Tempting Fate
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The last living man on earth smiles to himself as he touches the silver crucifix at his throat, lifting it to his lips to kiss his savior, then looks around his small bungalow, checking to ensure that his lamps are brightly burning and will remain so until he returns, then steps out into the shadowy suburban streets. The moon is full and bright, of course, and white as the bleached teeth in a broken skull.

He does not know yet, as he tugs at the lapels of his corduroy coat and adjusts his left ear bud petulantly, that he is the last living man. Certainly, he thinks, in a world so vast there must be others. Pockets, perhaps, of civilization remaining even untouched by the myriad otherworldly taints that have left him bereft of company. On optimistic days he keeps a weather eye on the horizons and glances curiously down side streets in hopes of spotting someone, anyone… There is no one.

It's a cool October evening, and he chuckles as he sees the usual assortment of flapping bedsheet ghosts hanging from well manicured ornamental trees, and winks conspiratorially at a grinning jack o lantern. The soft guitar of his music blends neatly with the hiss of wind, and the sound of harsh laughter somewhere to his right. Grinning to himself, he takes a left, toward the park.

This is not the first such evening walk he's taken, casting away the protection of his fortified home and meandering in the twilight, dodging the dangers of what the world has become, but it is the latest he's yet dared to do so. Already the distant streets echo with the occasional crash and shatter of the night's early merriment. The last man quickens his step and checks the small pistol in his pocket. One bullet, as always. He'd have no use for more than one, not anymore.

The last man pauses by the buckled gates at the park's entrance to remove his crucifix, hanging it by the chain from a strangely tilted wrought iron fencepost. He makes a note to retrieve it on the way back, and delves into the deeper dusk of the park.

Under his feet crunch leaves and gravel and what he suspects was once bone as he idly ambles down a path leading to the tennis courts. It's a good night. At a certain point he pauses, reaching to his throat to ensure that he's left his crucifix behind, then plunges forward into a small clearing where the air is filled with a strange clicking rumble and the smell of grease and the battery acid tinge of electricity. He winces as one of the buttons of his jacket frees itself from the material with a gunshot crack and flies into the darkness, its edge nicking his cheek in passing. He'd forgotten about that one.

Deeper still down the path, and his nose fills with a cloying sweet scent, floral and subtly entrancing. Lovely. He inhales deeply and quickens his pace as the slithery sound of lace rustles the leaves to his either side, and turns up the volume on his music before the soft singing can reach his ears. Laconic, he pulls a fistful of now worthless bills from a pocket and lets the wind carry them back like leaves over his shoulder, a tip for a performance he'd have died if he'd heard.

Coming around the circle, now, back toward the park's entrance, a barely glimpsed movement in the distance makes him pause. He steps into the bright glow of a streetlamp and leans against its post to wait.

He doesn't have to wait long. Soon enough they round the corner, eyes flashing, and stop at the edge of the circle of light. The last man nods to them, friendly, because they cannot reach him. The older one, dressed for the chill he cannot feel in a fuzzy down vest and cowboy hat, smiles wryly. "Good evening.". The younger, female, who by looks was once his daughter, simply hisses in anger and crouches to throw a pebble at the light. "Evening." says the last man, pleasantly, and he smiles at her as he puts his pistol to his temple. She shrinks back, making a face, denied the prospect of a meal, and tugs at her elder's coat, pulling him away.

When they've gone, the last man shrugs, pocketing his gun, and strolls out of the park, pausing to retrieve his crucifix and put it on. He heads home, flush with the exhilaration of danger, already planning his route for the next night's walk. There are so few things the last man living has left to make him feel alive.

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