The Deathbird is a well-known novelette by Harlan Ellison. It won the 1974 Hugo and Locus Poll awards for best novelette. It is written in a style which allows for much examination; it is nonlinear but gradually forms a picture of the situation. It has been included in the author's short story collection Deathbird Stories.
Millions of years ago, "The Mad One", also known as Ialdabaoth or God, took over the earth in a sort of cosmic lawsuit. The original creators left behind one last member of their race, Dira, to tell humans the truth about their god, but the dominant traditions throughout the ages denounce Dira as evil. Now, the world is coming to an end and Nathan Stack, the latest incarnation of a long line of humans going back to Lilith’s husband, is revived by Snake (aka Dira) to make the journey to the mountain where God lives. He is the only human capable of confronting him and putting the Earth out of its misery through the summoning of what is referred to as the Deathbird. The story also contains a few side plots, presumably about Nathan Stack or previous reincarnations of him. These stories tell of people that have had to make difficult decisions, allowing loved ones to die. In one such story, his mother wants him to "use the needle" and kill her, ending her pain. This situation is repeated at the end of the story, where Nathan Stack must "use the needle" and end the pain of the planet. 
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