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#777593 - Fri Mar 09 2012 10:08 PM Desperate to find details of story and author !
merrijig Offline
Participant

Registered: Fri Mar 09 2012
Posts: 11
Loc: Victoria Australia            
I have been trying to track down the name of a particular short story and its author. This has haunted me for years. I have scoured the internet but to no avail. if someone can recognise the story from the plot below, and reply with the details, I would be eternally grateful.
The plot goes something along the following lines. The story feels as though it is set sometime in the very early part of the 20th century. It concerns a group of people who have been travelling on a train, somewhere in Europe. They need to change trains, and consequently disembark at the appropriate railway station. The stopover will be for some hours so they all gather in a waiting room of sorts and commence socializing. It is night time, and rather cold, and as I recall, they need to spend the night at the station. So for entertainment, they each relate stories about themselves to the others to give them all an insight about their travelling companions. The group includes a party of three, a middle aged woman, her daughter and her son-in-law. Also, travelling with group, is a mysterious man, distinctly anti-social. He is unwilling to engage in the activities of the group, and remains apart from then, and eventually they turn on him and goad him into engaging with them. The man is deeply annoyed, and when asked if there is anything that he would like to tell them, he simply says that he has the power to make one of them disappear leaving absolutely no trace of his existence in history. He is mocked by his co-travellers, and is eventually forced to play his hand. I can recall during the proceedings that follow, the lights are dimmed, and the group remains silent whilst the stranger speaks to them. He says, if my memory serves me correctly, "You, who are about to disappear, will feel a fluttering in the chest moving up to your throat, like the beating wings of a butterfly. You will try to speak, but you wont be able to, because you have been chosen. It is you that will disappear." Shortly after this, he says it is done. The lights are turned back on, and much to everyone's relief all parties seem to be present. They accuse him of being a fraud and worse, to which he replies, it is done, there is one less among them, or something like that. The next morning, the party board the train, but this time the part of three is now simply mother and daughter. The husband is gone. Well after all, the stranger did say all trace of the person would be wiped out of history. I thing this is a close summary of the story. It was in a book of short stories as part of the English class text around about year 8 or 9 as I recall it. If anyone can shed some light on this, it would make my day !


Edited by merrijig (Sat Mar 10 2012 02:06 AM)

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#777641 - Sat Mar 10 2012 08:54 AM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: merrijig]
postcards2go Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Thu Nov 20 2008
Posts: 835
Loc: New York City
Sounds like it might have been a science fiction author, but beyond that, I have no suggestions. I'd like to read it, though smile
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#778709 - Wed Mar 14 2012 01:47 AM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: postcards2go]
Blackdresss Offline
Explorer

Registered: Wed Aug 19 2009
Posts: 96
Loc: Colorado USA
I thought I had found this for you when I found "Strangers On A Train" by Patricia Highsmith, but when I read the summary in Amazon, it doesn't sound like your short story.

I'm intrigued, though, so I'm still looking and I hope we can find it! I'd love to read it!

Keep us posted, and I'm going to keep looking, too. I love books and I'm sure we can find this story if it's out there!

~Elle

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#778736 - Wed Mar 14 2012 06:00 AM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: Blackdresss]
ren33 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11582
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
I am getting the strangest feeling of having read it , but in French! I too will keep thinking and looking. Maybe it's a translation.
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#778741 - Wed Mar 14 2012 06:51 AM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: ren33]
JaneMarple Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Fri Jan 30 2004
Posts: 14438
Loc: North West of England
It reminds me ever so slightly of a Christie short story, called The Fourth Man . Four people are traveling by train and one man - a stranger - tells the other about a French girl with four distinct personalities. It's a more supernatural story than a mystery
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#778849 - Wed Mar 14 2012 02:56 PM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: JaneMarple]
agony Online   content

Administrator

Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 11980
Loc: Western Canada
I kept thinking Christie, too. But then there are so many stories with that setting - Christie, of course, used it a couple of times, as did Graham Greene, and Eric Ambler.

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#780096 - Mon Mar 19 2012 07:55 PM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: agony]
merrijig Offline
Participant

Registered: Fri Mar 09 2012
Posts: 11
Loc: Victoria Australia            
I have lost all hope. I might just write my own account of this tale from memory, and reply to myself on this thread as to its "recent" discovery. Actually, it might not be a bad idea to just write the darn thing from scratch. After all, it was only a short story. Things might come back to mind from the deep recesses of my sub-consciousness, and might give a further clue about this mystery. It was only 6 or 8 pages in length. The aspect of suspense and darkness of mood that this tale projected, might be hard to reproduce. It might be beyond me, given that I have never written anything much in my life other than computer programs, and certainly nothing of any aesthetic literary merit or value. Hmmm, but its worth thinking about.

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#780126 - Mon Mar 19 2012 11:01 PM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: merrijig]
Barbarini Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: Sat Sep 04 2010
Posts: 313
Loc: Alberta Canada
merrijig, have you thought of contacting your school to find out what the curriculum was in the years you attended? I'm sure they'll have records of the books of short stories used in class. Perhaps, if you're still a youngish pup, the same English teacher may still be there. Who knows? Worth a shot. Good luck!

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#780130 - Mon Mar 19 2012 11:27 PM Re: Desperate to find details of story and author ! [Re: Barbarini]
merrijig Offline
Participant

Registered: Fri Mar 09 2012
Posts: 11
Loc: Victoria Australia            
Barbarini, I have done all that to no avail. Also asked a sister who is an English teacher, and there was no luck there. Sadly, my halcyon days are long gone, and, to put it in perspective, a period of about 30 years has elapsed since then. From time to time during the last 20 years, I have gone down this present path. Came up empty each time, and i's looking to be that way again!

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