Short Story by Ray Bradbury
Originally published in 1950 in The Martian Chronicles
Disturbing tale of what remains after a nuclear blast in 2026. The McClellan home in Allendale, California is the last remaining building standing. It continues functioning normally in a futuristic fashion even though the family who lived there is no longer present. Breakfasts are made, baths are run, dishes are washed, poems are read with soft music playing in the background, cigars are lit, etc., just as the family has programmed the home to do as part of their normal routine.
“The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.”
Witnessing the house function on its own adds a sense of loneliness and horror knowing the McClellan family, as well as everything and everyone around them, were also lost.
Bradbury’s title is a nod to the (mother) McClellan’s favorite poem of the same name written by Sara Teasdale, which has an ironic similarity toward what has just happened to the world in this short story.
Reminiscent of the devastation in Japan during WWII, Bradbury included imagery of the family’s silhouettes left on an outside wall of their home as they were caught unawares. Adding salt to our collective wounds, he also had to include the heartbreaking homecoming of the family dog.
I don’t think I will ever forget it. Fourteen pages of heart-wrenching tragic prophesy.