We sit huddled in three corners of the room. Our bodies emaciated, our skin withered, our bones jutting from odd angles, after days of starvation. Our eyes skitter from one to another in rapid succession. We do not trust each other; we are terrified of the ground that supports our gaunt bodies, the ceiling that shelters our fading existence and the walls that hold up our wilted selves.
We have given up any thoughts of leaving the room, moons ago, or is it eons? We don’t know, how long have we waned away in this room.
I look at her, sitting across me, holding a rotting child in her arms. Her eyes bulge, what was once smooth, silky skin, now corrodes in flakes and falls all around her cadaverous form. I try hard to recall her name, but all I can remember is the word “Babe”. I used to call her Babe. I think she means something to me, so does the child wrapped in a dirty torn cloth that she holds protectively around her breasts. I see maggots crawling out of it, I see that it is now nothing more than the skeleton of an infant with pieces of skin hanging from its bones.
I slowly crawl towards her, as she looks at me with fear in her eyes. She clutches the infant close to her, just as I swipe the two maggots fallen on her laps and crunch them between my teeth. I know they were the last ones living off the child’s decomposing body. I look into her bulging eyes, filled with terror, staring at me, accusing me, yet terrified of me. I know now that it was my job to protect her and the child. I think it was mine, the child. But I am past caring now. My only instinct remains that of the next meal.
We hear a large swat from somewhere behind us. We jerk towards the sound, as I back against the wall and crouch next to Babe. She whimpers and tries to hold my hand, her cold bones digging into mine. I smack it away.
I see him, and I see between his lips the tail of a slithering gecko. Slithering inside his mouth. I remember this gecko; it had evaded us for days. He swallows it whole, and then grins, his blackened teeth a stark contrast to his white, dirty beard. He looks around looking for another meal. But we all know, that gecko was the last rodent left in the room. Nothing crawls inside anymore nothing comes here seeking shelter from the uninhabitable, barren land outside. Nothing comes here to die.
Perhaps he realizes the same thing as I do. Perhaps we think the same way. Perhaps we are related. Perhaps he is my father. I don’t know anymore. I look at Babe, and perhaps she is my wife. Or perhaps we are complete strangers stuck in time, stuck in the room, fated to wither away in 300 square feet of existence.
I crawl across the room, back to my space. I crawl through piles of our waste scattered everywhere. Dried waste, the stench of puke and piss becoming the air we breathe. It doesn’t bother; it doesn’t affect us anymore. Only the next meal counts. My mouth salivates again. The last maggots were not enough.
I look at her, Babe. I get a flash of a glowing, beautiful woman; naked, in complete glory, only for me. I look back at her gaunt face. I know she is dying. We all are.
He grunts behind me, I don’t know when he has crawled closer to me. His eyes meet mine, full of malevolence and hope. Hope for fresh meat perhaps. I don’t need any convincing, my emaciated stomach has convinced me enough.
We pounce on her. I go for her neck and he goes for her thighs. She gurgles as blood sprouts out of her, and my mouth fills with juicy liquid and morsels of flesh.
I don’t know, how many days we feed on her. But now we are sitting and sucking the leftover juice from her bones.
Babe, she was once a person, and now she is a pile of bones scattered around the room. Father looks at me; we both know he will be next. I am younger and stronger after all.
I couldn’t help but wonder how the last man on earth would survive by eating his family.