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There is a blob/thing that lives in a cave(?) on a mountain/up a hill outside a village/town. The people of the village/town take food/drink to it to keep it alive (I think it may no longer be able to move) as whenever anyone in the village/town is ill/has a disease/a physical problem they visit the blob/thing and their illness disease etc. is taken from them and absorbed by the blob/thing and they are cured/made whole. Each time the blob/thing does this it becomes more horrible/hideous with each new ailment it has absorbed. Eventually the blob/thing cannot absorb/take on any more illness and the villagers who now visit it are no longer cured/made whole. So the villagers decide that as it is of no more use to them they will stop feeding it and I believe go as far as walling up the cave where the blob/thing exists so imprisoning it and leaving it to die - which it does. The twist is that when it dies all the illness/ailments/diseases that it has been keeping within itself escape/are freed and spread out back to the ungrateful villagers.

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  • Was this a short story or a full blown novel ? How about timing ? When did you read it and/or when might it have been published.
    – Stan
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 15:17
  • @user14111 Didn't even notice that. Better clean my glasses. Thanks for the point out :)
    – Stan
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 22:37
  • Reminds me of an X-files episode. Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 20:36
  • I think this is a Philip K Dick short story. Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 21:18
  • @SimonBucher-Jones: I too thought of PKD story but not sure if I am confusing it with creatures that made duplicates of things.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 20:02

1 Answer 1

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You didn't say what era or decade the story is likely to be from.

The most matching story I know is not based in a village or town, but has a strikingly similar Dorian Gray theme.

"Dorian In Excelsus" by Ray Bradbury

(The spelling in sources in not consistent, so I chose the spelling directly from a printed anthology page.)

It is told in the first person by a no-longer-young man who follows up on an “invitation” from “my host” to become a “Friend of Dorian”.

The host tells him “no portrait, no attic”, referring to Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

Per the invitation, he had met his host at the “Gray’s Anatomy Bar”, another reference to Dorian Gray.

The protagonist is led by the host past a bar/lounge scene through a golden door. Several doors: eventually to a gymnastics type room, with apparently only men exercising. As they exercise, they become younger in body and appearance, similar to Dorian’s Portrait taking on his crimes and apparently the aging that went with them.

(I read Wilde’s story so long ago it is a vague memory now.)

From reading briefly about Oscar Wilde, I am guessing that the “friends of Dorian” being only men is also a homage to Wilde’s life and writing.

The host reiterates that there is no portrait: “Only Dorian.”

There is a blob/thing

The host points to a great window, forty feet wide and ten feet tall. Behind it is a shapeless Something.

The host takes him inside that area. The narrator says “He did not sit, he did not recline. He “prolonged” himself on the largest bed in history.”

He describes “… this nest, this Dorian, immense, a gelatinous skin, a vitreous shape, undulant within that nest.”

and

“This was a great pudding, an emperor jellyfish… from the exterior of which, on occasion, noxious gases escaped with rubbery sounds…”

No one knows what it is, or how long it has been there.

whenever anyone in the village/town is ill/has a disease/a physical problem they visit the blob/thing and their illness disease etc. is taken from them and absorbed by the blob/thing and they are cured/made whole.

The shapeless Something seems to inhale all the stresses and age from the room full of exercising men. They get younger as they exercise.

The narrator becomes disgusted and horrified by the thing. He backs away and refuses. Apparently no one has ever refused an “invitation from Dorian” before. The host screams at him to get out. In his haste to get out fast, he trips and falls onto the Dorian thing. A scrape of his fingernail punctures it.

Bradbury describes the oozing and outgassing and melting of a punctured blob as it drains into the sewers.

The host tells the narrator to get on the other side of the door now, to lock it, and not to open it.

and I believe go as far as walling up the cave where the blob/thing exists so imprisoning it and leaving it to die - which it does. The twist is that when it dies all the illness/ailments/diseases that it has been keeping within itself escape/are freed and spread out back to the ungrateful villagers.

Again, this story does not match the villagers in the question, but has the same “Dorian Gray” theme: every stress, disease, or aging that the thing had removed from them goes back to them, all at once.

The narrator sees the locked door shaken, then hears it being hammered with fists, then hears men first screaming and then shrieking.

The door is rammed and battered, but apparently not broken down. The narrator wonders about the men, referring to the sudden death and aging to a mummy that happened to the original Dorian Gray: “What must they look like now?”

Wikipedia has a page on “Adaptations of Dorian Gray”. They are mostly films, but a few stories. Most refer to a version of a painting, unfortunately missing the chance to have an alien blob. Neil Gaiman’s “The Wedding Present” is some kind of wedding gift that shows alternate realities. There is a novel that also seems to be about a painting. None seem to refer to a blob in a village. But maybe you'll recognize something.

TV Tropes lists some themes related to The Picture Of Dorian Gray, such as “Rapid aging”, “Stab the Picture” and “Immortality Inducer”, which refer to some works in literature with those themes. I did not find references to stories about a blob in a village.

But, here’s hoping that you find it, or that memory has confused some details.

But Bradbury so clearly pays homage to Oscar Wilde with his gym rooms full of men and even the TV-show-twist name of the bar. And instead of a painting, it is so very Bradbury to leave it unanswered whether the blubbery gaseous blob that made people young was some kind of alien, or where it came from.

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