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I'm looking for an old short story I read in the mid-sixties. It was about men going into the deepest mine ever dug to check out some sort of problem and finding small "men" who could be seen walking inside of the walls of the mine. The creatures come out into the mine where one of them is shot by one of the miners. The creatures grab the miner and drag him into the stone walls and disappear with him. It was included in an anthology similar to the Star and Avon collections and was probably printed in the 1940s-50s. Thanks

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I'm looking for an old short story I read in the mid-sixties.

"The Microscopic Giants", a short story by Paul Ernst, also the answer to this question; first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1936 (available at the Internet Archive); reprinted in Startling Stories, May 1948 (also available at the Internet Archive), and in several anthologies; maybe one of these covers will ring a bell. Here is a review by Everett F. Bleiler in Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years:

Time: 1941, toward the end of the Great War.

Strange happenings in the 45,500-foot-deep copper mine. At the lowest level the concrete turns transparent and little two-foot-tall density-men, obviously unfriendly, walk through the stone and concrete. They are equipped with disintegrators. The narrator, after seeing his friend chopped up, blows up the mine.

It was about men going into the deepest mine ever dug

Up in the Lake Superior region we had gone down thirty-one thousand feet for it. Then, in answer to the enormous prices being paid for copper, we sank a shaft to forty thousand five hundred feet, where we struck a vein of almost pure ore.

to check out some sort of problem

Not a problem (at first) but a scientific discovery:

"We've uncovered the greatest archaeological find since the days of the Rosetta Stone!" he announced bluntly. "Down in the new low level. I want to phone the Smithsonian Institution at once. There may be a war on, but the professors will forget all about war when they see this!"

Jim Belmont was apt to be over-enthusiastic. Under thirty, a tall, good-looking chap with light blue eyes looking lighter than they really were in a tanned, lean face, he sometimes overshot his mark by leaping before he looked.

"Wait a minute!" I said. "What have you found? Prehistoric bones? Some new kind of fossil monster?"

"Not bones," said Belmont, fidgeting toward the control board that dialed our private number to Washington on the radio telephone. "Footprints, Frayter. Fossil footsteps."

"You mean men's footprints?" I demanded, frowning. The rock formation at the forty-thousand-foot level was age-old. The Pleistocene era had not occurred when those rocks were formed. "Impossible."

"But I tell you they're down there! Footprints preserved in the solid rock. Men's footprints! They antedate anything ever thought of in the age of Man."

and finding small "men" who could be seen walking inside of the walls of the mine.

As the faint, luminous spot in the concrete grew larger it also took on recognizable form. And the form that appeared in the depths of the stuff was that of a human!

Human? Well, yes, if you can think of a thing no bigger than an eighteen-inch doll as being human.

A mannikin a foot and a half high, embedded in the concrete! But not embedded—for it was moving! Toward us!

The creatures come out into the mine where one of them is shot by one of the miners.

The mannikin pointed the tiny rod at Belmont, and Belmont shot. I didn't blame him. I had my own gun out and trained on the other two. After all, we know nothing of the nature of these fantastic creatures who had come up from unguessable depths below. We couldn't even approximate the amount of harm they might do, but their eyes told us they'd do whatever they could to hurt us.

An exclamation ripped from my lips as the roar of the shot thundered down the tunnel.

The bullet had hit the little figure. It couldn't have helped but hit it; Belmont's gun was within a yard of it, and he'd aimed point-blank.

But not a mark appeared on the mannikin, and he stood there apparently unhurt!

Belmont fired again, and to his shot I added my own. The bullets did the little men no damage at all.

The creatures grab the miner and drag him into the stone walls and disappear with him.

The little men had killed Belmont as a specimen, just as a man might kill a rare insect. They wanted to take him back to their own deep realms and study him. And they were trying to drag him through the solid concrete. It offered only normal resistance to their own compacted tons of weight, and it didn't occur to them that it would to Belmont's body.

It was included in an anthology similar to the Star and Avon collections and was probably printed in the 1940s-50s.

If it was a paperback, it was probably Science Fiction Terror Tales, edited by Groff Conklin.

  • That's the story. Thanks. Surprised how memory had fogged the details. The copy I read was in the Stewart AFB base library while in high school and had some sort of lamination on the cover, probably to prolong its shelf life. Spot on User14111 – Gletkin Feb 5 '17 at 15:50

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