Knock (short story)  

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"The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door..." --"Knock", Fredric Brown

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Knock", written by Fredric Brown, is a science fiction short story that starts with a description of "a sweet little horror story that is only two sentences long." It then goes on to elaborate on those two sentences and build a more complete story around them.

It was published in the December 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. There have been three different radio adaptations (Dimension X, X Minus One and Sci Fi Channel's Seeing Ear Theatre).

Plot summary

The full story concerns Walter Phelan, the last man on Earth. The alien Zan have killed off all life other than pairs of specimens for their zoo of exotic Earth flora and fauna. Grace Evans, the last woman, is not overly impressed with Walter and maintains her distance.

The Zan, who are immortal, become disturbed when one by one the other animals begin to die. The Zan turn to Walter for advice. He tells them that the creatures perished from lack of affection and suggests that they pet the survivors regularly to keep them alive. He demonstrates with one of them. When the Zan begin dying, they depart the planet in fear. It is then revealed that the creature Walter advised them to pet was a poisonous snake.

Then Walter discusses the future of the human race with Grace. She is shocked by his proposal and leaves. The plot then ends with the two-line story:

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door...

Response

Ron Smith then wrote "A Horror Story Shorter by One Letter Than the Shortest Horror Story Ever Written":

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a lock on the door...

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Knock (short story)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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