ultimate sci-fi cliche

This Quintessence of Dust

Two astronauts return to Earth after fifty years in space to find a world completely depopulated by a terrible plague. The last survivors of a doomed planet, the two men eke out a grief-stricken pointless existence, foraging in the ruins of shops and warehouses as they wait to grow old and die. The fact that they are such good friends does help, but the crushing sense of loss and isolation is always with them. Until one day...

This Quintessence of Dust
by Laika Pupkino

This is the story they warn you about in those science-fiction writing seminars...

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