The Last Man

14 min

A small birthday celebration was going on in a Vishnu Temple of a small village in Tamil Nadu. The small boy was surrounded by his most of the family member s. His old grandmother was waiting on a wheelchair with her weak health outside the temple. The priest asked the date of birth of the kid to his father. His father replied- “14th June 2120.”


The puja was completed. The small boy was running out from the temple in a while Dhoti. He kept running till he could reach to his grandmother. He jumped into his grandmother’s lap. She hugged him gently-“Do you want a gift?”
The boy’s eyes turned bigger with a joy-“Parici-u?”  
His grandmother smiled a bit and tightened a silver chain around his neck with a golden ring hanging from it.
Snatching their son from Brindha, Allen dashed inside his lab. He locked the door. Brindha was astonished for a few moments. Suddenly she heard that their son started howling loudly. She started hammering on the door. After a few minutes, Allen came out with their son in his lap. Brindha was absolutely clueless-
“What did you do to him? What happens to you? Why you took him in your lab?”
Allen helped their son to sit on a chair. Without wasting any time Allen threw his few belongs in a half-broken suitcase. Brindha was running behind him-“Where are you going?”
Allen put his pull over and drew a kiss on his son’s bubbling cheeks-“Brindha, I have no time. I have to leave now. They will destroy the humanity. I have only last hope… leaving to you.”  Allen smooched Brindha tight- “Please protect our son till he is not becoming a father…And give this ring to your grandchild… Bye”
Before Brindha could understand anything Allan had already vanished into the darkness of a smoky winter evening. Holding a golden ring in her hand, Brindha was looking outside. She got back her consciousness and called on Allen’s Mobile. An irritating rhythmic lady voice was prompting-‘The no. you have called is currently switched off. Please call after sometime…’
Their son was scribbling something on the wooden table with a blunt knife. Brindha seized the knife from his hand. She was going to hug him but she frowned looking at his arm. There were three small triangular holes- looked like some type of injection marks. She stroked gently on those marks. Brindha took him in her lap. Her sight went on the table. Their son was scribbling today’s date-5.6.2080.
“Today’s Breaking News- Govt. requested to evacuate the Area153 as soon as possible. As per our source, the Army has started heading to Area153. Some of the bio-specialist are predicting out-breaking of some kind of deadly virus or some radiation over the area. However, no Govt. official is yet not confirmed the exact reason.”
Aloka frowned looking at the flat-paper-thin TV hanging on their wall- Karthik, don’t you think we should also leave this place?”
Karthik and Aloka shifted to this area just a week ago. The code name of this area was A153 or Area153. This was an abandoned place for more than last eighty years. Nearly hundred years ago, the ten square KM A153 was a Govt. research centre. The rumour was research on aliens, few used to say on the free energy project, few rumours were on developing some bio-chemical weapons. But Govt. never had given any official statement on this. There used to be the employee quarters for fifty-sixty scientists, hundred guards, and thirty-forty service stuff. Once a lot of highly qualified scientists joined A153 but they just vanished in the air over the time.
Before eighty years, suddenly people of A153 started dying due to unknown fever. First, the scientists, then the lab employees, slowly their family members; all of them were affected by this diseases. The symptoms were very peculiar- a headache, muscle pain with slow fever and then internal brain haemorrhage turned them to death. Govt. had to shut down everything at A153. The whole A153 turned into an abandoned place.
Karthik looked outside through the window with a void sight-“Hmmm…And where exactly we should leave for?”
“ I don’t know. Can’t you see, it is not safe anymore?”
“We came into this country one month ago. There are no relatives, no acquaintances…where we could go! We shall figure out something till tomorrow morning.”
Aloka busted into anger-“Why did you take flat here?”
“Don’t you know? V duunooothavman-e,” Karthik shouted louder with a stress-“Govt. was offering cheap flats here as this place was closed for long….,” before he could finish, Aloka pushed him harshly-“ And euu took knowing a-all this?”
