JANUARY 2023 -- 75 Word Writing Challenge -- VICTORY TO ASHLEYNE!

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The Judge

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RULES

Write a story inspired by the chosen theme and genre in no more than 75 words, not including the title

ONE entry per person


NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please -- the stories must stand on their own


WHEN WRITING YOUR STORY, PLEASE REMEMBER THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY FORUM


All stories Copyright 2023 by their respective authors
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



The complete rules can be found at RULES FOR THE WRITING CHALLENGES

Contest ends at 11:59 pm GMT, 23 January 2023

Voting ends at 11:59 pm GMT, 28 January 2023



We ask all entrants to do their best to vote when the time comes

But you do not have to submit a story in order to vote
as we encourage all Chrons members to take part in choosing the winning entry



The Magnificent Prize:

The Dignified Congratulations/Grovelling Admiration of Your Peers
and the challenge of choosing next month's theme and genre


AND

The option of having your story published on the Chrons Podcast next month!


Theme:

THE LAST ONE

Genre:

SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY


Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD

We invite (and indeed hope for) lively discussion and speculation about the stories as they are posted,
as long as it doesn't involve the author explaining the plot



** Please do not use the "Like" button in this thread! **

 

The Caretaker​


Cleric Chester Vee looked heavenward. This year, they’d come. God had promised him. God was why he’d stayed back.

Stelos Gamma; sanctuary moon. Fresh water (frozen, admittedly); protein-rich subterranean algae in abundance; boundless plains for anchor-ship set-down; and a stunning starry sky to lose oneself in every night.

The persecuted, the impoverished, the spiritually adrift... They’d return when Stelos Alpha’s progressive democracy collapsed. To justify Chester's solemn tenure. His sacrifice.

God had promised him.
 
A Tale For Crows

Everything hurts. I force my eyes open.
Hundreds upon hundreds of fallen. The wails of the wounded mixing with cawing crows, feasting on our stupidity.
I am alone. The last man standing.Our banner still raised next to me. A blue lion upon a silver field. I peer at it and the ring of enemy soldiers around me. Spears pointed. Time for a final folly. I shout in anger and fear and rush forward.
 
The Last Escape

I lost the Neuro Link signal over an hour ago but tracked it to Central Hospital. After showing my credentials his admittance was confirmed, and I was hurriedly led to his room; a nurse stood by the empty bed.

“Did he die?”

“His remains where to be cremated within an hour of his passing.”

Exasperated, I tossed the Neuro Link onto the bed. The last of the Brain Hackers made his final escape after all.
 
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That’s it.

That’s it. The last beef jerky. I was there, down below, I was sinking below the murk in the poopdeck. My peg was itching, and supplies were drained. Irrefutably, impeccably, drained.

The last beef jerky. Bottoms up, Mr. Monet would tell me. And I, upon the mantle, write these final words:

“Attention, it has come to my attention that the jerky stock is below par. Please hunt for sea elephants immediately.”
 
Yes, We Have No Mañanas

The Galactic Council sent only one message to the inhabitants of Earth. Your planet is redundant. It will be processed for raw materials. You will be transported to new locations.

One by one, people vanished.

Joseph Minsky, a childless widower, waited in his tiny novelty shop. He flipped through his stock of humorous office signs. He clutched one to his body as he dissolved into atoms. Due to lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled.
 
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SAVE THE LAST DANCE


They dance amidst cascading disco lights. Loved ones spectate, wistfully engrossed. His wife’s auburn curls sway. She moves like an angel despite the oxygen tube up her nose. To tearful applause, they finish with a flourishing bow.

#​

He removes his VR suit’s helmet. Air cools his sweaty head. She smiles from her wall-mounted photograph, the lightbulb casting her a halo. As long as he can revisit their final dance, he’ll always smile back.
 
Following in the Footsteps

Meera squinted through the haze of the terraformed moon, amazed at how much life had taken hold since her last trip here. Her sensor showed the scout team in a cave just a few meters ahead. “Gina?” She called, treading gently so as not to damage fragile new organisms. As she stepped over the lip of the cave, it snapped shut. “Mmm,” mused the rock giant to its neighbor, “meatier than the last one.”
 
The Museum of Last Things

"I've seen the last dodo and heard Custer's last words," said the customer, "Now, what's that crystal for?"

"This," said the Collector, "represents humanity's last hope."

The crystal gleamed in the customer's already gleaming eyes.

"Wh-What is it for?"

"Without it, humankind will be lost."

A multitude of things occurred. The customer tried to make off with the crystal, the Collector shot, and the crystal crashed upon the ground. Then the shards began to disappear.
 
