I'm looking for a short story about a man in the desert who sees an animal out of the corner of his eye. He can't really see it, but it's really hot outside so he takes shelter in an old adobe hut but then he does see the animal and it is a skeleton thing. Bites him and he ends up cutting off his own hand to get rid of its skull stuck on his arm.

Super horrible but I think it's famous.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Please check out the suggestions to see if they help you remember any additional details to edit into your question.
    – DavidW
    Aug 15, 2019 at 3:39
  • If the skull was on his arm but he only cut off his hand, wouldn't it still be on him?
    – Glen_b
    Aug 16, 2019 at 0:01

1 Answer 1


They Bite by Anthony Boucher

Story is out of copyright and can be read online here

A man was turned down for enlistment in the army due to his lungs. He decides to do something about it by moving into the desert. But he keeps seeing something like an animal out of the corner of his eyes.

The locals tell him to stay away from the adobe brick hut. When pressed all they will add is "They bite"

He investigates the adobe anyway, because it will be cool in the desert heat.

He is amused to discover what looks like the mummified body of a child. His amusement turns to horror when he notices that it is breathing.

Suddenly a second such creature walks in the door. It jumps at him and latches on to his hand with its jaws. In agony, the man uses a machete to decapitate the creature. But the head is still attached and the pain continues. Attempts to pry the jaws open are fruitless.

So the man uses the machete to chop his own hand off.

  • 14
    Presumably he read the story. Aug 15, 2019 at 12:43
  • 5
    I find it hard to believe he didn't take a hammer to the skull instead.
    – Joshua
    Aug 15, 2019 at 15:10
  • 3
    Or break/dislocate the jaw. Aug 15, 2019 at 16:38
  • 5
    The summary is from my memory of having read the story Aug 15, 2019 at 18:48
  • 1
    I never knew that adobe is actually a word and not just a brand name. Now I wonder, why they chose this.
    – Minix
    Aug 15, 2019 at 19:46

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