About fifteen years ago I read a short story about a man on a planet (possibly Mars or the Moon), travelling alone between bases. It's written in the first person and as he's walking across the planet, he's thinking to himself about this fearsome creature that preys on people. It sneaks up on them, makes some noise and then attacks them. Just as he turns the final corner of the canyon he was walking through and sees the door to the other base, he hears the creature behind him making its noise and the story ends.

It was in a short story collection but I don't remember the name of the story or the book it was in. Any help would be much appreciated.

1 Answer 1


This sounds very much like "A Walk in the Dark" by Arthur C. Clarke.

It's not written in the first-person, but the third-person perspective includes the protagonist's thoughts. Robert Armstrong is on a planet on the edge of the galaxy, stuck between "Camp IV" and "Port Sanderson" when his tractor breaks down. Since it's only four miles to Port Sanderson, he decides to walk. He believes that the planet is completely uninhabited, but a supply clerk has told stories of noises he heard out in the wilderness and Robert begins considering all of the other dangerous aliens elsewhere in the galaxy. The clerk had discussed near soundlessness of the beast except for a "faint and persistent clicking" as with chitin. When he's a mile out from the port, within sight of it, the following is the final paragraph:

It seemed terribly unfair: so little time, such a small fraction of a human life, was all he needed now. But the gods have always been unfair to man, and now there were enjoying their little jest. For there could be no mistaking the rattle of monstrous claws in the darkness ahead of him.

  • 1
    That's it! Thanks very much for your help.
    – Joe
    Dec 19, 2014 at 0:17
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    So the creature had passed him by and was waiting for him or had the outpost been overrun? I know the story doesn't elaborate at all, but these sorts of endings kill me...
    – Daft
    Jan 26, 2015 at 9:46
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    My read on it was that the monster had gotten ahead.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 26, 2015 at 12:15

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