Bradbury Stories

I bought this collection a good year before circulating it into my reading selections, mostly because I was already reading some behemoths and wanted only little novels to occupy the rest of my time, but now I’m trying to incorporate the bunch of books I’ve acquired since then, instead of borrowing from the library constantly. Plus, I’ve loved the fact this collection was personally chosen by the author and I haven’t read any of his short stories, other than the one in a children’s short-story collection I had, which I truly enjoyed called Switch on the Night.

  • I‘m getting back into the Bradbury flow straight from the start; He’s playfully poetic with his description of the surroundings in The Whole Town’s Sleeping. We soon learn through gossip a strangler is loose, but Lavinia and a friend are off to see a Charlie Chaplin film despite the possible danger. It reads like a ’40s movie,  even Alfred Hitchcock-esque; Quite, disturbingly good. I’ve forgotten how Bradbury would make his characters do the exact opposite of what one would be expected to do; It’s wonderful. Midway reading through this, I re-read the author’s introduction and it only confirms my notion of how much I’m curious about his short stories. He even gave me a couple more authors to research. He’s put much love into his writing, but I’ve digressed enough. This story rocks my socks; Bradbury knows how to thrill the bananas out of me, I realize now. It’s a typical scenario, but dang, he gives it some hella style. I’m already satisfied by what is coming to me, haha!
  • The Rocket involved a man with the dream of flying in a rocket. He speaks with an old man who also enjoys rockets, but was trying to dissuade Bodoni from spending his money to try and attain it. Bodoni eventually takes the idea to his family, stating to them the circumstances and only one of them being able to go and who it should be. It becomes a psychological strain and sadness comes to them after learning who is chosen, those who were, making excuses as to why they couldn’t go after the initial excitement. Later on Bodoni is given the opportunity to buy a full-scale model of a rocket ship, which he couldn’t bear to pass up. Bodoni’s dream and love for the physical replication became so obsessively fantastic he started to believe he could get it to fly. This one was purely for the dreams of his children. This one is more exciting than anything horrific.
  • Season of Disbelief begins with an old woman, Mrs. Bentley, acting kindly to three children sitting in the grass on her yard and once getting them ice cream and introductions are made, the little girl refuses to believe Mrs. Bentley was once their age, peeving her to no end, so to prove her youth to them, she shows them items from her childhood and a picture, the girl always making some excuse to disbelieve and eventually running off with the trinkets which only the little boy apologizes about their behavior. She makes a decision through a made up conversation between herself and her husband, we discovering what her plan is. With this one Bradbury lets us be the dealers of reality.
  • And the Rock Cried Out is apocalyptic in nature, having most of two major countries dead and a couple driving in a jungle and running over a broken machete, destroying one of their tires. We soon realize they are being attacked from a distance, passive-aggressively by the locals. They use a second tactic of aggression after their roadblock fails a second time. The couple make it to the border only to be told they can’t go through, passports aren’t any good, the other country won’t have them and money won’t buy them passage; They’re in trouble, being American in this story is bad for one’s health. After having his bribe accepted and still turned away, they locate a gas station which won’t sell gas to them and decide to leave their car to the attendant, with the keys, since they didn’t have a choice (even though the man, John Webb was carrying a gun). As they walk away, they see the gas attendant and entourage speed past them, waving and singing as they do. After almost reaching a town, an old man is seen driving and stops to offer them a ride the rest of the way, which they accept gratefully and soon distinguish the man, Garcia reads newspapers a week late, to allow for the news to sink in or to even prove true at all. They ask to be let out early so as to not make trouble for him. They get to a hotel they once stayed at years before and are “lucky” to have the owner remember them and let them stay the night. They get a report from the hotel owner of the happening of the area they were trying to get to, being told it would be better for them to hide, perhaps for 48 hours, until the riots dissipated. As the townspeople celebrate, a man gives a speech about how they’re no longer oppressed and the American couple see he’s looking up at their room with a hateful look in his eyes. The next morning, after a loud night of arguing, Esposa, the manager informs them of his part in saving their lives by announcing to his friends the couple were employees at the hotel and to consider the offer if they hoped to survive. Webb considered and the outcome is standoff-ish. Another story leaving one with tension at the end.
  • The story after is about The Drummer Boy of Shiloh and his pep talk from the General to make sure he sets the right pace for the soldiers. It’s shorter than the other stories, but a good one.
  • The next takes place in Dublin, with a man and his wife in their hotel room and the husband recognizing a man who approaches him a couple days earlier with a story about a job he had in Belfast and needing a pound for train fare. Realizing the man a tourist he tries to get two pounds more from him, with success. He continues his story of “if he had…” so much more pounds and ends with getting five pounds from the naive fellow. All with the promise of it being a loan; Hm. The wife recognizes the man as well, pulling a similar story, unsuccessfully. Soon they’re talking of how to get past the beggars on the street, his wife unfazed, but he, being accosted almost upon stepping out the door. The first reason for their going out being the man wanting to show his wife The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge. Whilst on their way a woman beggar stops them, crying about her sister’s cancer and when his wife notices he is weakening, she asks bluntly if the woman was the same one outside their hotel; Crafty beggar stayed vigilant in not answering, or we aren’t privy to one at least. When they make it to the bridge they see the man they’re looking for with a concertina and the husband confesses to his wife how he’s unsure as to whether the man is actually blind, his wife assuming he was. When the beggar begins to sing is when his wife goes noodly for his natural singing talent, as if being pied piper-ed to opening her purse, which is when her husband takes her to another side of the bridge. Later the husband decides to buy a cap for him, since he didn’t wear one whilst it rained, but when he goes to locate him, he learns from the “replacement” beggar he’s sick at home. From then until leaving, he checks periodically and is told from the hotel manager what became of him. Another solid story, although the last question to end it made me snigger for it’s emotive wallflower feeling, due to it’s being overdone nowadays.
  • The Flying Machine takes place in 400 A.D. China with a servant informing the emperor of a man flying with paper bamboo wings. The servant accepts a cup to appease the emperor’s non-belief, insisting he was dreaming, the servant eventually getting him to follow to where he saw the fantastic sight and they being still in time for the proof. In seeing the truth of his servants words, he grows serious and once learning they were the few to know of this peasant’s flying apparatus he bids him to join him at the palace where he calls his guards and the executioner and confides in the man of why he’s decided to dispatch him, showing him his own creation, a beautiful machine. The emperor shares his fears of what other men could do if they were to copy the peasant’s creation and decide to use it for the destruction of the Great Wall. He let’s his orders be carried out and destroys all evidence, commanding his servant to treat his knowledge as if it were a fanciful dream and to warn the farmer in the field to do the same or they would share the same fate. Enjoyably dark and foreboding.
  • The story after focuses on a young man known as Heavy-Set who is first viewed from a window by his mother, watching him work out in the yard. He withdrew from social settings instead focusing only on working out, even though he was called upon by both genders, until Halloween when he decides to go to a party. His mother dotes on him and he responses to her are aloof. We learn more background about Heavy-Set which shows us the times he had gone out on dates and how he’d been let down (he starting to sound autistic, but may be too early to speculate.) Heavy-Set, at 30 seemed only to hang around the 18-19 year old age group and when they moved on and grew up, the same age group would continually become fascinated by him. When girls would invite him out, he usually tried to make excuses to avoid the situation; we get another example of this. Then his mother goes through the motions of checking for his return, seeming to dread his not coming back, but reminding me of the speech in Good Will Hunting where Affleck hopes Damon would do what Heavy-Set’s mother fears. He comes back an hour after her last check at the door, pleased, but Heavy-Set isn’t, due to being the only one at the party in-costume and the eight who showed up not doing anything but standing around. One thing is certain, he’s a big guy with a child’s mind, not giving a whit about what was on the other “party-goers” minds and because of his failed attempts at party games, he gets mad and dismisses the girl whom asks him to walk up the beach in preference of returning home. He declines another outing of football from one of the boys who visits his home, making excuses and using his punching bag, obviously quite upset since he goes on a few hours longer than usual. His mother lies awake and Heavy-Set comes in after and lies down on the bed squeezing the steel, bunched springs one uses for exercise, possibly crying whilst using them and his mother continuing to lie there silently, desperate for his comfort. This one is forced-reclusively depressing.
  • The First Night of Lent is a first person narrative about a writer working on a screenplay in Dublin and his cabby called Nick. It quickly moves to the Narrator’s night with Nick on Lent and Bradbury utilizing the ability to write the way Irishmen speak phonetically. We discover Nick’s choice of what to give up, getting support from the Narrator, not sharing the habit. The next time he gets a ride, Nick has changed his driving habits and not for giving up his habit, since the Narrator could see he didn’t. Then he discovers he hadn’t called the right habit, Nick giving up something else and it having affected his demeanor in a drastically “violent” way, at least in his driving. We’re left to wonder whether Nick took the Narrator up on his offer to break his Lent habit by the next night of their drive for the Narrator’s sake and the extra money given to supply him with his habit; pretty good story.
  • Lafayette, Farewell has an ambiguous enough beginning with a man, Bill known to the person in residence and periodically coming to inquire whether he’s reached his own home.This time though, he drops by of his own accord to visit. The man whom lives there is acceptant of the elder man’s previous confusions and welcomes him in and offers him a drink and if he wishes, to unwind his troubled thoughts. The younger man listens as Bill talks of his being overcome by thoughts of the war he was in and how he would alternate names to refer to the younger man, a writer. We also discover, after the war, Bill was a renowned MGM cameraman. Bill slowly turning the conversation to another fear he has, which is going to hell for the wrongs he committed. The young writer gets him to elaborate and tries to convince him otherwise of being hell-bound. Bill continues to explain his theory and why he believes his fate is sealed for being in war and doing what one must and how remembering it late in life is something no one ever warns them of. Then Bill speaks of a waking fantasy of hearing and seeing men fall from the sky some with and without parachutes and whether the young man believed and would help him stop the visions. So the writer suggests apologizing to them and so they both go outside to his garden to see if they’re out there. They don’t come immediately, but something paranormal seems to occur to them when they start hearing whispers and sounds like what Bill describes. The words of apology Bill decides on seem to aide him and he goes back home with words of thanks for the young man. This was a touching one, quite good indeed.
  • Maggie and Douglas are Remembering Sascha, whom we are given to believe is male, but is told so ambiguously he could well be made up. Douglas is a writer with grand ambitions of writing “The Great American Novel” and Maggie supports him with a real job; ha! Anyways, it’s alluded Douglas could be calling the possibility of Maggie being pregnant Sascha, with the advice to check with an M.D. after she describes the usual signs, confirming his thoughts the next day. As the story moves forward, one realizes the romantic fancy of the couple we’re following, so the next bit is pretty thick with corn. The “game” of Sascha speaking to the young to-be parents continues with the pregnancy and talks of trying to wait beyond the expected delivery date due to the holiday it fell on was discussed between the three. It is quite sweet by the end though; a good quick read with the idea of possibly going badly.
  • I didn’t realize Bradbury could entertain such a dirty-joked story-line, until this next one. It’s about Albert and his buddy, Junior. We detect Albert is well on in years and so is surprised by Junior’s loyalty to stick around this morning. He calls up three old girlfriends and they immediately come by to check out Albert’s newsworthy excitement. He drags out the unveiling, but soon flashes them with Junior, who impresses them all. They each have their memory flashbacks of the good ole days and we are then given a strange reason for why Junior returned the same day; odd one for certain.

  • A man hears That Woman on the Lawn, crying outside his house late at night making him feel her pain to the point of tears himself and wonders what could have upset her. When he goes to see out his window, he only views the traces of her presence by footprints on the lawn leading to the garden on the other side of the house. He decides a hot sweet beverage is in order and goes downstairs to make it. He didn’t recall the episode until dusk the next day making him hurry home, even to his surprise. He realizes he might have recognized her voice and wondered whom he’d be able to ask, having no family resources. He goes to bed early in hopes of hearing her again and awakens too late, hearing nothing, but seeing the footprints again. After settling on his bed once more, he hears her and waits a moment before going to look, catching sight of her this time. He knew and yet didn’t remember her, seeming to have seen her once before. He uncovers a photo album which reminds him of her identity, angering him and then thinking she won’t return because of his thoughts and how she hadn’t died at the age he’s seeing her appear. She doesn’t show herself again for almost a week, but something would come in her stead each night or at the least three nights before her return. When she does come back finally he takes his time to go downstairs, pacing himself until he gets outside. He speaks with her and realizes she doesn’t know him or why she’s there. After talking with him for a little while, she gets a closer look at him and believes she does recognize him, but he won’t give it away, confiding he’ll reveal his identity later, since he believes she wouldn’t trust the truth from him. He asks why she’s there and she reveals she’s waiting and sad and doesn’t know why. She realizes she’s there because someone called her name and more similarities between them are revealed. They talk more and he lets her name slip and now doesn’t know which of them could be a ghost. Then a play on the word ghost is used cleverly before the man gives her directions which will allow their destinies to collide and continue on. This one was strange, but well-written.
  • February 1999: Ylla takes place on Mars, introducing us to Mrs. and Mr. K. We go on to learn some of the pastimes they did and their family history in their house. We learn they aren’t rather old and have the unique attributes of a Martian. They are also unhappy, Mrs. K having a dream during the day whilst Mr. K reads his book like an instrument and thinks she’s calling him when it was only her crying out in her sleep, irritating him for wanting to return to his book, even whilst she describes what she’s dreamed. Her dream begins to sound like John Carter and her husband can’t believe the odd countenance of his described appearance. She has more strange visions pop into her head as the day goes on, one being a song in another language and again her husband seems imposed upon by its unfamiliarity, leaving the room whilst she prepared dinner for him. After, he offers for them to go for some entertainment in town after a six month dry spell for her, at least. She doesn’t want to go anywhere, though for a feeling of something which may happen soon, but her husband insists. They travel by fire-birds and he suggests during their ride they go to the Blue Mountains for some peace and quiet to her surprise, but she decides she doesn’t want to go, ending the conversation abruptly. The next scene begins with Ylla awaking to Yll watching her as she slept for she had kept him up with her talking in her sleep, this time he asking what it was about. She reveals it was the Earthman again and how they talked and joked having a pleasant time, but Yll soon gets jealous when she confesses how Nathaniel the Earthman kissed her and spoke of being able to take her away. He becomes so enraged she’s shocked and amused by his reaction until it seems he’s become ill over the situation. He confesses she had also spoken of when and where Nathaniel would be landing his ship. The next day Ylla makes plans to see a friend which crosses the area mentioned of earlier regarding Nathaniel. Yll declares she must stay, for the Doctor is coming to visit and so she’s trapped into staying. Once the day is almost gone, Yll goes out to hunt, not waiting any longer for the doctor friend’s arrival. She expects to see something in the sky and soon does, hesitating with the knowledge her husband would be angry and the doctor expecting her to be home. She convinces herself the sound is not what she thought it was and sits down, soon hearing a shot ring out. She doesn’t investigate though, instead waiting for her husband or the hope of the Earthman to come. She’s disappointed when Yll does come through the door and we recognize the sleazy trick he’d played on Ylla, her memory of the song now fading and she sad because of it, whilst Yll watches without emotion. Sad story, annoying me with Ylla’s lack of backbone, but again an easy, absorbing read which happens to be a part of The Martian Chronicles.
  • Ireland and the spookiness of the area, which is described by the Narrator as being far from city-life is how Banshee begins. This story also focuses on a screen-writer meeting the director to finish his script. When he arrives at the house to collaborate and the director opens the door to let him in, they hear a strange moan in the night, which makes them both retreat indoors and start their work. After they begin, it seemingly going well, they hear the same sob-moan from outside. After John, the director messes with Doug about banshees being the cause, he has more fun with him when he brings out a paper with a review of his latest book and jokes with him about what was written, making some of it up to get his goat and succeeding. Once they forgive and forget though, they again hear the strange sound and John tries to convince Doug to go out and look, giving him his coat and acting like it was his final respects, putting Doug on edge and at the same time, now wanting to call his bluff, but upon getting outside, Doug hears and sees a woman out there, next to a tree. She speaks to him and tries to confirm John’s identity as the “animal” who broke hearts, in so many words, then it has a sense of the supernatural, of mistaken identity and the idea she had given Doug an appraisal of what time she was waiting in. Doug tries to explain the man inside isn’t the same one she’s waiting for and she recognizes he must be one of the “good ones”, but to send the other man out. Doug goes back and reports to John of what he saw and decides to egg him on to go out there too, in the end though wanting him to stay, but John deciding to still go out and then locked out by Doug who retreats to his room with an almost amusing ending for its open-endedness.
  • We first learn how long it takes in Ireland for the word to get around when someone’s been born or dead and where the information gets to first: a pub. Doone, who we’re soon introduced to as the runner whom announces the news as fast as he can run, brings tidings of a death to Finn’s bar in One for His Lordship and One for the Road! Everyone in the bar remembers the man in a good light and eventually wonders what will be done with his collection of wine. As the discussion of who deserves the stash of liquor continues, Finn’s wife comes in to notify of the funeral happening in an hour. On their trek to the graveyard made all the worse from the heat, they are teased with a mysterious reason why they had to have the funeral so soon by the priest who discloses he will divulge at the proper time. After they see Lord Kilgotten being brought with a procession of vehicles behind to the grave-site. The amount was impressive to all and the coffin of Kilgotten was ornate with silver and gold nails as well as peculiar wood with stamps from all kinds of wine vineyards, impressing everyone from the pub. Then a lawyer is spotted at the end of the line of mourners. I also wouldn’t have thought a priest would command someone to shut up as often as this one does to Doone, but in any case, the lawyer finishes the testament of Kilgotten and at once proceeds to carry out the wishes therein to take his booze “with him”. Everyone stares dumbfounded by the display knowing they wouldn’t be tasting those fruits Kilgotten hoarded. The priest stops the lawyer after the first bottle is emptied and the second begun, to determine the point the congregation would be suffered through watching the stunt of wasting the rest of Kilgotten’s leftover bottles and when the lawyer confirms his question to the affirmative the priest and main group, including Finn and Doone, are taken aside for a game-plan. Finn comes up with it in the end and the priest begins the idea getting around the will of Kilgotten and including the lawyer in their partaking. Again entertaining and pleased to see some of these characters turn up again in later stories.
