Sunday, June 20, 2010

Last Call

He’s sauced, smashed, legless. Falling down drunk.
He saved the last bottle until the 12th hour, the last minute. It isn’t the first bottle he’s opened tonight or today or whatever the fucking time is, but it is the last.

It’s been three months since the distress beacon was activated. He’s jettisoned his crew one by one as they succumbed to cold or hunger or just gave up the ghost. The first bottle of Merlot was opened in celebration of the first victim’s life. The last in commiseration at being the only one left.

There was a time when solemn words were spoken, prayers for the faithful, fond farewells for the agnostic uttered with gentleness and respect and accompanied by tears. Lately he just stands by the pod door sipping coffee and murmurs under his breath: ‘So long and thanks for all the fish’, before catapulting their bodies into the void

Why he speaks at all he doesn’t know. Nobody listens. The comms are dead, the computers powered down,  the last of the juice being used to light nothing more than a blue strip along the cargo bay corridor. It’s cold and dark. The food is spoiled, the water tainted, his companions gone. But for three days, he’s been talking to himself. Re-living his past, acknowledging his regrets and misdemeanours, arguing with imaginary adversaries and castigating inanimate objects over their uselessness.

He apologises to his wife. He remembers that last blown kiss. Quarantine had not permitted them to touch before he boarded, just a walk-by and a fleeting glimpse at the sadness in her eyes, the worry in her voice and the forced smile as she let him go. “I’m so sorry Hayles, so sorry . . .”, The words barely pass his lips before he realises he can no longer stand and he slides in slow motion to a slumped sitting position, like a marionette with broken strings; his suit crumpled around him, now overly large as his frame has wasted. He sees his reflection in the stainless steel wall opposite and laughs aloud at the skinny Michelin Man fucking with his head.

He raises the bottle in a faux gesture of ‘cheers’ towards  his blurry mirror image and gulps another mouthful. Strains of Bowie's Major Tom begin to seep into his head and he releases a guffaw allowing a purple drizzle of the heady wine to escape from the corner of his mouth. “Aw shit!”  he curses. This is the last bottle and the time is drawing nigh.

He begins to cry. From deep within him comes gargantuan, torso-heaving sobs, his chest expanding as if it might explode, the tears flowing and blending with the beads of spilled wine now slowly soaking into the fabric of his suit. He’s never felt such a release of emotion. He checks himself momentarily as if someone is watching and might chastise him for this girlish outpouring of despair. All too soon reality bites and he realises there is no one to hear him cry, nobody to hear him curse. “Fuck you, fuck you all to hell and back!” he slurs at nothing. “Where are you? Why didn’t you come? You’ve had three fucking months to get your arses into gear?”  Had their cargo been more precious perhaps the rescue might have been hastened, but they were carrying little more than space junk, cleaning up the neighbourhood and recycling the useful. Galactic garbage gurus floating in the dustbin of space.

He wipes the moisture from his face. “Fuckin’ garbos. .disposable and expendable"  he slides sideways and nearly loses his grip on the bottle but rights himself. Eyes now blinking slowly, pupils dilated, the air is thinning and the brain cells numbing, he can barely taste the merlot. One more gagging swig at the bottle and it is done.  He reads the label through bleary eyes and declining consciousness:

The palate displays a touch of tea leaf followed by spice and plum. Fine, dry, dusty tannins with leafy tobacco and coffee flavours emerging. Enjoy this now with tomato based pastas or barbecued meat dishes.

He enjoyed his with a splash of Pentobarbital and is no longer the last man standing.

Created for 10th Daughter of Memory - Merlot and Coffee 
Resubmitted for Theme Thursday - Space


  1. Very nice.

    Although you forgot a comma in the second paragraph.

  2. Whoops! Meant fourth paragraph.

    Sorry, drinking Merlot.

  3. nice. like this baino....have you written science fiction the nod towards Adams....always carry the towel you know...smiles

  4. Apparently, Merlot goes with everything. Good to know. I'm a sci-fi fangirl, Baino.

  5. Yeah, garbage collectors, inter-galactic or otherwise, get no respect.

    Good job. And I too like the Douglas Adams reference.

  6. space trashmen..sounds like a bad BBC oughta pitch it to them. love a good scifi tale! but i think drinking wine from a foil bag with a straw is more spacey!

  7. Enjoyed this sci fi! Poor guy, could totally empathize with his low man on the totem pole life! Hope I'm drinking Merlot when I go!

  8. Sounds too true for comfort - Sci-fi at its best.

  9. Excellent writing!
    You might reconsider the "gargantuan, torso-heaving sobs" which (to this reader) came across a tad overdone. Try simply missing out "From . . . . . explode" A great writing coach taught me . . "Always credit the reader with at least as much imagination as yourself." We know this man is doomed (and betrayed?) in sad circumstances, and I feel his predicament invites the reader to imagine the intensity of his sobs without further description.
    I hope you don't mind my going into the point in some detail. Your work is fundamentally very good.