hit greens.” Greens, however, are not taught the same thing when it came to them hitting reds. In fact, society thought it was funny or deserved for a green to hit a red. Reds are taught that protecting greens from harm is the sign of a “Real Red.” As such, only reds are drafted in times of war.

It wasn’t uncommon to hear Greens gossiping among themselves about reds’ supposed deficiencies, believing themselves to be superior to reds. Few think there is anything wrong with this attitude. A Green in power saying such things about reds need not be afraid of losing their position. In fact, many would applaud them. It is very taboo for a red to talk this way about greens, however. A red doing so would be labeled as a chauvinist, and any red in power would be quickly chastised and removed from their position.

Reds receive more jail time compared to greens for the same crime, receive little health funding compared to greens even though they die earlier and from every major cause of death with the sole exception of heart disease more often than greens, and are the subjects of humor when the victims of violence, both real and fake; very different from violence against greens.

Reds also make up a shrinking number of education participants, but the government still has quotas designed to help greens. Less reds in education is attributed to reds simply being inferior to greens. Less greens in education is attributed to oppression against greens.

The most interesting thing Isaac observed was that most of the species actually believed it was the reds that had privilege over greens. Many even believed that reds as a whole were oppressing greens.

Something clicked in his head, and the joy he had experienced upon finding this world was replaced with shock and disgust. “No” was the word he repeated in his head over and over again. But he couldn’t suppress what he saw in front of his eyes.

Three days had passed as Isaac finished his surveying. He immediately knew what to do. “Computer, copy all current parameters, but replace the values ‘Reds and Greens’ with ‘Men and Women’, respectively. Commence scan.” I didn’t take hours, or even minutes for a scan. In two seconds, the screen displayed one result. “That’s it.” He said softly, his voice shaking.

“Initiate warp.”

He saw the Earth before him, a dead, dark world devoid of any life, more barren than the moon that orbited it. The overwhelming sadness and horror that triggered his memory to return and his sanity to leave let him know that he hadn’t made a mistake. First the riots, then the guns, then the rockets, and finally the bombs. All because of the disunity between the sexes, the final bursting of the bubble.

Isaac touched down on what was once Houston, Texas, and stared into the endless darkness of black ashes, the ashes of everything he held dear: his parents, relatives, friends, his beautiful wife, his little boy and girl, buried among them. He stared into it for the longest time, his tears having long dried. The sad tale of the ape that walked on two legs ended with him.


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