In about 1966 or so, a stand-in teacher at our primary school spent the afternoon reading short stories to us. There was a wide genre, but I was particularly fond a one which was science fiction/mystery.

It involved a group of people who were talking about mysteries, and another man from outside the group bet the he could tell a story, and one of them would disappear and the others would not notice. The final line was something like "he kicked over the stool and walked from the room".


2 Answers 2


This sounds like Exit by Harry Farjeon (adapted into a film in 2012)

It involves a group of people attending a dinner party including a newly-wed couple by the names of Jake and Jessamy. Mr Geeles claims he can erase people from existence, referred to as "de-creation" in the story. Of course no one believes he can do this, as the de-created are also wiped from all memory of ever having existed. He ends up trying to demonstrate his claim. At the end an empty footstool is kicked over where Jessamy had been sat.

  • 3
    Yes, Exit by Harry Farjeon. Here it is as a short film. https://vimeo.com/76992293 Just watched it. Quality acting. But I find the story one-dimensional.
    – Laurence
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 13:14
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    The book in question does indeed appear to be Exit, the line quoted in the question being "Jake stretched, and kicked the footstool aside." where the footstool had once been occupied by another member of their group. The source can be found here: web.archive.org/web/20160222090606/https://… and does appear to be a legitimate source of the text itself.
    – brndn2k
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 17:25
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    This story seems strangely hard to find. It's not listed in ISFDB. It doesn't seem to be at Project Gutenberg even though there's a good chance based on age that it's out of copyright. The author's Wikipedia page (assuming that the composer is the same person) doesn't mention it. However, I'm pretty sure that I read this in a print collection at some point. Weird.
    – Otis
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 17:26
  • ISFDB does accept submissions, so if we ever find the information, it's remediable.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 17:40
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    Ah, you guys are great. It is indeed "Exit". Thank you so much for solving this question for me. Shane
    – user112092
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 21:45

Maybe a stretch, but could it be Child of an Ancient City by Tad Williams? This short book is about a group of men who are being stalked by a vampire in the woods as they travel. Eventually, the vampire gives them an ultimatum: If he can tell a story sadder than any story they tell, he gets to take one member of their party, then he will leave them alone. The book is essentially a conglomeration of short stories, as the men attempt to tell the saddest story, but in the end the vampire wins by telling a true story of his own life, and how he became a vampire. However, when one of the men volunteers to be the one taken, the vampire leaves without a trace.

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