  • Oddly, The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair discloses of a couple Ollie and Stanley, how they met, their ages and how it wasn’t the atypical meeting. They seemed to “pretend” to know each other to escape their collective situations at the party they both serendipitously were attending. They leave to see the one hundred and fifty steps Laurel and Hardy had carried a piano. She taking his picture at the designated step as does he for her. This was the night they began their long affair, always referring to each other by the similarities between their body types to the comedy duo, at least enough to spur the affair on. Their first year consisted of going to the places Ollie had met celebrities and kissing on the site, discovering they both had renewed mouth fascination caused by their coupledom. By the end of the year they realize their jobs may conflict with their relationship. Stan proposes, embarrassing Ollie and when no answer is given, makes a vow to visit the steps each year, the same hour as the first. Three years pass with no meeting, Ollie forgets to check the next two years, but the year after comes across a note attached to a gift. After he no longer visits the stairs, but then a fluke meeting years later occurs in France, both of them with families and instead of stopping to speak with one another, they do how they did when they first met and have a final private goodbye in front of their oblivious family members. It’s a bittersweet, but good story.
  • Douglas describes of a visit from his foreign psychoanalyst Gustav Von Seyfertitz who played a high priest in a film called She and of his odd therapies in Unterderseaboat Doktor. We proceed to understand how out of the ordinary and cartoon-like these “therapies” can get. Douglas soon noticing a periscope and asking to look through it, the doctor refusing, expressing he wouldn’t enjoy what he saw, but of course ignoring the warning and seeing something surprising and terrifying to him, wondering where they came from, the doctor giving him strange and terrific answers, including how he’d been a submarine captain in a war and getting paranoid and upset Douglas, his patient had learned some history of his personal life and how it could impact his career if he spread his new found knowledge. This story is “murderously comical”. Douglas stays away from Seyfertitz for a year after, updating his friends what he’d been through. Then not long after the year of estrangement, the doctor shows up at Douglas’ door, saddened by his failed murder-attempt. They both go back to his office to kill some “monsters”. The doctor proceeds to pummel the periscope upon their arrival, successfully exorcising the images when Douglas checks. The ending is ambiguous, but overall an entertaining, crazy story.
  • Bella who is living in an old apartment in Los Angeles and is new to the area keeps hearing loud noises outside and observes it’s two men almost arguing and thumping something up a flight of stairs. (I’ve also been noticing Bradbury’s propensity to mention the number of steps in some of these short stories, this being another.) There is a number of steps to where her apartment is and these men are arguing on them as they try to deliver a piano, which Bella, we then learn to be a fat, ugly, mid-fifty year old and planning to ascertain why they’re making so much noise at such an early hour in the morning. We then see one of the men says something about Another Fine Mess and when Bella tries to get close, the noise stops, but as she goes away they start talking again and she realizes she recognizes and can anticipate what they’ll say next. She then calls up her friend Zelda to confirm her suspicion of what and who she could be hearing, getting the old friend to come and see or at least hear for herself. We then perceive this is another Laurel and Hardy referenced story. Soon the whole building hears their racket, though and are about to get angry at all their noise, so Zelda and Bella try to impart the love they have for them to them before they disappear from the angry shouting of the other tenants. Laurel and Hardy finish their bit and the two women hope their words will make them go, but once a year will hopefully come back so they can repeat their love for them and hoping they’d heard. Over-sentimental ghost story, Bradbury must have had a soft-spot for this, but I’m getting a little worn out by it.
  • A young lady called Aimee talks with a man she knows at the ticket booth of a carnival named Ralph and how he always sees The Dwarf of which we focus on, going to the same spot in the Mirror Maze and how Aimee feels bad for him even though she’s hadn’t met him. He arrives to buy his ticket not long after and Ralph shows Aimee the back way through the Mirror Maze so as to spy what the small fellow would do there. After it comes out the small man wants to buy the same sort of mirror, but Ralph holds out on him for his business, so Aimee detects where the little fellow lives and the next thing she does is research some of the little man’s work, it being some writing in a magazine. Ralph tries to distract her from her need to help him and offers to take her out to get her mind off of the man, but she’s busy contemplating gifting the mirror to Mr. Bigelow and calls the mirror place which carries them. After finishing her poorly thought-of, in Ralph’s opinion, good deed, he lets on he might have some mischief ahead for the little man the next time he drops by. We see Mr. Bigelow come to buy his ticket, as usual and Ralph informs him it’s on the house this time and states to Aimee to wait, soon they both hearing a collection of screams and see the man running off, Aimee stricken and upon Ralph showing her what he’d done, devastated for the poor little guy and running off as well, Ralph chasing her, then they hear Mr. Bigelow had taken one of the guns at the shooting booth and couldn’t locate him, but Ralph discovering him later. Strange, sad, little story.
  • A Narrator speaks of how one would think one is crying when hearing certain weather in the night and getting a sad, empty feeling when trying to attain sleep again, then revealing how he’s typing out a script in Ireland, when the film director comes a-calling at seven in the evening to take him away to the pub to get away from the rain, which the Narrator had stopped being able to hear in A Wild Night in Galway. Once they arrive at the pub, the bartender and namesake of the pub, Heber Finn, sets them up with drinks and upon requesting for a wild night by the director, was told he’ll give them one, once pouring the drinks. When the director requests for something wilder, Finn escorts them out of the pub with the words of they not knowing what kind of wild they’re in for. Finn takes them in his car and they’re quickly on their way and have quite an “Irish” wild night; Upon return to the Narrator’s hotel, he lingers for a nightcap in the reading room before going back to the dullness which is his writing. Odd, funny little short story.
  • Herb Thompson receives a phone call by Allin who is asking for Herb’s wife, wanting him to come over for dinner, but Herb and his wife have guests coming to dinner on the night of The Wind. It get’s a bit foretelling after, Herb deduces the reason for Allin’s creepy need for his presence is caused by the wind; to be taken literally, apparently, because even Herb’s wife asks if it was the cause of Allin’s call. Herb gets another phone call not long after they feel a breeze, which sets Allin to calling Herb again and confiding how he’d finally duped the wind into thinking it had gotten the best of him. (We learn earlier Allin had some bad experience in other countries with wind storms and his fear had followed him.) Allin sounds nuts, but apparently the next time he calls, which is during the time company is present at Herb’s, he hears the voices along with Allin’s over the phone, which is the wind which had taken all the people’s intelligence it’s killed. Herb is worried for his friend and asks him to call him again later since his wife is calling for him to come back, repeatedly, Allin retreating to the cellar due to the wind tearing his house apart. Then Herb and his wife discuss how ill Allin might actually be and when Herb is deciding to leave to check on him, believes he hears Allin’s laugh from outside, but when he looks, sees nothing and goes back inside. It’s quite interesting and foreboding Allin’s fate.
  • No News, or What Killed the Dog? begins with mentioning a dog named Dog whom died and how the Bentley family had found him dead in the kitchen. Soon the whole family is in tears and the parents call the children who have moved out already, they arriving there soon to discuss what will happen with Dog’s body. The father thinking the Pet Cemetery a possibility, some of the children believing it would be a corny idea, what with the services included, but some hold Dog in reverence and think it’s not enough for their childhood friend. Not long after their discussion of what’s considered science fiction, we are given the namesake of the story and then the doorbell rings, everyone thinking it’s the pet cemetery people, coming too soon in their opinion. When the family goes to the funeral, they realize how many friends Dog had made during his life, then the father of the Bentley family begins a tune which seems similar to There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. At the end of the funeral it seems the circle of life continues with the family possibly adopting another dog; quick and easy read.
  • An ambiguous summing of a Mrs. Bellowes being escorted to God by a Mr. Thirkell (so close to sounding like Erkel for comfort) is given, followed by learning of Mrs. Bellowes’ proclivity to the spiritual searching of the mystics and seemingly close proximity to cults. We also learn she hadn’t actually been fooled by these other religious leaches, until reading Mr. Thirkell’s ad, stating one could get a round trip or in other words, A Little Journey, to Mars and be near God; she deciding she’d like to get in on the project and so buys a ticket and spends seven days at Thirkell’s Restorium, before deciding she isn’t impressed with the atmosphere. She then waits for Mr. Thirkell to appear with the rest of the guests and when he does, he doesn’t come with good tidings, being there were “legal issues” concerning the rocket he must deal with before they could take the trip; everyone is upset by this and since some had already been waiting a month, Mrs. Bellowes leads the charge to at least see this rocket and what a piece of junk it seemed, Mr. Thirkell ashamed in being outed with his supposedly God-greeting rocket. When he realizes how angry people were about to become he tries making a break for it, but is too closely surrounded by the old ladies. Now Mrs. Bellowes announces to the group she thought they should take a chance on the hunk of junk due to being too embarrassed to take her complaints to the government for being duped and not having enough money to get back to Earth for spending all of her savings in getting there and all being there because they felt they were close to the end of the line as it was. Mr. Thirkell speaks out pitifully about how everything he said was a lie anyways and he doesn’t know anything about space when he hears her suggestion. When he tries to reason they hadn’t a navigator, Mrs. Bellowes, with the other old ladies somehow force him into the rocket and strap him in, eventually he having no choice but to continue the take off sequencing. We get more an ending with this one, Bradbury dealing out some well deserved karma and concluding with some possible God-like hand, ha-ha. These kinds of stories always seem a bit goofy to me.
  • I imagine this story is in a style with how Nicholas Nickleby is written; I feel a bit in the dark since I have yet to read it, but so it must be. It mentions the year being 1929 and a boy who never grew up, who is our Narrator. We also are told of his dog who will live forever and a barber who was never young, Mr. Wyneski. Ralph Spaulding, the Narrator revealed, is about 12 years old, standing outside with his dog. He hears something coming and Mr. Wyneski believes it’s the noon train. We then learn Ralph sweeps the hair on the floor for Mr. Wyneski, who has a client currently and is chatting with Ralph about hair and how it seems to grow from the floor. Ralph felt the train wouldn’t pass like it normally does and he’s right, when they hear the brakes for the train and someone step off, heading for Ralph’s house, where his Grandmother takes boarders, as well as Mr. Wyneski, who lets Ralph go investigate, since he’s so curious, also asking Mr. Wyneski to think of a better name for him, since he doesn’t care for his own, Ralph not sounding good to his own ears. When he sees the man stop outside and call out to him, even though he was hiding, he comes out and is impressed, the man asking about the accommodations of the place. Inside, Ralph realizes this man, through his writing in the registry book, is Charles Dickens, alive and well, surprising him greatly. When Ralph introduces Dickens to his Grandfather, he replies with ‘Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby’s is A Friend of Mine‘, taking only a moment to size him up. Soon, Ralph, being called Pip by Dickens, is helping him scribe a new novel he’s undertaking which takes place in London and Paris. Ralph comes up with the title, one of which we all know of course. Soon, Ralph doesn’t answer to anything but Pip and Mr. Wyneski, when he hears the name, reveals he wasn’t ever called anything but his real name, Bernard Samuel Wyneski after hearing from “Pip’s” Grandfather whom he’d changed his name a few times at his age as well, surprised Wyneski hadn’t done so. Mr. Wyneski has trouble believing the new boarder is actually Charles Dickens when he hears them talking of him, also not taking it easily when he hears the title of the book he’s writing. Mr. Wyneski’s part is revealed at the beginning of the story, in being our antagonist and he does not fail in this. Mr. Wyneski isn’t taking Pip’s new role as secretary to Dickens well either, since he’s abandoned his job as sweeper of hair for him. His grandfather brings this to his attention when Mr. Wyneski is still brooding on this a few days later and also brings down the mood in everyone, including Mr. Dickens, who one early morning asks Pip to ask him anything to get their minds off of the dreariness. We learn this man apparently hadn’t wrote anything of value in his life and killed himself (not knowing whether he’s being literal at the moment), once he realized his failure as a writer. Then he clarifies how he meant he figuratively died, his new persona coming from the ashes of the old. Dickens is close to deciding to leave since he’s used to being driven out of towns for re-writing his novels in other cities, some people not being able to have a sense of humor for what he’s doing, but Pip convinces him to continue for not being able to let him stop partway through their partnership and so, continues to dictate his novel. When morning comes, Dickens quickly finishes his breakfast as Pip comes downstairs, seeing the finished novel, he’s on his way out to the train depot, but Ralph can’t let him leave, trying to get him to write his other novels, as well. Ralph is angry now at him trying to leave and declares he’ll not read the rest of his book, which stops Dickens in his tracks, since he’d written it for him and has missed his train because of the delay, so Ralph asks him to come to the library with him to introduce him to someone, the man hesitatingly following. He dreads Ralph is going to show him his finished novels, but he’s there to introduce the librarian, who is writing poetry when they enter, mesmerized by the sound of the scratching pencil. Dickens figures out who she’s writing and encourages her to send her poems to the local paper to be published, divulging she could read them to Pip before doing so. They go back outside and the train comes and goes, Dickens deciding he’ll stay and make sure Ralph will go to the barbershop to sweep on afternoons he’s resting, starting another novel right there. When summer’s over, Dickens has married the librarian and is on the train with her with Ralph bidding them farewell. He receives a letter in the mail from Dickens’ wife and reveals their travels to him and more. I’m glad this story has nothing to do with the book mentioned in the title, otherwise I might be a little more regretful to be reading this first, but the story itself is sweet and magical in its way.
  • The Garbage Collector, who stays nameless and has fluctuated feelings towards his job, has a change of heart one day, his work taking a turn in a way he didn’t expect or believe could happen in such a short time. The next we hear from him, he’s seemingly dazed, getting home and trying to describe to his wife why he’s quitting his job, because of something which happened in his truck. It began with the installation of receivers in the truck and ended with the possibility which drove him to quit his job, which his wife, at first not comprehending, became shocked and then thought the company had to be joking. (This story reads like an old-time-y movie). The husband decides he’ll think it over due to not wanting to figure out how this new element to the job could be handled, he not wanting to do so at all, thinking of his family and wanting to move to the country so as not to have to deal with the prospect. It’s open-ended, but speaks of a time when one may have had to consider this taboo aspect of their job, which used to be so simple, but became complicated because of astrophysics.
  • The Visitor takes place on Mars with Saul Williams, who is ill in some way and wanting to be back in New York or wanting to die, but not having the “guts” to take it into his own hands. We then get a description of what happens to Saul caused by his illness: which isn’t pretty; because of this, inducing his exile on Mars due to there being no cure and infection spreading to others. He wasn’t alone on Mars though, there was another man with the same ailment, albeit further along and no longer able to carry long conversations like they had six months prior, which left poor Saul an intellectual alone. Then another rocket comes to deliver food along with another young man plagued with the same illness and when Saul goes to greet him heartily, asking about New York and getting a vivid picture of it when Leonard Mark replies, we determining Mark is gifted in many ways and Saul is glad to have someone to finally talk to, but soon becoming paranoid of the other men who are now approaching to greet the newcomer and Saul having an urge to take Mark somewhere they could be undisturbed, but Leonard not wishing to leave and so distracts Saul with another vision of New York, working only shortly until he knocks Mark out, giving him the opportunity to take flight with him in tow. When they arrive at a cave, he binds Mark and sets up a fire, paranoid of being followed, no one coming then. When Mark wakes, he’s obviously displeased by Saul’s behavior, confessing how they could have been friends and his powers capable of being strong enough to please everyone at once, but how he’d ruined it. Then informing Saul he might have heard footsteps, Saul going to check, coming back and identifying an empty cave, thinking at first Mark had escaped, but then getting wise to the situation, testing a boulder nearby with his knife, which of course had proven him right about his bluff and Mark speaking out in surrender. Before Saul can do anymore harm to him and knowing if he did, he’d be ruining his chances of ever seeing any of his dreams of reality or otherwise come true, their planet-mates arrive at the cave mouth where Mark welcomes them in. We next see Mark is unfettered by his bonds and trying to come to an agreement with the other men, which he decides on civilly enough, but Johnson, one of the others, is thinking they should be making the rules instead of Mark on how it should be, which soon shows to Mark none of them can be trusted, with each other or himself. Mark then confesses of knowing how one of them had a gun, whilst the others only knives and when he commands a search for it be made, the one with it finally owns up, but starts shooting at the others. Saul tries to wrest the gun away and another shot goes off taking one more man out and ending with Mars being desolate and bleak once again. I liked this one, it was sad, but the images it brings and it’s vivid story-telling is unique.
  • A Captain Hart and his lieutenant, Martin arrives on a planet in a rocket and await a welcome wagon for their coming and being quite miffed when there isn’t one. The planet is inhabited, as they’d seen from their fly-over of the city they’d passed before landing, but couldn’t understand why these people acted so insouciant towards their presence. Hart soon sends Martin to locate the Mayor for an official welcome, but when he gets back, he seems dazed from his experience. Hart soon gets out of Martin the city had an exceptional visit the previous day, making their showing up not as important, which they allude to being a man spoken of in various religions. Hart makes his way to the city himself to document any signs of this other visitor and interview the people, but not revealing hard evidence to convince him. Martin begins to speak out on the peoples behalf and makes Hart feel as if he’s close to insubordination, but willing to overlook it because of the extent of time they’d been in space, he still believing another captain had stolen his thunder and is trying to take advantage of the people somehow. Hart sticks to his theory, believing for certain it’s a Captain Burton who’s responsible for ruining their chances of first dibs, but then two other rockets come in to land and a man falls out burned and near death, only being able to confirm they hadn’t landed on a planet in six months and both rockets had gotten stuck in the middle of a storm, killing both officers with only three survivors. Hart then sits in on the people of the planet’s gathering, testifying to their miracles and growing agitated with the mayor, believing he’s keeping The Man from him, getting violent in the process, but leaving before doing serious harm, deciding to go on to every planet in search of this man. Martin, on the other hand, has decided to stay, as some of the other crew has agreed to do, as well and when Hart goes off in his rocket, Martin accompanies the mayor back into the city, where supposedly the man is waiting for their return. I like the tone of this story, regardless of its religious quality, it doesn’t shove it down one’s throat and it has a nice mystical caliber.
  • Henry the Ninth starts with two men in a helicopter searching for someone. They fly over the cliffs of Dover and then Sam sees Harry, who starts to run away until he announces who he is. We learn everyone is evacuating the island and Sam is trying to convince Harry to come along, as well. They go over where all the others from Great Britain had emigrated to, Sam failing to persuade Harry to come along, he wanting to stay and protect his country. He then ends with continuing his trek with his book bag, which contained various English literature. A wistful story, but hopeful.
