Wow. This was a bang up short story in the collection. I loved it. It had a lot of horror elements I thought working for it too. The ending gave my goosebumps.
“The Last Conversation” follows an unnamed person (we never find out if they are male or female which I liked) who wakes up slowly and cannot see. We don’t know what has happened, except a person named Doctor Kuhn is the only person that the unnamed person can talk to via an intercom. The unnamed person is run through daily tests and told hints and pieces about their lives, but finds their memory slowly coming back. They want to know though why they can’t see Doctor Kuhn or be let out of their room. And when they eventually are, they may wish they never left.
I have to say the unnamed person hit me in the feels. I felt claustrophobic at times in parts of this story. Not being able to see and just having a voice to guide you freaks me out. They are forced to walk on a treadmill, do memory association games, and the only person they can “talk” to is someone named Doctor Kuhn they cannot physically see cause “reasons.”
Doctor Kuhn is the only other person you get to interact with in this story which increases the feeling of claustrophobia.
I thought the writing was very good. I liked how Tremblay takes away any sense of who the unnamed character is and even when Doctor Kuhn is supposedly saying their name you can’t read it, it’s changed to just this “____”. It makes you feel as if you are reading a lab report. Which I assume was done for reasons the ending will make clear later.
The flow was really good too. I wanted to find out more about this world and what went on, but once again you only have Doctor Kuhn’s say so on things and if you are like me my “this woman is a liar who should not be trusted” feelers crept up.
The setting to me is definitely dystopian based on what the ending reveals and I liked the horror elements as well. All of this book takes place in a room in a supposed infirmary type place. And then when the setting moves (no spoilers) I felt nothing but apprehension.
The ending was definitely a gut punch and made me want to read more. That to me is the mark of a great short story when you don’t want it to end.