By Stephen Baily
The last man on earth sat alone in a room. Well, not quite alone. His pit bull was with
—Let me guess. There was a knock on the door that touched off a burst of barking.
Very good. I don’t suppose you’d care to take a shot at the identity of the knocker?
—Since it can’t have been a man, obviously it has to have been a woman—possibly the
last woman on earth?
It’s true the last man on earth shared his lodgings with the last woman, but, as it
happened, she was out of town.
That doesn’t matter, any more than it matters how the two of them came to be the last
couple. All that concerns us here is that mysterious knock.
—Well, if the party responsible for it wasn’t a man or a woman, logic says it can only
have been a child.
There was indeed a last child—actually two of them, one called Thomas Bailey Aldrich
and the other Fredric Brown—but again, like their mother, they were out of town at the
—Then by process of elimination I don’t see what we can be looking at, if not an
extraterrestrial set of knuckles.
Save that for the movies.
—You don’t believe the world could be visited, not to say invaded and subdued, by
creatures from outer space?
That I’m aware of, no sign of intelligent life has been detected elsewhere in the solar
—That may be, but just the other day an earth-sized planet was discovered in the
habitable zone of the star nearest the sun.
I remind you that that star—Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf—is 4.2 light years away.
So, if you blasted off to pay it a visit, it would take you 78,000 years to get there.
—If by that you mean a bug-eyed monster can’t have originated the knock in question
either, then who the hell did? Donald Duck? Donald Trump?
Amazing! How did you guess?
—That was a joke. I was kidding.
Well, you nailed it all the same.
“Nice dog you’ve got there,” Trump said while the last man struggled to restrain the
animal. “What’s his name?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but we call our dog Bowwardo.”
“Hmm. It’s a little unconventional, but that’s OK. Let’s see how it rolls off the tongue.
Here, Bowwardo! Sit, Bowwardo!”
“I don’t recall telling you you could give our dog orders.”
“Under Article II, I can give him any orders I want. Come, Bowwardo! Heel, Bowwardo!
Stay, Bowwardo! Roll over, Bowwardo!”
“You forgot one.”
Stephen Baily has published short fiction in some fifty journals. He's also the author of ten plays and three novels, including "Markus Klyner, MD, FBI," forthcoming from Fellow Traveler Press. He lives in France.