  • The Messiah begins with a Bishop speaking to other men of God and how at some time or other they would fantasize how they would handle being Jesus, amusing them all, reminding them of their youth. Then we notice they are not living on Earth, but can see it from the planet they are on (Bradbury had one extensive fascination with Mars). All the religious men were quite astounded by how they each got to this place with their own houses of God on this far-away planet. Then we learn their are Martians they wish to discover the beliefs of, but haven’t come near the Humans, hoping in a year they’ll realize the new residents were their to speak theology. All the men were kind to each other and only wanted to learn more about their Martian neighbors, who disguised themselves as Humans, if they did walk among them. Then they receive more news on the radio of a Martian, curious to look around in the Human town and for all Humans to make way so as to not give off the feeling of threat, which leads to a Father Niven to remember of how he’d been asked to end a screenplay for a film on the Four Gospels and realizing the Last Supper wasn’t actually the last. After explaining how this was so, he told the ending he’d written for the screenplay, which touched all who heard it, they then toasting Father Niven’s insight and calling it a night. Next we observe Father Niven hearing noises and going to investigate in the early morning, hearing footsteps and water dripping, but seeing nothing and no one, but then discovering a dark figure at the baptismal font which shocked him and the figure dripping blood into the water, which is where he’d been hearing the droplets from. Soon Father Niven comes to realize who he was seeing and couldn’t take the brain-buster, believing him to be a well-known ghost. Then he soon realizes what he was seeing with his premonition’s help and was told if he did not turn away soon, the creature would die. The young Father had to come to grips with what he was seeing because he had such a need for it to be real and it was, so he made the man promise to return once a year so he could relive the vision, because of how enchanting and beautiful it was. Father Niven finishes closing up and ends his night in sorrow for the man, himself and knowing he couldn’t share with anyone of what he saw; haunting and odd, but good.
  • Johnny Choir is introduced as someone who is agile, possibly beautiful and in a time of upset. Apparently a soldier and optimist in his abilities, he being able to move amongst shrapnel and similar danger with ease, would always hit his mark and the opponent would always miss with his shout of Bang! You’re Dead! A brother in arms, Private Smith survived in a more level-headed way and would try to appeal to Johnny to do likewise. When Johnny stops running and Private Smith catches up, we soon realize there’s something odd about Johnny, hearkening to Forrest Gump yet again. Johnny soon mentions how he hasn’t “played dead”, yet and wants to take his turn. Smith offers for him to take a nap instead and Johnny reluctantly agrees. Another soldier, Melter soon runs up and asks if Johnny had died, with Smith’s reply being to the negative and how he marveled at the way Johnny had dodged all the bullets aimed his way, clearing the hill. Melter is stymied by how Johnny doesn’t understand war is more serious than a game and resolves they should reveal this to him when he wakes up. Smith rears up like a tiger to prevent this though, making it clear Johnny should believe what he wants and he’ll ruin Smith if he ruins Johnny’s view. Melter gets defensive and Smith announces from then on Melter isn’t welcome to join them anymore, Melter leaving in a huff. Johnny wakes up not long after and they continue their jog. The next scene consists of Smith taking a bullet to the hip and pretending he has to play wounded and he should go on, Johnny acting like he’s been told to stand in the corner like a child would, upon hearing this. Johnny soon suggests he should play wounded too, since Smith won’t have a chance to catch up if he goes on ahead, Smith declining the idea vehemently and wondering how Johnny will get by if he isn’t there to instruct him. Johnny waits with Smith when Melter turns up again and when he sees Smith is incapacitated, takes the opportunity to ask Johnny how he dodges bullets, not believing his answer and soon asking him if he can essentially use him as target practice, for fun. Johnny agrees and walks off a distance with Smith watching on, unable to yell for Johnny to stop Melter. Melter is able to take his shots and empties his gun, missing every time, still asking Johnny how he does it, Johnny revealing he’s already revealed his “secret”. Melter becomes even more angered than when he was trying to hit Johnny and lets go of the secret of death of the war they were in, Johnny not understanding and then soon deciding Melter is lying to him. Soon though, it sinks in when Melter includes Smith and he begins to get upset, Melter directing him towards the gun-fire and demanding he die, Johnny walking off towards it, soon taking a hit. Melter walks off in the opposite direction and Smith passes out. We next see Smith regain consciousness in a medical tent and is getting fixed up by doctors, noticing Johnny in the cot not far away and asking if he can help in any way. The doctors soon allow it and transferred him to a portable stretcher where Johnny lay, a fifty-fifty chance of survival and looking like he’s stuck in a nightmare. Smith discovers Johnny also has a chance of not remembering he ever got wounded, which Smith plays up on and advises Johnny’s unconscious self to forget the day and remember how it was before, playing like a kid. The surgeon soon informs of Johnny’s recovering and they’ll both be going home, Smith relieved and gleeful at the news. The ending is uplifting, the story simple in those whom meddle negatively will get what’s coming to them.
  • Three men in a bar soon notice everyone watching on as they realize they’re looking at a film director, a producer and a man who is in full Nazi garb. Someone watching on is having a conversation about how this scene takes him back to 1934, it being 1973. The man apparently had seen Darling Adolf Hitler at the rally and told his memory to his companions. Soon the three men are back to talking and the overseers hushing each other so they could listen, the actor celebrating the film and himself with more drink. The producer seemed to be ready to finish the movie, hoping the director would give him good news on the point, the director informing him it will be at least a month more and everyone then beginning to eat their dinner. The actor is noted as being Hitler so many times it becomes questionable whether the man playing Der Fuhrer actually is the one and the same, but the man they call Hitler begins to contemplate re-making the Nuremberg Rally and notes he’s the same age as Hitler was when “he was at his prime…”. Then the Hitler character has an idea which the director believes will bring out more people than they would’ve been able to get to come out themselves. The director than takes a turn, upon realizing perhaps this actor is taking his role too seriously and they begin to face-off, with the director tossing beers (yes, multiple), into his face as he calls him out on what his true intentions are. Hitler does finally come out and confirm the director’s words and the director punches the man to end his maniacal act in front of the people who were watching them, driving the onlookers into a frenzy. After crazy scene we then skip to the director driving the producer to the hospital to visit the actor, the director vowing to “finish the job” of socking or possibly killing the man so as to not repeat the history of Hitler repeatedly escaping assassination. When they get to the hospital they’re surprised to realize the acting-Hitler has been kidnapped by three men, whom the director was able to deduce the culprits identities, leading the producer back to his car. After the director comes up with a brilliant plan to help the group with magnifying their platform to spread “Hitler’s” word. The duo await the acting-Hitler to show up, which they had put an ad in a magazine for, the producer sure he won’t come, but the director holding out. After convincing the producer to stay a bit longer, they see Hitler entering from a far corner of the stadium, seeing if he’d actually go down to the platform, as planned, hesitating. Soon though, he’s prompted by the crowds cries and gets on stage, his kidnappers appearing at the top of the stadium not long after, as well. The actor has his moment to rant and shout like Hitler, soon circling his thoughts and winding down, then insulting the men who had taken him, ending his speech and noticing the director and producer sitting near the front, offering to finish the final scenes of the movie if they wished. The ending being patriotic to America, of course; Odd, but not too bad of a story; dated, if anything.
  • The Beautiful Shave has us follow a man riding a horse quickly and firing his guns at the sky, the only physical attribute given being a red beard. He makes his way to the saloon and orders a glass and bottle. Then we are told his name is James Malone when he asks loudly what everyone’s problem was, as they move to the other end of the bar for a free lunch. Malone demands they talk and laugh, they obliging and he settling down, soon making his way back outside to see other men riding back from whatever job they’d been doing. Malone then goes to the other side of the street to the Barber’s, kicking the door open and noticing the barbers were all busy with customers, some waiting in the seats to the side for the next free barber. When Malone is told to take a seat, he takes out his gun and makes the first man already seated in the barber chair give him his, startling and then angering the man, but then changing his mind and apprehension setting in. Malone takes the seat and the barber starts working on him. Then he orders the man he’d forced out of his chair to begin making jokes, his first request going out to them all, but wanting the man to start. As he’s starting his story, he warns the barber about to shave him to do an impeccable job and if he cuts him, he’ll kill him, revealing why he was in such a bad mood. The barber informs him of he having a family, but Malone isn’t interested, commanding him to begin, but once he’d gone through the rituals of setting up his razor and lathering Malone’s face, he makes certain everyone agrees to what they’d heard Malone say to him: the threat and whether they’d swear to it in court if need be. The end is totally what one would expect; a good one.
  • We are first told where Colonel Stonesteel’s Genuine Home-Made Truly Eqyptian Mummy is found, not knowing why or how. We are then introduced to a boy named Charlie who was expecting big events to happen the day before it happened. When nothing occurs upon his demand of the heavens, he goes to Colonel Stonesteel’s house and is given a bet which something mind-blowing would happen in 24 hours, which of course the boy readily accepts, since the terms of his winning were favorable. They withdraw inside Stonesteel’s home and go to his attic where Charlie is requested to bring forth a few items, apparently a project about to be had. Charlie is awed to see the Colonel has constructed a real looking mummy. Charlie is taken with the doll and asks if he can fabricate the crown, which Stonesteel agrees to without hesitation. Their reason for making this odd project was caused by pretty obvious reasons once one realizes what kind of a town this is. The Colonel leads the boy in tow with the mummy to implement the plan he has in mind to “wake up” the town. It does its job, as expected, but what isn’t anticipated is the Mayor’s idea of spreading the news, and so the Colonel spurs along a second idea which is executed by he and Charlie later in the night. They make their way to the post office where the mummy and police chief held vigil, hoping to create some mischief, whilst the rest of the town had gone to dinner and were awaiting the firework show to come. The Colonel was the first to step foot into the post office whilst Charlie waited without for the signal when he realizes the Police Chief is properly sauced, he sneaking in and the Colonel setting up the scene to make the mummy walk, to the Chief’s surprise, of course. They hustle out of there with the Chief disappointed by his finished bottle. The Colonel has the plan of Charlie stashing the mummy in his attic for a later, much later day when he may be needed to get the town out of boredom again, but Charlie asks if they can go have some lemonade on his porch with mummy in tow before implementing the stashing of the evidence. Charlie then asks who the mummy “truly was”, Stonesteel proceeding to describe to him what the mummy was made of and where the pieces came from. Charlie is marveled by the details and confesses to Stonesteel of he might not ever needing the mummy again due to having a life so full he wouldn’t be bored enough to need it anymore, settling on the occupation he desired. The night ended with the townspeople coming back from the fireworks show and seeing the three on the porch, some waving goodnight and Stonesteel asking Charlie what stories he can hear the mummy share, the boy giving an all encompassing answer; this one’s a bit sappy towards the end, but an interesting story overall, pretty funny.
  • Mrs. O’Brien answers her door to her best tenant, a Mr. Ramirez, flanked by two policemen. She was surprised by the scene and he had no words to explain. We trace where he’d come from and how he ended up at Mrs. O’Brien’s building. We then learn his occupation and how they’d caught Mrs. O’Brien in the process of baking pies, the policemen physically drawn in to whiff the good aroma whilst we get a description of Mr. Ramirez physically looking like the pies being baked. Mrs. O’Brien’s adult children look on whilst eating at the table. Mr. Ramirez finally letting on why he’s come to her door, giving his room-key back with the parting words of, “I See You Never”; this one seems a bit obvious and has some naive characters. It’s short though so no harm done, only not as strong as some of the others; but, sentimental, yet again.
  • We are given to understand we should expect the supernatural, beginning The Exiles with witches starting an incantation of some kind with a cauldron and chanting, putting ingredients in to a pot as they go. We then have a scene involving a rocket ship carrying some men to Mars and aren’t doing well. One man is restrained and in such duress, the captain insists on giving him morphine or he may well die. The man had apparently seen something which looked like a bat with the face of a man and he was raving. The captain then speaks to a surgeon who had done an autopsy on another man and doesn’t have any explanation for his cause of death. Apparently those on the ship were slowly going mad and if these imaginings became bad enough, one could die from them (sounds familiar due to the movies which cover these sorts of topics). Then we perceive the man who’s restrained, Smith, had been having nightmares since the launching of their ship, as did the Captain. Then they talk of not knowing whether there are Martian people inhabiting Mars. We then learn it’s the year 2120 and two men have already died, Smith then being sent to go attain some books (from the past, of course, since they’re of the paper kind due to the description having the man looking for them on a desk with two-hundred books piled on it). We determine the Captain had requested them from a museum with the thought of being able to explain the dreams, most of the copies being destroyed with those being the only copies. Then we get some book titles accompanied by authors, (most of which I’ve read or will read) and how the Captain doesn’t know how they’ll help, but may know soon enough. We skip back to the witches spying upon the Captain’s conversation and talk amongst themselves about warning those in the city. A man spies them from his window, seeing them go about their incantation, soon leaving. We then get his perspective, realizing the man is a famous author, as those we are introduced also are, the ones listed by Smith. The group contemplated their plans if the rocket crew found them out, one saying they’ll continue forward to the other planets available to them. The man is interrupted during his ramblings by another calling to the two in the room. The three of them are soon on their way to Charles Dickens’ abode (who isn’t among the ones mentioned in the list, aforementioned). Soon we see a place which can only be described as Dickensian in atmosphere and they arrive at the door with a plaque containing three well known names, one being of Dickens’ himself and a couple of his characters. The two men have come again to plead with him to persuade the rocket men’s suspicions so the others could handle the rest, whatever their plan may contain. Dickens was already separated from their group, believing he’d been mistakenly put among their caste. Also my previous suspicion of their status in reality was confirmed by one of the author’s, they being dead before, but brought back in a different way due to the destruction of their writing. The authors are turned away again and one is seen checking upon the cauldron, satisfied with its progress. We then see another man, who isn’t given a name, but described in a suit we all know and also obvious to deduce for how the people of Earth no longer celebrated Christmas. Ha-ha. Bierce is the first to decay into nothingness to the others horror. Then they see the rocket ship was getting closer, a witch screaming a spell as they continued their course. A flurry of the multitudes desperate imaginings from one of the author’s materializes as the ship lands. The men of the rocket step out on to the planet, no one around. They set up camp and begin to decimate the last of the books upon the fire lit on Mars. Then they hear a scream and Smith sees the Emerald City split and fall. This story is sad indeed, destroying the best literature with the burning of its books, still a bit sappy of course, but good.
  • A man sits in his chair for four hours and then Edgar Allan Poe is mentioned, (these stories obviously grouped in a themed way), the man making his way through his dark home, out the window and then back in, seeing a glass of lemonade on his porch where a female had left it, At Midnight, in the Month of June. Soon the man is inhabiting the woman’s being, like a possession (weird). Then I realize this is the man we hear clear his throat in the first story The Whole Town’s Sleeping; nice. He whispers her name from the dark room she’s locked them both in to. The man whispers to her like he knows her, but won’t reveal his name. He goes on to clarify he wouldn’t share with her because she may not be afraid once she knew. He asks her if she is frightened, but she doesn’t answer, so he goes on to ask her whether she’d looked for him in the ravine and how he seemed to have fooled her by being at her home instead. She begins to cry and he requests she stop, giving her commands to run one minute and then reassuring her she has the scissors in her hand, disabling her from being able to use them, essentially. The psychological corner he seems to put her in is making her feel unable to do anything. Then he flashes back to childhood days of hide-and-seek, then midway through his reverie of those days we see him ponder why he’s washing his hands in the bathroom, flitting back to how powerful he felt being able to hide beyond the game’s end. He then seems to be finished inside the house and runs quietly back to the ravine. Someone going into a diner and being greeted by the employee as Tom Dillon. He orders his meal of graham crackers and milk, makes a phone call, sits and soon after they both hear the sirens of the police speed by. Tom Dillon suspects “it being only a matter of time”, as he gets a refill of milk; again, leaving wide open what could possibly happen, I’m finding these a bit dated for my tastes, but it moves along well.
  • We hear a frantic, furious pounding upon a door, one which goes on for some time and then ceases, which is heard by a Robert and Martha Webb. They also reasoned away the noise being made coming from someone else named Lotte, for having locked the door and the phones being dead, caused by riots in the cities, it snowing hard for awhile. They believed Lotte was on her way, but knew she wouldn’t have been able to travel quickly. The year is supposed to be 1999 and this knocking and crying has occurred more than a night before. We also learn they’re in Massachusetts, are 33 years old and sensible people, soon going downstairs to investigate. Martha detects the noise is coming from The Witch Door, but also reasoning no one could fit in there or hide for the six months they’ve been living in the place. The crying had stopped and Robert promised to knock the door open in the morning, then goes back upstairs to try and sleep. After getting comfortable they hear a cry and a crash downstairs, the front door opening and when they go to see what’s happened, the Witch Door is open and footprints can be made out heading for the forest. When they look inside the little area behind the Witch Door, they expose a Bible and rocking chair, no room at all, as they knew and Robert told of how they used to hide witches way back when from being lynched and what-not. Martha contemplated on the idea of time travel for wanting to be away from the men who were looking to burn a witch so badly and we’re given the usual idea of heat signatures being odd inside the little room. They go back outside and Lotte is seen driving towards them, she’s wild with relief and panic for being followed. Rob hides her car behind the back and they meet inside the house, Lotte asking to borrow gas so she can get to another place. Rob asks if she saw anyone on the road on her way up and she confirms she almost hit a woman running by. Then she sees headlights nearby and asks if they’ve a place to hide her, the coincidence not going unnoticed and Rob showing her the little room. She gets in with the threat of the cars coming nearer and the couple soon watch the group outside retreat, returning to Lotte to inform her she can come back out, but when they don’t hear a response, they get worried, trying to open the door again, Rob soon breaking it down, Lotte gone along with the Bible. They consider her fate back in Salem of 1680, Rob realizing it not looking good; which is bloody hilarious and obviously ridiculous.
