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The Last Woman on Earth

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Mary-Sue groaned and spat sand out of her mouth. Yuck. That was gross. But oh...

She turned her head to the side and looked at the figure lying prone beside her on the beach. She had managed to drag him out of the water, which was why she was so knackered. She’d forgotten he was afraid of water, that was a flaw in her plan but there he was safe and sound, well, alive anyway, and all thanks to her! He shouldn’t have struggled so, then she wouldn’t have had to conk him on the head with that bit of driftwood. He could have drowned them both. However, it was all done. The plan had worked. And now they were alone at last.

It had been quite easy to sneak that virus cocktail out. A bit of luck that she’d managed to get that typing job at Porton Down weapons lab. And of course she had the environmental safety suits and Richard snoring safely in the boot of her car. The ether had knocked him out easily as he left the rehearsal studio, so late, and alone. It had been hard dragging him to the car but she’d been working out in anticipation and had only knocked his head slightly on the car boot edge. The gash had soon stopped bleeding.

After that it was simple to get him on board the cruise ship as a sleeping infirm relative in the wheelchair and keep him under sedation in the cabin. When she’d released the virus everyone had died pretty quickly while they were both zipped into their protective suits.

She had to let him come round when the lifeboat capsized. It would have been a bit too risky, having him unconscious in the water. And now here they were on their paradise island, just the two of them. The sea had even washed them up on the very island she had chosen on the net. Soon everyone would get the virus and be dead. Everyone dead. Just as she planned. Except her and Richard.

He groaned and opened his eyes only to shut them hastily against the blur and burn of the sun. He sat up suddenly. His scalp throbbed. He tried to locate the pain only to touch the thick plastic of a suit. What the? He examined his hand. His whole body was covered in the plastic suit.

What?

Why?

Where?

How?

Who?

Oh! Her. There she was, sat next to him, on a beach. A hot beach. In a plastic suit. Grinning stupidly through the visor at him.

“Richard darling, you’re awake!” Rage flooded him, cold in his veins. She had stalked him for ten years, until the injunction. He staggered to his feet, swaying as he clenched his fists and roared. “You! What are you doing here? Hang on, what are we doing here. And where is here?” The roar turned to a whimper as he looked along the empty beach, taking in sun, sand, palm trees, more sun... “Where are we?” He whipped back to face her.

“Don’t worry, darling, we’re together. That’s all that matters. We’ll always be together now.” She flung herself against his chest and attempted to embrace him through both suits. “Damn! Still, can’t risk taking the suits off for a bit longer. But the air should be safe in another 12 hours. It was a very fast acting and decaying virus.”

“Virus? Is this some kind of joke? It’s not I’m a Celebrity I’ve Been Dumped on a Tropical Island With a Nutter is it?”

“Richard, don’t tease,” she said reproachfully. She made a moue. “Nutter? I know you don’t really mean that.”

“Don’t I just,” he muttered darkly. Then recovering himself, “Look, OK, we’re... somewhere, you brought us here. But why. Why are we here?”

“Richie love, we’re here to be together of course! It was the only way you see. Just you and me. No – one else. Just us! Like Adam and Eve, only backwards, you see. We’re the last.” She looked and sounded as if this was quite normal thing to say, like ‘I’ll put the kettle on’, or ‘Can I have your autograph.’

“Last? LAST?”

“The last people on Earth. It’s so romantic! I knew you’d love it. You’re a romantic. Well be together forever!”

Richard screamed. “Oh.... my... God! It’s a joke. It’s got to be a joke. Please tell me it’s a joke!”

His voice was about three octaves higher than the usual baritone, and not as sexy either, she thought critically.

Meanwhile he was thinking desperately and finally noticed a white building peering out from amongst the palms. “Eh...” he cleared his throat and successfully found his best authoritative voice, the deep sexy Thornton one. “Ah, I’ll just nip over to that house and get help. You’ll be fine. They’ll get a doctor. For you.” He cleared his throat again, and stilled his shaking hands.