The Forest of the Last Ones

The last dragon pressed her snout against the oak and breathed in. Fairies, gnomes, wood elves, they had it right. No damp caves or dreadful castles. Why shouldn't a dragon call the forest home? The warm breeze, crushed wild garlic, pentrichor like perfume, it entices even the foulest of monsters.

Why shouldn't a dragon call this home? Everyone would've hunted them all, you see. Well...

Quickly now, ready your bow, before she sees us.
 
Illusions of Unselfish Mischief

“It’s the last one.”

The little green goblin writhed and snarled inside a rusted iron cage. Winthrop looked at it, bemused.

“With its death the land will be free of evil for the rest of time!”

Winthrop highly doubted this, but as mayor and chief wizard, he went along with it to please the people. A word and a wand wave and the creature vanished.

And the people behaved. For a while at least.
 
Lights Out

This is how the universe ends, with a bang and a whimper.

So many spacecraft have journeyed here to bear witness to the final entropic death

Some will resist, for a while, trying to delay the inevitable, but with no stars or habitable planets to shelter on, it’s a fool's errand.

There’s not much time left, the core is igniting, the nuclear reaction running away.

Supernova.

Whoosh!
 
Souvenirs

The Human Police liaison studied metallic shavings under the microscope.
"There're 15 unique microtags. Souvenirs?"
"Yes," said the Robotville detective. "The perpetrator's emulating human serial killers. It recasts its casing after kills, incorporating victims' metals."
"How can we help?"
"Your AIs are obsoleting Robots – sadly, we need their abilities. Our algorithms cannot resolve this.
"We've a suspect. I'm undercover tomorrow in its territory. As victim or captor, with AI assistance I'll be its final prey."
 
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I am the Last One

I am the last one. Behind me is absolute nothing.

Over the immeasurable amount of time I have existed I have been part of many things…large and small…amazing and insignificant.

I have no regrets. Everything is before me.

I am the final atom to reach the singularity of this Great Collapse. This is the end of this universe, but I look to the future…for this will not be the last one.
 
eSpace: The Final Frontier

Brian stroked the holographic ticket one more time, unable to believe his good fortune.

Closing down, it read. Everything must go.

God! How he hated this grim, peopleless planetoid.
Sure, he'd miss Charlie's affections, his cybernetic partner recharging in the sunlounger outside, but she was an afterthought now an exciting new life awaited him back in the real world.

Charlie's face peered at him through the glass.
Bye, she mouthed.
And pulled his plug.
 
Closing time at the Payload and Gyroscope

'C'mon Faffelbum, let's hit the interplanetary highway -it's getting dark.'

'Ah, there's time for another drink Abslod.'

'It's too dangerous, the lunar dragons swarm at night.'

'Relax, will ya, I've often downed ten of them before takeoff.'
  • It was an eight kilometer walk to the shuttle.
  • Long enough for two astronauts to sober up.
  • And watch the shadows of enormous wings blacken the trail ahead.
'Hang on, were we talking about flagons or dragons Abslod?'
 
Nemo Resideo

I strode through the unfamiliar brush, pulse rifle at the ready. Breathable atmosphere and nontoxic flora, but the fauna were decidedly unfriendly; the interstellar liner had missed that before making planetfall. That’s why we were here, spread out through the search area.

A branch cracked overhead; my attention snapped to the disturbance, then relaxed.

I keyed my comm; “Command, final survivor located. Transmitting location now.”

I reached up; “Come on, we’re getting you home.”
 
A Day at the Zoo

My world is almost perfect with my little house that’s very nice. It’s on a small street with a shop and a pub and I have everything I need. Even the people feel real, but they’re not. None of it is real, it’s a cage I’ll never leave.

I’m the last human, a star attraction to draw alien crowds that are hard to ignore. I should hate them, but I’m just glad to be alive.
 
The Last Post
We hadn't seen the bright red van for years - non-electronic communication passed by courier services.

Knowing it was the last, kept running by cannibalising its bretheren, extinction immanent, we cheered it through.

Against all expectations, a letter from his Magesty's government. The Council chairman ceremoniously opened the envelope, and read it out, over a mournful bugler. No more maintenance of buildings or vehicles, no employees, sorting offices. Museum exhibits. The end of an era.
 
Great Grandma's Legacy

Mel nudged the freezer find with a bamboo prong. "What's this?"
"Sausages," Chat replied en masse.
"Hey G, investigate please?"
The AI landed an insect drone on the suspect package. "Pig viscera, fat particles…"
Mel raised a hand. "Enough." She reached for a disposal bag.
Chat erupted. The stream was choked with 'collectors item', 'valuable', money bag emojis, capped with a cascade of 'scam' gifs.
"Worth anything, G?"
"Proscribed foodstuffs market… I know a guy."
 
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