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That Was the Last Entry
"June 28th, 1821: It is the anniversary of the night I unleashed a horror. A horror which I tonight shall remove from this world. May God forgive me."
— Last entry in Sir Roderick Defoe's diary, 5 Days a Stranger

A character finds an abandoned diary, journal or captain's log and reads through it. The contents might be interesting, but the most important part is that after a while it just ... stops. Abruptly.

The obvious conclusion is that the person writing it died suddenly, without having the opportunity to write further entries. Possibly, the last entry describes what the author was going to do next, or has a hint on what killed him. In many cases, if the character reading it is asked "what happened next?" they will ominously reply "that was the last entry".

This is typically used to create an aura of mystery around what exactly happened to the writer, and to Foreshadow whatever danger will await the reader of the journal.

Unlike Apocalyptic Log, does not necessarily reveal any details of what happened, and always requires that something seriously bad happened to the writer.

Examples:

Film
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the group encounters a stone wall on which a victim of a monster attack has been carving entries onto. It ends, "He who is valiant, and might of spirit, may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of Arrrgh". The knights argue whether the castle is actually named Arrrgh or if the author died while writing it and wrote down his death rattle while doing do. It's the first one.
  • Done in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; when the group finally gets to Totenkopf's office, they find his papers and discover that "the last entry in his journal was made on October 11, 1918", 20 years before the setting of the film. Shortly thereafter, they find his mummified body.
  • The dwarven log in the Mines of Moria in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.: "They have taken the bridge and the second hall. We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow lurks in the dark. We can not get out... they are coming." The penmanship gets increasingly shaky on the very last line.

Literature
  • The Book of Mazarbul in The Lord of the Rings (admittedly not a one-person journal, but the record of the entire Dwarf expedition to Moria): "They are coming."
  • In The Curse of Chalion, Cazaril finds a diary belonging to a man who practiced death magic (which, if it works, inevitably leads to the death of the caster as well as the victim). When he finds himself wanting to practice death magic, he realizes that he only actually has to read the very end of the diary to figure out what worked...
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Horror of the Heights" details the adventures of an intrepid aviator who flies above 40,000 feet and encounters an "air jungle" - an entire ecosystem of atmospheric beasts. He barely escapes from a predatory creature on his first flight, and records his intentions to go back up later and explore more thoroughly. The framing story reveals that the aviator's plane was found crashed and the aviator himself missing. All that was found in the plane was a torn, blood-stained journal. The last words are hastily scrawled: "Forty-three thousand feet. I shall never see earth again. They are beneath me, three of them. God help me; it is a dreadful death to die!"
  • An unusual example in Jingo, where instead of a diary it's the magical equivalent of an electronic personal organiser reading off appointments:
    "Things to do today today today...die..."
  • In House of Leaves, the last entry in the colonists' diary reads: "ſtaires! We have found ſtaires!"
  • One of H.P. Lovecraft 's favorite tropes; many of his stories read as last entries, either literally or figuratively.

Live-Action TV
  • In Due South, Fraser reads his late father's journals occasionally throughout the series, and in "Easy Money" he tells a friend, "There's a short entry in one of my father's journals that reads 'My adversaries appear ready to listen. I'm nearing victory.' And that entry was written the day before he was shot."
  • In season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, early the only info the Scoobies have about the prophesied "ascension" is a journal entry saying "Tomorrow is the ascension, may God help us." It was the last time the town was ever heard of.
  • In Red Dwarf, the crew come across a long-abandoned research facility at the bottom of the sea on an ocean moon which was doing experiments in genetic experimentation. The last entry in the log is just a matter-of-fact record about how they spent the day cataloguing new lifeforms before abruptly stopping. Turns out one of the new lifeforms ended up killing them — and then the Dwarfers meet it...
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake", Stottlemeyer and Disher figure out where a gas company worker found stabbed dead and tossed in a dumpster actually was killed by noting the location of the last gas line he inspected, which happens to be right outside Sharona's apartment.

