Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.


by Trent Walters

Words didn’t fail the last man on earth; the city of machines did. After the gears ground down and clunked their last, he spoke at various consoles, but the machines wouldn’t whir back to life. Nothing but his cerebrometer made even the faintest buzz. Either its battery was failing as well or he was. Each day it dropped a tenth of a percent: 81.2. 81.1, 81.0, 80.9….

That’s when he found books: worlds that were, worlds that weren’t, worlds that could be right now: He built his own generator, wells, crops, pets, even a woman. He walked away from the city of the machines.

Years later, nostalgic, he wheeled in on a chair pushed by his favorite great granddaughter. They sifted through dust layered upon the old machines and the former last man reminisced on how machines walked, talked, thought, rocked babies, and bought cans of delicious goolop for you. They popped an unopened can and tried it: tasted like gritty motor oil. It must have spoiled, the former last man said.

The great granddaughter stumbled across the cerebrometer amid the rusted hulks of machines and shook off the dust. Hers was 140, more than half more than his had read at her age. Must be broken, he muttered. He slipped the leather straps over his head, and his read 120. How can one go higher than 100%, he asked. His great granddaughter pointed to the words, “Intelligence Quotient” and how it was scaled. Oh, he said, I’d thought I was getting a B.

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