As Dr. Sanders lay prostrate on his knees, shaking in the wasteland, which was once planet earth, he tried to remember how this had happened. He was just a scientist at a cryogenic laboratory in New York, Buy’n’large North America branch. He could not quite understand why this had happened. He could not understand why they had left him behind. All Dr. Sanders knew at this point was that he was the last man on Earth. Considering naming conventions of his home world generally leaned on the look of it, ‘Dust’ may be more, appropriate.
It had all started on a Friday afternoon. Dr. Sanders had been hoping to pack everything up, drive home to meet his family, and then hitch a ride on the Axiom. This had not happened, however. The unfortunate fact of reality was that Buy’n’large charged a lot, and many poorer people were not allowed to board these ships. It was quite disturbing in hindsight, actually, as Buy’n’large had abandoned many poorer people and branches as sea levels dropped and Hydroponic farms became the only real option left to supply everyone with crops.
In the end, the last few hours were a time of total anarchy. Most government military personnel had already boarded ships and the police had given up after a while. It was during that time that Dr. Sanders made the fatal mistake of staying in a little late in order to save a formula, which he believed was the path to a breakthrough in cryogenics. With no law on the streets, criminals broke into his laboratory and attacked him. Deciding that murder was going to take too long, they sealed him up in the cryogenic chamber for 700 years.
That was where Dr. Sanders woke up, seven hundred years later. To him, it was a few hours, but he found out that this was not the case very soon. On the television that he kept a pre-recorded broadcast had been on and off for the last few hundred years. It repeated the ancient words of the CEO of Buy’n’large just as Dr. Sanders exited the cryogenics chamber.
“Hello, fellow customer of Buy’n’large! If you are listening to this pre-recorded message, you have been misplaced! Standard protocol instructs that you must make your way to your nearest landing platform and await the Axiom or similar vessels to come and pick you up. Since the Wall-e program is doing so well, scheduled arrivals will occur within a few years of departure. We suggest that you take a full-body respirator before you leave this area.”
The words ripped through Sanders’ mind like a bullet. He had been left behind. His body shivered as he stood there, silent, and reached into his jacket pocket. There was his beautiful wife, and his little girl. Both had gone without them. Alternatively, had they not gone at all, doomed to the same fate as him? These questions played at the scientist’s mind, wearing away his mental stability like dripping water at a small fissure in the ground.
Hastily following the instructions given to Sanders by the shady CEO of earth and Buy’n’large, the scientist went to the respiratory storage area. After he entered the password as he had remembered it, the door clicked and the vacuum existing there escaped as air attempted to fill up every space possible. After the whooshing accompanying decompression had ceased the room opened fully, revealing a row of large white suits. Many looked quite retro, like space suits from the early 21st century. Nevertheless, Sanders put one of these full-body suits on, starting at the legs and then placing his arms inside, before zipping it up and sealing himself extremely tightly inside of it. Here was where the suit deviated from those of the 21st century as it began to seal itself completely around Sanders, making him feel quite lightweight and manoeuvrable.
With the final pistons sealed and his suit notifying him of the completion of the sealing process for the outside, he passed through the airlock of the laboratory. Not sure what to expect, the scene he surveyed when he emerged from the laboratory terrified him. A massive desert of steel, cement, and garbage strewn across for miles stretched far away from his view. Above him, massive towers of crushed garbage dominated the landscape, among the ruins of buildings, which once showed the superiority, and power of the Human race, piercing the heavens. The sun was gone, barely a glimmer behind the clouds of dust. New York, once a centre of maritime trade, was now landlocked, with ships scattered, ghosts of a forgotten age.
Sanders knew, immediately, that he was indeed the last man on earth. Everything was gone; his family was long dead, his civilization gone. Sanders stared at the sky for a few seconds, attempting to make out the shape of any living being but could not. It was gone. The same men who had promised that it would be fixed within a few years destroyed his planet. They had destroyed it. They had destroyed his livelihood. Honestly, he forgave the men who had locked him in that cryogenic chamber. They too were victims of this sadistic lie, this false hope created by the businesspersons of Buy’n’large to satisfy the population while they greedily collected food and water for their pet project, the Axiom.
