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Long After the Others Die, Tin Man Tells the Truth

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Asimov's Science Fiction, Ploughshares, Strange Horizons, The Sun, and many others. He's a recent finalist for the Asimov's Readers' Award. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.

I never wanted a new heart. I could get along fine without one. But then Scarecrow wanted brains so much, and everyone felt so sad I didn't have a cardiac muscle, I went along with the song. When Lion wanted courage that sealed the whole thing in a bow. Everyone in this group had to want something that had been lost, brains, courage, home. How could I tell them I felt fine, never better, now that all my limbs were oiled again? That had been the real problem: rust caused not by tears but unlucky rain. I can't tell you how relieved I felt when Oz's fake Wizard handed me that fake heart, complete with stopwatch. Even still, I thought, what a big phony! I was all set to lay down that tinker toy and smash it to pieces with my ax, when I saw Dorothy and the others, how thrilled they were for me and how excited for themselves: Dorothy, so young and naive, Scarecrow as stupid as ever, and Lion too afraid to speak up. I could have told them it was a scam and ruined everyone's party, but I just didn't have the heart.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Author Comments

I wrote this brief tale in one sitting as a poem, and then converted it to a flash story. Another of my Daily Science Fiction stories, "Heart of Gold", was also first written as a poem. I love The Wizard of Oz, but that ending, that ending... It never ceases to amaze me they let that sham wizard off the hook.

- James Valvis
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