“Doctor? But darling I’m not hurt, it was you who got the bang on the head. Sorry about that, you were heavy.” Richard felt his hard as iron flat and muscular stomach self – consciously. “There’s no doctor there anyway,” she continued, “that’s where we going to live. That’s our home.” She blushed and looking down scraped at the sand with her foot. “Now we’re together.”

She met his appalled eyes, but luckily did not seem to be able to read his expression. He attempted a smile. It didn’t feel very Method.

“We'll have to get rid of the bodies of course,” she said lightly, and set off up the beach towards the building, which now appeared rather sinister. She stopped and turned to him. “I’d like to kiss now, but we can’t wearing the suits. I suppose we’ll have to wait ‘til it’s safe to take them off. Just another 11 hours and fifty – five minutes to wait, then you can make love to me at last!”

A strangled cry and Richard was off, all thoughts of Method lost as he ran towards the building, tripping and clutching at the trees as he passed. There must be someone who could help him. As the trees thinned he saw that it was a hotel: the gleaming blue of the pool surrounded by gold mosaic tiles, the fantasy fountain, the beach style bar, the dead cocktail waiter and the dozens more bodies sprawled around. They seemed to be clutching at their throats and sported strange purplish green and orange blotches. They looked like broken, abandoned dolls scattered about. Broken dolls who had died of a virus.

“They’re Dead. They’re all dead... Richard passed out.

 

Coming round he found himself lying on a white bed in a white room. White blinds were drawn down over the window, and he was naked. Naked?!! He sprang up, covering his modesty with his hands as he saw Mary – Sue sitting beside him, hands folded demurely in her lap, a delighted smile spread across her face.

“It’s OK Richard, you’re quite safe now. The air is clear. You slept a whole 20 hours. I took the suit off you so you’d be more comfortable.” She smiled sweetly, looking nothing like a genocidal maniac. “ He stared at her with wide, terrified eyes. “Would you like a drink?” She offered him a tall glass containing a bright green liquid and about a thousand little paper umbrellas with candy stripes and pieces of sugar frosted tropical fruit. "These are lovely, I’ve had a few while I’ve been waiting for you. And I found this gorgeous dress in one of the bedrooms. She won’t need it any more.”

She was wearing a tightly-fitted white sheath dress, with a flaring sparkly thing on one shoulder. She looked like Servalan from ‘Blake’s 7’. He had played Blake’s 7 when he was a kid. He had always been Avon. He had practiced that gravelly voice and hooded stare for hours. It had been quite useful for Guy. His attention went back to Mary-Sue. Now her smile was not quite as sweet. In fact it reminded Richard of a wildlife documentary he had narrated once, about Preying Mantis and their mating rituals.

 

He shot off the bed and 5 seconds later was noisily throwing up in the adjacent white bathroom. He clutched the edges of the sparkling white sink and looked in the white mirror at his sheet – white face. It was all true. All those bodies. Everyone was dead. But they couldn’t be. Maybe somewhere.. maybe someone... maybe it was just these people. Somewhere else, yes somewhere else there would be other people, lovely safe, sane people. Maybe.... maybe he could phone... a phone!

Tiptoeing to the door he peered out into the bedroom. Mary – Sue smiled benignly. “ Oh so you’re better already. Maybe a bit too much sun? Drink your drink, it’ll refresh you. It’s not alcoholic.”

Reluctantly he ventured out into the glaring white room and cautiously took the cocktail, carefully avoiding touching her fingers. His skin crawled at the thought. He sniffed the luminescent drink suspiciously. He had to drink at some stage, his head was banging from dehydration.

“It’s just juice, Richard darling. Pineapple and lime. Yummy. You don’t think I’d hurt you, do you?” Her little girl voice was complemented by her little girl pout. But there was still just a hint of Mantis.

