I read this short story about 25 years ago. It may be older than that.

It is a grim story with examples of the harshness of the alien rule. The thing that made it memorable for me was the last sentence which added one more example of the horror. It was a surprise and packed a punch.

A few hints are given in the story: A man faints from hunger but gets right up and continues to work; the narrator mentions how he was a doctor 50 years ago when the aliens arrived.

His last thought is that he hopes he has time for the alien bureaucrat to certify his death warrant.

  • 2
    Stick around. We had this one recently.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 2, 2023 at 16:41
  • You can accept a correct answer by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons, as per the tour.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 2, 2023 at 16:43
  • @AndresF. I've checked both question and answer here, and I don't see any acceptance.
    – DavidW
    Oct 3, 2023 at 2:25
  • 1
    @AndresF.: story-identification questions have specific rules because they are a bit subjective. It may or may not be the best solution, but it's the best we've found so far.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 3, 2023 at 14:06
  • 1
    @Taxdodger could you see if the posted answer is the one you were looking for? If so, please mark it as accepted :)
    – Andres F.
    Oct 3, 2023 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


OK, not actually a recent question, but one I ran into recently.

"The Certificate" by Avram Davidson (1959), described here as:

Fifty years after the arrival of aliens, one of the small percentage of men left alive enters the alien bureaucracy dreaming of a new overcoat -- or better yet, escape.

The last line is:

He had achieved his escape after all — but only if he got there before ten o'clock

It can be read here.

  • Confirmed via comment in the linked question.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 2, 2023 at 16:46
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    shouldn't we close as dupe instead of writing an answer?
    – Andres F.
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:53
  • @AndresF. We can't close as a dupe until both are accepted.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 3, 2023 at 3:41
  • TBF 2016 is recent
    – MD-Tech
    Oct 3, 2023 at 9:42
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    @FuzzyBoots it was accepted in comments by the asker; he/she just doesn't know or care to mark accepted. Do you see the irony in this question of following protocol over the spirit of the law? (Bureocratic aliens!)
    – Andres F.
    Oct 3, 2023 at 12:14

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