Does anyone remember this short story?

A group of scientists are studying an underground cave when they begin to see milky shapes moving in the rock. Eventually a couple of midget men appear through the rock, and are shot at by one of the scientists/explorers. They respond by firing pellets of air compressed to such an incredible degree that they literally burst one of the explorers apart.

One of the little men tries to take the body of the explorer with him back into the rock but give up. I seem to remember one the explorers/scientists theorising that the men are so dense that they pass between the rocks like water through porous sponge.

Top marks to anyone who can remember this story, as I used to visit some pretty obscure bookshops when I was younger (a mum who liked reading) and so this may not be well known story.

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    Can't help you, but this is a well written example of a [story-id] question. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 23:53
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    While something superdense might pass through rock, it wouldn't do so without leaving a hole behind them.
    – John O
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 1:26
  • I cannot believe you posted this! I have a list of short stories that I recall from my teens, but cannot find the title/author, nor any book that they might be in.... This very story is one of them! I remember it very well, and loved the whole notion of beings that were able to actually live in the rock itself. I wonder if anyone else can help? Unfortunately, I only know that this particular story was in a book of collected shorts.
    – Josefiend
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 12:47
  • I know exactly what you're talking about. I'm sure that I read this story a few years ago, I just have to track it down. ;)
    – Raven13
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 21:35
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    @Josefiend- Its a relief for someone else to even verify its existence to be honest, even if like me you can't remember the name or author. I too read it in my teens and I also remember it being in a book of short stories, by different authors if I recall correctly. Do you recall any details extra to the ones I have already included by any chance? Any detail might help
    – lester
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


"The Microscopic Giants", by Paul Ernst (link goes to story text). I read it in Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum, but here is the publication history.

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    Amazing, I've checked and that is definitely the book I was looking for. I've ordered a copy of the Monster Museum. Thank you for your help Raven!
    – lester
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 20:41
  • You're quite welcome, glad to help. I hope you enjoy the book, I ordered a copy for myself a couple of years ago (which is how I was familiar with the stories you were looking for). My favorites as a kid were "The Man Who Sold Rope To The Gnoles", and "Shadow, Shadow, On The Wall".
    – Raven13
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 21:30
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    @lester Even nine years later, it would be helpful if you could mark this answer as correct by clicking the checkmark on the left of the answer, below the voting buttons.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 7:53

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