They've all answered an ad or something, and paid a lot of money for a ticket, this is their 'only' chance. The main character begins to think it's all been a ripoff, there's no such thing as aliens or space travel or whatever, gets impatient and leaves the building. When he comes back they've all gone and he has missed his opportunity. I read it about 25 years ago in a collection. Any ideas?

  • @user14111 - I had never seen that. Could you provide an example?
    – The Fallen
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 1:12
  • @user14111 - well feel free to edit it to a better phrase. You're clearly more familiar with it than I am
    – The Fallen
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 3:22
  • @user14111 I don't think there's any opposition to it, per se. It's just that to someone not familiar with everything you've mentioned above, "sf" looks like an abbreviation of "sci-fi" which hurts readability of the post and can be safely expanded. Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 5:43

2 Answers 2


"Of Missing Persons" by Jack Finney. See this question and answer. First published in the March 1955 issue of Good Housekeeping. The ISFDB bibliography page lists some collections you might have read it in.

the main character begins to think it's all been a ripoff, there's no such thing as aliens or space travel or whatever, gets impatient and leaves the building...

The dark barn was silent now, except for our breathing. Time ticked away, and I felt an urge, presently, to speak to whoever was next to me. But I didn't quite know what to say, and I began to feel embarrassed, a little foolish, and very aware that I was simply sitting in an old and deserted barn. The seconds passed, and I moved my feet restlessly; presently I realized that I was getting cold and chilled. Then suddenly I knew—and my face flushed in violent anger and a terrible shame. We'd been tricked! bilked out of our money by our pathetic will to believe an absurd and fantastic fable and left, now, to sit there as long as we pleased, until we came to our senses finally, like countless others before us, and made our way home as best we could. It was suddenly impossible to understand or even remember how I could have been so gullible, and I was on my feet, stumbling through the dark across the uneven floor, with some notion of getting to a phone and the police. The big barn door was heavier than I'd thought, but I slid it back, took a running step through it, then turned to shout back to the others to come along.

when he comes back they've all gone... ?? he has missed his opportunity.

It took four or five seconds, no longer, fumbling at that door, to heave it open again. But it was four or five seconds too long. The barn was empty, dark. There was nothing inside but a worn pine bench—and, in the flicker of the lighted match in my hand, tiny drifts of what looked like damp confetti on the floor. As my mind had known even as my hands scratched at the outside of that door, there was no one inside now; and I knew where they were—knew they were walking, laughing aloud in a sudden wonderful and eager ecstasy, down into that forest-green valley, toward home.

  • 2
    I can recall reading that story thinking I'd consider myself better off staying, since the society formed by that (inane) selection test would be full of people who valued faith over common sense. ..shudder. Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 3:41
  • 1
    Uh... are those "tiny drifts of damp confetti" the remains of the protagonist's companions? Maybe he dodged a bullet, and didn't realize it. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 20:47

James Patrick Kelly's "Standing in Line With Mister Jimmy" was published just shy of 25 years ago, in 1991. It appeared in IASFM and later in Kelly's collection Think Like a Dinosaur. The plot is about a street kid and his faithful electronic companion, Mr. Jimmy, standing in line with hundreds of other people to pass through a mysterious doorway to an unknown fate—potentially relocation to a wonderful new planet.

At the end of the story, the protagonist elects to not take his chances on the door after all.

  • The part about "repatriation" is confusing. You mean to say that the "wonderful new planet" on the other side of the doorway is actually the home planet of the people standing in line?
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 20:23
  • OK, I read the story. They don't buy tickets to go through the door, they just have to be appropriately dressed. Varied speculations about where the door leads do not include passage to another planet; closest is one man who thinks he's going to an L5 space colony.
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 22:52

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