  • Someone is typing furiously on a typewriter and soon warns not to kill bugs, mentioning someone name Tinsley making the same mistake, a man who killed any bug which crossed his path. We then go back to the start of the story where Tinsley has Steve as his secretary and was dictating a letter which was to confirm a business deal for insecticide, which Steve had a problem about the amount being offered, Tinsley ignoring him. When someone was knocking at his office door, Tinsley became frantic, for realizing a bug had survived his recent massacre, demanding Steve to help his search. Steve tries to reason with Tinsley after locating his target, he being told to try seeing a psychiatrist, due to his obsessive need to kill these insects, The Watchers, but the man believed he would be given away to the public-knowledge if he did and Steve let it go. Later, he had a date with a Susan Miller, who was a psychiatrist he’d known for awhile, asking for her help with Tinsley. So they set up an evening, inviting Tinsley along so she can observe his behavior, everything seeming to go well at first, Tinsley not acting oddly in the least, until the night is nearly done and they’re driving back, a moth entering the car. His reaction is enough to get Susan to realize the extensive compulsion he’s allowed himself to entertain and she sets a date with him the next night to uncover more on the subject. The next day Steve goes in search of an answer from a different source, Tinsley’s lawyer, Remington, who obligingly, if not inconsistently to a lawyers policy, confides in Steve of what had happened to Tinsley at the tender age of 17, to make him so opposed to the insect nation. We are described a story of the father of Tinsley, which would set anyone against insects for the rest of their lives, depending on how close they were to their pater-familia. After the disturbing story, Steve is then told of the ironic profession of the elder Tinsley, in which how he died also coincided with his study subject. After leaving the lawyer’s office, he meets Susan to share the story he’d heard and they consider the possibilities of how Tinsley saw the bugs which would’ve been a conspiracy which could’ve been made if they knew Tinsley was aware of their “plans”. After they go to church together, Tinsley invites them back to his home, since the picnic they were having was being invaded by ants and once getting comfortable in his study, he confesses to them about his thoughts on the bugs which terrorized his world. Soon he’s explaining his theory of how the bugs are listening to humanity’s conversations and confiding to whomever’s leading the masses, what they need to know for control of humans. Steve bursts out upon Tinsley’s theory almost from the beginning, but Susan needing him to keep quiet so Tinsley will finish his thought after hearing of the control by a bug-like power, couldn’t contain his views on the subject and told Tinsley what he thought. Susan then suggests to Tinsley an experiment if he’s interested, to speak of his plans out loud, among bugs and if nothing happens to him in eight weeks, then he must confess to his fears being unfounded. Tinsely accepts the trial period, as requested and soon Steve is the one killing a bug he sees in the room, surprising Susan in the thought she’d lost a friend to derangement. Tinsley offers them to stay the night and both accept, having rooms near each other. Steve and Susan go downstairs, at one point, separately for snacks since the lack of sleep had gotten to them, soon returning to their rooms since noticing a fly invading the snack they were about to have. Later in the night Steve hears a scream and sees Tinsley rush out, yelling of how wrong they’d been, soon making his way to his car and speeding off. Steve and Susan follow in his car, catching up to him after some time, Tinsley’s car soon moving at a walking-pace, Steve honking his horn to get his attention. Steve then has Susan stay in the car whilst he investigated, not considering the horror of what he’d discover there, but once opening Tinsley’s door, realizing bugs are the least of their worries, going back to request Susan to take his car back, since he must dispose of Tinsley and his car by fire. Steve goes on until what had taken Tinsley, takes him as well, typing until the end, Susan safe with the lack of knowledge Steve had learned from Tinsley; disgusting, but interesting enough.
  • 2004-05: The Naming of Names gives us the idea of where the setting of this story, “strange blue lands”, got their names, being named after people and professions. We soon learn war had been made in this place, Martians against Earthmen. We then as well get description of why people had left Earth in the first, to escape being told what to do and follow certain rules; this extremely short story almost seems an introduction to what should be a longer story if it isn’t already.
  • Vinia believes she’s heard a rabbit running across a field, but realizes it’s her heart, looking out her window at the Hopscotch down below, which seemingly goes off into the distance; a child chalking it the day before, not stopping and going around corners. She counts out a certain number of spaces of the hopscotch, before lying back down, contemplating this, the day of her birthday, when she hears her name being called outside by a boy of the same age, James. She wonders if he knows today being a special one for her and he asks her if she’d like to go on a walk with him. She mentions of how she shouldn’t for her parents not returning until early evening and when she asks why he’d chosen to invite her, gives her an indifferent answer, which somehow convinces her to accept. She meets him outside, she choosing a direction randomly and they both heading out of town, she saying they probably shouldn’t, but not answering his question of why. They walk through meadows into early afternoon, stopping at a brook to snack on fresh, natural grown grapes. Then they have the lunch Jim had brought with him, asking her if, at some point, it would be alright to give her a kiss, she unsure, for not having considered the possibility, so he makes certain she’ll let him know if she does discern a time she’d agree to the idea. Vinia plays it off with not knowing if she’ll ever be sure; ha, ha. After going on for a bit, it begins to rain, at first they are running between droplets, but soon are drenched and take refuge in a tree hollow, noticing they aren’t alone, bees above them. The close-quarters gives Jim the perfect moment to ask again if she’d welcome a kiss and she accepts this time, it being everything a first kiss should be, then the rain lets up and they leave the tree, heading in the direction Vinia suggests. Due to the age of them, his innocent questions of whether they were in love and eventual marriage or where they were even headed was met with uncertainty by Vinia, as they reach her house again, her parents still not home. They say good-night, Jim hoping they’ll take a walk again soon and then Vinia goes in, next waking to noise she’s imagining she hears coming from her mouth and goes downstairs, her parents now home and she going out the door to hopscotch up to her age, going back in to sleep with the sound lulling her; another fine fantasy and of course a love-struck story, as well.
  • Someone shouts of The Illustrated Man and then shares his real name which was Mr. William Phillipus Phelps, a large man who was a part of a freak show, with his wife, Lisabeth collecting tickets. Before they’d gotten married, he wasn’t tattooed, but it seems their arguments had not only fueled his gaining weight, but due to no longer being able to do his job as a tent man, his boss offered him the role of tattooed man, since he’d lost his previous one awhile before. He locates an old woman, blind, who knew her trade as a tattoo artist, showing him a tattoo on herself of him, quite old, even though they hadn’t met before and how she had plenty of others, some who have already come and others who will come and she being ready to make his body, art. She promised to make him the only real illustrated man, giving him special pictures of the future. When he shows his wife, she flees with how tattooed he’s become and then we are told of where the old woman had put the two pictures which were of the future, warning William he mustn’t look at them yet, but to unveil them at a later date, so as to make money. Well, the owner and he do as he was told, unveiling the first and surprising everyone who’d paid, including his wife, who seems distraught over the picture’s nature. He passes out from what the picture held and was told, when he regained consciousness by the boss, to apologize to his wife and if he didn’t get rid of it, he’d be let go and his wife gave him the ultimatum she’d leave him, as well. He then contemplated how the old witch had told him the tattoo was unfinished and would be formed by his sweat and thoughts; boy, did it do a number on him. Soon he begins to question if what the picture showed, was actually what he desired. Next we see William is going to get the tattoo changed, but is unsuccessful, the “skin man” being unable to change it, for believing the tattoo must be “chiseled” straight to the bone, the boss being upset about the man being unable to finish the job and when he’s about to do another show, the boss takes a peak at what the other tattoo holds, not having anything at the time since he’d uncovered it before the time allotted, taking him out to do his show, with part of him covered. He then tries to get the tattoo off of himself, his wife returning late in the night and going off on how he must have known of it’s detail, he still declining and listening to her rattle on loudly about his “failures”. She ends with not loving him, hating him, wanting a divorce, he trying to convince her he loved her, wanted her to stay, going towards her, but having his tattoos give the impression of an angry crowd coming at her. She fights him off, not winning, he at first only trying to hug her, but soon portraying what was rendered, walking out of his trailer and past those who’d come when they’d heard a scream cut off. He waits to be found, after he’d walked to a meadow nearby, the freaks chasing him with flashlights. Soon though, he’s running, but falling on purpose, making sure they’re following, seeing the tent stakes in their hands. They catch up and the Illustrated Man falls under their blows, revealing what the second tattoo had become, which was what they were all living; another foreboding and a pretty good tale.

  • Odd Martin, who also was known as The Dead Man, is anything but dead and is being talked of again due to his firm belief on the subject, the people doing the talking soon believing he’d get the thought out of his head if he were married, hinting at a woman, a Miss Weldon, who’d heard this before. She didn’t speak much and refused to except the talk of Odd Martin seriously, but then they saw Odd moving from his spot, sitting atop a tar barrel, across the street. The local officer sees this too and gets some men to help him take Odd Martin out of his new supine position from lying in the curb. Miss Weldon brushes off his clothes and buttons his jacket, coming back to finish her job at the barber shop, everyone within making bets as to how long he’ll be lying on the pavement this time. It’s not long before he’s up again, with Miss Weldon’s assistance and back to sitting on the barrel, she going into a grocer’s to shop for dinner, whilst Odd is confronted by a little boy confessing how he believed he was dead and how he’d tried it once, being unable to continue for long, making Odd Martin smile. He goes on to explain how he began to believe he was dead, but stops shortly after, the little boy bidding him goodbye and Odd not noticing until a few minutes later, not even sure if he’d spoken to anyone at all. When Odd walks Miss Weldon home, upon her request, he gets flustered and asks why she likes him, she responding candidly and continuing their walk. Later, Odd is approached by some young people wanting him to come to their Halloween party, due to his scary-seeming ways, but one of the boy’s girlfriends decides it isn’t needed and Odd doesn’t notice the humor in this comment until after everyone has left him. The next morning Odd Martin runs into Charlie, the little boy and asks him to go buy Miss Weldon a dress and jacket and when he’s on his way, Charlie stops at the barber shop to enquire what the tune Odd Martin had been humming was, getting his answer with everyone inside surprised and “rabble-ing” about it, Charlie continuing on with his errand. The next part we see is of the barber helping clean up Odd Martin before the big event, he requesting him to keep the details quiet so as not to get made fun of by everyone, going on to mention how he’s planning on purchasing a little home, which he calls for Charlie to accompany him for it’s finalizing. The next day Charlie mentions what he’d seen the night before, since they’d heard all the rumors going around about Odd Martin and Miss Weldon, his father insisting it had all been a dream, the young boy giving in; another fantastic tale and definitely odd.
  • June 2001: And The Moon Be Still As Bright is set upon Mars again, with us being introduced to a man, Jeff Spender and his companions. He had started a fire and contemplated how they’d eventually be showing their humanity through their refuse soon enough, but hopefully not too soon. The captain was busy thinking of the dead city in the distance and declined in one of the men’s idea to celebrate their landing, rather having them realize their luck in every one surviving the trip. Hathaway, a physician-geologist had gone researching the surrounding areas and had found, whilst most of the cities had been dead thousands of years, one had as recently as ten days previously been inhabited, the Martians, now dead. The cause of death, a Human sickness and had obviously been reacted fatally by the Martians. When Spender hears the cause, he’s saddened by how people of Earth don’t even die of it and these majestic beings were taken out with something so simple. The men begin to have their party and drink though, which rubs Spender the wrong way, to the point of getting violent with one who’d already begun dumping his trash in the water nearby. When Spender is taken aside by the captain to hear his complaints, the captain decides Spender should be in charge of learning the names of the places and cities so they could use them, rather than ruin the splendor of what Humans could do with the planet. They go back and Biggs, the party-maker was still trying to get the others to lighten the mood with drink and song, but the moment had passed and the captain offers those who’d like to join, to go into one of the cities, Biggs amongst them. He gets loud again, with the captain hushing him up, reflecting on what the Martians had been like. Spender brings up a poem by Lord Byron which contains the title of this story. Biggs becomes ill and Spender walks on to explore the city. When they go back to their camp, the captain awaits Spender’s return, one of the men believing he won’t return, for he seeming the sort. The captain eventually logged Spender had been gone for almost a week, sending search parties with no luck in detecting him. Biggs is the first to encounter him when he claims to be the last Martian, killing Biggs and then walking on to the camp, encountering a few other men,informing them how he’d encountered a Martian and how they they’d feel if said Martian didn’t appreciate how they’d been treating the land. Most saying nothing and one man with Cherokee blood being on the Martian’s side. Spender takes out the others and believes the one man will join him, but he ends up having to kill him too. The captain and a few others of the crew soon come out of the rocket and see what Spender has left, they then preparing to go after him. We then see where Spender had gone to, reading a Martian book containing philosophy, having learned to read the language easily enough and noticing how close the captain and his team had come to discovering him. Soon he goes out, knowing he’ll soon be pursued, being correct in this assumption. Once the first shot is fired at him, he kills another man swiftly. The captain waves a white kerchief and talks with Spender about what he’d planned on doing and how Spender had been working up the guts to finish them all off. Spender makes the “fatal” mistake all silly villains make, revealing their dastardly plans, the captain spurning him on to outline more of his ideas for the future on Mars. Spender does convince the captain to accompany him so he could show him how the Martians had succeeded where Humanity hadn’t, leaving his men with the words of being gone for only a half hour. Spender shows him a small village with beautiful statues of animals, going on to explain how they considered living life. Even with his realistic explanation, the captain doesn’t accept his stance and when they return to their meeting place, offers him one last chance to come quietly. Spender requests if they do manage to execute him, to at least try to keep humanity from ruining the planet for fifty years. The captain goes back to his men and they begin to make headway for their sneak attack upon Spender, the captain thinking of all the morals and how the world had gotten the way it had, with those in charge getting to their place of being in the seat. The captain soon found himself about to shoot one of the men whom had stated was going to shoot Spender in the head, even though the captain ordered differently, questioning why he’d been about to go through with his order. He also wondered why Spender wasn’t doing as he’d said he would, which was to retreat to his hiding place, instead sitting still where he was. At the last moment, the captain calls his men off so he could take the shot, believing it right he be the one to do so, giving Spender a fighting chance to escape, but he not taking it, so pulling the trigger. He and his men soon see Spender, dead on the ground. It ending with Parkhill, another trouble-maker and the captain which is fitting; a good story.
  • A nephew and aunt, called Doug and Neva drive along in Mid-July. They soon pass a man, presumably The Burning Man who looks in need of a ride, so Neva stops, to the man’s surprise and he ushers them to continue hurriedly due to the sun’s ability to drive the crazies into them. Doug is immediately repelled by the man, but they continue at an accelerated speed at the man’s behest, talking about certain subjects and asking questions which bewildered the two. Then Bradbury uses a description which I don’t see often which brought me to thinking of Hot Hot Heat, of which is his usage. The odd man continues his rant which ends with a terrible fascination and description of cannibalism, which finally makes Neva stop the car and demand he get out. She threatens him with holy items and he’s off and out of the car, cursing them as they speed off. They reach their destination happily and swim, but when it’s time to leave they are a bit apprehensive as to what they’ll see on their return to town on the same road back, being another hitchhiker, but of a more innocent countenance, the ending of which is to make one unsettled; this one’s a laugh and a pretty quick read.
  • G.B.S. – Mark V has Charlie, another man in a space-craft, going up a chute to a storage pit which contained an old man. We learn it’s the initials of the man in the title whom Charlie has come to see. A man of his imagination and an author, long dead. When one of his crew-mates threatens to go and see G.B.S., Charlie being late for dinner, he and G.B.S. dash off to a place where they can see all the stars. Charlie requests he quote something which he’d asked many times before, it being filled with philosophical and astronomical themes, until his crew-mate locates him and expresses needing to be on time for his shift. His roomie then asks to why he’s always hanging around the intellectual figment, who apparently consists of an instrument which allows his existence, threatening the crewman might one day screw with the wiring to mess up his speech, Charlie threatening the death to anyone who tried it, all because they want him to be like them. He goes into a sedated sleep which spills into a nightmare and upon waking goes to see what’s become of G.B.S., he now being dead, Charlie then running back, knowing who caused it. They are in the middle of physical violence when a meteor shower hits them and everyone except Charlie, perishes, soon after he hearing the voice of G.B.S. and grabbing hold of him, they talking until possibly picked up on another ship, too immersed in their own conversation to ever know, or want to know. Quite fascinating.
  • A council decides the fate of someone called Ultar, this taking place in the future somewhere. Soon we realize this must be a world of “Bender’s”. They decide Ultar will Rust in the ocean. We then notice the sea is dead, along with other kinds of nature and soon the council has gone to the lab where Ultar awaits them, knowing what they’d decided, but demanding on seeing the protoplasm he had and to decide whether to destroy it. They looked upon the only one of its kind, not agreeing to its ability to grow and change its life. Ultar then explains how he grew the creature, it starting from A Blade of Grass and how they go through a time of destruction, causing all of the dead natural beauties of the world they lived on. Ultar soon explains his theory on where they came from, it being blasphemous to the council. The lead council member makes a decision and it doesn’t look good for Ultar, but we won’t know what happens due to how it ends; odd one, indeed.
  • The Sound of Summer Running introduces us to Douglas who got out of a movie with his family and was walking home with them when he’s seized with the sight of some tennis shoes in a store window. His father reminds him he’s already got a pair and he’d need one outstanding reason for him to purchase new ones. Douglas tries to convey the importance of how one feels in the summer with new shoes on one’s feet, like the wearer could do thrilling athletic feats in them. His father believes Douglas should earn them for himself and so the next day he goes to the store and tries to convince the shop-owner to give him the shoes, being short a dollar, but willing to do errands for him in many capacities. Douglas does such a good job of it, the man offers him a job in five years, knowing the boy had the potential to be whatever he wanted; not bad, but uneventful.
  • A captain and And the Sailor, Home From the Sea, Hanks talk of a storm coming which the captain had been expecting for some years. There used to be someone else, name of Kate whom the captain had been married to, but it being twenty years ago. We get a flashback of their being on a ship and a story he’d come up with and she’d decided to recreate, which involved not touching the shore until they were home. Kate doesn’t make it through two storms they have later on in their trip, she being given a sailors funeral. By the end, the captain, Tom requests of Hanks (TOM HANKS!, Ha ha!) to give him a sea burial when the time comes and the metaphor of which is shown when the minister was going to protest there not being a marker for the captain’s grave, but understands when he sees from further away; sentimental, yet again and passable, but alright if one decided to read it.
  • Drew and Smith, The Lonely Ones on Mars are collecting samples before leaving for home, Smith seeming to be ready to leave sooner rather than later. As the two are taking a walk and realizing the loneliness they both feel, Drew points out a footprint of which is obviously a female’s. Smith is the first to rush after them in search of the woman they belonged to and Drew is the first to call dibs to speak to the woman first, making Smith get a little serious and escalating until Drew tries to put their situation in perspective for Smith, who’s become a bit batty about detecting this woman who could possibly be taken already. They continue to follow the prints into a cave and Smith finally draws his gun, threatening to fire if Drew didn’t leave and wait for him at the ship, he doesn’t go and is protesting when the gun goes off. Smith claims the whole thing was an accident and Drew believes him due to the circumstances, they see the woman who’d made the prints and leave for their ship; quite a sad story, but I’m waiting for more of the good ones.