This realization broke any sanity that Sanders had left. He fell to the ground, screaming inside of his suit, and banging the ground in anger. He picked up trash and threw it at a nearby Buy’n’large billboard, then ran over to it and punched it in a futile attempt to get back at the men who had destroyed his planet. This lasted for a few minutes, until he gave up, lying prostrate on the ground, which is where we started. Without hope, Sanders stared at the ground, shivering and crying out for anyone. However, no one would come. He was alone in a wasteland, which he had helped create.
Movement near him alerted him, and he got up, wiping the dust off his visor. Something was moving, watching him. Perhaps it was not; perhaps he was insane. Deciding the latter, Sanders went back into a foetal position. A tap on the back of his helmet after a few more minutes of shivering woke him from his depression, and he came face to face with a small Wall-e robot. He stumbled backwards in fear, but the little robot seemed to be much more terrified of him than he was of it. It hid behind a nearby rock, shivering, peeking but hiding behind the rock when Sanders tried to come up to it.
Sanders approached the little robot, but it ran away a bit. Sanders waved to it, which caused the quirky little machine to come back to him. Still shy, it kept a distance away from Sanders, who kneeled down in front of the little garbage bot. Wall-e’s head tilted a bit to the side, and the bot emitted a sound that sounded quite a bit like ‘friend’, and toned like a question. Sanders understood Wall-e and nodded while holding his thumbs up, which Wall-e acknowledged. The robot instantly became ecstatic, wheeling around Sanders as he got up and laughed at the machine. Suddenly, a cockroach appeared out of the corner of Sanders’ eye, and he instinctively stomped the poor little bug. When Wall-e saw this, he stopped and held his mechanical mandibles up to his eyes in shock. When Sanders realized that the little cockroach was Wall-e’s friend, even if that concept seemed absurd to him, he lifted his boot up. Luckily, the resilient insect had survived its annual crushing and crawled back up to its owner, Wall-e, who held it in his hand, and repeated ‘friend’ to Sanders. Sanders were a bit embarrassed when he realized that Wall-e was attempting to teach him a lesson but made no fuss about it.
Wall-e seemed to remember something, and then pressed the play button on him, which began to stream ‘It only takes a moment’. Then he took Sanders’ hand and pointed to a large grounded truck in the distance, repeating a sound, which sounded roughly like ‘go’. Sanders decided that he really had nothing better to do, as the last man on earth, and followed the ecstatic artificial intelligence. After much walking, they reached the truck, and Sanders entered. The survivor was surprised by the impressive collection of different memorabilia, most of which must have been collected over a long period.
Wall-e patted a small seat in the corner, moving it over with the moral support of the little chirping cockroach. The confused Sanders sat down in it, until everything became clear when the small television turned on. The movie Hello Dolly was playing. Wall-e seemed to be extremely mesmerized by it, and looked at Sanders. He looked at the figure in the movie, then back to Sanders, and pointed between the two, stating a sound that was rather like ‘Man’.
After the movie ended, Sanders looked thoughtfully on it and Wall-e. The little robot reminded him of his daughter, now most likely deceased. This little machine had been more compassionate to him than many humans had. It brought love, humour, and other characteristics that had long since been drained from this world along with its oceans. It hollowed a place in Sanders’ heart, which filled with the beautiful scenes and music of Hello, Dolly. He and his quirky little cockroach, despite their seeming insignificance, were the future. Humans were greedy liars who had destroyed their planet and then, instead of going down with it to learn their lesson, retreated into space on luxury cruisers. This robot could teach them, us, compassion. It knew not of wars, of greed and other deadly sins. This little robot emitted hope with his cheery little tunes. One day he would go onto to do great things.
Sanders knew his time was done. His suit was only good for a few hours, and then he could meet his death. However, Sanders refused to die in his sleep. He began to unseal his suit, loosening the vacuum and the various pistons. When Wall-e tried to stop him, once it realized what Sanders was doing, was halted by Sanders. Then the elderly man took off his helmet with a hissing sound, looked at the sad robot, patted it on the head, and emitted his last words.
“Thank you, friend.” With that the last human on earth breathed his last breaths, having gone unconscious and would soon be dead from suffocation. Sanders was not sad, however. Wall-e had made him the happiest he had been in years. Seven-hundred years, to be exact. For better or for worse, Dr. Sanders was now at peace.