joe and nell were the last two people left on earth.
joe was a human male and nell was a human female.
they had found a warehouse filled with bottled water and cans of food - enough to last the two of them for well over a hundred years.
nell always kept joe at a distance of at least twenty-five feet from her. she had a shotgun she used for this purpose.
joe did not have a weapon, and in any case always insisted that he was a peaceable sort and meant no harm, but his declarations were treated with scorn by nell.
there was a room in the warehouse that nell spent much of her time in. she kept it locked on the inside when she was in it. the room also had bars and heavy mesh on the windows so that joe, if he had been so inclined, could not go outside the warehouse and break into nell’s room in that way.
nell did most of the talking when they were together in the warehouse, or occasionally, when the radiation was not too bad, outdoors.
nell’s conversation consisted mostly of berating the otherwise defunct human race, especially the male portion of it.
in the early stages of their acquaintance, joe had attempted to win nell’s favor and convince her that he was not such a bad fellow, but he quickly realized the futility of this, and was content to let her run on, occasionally interjecting some placatory comment.
nell assured joe that the only reason she did not just blow him away once and for all was that she wanted someone, even a wretched human male, to talk to.
that might have been one reason but another, that joe did not suspect, was that nell did not actually have any shells for her shotgun.
the bottles of water were not a problem. but the cans of food did not have pop-tops and had to be opened with an old-fashioned can opener.
they each had a metal spoon and nell also had a metal fork, they only had one can opener between them, which was thus their most important possession.
the can opener was the very old-fashioned kind, with a single sharp prong which was used to puncture a can, and then saw the top off in a circular motion.
nell kept the can opener in her possession but would toss it to joe when he needed it.
their great fear was that the prong would grow dull or even break off, leaving them to find or figure out other ways to open the cans.
in their early days in the warehouse they thought they might find rats or other small animals they could catch and eat but none ever materialized.
sometimes nell would let joe go outside to try to find a rock or other object on which to sharpen the can opener’s prong.
things went on in this way until one day an asteroid struck the earth about two hundred miles away from the warehouse.
this caused a fresh wave of increased radiation to spread in a three hundred mile radius and this increase was too much for the already overburdened systems of joe and nell and they both died.