I have been unable to find the name of a story I read in high school more than two decades ago. I believe it was in a collection of sci-fi short stories.

The short story begins with the protagonist (a reporter or bodyguard I cant remember) who is following a diplomat at some sort of international conference. The reporter follows the diplomat through a door and ends up in a meeting room with a bunch of other "time travelers" who are from different times in the future. The diplomat is seeking help from the people of the future, either technology or something else.

If I remember correctly, the reporter/bodyguard becomes upset when they refuse to give technology to help the diplomat, and he is immobilized by some special device on one of the people from the future. The meeting ends shortly after one of the "time travelers" from the farthest in the future says something like "No matter what successes or failures happen, no matter what great achievements you make, I will be the end result," as he is the last human alive in the universe.

After the reporter and the diplomat return to the present, the diplomat claims to have no memory of the events that transpired in the story.


1 Answer 1


The Inn Outside the World by Edmond Hamilton. It was written in 1945 so it was an old story when you read it.

Su Suum spoke slowly. “My word is this: Even though it were possible to transgress the bounds of Earth’s ages without disaster, even though you were able thus to save your peoples from confusion and struggle, would it be great gain?

“I tell you this—no matter what great powers you win, no matter how high you carry human achievement, in the end it must all conclude with me. Must end with a perished race, humanity’s story told, all the great goals you struggled toward fallen to dust and nothingness.

The young security guard is Merrill and he pulls a gun when the humans from the future refuse to help:

And Merrill snatched out the flat pistol inside his jacket and leveled it at Zyskyn.

“I hate to do this,” he said to the dumfounded group. “But I’ve seen the misery that Guinard is trying to relieve. He’s got to have your help. You’ll promise him the apparatus he needs, or—”

“Or what, man of the past?” said young Zyskyn, smiling faintly at Merrill.

He made a swift motion with his hand. From a bracelet on his wrist leaped a little tongue of green light. It hit Merrill’s arm with paralyzing shock. The pistol dropped from his nerveless fingers.

The story ends:

MERRILL awoke with sun streaming into his eyes. He sat up dazedly and found himself on the couch in Guinard’s shabby hotel room.

The old man was bending over him. “I fear that you fell asleep in here last night, Lieutenant.”

Merrill sprang to his feet. “Guinard! We’re back on Earth, then! They let me come back!”

Guinard frowned at him in perplexity. “Back on Earth? I don’t understand. I’m afraid you’ve been dreaming.”

Merrill clutched his arm. “It was no dream! You were there with me, with Caesar, Socrates, all of them! And that man Su Suum—good God, the last of the human race—”

Guinard soothingly patted his shoulder. “There, Lieutenant, you’ve apparently had a nightmare of some kind.”

Merrill stared at him. Then he spoke slowly. “I think I understand. You guaranteed my silence. You know that if you pretend it all never happened, I’ll have to keep silent, since nobody would ever believe me.”

  • 3
    It wasn't very old when I read it! This was my answer to this old question and this one but neither answer was accepted so not a duplicate.
    – user14111
    Nov 6, 2020 at 8:25
  • I read it some point in the early 1970s so it was 25-30 years old at the time. To an eleven year old that seemed OLD! :-) Nov 6, 2020 at 9:07
  • Perhaps it's just my imagination, but that name, "Su Suum" sounds very much like "subsume" to me. The idea that all humanity falls under him and that he is the ultimate conclusion of all human activity sorta fits the definition.
    – Booga Roo
    Nov 6, 2020 at 18:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.