The Last List by Arthur Davis

Hon. Alexander P. Hemmings
Founder and Executive Director
Hemmings Institute for Advanced Applied Astrophysics
1493 South Benham Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21206

          Re: The Last List

Dear Alexander:

I finally compiled the list. It has taken too long but, looking back now, I believe the time spent was well worth the sacrifice.

But I can’t do it alone anymore.

My energy and focus, and nearly my eyesight, is gone, or too weakened to make further progress.

I know, well at least hope, that you and your team will be able to pick up where I left off. I’ve done the research and crafted the last list, embedded in which I believe is a plan, a structured detailed roadmap, of how to repel the alien forces we now know have targeted Earth.

Whatever our nation has devised as possible defenses has proven too weak or unreliable to thwart off the fleet of raiders that, in the next ten or twelve months, many scientists speculate will be close enough to deploy their weaponry.

And the sloth, incompetence, and disarray of world leaders has already proven they are not up to the task.

If we’re going to survive, you need to commit to the task today, at this very moment, as if your life, the existence of your children and grandchildren, and our planet depends upon it.

I was able isolate twenty or so lists, though there could be more. Embedded in these lists I am certain is the Rosetta Stone for our collective survival.

I sense there is a method, not in any absolute way, but there may be a path if you approach the problem by further refining the algorithms that have so far been the foundation of my theory.

I am trying to remain positive and constructive in the face of what might be an ultimate inevitably. I believe in you and the determination of your Institute, and that the fate of mankind is safer in your hands than spending more time ruminating in mine.

I know you’re doubtful and fearful. You have every right to be both. We all have every right to be both.

There is no hope if many, and not most, fail to organize and resolve the puzzle, and don’t forget to survey nuances for interconnectedness. I believe the lists function as a living, interconnected organism, and to find the right sequencing format and crack the code, you must consider all at once.

Don’t overlook, as I did early on, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason as a roadmap to organize the list in a more rational sequence.

I’m convinced that The Original List of Doubts and The List of Universal Rights and Wrongs are, in some unique mathematical way, interrelated, though at this point in my desperation that might be pure speculation.

Finally, I must mention, and as we have often discussed, that there are forces at work in our society who see the alien attack as an opportunity for universal redemption, as a way to redeem ourselves from our profligate ways and to cleanse the planet of cynics and non-believers.

They have been railing from the rafters and peddling their antediluvian theories for generations. Ignore them. Do not engage them. They are the false prophets they have always been.

I know there is more you want me to say, to inform, to help you, but it’s taken all of me to craft the last remaining possibility to save humanity.

I am depending on you.

We are all depending on you.

I’ve done what I can.

Hopefully, my friend, it’s not too late for you to save the world.

The Last List

The Most Picturesque Places To Die

The List of Words That None of Us Understand

The Worst Places for Blind Cliff Divers To Retire

The Third Unabridged List of Hollywood’s Greatest Assholes

Cities With The Most Inspirational Alleys

Best Scams Ever To Screw Senior Citizens

The Least Expensive Vacation Spots In Heaven

A Hundred People The Majority of Mankind Despises

How To Cheat At Wet T-Shirt Contests

Nicknames of The Most Famous Clouds, Ever

Why Left-Handed People Need To Be Watched

Why The British Are Cool, And The French Will Never Be

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Pet Has Already Ratted You Out

Why Olives Are Not to Be Trusted

The Original List of Doubts

The Least Controversial Issues of The Last Hundred Years

Why Poets Are Smarter Than Most Everybody Else

The Complete List of Why Planes Are Really Too Heavy To Fly

Misdemeanors That Should Be Prosecuted as Capital Crimes

The List of Universal Rights and Wrongs

I can’t do this anymore.

Alex, please, I beg you, disregard everything I’ve said or written.

I lied.

I’ve known all along that they were coming.

There are no answers in my list, or in the algorithms on which they are based. In and of themselves they represent a small shard of a massive deception designed to distract your people, to buy time so that what remains of my society can advance close enough to initiate an overpowering first strike on your planet.

Ignore the list and my imploring you to go on, and giving you false hope.

The truth is I am one of them.

I am the only survivor of the initial incursion and have been here for generations observing, studying, and calculating and now feeling like one of your family, which I eagerly and devotedly embrace as my brethren.

I’ve betrayed who I was, and who I have become.

Both are my terrible regrets.

I know them, and I am certain of their intentions.

They are worse than your people can possibly comprehend.

There is no hope for your civilization.

Pray, and maybe you will find it in your heart to forgive me for my complicity.

Knowing what I know of your fate, and if I were you, granting me forgiveness would be unimaginable.

By the time you receive this confession, Alex, all traces of my animate form will have been reabsorbed into the ether, along with my cowardice and collusion.

Your most devoted friend,


Arthur Davis is a management consultant who has had over ninety tales of original fiction, and several dozen as reprints, published. He was featured in a single author anthology, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received the Write Well Award and, twice nominated, received Honorable Mention in The Best American Mystery Stories 2017.