Short Story: A man found himself being given advice at one point (simple things like "Don't take the L train today", heard, but with the source unseen) that end up being very good for his safety (it crashed, or someone was squished or something similar.) Eventually he comes to discover that there is some form of being, that for some reason exist to provide this kind of help, just as there are many other unseen beings of ill intent. Also, now that he's being protected, it draws additional attention from the various ill beings.

Eventually, things come to a head, and he's told that he'll be fine as long as he doesn't do something that is identified only with a word that is not in his language. (I believe it was 'lenzirizing' or something similar.) Then the being is suddenly gone; destroyed, eaten, whatever.

Regardless, the man knows that he's safe as long as he doesn't engage in the single dangerous behavior. As the narrator, he comments on this, while mentioning that he really needs to sneeze... [story ends]

It feels like it might be Frederic Brown, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere.

Anyone have any ideas?

1 Answer 1


This is Protection by Robert Sheckley, initially published in the 1957 collected works entitled 'Pilgrimage to Earth'.

No, the problem is lesnerizing. I must not lesnerize. Absolutely not. If I can keep from lesnerizing, everything will pass and the chase will move elsewhere. It must! All I have to do is wait them out.

The trouble is, I don't have any idea what lesnerizing might be. A common human action, the derg had said. Well, for the time, I'm avoiding as many actions as possible.

I've caught up on some back sleep and nothing happened, so that's not lesnerizing. I went out and bought food, paid for it, cooked it, ate it. That wasn't lesnerizing. I wrote this report. That wasn't lesnerizing.

I'll come out of this yet.

and the ending

I'm going to catch a nap. I think I have a cold coming on. Now I have to sneez

  • 1
    Bingo! The link confirms it! Many thanks!
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 14:35

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