“Of course not,” he gulped, his voice sounding like a half-broken adolescent, and sipped the drink. It tasted OK. He remembered the plan that had come to him while staring into the mirror. Method.

“I would never doubt you darling” he husked with the tones that had thrilled thousands of adoring Armitage Army members in his Audible recordings. “You know I ... care for you too much.”

Mary – Sue sighed dreamily. His voice was deep and mellow like creamy hot chocolate with those little marshmallow thingies on top. “Oh Richard, I’ve waited ten years for you to say that to me. If you’d said it before I wouldn’t have had to kill everyone.”

He managed to strangle a scream. “Never mind, darling, I feel much better now, let’s explore our new world together,” he growled enticingly. Channelling Bill Pullman he avoided showing any disgust as he took her hand. “This will be our new beginning. It will be our.... Independence Day!”

She gave a tinkling laugh. “Yes! We’re going to be so happy!” Richard led her through the glamourous white rooms of the island resort hotel, trying not to see the bloating bodies while looking desperately for a phone. Finally, in a small white room off the huge white bar, he found one, near a white grand piano. Of course the phone was white.

Mary-Sue ran to the piano, clapping her hands childishly. “Richard, play to me. Play ‘As Time Goes By!”

Real Richard grimaced. Method Richard managed a seductive smile. “ Oh yes, Mary, I may call you Mary? That song is so right for us. But first, could you get me another of those amazing Refreshing Cocktails?”

Bill Pullman had morphed into Cary Grant, but she didn’t seem to notice. She skipped off to the bar to make the drink. He rushed to the phone and began dialling. “Pick up Mum, pick up!” But the phone rang, and rang, and rang. After checking that Mary-Sue was still fiddling around with fruit, he tried several other numbers: his agent, his brother, and Graham McTavish. None of the phones were picked up. He turned on the white radio next to the phone. Nothing.

“Oh God! Oh God help me!” I’m stuck here with a maniac fan for all eternity!” He covered his face with his hands, trying to keep hysteria at bay. Hearing a movement, he turned to see Mary-Sue entering the room. Had she heard? No, she was smiling that sickly sweet smile.

“Here we are, darling, it’s a slight variation on the one you had before. I put in an extra special secret ingredient. I’m sure you’re going to love it!”

Richard clamped his straight white teeth together into a rictus smile. “Thanks, my love, I hope it’s chocolate!”

“You’ll find out, Sweetie!” She gave a fairy bell giggle. “Now, play it for me. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.

Richard seated himself at the piano, his mind numb with despair. His fingers found the keys, and his deep chocolatey voice began. “You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss...”

Mary-Sue sat on the piano lid and looked at him dreamily throughout. “That was lovely, Richard. You really are the most perfect, beautiful man who ever lived. Sweet, sexy, and gifted. But there’s just one teeny weeny problem. You see I heard you after you phoned all those boring people. You said something. And it wasn’t a very kind thing to say. Maybe Nice Richard was Method Richard all along. I’m disappointed in you.”

“I didn’t mean that Mary,” he stuttered, Method deserting him. “I was just a bit... sad about everyone being dead. I didn’t mean that you were a maniac, no, you’re... unique!” His words ground to a halt. His throat felt constricted. There was a fast pulsing throne in his neck.

“No Richard, you misunderstand me. Of course I’m a maniac. I have, after all, killed the whole world for Love. But you really shouldn’t have called me a fan. I’m not a fan. The others, They’re fans. I’m your One. Your True Love. Not a fan.”

Richard tried to get up but found that he couldn’t. His legs wouldn’t co-operate and anyway there were big black blobs in front of his eyes.

“So now I’m afraid you have to die too. You were a bit too mean.” Richard’s head hit the keyboard with a crash worthy of Beethoven.

Mary-Sue stretched like a cat as she lay on the grand piano. She felt sad as she looked at Richard, but she still smiled the Mantis smile. “So she was right all along. You didn’t love me, even when I was the last woman on Earth.”

“She’s dead too. Never mind.”