“Go..d, Dammit…Did eu have the man-e? Not. Right? Then keep your mouth shut h-up! We need a place to live and all the posh areas were too much expensive. We had only this option.” Karthik was panting with anger.
Suddenly the wide bluish thin panel popped up in front of them. A face of a middle-aged man with a cowboy hat, long beard appeared on the panel.   A sweet female voice started prompting-“Hi, Mr. & Mis. Dasani. Your neighbour, Jimson is finding for you. Are you available now?”
-“Hey Alexa, please open the door. Ask him to wait downstairs. We are coming,” Karthik replied looking at the screen.
-“Thank you, sir. Have a nice evening,” before the voice-controlled smart home assistant, Alexa going to sleep again, Aloka asked again-“Is there any news, Alexa?”
Alexa replied-“Please wait, Madam. Today 13th October 2155.  In your area, Govt. has announced a red alert. The evacuation process already started. You are already late. Do you want to know the least traffic routes? You have total 5 options, listing options…”Aloka was looking at Karthik with quizzed eyes. Karthik shouted- “OK. Stop. Stop. Please, Alexa. No need.”
-“Thank you, Sir.”
Karthik and Aloka came downstairs. Jimson was rounding the dining table. His long brown overcoat was wet with some droplets of water. Karthik peeked outside through their smudgy glass window-it started drizzling. People were hopping here and there with their belongings. Everyone was trying to escape first, yelling each other to move fast but there was no such little opportunity. The drizzling rain covered the window shields of the standing cars with fine droplets of rain. The essential home articles, suitcases, bundles of clothes were tightened on the roof of those cars.
-“Karthik,”Jimson asked-“Do you have some solar battery charged? Mine is not charged.” Last hundred years the world has changed a lot. People do not use oil anymore to fuel their cars. The world has shifted to the alternative power source. They have power stations for alternative sources, like the earlier world used to have for oil. They need to go there and charged their battery. Some keep an extra battery charged for a backup.
Karthik put two solar batteries of different size on the table -“Smaller one is 10 dollars,  and larger one 30 dollars.” Without wasting any more time, Jimson pulled out his transparent glass alike looking electronic device from his hip pocket and tapped for few secs-“Please check your account. I have transferred.” Karthik checked his account and nodded silently.
Jimson picked up the largest one among two and starting walking away. He suddenly stopped before leaving- “Ahhh… Karthik, when are you leaving,” looking at his smartwatch he continued-“it’s already late.”
-“We are not leaving.”
Jimson astonished popping up his big eyes-“What! Are you mad? This area is not safe anymore. Look at outside. Everyone is leaving. Don’t you check the news?”
-“We have seen. But we have no place to go. At least till tomorrow morning,” Karthik replied reluctantly. Aloka taunted Karthik’s last few words in her mother tongue, Tamil-“ Kaalai Neram. My foot!”
Jimson looked at her with doubtfully-“If you can arrange 150dollars then I can give you some shelter.”
Karthik became little furious but didn’t express. He smiled-“Panni!!! No Man. We can’t effort that.” Aloka taunted him again-“Everyone knows, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it. Muttal-tana-maka.”
This time Karthik replied her back in their mother tongue, Tamil- “I am not nonsense. There is no sense to spend 150dollars for a night.”
-“Yeah yeah. It’s better to die here,” Aloka replied more furiously-“When he is ready to help why not taking?”
-“Taking the money and offering something is not help!”
-“That’s why I told you Muttal-tana-maka. He is taking money to avoid legal issues. Don’t you know helping someone without any exchange is illegal? Forget about the age of your Pattan. Last fifty years Govt. already implemented this by law!”
Karthik mumbled in a low voice-“ I am not leaving in the age of grandfathers. Helping someone in exchange for something- law, my foot!”
Jimson felt little awkward-“ Aaahhh… I think I am at the wrong time. Ok, Thanks for the battery. One free advice…” Jimson had to stop in between as the Legal Security sensors of the flat identified a suspicious behaviour and rang an alarm-“Hello Sir, let me remind you. You are not supposed to give anything to anyone without any exchange. Free advice is not allowed under section 11/13 smart social life act. 2105.” Jimson paused a bit, took an apple from the table-“I’m providing the information in exchange of this apple.” The heavy machine voice replied-“Thank you, sir.”
