I remember reading a short story in which a person gets lost in the woods or something and he comes up to a place where the host (we later find out is Satan) treats the man really well and takes care of him. By the end of the story we find out that it's where he does exactly the opposite of his personality and that God also has a similar place where he is really evil to people.

  • Do you know when you would have read this? Could you edit that in?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 14:27
  • 1
    Thanks for your comment. I found the story. It is called "Trace" by Jerome Bixby. Such a good story!
    – Omer Wahaj
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 17:31
  • 4
    @OmerWahaj For posterity, you should post that as an answer and, when able, mark it as the correct one. Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 17:32

3 Answers 3


Possibly Trace by Jerome Bixby. I read it in the anthology 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories edited by Isaac Asimov.

It starts with the protagonist driving through the coutryside, getting a flat tyre then getting lost when he tries to walk to find a garage.

On the worst possible stretch of dirt you can imagine, I blew a tire and discovered that my spare had leaked empty.

Sizzling the summer air of Massachusetts with curses, I started hiking in the only direction I thought would do me any good— down. But the road twisted and meandered oddly through the hills, and—by this time, I was used to it—down inexplicably I turned to up again.

He finds a beautiful house in a beautiful green valley with a charming and friendly man who lets him phone the garage then treats him to the most wonderful hospitality. During the conversation the host says:

He leaned back, cupping his brandy in both hands. “Do you know,” he murmured, “kindness is a peculiar thing. Often you find it, like a struggling candle, in the most unlikely of nights. Have you ever stopped to consider that there is no such thing in the Universe as a one-hundred per cent chemically pure substance? In everything, no matter how thoroughly it is refined, distilled, purified, there must be just a little, if only a trace, of its opposite. For example, no man is wholly good; none wholly evil. The kindest of men must yet practise some small, secret malice—and the cruellest of men cannot help but perform an act of good now and then.”

And the protagonist replies:

After a moment, I said, “In the last analysis, then, you’d even have to grant the Devil himself that solitary facet of goodness you speak of. His due, as it were. Once in a while, he would be compelled to do good deeds. That’s certainly a curious thought.

The story ends with the host saying:

“At any rate, I am happy to have done you a good turn. Up here, I must almost create the opportunity.” The truck stopped. I went down the steps, and turned at the bottom. The late afternoon sun seemed to strike a glint of red in his eyes.

“Thanks, again,” I said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to meet your brother. Does he ever join you up here on his vacations?”

“I’m afraid not,” he said, after a moment. “He has his own little place. . .”

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    Yes! That's it. Thanks!
    – Omer Wahaj
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 17:34
  • I've been looking for this story for a long time, too - I thought I asked about it here before but it looks like I didn't. I'd been certain it was called "The Spark" which probably didn't help!
    – moopet
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 10:52

Reminds me somewhat of Robert A. Heinleins Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984). Not a short story, but a novel.

Wikipedia has a plot summary, if you want to check that.

  • 1
    I can't really tell from the Wikipedia summary how this matches the OPs description, though it is indeed sort of similar. Could you edit in how it matches into the answer itself?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 14:59
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    ...you are right, but it’s so painful to do so on tiny mobile phone. Will certainly do when I‘m back home, currently hiking in the arctic :)
    – jvb
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 15:03
  • Thanks for your comments. I found the story. It is called "Trace" by Jerome Bixby. Such a good story!
    – Omer Wahaj
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 17:32

(It appears the original poster already answered his question. However, I post this answer in case a similar question is asked in the future.)

Two episodes of The Twilight Zone are close to your description.

In "A Nice Place to Visit", gangster Henry Francis "Rocky" Valentine is shot by police. When he wakes up, he meets a kindly older gentleman named Pip, who is able to grant wishes to Rocky. Pip takes Rocky to a luxury apartment, where he shoots Pip, and soon realizes that he must be dead and that he is in heaven. A month later, Rocky has grown tired of getting everything he wants, and asks Pip to go to "the other place". Pip responds, "Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!"

In "The Hunt", Hyder Simpson is a mountain man that dies with his dog. He wakes up, walks along a road, and meets a man who offers to let Hyder into the "Elysian Fields". However, because he cannot bring his dog with him, Hyder refuses. He walks in the other direction down the road and meets a second man, who offers to let them both into heaven. This second man explains that the first place was hell, and that the dog was not admitted because he would have been able to smell the brimstone. "You see, Mr. Simpson, a man, well, he'll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can't fool a dog!"

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