  • We get a first person account of someone who was haunted by the facts behind the story, which contained the deaths of three children and unknown details behind how they died. Then we learn of a man who, similar to Sherlock Holmes, by the name of Robert Merriweather tries to reveal the murderer of the children mentioned. Merriweather was a collector of doors and invited the narrator to see them at one point, then invites him on a picnic in the forest, hoping the killer will show. When they reach the spot where the bodies were found, Merriweather shows the narrator how he must have gotten away with it, a trapdoor in the ground. He goes on to explain his theory to the narrator who has trouble believing it possible when he’s felled by a branch which felt similar to what Merriweather described the killer must be, this being The Finnegan. They go back to his home to wait out the rain and return to the forest later on. Drinks are poured, which the narrator only imbibes then and when they go back out, Merriweather who had two flasks, one for each of them, began his plan on outing the killer, believing he’d only strike if he thought they were alone, so they separate, but only enough to seem single and Merrieweather’s plan works, he being snatched from the ground. The narrator rushes to the spot, but doesn’t turn anything up but his possessions, soon fleeing from fear and reading the letter given to him by Merriweather once reaching his home once more. After Merriweather’s plan, which seemed to work, life goes back to normal with but a few rumors as to what could have happened to him, no one ever knowing for certain; this one is much better, if not for the lack of seeing the perpetrator, but another mystery unsolved.
  • On the Orient, North introduces an old woman, Minerva Halliday who notices a sickly man and enquires the maître d’ as to where he was going. Later on she guesses what the maitre d’ was going to ask her, as she’s back in her compartment, not being a doctor, but a registered nurse and going with him to the ill man she’d seen earlier, guessing his “illness” and offering to accompany him to where he was headed, believing he needed her help, since she’d seen his kind before, when she was young. The rest of it is more about getting him to London and turns into a bittersweet story by the end, not corny at all and one of the better stories within this collection.
  • Mr. Greppin who seems to have his family, The Smiling People seated around a table, but something not being quite right with them as he makes one-sided conversation to them. Then he reminisces upon the day he made them all smile, the day he broke the news he was going to be married. It was met with shock, but outright refusal from his aunt. This is the moment he decided he was going to make them all smile and when we return to the present, he then hears music coming from the third floor, which is unacceptable for not allowing any noise to disturb him, deciding this two weeks before and when he learns what’s causing it, smashes the item victoriously. By the end, the police are called and Mr. Greppin refuses to open the door, for about to sit down for supper, but once they break through, they are almost fooled by the scene they see; a dark and quick read, reminiscent to some murderers we know, and also makes me want to read The Man Who Laughs and everything Batman.
  • William Acton, a writer now being able to add murderer to his list of “talents”, describes about the one on the floor, Donald Huxley. He goes about cleaning the area and replays his actions before he committed his crime, to be sure of what he’d touched including The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl. Once uncovering gloves after quite a search trying to hunt for a pair, he finishes polishing and cleaning anything and everything he might have touched. He becomes o.c.d. and paranoid about the whole affair once beginning and doesn’t finish until reaching the attic, it being too late and found by a policeman. The ending doesn’t quite make sense, but it definitely gives what lengths some people may go to in covering a crime.
  • We begin with the play off the word for jitterbug and a kid’s nickname, it being Bert and how he’d been trying out for the dance at his school. The narrator speaks to Bug after school ends, as well and he shows him all of his trophies he’d accumulated in only a year, after which, they lose touch, a war is had and the narrator loses a couple dozen friends to the war, but one day, he hears someone whom is obviously Bug asking him if he wants a hot dog and Coke. They begin to reminisce and catch up to the present, Bug no longer dancing and the narrator trying to make it as a writer (a recurring theme for Bradbury in these stories, as well). The narrator then asks Bug to dance one more time once he was about to leave, informing him he didn’t believe he’d actually won all the trophies he’d shown and may not get the chance to prove him wrong again, so seeing if he’ll go to a local dance spot and dance with any girl, even though he hadn’t danced in almost two decades, he betting Bug he can’t dance anymore, which makes Bug so irritated he takes the bet and they go down to the tea dance to begin the test. Bug wins and the narrator leaves the money in an obvious spot for Bug, hoping the best for him; interesting enough and a quick read.
  • Downwind From Gettysburg has us go straight into the mayhem of Lincoln’s assassination, with an usher relaying the news to a man called Bayes, both running for the scene as guests were hysterically trying to get out or expose the culprit of the crime or to look upon the dead man. Bayes reaches Lincoln and we are made to notice the assassin is still in the room, at the back of the theater, a security guard about to knock him a blow when Bayes shouts to the negative, still in shock at the scene of the dead leader. Then we learn the Lincoln which has been assassinated is a being of similarity to what one would see in Bio-Shock or steam punk themed stories. Bayes then tries to keep the maker away from the scene, but unsuccessful, knowing he’ll be there soon and the “murderer” still there to be noticed. Bayes confronts the man, who also has the name Booth, to understand why he’d done the deed. After some berating of the man’s ego, Booth lets out the reason why he’d done it being to do with his own insecurity which he goes into much detail. The story makes one think of the Lincoln at Disneyland and if a man called Booth ever tried to “assassinate” the drone. Bayes continues to try and decipher the other reasons for this Booth to have taken the Lincoln out, perhaps to do with infamy, which he denies. Then the creator arrives, knocking at the door trying to get inside the theater and stopping Bayes explanation. When he doesn’t get in though, Bayes continues his lecture, making it clear Booth would not get any publicity of any kind, taking his I.D. cards. Bayes continues if Booth tries to do anything about this, he would get his due, threatening the man which seems to affect Booth the way Bayes wanted. Bayes is shown at the end of the story mourning Lincoln’s death; interesting story, but wildly ridiculous.
  • Time in Thy Flight shows a man taking three children into the past in a time machine to 1928 where they experience and research the customs of the era, including a circus coming to town which is shown to be barbaric, in the teacher’s words and then a little forward to see the fourth of July which is presented to be dangerous for the use of fireworks and how people would lose fingers playing with them. They go forward once more to see Halloween where two out of the three children decide they’d rather stay in this time and have a chance to experience these holidays themselves rather than go back to their own time where there aren’t any holidays except those which are logical and the cities are underground. The teacher threatens to leave the two, sure they’ll be begging to come with him once he returns, but we don’t receive an answer; another odd one.
  • Changeling is a story similar to ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’. This one starting with a woman who believes the man she’s seeing is cheating on her, but he’s deceived not only her but a few other women, including his wife. She takes it to the point of delivering the contents of what she’s done to the real man and ends her own life, so it seems. Another strange and seemingly over-dramatic story.
  • Two men who believe they’re hunting The Dragon, but is actually something man-made and not of their time. This story was a little confusing what with not giving much information of the time-line and how brief the story itself was.
  • Let’s Play “Poison” is about a teacher who blames himself for the death of a student since he hadn’t gotten to his room in time to stop the pointless bullying and eventual manslaughter his students carry out upon the boy; all the children being eight or nine years of age. He stops teaching, but is soon called back because a teacher was needed for a class and when he decides to take the job, however reluctantly, he makes it known to the children he is not a fan of their youth and from then on the kids show their hostility through minor mischief. Later in the day he sees some of his students playing something he didn’t recognize on the sidewalk and after gruffly accosting them and ascertaining they thought the names on the curbs were dead people, he announces the truth and they continue playing or leaving for having the game ruined for some of them. One day at his home he sees a little girl playing hopscotch on his walkway and rudely and aggressively pushes her down for having chalked up his property, she runs off and Mr. Howard becomes more paranoid of children messing with his home. A few more weeks pass and Mr. Howard’s hate hasn’t abated toward the children, now he must guard his home more closely due to a water-main excavation being put in at the front of his home. A terrible fate awaits Mr. Howard when he chases some boys away from his window after they play a childish prank, no one unearthing what happened to him afterwards; again, it seems to try too hard, but it’s entertaining enough, though abruptly ending.
  • The Cold Wind and the Warm begins with an elevator operator, Garrity ascertaining what the hall porter had exclaimed with questioning verity. They are seeing a group of ethereal-seeming men, the lead in his forties with five young people in their twenties enquiring about obtaining a room, the manager overcome by their approach. The man, after confirming they didn’t have a reservation, explains how they’d decided to come there in the first place, it being completely off the cuff and how they’d planned on doing something “mysterious” once they’d arrived, he getting and agreeing, by what is described as seeming to be a giggle in reply from his “cohorts”. The man signs in, which disclosing his name to be David Snell-Orkney. We then learn noon the next day a string of happenstances occur, the start of which happens on the street with Timulty, a regular at Heeber Finn’s pub and his being unable to decide whether he wanted to go to his regular spot or stop at a sweet shop, being met by Snell-Orkney, he being quite taken aback by the group, deciding then to make haste to Heeber Finn’s to explain what he’d seen. Then we follow Snell-Orkney and his “canaries five” approaching a beggar-lady playing a harp and Mike MaGuire, another regular at Finn’s, dancing along with the tune, stopping upon laying eyes upon Snell-Orkney and Co. After engaging in a greeting he didn’t have any idea he would succumb to without knowing the people first, Mike decides to follow their little group. Nolan is next to run into Snell-Orkney, leaving the pub after an argument with Finn himself, but upon the greeting given by Snell-Orkney to Nolan, immediately wanting to forget about their tiff to report on the odd encounter he’d had, but when the group stops in front of Finn’s pub and Finn comes walking out, Nolan’s idea is ruined about being the one to mention to Finn of the odd flock. What did help the dissatisfaction to dissipate for Nolan, though was how Finn reacted to the odd group which was to pretend to not notice them at all, until Snell-Orkney asks for directions to a particular place and Finn gives a puzzling answer. When Finn retreats back inside, Garrity the elevator operator comes dashing up and into the pub to spread the news of the group he’d waited on, Timulty the next to come in. Father Leary then enters the pub in an odd fashion during this exchange of information, looking struck by what he’d underwent, but he doesn’t speak a word until his nerves are calmed by a drink, then he asks if anyone else had run into the group who seemed hellish in appearance. They are all soon discussing what the group of Sicilians could be up to and whether they meant harm. Father Leary decides they should reconvene and uncover what the group will be up to in an hour’s time, everyone in agreement. When Father Leary sets the men in different directions to surround the area they were aiming for, it doesn’t quite go cleanly, everyone ending up somewhere other than where they ought have been. Only two actually make it to the place they were meant to be and watch the otherworldly tourists. One of them, though gets too cold and goes to warm himself, promising to return, leaving Timulty by himself, to reflect and watch the group sit in the park. After watching them do nothing, Timulty finally leaves and meets everyone at their Headquarters, all asking what he’d figured out, he realizing they have great similarities between themselves and the odd group, making note of how they recited poems and sang, etc. This explanation frustrating some of them, but having no choice but to agree. Timulty goes on to describe their similarities, it hitting closer and closer to their hearts, they having no choice, attesting to his words. After someone mentions how they hope to get a look at the group more closely, who but they, are the next to walk in through the pub’s door, Garrity following not long after, shouting about how he knew where the group was then, still believing they were in St. Stephen’s Green, but soon getting his information straightened by Snell-Orkney, after which Garrity believing they all needed a drink, showing sullen embarrassment. Snell-Orkney then asks Finn whether he’s heard of the Snow Queen and the Sun King, sharing the story he referred. The point of the story relating to Snell-Orkney and crew, they not having seen winter in many years and revealing what they’d been searching for in the park, the answer surprising everyone, but Snell-Orkney then buys champagne all around and everyone then goes back to the park to experience what the group had gone there to marvel. After, they meet Father Leary, asking to give confessions and then back to the pub to let the group know they’d be leaving now they’d done what they’d come for. As the Finn’s pub group watched the Snell-Orkney bunch depart on a ship, Timulty realizes and speaks as to what the odd group actually were, it definitely ending with a hefty dose of Irish mythology which reminds me of how Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell might read .
  • The image of many walls coming down signifies the destruction of a city, we then getting a list of a few well-known cities which have collapsed already. We’re also privy to a conversation by some rich men about how the cities were coming down because of the weather and making it seem one man somehow had the power to help save certain cities, the other being responsible in handing out the order. We are then introduced to a nightwatchman being present during the destruction of another town. We learn the nature of what is actually being destroyed not long after, if one reads closely enough, relating to facades. Then an old man, the nightwatchmen is shown putting together a wall late into the hours of the night until being called upon by a man we learn is the foreman to the men tearing down walls during the day, demanding why this old man, Smith is reconstructing them. The foreman threatens to call Mr. Douglas, the boss, Smith okay with this, wanting to talk with him as it was. The foreman then notices Smith is using nails which will make it more difficult to tear down when the day crew will inevitably have to do so. The foreman gives him one more chance to stop his rebuilding, Smith explaining why he’s putting the walls back together and the foreman not being touched by Smith’s words, though he then threatens to use his hammer on the foreman when he tries to take it from Smith. The foreman then resorts to informing Smith they’ll have to get the cops involved since he’s acting nuts and might do more harm to the place, the foreman running off for help and Smith continuing his futile work and knowing its uselessness, soon stopping to walk around the place, seemingly for a last look. We then get an idea of what Smith sees when he walks through the different cities, being able to feel the essences of the places they were meant to represent. We’re then shone Mr. Douglas and police coming down the street towards Smith atop a catwalk on Notre Dame tower, requesting Mr. Douglas to come up, armed if he wished, but wanting to speak with him. When Mr. Douglas gets to where Smith is, Smith shares a story about how a man’s insanity is relative to what surroundings he’s inhabiting and the people’s mental health reflecting the whole population, which made the masses view seem normal. Smith then tries to get Mr. Douglas to hear what he hears every night he walks around or sits atop the catwalks, believing Mr. Douglas soon does, he realizing Smith had a knack for story-telling and hearing what he’d been expected to hear. Smith then goes on to describe how this world of walls which were created had no choice but to live in peace because of how close together they were to the next city and any fires set to them would ruin all of them. After saying what he needed to, they both go back down and the police plus everyone else leaves except for the two men, Smith asking what Mr. Douglas planned on doing next, which was to rejoin his party, he then asking if Smith would try to continue rebuilding, he confirming this and trying to argue a good businessman would be able to recognize a use for the cities without tearing them down. Mr. Douglas then looks for a way out of the ruins, Smith leading him and then after Mr. Douglas realizes and considers making another wall collapse, due to its frailty, Smith confesses why he wouldn’t want to, soon answering what was on the opposite side of the other walls still standing, upon Mr. Douglas’ questioning. Mr. Douglas then decides Smith should put together the walls which were salvageable, already considering the film which could be made with the ones still standing, since Smith had provided the story, believing it was a universally relatable concept. A corny and wistful story, The Meadow being mentioned briefly, but again easy to get through.
  • A man going to a town to locate a partner to accompany him in The Kilimanjaro Device which was being tested for the first time, decides on a local hunter who seems to have the right chemistry in their similar way of thinking. When he shows him the machine the man walks back inside and the Narrator decides to try the machine out himself, ending up speaking with the old man he’d known was buried in the town. He eventually convinces him to agree to him giving the old man a ride to wherever he wanted and making it seem he’d be dropping him off in the past. The only time the Kilimanjaro is mentioned is when we are told of a story of a leopard’s carcass being found and not knowing how it had gotten there. It was odd and one with vague symbolic meaning. Not my cuppa.
  • The last name of the man whom we are apparently following: Brokaw, is a psychiatrist no one could figure out the fate of. Brokaw had apparently last been seen by the Narrator going off on a plane with his wife and small dogs, not realizing the next day, Brokaw’s name would be taken off of his office door. The Narrator next sees The Man in the Rorschach Shirt, a.k.a. Brokaw coming on to a California bus ten years later and stopping at each person to ask what they saw on his shirt, everyone having a different answer as the Narrator watches him slowly approach to the back where he was sitting. When he does finally reach him and is asked what he sees in his shirt, he calls Brokaw’s name out, the man taking a moment to place the Narrator’s name, it being Simon who then asks what he’d been doing, believing the doctor had died long ago. Brokaw discloses to him of his retirement and how the people in the area knew him as the Man with the Rorschach Shirt. Brokaw then mentions why he’d decided to retire in his prime, those being two reasons, the first one due to his mishearing certain words and not listening to his record of his patients for having a photographic memory. The second reason being when he’d gotten contact lenses and being obsessed with looking at people’s pores and believing people themselves to be pores. He became so overcome with this he eventually gave up the contact lenses to go back to his old prescription glasses, being comforted with how reality looked softer around the edges. Brokaw goes on to confess how since he’d realized his selective hearing and minor blindness could effect his work, even though he’d helped so many people from his flawed advice, he didn’t believe it justified to stay in his business and so retired, now going about further interviewing people with interesting answers to his Rorschach shirts and giving on the spot sessions which the people are unknowingly a part of, believing only they’re having an interesting conversation with a half-blind, half-deaf ex-psychiatrist. As they approach Brokaw’s stop, he gets Simon’s real answer to his Rorschach shirt and then gets off the bus to walk among the beach sunning people, doing what he incessantly did. This one is sentimentally philosophical like many of the previous, but entertaining.
  • Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned introduces Father Mellon who is awakened on Christmas Eve with an urge to open the church doors and wait in the confessional, not knowing why or who would want to come in late, but deciding to go down anyways and saw the snow covering the cars outside in a hypnotic way, then going to wait inside the confessional and sneering at his own foolishness silently before hearing footfalls and someone entering and sitting in the other side of the confessional, speaking the usual words to begin. The Father, so incredulous someone had actually come, decides to ask the man how he knew the church would be open, the man replying simply of praying for it, to which the priest had no reply and after some silence the man pleading to be blessed again. The priest speaks how much this man must have sinned to be out, the man confirming his thoughts. The man then starts confessing a part of his past which had happened sixty years previously when he was twelve, having to do with how he’d treated his grandmother, then mother, after inflicting death upon some butterflies after being bullied by some boys. His last offense happening after his dog ran away and being haunted by it every Christmas Eve since. The priest makes sure this is why the man had come, then answering of course God forgives him, as did he when asked, but then confesses to have acted the same as a boy, asking for the man’s forgiveness, he giving it. When the priest offers the man to join him for some wine, the man announces Christmas had arrived, the priest moving to open the other side of the confessional and noticing it empty. I hate to say it, but this one is eye-rollingly sentimental; didn’t care for it, but had me curious to perceive what would happen; still disappointing, but Bradbury continues to be an easy read, leaving me dreading to be let down again.