Jimson put the apple in his waist pocket-“Karthik, you are new here. You may not know but the hunted bungalow didn’t have a good reputation. There is a rumour- when everyone left A153 eighty years ago, only a man did not leave. He was there. When everyone was dying at that time, he was fully healthy. In the last three months, no one saw anyone in that bungalow. Still, sometimes we heard some scraping mysteries sounds at late night- like someone is welding something, digging underground. We all avoid that bungalow. Please be safe till tomorrow morning. Also, the rumour is – the same symptom has been outbroken at this area again.
Jimson did not wait anymore. He put his cowboy hat on and left the house with a banging of the door. Karthik gulped a glass of water-“F*ck”. Aloka snorted-“Good enough. The danger comes where danger is!!!”
It was 12:30 am. The dark cloud had been covered the sky like a winged evil spirit. The thunders were rattling on the glass windows to make a low riotous sound-tattaa…ta-tatta…ta-tatarrr…It was raining cats and dogs outside. The continuous splashing sound of rain on the earth was making the ears tedious.  The roads became empty- people already left A153. The horrifying ambiance became more terrifying as the Govt. also shut down the power station in this area.
“Bip…Bip…Bip…Bip,” Karthik woke up with the alert tone of Alexa. He put on his digital specs- “Someone is waiting at your door.”
Aloka was in her deep sleep. Karthik carefully freed himself from Aloka and asked Alexa-“Who?”
Again a message popped up on Karthik’s specs-“Processing…Facial scanning going on… wait for a min,” after a min another message popped up- “No match found. Probable security breach suspecting…Do you want an alert to the nearest police station?”
Karthik whispered- “No. Can you show me, him?”
The digital specs started live video streaming from the main entrance CCTV camera. Karthik saw it was an old man standing on their porch stairs holding a dirty black umbrella in his shivering hand. Karthik removed his digital specs and stepped down to the ground floor entrance. He unlocked the smart door with voice command and asked-“Yes?”
The old man was coughing heavily, his whole body was jerking-“Can you come with me?”
-“Why?”Karthik was not at all happy meeting this stranger on his door at this midnight.
The old man replied in a feeble, rough and broken voice- “An old man…,” grasped few airs-“wants just small help from you.  I h-am waiting for h-eus-o-uu long..g.” Karthik felt a rhythm in his last few words.
-“Don’t you know helping without any exchange is a criminal offence”
-“Yeah. I know. I came to change that. This world needs healing. The world forgets to love each other. Only you can help the world to learn loving again,” the old man squeezed his eyes.
Karthik was feeling irritating now- “It’s already late night please don’t disturb others. Bye.”
Before Karthik could close the door on his face, the old man placed his umbrella stick between the frame and the door-“Please help the Old. I have a ring. I can give you that.”
Karthik pulled off the door again and found the old man standing with a glittering silver ring in his hand. Karthik stared a while and made up his mind to help the old man. He took the ring and put it in a pocket of his housecoat. The old man looked at Karthik’s pocket, then at his face-“Not in the pocket. On your finger. Please.”
Karthik put the ring on his index finger. He felt a small pinch on his finger-“Ahhh…shhh.” The old man sparkled a bit. Karthik started following the old man. He was not able to see anything properly. Whenever a flashing thunder was tearing the sky, he was watching next few feet. Karthik scared a bit- it might be good not to come out.
The old man stepped inside that hunted bungalow that was Jimson cautioned earlier. Karthik stopped outside, he was a bit of puzzled and terrified. The old man looked back- “Welcome to my home,” he busted into snorted laughter. Karthik was trying to step back but the old man said in a broken voice-“Don’t! You know, right? Not helping anyone after taking the price is a criminal offence.” Karthik looked at his index finger and found himself helpless. The narrow lane from the main entrance to the bungalow became muddy and slushy due to heavy rain. Unknown shrubs were standing in the dark like the horrifying thin skeletons on both sides of the lane. Some creepers were crawling on the lane.
