July 31

The Last _______ on Earth (Part 4)


In broad daylight, the last thief on earth broke into the finest house in the most exclusive neighborhood.

Metal gates might have been a challenge, but he tied a rock to the end of a rope and used it to climb over.  The guard’s booth was empty, so the thief was able to walk upright as he passed, instead of skulking nearer to the ground or keeping to the shadows.

As he approached the home’s majestic entrance, the thief noticed that many of the front-facing windows were already broken.  It was a simple enough matter to reach through a ground-floor window and undo the latch, lifting the sash to get inside.

The security system did not unleash a loud series of electronic blasts.  Even if it had, the sounds would simply be a nuisance, and would eventually run down.  The system would not signal a nearby police station to send officers to investigate.  There were no officers on duty.

In many ways, the break-in was too easy.  The thief had mastered his skills over a lifetime — lock-picking techniques, security overrides, the quiet smashing of windows, a silent stealthy walk and proper attire to blend into nighttime shadows — and none of these skills mattered anymore.

But he was able to adapt to his changed situation.  The thief’s safe-cracking fingers learned how to scrape ash off elegant wallpaper, and how to remove fleshy goop and bone fragments from a leather wingback chair.  Like trial-and-error with a security keypad, he learned what combinations of perfumed soaps from the master bathroom would best mask the acrid smell of burnt meat that permeated every room of the house.

The apocalypse created a terrible and lonely world, but it also brought fresh challenges, and untold luxuries for those with the right skills to enjoy them.