This page collects many Ray Bradbury stories for your reading enjoyment. For now, it includes stories from the following collections:
- Dark Carnival
- The Martian Chronicles
- The Illustrated Man
- The Golden Apples of the Sun
- The October Country
- Dandelion Wine
- A Medicine for Melancholy
- R is for Rocket
- The Machineries of Joy
- I Sing the Body Electric!
- Long After Midnight
- The Toynbee Convector
- Quicker Than the Eye
- The Stories of Ray Bradbury
- The Collected Stories
Bradbury was a prolific short story writer, so this page isn’t exhaustive. I’ll continue to add more as I read them.
If you’d like to own a collection, my two favorites are The Stories of Ray Bradbury and Bradbury Stories. Each has 100 selections with no overlap between the two books. If you’re a big Bradbury fan, these are both excellent volumes.
“Dark Carnival” (1947)
The narrator, Harold, remembers when he visited the beach one last time as a twelve-year-old before his family moved. His mother told him to stay away from the water. He went in anyway. He had to look around and call out a name. His young friend, Tally, had drowned there the previous year.
“The Lake” is the fifth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
Mr. Harris visits Dr. Burleigh for the tenth time this year. Harris complains again about aching bones. Burleigh is dismissive of his complaints and sends him away. Harris finds a bone specialist, Munigant, who doesn’t seem to have any formal qualifications. He listens to Harris and seems to understand. They try a session, but Harris isn’t cooperative enough.
Read Skeleton (PDF Pg. 15)
Charlie is at a sideshow, staring intently at an alcohol-preserved oddity in a jar. Charlie asks the boss if he’s interested in selling it. He’s sure his acquaintances would look up to him if he owned something like this. They strike a deal for the item.
Read The Jar (PDF Pg. 26)
Walter and Leota need a room to rest after a long trip. A landlord takes them to a room that’s perfectly good except for one thing—there’s a tombstone in the middle of it. The previous tenant was a marble-cutter who left it behind after making a mistake. Leota is superstitious and doesn’t want to stay.
Read The Tombstone (PDF Pg. 40)
Martin is a bed-ridden boy. His dog is his connection to the outside world—he runs around and brings people to visit. Among the visitors is his teacher, a pretty and pleasant woman. Martin’s dog has been digging in people’s gardens. His mother warns him that the digging has to stop or he’ll be locked up.
Cecy sleeps a lot but she’s still active. Her father sleeps during the day and her mother doesn’t sleep at all. Cecy’s father wants her to contribute more, maybe get some kind of job. Cecy is a Traveler. She believes her father will come to see the value in what she does.
“The Traveler” is the fourth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
The Small Assassin
Alice Leiber thinks she’s being murdered. No one else knows—not her husband, David; or the doctors and nurses. She’s been targeted by a small assassin. Doctor Jeffers tells David that Alice is going to need lots of support to get through these feelings.
Read The Small Assassin (PDF Pg. 66)
Mr. Spallner crashes his car and is thrown out of it. A crowd quickly gathers around him. He hears a siren, and people asking if he’s dead. Looking at the faces in the crowd, Spallner realizes he’s not going to die. Despite this, he gets a bad feeling about them.
“The Crowd” is the seventh story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
Mr. Benedict is the mortician of a small town. He’s built up a good business over the years. Despite his success, he feels inferior to others and is the butt of many jokes. He looks forward to the time he can spend in his mortuary with the bodies. He likes the power reversal his work affords.
Read The Handler (PDF Pg. 85)
Charles Braling is old and dying. He spends days building his own coffin. His younger brother, Richard, criticizes it for its peculiarities. They hate each other. Richard is bad with money and lives off of Charlie. He’s not going to miss his brother. The work continues for two weeks.
“The Coffin” is the sixth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
Edwin and his mother live in a mansion surrounded by trees. Edwin has been taught that the outside world is nothing but forest populated by dangerous Beasts. His father was killed by one of them. His mother keeps him inside and doesn’t even want him looking out the windows. The only other person he sees is his teacher in the upper part of the house. She reinforces his mother’s directives.
Read Jack-in-the-Box (scroll down over halfway)
Let’s Play ‘Poison’
Mr. Howard, a teacher, has a breakdown after a disturbing incident in his classroom. He quits, moves to a small town, and makes his living writing. After seven years of this life, a fellow teacher and friend falls ill. A substitute is desperately needed. Mr. Howard is persuaded to come out of retirement for this temporary assignment.
Read Let’s Play ‘Poison’ (PDF Pg. 92)
The Man Upstairs
Douglas, an eleven-year-old, used to watch his grandmother gut and prepare chickens for supper. He was very interested in the process. He asked her if people were like that inside too. One day, an unusual man came to rent the upstairs room. He worked all night, brought his own utensils with him, and had a pocket full of new pennies.
Read The Man Upstairs (PDF Pg. 130)
Juliet and Anna, sisters, sit inside on a rainy afternoon. While Juliet embroiders, Anna looks out the window. She starts thinking about the city’s drainage system with all its underground cisterns. She thinks it would be fun to live in one. She thinks about a man and a woman down there who are in love. She talks on about the possibilities to her sister’s chagrin.
Read Cistern (PDF Pg. 140)
Drew Erickson runs out of gas by a small white house with a wheat field. He and his family are desperate. Drew doesn’t want to beg but has no choice. He approaches the house and finds the door open. He senses death as he explores the house. He finds an old man lying dead on a bed. The man wrote a will.