The old man opened the door with a soft bang. Karthik entered with slugging steps. Few times Karthik noticed that the eyes of that man were glowing- was it really possible, might be a mistake! Now Karthik opened up-“What’s the matter? Please tell me.”
The old man started snorting laughter again-“So many days. I have waited for you. So many days…hahh. You are the only hope of humanity!”
-“oo-wa-t? Are you kidding?”Karthik smiled a bit. Why suddenly a neuro-artificial-intelligence programmer became the ‘last hope of humanity’. Last fifty years on earth the artificial intelligence had been touched a significant milestone. The humanoid robots were installed in every sector of life as service labours, from factories to stations everywhere. Karthik was working as an A.I. programmer of Robot’s neural schema for such a company which was producing and supplying robots to their clients.
The old man showed index finger at a chair-“You may not know who you are! But I got you.”  
Karthik sat and asked with a dry voice- “Means?”
The old man leaned on a wooden table kept in front of Karthik- “Have you heard about old times? Maybe during your grandmother time? Early 2000?”
-“You are asking about nearly 100 years ago. How can I know that?” Karthik replied in an irritating tone.
-“Then listen…That time world was much more full of love and emotions,” the old man had to stop as Karthik laughed at him-“Love and emotion! What the f*ck. What are those? I heard about those but they are not required in a progressing age of technology.”
The old man’s eyes turned red like a firestorm for a while. Karthik’s heart was about to pop up in his mouth. The old man put a divine smile on his face now-“Did you feel something?”
Karthik pulled his knees on his chest and started stammering with low voice-“ E..e…e..aes.”
-“That was fear my dear. That is one of those many feelings which people used to feel a hundred years ago. Now no one has time to feel for others. And do you know why? ” the old man leaned down his face closer to Karthik. Now Karthik looked at him more closely. His skin was pale- some kind of dirt clung on his oily skin. His eyes were motionless like stones.
Karthik mumbled in low voice- “Why”
The old man stamped his fist on the table with a bang- “Because your Govt. once wanted this. And still wants. It gives an opportunity to rule over you. It gives an opportunity to create a running market for making money by any means. Armour merchants are initiating the war and the young men are being sent on the battlefields to die. And no one questions-Why! Everyone is accepting all these mishaps just because they are made as law! They made you, humans emotionless just to follow rules. If you have emotions, you will feel the importance of each other and then raise questions. Govt. and Merchants don’t want that.
Karthik was astonished for a while. He could not resist himself to ask-“When did this happen? If we became emotionless then how can I still feel the fear and anger?”
-“That’s a good sign. The Govt. conspired to make humans fully emotionless by inactivating the emotion-receiving unit of our brain, Amygdala. Amygdala receives signals from other brain units and decides the emotion. Then the prefrontal Cortex decides the response of that emotion. Before seventy years one scientist already discovered an easy water dissolving drug which can permanently deactivate the Amygdala,” the old man was panting with a loud metallic sound.
Karthik was a little bit confused about those metallic sound, still ignored for the time being and asked- “So that drug is the reason.”
The old man replied in a louder voice-“No… No… The scientist understood his mistake. Before Govt could use it, he went underground. Govt. tried to reproduce the drug with his research papers. Few scientists were able to reproduce another drug which could suppress the human emotions, but it was not that powerful like earlier which could permanently damage the Amygdala.”
-“Is that used to us? And that scientist?”
-“Yes. That was used for next five years to all the humans…all over the world…a slow poisoning…Hahhh…And slowly human learned to accept commands like machines. No one knows about the scientist anymore. The secret agencies interrogate his family several times but everything went vain.  Then his wife also left the country and went to his motherland, India.”
Karthik was still clueless- “Yes, I am an Indian. But India is not a small country. If you are thinking, I can help you find them- it’s absolute nonsense. I also have a well-settled job here. I cannot waste time in all these.”
