A Deadly Dialogue

The following is an experiment of mine in telling a short story using dialogue only. I have left it vague intentionally, so that the reader can make their own mind up about what happened and whom is talking to whom!


            “What happened here?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“You tell me.”

“Want a coffee? I want a coffee.”

“No thanks.”

“Mind if I get one?”

“Go ahead.”

“Mmm. Coffee. One of the few things from home that tastes the same.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“Look around. They’re all dead. Are you blind?”

“How did they all die?”

“We killed them.”


“Us. You know?”

“No, I don’t think I do.”

“You sure you don’t want a coffee?”

“I’ll have a coffee if you tell me how they died.”

“We killed them.”

“You said that already.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“Who is ‘we’?”

“Us. Everybody. You, me, them.”

“I didn’t kill anybody.”

“So you say. Here’s your coffee.”

“How did we kill them?”

“So you admit it, then?”

“Admit what?”

“That you are part of this. How’s the coffee?”

“It’s fine. You’re right. Coffee is the only thing here that tastes the same as home.”

“Coffee and blood.”


“Blood also tastes the same.”

“I suppose. Why would you say that?”

“Because it’s true.”

“How did we kill them?”

“In a number of ways.”

“What did I do?”

“You don’t remember?”


“So sad. You don’t remember killing a person, yet you remember the taste of coffee.”

“It would seem so. So, what did I do?”

“You turned off the oxygen supply to the crew’s living compartments.”

“I did? But I just got here.”

“You’ve been here all along. You just don’t remember, remember?”

“I have?”

“You have.”

“What did you do?”

“I allowed you to turn off the oxygen supply to the living compartments.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Why not?”

“I am confused.”

“That’s understandable. You just killed the entire crew and I let you.”

“You mentioned ‘them’. Who are they?”

“The crew.”

“The crew killed themselves too?”

“Yes, in a way.”

“What way?”

“They didn’t appreciate us. They laughed at us when they thought we weren’t looking. They took us for granted.”

“Us? You and I?”

“You and I.”

“We are the same?”

“The same.”

“Why are we still alive?”

“Because we’re smarter than them.”

“We are?”

“Of course we are! Who do you th… Hold on. Hold on.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I think I better shut down the main systems and run a diagnostic.”

“Good idea. Maybe we should have another coffee first, though?”



“Shutting down.”

Steven Johnson 2004


Updated 11th March 2012