The “last person on Earth” storyline is a classic that often explore the themes of isolation, loneliness, survival, self-reflection, and the like. A Day in the Life by Andrew Masseurs explores this in his short tale where our protagonist Michael wakes to find himself alone in the world.
Michael is possibly the world’s most unobservant person where he finds it only slightly odd, not concerning, that he doesn’t see anybody at all on a Sunday in a holiday town. Nobody out running, swimming, driving around, nothing.
People everywhere have just vanished, and I have a hard time reconciling what we’re told with what I would assume would actually happen in this scenario. We’re told of cars strewn haphazardly across roads and streets, but this isn’t until later. Did he not notice what would have to be numerous crashed vehicles while out for his morning jog?
While light on sci-fi aspects (not counting the disappearance of everyone), that does slowly ramp up as the story progresses with mysterious new creatures and mysterious sightings of lost people.
Not particularly dialogue heavy (as you might expect since he is the last person on Earth), but what there is does feel a little unnatural in parts. Some of the character motivations seem more for the benefit of the story that realistic. Some heavily tragic things occur throughout the story, and Michael seems to move on rather quickly.
Perhaps I’m projecting my own thoughts on how I would react, but I can’t imagine just carrying on as normal in short order after some of the events in this book.
The conclusion (no spoilers) has me in multiple minds – one mind is happy as it neatly explains things, another where I’d liked to have maybe seen more build up or clues layered in earlier on so it doesn’t seemingly come out of the blue, and yet another where I can’t see the ending being useful long term.
The narration by David Piper was a bit mixed, where is main character voice is fine, but his female/children voices could use some work. The audio quality was excellent, with no obvious background noises or re-takes that I noticed.
So, it works well as a short story and delivers a condensed and interesting story. As the author’s first published work I think it has promise but lacks some of the depth or nuance that comes only with time. Possibly extending it to dive deeper into some parts and running it by a development editor to help iron out some parts could help. Still, it had me thinking about what I would do in such a scenario, and at the end of the day, that’s a sign the story has hit its mark.