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I recently saw the film Cloud Atlas, having read the book some time previously. After seeing the film I kept asking "Where is the final story?"

I've since re-checked the book and cannot find this "final story," so I think my memory is playing tricks on me and getting it tangled up with memories of another book.

If I recall correctly, it was a similar jumping-forwards-in-time multiple-story setup - maybe a short story collection? In this story, a man and his daughter are scavengers in a post-apocalyptic world. They come upon a futuristic aircraft and its pilot and kill the pilot. When they investigate the plane, it takes off? I can't remember exactly the order things happen.

Either way, the plane is in communication with its home base, and the commander at the home base asks that they complete the pilot's mission. The plane is mostly autonomous so they only need to do things like watch gauges. The plane encounters enemy aircraft but evades/destroys them and I think it completes the mission. There is a sense of hope at the end of the story that society may be able to rebuild, but that if so, it will be a very close brush with complete annihilation.

Does anyone know this story?

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    I've read a similar short story, but rather than a man and his daughter it was a man and a (younger) woman he had recently met. Told from the point of view of the man who lives in a very harsh wasteland after an ill-specified civilization ending catastrophe. It starts with the man and woman walking nearly parallel paths; he keeps a wary eye on her while planning how to kill her if need be and assumes she is doing the same to him. Now if only I could remember where I saw it... – dmckee Jun 7 '14 at 15:53
  • That sounds like it might be the same story... – GeneerWolf Jun 7 '14 at 16:35
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Fritz Leiber's novella "Night of the Long Knives" features a couple (man and woman) of "deathlanders" who ambush a pilot early in the story which then goes from there.

The man is older than the woman, but they are not related.

The story opens:

I was one hundred miles from Nowhere--and I mean that literally--when I spotted this girl out of the corner of my eye. I'd been keeping an extra lookout because I still expected the other undead bugger left over from the murder party at Nowhere to be stalking me.

I'd been following a line of high-voltage towers all canted over at the same gentlemanly tipsy angle by an old blast from the Last War. I judged the girl was going in the same general direction and was being edged over toward my course by a drift of dust that even at my distance showed dangerous metallic gleams and dark humps that might be dead men or cattle.

She looked slim, dark topped, and on guard. Small like me and like me wearing a scarf loosely around the lower half of her face in the style of the old buckaroos.

The story is available on Project Gutenberg and there is an audio version on Librivox.

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