"There's No One Left to Paint the Sky"

by Grant Carrington

Amazing, May 1972

    "There's No One Left to Paint the Sky" was inspired by a line in the Patrick Sky song "The Loving Kind" (Reality Is Bad Enough). I came up with the story line while driving down to New Orleans and wrote it at the Tulane SF&F Workshop.

    The May 1972 issue of Amazing had a wonderful cover by Mike Hinge and also contained stories by James Tiptree Jr. ("The Man Who Walked Home"), Jack C. Haldeman II, and Gordon Eklund.

    Grant Carrington's first appearance in this magazine was with "Night-Eyed Prayer," exactly a year ago. In the meantime, he has joined our editorial staff and now he's back with a story which could be about freedom, or fear of the unknown, or the lure of forbidden fruit . . .

    Peter Allison left yesterday. He said he wouldn't, but I knew he would. He used to go down to City Hall to play with the dials on the transmitter, running his hand idly around it, just like the others did.
    Now I'm all alone. The last man on Earth.
    It doesn't seem right. All the crowd is gone; Antoine's is empty. No more the raucous laughter; no more of LaFarge's roaring out for beer; no more lung-racking coughs thanks to the eternal haze of cigarette smoke; no more sudden arguments and ineffectual fist-fights. They're all gone.
    All the silly vanities that used to annoy me; how I miss them. I have only my own now.
    I wander through Antoine's, hearing ghost-laughter, stopping for a long drag at a bottle of absinthe without having Henri (whose real name was Fred) dun me for some silver. There are still a lot of full and half-full bottles left, although Henri left over a month ago. But by then, only Peter and Dylan and I were left. Dylan's real name was Patrick.
    Why do I say "was"? As far as I know, they're all still full of life and juice, drinking absinthe or mescal or some celestial equivalent on some planet revolving 'round Altair, smoking joints under the light of Capella, arguing in the darknesses of interstellar space. Yes, I guess they're alive, but they are gone from my life forever, so they might as well be dead.

AMAZING Cover by Mike Hinge

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