Flickering candlelight illuminates silicone tits, shaved cunts, oversized cocks and beautiful faces bespattered with thick cum. The only sound is the gentle buzzing of a bullet vibrator, her orgasm is mute as the sound of her own voice is too jarring in this almost absolute silence.
Approximately five months after they all disappeared, she took refuge in an abandoned adult department store on the main highway connecting Melbourne to Sydney. This made practical sense as it was situated between a Chemist Warehouse and a 24 Hour Gym, so she was able to survive on old protein powders and vitamin supplements. She slept in the office of the sex store on an old mattress, wrapped in faux mink blankets which she scavenged from Kmart before it collapsed.
She plastered the walls with photos from porn magazines. These had provided her only company for a very long time now and so all her notions and memories of the flesh and actuality of humanity were replaced by these remnants of sexual ideals. Now when she tries to recall the faces of loved ones, she can only see platinum blondes with heaving breasts or the hairless abs of gay porn stars.
In an attempt to pass the endless time and cope with the suffocating boredom, she masturbates. There is a good supply of batteries and a huge variety of vibrators for her to choose from and perhaps this is the real reason she chose to take refuge here; in this dream world full of pleasing shapes and bright colours, these objects of escapism and pleasure are the antithesis of what lays outside, the opposite of the barren landscape where the sunlight is a hazy silver through the smog and everything is coated in that grey, omnipresent dust. Sometimes it rains but the water tastes like ash and the dust turns to mud.
Night and day are entirely devoid of the sounds indicative of life, no cars, no birds, no skittering feet or buzzing flies. There is nothing but the hollow wind, the unconscious creaking of old architecture and sometimes, a sudden and violently loud crashing from crumbling plaster and collapsing steel as buildings no longer maintained have begun to deteriorate.
There was a time she was convinced that she could hear music, too faint to pick out the tune, like a radio that was very far away. She spent what she estimated to be a year, judging by the passing of the seasons, searching for the source of this sound. Every single day, she would explore the empty, used car lots, discount grocery stores, TABs and dusty McDonald’s but the sound never got closer, it always existed just on the periphery of her perception so that it began to feel like psychological torture.
One day, in an abandoned retirement home, she found the body of a cat. Shaking violently, she stared at the corpse in shock; it had been a very long time since she had seen evidence of any other living creature. She had seen no people, plants or animals for years, had never once found any bodies, bones or remains of the life forms she was sure once existed in abundance. The only indication that life had once prevailed were the cold artefacts, the photos, buildings, objects and the powdered meal supplements she survived on.
Yet here was this dead cat, utterly emaciated with a thin trickle of blood coming from its mouth. Tentatively, she placed her hand on the corpse and her ears began to ring. The cadaver still contained traces of heat, whispers of a recently ended life which sent a burning, intolerable pain throughout her body. And so she ran. After that, she ceased her searching and believed the music to never have existed.
She doesn’t venture out far anymore. The grey dust falls thickly over everything now, the highway is covered in a blanket of the dust so thick that it goes up to her thighs in some spots and when she walks, clouds of the stuff are stirred up so that she chokes and coughs relentlessly, her throat burns and her eyes weep. Day by day, the sun seems further away, the difference between night and day is becoming indistinct.
Atrophied and weakening, she struggles to keep down the protein shakes and only drinks them every other day because, years old at this point, they are lumpy, flavourless and as colourless as the dust. Her skin is ashen and withered like a woman four times her age.
She still masturbates, though her orgasm is mechanical, sexless and she hardly notices when it happens. Sometimes she still imagines she can hear music but she can no longer conceive of why that might be significant. Idly, in a mental fog that grows thicker as every day passes, she wonders what will expire first, the vibrators, the batteries or her.