Short Story/Writing Prompt - Just You And Me And He... Forever.
[WP] There are three people left on earth after a nuclear fallout. You are one of the two men, with one woman. You are completely in love with the woman. She is in love with the other man. The other man is gay, and in love with you. You don't know about how the other two feel, neither do they. by Yamossk in WritingPrompts
She's never going to love me.
We're quite possibly the last humans on Earth and I'm still falling into the same old patterns of social anxiety. Could I be more cliche?
It's been fifty days since the lights went out on the world. As luck would have it, which is probably the only way it ever could have ended this way, Tom was giving me and the new girl, Rachel, a tour of the bunker when the doors closed automatically. All three of us were crying while hearing the plaintive wails and meaty thumps as our coworkers' fists tried in vain to get us to open the doors from the other side. We all knew there wasn't a damn thing we could do, but that didn't stop the clamoring.
Or the tears.
The first couple of days we hugged and cried and tried to keep our hopes up. I hate to say it, but I pulled away from Rachel more than once thanks to a hug-inspired awkward boner. Tom and I joked about somewhat similar breakaways between me and him, chuckling at the bro-ness. I think, even then, the elephant was in the room.
Even if we were the last humans on Earth, there wasn't going to be any repopulation from just us three. We're all scientists here. We could live long enough to use the seeds in this bank to bring back the flora, but with only two sperm donors and one ovum factory, humanity is doomed. So what were we going to do?
Days four through twelve we pretty much left one another alone. We ate together in the small mess, popping pouches from military grade calorie meals and drinking lemonade from cans, even had daily meetings to take stock in what had to be done to keep the bunker running, but mostly we just stuck to whatever quiet corners we had staked out for ourselves. Tom, being the oldest, which was basically arbitrary but familiar enough we went for it, took the Commander's office which had a rich leather couch and perfect climate control. Rachel, whether feeling maternal or just pragmatic thanks to the clean, sterile sheets and privacy curtains, took the infirmary. Me? I'm embarrassed to admit it, and maybe a cigar is just a cigar, but I dragged a cot down to the power plant. I liked the hum. And the smell.
I tried to invite Rachel down there for a chat. I think we both knew what I meant. I think. She just smiled and kept at the pineapple upside down cake she was trying to make from fruit packed in syrup and protein bars. It ended up being mush, but we ate it with a smile. I caught Tom staring at me over dinner and I buried my head in my meal. I didn't want him to see my shame, especially since he's the only other competition.
Day thirteen had me breaking down. Tom found me sobbing in the shower. I hadn't come down for leftovers, instead trying furiously to masturbate for hours and not even managing an erection, before he got worried and came looking. All I could do was look at him with a shrug, barely managing to cover myself with a towel. He just looked at me for a moment, then came over, getting soaked himself, before wrapping me in a hug and telling me it was okay over and over. Rachel was out in the hall when he finally managed to coax me out. She wouldn't even look at me.
I spent the next two weeks in a depressive fugue. Tom and Rachel took turns trying to get me to eat. Tom had the most luck, able to get a smile out of me every now and then. Rachel, not so much. I definitely seemed more like a chore to her and I couldn't blame her. Tom and I had the benefit of history, at the very least our comradeship to buffer us in the bad times. All Rachel had seen of me so far was my weakness. No amount of her half-hearted cajoling was enough to get more than one or two bites out of me. By the end, she stopped coming entirely. It was only Tom that kept me alive till I had my epiphany.
I had to stay alive for them.
Based on radiation levels from the censors, it was going to be years before the doors could be opened. The bunker was mostly self-sufficient, but still needed human hands, skilled human hands to keep a few key systems running. If there was going to be any hope for the seeds kept safe within these walls, all three of us needed to be alive, aware, and driven. I may not have been in the best shape then, or now, but if there was going to be any hope for Earth, for what was now our life's work, it was going to need... well, me. Us. All of us.
The next twenty days or so were kind of a blur. We ate together, worked together, played games, read to each other. Tom pulled up Byron on his tablet one night and we sat there, entranced. Not so much by the words or even his voice, but by the thoughts of our lost world. When it was her turn, Rachel chose Rowling of all people. I thought it was cute and Tom didn't seem to mind, either. I think we all thought it was nice to be innocent again, or at least dream of it. I think I was a bit obvious when I picked Rostand. Well, the translation, anyway. Rachel just commented on how romantic the French were, or used to be. Tom got it, I think, as he was mostly silent.
And now we come to the present. I haven't had the nerve to outright say any of my feelings to my bunker-mates. We've developed routines to keep things going and keep ourselves sane. Aside from accidentally walking in on Tom during his own private time in the showers, we still haven't addressed the elephant, but based on the amount of time Rachel spends "learning" from Tom up in the Commander's office, I think I know which way the wind is blowing. Sure, it makes perfect sense, since she's the newbie here, that she'd need tutoring. Lots of it. And, granted, I could just be imagining things, but... well. God, I'm terrible.
Tom's being really nice about it, too. He keeps leaving me little gifts to make up for the fact that I'm going to be the odd man out for the rest of eternity. Some chocolate on my cot down at the power plant. The movie I wanted to see but was outvoted for the night before already queued up and ready to go this morning in the rec room. I know what he's doing and I'm glad for it. I just wish I wasn't so jealous. We're all good people here... but we're also the worst. Especially me.
She is never going to love me. Just based on observation, it feels like she's made her choice, and I have to learn to accept that. We're in it for the long haul and the only thing left is for the two of them to tell me. I expect it any day now. I just hope, if they ever have kids in this crazy new world, they name one after me. I mentioned the idea in passing to Tom the other day and he nearly dropped his coffee.
As if there were any doubt.