In the 1980s I read a short story in an anthology that also contained "The Ruum" by Arthur Porges and "Tickets Please" by D H Lawrence. The short story featured a group of possibly British people staying at a hotel. An old man claimed he could make anyone disappear totally, so that no one would even remember they had ever existed (no photos, physical evidence, memories of the person, etc.). No one believes him so he does it, and the story ends with a young newly wed man kicking over a stool that his bride (Jessamy?) had been sitting on, but she is no longer there, so she was the one who was totally eliminated. But no one believes the old man actually did what he claimed because no one could remember the young woman having been there, not even her new husband. I always found it a bit chilling and creepy, but can't remember what the story was called.


2 Answers 2


It was a little tricky to pinpoint, but the effect of the powers described is on TV Tropes called Ret Gone. At first, after reading through their list of literature containing this trope, I thought it wasn't there.

But then I noticed the last entry, which lacked the usual summary and decided to look it up elsewhere. And there it was.

I believe what you are looking for is Exit by Harry Farjeon.

Mr Geeles: ... He is old, on his own, has not joined into anything, has special powers...

Jessamy: young woman who should not have been decreated as she had done no wrong. She was in love, frightened of whole process. Mr Geeles selected her as he could not stand to see the young couple happy. Nobody notices he has been decreated even her husband.


  • 1
    That TV Tropes page has a link to the film adaptation.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 2:45
  • 1
    The old man did not meanly pick on Jessamy because she was happy. He told the group that once the process began, the choice was out of his hands. It would have been ironic if he had been chosen. No one would have remembered the experiment had taken place. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 21:49
  • @StephenCollicoat I agree, I only quoted the summary written by someone else Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 3:06
  • 1
    Doing a bit of research... There's no "Harry Farjeon" recorded in ISFDB. There is a composer by that name, but none of his works appear to be SF. :) None of the contributors with last name "Farjeon" listed in ISFDB have written a story named "Exit." If all the evidence is a TVTropes entry with no canonical links, I wonder if this even exists?
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 22:53
  • Or maybe ISFDB has a gap in it's informations, just try to use Google. Here's a discussion about the story mentioning it supposedly was written by the musician. Perhaps it was included in a collection published by someone else. Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 14:12

I think it was "Exit" in a book of short stories. It ends with the vacant chair being kicked over and the participants thinking it hadn't worked.

  • 1
    Can you provide any more details? Like the author, a link to a summary? Etc...
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 9:21
  • 6
    This seems to be the same as the existing answer.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 10:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.