Saturday, January 16, 2010


            His name was Guster Salazar the Third. If there was a roman numeral for "the last" he would also tack that onto the end of his name. Guster Salazar the Third and Last. It had a veracious ring to it.

Here's the thing: through a series of widespread misfortune and dumb luck, Guster became the last man on earth. Before this happened, his friends just called him Gus. Some people thought it was a generic nickname that just stuck with him, but it wasn't.

            Before the problems of overcrowding in Japan, disease and hunger in Africa, constant violent bickering in the Middle East and hate everywhere fixed themselves, Gus worked in the power plant in his small hometown. He lived there all his life. He saw nothing wrong with driving seven minutes to get to his last "class of 2019" reunion. The power plant was hydroelectric: it ran on the water that busily pushed itself through the dam right next to the plant. He enjoyed his job and he knew how to run the place, literally. If someone was sick on his days off he would be glad to come in and work doing something different for a day. When everyone was gone he decided to make the power plant his home. He could keep the power running for himself as long as the water still ran, and the water didn't look like it was going to bail out on him like everyone else did.
            He had a lot of time on his hands. He only had to worry about himself these days, but back when there was a lot of people around he preferred to worry about them. One of his biggest fears was that he was going to be seen as an egotistical person. He decided he would rather be an egoist at twenty-two; he had read The Fountainhead. Now he was faced with a large dilemma: seeing as he was the last man on earth his egoism was now egotism. But it was different now. He could be an egotist and an egoist at the same time and not be a dick. Plus nobody was around to be jealous of his immense self-interest. Sadly, nobody was around to see how good he looked, either. I mean it. He really shaped up after everyone disappeared. And who says black and brown don’t match? His black hair looked good on his brown skin. He didn’t tell himself that he looked good, though. That would be too bigheaded of him. His dying thoughts were spent worrying about whether or not he was really what he was afraid of becoming this whole time. It was a very distressful dying breath that he sighed, still caught in a battle of thoughts. If he wouldn't have died in such a hurry he would have had time to realize that if he was indeed an egotist- it was on accident, and he could not be blamed. But I couldn't tell him this, because I was not there to do that. And neither were you. In fact, neither of us exist right now. Only Gus.
            Well. Sir Caesar "the Flash" existed to Gus. The Flash was Gus' pet cat, sometimes affectionately known as El Gato. The Flash was mainly green and black. Gus loved that combination of colors. The Flash was made out of cardboard, construction paper, felt, googly eyes- the kind that have the black disc inside of them that moved around- strings and other random material he found all stuck together by property of a guy named Elmer. The Flash was very two-dimensional. Gus had a real pet cat years ago. He got the cat in a parking lot.

