Trying to identify a short story: The last man on Earth is walking across a shattered wasteland. After a time he's joined by someone he's never met before, but our original person is still the last man on Earth, because the new companion is rather different, probably not a man.

Every hour or two a voice booms out of the sky saying something like, "Bow down before me!", or "I am the Alpha and the Omega!"... things of that nature. The companion is friendly, sensible and helps the man, who begins climbing to the top of a nearby mountain. After climbing for a while the loud voice booms out again, saying something like, "Worship me!" The man finally turns to his unusual companion and asks, "Was he always insane?" and the companion sadly nods his head and mournfully says, "Yes, he's always been insane." We realize the booming voice comes from God and the kind companion is the Devil. ......Does anyone know the title or author, please?

  • I suspect I know what this is. Are there flashbacks to the guy's torment having to put his dog down?
    – Spencer
    Aug 15, 2017 at 4:31
  • @user14111 No, it was "The Deathbird". But I wanted some corroboration before taking the time to write a full answer. Which someone else apparently also thought of.
    – Spencer
    Aug 15, 2017 at 11:24

1 Answer 1


"The Deathbird"?

This was the last story in Harlan Ellison's anthology "Deathbird Stories"(1974).

Here is the plot synopsis from Wikipedia:

Millions of years ago, "The Mad One", also known as Ialdabaoth or God, took over the earth in a sort of cosmic lawsuit. The original creators left behind one last member of their race, Dira, to tell humans the truth about their god, but the dominant traditions throughout the ages denounce Dira as evil. Now, the world is coming to an end and Nathan Stack, the latest incarnation of a long line of humans going back to Lilith’s husband, is revived by Snake (aka Dira) to make the journey to the mountain where God lives. He is the only human capable of confronting him and putting the Earth out of its misery through the summoning of what is referred to as the Deathbird. The story also contains a few side plots, presumably about Nathan Stack or previous reincarnations of him. These stories tell of people that have had to make difficult decisions, allowing loved ones to die. In one such story, his mother wants him to "use the needle" and kill her, ending her pain. This situation is repeated at the end of the story, where Nathan Stack must "use the needle" and end the pain of the planet.

  • "Deathbird" is undoubtedly correct, thanks everyone for the help!
    – Ben-Quinn
    Aug 15, 2017 at 14:27
  • 3
    Wow, this sounds awful and depressing. Aug 15, 2017 at 14:32
  • Check mark? You mean the vote icon? I don't see any check mark.
    – Ben-Quinn
    Aug 29, 2017 at 17:53
  • It appears that you did something, anyway. Thank you.
    – the guest
    Aug 31, 2017 at 2:02

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