Newspaper Comics
  • In a 1990s Peanuts arc, Snoopy and Woodstock find a tiny book inside a dented cage. The book is a diary that supposedly belonged to Woodstock's grandfather.
    Snoopy: [reading diary] "Once a week, they put my cage outside in the sun. Sooner or later they're going to leave that little door open. Anyway, this is a stupid life sitting here alone, waiting for that to …" [turning to Woodstock] And that's it! The diary ends right there! [Your grandfather] probably got out, and is sitting on a telephone wire right now looking down at us…

Other Sites
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-110 ("Subterranean City"). A note written by the Chief Engineer estimates that life support will last from 4-10 more hours. The last entry is a warning to not make the same mistakes the city dwellers did in trying to contain SCPs.
    • SCP-182 ("Rider"). An audio report by a guard details the mass hallucinations and killings caused by SCP-182's abilities going out of control. It ends with the guard saying he was going to kill himself and a gunshot.
    • SCP-184 ("The Architect"). The Personal Log of Gordon Rivers tells how the title operative entered the temple altered by The Architect and searched for it. The last entries show that he was losing his mind. He disappeared and his log was found after the temple was destroyed.
    • SCP-186 ("To End All Wars"). One of the documents is a letter written by one of the Soviet soldiers. It tells of the horrible effects of the superweapons and ends with a statement that he will die once the soldier he will give it to has left.
    • SCP-319 ("A Curious Device"). It was found with the journal of Sir Bandon Lawhead-Smythe. The journal says how he created SCP-319 and planned to use it to "open a doorway beyond our universe" so he could "walk across the threshold" and meet some Cthulhu Mythos-type deities. It ends with "Once I have completed writing this entry, I shall don my protective suit, pass through the locks into the airless interior of the vault where the black door awaits me. When I next write in this journal, I shall have traveled farther than any other man on the face of this Earth." It worked, all right, but universe he had opened a doorway to was so utterly incompatible with this one (some small knowledge of quantum mechanics will help explain just how much), he was unmade the moment he stepped inside.
    • SCP-343 ("God"). A Foundation Doctor decided to try to find out more about SCP-343 by questioning people visiting him and asking him about other SCPs. SCP-343 didn't like this and used his Reality Warper powers to eliminate his orders and attempts to contact higher authority. The Doctor's last letter said he planned to confront SCP-343. After that SCP-343 wrote him out of existence and erased the memory of him from everyone at the Foundation who knew him.
    • SCP-354 ("The Red Pool"). The "Log of Exploratory Mission 354 Alpha" tells of a mission to explore the title pool using a submarine. At the bottom of the pool the expedition enters another world which doesn't follow normal physical laws. After exploring it for a while, the party encounters unmentioned dangers and tries to return. The log ends with a broken-off sentence fragment.
    • SCP-363 ("Not Centipedes"). SCP-363 are centipedes that grow to giant size (10 or more meters long and 2 or more meters wide) in darkness. Addendum 2 has a transcript of a containment breach where several of them escaped and started eating members of a security team sent to stop them. It ends with the last team member saying a prayer just before shooting himself.
    • SCP-370 ("A Key"). Incident-370-A is an Apocalyptic Log written by the Foundation doctor in charge of the expedition that found SCP-370. It details the progressive infection and death of expedition personnel caused by SCP-370's influence. Although he had been infected himself, he managed to use a ritual (which required 80% of his blood supply) to contain it. The last entry occurs just after the ritual ended and breaks off in mid-sentence.
    • SCP-473 ("Supai"). The professor who led a doomed expedition to the site sent an email message before he left that said he was trying to find an artifact that the Inca believed was their god of death.
    • SCP-763 ("Human Beowulf Cluster"). Just before he murdered everyone else at the Site and voluntarily joined with SCP-763, a Foundation Doctor wrote a note.
    I have to know. Six months and not a single inkling of what's going on in there. I don't give ███ █████ in a █████ ███ about organ function and immunodeficiency. I need to know what they're… what it's thinking. I need to know. I will know.
    My arm just reconstituted itself. So much blood. Too many toes.
    • SCP-881 ("Little People"). The cruel and heartless Dr. Dämmer mistreated the human victims in SCP-881. In his last log entry he tells of how they escaped containment and avenged themselves by infiltrating his body and causing him to bleed to death. His last entry is a stream of letters (random keyboard typing) indicating loss of control due to extreme agony.
    • SCP-930 ("Seagull Island"). The last survivor's Apocalyptic Log ends with him stating that he's so tired he can't keep awake and knows that the thing he saw is going to get him like it got the others. It ends with "It's in the bushes..."
    • SCP-1046 ("A House Without a Bedroom"). The last note left by the man just before his body was split up into pieces and spread out over the house.
    To those who it may concern
    I am alone and trapped and dark. I am all over. I feel the creaks of the beams. i taste the staleness of the wall. i am dry. i need my bedroom. several days into the dawning of the suncere letter sent t an insincere man he said i would be my hous i am a man dont take me anynmore please
    i cant getsleepO[the remainder of the note is unintelligible.]
    • SCP-1260 ("HMS Tiresias"). The Team Leader of the first SCP Foundation team to explore SCP-1260 left a personal log of the exploration. After realizing that he would be the next team member to die his last words in the journal was him cursing the Foundation's relentless scientific research.
    • SCP-1527 ("Our Bellmaker, Our Radiant Skies"). After the Bellmaker was banished by the Serpent's Hand cult he started using the Bell to send monsters to attack anyone nearby. A member of the Serpent's Hand stayed behind to write a letter to inform the Foundation of what had occurred. After he finished the letter he committed suicide, and his body was found next to the letter.