The old man smiled with his glowing eyes-“The sin which was born here should also be buried here!” He pressed on the red button on the table. The fraction of a moment Karthik was tightened on the chair with metallic belts.
Karthik tried to shout loud-“What are you do…,” before that a leather belt was also tightened upon his throat. He could barely talk anymore. The old man came closer. Karthik winced on the chair. The old man put a long needle through his left-hand vein and sucked some warm red blood in a vial. Karthik lost his sense.   
The rain was still going on outside. The dark clouds were still honking loudly. Karthik could smell a heavy petrichor in the room. His eyes were still experiencing double vision. He found himself tighten with the chair and the old man was crossing the table.
Karthik asked with a low and weak voice-“What did you do with my blood?”
-“Synthesize to get your recessive chromosome.”
-“What? Re-se-ev…”
-“Recessive chromosome. Every sexually reproducing species including human has two copies of each gene- one is a dominant allele other one is recessive allele. If a child inherits at least one dominant allele from his parents, then the dominant allele produces a dominant phenotype. If he inherits both recessive alleles, then recessive produces a recessive phenotype. I synthesized your that recessive allele,” the old man was staring at Karthik with his motionless eyes.
Karthik’s heart was running faster -“Why did you need that?”
-“Because your recessive chromosome kept all human emotions safe in it for last hundred years. It is not affected by any drug…
-“But…,” Karthik inhaled long-“u-t, I am only thirty-five.”
The old man laughed again with a metallic sound- “Your gene is inherited from your predecessors. Even they had that dug, their genes rejected the evolution process and you inherited the same gene”
-“Why me?”
The old man paused for a while then continued-“I don’t have that information. I always have a GPS location. My task was to guide that GPS owner till here. It was always with you. So last twenty years I had followed you everywhere digitally. From your exam results to your entrance exams, none of the achievements was exactly yours. I have changed all of them to drag you here. Reopening the A153, not getting any flat at any other location- all are part of a grand plan. Don’t you have got a single doubt why suddenly the piece of rented properties hiked three times in only one month?” He smiled a bit.
Karthik was feeling exhausted- how much power this old man could have. Were all those true! Or he was just cooking the stories. How can he control everything sitting in his haunted bungalow? He pulled his chin up- “What next?”
The old man replied with glittering eyes-“More two hours! The newly synthesized drug from your gene has already been mixed with the water. Last fifty years I had dug down and made underground passages below this bungalow to connect all the water supply lines together of this country. I had been waiting for this day for so long. When the human will take the first drop of that water, they will get back their emotions again. Slowly the world will also get the salvation.
The old man was looking outside through a blur yellowish glass window with void eyes. He said-“My task is going to complete.” He looked at Karthik-“You know right, we can’t die with an incomplete task. One request- please don’t make me live again. I am already exhausted. My master asked to tell you that the golden ring hanging around your neck with a chain is the GPS device. I tracked you down with that. The ring you put on your finger, that took your blood sample and prompted me that you are the correct person.
He exhaled heavily-“Now it’s my time to sleep.” The old man pressed the red button on the table. Karthik was released from the chair. The old man’s chin came down on his chest. In a sudden anger, Karthik punched on his face. The head jumped out from the old man’s body and rolled over the table with a heavy metallic sound. Few red, yellow, blue and black wires started hanging outside from his beheaded neck. One of the eyes popped up with a steel spring like a ping pong ball and kept rolling on the table back and forth. One blue chip also came out from the metallic head. Karthik picked up the blue chip. Something was written on it-“Exousia v1.8. 13th May 2076”.
Karthik was astonished. He was holding the lost processor of the most advanced humanoid robot in the human history. He put off the chain with the golden ring from his neck and the silver ring from his finger. He put them together.