  • A man called Leonard Mead on a winter at night on the street in the not so slightly distant future, as opposed to when this was written, is told to be a common walker of the evening, The Pedestrian of our focus and how he’d changed his choice of shoes so as to make less noise. We realize Mead had a tendency to imagine the goings on inside the houses he walked past and tonight he’s noticed by the last police car in the city, since it had been voted they didn’t need the three which used to roam the streets due to the crime rate being extremely low. Tonight though, the car stops Mead and he is interrogated as to who he is and his profession which isn’t considered as real due to it’s artistic nature. He’s then asked what he was doing out at night, Mead replying truthfully he’d been walking for the air, the police car’s metallic voice seeming disbelieving for being the only reason since he had air in his home, then enquiring as to whether he had a “viewing screen”, obviously not expecting the answer to the negative, the police asking whether he was married and also receiving an answer of denial, he not having been chosen and after the police car logs the information away, it opens its door and requests Mead to step in, he not agreeing with this for not having done anything, but after asking and getting the answer as to the destination they were bringing him, gets in willingly and this story like my review, ends abruptly.
  • Clara Peck discovers a Trapdoor after living in her house ten years. She was surprised she hadn’t noticed it before and berates herself for her lack of observance to detail. She doesn’t go in though, knowing it would mean more storage space. Clara was only slightly bothered by her ignorance of the attic, realizing it was because her roof was unaffected by the seasons and had no vermin, believing if she had, she would’ve become aware of the attic door sooner. After going to sleep one night, she then hears a light tapping on the attic door, not waking fully to investigate, waiting until she’d woken in the morning to consider locating her stepladder to check the space above, but still postponing for the knowledge of it being an empty space, until she again hears the tapping from within. Then she thinks she hears the tapping move closer to the trapdoor as if knowing she was thinking of opening it, this occurring three days later. Then as if by omen, Clara gets a call from a friend across town who’d gotten a bad feeling Clara was in some kind of trouble and Clara eases the woman’s mind by admitting she was fine, they hanging up, Clara no longer hearing anything coming from the attic for the rest of the night. It stays quiet for three more days until she hears the tapping with a little more force, thinking perhaps it could be rats. Clara decides to call Emma, her friend from across town when the sounds are louder, she giving her a number for pest control, but then considering perhaps Clara had ghosts, which Clara responds with skepticism. Thereafter she’s haunted by the idea, but decides trying to sleep anyway, until being wakened at four in the morning to more horrific sounds of the trapdoor opening itself, Clara running to lock her bedroom door. A few hours later she decides to call the pest control and when the pest control guy arrives, she ushers him in quickly and gets him down to business, making him aware she won’t abide any funny stuff, including being overcharged whilst she did her shopping and as she’s preparing to go, they both begin hearing the noises from the attic, the pest guy thinking it sounded like a ship’s cargo being shifted as the ship changed course, but then also likening it to another nature-based possibility, Clara leaving him with his suppositions and he getting on with uncovering what could be through the trapdoor. When Clara gets back, the pest control guy’s truck is still in the drive and so she gets to her door and calls inside to the man, everything silent and no response being made. She makes herself lunch, loudly with no one showing up, then calling the pest control again, the owner comes this time to pick up the truck and explain the possible reasons why the other pest guy would mysteriously disappear. The end of this one twists with Clara’s decision as to what to do about what’s in the attic, which is a bit underwhelming.
  • The Swan starts with a Bill Forrester deciding to go for an Italian ice and whichever takers wished to join him, the only one being Douglas and when they get there Bill deciding on the spot what kind he wants and they waiting inside the 50’s-seeming-style restaurant, soon spotting a Helen, whom is ninety-five and digging into her ice cream, she soon beginning conversing with him about his oddly decided upon flavor, believing him to be an interesting conversationalist and treating them to theirs then asking them to join her, which they oblige. She then gets into how she knows Bill and how Bill had a secret crush on her at some point, she then deciding she’d have to take a rain-check for their conversation deciding to schedule something with him for the next day, knowing she could at least speak of the history of the town since she knew he was a columnist at the local paper, but she also leaving him with an interesting fact of he reminding her of someone she dated way back when. We then next see Bill going about his day before noticing he’s heading to Helen’s home and into her garden for the promised tea-time. When they sit and begin talking, Helen starts the conversation with a bit of philosophy in reference to age and how if one believe’s they know it all they’re a young age and how older people only pretend they know everything. Helen then is the one to mention “the swan” and what it refers to, she relating what she now feels to Bill and he being taken in by her words expressing she should have been a writer which she confirmed she had done after being left by her only love, then traveling all over the world herself and deciding to figure out why Bill was still single since he was in his early thirties. He describes of looking for a girl whom spoke like Helen, but she lets him know he wouldn’t until later in life, needing to seek out the oddballs before moving on. Bill then confides he’ll probably stay single, which Helen tries to reason him out of, asking what he truly wanted out of life, he listing off goals of traveling and discovering true love, Helen then giving him an opportunity of seeing those places through her description since she’d been to most of the places mentioned. After seeing the dreamy fantasy she weaves for him, he then tries to see what she’d looked like when she was younger by sitting back and squinting, seeing her youthful side for a flash, she getting overcome by the idea and he leaving for the night for staying late, but welcomed for the next couple weeks to converse with her. We also perceive through Helen, people were beginning to talk as to why the two were seeing each other so often, both uncaring of the rumors and they both playing the “game” of her taking him to a different country. One day Helen decides to confront Bill about his having a crush on her at one point and to know the story behind it, he starting by describing a picture he’d seen of her when she was twenty which was printed whenever she gave to charity or hosted a ball. Bill discloses of the time he’d seen the picture was in a paper when she was hosting a ball and someone had seen him with it, warning him if he was planning on going to see her and believing she’d look like she was in the picture, not to go due to it being taken so long ago. Helen’s reaction was silent, taking the story in, then thanking him for wanting to go so far to meet her. She then confesses to Bill of the man he reminded her of, again ending the section philosophically. Bill then walks in on her writing a letter, she revealing it was addressed to him and when he got it, she would be dead, explaining how she knows when it will happen. She then imparts the advice for him to try not to live too old because to have to see a younger version of herself walk around when he’s too old could be more painful than it’s worth. Their last shared dream environment was a local one for them and a couple days later Bill gets the letter, he taking Douglas out for another ice cream, the ending being a bit open, but tolerably finished.
  • The Sea Shell describes a boy who would rather be out playing with his buddies, but currently sits in bed, apparently sick and being bored to the point of noticing the fly bouncing off the window in his room and relating to the need of getting out, but his mother comes back in to order him to lie down, requiring two more days of bed rest, which was sounding pretty torturous to the eleven-year-old. His mother offers untainted orange juice by medicine and also delivers a pretty object left to Johnny by the visiting doctor. At first Johnny doesn’t know what the object is and when he’s told it’s a sea shell, he wonders how he’d have “fun” with it, his mother directing him to do the usual of putting it to his ear, which apparently works because Johnny is excited to sense the sound is as familiar as anything, which does make him quite happy. His first to last day of bed rest is only semi-tolerable with the help of the sea-shell, wanting to go to the beach since he hadn’t been there before, his mother promising the possibility if his father got the right time to vacation there. Johnny then hears a strange rhyme from the shell and his mother discovers his bed empty the next day and deciding to listen to the shell, hearing something unexpected besides the waves. This one is a bit more light-hearted, but again, a slight bit of, albeit sweet corn on the side, although it’s quite short helping the tolerability.
  • Once More, Legato begins with a couple of friends sitting and “enjoying” the outdoors, Fentriss and Black, the former requesting the latter he should listen to the birds since they were singing a tune, the latter being a smart aleck about how birds usually do. Fentriss gets annoyed and advises him to listen closely, both hearing the birds were not only whistling a tune, it was an ongoing melody, which is unusual. Fentriss then grabs pencil and paper and starts writing down the scales of the song the birds were whistling until they stop, Black then taking a look at what was written, surprised his friend knew how to write music. Then Fentriss confesses to now being able to compose songs and have a new career out of this, Black then becoming doubtful to what they’d both heard and accusing Fentriss wanting to write music for a long time anyways and imagining the tune he’d heard the birds sing. A few hours later Fentriss is in his study organizing the symphonic arrangement he’d copied from the birds and adding a few notes himself, Black coming in and scolding him for plagiarizing the birds, Fentriss simply acknowledging he’s “borrowing”, if anything. Fentriss then asks Black to come up with a name, the both of them spit-balling ideas, after Fentriss calls a friend and asks him to come over, learning the fees for new songs. The song premieres at a well-known venue with outstanding reviews, Fentriss continuing his patient listening to the birds, not letting his success get to his head. Now some people understood how he was getting his inspiration, paparazzi-like people could start showing up at Fentriss’ home to steal his idea, which is what happens and Fentriss shoos this wannabe copycat away, with more soon to follow which quickly halted Fentriss’ birds from singing, one person going so far as to kill any song from being written down again, destroying the tree. Fentriss then has Black drive around, knowing the hope of locating these birds nearby slim, Black soon coming up with the theory due to it being so late in the season, perhaps the birds had migrated for the winter, Fentriss realizing the unmistakable simple idea which made so much sense. They wait for the right time of year, Fentriss having to put off all of the major venues for having to wait for the birds to return, considering travelling to detect them, but not knowing where they’d be even if he did, Black then posing perhaps they should plant a new tree for them to come back to, which of course, again thunderstruck Fentriss to hugging the man with happy relief to a good idea. Fentriss is soon stressing as to how long it would take the birds to return and if they would at all, believing if they didn’t come back soon he began threatening the new tree would be chopped, but the next morning, with at first hearing thought different birds were roosting in the tree, they began their unusual way of singing and by the end, the only mention of Legato is made; I enjoyed this one much more, although still employing the usual surprise factor, but at least had a definite ending.
  • June 2003: Way in the Middle of the Air applies the old South way of speech in regards to those with darker skin tone: yeesh. Apparently some Southern whites are surprised to realize all the black people have gone to Mars: Is that so, Bradbury? We are then given the continued conversation between locals as to how these black people were able to get to Mars, presumably having made rockets in secret, the white people not taking kindly to having the wool over their eyes. Everyone outside then sees all the black people heading for a river where the rockets would be to take them all away, one of the white townspeople’s wives, along with the rest, looking for their husbands to complain about how their help was leaving. One man then sees a black man passing who owed him money, planning on stopping him from going until he paid off his debt, the man offering he’d get him the money from Mars. The white man doesn’t take that, then resorting to try and scare him into staying with ideas of monsters on Mars ready to kill him or the fact he won’t be able to breathe or the rocket will crash, the black man not caring about any of this, but the white man not letting him leave without paying him his money. Soon a crowd of black people gather to listen to all of this until one older man asks about the money owed, the white man refusing to say, of course and getting the information out of the young black man, then the older man gets all who were listening in to pitch in a couple dollars which surprises and embarrasses the white man, refusing to take the money, but the black man and older man ride off, with the money left in a hat at his feet. Then the white man tries to shout about their imminent deaths coming to them by the rockets, after no one listens, he sees another of his workers coming by on his bicycle, pushing the boy off and reminding him he had papers to show his “employment” to him for two years, the boy not regarding this since it was signed with an “X” and anyone could sign in this way. (After this point I checked to research when this piece was published, it being in the 1950s and Bradbury posing the idea of the struggle for equality at this level would still be happening in the new millennium; terrible thought.) The white man continues to make it difficult for the boy to leave until an old white man on the porch accepts the boy’s position, which the white man isn’t happy about, but the others support, so he gives in and the boy is picked up by his family. When the boy leaves the white man with the question of what he’d do at night from then on, he doesn’t at first understand until he thought of what he’d usually do, getting enraged and following the vehicle which had disappeared down the road. He isn’t able to follow for long though since everyone who’d gone, had left big items of belongings in the middle of the road all the way to where the rockets were, presumably. Then as the white men on the porch see the rockets go up and the one man refusing to look, he is now only able to gloat about how the boy still called him “mister”. Definitely a ridiculous one.
  • The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone begins with nameless people arguing about whether Dudley Stone, a literary author, was alive or dead, sharing a note he’d written to his publishers which implied either could be true. We are shown this writer was acclaimed to be one of the best and to notice he’d given up his successful career, unimaginable. Then a character written in the first person decides to go look for Dudley Stone where he’d last been known to be, when arriving, seeing Dudley Stone had been popularly chosen to be elected in multiple leadership-related occupations. He is then noticed by the man himself, who refers to him as, “Mr. Douglas”, he shocked to observe the man so robustly alive. Dudley invites him back for a warm supper and good booze, confiding he of course knows the reason why Mr. Douglas is there, but this time, as opposed to the others who had arrived to discover the same, would share all. When they arrive at his home and before going in, Dudley Stone reveals what had occurred to make him stop writing, which is quite far-fetched because it would mean Mr. Douglas would be addressing a ghost, but believing some truth is in what he’d said, watching Dudley go into his home. When Mr. Douglas follows, everyone sitting down to eat and finishing with a home-made brew, Dudley gets into the details of his murder, which is connected to another writer, whom he’d known since they were boys, who had died recently. We uncover how the other author had so wanted to become more famous and Dudley recalls the night they had sat in his home talking. We then learn the promise Dudley had made to his good friend, even sacrificing two manuscripts he’d been working on for a few years. Dudley then relates what he thought of these now destroyed unpublished novels he’d written and how he’d been grateful for the other writer, John Oatis in helping him decide to stop writing and live his life the way he’d wanted with his wife. Another enjoyable story.

  • By the Numbers! starts with a drill sergeant shouting commands to his troops, but then we recognize it includes the man’s young son and they’re at a pool in L.A., this memory having been conjured up by a man on a train who’d noticed someone whom had reminded him of this. We then realize the man who’d remembered this is with his buddy at the pool and was watching a boy following these orders, which makes the friend, Sid of the man who remembered this start to voice his irritation and opinion of how terrible it was to make the boy carry out these orders, which had ended him at the rim of the pool, standing at attention, the boy’s father overhearing this and approaching the two who were lying pool-side to address Sid about his agreement with the hotel he was allowed to use the pool as he wished and had certificates of being a dangerous man hanging in the gym, so it would do him better to be quiet. Then we get back to the Narrator being on the train and seeing the boy he’d seen back then, grown and having a drink, having wondered what had become of him. The Narrator works up his courage to engage the man in conversation, he revealing what had become of his father, the young boy following his orders until his father’s end. This was a dramatically good one. Pulling it around at last, Bradbury.
  • April 2005: Usher II has a Narrator speaking in the first-person about going to the House of Usher (obviously referencing the original). The architect of the house is shown giving the keys to a Mr. Stendahl. Then they reference how Poe should’ve been pleased by the house being built. The architect then goes over the certain areas of the property making sure it was as depressing and intimidating as it could be, Mr. Stendahl speaking of not being let down in. Then the architect reveals the extensiveness to his working the environment so it would forever be nightfall and this having been built on another planet (I’m sure if readers of Bradbury are aware of his favorite, one will figure out which). The architect asks why Mr. Stendahl had gone so far to build this house, the architect not knowing about its origins or Poe, so Mr. Stendahl explains and we also learn about a fire which had occurred which burned all of his writing as well as other classic authors, which happened thirty years previously. He goes on to explain how in this reality it’s become a dystopia for anything art and literature and since the architect doesn’t understand and sides with the decision of “The Burning”, Mr. Stendahl sends him away and vows to open the house of Usher to anyone who comes, making it known they would rue the day of destroying Poe. Mr. Stendahl is then visited by an investigator of Moral Climates, who doesn’t like what Stendahl has done with his property and soon confirms and lets Stendahl know he was going to have to get a crew to tear his house down. Stendahl wanted the investigator to at least see the house from the inside before getting to work, since it had only been finished an hour ago, so they walk in and he sees the mechanical reconstructions of witches and rats plus a gorilla which eventually is his demise. Stendahl apparently planned on using a robot investigator to go back to Moral Climates and put in a positive report of what he’d found at the house of Usher, giving them a couple more days before being truly shut down. We then learn Stendahl also planned to have invitations sent out and how he met his partner-in-crime, Pikes. After Stendahl reminisced about what had happened over the years to books and art, his guests begin to arrive. We then get the viewpoint from the robots, which is given in a lifeless tone, respectively and giving the impression of a theme park starting up. We then see Stendahl greeting the incoming guests and showing them the way they’d be entering the house, which was quite elaborate and had to do with one of the robots seen from high above in a window. When Stendahl then escorts his guests to some changing rooms, they begin to get cold feet, knowing how illegal this must all be, but then being coaxed to obey him, thereafter forgetting their worries and enjoying the surprising fruits of wine and characters of the party. Then Pikes gets Stendahl to speak with him in private, showing the evidence of and informing of the investigator sending a robot in his own place, believing they’d have the police coming for them, but Stendahl figuring the investigator wouldn’t notice and may even be coming in person this time, the door then ringing to confirm his words. The investigator comes in and informs Stendahl he should expect the “Dismantlers” to arrive in an hour or so and Stendahl appreciating his confiding in him, asks if he’d like to enjoy the party whilst he can, which then segue’s to the guests seeing their counterparts being killed by the robots. Stendahl then asks if the investigator would like to see a similar situation involving his counterpart, the man agreeing, knowing the Dismantlers will be there soon to shut down this madness for good, willing to waste time. Stendahl leads him down into a cellar-like area where, now the investigator was a bit tipsy with drink and impressionable, he was able to get him to agree being locked by chains in a cell, making him play a part like he had the others, revealing a more ghastly truth to what had gone on the same night. The ending of this one is delightfully dark since Bradbury saw fit to give a nod to Poe, which makes me want to try some of Poe’s work again.
