I just watched Rick & Morty episode "Something Ricked This Way Comes" and laughed and laughed.. was reminded of a short short sci-fi/fantasy story I read in late 70s/ early 80s about a man that comes across a mysterious bookstore where customers are frozen in various poses in front of the shelves each staring into a book. The man suspects he's onto something supernatural, but treats the creepy matron of the store with sneering disrespect... grilling her with sarcastic questions, wondering aloud what makes a cliched character like her tick, literally asking her if she still has her period...The crone angrily shows him a book that he assumes will show his future, but it instead shows him a moment from his childhood and he realizes nothing in his future will be better than that memory and he becomes trapped in frozen contemplation like the others.

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    Do you remember anything about where you read it? In an anthology? A magazine? – Mara Oct 6 '17 at 7:08
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    @Mara I read it in a short story anthology of some kind, I think. Spoiler - more detail about the childhood memory: >! catching a fly ball at a baseball game – gdeff Oct 6 '17 at 16:32
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    gdeff-That might be a different story. I've read the one you're talking about and I'm pretty sure that the guy leaves the store at the end. Something by Harlan Ellison, maybe? – Emsley Wyatt Oct 7 '17 at 22:09

Went and checked my stash. I believe the story is called: "The Cheese Stands Alone" and is by Harlan Ellison from his 1982 collection "Stalking the Nightmare".

"It was a bookstore. Without a sign. And within many men and women: browsing." "They were not turning the pages." "I'm certain I have it in hardcover". The little old turtle woman said. How could there be fog in here."

"Where do you think you're going?.....You've got to stay, everybody stays." enter image description here

Actually, I am now sure that it's the story because I just read the part with the disrespectful grilling. He even asks about the consistency of her bowel movements! That's Ellison for you.


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