    • SCP-1530 ("A Bender's Friends"). Before she was killed a D-Class Sharon left a final note in her journal for the Foundation, asking them not to kill her familiars and cursing them for hunting her. Her body was found holding the journal.
    • SCP-1633 ("The Most Dangerous Video Game"). Gregor Tillman, one of the people hired to playtest the game, was driven insane by the game's deliberate psychological tactics. He left a note that ended with "im sorry i have to go now im sorry im sorry". His body was found later, apparently after he committed suicide.
    • SCP-1655 ("Sorrow Tick"). A man committed suicide after SCP-1655 affected him and caused the woman he loved to stop noticing him. A suicide note was found next to his body. The last words were "Why didn't she love me anymore?"
    • Subverted in the Exploration Log of SCP-1689 ("Bag of Holding Potatoes"). It appears that the Exploration Team will be killed due to asphyxiation, but they are saved by another Foundation team. Note: In the original version of the story the team died, but so many people on the wiki asked that they live that the author changed the ending.
    • SCP-1734 ("The Hole in the Deck"). The end of the journal of the ship's captain tells of how his crew was taken by the entity and how the "stillness" of its home had covered the ship. His last words are "The water is so quiet."
    • SCP-1888 ("Terraforming Tle"). The team leader of the first Foundation expedition was also the last survivor. He sent a series of radio messages telling of how the local animals and plants attacked and killed the other expedition members. The last transmission was the sound of them killing him and him screaming.
    • SCP-1983 ("Doorway to Nowhere"). In his note Agent Barclay says that he's going to take the note to a place where he hopes it will be found, then make sure that the creatures can't use his heart to make more of them. His last words are "Good luck. Morituri te salutant.", indicating that he committed suicide.
  • Teds Caving Page. After being tormented by visions and paranoia, Ted and the others decide to return to the cave, with Ted promising vehemently to solve the mystery and give the readers every detail when he gets back. This was also the final entry, making it clear that they never did.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Module CM1 Test of the Warlords, Encounter 1 "The Ruins of Alinor". When the PCs explore an underground cave system they find the remains of a royal palace and the diary of the palace's ruler, a mighty magician. The last entry in the diary says that the ruler was planning to raise a mountain range using magic. The location and condition of the palace indicates that he succeeded all too well.
    • Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix
      • The last entry in Endrew MacKurian's journal tells of the visit of an old friend (whose name he is unable to record because of a Geas spell) who has turned traitor. He mentions that he fears that he shall not see the morning. He disappears during the night and later turns up dead.
      • During the mission to retrieve the sword Chrysomer the PCs find the diary of a paladin who undertook the quest earlier. The last entry says that he plans to try to escape by distracting the enemies who have him trapped, and ends "Must try... hear noise. Giants coming. Hope this works..." The PCs find the diary on his body.
    • Ravenloft adventure Adam's Wrath. The PCs find the diary of a team of botanists. The last entry says that they have found a new plant and are about to go on an expedition to find more. The PCs find their bodies nearby: the plant they found was a yellow musk creeper, which kills its victims and turns them into zombies.
  • Silent Hill RPG. On the roof of Brookhaven Hospital a PC will find the diary of a patient. It ends with a statement that the patient was about to be released, and ends with a slash across the page with the pen as if the patient's arm had been grabbed while he was writing. Since everyone else in Silent Hill was killed (or worse) by monsters, it's a safe bet that the patient was too.
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Warren". The PCs take almost an hour to remove enough rubble to enter one room. When they do they find the skeleton of a man sitting at a table and a piece of paper which is an Apocalyptic Log of what happened to him - he was trapped inside the room when a disaster occurred. It ends "I am sitting now waiting for rescue. It has been eight hours."
    • Mansions of Madness, adventure "The Crack'd and Crook'd Manse''. Arthur Cornthwaite was trying to stop a monster that had infested his house. He was writing a note to explain the monster's vulnerability: it ends in mid sentence when the monster used its coils to snatch him into the fireplace and eat him.
    • Terror from the Stars, adventure "The Temple of the Moon". Professor Dermot's day books end with an entry saying that he plans to enter the Temple at night after the strange phenomena end. The PCs can find his body later: he was captured and sacrificed by the Cthulhu Mythos cultists who worship at the Temple.
    • The Asylum and Other Tales adventure "Black Devil Mountain". A PC receives an unfinished letter that was found among the effects of his deceased brother. The last part of the letter talks about the horrible discovery the brother had made. His body was found a few days later, dismembered and with the brain and heart missing.
    • Dreamlands adventure "The Land of Lost Dreams". The PCs find the diary of Neil Bruford in his room. It tells the story of how he planned to journey to the land of Xura to find his heart's desire. The last entry says that he would reach Xura in his dreams that night. The next morning his landlady found him in a coma.
  • Rolemaster Shadow World supplement Star Crown Empire, adventure "Terror at Fang Rock''. A lighthouse keeper is murdered by smugglers. The last entry in his log book says that he hears noises outside (the smugglers digging a tunnel) and that he's going to investigate.
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 3rd Edition adventure Stormwatch. The PCs can find the log of an old expedition that was destroyed by a disease. The last entry is a prayer to God that someone will find their bodies and properly lay them to rest.