The rings mingled together like a single unit and projected a blue hologram image of a man- “Hi I am Allen. If you are watching this that means my driver, Pavel is already reached to you and you are my ancestor. Back in 2080, I discovered accidentally a drug, Aimorragia which can turn humans into the machine. It was initially discovered to increase human productivity. But when we used it on the residents of Area153 without their knowledge, we found there is a major side effect of this drug. Human productivity had been increased a hundred times but humans were losing their creativity. They were losing their emotions and connectivity towards others. They became furious and angry, they started accepting command without any question. I understood the severity of it when one day I was kidding with my gardener to die jumping from the roof in a light mood and he accepted to jump. I understood humans were losing their power of thought processing. I asked Govt. to stop this research. But Govt. was not ready. They were happier with the product. So I destroyed as much research document I could from my side. But I was not sure whether anyone else could reproduce this or not. So I discovered a protein structure change in a human gene which may reject the side effect of this drug. But that protein structure change will only keep one safe. To discover an antidote I need to mingle this changed gene with a natural gene. That process cannot be done in Lab. So I had to wait till the next generation of the person on which I am making this change. But I did not have that much time. So I changed my own Son, Jack’s recessive gene and asked Pavel to reproduce the drug from the next generation of Jack. I am leaving this place with this hope that one day Pavel will find my grandchild and produce this antidote.
“I don’t know how many crime I have to do more to stop this destruction. I stole the Exousia v1.8 chip from Lab and put into Pavel so that he can be live till his task is not completed. Pavel is out of the record invention of mine. Even Brindha doesn’t know Pavel is a Robot. He is the most advanced robot on this earth till now. He can crack any code, break any system, and manipulate any online data. With the time his outer silicon-cellulose skin structure will be deformed. He will be looking old. But I know, till then also he will be active. I trust only him. We have already used the drug Aimorragia, means emotion in Greek on the residents of A153. If I kept them alive, anyone can synthesize their blood to get that poison again by reverse engineering. I can’t afford that risk. I have to kill all of them with another poison. I had no other choice. Tonight before leaving, I shall mix a poison in the water tank of A153. They have to die. God may not forgive me for my sins but the world needs humans, not the machines…
The blue projected ray started distorted-“Goodbye my ancestor.” The blue ray turned off. Karthik slowly understood everything. He heard in his childhood from his father Jack sitting in a small village of Tamil Nadu that his grandmother left this country for India seventy years ago, but Jack had no idea why. The first ray of sun was coming in through a yellowish dirty window glass. Karthik was sitting still there silently. He could see a scribbled date on the wooden table in front of him-“5.6.2080”.  Karthik’s smart wristband started beeping, he understood Aloka was awaked. He stuffed the blue chip in his pocket and walked towards their small house.
Karthik entered to their dining and had some water-“Alexa, what’s today’s news?”
The smart home device Alexa replied through the speakers-“Today…14th October 2155.  The Army, proceeding towards Area153 has refused to step forward. They have left their armours and started serving the poor homeless people. They distributed their ration among the people who left A153 last night and the people are coming back to A153 again. The radical extremists are welcoming everyone in their state with a red rose and sweet. The border between Israel and Syria has been broken down by the citizens of both countries. Even against Govt. laws, they are exchanging love and affection towards each other…
Karthik smiled a bit and stepped outside. The whole night rain had been washed out all the dust and pain from earth. The trees were standing with a new life. The small green grasses turned softer and greener. Aloka came outside-“Where did you go?” Aloka hugged him tightly-“I was missing you very much today morning.” Karthik felt like hugging her back. He never felt like this earlier. He armed her as tightly he could. Aloka said with her closed eyes- “Ahhoo…You are hurting me. You never hugged me so tight. Still, it’s fine.” She smiled with a heartfelt of happiness keeping her head on Karthik ’s chest. Karthik softened his arms and inhaled a heart-full Aloka’s smell. The hairs of Aloka were fluttering on Karthik’s face with the slow morning breeze. But he did not bother anymore.


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Kaushik Roy

By profession, Kaushik Roy is a Software QA Engineer and by nature an enthusiastic learner. Writing is always a passion for him- sometimes in Java and sometimes in English or Bengali. He loves to craft his stories with an unexpected twist. He loves to blog and listen to music.
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