I don't remember much about this story. I think I read it in the late 80s, but it could have been old at that time. It's about a group of house painters that are re-painting a neighborhood but as they do it the houses disappear. I think it's told from the perspective of a couple in one of the houses who are watching it happen but don't do anything about it and then finally the painters come to their house. Would appreciate any thoughts.

1 Answer 1


"The Painters Are Coming Today", a short story by Steve Rasnic Tem. You may have read it in the 1984 anthology 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories edited by Isaac Asimov, Terry Carr, and Martin H. Greenberg.

Out of the corner of his eye Walter could see one of the painters swiping at the side of the house with a paintbrush. "Hey you! Just a darn . . ."

Walter stared at the house. He opened his mouth, but couldn't speak.

Where the painter had brushed there was nothing. No wall. Not even the living room beyond the wall. Walter could see grass, dirt, and the tree behind the house.

[. . . .]

Marcia looked down at the painter tickling her legs with his brush. Half gone. She smiled at the painters. "Me too?"

"We were sent. It's our job."

She looked around her. Dozens of painters' trucks were parked at her neighbors' houses. Painters were setting up their equipment, removing wide swatches of house with each brush stroke.

"We were sent. It's our job."

She suddenly grinned at the painters. "Oh . . . Okay."

Both of the painters worked together, finishing her off in seconds.

"Good job," the shorter one said.

"Sure was. Gettin' better all the time," the tall one added.

They finished off the house. They wiped away the tree in the McKensies' backyard.

Then they started on the lawns, a thousand painters humming as they worked.

  • 1
    TIL of the existence of that book! Thanks. May 26, 2020 at 12:01

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