            "Psst!" said a dark man with a sparse black mustache. "You there!" He half whispered intently. Gus turned his head slightly to the left and glanced at the man talking at him. He was standing between two cars, slightly bent over. The passenger door of the car to the man’s left was open. "Eh! C'mere!" he said. He beckoned with a finger slightly. Gus stood looking at the man, his hands still on his cart with four items in it: peanut butter, milk, bread and some cheap 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. "Looook" said the man as he reached into his car stealthily and retrieved a small mewling kitten, too cute to not love instantly, unless, of course, you weren't a "cat person". Gus didn't consider himself to be a "cat person" because he considered himself to be fully human. Nothing about him was very cat-like and he didn't understand why people chose to allow the label of "cat person" fall upon their heads. But Gus really did enjoy cats- a lot. Half zombified he walked straight over to the man he was previously raising an eyebrow at. He took the kitten into his hands. It shook and moved around. "Rrg-g-g-g-roww?” it asked.
            "My name's Gus, little fella." Gus said to the cat, his face maybe five inches away from the little animal, and ten inches from its normal place above his body. "You selling these little guys?" He asked the man standing in front of him with a dark red button up shirt that appeared to be made of thick cheap cotton.
            "Yes." said the man in his fast paced accent. "Ninety dollars for this one". He smiled.
            "Ninety?!" Demanded Gus.
            "Yes. Ninety dollars."
            "Well...why? It's just a cat, man" Said Gus. And then he thought to himself: no, it's not a cat man. That's just silly. I wonder what a cat man would..
            "No. It's not just a cat." interrupted the man. His jet-black hair was thick and sort of a medium short length, combed over to one side. A lock of it fell in front of his face as the man leaned forward to give his explanation. His eyes darted from side to side. "It's a gato!" Whispered the man excitedly.
            There was a pause.
            "What?" asked Gus. His eyebrow found its way back to the place it had been before he walked over. His head tipped to one side, favoring the side of his brain that was trying to figure this man out.
            "A gato! See, this is no ordinary cat you can buy here in America. This one is imported. Born in Mayheeko!" Said the man. Of course, he meant Mexico by that. Gus laughed. He produced some twenties and a ten and handed them to the man.
            "You're lucky I have so much cash with me today. I don't think a cat's worth that much money but how can I not? This thing is adorable. Look at it." said Gus as he extended his arms with the little animal cradled in his hands. He took it back a few seconds later. He was beaming like a child. "Your reason for it being so expensive made my day. That's the other reason I bought it." He put the little cat down in his cart by his bag. The cat pounced at it. Gus started pushing and the cat moved all of its legs out and looked a little scared as it tried to maintain balance. Later, Gus gave it the name Sir Caesar "the Flash" Gato because he thought it was funny and the cat could not object, plus it always made him smile when he told other people what it was. He got to tell them the story of how he got the cat- they'd always demand why it had such a strange name. Now he only had his cardboard arts and crafts day rendition of his cat. He took it with him whenever he went to a different room and propped it up against something. It was much bigger than the real one and didn't move quite as much, plus it was uninterested in jingly toys, much to Gus' perpetual disappointment.
            "Umhnnnm" said Gus' throat. He was talking to his second-generation cat, like he always did. Except what he really said was: "I just don't make coffee like they used to, Flash."
            He said it all in his brain. Saying things in his brain was a lot easier than actually voicing them, plus he didn't have to feel as crazed by loneliness as he actually was. This was how he always communicated now. He brained all sorts of things to all sorts of inanimate objects. His mouth would still stir a little and some sounds would come out when he was braining things.
            The Flash looked at him, his black disc pupils resting at the bottom of this plastic bubble eyes. "Well don't look at me!" it brained back to Gus. Gus heard it, as he always did.
            Gus had a very impressive musical collection. He drove to the closest big towns and raided the music stores. At first he collected all sorts of music he liked. Then he went on to music other people used to enjoy, even if he didn't particularly enjoy it himself. He converted one of the offices into a music room when he ran out of space in his "living room". Next to his music room was his other music room with actual instruments. He found a drum set that was so expensive one could have expected it might have a pot of gold in the bass drum. The drum company knew that would mess with the sound so they decided to make it expensive in other ways. Gus didn't understand what was so great about it, but he liked beating it up with wooden sticks. He had a variety of guitars and a few basses. He also raided the Mac store to get a mini studio set up for himself to record. He threw listening parties with The Flash. At one particular listening party he toasted: "No band in all the history of mankind has ever been so concordantly loved by the earths populous!"
            "And no paralyzed cat has ever been the fastest in the world, either!" Said The Flash with a stoic leer.
            Gus had become very fit due to his solitary confinement. He wasn't too big on health for most of his life but now he decided he should be healthy and fit if he was ever to become a-sexual somehow. Some animals and plants were a-sexual and they were quite healthy. Humanity was depending on him to find a way to let itself continue past his death! Somehow, he thought, being healthy and fit would result in mankind beyond his singularity. He ran, weight trained and sometimes swam but he still used the facilities elevators. He thought his transmogrification stratagem was a stretch but he had to take measures somehow. Being lazy wasn't his idea of progress.
            Panting, he walked into his living room, head down, and hands in fists on his hips. "How was the run?" He looked up and saw The Flash right where he left him.
            "Have you know...thought that maybe there's someone out there somewhere? I mean I don't understand how I could really be the only one left here."
            No answer from The Flash.
            "Come on. It's just that sometimes I feel like I'm being watched...not by you. And if there is someone out there...I wish they'd just come say 'hi' or something."
      “Mom, did Eve go to Hell?”
      “I don’t know, baby.” His Mother was short and losing the figure of her youth. Gus was ten.
      “I wonder who was the first. I wonder when Hell started and how long Satan had to be alone for. And how bad it was to be the only person there. All alone in Hell with just Satan to keep you company.”
      “That boy has a lot of time to think, huh?” Said Gus’ dad from behind his paper on the chair that he literally never seemed to leave, except for work.
       “Hey Guster, wanna see what’s on?” He asked with a gesture of his left hand- lifting it with his eyebrows, presenting the remote.
            Somewhere along the line he decided that he didn’t believe in God. Now everyone was gone and he didn’t know what to think. Everyone who made him hate organized religion was gone, and if there was a God, getting rid of them was a pretty nice thing to do. But it was just him now. Alone. He reached for the remote. Static.
            Gus, caught in quizzical thought, exited the room to head off to the river to bathe. Down the hallway, left at the “T” and straight to the elevator. He raised his hand to call the elevator, and right as his hand hovered over the button, a light above the elevator doors lit up and said 'bing!’
            He raised his head to watch the doors mechanically sunder and saw a man standing directly in the middle of the elevator.           
            Gus cocked his head to the side- his face a look of turbid bemusement. The man standing in front of him lifted his arm parallel with the ground. The muscles in the hand attached to his arm simultaneously contracted in a muscular prolix. The trigger of the gun attached to his hand squeezed as intended and his eyelids followed suit, but by reflex.
            Gus lay on the ground gasping for air, his mind and heart racing in tune with each other, and then, as if they had coordinated it in a protest to the pain and their flummoxed state, they stopped.

1 comment:

  1. "Gus didn't consider himself to be a "cat person" because he considered himself to be fully human. Nothing about him was very cat-like and he didn't understand why people chose to allow the label of "cat person" fall upon their heads. But Gus really did enjoy cats- a lot."

               "Well...why? It's just a cat, man" Said Gus. And then he thought to himself: no, it's not a cat man. That's just silly. I wonder what a cat man would.."

    Oh, Lee Carter.