by Eric Heidle
Professors Harpole and Drake stared at the single shimmering glass they’d poured from the only unbroken bottle in the tomb, their boots scraping in stony silence. Both had been children when the last wine had been made, before the virus burned through the vineyards of Europe, the Americas, everywhere. Now each in his seventies, they stared at the fruits of their chance discovery, surely the only drinkable glass of wine left anywhere on earth. Crimson refractions played on the sarcophagus lid, an altar for this final sacrament. Neither man had ever tasted a drop, and now before them lay the summation of five thousand summers of sun falling on green leaves and curling vines. The whole of history distilled in this remnant—blood tinting Greek speartips, sanguine jets from Caesar’s wounds, a scarlet tear trickling from Christ’s brow. How many such glasses had been raised in victory, squandered in revelry, plied the lips of lovers, tainted parchment, stained the soil in desperate libation?
Their gazes rose and met above the glass. There was enough for only one to have a taste, a final sip, to savor the last draught of humanity. They drew their knives, circling the goblet’s fateful cargo. Harpole’s blade found its mark, but in slitting his colleague’s throat the blow struck the glass from the stone to shatter on the floor. He watched the earth stain red, then slowly knelt to lap it from the dust.