“Top that off?”
Mary lifted her glass as John sauntered to her casually to refill it. She watched as the remainder of the Chateau Pavie emptied from the bottle. “Looks like we’ll have to open another, dear. I believe this one has given its all for the cause.”
John looked at the bottle as he walked over to the bar, setting it down. The sound of the bottle being placed on the marble-topped counter made a hollow clink that echoed through the penthouse suite. Before the unpleasantness of the week prior, this was a multi-million dollar home, one of the many John owned. Now, it was simply a gilded refuge where he and Mary, a well-known socialite and sometime high-dollar escort, would apparently live out their final days.
“Would you care for some of the Chateau Lafite?” John asked. “No reason to save it now.”
“That would be delightful,” Mary said, downing the contents of her glass in a most unlady-like fashion. “I don’t believe I’ve ever had the privilege of enjoying such a rare vintage.”
“At this point,” John said, walking to the wine rack to retrieve the bottle, “it may as well be three-dollar rotgut. It’s serving the same purpose and is now as equally valueless.”
“Yes, but there is something so decadent about being in these surroundings, enjoying the finer things as the world burns. Very Nero-esque.”
He filled her glass half-full with the Chateau Lafite and clinked his already-filled goblet against hers. “Shall we toast?”
“What to this time? A quick death? The resurgence of order? The possibility of at least one good sushi restaurant still not only operating but also capable of delivery?”
“No,” John said. “I say we toast to the next phase of evolution. As we replaced the apes and the caveman, now we, too, have seen our time come and go.”
As one, they hoisted their respective glasses, each taking a healthy swallow. John turned to look at a painting on his wall, a rather expensive one painted by a fellow who died sans an ear in the name of love, and was silent. Mary stood from her chair and walked to the window, looking to the street 86 stories below. The flames that had started a week ago with the errant missile strikes were compounded by those lit by the looters, anarchists, and gang members created in their wake. The fire alarm in the building in which they currently resided stopped a day after the attack. She wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. In fact, given the amount of wine she had consumed on top of the remaining Vicodin she had taken that morning, she honestly wasn’t sure of much, only that she felt deliciously high and wanted to fuck John at least one more time before she either passed out or the security of the building was compromised by the vermin outside.
The missiles, as they discovered via the 24-hour news networks and the internet, were mistakenly launched and were definitely mistakenly aimed at the United States. No matter; the U.S. returned in kind, partially to avenge the original strike and partially as a demonstration during an election year by a president viewed as soft on national security. The back-and-forth went on for nearly 24 hours with hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides.
As shocking as the incident was, more so was how quickly man devolved into scavengers, looting anything and everything they could get their hands on. Men in Armani suits and women wearing Christian Louboutins were shown on TV fighting one another like animals for bottles of drinking water and cans of food. One particularly gruesome scene shown on television (which continued to not only spew forth information, but to get reactions from the latest reality show contestants featured on their family of networks) showed a famous celebutante eating what appeared to be the remains of a small animal. As the camera zoomed in, a small pink, diamond-studded dog collar lay next to her as she sat on the ground, continuing her morbid meal.
“You know,” John said, breaking the silence and startling Mary slightly, “none of this would have happened had we not elected that ni-“
“Easy, John,” Mary said, a tone of reproach in voice. “I voted for that gentleman and based on the alternative, what other option was there?”
Ironically, as the missiles had struck days before, the penthouse had been the site of a small but very affluent politically rally supporting the very gentleman John spoke of. John could care less about politics, but he knew hosting such an affair for the sitting president would bring the rich, the famous, and the beautiful to his castle in the sky and it did just that. When the bombardment began, there was, of course, utter chaos. The guests dispersed immediately, the smarter ones taking the stairs with others believing the elevator the way to go. The elevators, apparently, had shut down approximately halfway to the ground level. John thought it was safe to say those who chose speed and convenience over safety were probably quite dead now, these nearly six days later. He smiled to himself, thinking of one of the doomed passengers, an actor who made tens of millions of dollars playing the kind of action hero to whom a stuck elevator would be but a minor inconvenience. Irony is a bitch sometimes, John thought.
He set his wine glass on the bar and walked towards Mary. He maneuvered around the body on the floor of the senior senator of their neighboring state, who had happened to be in town for the day and invited himself to the soiree. All but he, Mary, and John had remained in the penthouse and when the building began to lose power, the security measures John had installed had turned the top two floors into a virtual panic room; no one could get in or out. The senator became unhinged at the prospect of being unable to leave. He also became rather aggressive towards Mary and had decided repopulation of the Earth should begin then and there. The small .380 Mary carried in her Prada clutch gave the senator two reasons not to continue his line of thinking; one in his gut and the other in his left eye.
John stood next to Mary, placing his arm low around her waist with his hand resting on her hip. She immediately moved closer to him, laying her head on his chest and smiling a stoned little smile. They both knew what this was. They were casual acquaintances in the reality before the bombs, friendly enough for the occasional dinner or roll in the sack (or in one instance, the private bathroom in the suite of a mutual friend during a popular, well-watched football game), but were never emotionally intimate. Now, they were foxhole companions. They knew they were probably the last person the other would ever spend time with and given the accommodations and the fact both were equal parts attractive and shallow, there were far worse ways to go.
“So, good sir, where do we go from here?” Mary asked, slurring the tiniest bit.
“According to my security cameras, there is a pack of gentlemen making their way up the stairs as we speak,” John said, looking at the top of Mary’s still well-coiffed head. “I make them out to be about 15 in number, they were at the 50th floor a moment ago, and I believe they are ill-intentioned. They also have enough weaponry to make short work of the door.”
“Hmmmmm…” Mary said dreamily.
“Your thoughts on the situation, madam? Shall we try to negotiate with them? Shall we attempt to hide?”
“No, I don’t think so. I think we both know what has to happen. Our kind and their kind do not mix well. That is a basic truth that was, is, and will forever be a reality.
“What I would like,” she said, “is for you to kiss me. A good kiss. A kiss that will stop time.”
She looked up at him, eyes beginning to water and a tear spilling down her left cheek.
He leaned down and kissed her. It was rough, yet tender. It was a kiss that said everything it needed to. As they hungrily, passionately gave themselves to one another, knowing it would be the last time they shared this experience with each other, or with anyone for that matter, John slowly took the snub-nosed .38 from his jacket pocket and pointed it at her head.
As he cocked the hammer, the door to the penthouse exploded, a gang of armed and dirty scavengers flooding through. As John opened his eyes to look at Mary for a final time, he saw she had her .380 pointed at his temple.