Stay (Short Fiction)

The last man on Earth was hiding in his basement. The ringtone of his phone pierced through the silence. His phone, with the screen showing JEAN BROWN, trembled with his hands. With much excitement, the man knew that his teenage daughter was alive.

“If you want to survive, you will do exactly what I am about to tell you,” a female voice said, “now, stand up and leave your basement.”

“Jean, is… is that you?” The man confirmed that her daughter’s name was right on the screen. He believed that Jean was coming to rescue him, as she promised.

“Stand up and leave your basement.”

“I know it’s you, Jean, my dear. I can still recognise you even with your fake voice! Where are you? Thank God you are alive! Are you injured?”

“Jean Brown has abandoned you and left her phone to me. Ask no more and follow my instructions. Stand up and get out of your basement. My patience is limited.”

“No… Jean would never do that. Besides, if you are not Jean, who are you, and why should I trust you?”

“Because I stand for your only chance for survival, Dr. Brown; no one else will come to you. Now, if you do not stand up, I will hang up the phone.”

Dr. Brown recalled that his daughter loved to fool him with such mischiefs. The wired phone call somehow reassured him that Jean was there. “Don’t, please don’t hang up the phone! Okay, I will do what I am told. Just give me a while.”

“Good. Grab your gun as you walk. We will stay connected.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve been holding my gun for more than a week.” Dr. Brown said. His leg bled as he stood up and climbed the stairs. Dirt filled every visible corner of the corridor, and the furniture were either broken or burnt. The air still smelled spicy and dangerous. More than half of the wall was occupied by blackboards filled with languages, symbols and equations that could not be found elsewhere on Earth. It took Dr. Brown decades to decipher them, and the first complete message he obtained was a message of invasion.

“I am seeing a lot of blood on my window. Who else survives, Jean? Please tell me what happened in the past few days. Have… have they arrived?” Dr. Brown asked.

“Never mind the blood. Just keep walking, until you reach the front door.”

“Come on, Jean, just tell me a bit more! You know that I have been trapped in this basement for more than a week. I need more information! They did all these, right?”

“It’s all over. Just keep walking. You will be safe. You have my word.”

Dr. Brown paused. These words were unlikely to come from his daughter.

“You’ve made me curious. Who are you, seriously, if you are not my daughter?”

“My identity does not concern you.”

“Did you also get advanced notice that they are coming?”

“Yes, I did. As you walk, take off your protective suite. It’s safe.”

“No, I won’t. I need them. You have no idea what they can do. I want to see Jean. Where is she? I need her to stay with me!”

The voice did not reply. The sunlight shined into his house through the dormer, and the flowers besides his swimming pool had never looked healthier. After all, it was just like another normal day to Dr. Brwon, who was about to reach his front door.

“Now, open the door and walk outside. You can see me just standing in front of you. We will need your gun so do not leave it behind.” The voice said.

Dr. Brown followed. He rotated the doorknob which had never been so slippery thanks to his palm sweat. He opened the door. He saw the light. He saw Jean standing in front of him. He was so happy.

The real Jean Brown had been killed besides the house. Using the blood on her finger and her last breath, she wrote “STAY” on the window.

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