the road was long and winding, and it seemed to fan and ban that they kept coming back to the same places.
fan and ban were, so far as they knew, the only persons left on the planet.
they had been wandering for a long time, under the same dull copper colored sun.
they spent most of their time looking for half way clean water, and berries and edible leaves and edible fungi, especially a type of red and gray mushroom which was the last tasty thing left on the planet.
at first they had derived some comfort from each other’s company, and at night had taken turns sleeping and watching for predators, but as time went by no predators showed up and they relaxed their guard in this matter.
they never had much to say to each other, as their backgrounds and interests before the obliteration of civilization had been very different.
when they did talk, they at first bored each other, and after a while did not even hear each other.
fan had been a poet and a member of an old aristocratic family.
ban, even before the obliteration, had been a homeless person, a scavenger and panhandler.
fan’s conversation was mostly about poetry, and beauty, and abstruse theories of aesthetics and the nature of time and reality, and about the lives of famous artists and poets and composers.
ban seemed to have one interest, at least a subject of conversation, and that was the relative merits and fabulous accomplishments of “great fighters” - professional boxers and wrestlers.
what fan did not know - and would not have cared about in any case - was that the great figures of ban’s accounts were not even famous in any sense, but only local hometown heroes.
“everybody thought billy bartwell had the next fight in the bag,” ban was saying one day as the afternoon was getting on, “ but then this new lad, the red thunderbolt, was brought in as a substitute for hank the tank -“
fan and ban were approaching a big tree with spreading branches that they had passed many times before.
“you know,” said fan, “i think it might be a good idea if we split up, what do you think?”
they stopped and looked at each other.
with a silent nod, ban agreed.
fan stood and watched as ban started down the road alone.
the figure of ban got smaller and smaller and finally disappeared over the horizon.