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I have been trying to find a short story I read many years ago. I think it was a 60s/70s story. Something happens on Earth, and whenever people touch they become stuck together. These blobs of people exist and create nest for themselves.

There are still some individual people but they live in fear, I think, of being joined with the rest.

Any ideas?

marked as duplicate by user14111 short-stories Apr 7 '18 at 9:56

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  • This has a better answer which I think is probably correct, but my immediate thought was "Four In One" by Damon Knight which shares a few of the points. Commenting in case anyone wanders here based on keywords. – moopet Apr 6 '18 at 19:48

"The New Prehistory", a 1967 short story by René Rebetez-Cortes, also the answer to the old question Short SciFi story where humans join and evolve into a kind of multi-creature; originally published in Spanish as "La nueva prehistoria"; English translation by Damon Knight published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1983, available at the Internet Archive.

I don't remember how many days and nights I wandered those streets. Thousands of monsters of all sizes were roaming in the city. The lines at bakeries and bus stops had produced little reptiles of ten or so vertebrae each; the same for the lines at banks and confessionals. Larger ones had come from the lines at phone booths, movies, theaters, and other public places. The amoebas came from street crowds and public gatherings; they were spreading everywhere.

The strange ligature that had fastened the people together was really unbreakable. I saw one man who tried to cut it; the attempt ended in his painful death. The links that had died by accident hung like dead leaves, without breaking the human chain. I saw a busload of people that had turned into a single mass. Unable to get out of the bus, they began destroying it. Whole buildings were being demolished by amoeba-crowds imprisoned inside. A shouting throng had turned itself into an immense clotted mass that swept away obstacles, filling the streets like a river: that one came from a political rally.

The few persons who were still separate scurried like rats to avoid touching the new organisms. All the same, most of them were being absorbed.

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    The original human centipede. Thanks for the link to the archive. – SQB Apr 6 '18 at 7:08
  • Man, I have so many questions about that world. I guess people stopped having babies because the baby would never be able to leave the uterus? How did people in lines get stuck together; why are people touching the strangers in line with them?! How would any of these blobs even move; if you stick together where ever you touch, accidentally touch another person in your blob with your hand and now your hand is immobilized, pretty quickly you'd have a blob with no free appendages. – Shufflepants Apr 6 '18 at 17:15
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    @Shufflepants Don't blame me, I don't write them, I just identify them. "Whenever people touch they get stuck together" is the OP's recollection, not quite accurate if we're talking about the same story, whichhas not yet been confirmed. You can read "The New Prehistory" at the link I provided. – user14111 Apr 6 '18 at 19:50
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    That’s the one “The New Prehistory”. Even now, years after reading it, I can’t walk or stand in a crowd without thinking about this story. – Mabaho Apr 7 '18 at 2:17

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