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I'm trying to find a story that I read around 1970 (my best guess would be 1968-1971) in Read magazine, which was a little magazine that we used to get in junior high school.

The details are hazy at this late date, but it was something about a guy who awakens one night to find that his body is being "eaten" in some way, starting from his toes. Little by little his body disappears or something -- I don't remember the fine points of it.

While this happens, he's talking to his evil doppelganger, who stands by his bed. The doppelganger is replacing him, and tells the guy in bed that he has to "eat" his body before he can replace him. Something like that. I think it ends with the guy wanting to scream, but being unable to because he has no mouth left.

It was terrifying to this 11-year-old!

Anyone remember this? No, it's not the similar Bradbury story Fever Dream.

  • I think I've been looking for the same brief story, which I have long thought was too creepy for young readers. Was he being attacked by insects called Nergs? If so, another reader has narrowed the date of publication to 1968-1969. See: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/211604/… – Invisible Trihedron Jun 21 at 0:52
  • Yeah, I can't find any archives of the magazine, unfortunately. If you want some help trying to think of some details that are really super useful for finding story-IDs, this guide is fantastic. – Stormblessed Jun 21 at 0:53
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    Invisible Trihedron: I think it's very likely that we're thinking about the same story! Now that you said it, I do seem to remember it going on for more than one night, and the bit about the hole in the abdomen rings a bell. Maybe it didn't start at the toes, and I'm misremembering it. I agree that it was too creepy for young readers. – JoeB Jun 21 at 0:59
  • @JoeB: It made a lasting impression! Incidentally, Read seems to be another title of Weekly Reader Publishing, so it does look like we are focusing on the same story. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekly_Reader – Invisible Trihedron Jun 21 at 1:03
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    This makes at least three questions looking for this story. Nobody's managed to identify it yet... I read it in the 1968-1970 period, too, probably in Weekly Reader or one of its offshoots. – Zeiss Ikon Jun 21 at 11:07
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Sounds a lot like Bradbury's Fever Dream, anthologised in The Day It Rained Forever and doubtless any number of other places.

The central character is a fifteen-year-old boy, supposedly ill with scarlet fever. As he feels his body slipping from his control inch by inch, her realises it is being taken over by a malevolent force. But when he screams and struggles, his parents and the doctor all assume he is delirious, and they simply strap him down. When the numbness reaches his head, he wakes up apparently fully recovered - but of course we know better. At the end he is kissing his parents, petting the canary, and looking forward to school, in order to spread the "infection" and cause them to be taken over in the same way.

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