  • The Square Pegs shows us a girl named Lisabeth who perceives herself on a rocket ship being carried away from Earth which had been destroyed somehow. Then we learn Lisabeth is supposedly not quite sane and is there with her sister and their brother. They continue to discuss whilst Lisabeth overheard how she wouldn’t have been given a choice even if she’d understood whether or not she wanted to go with them on this trip to Asteroid Thirty-six and how she believed she was Catherine the Great, which gets her upset into crying and confirming she was. The brother soon tries to convince Lisabeth he’d made a mistake and believed she was Catherine the Great, but Lisabeth knew he was lying and continued to stay upset, they soon giving her a meal she wouldn’t touch since she assumed it was poisoned and even if it wasn’t true, it wasn’t presented to her properly with everything monogrammed. The two continue to make known why they’d decided to take Catherine to this Asteroid, the sister believing it was so Lisabeth could be cured, but the brother confessing she wouldn’t be returning to Earth and she would be happier there. After their brother calls in to New York to talk business with an associate, he expresses to his sister Alice about how Lisabeth wasn’t technically insane and they were taking her to a place which would support her belief. Meanwhile Lisabeth soon locates the door which trapped her wasn’t even locked, soon waiting for her moment to escape to the little room in the front where the “cockpit” was, darting out and disabling their ability to drive the ship, their brother soon stopping her, but still terrified she’d done more damage than could be reversed. The brother struggled to get a certain gear to work before crashing into a “planetoid”, which he did, but Lisabeth blacked out, not realizing what had gone on. When she comes to, the siblings are trying to get a rescue ship to pick them up, soon being told of what kind of planet they were on, it being dangerous to their lives, some men already coming near their ship, the two sisters besides Lisabeth becoming fearful. When Lisabeth overhears what was going on, she thought the men on this planet were her bodyguards come to save her and so had gone looking for the airlock, soon figuring it out before her siblings realized where she was, the men outside now coming in and when hearing Lisabeth’s command to deal out death to her captors, stood confusedly staring at them, until one spoke of not killing, but wanting to be killed, which all who had boarded sharing the sentiment, the brother laughing in relief and escorting the men back out, denying their pleas for death. So we are then given a more broad idea of what these Asteroid planets did for human culture, giving each oddball a planet so as to seem normal. Then the brother is the first to utilize the title of this story in reference to how people try to fit certain ideas which don’t seem to work well together. The rescue ship soon comes for them and they all board whilst their ship is towed and repaired back on Earth. Lisabeth is now locked up securely and they are told by the pilot they’d be landing on Asteroid Thirty-six fairly shortly. The Captain continues to explain how accommodating types of people on these planetoids is gone about, some people having to wait to live out their fantasy whilst another lived happily indulging the same need until their death. John then in turn mentions this to one of his sisters, a cynical one who’s getting plastered, he next revealing how long it had taken before Lisabeth/Catherine the Great’s planet was available, they letting her loose amonsgt her people and showing how she integrates immediately. Strange, but interesting enough story.
  • The Trolley is described firstly, the conductor going past a neighborhood with children playing in their front yards and he stopping and motioning for them to come aboard, not charging them since he was retiring due to the bus system being the next new way to get around which was starting up the next day. Two boys start talking of why the trolley couldn’t be discontinued due to the differences mentioned, then the one boy announces the end of the line and the trolley driver showing him wrong by switching on a generator and continuing. He takes the children to a “crik” where he hands out “pick-a-nick baskets”. Then Bradbury, through the conductor, once everyone finished eating, mentions needing to get them back soon since their parents may think they were gone for good; Ha! An odd story in general.
  • The Smile shows two men talking of the country and a boy overhearing the conversation about the festival coming up and how cold it was during all of this, it being before dawn. We then understand, upon turning the discourse over firstly as to why the boy was there at all and secondly why the others were waiting in line, one man makes a “joke” of the boy being in the line and the other defending the boy’s reason. The boy then talks cryptically as to what everyone is waiting to see, my first guess being the Mona Lisa (which turns out to be on the money), but then revealing everyone in line is waiting to spit at the piece of art, the boy asking one of the men why they do it. We then learn the state of the world, the man stating how these festivals changed in theme, but the reason for them stayed the same, destroying or showing insult to technological advancements or historical achievements. When Tom finally has the chance to spit, he can’t for being taken in by its beauty, the police then informing the people they will now have the authority to do with it what they will, everyone rushing forward in haste to destroy it, the boy being thrown forward in everyone’s hurry and taking a piece of the painting, getting hurt and running home quickly, uncovering what piece he’d acquired and being comforted by it, hiding the piece after. This one is also good, but I’m noticing Bradbury’s repetition of characters who’d like to destroy art with one person wanting to save it were better executed with the earlier stories.
  • The Miracles of Jamie overviews the miracle he’d done which was the most valued and when they’d occurred. We learn someone invariably requested for him to heal his mother and how this would happen each day as he tried to get his wording right, he still being in the seventh grade. When Jamie is beginning to delude himself of being automatically capable of this because of how similarly he looked to the pictures in his family’s Bible plus the mention of Arizona right in the next paragraph has me filled with disgust for his unfortunate fancy and Arizona in general (I’m sure there’s a good side if one is retired or a local, also depending on what part of Arizona being mentioned, but I don’t care much for living in the B.) We then see Jamie at least had sense enough not to mention this to anyone else, we then learning he and his classmates would be marching in a parade, which was also a competition between schools, Jamie leading his classmates, the teacher confirming his “Jesus” abilities of having his classmates march perfectly for the win. After, understanding how Jamie saw his “small miracles” which occurred at school for himself, concluding with a boy he wanted to try and befriend because of how he was teased which in turn made him a bully. Jamie is soon confronted by the boy before he can work his “magic” on him, though and now has to fight to continue to carry the books of a girl he’d been walking home. Jamie doesn’t make off as planned, alas and next we see he’s being tended to by his father who scolded him for coming home in such a state with his mother ill. Jamie at first was ashamed of this loss in a miracle, but then sees it differently, for seeming truly touched in the head (and not by his own Jesus-hand). The bully doesn’t bother Jamie again for distraction in other after-school activities Jamie decided he’d caused. The only thing which ends his god-complex is his inability to save his mother. So at least the kid doesn’t stay mad; Goofy story.
  • A Far-Away Guitar starts with Miss Bidwell and how scheduled her evenings were. She was a pleasant enough person, but a straight-up recluse since she’d had her front and back steps removed and her porch railed in. People would watch her go in for the winter until spring came around (reminding me a bit of a gopher). The grocer explains how she gets food during this time and the people in her past who were now gone, one in particular being a man she’d been interested in and who’d left to go travelling. We then see an old man looking at house numbers and stopping at hers. The grocer approaches him and the old man confirms who’s house it was, the grocer going off without asking the burning question of whether the old man was the same whom had left all those years ago, the next morning he asking some local ladies if they’d seen anyone at Miss Bidwell’s last night, neither having seen anything, which made the grocer think he’d imagined it for having wanting it to happen for so many years. He stayed open late even though it was a slow day and pondered as to whether the old man had left after the grocer had investigated her front lawn and saw all of the footprints around the house. At eleven in the evening he sees the old man returning to tap at her windows and walk around her house, the grocer now thinking she can’t hear him, so he calls her and she for the first time picks up the phone, he trying to decide whether she was actually on the other end since no one answered or replied and before he could describe to her what’s going on outside, she’s hung up and he gives up trying. Then the next night he comes up with another plan for the old man, it involving a dusty guitar, he leaving it for the old man to discover on her lawn and he using it, as planned. The next day the grocer learns Miss Bidwell had requested for steps to be put in; another sappy story which ends openly.
  • The Cistern shows two sisters, Juliet and Anna who are both stuck indoors whilst it rains outside, the first embroidering whilst the second pondered as to what it would be like living in a cistern since it was like a dead city underneath the city, further explaining why it would be secret and comfortable. Juliet believes her sister is alien to her with her odd thoughts on the subject. Soon Anna comes up with an excuse for her strange thought and digresses her explanation into a haunting story of a ghost couple who lived in the cistern for years. She mentions of how they died and when her sister confesses to her in so many words it was getting too morbid for her, Anna goes on to explain of how she’d get them to live again. Anna then reveals who the man and woman must have been, her sister protesting, soon asking her to help her with the embroidering, Anna accepting reluctantly and when Juliet dozes off, notices Anna had left the house, she then looking out the open door and trying to convince herself Anna would return soon; This is melodramatic and tries to give a side of dark romanticism, I still think these a bit corny, but still well-written.
  • The Machineries of Joy introduces Father Brian who tries to avoid an Italian priest during meal-time and is attaining the fortitude to put in his letter of transferal, not having the strength to avoid the priest in question, Vittorini, who seemed to laugh by himself with no prompting, but the priest believing it must be his fellow priests who are amusing him, the others also incessantly wait until before Vittorini is finished with his meal before entering the room to join him. Father Brian is the first to succumb to his hunger, and enters the room, seeing Vittorini, unfortunately not having started yet, it seemed. Vittorini greets him warmly and Father Brian confirms for himself Father Vittorini had watched the “evil” television set, he confronting him and mocking the idea of his staying up to watch the terrible device. Father Brian had the problem of Vittorini not only taking an interest in the space exploration being broadcast, but with the Italian pope giving his blessing to the proceedings. After showing the article which describes this, the priests continue to speak of how space travel is also mentioned by the pope. Their argument continues and all the while, Father Brian is coming closer to his giving in, then finally after a particularly stinging comment from Vittorini, he hands his letter over to the other priest listening to their nonsense and walks away, Vittorini believing it had all been in good fun, but now the other priest would try to make amends with Father Brian, going after him and trying to get him to throw away his letter of transfer. Father Brian is then led to their library so to see the pope’s “encyclical” on the subject of space travel. They meet another pastor who notifies them they won’t locate “it” in there and they ask what he means, he speaking mysteriously. When they all go into the library to speak some more, the priest asks the two why Vittorini seemed to upset them so much. After getting a deflectory reply, the pastor with Father Brian realizes this third pastor would be the perfect mediator for their predicament. So there mediator, Pastor Sheldon brings some perspective to their issue with Father Vittorini by considering because Vittorini had brought up space travel, he wasn’t responsible for its being brought into reality. Pastor Sheldon does seem a bit liberal for what would normally be expected from a priest, but he tries to instill acceptance and learning from whatever new technology comes to their attention. Pastor Sheldon then gives the task to Father Brian to hunt for the encyclical in the larger library and to hash it out with Father Vittorini to come to an understanding, but after they read and understood what they were fighting about. We learn the mediating priest had come from California and the rest were locals of Illinois whilst some had grown up in Ireland which is why Pastor Sheldon understood the Italian’s side as well as the Irish priests, having both kinds of mentality introduced to him early on. Vittorini observes Father Brian in the room with the television set which now has glasses and wine set up with four seats ready for the two others involved to join them in this meeting. Everyone sits and Vittorini then confesses the encyclical in which he’d based his argument on, didn’t exist and would pay penance for his lie in a vow of silence, Pastor Sheldon then announcing he’d transferred another Italian priest from Montreal to bring more color to their lives and make the group feel a bit more even. Then to complete their forgiveness and acceptance of each other, Father Brian asks for Vittorini to turn the television on to watch the rocket go into the sky. This was a pretty good one, more tolerable than many other metaphorically based stories.
  • Bright Phoenix introduces Jonathan Barnes who’s come for “the books”, he informing the man who was denying him this because of an expired library card he didn’t need one for the work he did, which was to burn books, the librarian taking this in stride and willing to talk it over with the man whilst he ate, but Jonathan Barnes then blew a whistle which got “his men” to storm in and back him up. The librarian makes them stop their noise and proceed silently for disturbing the readers, the men going off down aisles and throwing the books out the windows as quietly as asked, the librarian then requesting Jonathan Barnes to follow him, they going into a cafe down the street and he ordering from the owner who quoted different literature and poems, making Barnes believe he was mad, but the librarian gets him to focus on explaining why he’s burning books. He discloses how the town they were in was a test book-burning which was why they weren’t burning everything and when the waiter came, he also quoted whatever the librarian called him, it being an author of some work or other. After Barnes is overly irritated by the quotes of the workers of the cafe and then the librarian himself, he storms off and the librarian follows, they watching the books burn. Whilst they were watching, no crowds gathered to witness the abomination, but the librarian continued his game of calling out hello’s to people of the town and referring to them as author’s they all playing along and quoting whomever he called out, all of this seeming to upset Barnes. Then he finally calls to his men to stop throwing down books, to their bewilderment and he asks the librarian how long he and the town had done his game of quotes, the librarian not answering for Barnes digressing into threats. When Barnes leaves with his incinerator, the librarian closes up and he says good night to the last reader, they both sharing with the knowledge they’d be ready for any other book burners to come. I enjoyed this one for the different quotes, even if this is a well done subject of Bradbury’s, not the best one, but not bad either.
  • The Wish shows Tom has lost his marbles by claiming Charlie had said a prolonged version of, “Make a wish”, which Charlie denied ever saying and offering him a drink in consolation since the weather and atmosphere made perfect haunting qualities. We then learn the two were good friends over the years, both writers and did all the goofy escapades buddies do and would mock each other whilst trying them. Charlie then asks why he’d get a wish this night, then deducing it was Christmas Eve and how it seemed suitable for Jesus’ birthday (sure, ok). Tom then makes the wish to bring his father back from the dead, which Charlie tries to shut him up before saying, seeming to know what he’d wish for and dismayed when he said it before the clock turned twelve. Tom then goes off to see if his wish came true by going to the spot he’d know his father would be. He locating and hugging him as his father questions him with his eyes, Tom not knowing how to answer. Then after a half hour has passed, his father tries to speak what he wants instead, not quite getting it out, but giving Tom the chance to translate what he must be trying to articulate, which was words of love, of course, neither having spoken to each other in the way before his father’s death, the both relieved and feeling good it had been brought into the open. He had a nightcap with his buddy and drifted to sleep. This one of course being a bunch of corn, but well-written none-the-less.
  • The Lifework of Juan Diaz shows Filomena immediately and violently shutting a door, she and her crying children inside, her son asking her what was wrong and she confiding the grave payments were overdue for their father and so he would be dug up and informs them where he’d be put. Her son speaks hastily of trying to kill the gravedigger, he not understanding and being too young to realize the futility of his words. Filomena then turns to her cousin who works in the Official Palace for help. He at first denies her, for having no money himself, but she pleads and cries for him to at least extend the payment until Dia de Muertos when she can sell candy skulls and make the money needed, her cousin complying with this request with the warning he may not be able to do anything more than ask. They do to no avail and the police chief walks his cousin home, trying to comfort her. Next day Filepe, Filomena’s son is chased from school by other school children and teasing him about where his father now stays. We then see Juan Diaz, before death had made a vow to care for his family in all the ways he couldn’t in life. Filomena then has an idea and shares with Filepe, calling him in from the jeering children. Late at night she and Filepe break into the catacombs, we next seeing her come back home and one of her children lighting a match to see what was happening, she putting it out before anyone could see anything. The gravedigger comes later calling her a thief, he with her cousin the police officer. The officer comes in to ask Filomena if what he says is true, she stating what he saw against the wall was made by her out of papier-mâché, he going with this and deciding after she swore on the Virgin Mary it would be months before her claim could be proved or disproved anyways, upsetting the gravedigger even more. The officer makes it known the figure wouldn’t be moving any time soon if the gravedigger wished to bring his claim to court and made him leave with himself. An odd one, but entertaining.
  • Time Intervening/Interim has an old man with a flashlight asking some boys playing in leaves why they capered so and not getting an answer, he then going inside only to walk in on a young couple coming into his house, he then demanding what they thought they were doing coming into his home, the young man then retorting the same question, he throwing the old man out and he shouting he won’t be thrown out of his own home, but still ending locked out, he then walking around and watching the children play in the leaves at three in the morning. The old man continues to see people enter his house and then we get to see it from the perspective of the people going into the house. This one was good from the different perspectives given and it reminding me of Dr. Manhattan.
  • Almost the End of the World shows Willy and Samuel driving through Arizona (sigh) back to town after working for a prolonged period of time and having a conversation why it was important they go back to this town and how the town itself needed them as much as they needed it. When they finally reach it, Willy hits the breaks for how it’s changed, color-wise and the additions of some gardens and seeming to be extra clean. Willy then makes the bet of doom awaiting them with the oddness of the town, Samuel taking him on. Their first stop is to a barbershop which is loud before they enter and becomes completely quiet when the people within set eyes on them. When Willy starts to talk, one of the barbers rushes forward to shut him up and warn him he’ll keep quiet if he knows what’s good for him. Willy sits down in one of the chairs vacated by one of the freshly buzzed and shaved men, the barber then advising them they should probably watch the news since they didn’t realize what had happened in their absence out of town. When the television nor radio worked the barber explains the technology seemed to have stopped working and continues the first few days of this had everyone in shock also explaining the cause and why the town was freshly painted and how it wasn’t only their town which had changed in such a sustained way. He continues about how people having become more active with their time and interests. Willy now understanding why he was told to be quiet so quickly since he’d have been conversing about the nature they’d come from.They get their hair cut and see their car had been polished whilst they were inside. The two deciding to go see what the rest of the world must look like, especially the cities which were usually dirty. Not a bad one, if not a bit bewildering.
  • A man staggers into Heber Finn’s pub with blood on his clothes and face, moaning and getting the attention of those seated inside, starting The Great Collision of Monday Last. The man gets out there was an accident outside before collapsing which then gets everyone moving to either go look outside for the accident or toward the collapsed man, Heber Finn calling for one man to get the doctor, the doctor being there all along and making his presence known before the man runs anywhere, tending to the fallen man. An American in the bar voices how he hadn’t heard any cars or a collision, but another man’s body is soon put up on the bar for the doctor’s inspection. They soon realize the men had crashed into each other on their bicycles and were quite hurt. After the doctor examines the victims further he detects one sustained a concussion and so would need a clinic, the American agreeing to drive after it’s mentioned he’s the only one who could volunteer who had a car, the other had less injuries which required bed-rest and aches in his future. The American, a Mr. Macguire then asks the doctor how common it was they had car collisions, which wasn’t usual at all, which is after the group is told his name and believes he’s Irish like themselves, Macguire knowing it isn’t quite true due to his upbringing. The doctor then expresses to Macguire the safest way to drive to Meynooth, knowing he probably doesn’t know the safest way to get there, which one wouldn’t believe is safe at all coming from an American city. Then Macguire gets some final advice before driving off with the other collision victim and he preparing to make his drive; These stories are set in Ireland are interesting if one has a soft spot for the place and I enjoy them for the simplicity if not they ending openly, they are lilting and gratifying for those points.
