March 5

The Last _______ on Earth


The Last Author on Earth sat in an armchair, pen raised over a pad of lined paper.

His laptop battery had drained months ago.  There was no electricity to power his desktop computer.

He’d considered trying to find an old-fashioned typewriter in the city’s looted pawn shops, but decided the streets were too dangerous.

Besides, pen and paper was the classic way to write fiction.  The civilized scratch of blue-black ink, some argued, matched the natural flow of a writer’s ideas.

The Last Author on Earth still wasn’t certain what topic to choose.  Many guidebooks suggested it was best to write about what you know.  He began in longhand at the top of the page:

I am alone.  The world has ended.

He crossed through the lines.  Too close to home.  And where would that story go?  He couldn’t imagine.

He tore off the page and crumpled it up.  He tossed the ball at a wastebasket across the room, where it landed amid other false starts.

Back when he was One of Many Authors, he’d responded to an interviewer’s question about why he enjoyed writing.  Thats easy, he said.  The characters.  I never know what my characters will do, what path theyll make the story follow.  They always surprise me.  Theyre the best companions I could ever imagine.

He now knew that fictional characters weren’t enough.  He needed food and warmth and escape from tedium.  He needed a stranger’s voice, a person with real opinions, and maybe a body he could reach out and touch.

The Last Author on Earth considered all the characters from all the stories he’d ever written.  Their bland, boring voices sounded too much like his own.

He wrote a new story that killed them all.