Author: Caley Schneider
‘Ha. Not if you were the last man on Earth.’ That’s what she’d said to smirking Cole Hamilton when he, not so subtly, suggested an intimate rendezvous in their bustling Interlaken hostel. He thought them both being American was enough to push her into his gym-bro, I-never-forget-my-protein arms.
How the times have changed. Perhaps Marissa would have had a different answer now. But she couldn’t have guessed she’d end up an 18 year old-virgin-apocalypse-survivor. There used to be plenty of fish in the sea. The sea had become a pond, and now a puddle. Of one.
Days 1-9 After, Marissa had flipped the fuck out and pulled herself together. Her dorm-mates’ slack faces haunted her dreams, but the dozens of others she encountered passed through her memory like stones skipping on a lake. It was a consolation that she didn’t recognize any rotting corpses she encountered. Even Cole had been on a train to Milan by the time It struck. So by day 7 she had pillaged her way through Interlaken, leaving a trail of clubbing dresses and toiletries in exchange for water bottles and a sleeping bag
Marissa had spent the entire day 8 swimming in Lake Brienz and sunbathing on the shore. Deciding if she was the type of person to sink or swim, literally and metaphorically. She had entire pharmacies at her disposal, which, with a little research, would let her go out with a goofy smile on her face. On the other hand, some sick joke of nature, or sadist of a god had allowed her to survive whatever had killed all those around her. Maybe she was meant to live?
On the way to Interlaken, both days and decades ago, she’d jumped out of the train to take a hurried snapshot of a quintessential European panorama- castle, lake, mountains, even a ship with the Swiss flag waving at the bow. Leaving Interlaken, she’d stayed near the lake, the yellow signs for hikers showed her the way beyond a doubt. On day 11 she’d slept in that picturesque castle. It was a little cold, but it only smelled of stone and centuries old smoke, not dead bodies.
Days 12-14 were ones Marissa tried to repress. On deciding to swim rather than blissfully sink, her plan came to her – walk to the ocean. She could fish (for fish and men?), make signal fires, spot ships and planes on the wide horizon. Her home country would be only one impossible swim away.
She knew from her guide book that she had a choice- to walk over mountain ranges or through the impressive Lötschberg tunnel. She couldn’t get lost in the tunnel, most likely it would also be free of wolves and bears (Switzerland had those, right?). In the end, the 9 miles of invasive darkness wreaked havoc on her mind as a wolf might have done her flesh.
How does one get through 14 hours of lonely claustrophobia? By singing. Frustratingly, the only song to come to mind in those sable echoing hours, was ‘Muffin Man.’ The boy she’d nannied back home would have been delighted.
Now it was all behind her. All the road signs read Genoa. She smelled the ocean! On day 27, she spotted a figure walking towards her. Something like hope, but painful, bloomed inside her ribcage. They neared each other with a slowness that spoke of fate, destiny, maybe even fairy tales. Finally, she saw a figure against the shimmering concrete. She stopped walking. Impossible. She knew those arms anywhere. The Adam to her Eve was Cole fucking Hamilton.