  • The Poems shows David trying to complete a poem whilst his partner, Lisa waits for him to be able to pay attention to her again and once finishing a particularly difficult one and Lisa reads, completely impressed and touched by the emotion caught on paper she has the sudden urge to look at the environment described, taking David with her. She then wants to turn back, but decides to mask her misgivings and continues down the path, it being unnaturally dark. They then realize they’ve reached the dell, but the descriptions which were written about it weren’t there to see, which unnerved and gave them both a feeling of dread, his wife now believing he’d written the poem too well and it somehow affected the actual place. They run back home and Lisa suggests they experiment this mad thought by “caging the wind” and when David writes it down, it is done. He walks back to the dell and when returning back home is in a state of calm and hysterics in acquiring this “power” he’s discovered, his wife now pleading with him not to write anything else about the universe or have it be stripped like the dell had been, David not promising anything for realizing he could now be the greatest poet ever, the thing he most wanted. He decides to stick with writing poems of small natural objects, his popularity increasing with each he constructed. Soon he’s being asked to write thousands of poems and his ideas of writing more life related topics worries his wife about the escalation which could suck him back to, he wanting to bask in his success and requesting she to drop the subject. The story has a tone of Stephen King, somewhat based in fantasy and horror, especially with the next part of David deciding to write a poem of the dog he sees outside and how it deconstructs in front of his eyes as he finishes the poem. Soon David is hiding poems he’s written about other larger animals and even a man, which his wife eventually confronts him about, he getting angry and defensive for the conditions of the subjects he’d used. In his haste and Lisa informing him if he continues this she’ll leave him, he threatens her by threatening he’d write about her to keep her there, which upsets her to silence and he feeling guilty for having said something so vicious. Lisa then placates him by agreeing she won’t leave, we next seeing she’s gone shopping and when David sees she’s bought some champagne, they open it up and he takes a drink, it hitting him fairly quickly, he deciding it was because he’d started on an empty stomach. Lisa then prepares dinner and David decides he’s going to write a poem about the universe since the champagne seemed to be stimulating his imagination, she gives him another drink and asks what it will consist of. He begins to write and now she’s grabbing for the pen to cross out his words, he trying to get the words on paper. She continues to try and distract him with more champagne as he continues to write. She then comes up with the idea of it being bad poetry since he isn’t starting from the beginning of everything, which gets his attention. She then dictates the next few ideas he writes down, manipulating him until he wants to sleep and she getting him to write his final poem. The publishers visit the home of the poet and his wife to notice only three poems left in the area, it describing what she’d gotten him to write about; This one was fairly entertaining.
  • A war has occurred in April 2026: The Long Years which is discussed by a Mr. Hathaway and his family, Mars being a “tomb planet”. Apparently he and his family are alone on Mars and Hathaway uses his telescope to discern any changes coming from Earth, none forthcoming, he then deciding to go for a walk and uncovering metal debris made in New York. After looking at a gravestone he returns to his hut and then sees a red dot in the sky, he deciding to check through his telescope, having had his hopes brought up before, he then enters his hut and reveals to his wife and children a rocket is coming their way to take them home, to his plainly seen relief. In the morning Hathaway describes how they’d been left on Mars and would celebrate the rocket landing by having wine. His family prepares a large feast for the coming rocket-men and when it lands, Hathaway goes to greet them and actually recognizes the man whom comes out, they having served together before the Great War had started. The man in the ship had been elsewhere in the galaxy and had found another man on another part of Mars whom didn’t wish to be brought with them, the two men both wondering what was happening on Earth, only having gotten weak radio links coming from the planet, Hathaway then asks for he and his family to be brought with him, which he agrees to and then is invited to breakfast, he calling to the rest of his crew to come along. Hathaway almost collapses on the walk and a doctor is summoned to give him a pellet to revive him, he feeling better after and everyone then meeting or reuniting with his family. One of the crewmen is puzzled by Hathaway’s son’s age and the Captain gives him a mission as breakfast is had which won’t take long to complete regarding the boy’s age. When the man returns with the news of what he’d found, the Captain tries to figure out his next move. After Hathaway collapses and the crew start to leave, I realize this story is much like the movie A.I.; Pretty good.
  • Icarus Montgolfier Wright is poetic and dreamy in its telling. By the end it sounds like whomever is dreaming is being brainwashed in some way and its a vague story, but enjoyable still.
  • Death and the Maiden is like a fairy tale with a woman called Old Mam who turns anyone away for believing they’re Death in disguise. Soon people believed her to be legend and wasn’t actually living in her little home yelling about death, only a grocer would come to bring cans of food to prove her existence. Then one day a young man shows up outside, she noticing he’s walking about and asking him where he’d left his shadow. The young man announces he’s going to leave a bottle with a certain age of her youth inside, outside her house. She disbelieves his intentions and he goes on to explain what he planned for her, we learning a personal fact about the old woman. She then figures out who the young man is and takes a few more moments deciding whether to take the little bottle with her youth, deciding to go for it in the end after he assures her he isn’t only going to take advantage of her and leave after; Started well and then peters off to the usual unfortunate dated story-line.
  • Mink is the little girl we follow after being shown the neighborhood where she lived, filled with other screaming children, playing outdoors whilst she goes back inside to gather some items into a bag. Her mother notices and asks her what’s happened, Mink mentioning a game which is the best ever and asking her mother if she could borrow the items she’s gathering and after getting permission shoots off back outside, but informs her mother the name of the game being, Invasion. We notice only the much younger group of children are excited to play this game as the older ones play a much more ennobled version of hide-and-seek or hiking in the area. As Mink is ordering kids about so as to get the game started properly, an older boy, Joe comes by to ask if he could play with them, but since he’s one of the older kids, Mink is turning him away, explaining the reason being he’s too old and would only make fun of them anyways, his friends then coming by to instruct him to leave the little ones alone, he going off, but staring at them continue their activities as he walks away. Mink then continues to get another little girl to write down notes as she dictated the words and after going inside for a quick drink, she’s waylaid by her mother to sit down for soup. Mink is anxious to get back outside and tries to down the soup quickly when it’s placed in front of her, meanwhile her mother figures what is so important outside having to do with a new “kid”, Drill who is being helped by the smaller children to invade Earth. After her mother explains a few words which Drill had used to explain the situation and how the children would rule the world and not be encumbered to do anything they didn’t wish, she goes back outside, her mother then getting a call from her friend in a different area, her children taken in by the same game as well as another woman’s children they both knew. Mink comes back in for water and her mother asks how her game is getting along, Mink showing her a trick with a yo-yo, after which her mother asks to see it once more, but Mink replying she couldn’t since Zero Hour was coming. Mink’s mother’s friend then shares how her son had shown her the same trick and when she tried it herself it didn’t work, they moving on to why she’d called, it being for a recipe. Awhile after, Mink’s mother sees one of Mink’s friends run off crying, she going out to learn what had happened and thinking Mink had done something to upset her, Mink informing her the girl had grown up already and was too scared to continue the game, her mother noting her bath would be ready soon and how she was tired of keeping an eye on her. When five ‘o-clock rolls around, Mink’s father comes home and after he speaks with her mother, he decides he better go have a second look at Mink’s project when explosions begin sounding off in other yards. Mink’s mother then succumbs to her growing fear and gets her husband to follow her into the attic, she throwing the key away when they’d gotten in. Mink is soon heard downstairs followed by many heavy footsteps, she soon discovering them and getting into the attic with the help of her “friends”, the ending being open for debate. Ending too openly for my taste, but another quick read.
  • A man called Roger Shumway starts us off by going off in his helicopter over La Jolla to meet with a time traveler who was one-hundred and thirty years old. Roger was excited at the prospect of being the only reporter to be shown his second foray through time and so goes off to the agreed upon place. We are then given a run down of what the time traveler, Craig had discovered on his first journey, he broadcasting through the televised news everyone’s future. When Roger lands his helicopter and Craig asks him what he’d like to know, Roger gives him the run down of the questions he’d prepared, Craig promising him answers as they hike to their picnic, Roger noticing the man didn’t look as old as his years implied. Craig then leading Roger to where the time machine sat, offering him the one chance to be the second person to sit inside it. When Roger takes a seat and Craig assures him he wouldn’t send him anywhere, Roger notifies he wouldn’t be opposed to the idea, Craig then realizing the truth of his words and how much they were alike, he then confiding what his machine was called, The Toynbee Convector and the origins of the name. Craig then takes Roger back up where the press conference would begin soon, with Craig’s past self soon arriving in the machine, as well. Roger is ready with their toasting with champagne at Craig’s arrival and as the countdown begins and ends, they are surprised with the results, Craig explaining what reasons he had for building the Toynbee Convector. Craig then mentions his inspiration being derived from H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, which I totally saw the relation to in how this story is set up. When the two retreat back down to the time machine, the old man sits inside and orders Roger to flip the final switch, before asking him this, giving him all his research and recordings of his plans, he then going off into oblivion and Roger disposing of it all, returning to the world above; I liked this one, it showed a man who was willing to do anything to help the world change for the better.
  • Henry William Field on a whim decides to destroy ten million words worth of his own short stories due to not selling any after seventy years. We ascertain he’s living in 2257 and is confessing of his pessimism towards other writers not being able to properly describe the technologies of the future. Henry then retreats to his library and reads an old volume until dawn, he then calling a meeting at nine in the morning with his hired help. He then shows the gathering of people a collection of books by Thomas Wolfe and how he’d been born in the wrong era. He then speaks with a professor he’d hired to go back in time far enough to get him Thomas Wolfe, the man already having been able to go back a few years. Months go by with Henry impatiently waiting for results until one night he receives a call from the professor he’s hired to announce his finally going back in time, leaving Henry waiting and excited Thomas Wolfe will finally be brought to him. When morning comes, Henry has his wish come true, Tom Wolfe is in his presence and he quickly shows him the rockets going off into space after introducing himself. Henry then reveals his plans for Tom to go on a rocket to Mars which would leave in the evening. We then are shown the two in mid-argument, which had been happening since Tom’s arrival, consisting of he believing he needed to be sent back to his own time, before this trip to Mars since he from knew the experience would change his writing and he needed to be able to finish the work he’d already begun. Henry then decides to show Tom something he’d resolved not to show him, but since he wouldn’t change his mind in returning home, decided he would, the showing of which brings out an interesting twist to the story. What Henry reveals does convince Tom to go, though and so he then is prepared and shot off inside the rocket to Mars. Tom proceeding for a few weeks to put out transcribed notes of his newest novel, until the point when the professor believed Tom would have to go back to his time due to physics being unable to sustain Tom’s existence in their time any longer, but even when they think Tom has been thrust back, the typing out of his transcription goes on after a few pauses when Henry is certain Tom has gone. They do end up getting Tom to write until he’s thoroughly finished with his dictation of his travels and then he returns to them, they needing to get him back to his time, but not before giving him back the virus he’d caught which he considers all the possibilities of getting out of, not succeeding in reasoning out of it, though. Before he is sent back, Tom Wolfe titles his future work, Forever and the Earth and then we see Tom being returned and how some flowers in the future he’d been shown by Henry turned up on his grave; Another quite entertaining one, which now doesn’t surprise me since the one’s involving authors seem to have a bit more scope to them.
  • Mr. Benedict is a man who has ownership of the church and graveyard in his town which is asked about by a small child who meets him coming out of his house. He had acquired the church before the rest, but had made quite a lucrative business from how easy he made it for the dead to be prepared and not have to travel anywhere before being put into the ground. We then get an idea of Mr. Benedict’s perception and attitude towards the living, he revving himself up before going about his morticianly duties. We see him go through the town and take masked verbal abuse from its inhabitants, he waiting for the time he could rush back to begin his beloved work. We then learn Mr. Benedict felt the same way about his work as the feeling he got once emerging after going to the movie theatre. Mr. Benedict then proceeded to work on the bodies in his shop, he living up to the title of this story of being The Handler according to how they were in life, for instance if one was full of themselves, he’d put the items of their gluttony hidden inside them or if they were racist, he’d embalm them with ink. Mr. Benedict is shown to being quite a selfish man in how he would treat the dead bodies to serve his abuses of the day only to take out his frustrations on the dead at night. So far, the only body which was treated royally was a poor man who he’d wrapped in gold cloth and had twenty dollar coins on his eyelids. After, Mr. Benedict spoke these injustices out loud, we realizing there is one man who isn’t dead yet and had the problem of being brought in a few times before, due to he having comas and spells, the man showing his consciousness once Mr. Benedict draws back his sheet, the man crying to be let out and how he’d inform the government officials of Mr. Benedict’s terrible deeds. This story reminds me of not only , but of Sweeney Todd, especially after Mr. Benedict decides to take the old man’s fate into his own hands and as the old man yells for the dead to help him, curses Mr. Benedict before he dies. During the night a sequence of explosions occur and in the morning, the townspeople go to investigate, seeing blood in the graveyard and a recently inscribed stone with Mr. Benedict’s name on it then soon uncovering more, everyone now wondering how he could have been buried in all of them; Open-ended and not quite understanding what could have happened, but the build up made the reading of it go quickly.
  • We begin with a puzzling run on sentence which reveals a man coming out of his library to question the people outside the door, ‘Getting Through Sunday Somehow?‘. He then returning to his study without waiting or getting an answer. Then we see Sunday in Dublin is a dreary thing to live through what with the gray weather all day and nothing being open and the theatre being sold out, then we get a first person narrator who’s finally made it into a bar and he getting into a conversation with an old man, both nursing their drinks and the old man then getting into who one would thank for the beginning of summer and how it had nothing to do with God. The old man soon advises the American narrator to go whilst he still could, he taking his advice and walking out of the pub, soon happening upon a harpist playing on the street, he giving her large quantities of money for her talent and admitting to her so, which prompts her into stating why she wasn’t playing indoors with an orchestra or band. He then proceeds to try and thank her for her beautiful music, which she doesn’t take well it ruining her ability to continue playing and shooing him away. She slowly gets her inspiration back and the narrator heads back to the bar to shake the old man’s hand for his advice; Confusing beginning, but the story wound up enough; it’s definitely another soothing philosophical shortie.
  • A Mr. and Mrs. Welles go to a delicatessen after exiting a theatre and when Mrs. Welles orders The Pumpernickel bread for her sandwich, it reminds Mr. Welles of a moment in his past with his old buddies who he’d lost touch with after going away to college and getting married. He ends up buying the loaf of pumpernickel from the deli and has the idea of sending it on to the other guys to sign, like they had before way back when, but his wife ends up slicing it up the next day; This one is written well, but leaves one with a feeling of regret and frustration the old codger didn’t go through with his idea regardless of whether he got a response from the guys he’d known all those years ago.
  • Harrison Cooper awakens from sleep in the morning surprisingly saddened and not understanding the reason, the year being 1999 in summer. We then learn Harrison is a scientist whom had come up with a time contraption called the Möbius machine. When Harrison goes to his lab, he’s soon interrupted by a delivery boy who gets googly-eyed over noticing the Möbius machine and questions Harrison who and where he planned to see which helps his dawn of understanding about why he’d gotten so upset in the morning, thanking and then ushering the boy out to make a phone call. Harrison’s buddy, Sam whom he’d spoken with the night before, both drunk and quoting authors, had come at Harrison’s call and was asked to go over the list of the authors they’d spoken of the previous night. Harrison is ready for his exploration mission in time and off he goes, Sam then seeing his return a minute later and Harrison describing what he’d seen which had taken hours there. Harrison is then shown above someone’s bed, we slowly learning it’s a famous author and he’s reassuring him of his success to come. The author is the one to mention his Last Rites being told well by Harrison who requests him to read the first chapter of his famous book, the man obliging. Harrison is shown visiting two other authors, the last barely being spoken with at all which makes me wish this story wasn’t so short, but it was entertaining still.
  • George Garvey is the one to wear The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse, as well as a bird cage inside his false leg, but all of this will happen in his future. We are then taken back to his present, speaking of his regular life and talking of the weather with his wife. Mr. Garvey is soon a talking piece for a group of Europeans who have come to visit, they being fascinated by Mr. Garvey’s ability to bore the daylights out of anyone. These group of young people, though are fascinated and entertained by his odd and knowledgeable efforts in their conversations and so come by to get their fill of his habits until he begins to catch on to their style of interests and when he begins to try and make proper opinions of the subjects they speak of, changes their view of his being a memorable pastime only wanting him for his confused replies and so Garvey adapts to their wants and uses their interest in him to his advantage, delighting them with his quips and interests. Garvey keeps this up for a few months before he notices their attention waning and how he hadn’t realized how much he enjoyed hosting and being the center of attention, still trying to come up with ways of keeping it going. Garvey starts to get the idea when he loses a small part of his little finger and uses a Mandarin finger-guard for it which again brings back his young group to believe him interesting again, we then learning how he gets the poker chip from Matisse; Odd, quirky and attention-keeping.
  • Doug is ten years old and lived with his grandparents who took in boarders, one of them being a young lady name Leonora who we see hasn’t had a relationship with anyone and would watch the young couples walk All on a Summer’s Night. Doug, we now realize is captivated by Leonora and wonders why no one else at the table is, but then we are introduced to three ladies who consistently arrive late and do the most squirrel-ly quirks which grabs everyone’s attention. After Leonora leaves, Doug goes outside with money unspent on firecrackers and deciding to go window shopping, but then digressing upon seeing Leonora’s room above and how she’d introduced him to her “friends” in the form of poets or authors since she worked in the library. After we see his remembrances, he decides to get Leonora a gift rather than spend it on the usual firecrackers, delivering it to her door and waiting outside for when she’d come out and see it before dinner. When she does finally come out and notice the gift, she only puts it inside her room without opening it, which bewilders Doug, but he watches her as she sits on the porch outside and awaits the one who sent it. The last two men in the house came out for the night one at a time and both going on their way after greeting and leaving Leonora to her wait. Doug finally comes down from his hiding spot and shares with Leonora of his plans he’d made for them, she going back inside which throws Doug off until she reassures him he should go get ready for their movie outing. This one has a sweet ending, but the name of the object of Doug’s affection changes confusingly by the end, otherwise, not bad.

All in all, this is a fairly decent collection and I’m glad I read it and know more of Bradbury’s writing which I’ll continue with The Veldt.

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3 thoughts on “Bradbury Stories

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