The Last Night Of The World by Ray Bradbury, 1951
The magic trick:
Setting a calm, almost benign, conversation between husband and wife in 1950s suburbia amongst the apocalypse
Happy New Year’s Eve! Don’t worry, we assume this story isn’t appropriate on a literal level. It is a great way to spend five minutes today, though, if you want to close your 2017 with some reading.
The idea is that everyone knows the world is going to end tonight, but they aren’t panicked. Instead, they’re calm. The family at the center of the story actually takes great pride in simply following their regular routines. It’s a bizarre little story, hitting that sweet spot Bradbury is so good at between science fiction and Norman Rockwell. And that’s quite a trick on Bradbury’s part.
“I don’t know. You don’t get too excited when you feel things are logical. This is logical. Nothing else but this could have happened from the way we’ve lived.”
“We haven’t been too bad, have we?”
“No, nor enormously good. I suppose that’s the trouble. We haven’t been very much of anything except us, while a big part of the world was busy being lots of quite awful things.”
The girls were laughing in the parlor as they waved their hands and tumbled down their house of blocks.
“I always imagined people would be screaming in the streets at a time like this.”
“I guess not. You don’t scream about the real thing.”
As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.