Video Games
  • Gabriel Knight: Gunter's journal. It's pretty obvious he committed suicide when he writes stuff like "These final words" and "I pray [...] that my punishment in Hell will be long and bitter."
  • The Secret of Monkey Island: The Captain's log found in the Sea Monkey. It ends when the two characters described in the log leave the ship to investigate the eponymous Monkey Island.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a few, but prominent is Nef's journal in Samara's loyalty mission. The last entry notes that she is about to go meet Morinth.
    • The entire Mass Effect series is filled with this, mostly in the form of PDAs or video diaries left behind after a battle/massacre. This increases as the series goes on.
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the player can find a sort of last will and testament of a character named Wilhelm, who was locked in a wine cellar with several other men and tricked into drinking poisoned wine (presumably transforming them into the monsters present in the game). The log is an attempt by Wilhelm to confess his sins as well as name the man responsible for them, and ends with an altogether chilling passage: "Blood has begun to pour from my eyes, and I can no longer—"
  • A few of the audiotapes found in the BioShock games, particularly Diane celebrating New Year's alone, only for the bar to be attacked by Atlas' Splicers and Dr. Suchong documenting his evidently unsuccessful work to get the Little Sisters to bond with the Big Daddies, culminating him in smacking one of the former and getting killed by the latter.
  • The game Parasite Eve 2 has an interesting twist on this. At one point, you find the journal of a researcher who was assigned to watch a mutant in a cage. She felt the mutant was looking pathetic and lonely, so she decided to let him out for a little while. The journal abruptly ends as she describes how tall the mutant now is. Then the journal switches over to another researcher, who calmly reports the death of the previous writer, which ends the journal entries.
  • You run into this a couple of times in both Borderlands and Borderlands 2. There's an interesting variation in the second game; you're collecting the ECHO diaries of TK Baha, an NPC who was killed by bandits in the first game, meaning you know what's coming well before reaching the final entry.
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, this is used twice. The first time, it's subverted, as you find a diary in the victim's house, only for it to have never been used and be completely blank. The second time is played straight, with a minor twist: Magnifi Gramarye's diary seemingly ends with an entry that seems to imply that it may or may not have been meant to be the last, but it's the last thing written in the diary. There is a page torn out of it though, but the page you have that appears to be the missing page (which has the "real" last entry) is revealed to be a forgery. What was really written on the missing page was a document passing the rights of Magnifi's magic to his student, Zak.
  • One of the most famous examples is the Keeper's Diary from Resident Evil, written by an unnamed employee of the Spencer Mansion as he was unknowingly succumbing to The Virus. It keeps getting creepier until it abruptly ends like this:
    May 19, 1998
    Fever gone but itchy. Hungry and eat doggy food. Itchy Itchy Scott came. Ugly face so killed him. Tasty.
    4. Itchy. Tasty.

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • Jonny Quest episode "The Sea Haunt". Dr. Benton Quest is reading from an Apocalyptic Log left by a ship's captain, describing how he and his crew were threatened by a monster.
    Dr. Quest: [reading] "...The men are taking to the lifeboats. In a moment I will..."
    Jonny: "I will" what? What does he say?
    Dr. Quest: That's it. It ends right there.
    Jonny: That monster must have come in here and killed the captain while he was writing!
    Dr. Quest: I hope not, but it certainly seems that way.

Real Life
  • In Ken Burns' The Civil War, a journal entry read by David McCullough that was written at Cold Harbor gives the date and place, then says simply: "I am dead."
  • Robert Falcon Scott's journal of his polar expedition (which ended with the death of all involved - in vain, as they were beaten to the South Pole by Amundsen) ends with "For God's sake look after our people".
  • The Diary of a Young Girl cuts off shortly before the fugitives were discovered and captured.

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