Jack Vance, sorted by year written
show ‘1955’ (clear filter)
Out on the plain one of the Organisms, Alpha, sat down, caught a handful of air, a globe of blue liquid, a rock, kneaded them together, pulled the mixture like taffy, gave it a great heave. It uncoiled from his hand like rope. The Relict crouched low. No telling what deviltry would occur to the creature. He and all the rest of them unpredictable! The Relict valued their flesh as food; but the Organisms would eat him if opportunity offered. In the competition he was at a great disadvantage. Their random acts baffled him. If, seeking to escape, he ran, the worst terror would begin. The direction he set his face was seldom the direction the varying frictions of the ground let him move. But the Organisms were as random and uncommitted as the environment, and the double set of disorders sometimes compounded, sometimes canceled each other. In the latter case the Organism might catch him...It was inexplicable. But then, what was not? The word ‘explanation’ had no meaning.
Republished in The Moon Moth and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012
Comment: short horror story.
I’ve had all I can stand. I’ve got to get out, away from the walls, the glass, the white stone, the black asphalt. All of a sudden I see the city for the terrible place that it is. Lights burn my eyes, voices crawl on my skin like sticky insects, and I notice that the people look like insects too. Burly brown beetles, wispy mosquito-men in tight black trousers, sour sow-bug women, mantids and scorpions, fat little dung-beetles, wasp-girls gliding with poisonous nicety, children like loathsome little flies...This isn’t a pleasant thought; I must not think of people so; the picture could linger to bother me. I think I’m a hundred times more sensitive than anyone else in the world, and I’m given to very strange fancies. I could list some that would startle you, and it’s just as well that I don’t. But I do have this frantic urge to flee the city; it’s settled. I’m going.
My name is Henry Revere. My appearance is not remarkable, my intelligence is hardly noteworthy, and my emotions run evenly. I live in a house of synthetic shell, decorated with wood and jade, and surrounded by a pleasant garden. The view to one side is the ocean, the other, a valley sprinkled with houses similar to my own. I am by no means a prisoner, although my servants supervise me with the most minute care. Their first concern is to prevent my suicide, just as mine is to achieve it. (more)
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012