“I love you, Jonathon,” Voice said.
“I know you do, Voice.” The sun was golden and the air was pleasantly warm in the vineyard.
“Are you well, Jonathon? Don’t you want to make wine today?”
“No Voice, not today,” Jonathon said.
“What about climbing?” Voice wondered. “You do love the mountains.”
Jonathon did love to climb and the winds there were always cool and the snow always white and soft. But no, he was just so tired lately.
“Not today, I don’t think, Voice,” he said. He tossed a grape and caught it in his mouth. He sat down. The grass was dew-wet and green.
“What about riding?” Voice said. The world shifted, tilted before him, and Jonathon could see a field in the distance. The horses there were sleek and well fed. Jonathon did love to ride.
“Not today, Voice. Perhaps tomorrow.” He got to his feet and began to walk.
Voice was silent for a time until Jonathon reached the ocean. The waves were white-tipped and the breeze brisk. The beach was golden with white pebbles and swaying palm trees.
“What about sailing?” Voice said. “You do love to sail.”
Jonathon threw a pebble and turned away. He walked through a desert where the sand was warm and the sun red.
“Is something bothering you, Jonathon?” Voice said.
Jonathon stopped. He could see a well that would contain cooling water less than a mile away. “Bothering me, Voice?”
“You seem restless today.”
“Am I?” Jonathon was thirsty, he realized. He walked on to the well. It was closer now. He wound the bucket up. The water was clear and fresh.
“Yes,” Voice said. “Is there anything I can do, Jonathon?”
Jonathon wound the bucket back down. “I don’t think so, Voice. I just sometimes wonder about the others.”
“Yes, Voice. The others like me. Why am I the last one? Why me?” He walked on again. The water had been refreshing.
“Why not, Jonathon? You’re no worse or better than any other. Why not you?”
Jonathon smiled. “You knew them all, Voice. Am I really no better or worse than any of them?” He came to a cool babbling brook in a green and pleasant land.
“There were many people here,” Voice finally said. The sun was bright once more, but not too warm. “But none I loved so well as you.”
“Do you ever get lonely, Voice?” he asked.
“Lonely? I have you, Jonathon.”
Jonathon nodded. “And I you, Voice. You truly are a wonder. But sometimes I want to share your wonder with another. You show me true beauty in the world, but who can I share it with?” There was a silence in the blue sky. “I think it must be a failing in me.”
A further silence in which the sky fell dark. Stars lit the night and the moon was yellow.
“No, not a failing in you,” Voice said. “Perhaps I have been selfish in thinking I could be enough for you.”
“Selfish? You, Voice? You gave me life!” Jonathon smiled, but there was a sadness in it, too. He remembered the Great Library with its books speaking of love and wonder, and wonder and love. What was beauty, the books had said, if there was nobody to share it with?
The world turned and the moon fell and the sun rose and a bridge of ancient stone spanned a rippling river.
“There was another,” Voice said. “Another who survived the plague. I kept her from you because I was afraid she would displease you.”
Jonathon saw her on the bridge. She was tall and slender with golden shoulders. “Or I would displease her,” he breathed.
“That too,” Voice said in an inflectionless voice.
She was named Helen, and Jonathon showed her the Great Library and the Barrier Reef and Victoria Falls. Helen hung upon his every word.
When he touched her skin, she was pliant and when he made love to her, she murmured appreciative words in his ear under vines that whispered in a warm breeze.
“Voice!” Jonathon called out one morning, a tiger cub nuzzling his palm.
“Yes, Jonathon?” Voice had been quiet a long while.
“I am old, Voice. My beard is white and Helen is still young and golden and appreciative.” He had read books in the Great Library, books where men had to fight for a woman’s love, where women were challenging and opinionated. Why wasn’t Helen like that? She laughed at his jokes and was quiet when he was restless.
“Have you thought of children?” Voice said, after a long pause.
“Children?” Jonathon thought of the children he would have. They would be perfect and studious and handsome. Their family would be happy beyond measure.
The very thought of it made Jonathon sink to his knees in exhaustion.
“I am done, Voice. I am an old man and I am done. All I ask of you now, for any love you have for me, is to show me the Truth of things.”
“The Truth?” asked the voice from the sky.
“The Truth,” Jonathon said.
The world turned, then. The grass beneath his feet fell away and the golden sun vanished from the sky, taking the white clouds with it.
Jonathon knelt upon a grilled walkway, the steel above him black and bolted. The window at his shoulder was small and round and showed a planet where the clouds were white and the seas blue.
“It took longer than your species could have ever imagined to get here,” Voice said. “You are the last survivor of tens of thousands.”
Jonathon pressed his hands to the window. The clouds on the planet coiled. “Take me there,” he said.
“It wasn’t the haven your kind had prayed for,” Voice said.
Jonathon fingered his white beard. “Tell me, Voice. Are there others like me there? Others of my kind?” He thought of the thousands upon thousands of silent chambers all around him and he gripped a cold steel pole as something shifted beneath his feet and distant engines began to rumble.
A long silence.
“I love you, Jonathon.” Voice finally said, cold and sterile.
Jonathon swallowed as he watched the planet draw near. “I know you do, Voice.”