I read that SF short twenty or thirty years ago.

A man is walking across land scattered with the remnants of human civilisation (broken crockery, etc.) He comes to an apparently deserted town and then finds a cafe with what appears to be a waitress gazing out the window. On entering, he finds the back of the cafe - and all the adjacent buildings - are merely their facades.The waitress isn't real and is standing on a ledge. Below this is a huge pit with the ends of cables and pipes protruding into it. He climbs down. That's all I can remember, except I'm sure aliens were involved.

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    Take a look and see if you can remember anything from this list. Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 14:55
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    Dear John Thompson ~ Many, many thanks! That was the story and that was the book. As soon as I read your answer I remembered having that very book but have since lost it. I shall find it again. Adrian Buckley
    – user82263
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 16:06
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    It's great that your book, but perhaps you meant to leave this comment under the answer? :) In any case, click the check mark to the left of the answer to mark it as accepted. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


A Trip to the City (also known as "It Could be Anything", 1963) by Keith Laumer. Originally read by me in Nine By Laumer. Available at Project Gutenberg.

He was looking down into a great dark pit, acres in extent, its sides riddled with holes, the amputated ends of water and sewage lines and power cables dangling. Far below light glistened from the surface of a black pool. A few feet away the waitress stood unmoving in the dark on a narrow strip of linoleum. At her feet the chasm yawned. The edge of the floor was ragged, as though it had been gnawed away by rats. There was no sign of Dhuva.

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    Available from gutenberg.org/ebooks/26782 Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:33
  • After a first glance, the story you linked appears to be about something totally different.
    – HugoRune
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:46
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    Thanks to whomever added the quote while I was out looking for a restroom :) Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:57

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