By Fredric Brown (1906-72).
First appearance: Dime Mystery, January 1945.
Collected in Mostly Murder (1953; HERE) and Carnival of Crime: The Best Mystery Stories of Fredric Brown (1985; HERE and HERE).
Filmed for TV in 1957 (see "Resources").
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at Archive.org starting (HERE) and concluding (HERE).
(Parental warning: Strong language.)
". . . his throat and his soul felt raw, and there was no surcease in the quiet of the water below him."A joke is just a joke—until somebody takes it for gospel . . .
Comment: The editor's headnote blabs too much; the story reads better if you skip to the first sentence.
- The barebones e-zine (HERE) has a detailed and SPOILERS-filled discussion of "The Night the World Ended," both text and TV episode; the latter is detailed (SPOILERS again) on the IMDb (HERE). In any event, READ THE STORY FIRST.