“The Scythe” is the eighth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
You are a child in a small town in 1927. You’re home with your mom. Your older brother, Skipper, is twelve and allowed to stay out later. When it’s almost nine-thirty, your mother wonders where Skipper is. After a while, she says you’re both going out for a walk.
“The Night” is the first story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
There Was an Old Woman
A tall, dark gentleman is visiting Aunt Tildy. He came in without even knocking first, along with four other men and a large wicker basket. She remembers seeing that kind of basket years ago when Mrs. Dwyer died. The visitor wants Aunt Tildy to rest, but she wants to get back to her work.
“There Was an Old Woman” is the ninth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
“The Martian Chronicles” (1950)
This collection deals with the human colonization of Mars. It’s made up of previously published stories with new connective material.
Ylla (I’ll Not Ask For Wine)
Mr. and Mrs. K are Martians who aren’t happy anymore. One day Mrs. K has a dream about a man, tall with blue eyes. This sounds ridiculous to Mr. K, as Martians don’t have these traits. She fills in more details of the dream. She thinks it would be fascinating if there were people from another planet who could travel through space to visit them.
This story can be read in the preview of The Martian Chronicles.
The Earth Men
Captain Williams and his crew knock on a door on Mars. They’re delighted the homeowner, Mrs. Ttt, speaks English. The Captain introduces them as the Second Expedition from Earth. Mrs. Ttt has little interest in the humans. They’re disappointed with the reception. She sends the crew to Mr. Aaa.
The Third Expedition (Mars is Heaven!)
A space ship with a crew of seventeen lands on Mars. To everyone’s surprise, Mars looks like small-town America in the 1920’s. Captain John Black is hesitant to leave the ship, but after confirming the atmosphere is breathable, he allows a small party to disembark. The ship’s navigator and the archaeologist offer theories to explain what they see. They approach a house.
August 2002: Night Meeting
Tomas stops at a lonely gas station on Mars on his way to a party. He talks to the old owner about how different Mars is from Earth, and how time seems different as well. Tomas leaves and soon meets a native Martian; they make a surprising discovery about each other.
April 2005: Usher II
William Stendhal is given the key to his new house on Mars. The architect has made it just as William wanted—desolate, terrible, and hideous. All life has been exterminated around the house and hidden machines block out the sun. Years ago on Earth, all horror and fantasy stories were banned. William lost his huge library. Now he’s built the House of Usher from Poe’s story, and he has a plan for revenge.
There Will Come Soft Rains
At 7 AM an automated house rings the alarm clock and prepares breakfast. It gives some practical reminders and says it’s time to go to school and work. Otherwise, the house is strangely silent.
“There Will Come Soft Rains” is the tenth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
“The Illustrated Man” (1951)
The tales in this collection are connected by a frame story about the title character. He’s a tattooed vagrant and ex freak show member. Each of his tattoos tells a story.
The prologue can be read in the Amazon preview of The Illustrated Man.
A family lives in a futuristic house that automatically meets all their needs, including a nursery for the children that can create any scene they want. The parents are thinking about reducing their reliance on technology by taking a break from the nursery and all the automation, but the children are against the idea.
A rocket ship is torn open, throwing the crew out to drift helplessly in space. Their suits allow them to maintain communication for a while. They try to figure out where they’re headed. They reflect on their lives.
Read Kaleidescope (PDF Pg. 22)
A rocket from Earth lands on another planet. Captain Hart stands in the door of the rocket with his lieutenant, Martin. None of the locals have come to greet them, in fact, no one seems to care about their presence at all. The captain is upset, and speculates on the situation. Martin says they’ve come at an inopportune time. It seems that yesterday the city was visited by a remarkable man.
Read The Man
The Long Rain
Four survivors of a rocket crash on Venus are trudging through the jungle in heavy rain. They’re looking for a Sun Dome, a structure with hot food, dry clothes, and an artificial sun inside. The rain is unceasing. It puts a great mental strain on the travelers. They press on as they try to maintain their resolve.
Read The Long Rain
Doug’s father is a rocket man, an astronaut, who’s coming home after three months in space. Doug’s mother wants her husband to stay home with them, but he always feels the pull of space and leaves again. He is torn between his family and his love of space.
Read Rocket Man (PDF Pg 63)
The Fire Balloons
A delegation of Episcopal priests led by Father Peregrine go to Mars as missionaries. While there’s a human colony on Mars, Father Peregrine plans to focus on the Martians and possibly discover new sins. Upon arriving they find their task will be difficult. There are two kinds of Martians—one is very hard to find, and the other are luminous globes of light.
Read The Fire Balloons
The Last Night of the World
A man asks his wife what she would do if this was the last night of the world. He tells her that really is the situation they’re in. He dreamed about it, and everyone at his office did too. His wife and the other neighborhood women also dreamed about it.
Read The Last Night of the World (PDF Pg. 104)
No Particular Night or Morning
Hitchcock and Clemens are both crew members on a ship in deep space. They talk one morning about where they really are. Hitchcock objects to the term “morning”, saying that it’s always night in space. He doesn’t believe in anything he’s not experiencing in the present moment. His insistence on this point of view starts to wear on the others.
Read No Particular Night or Morning (PDF Pg. 22)
The Fox and the Forest
William and Susan Travis have gone to Mexico in 1938. They’re enjoying a local celebration. William assures Susan that they’re safe—they have traveler’s checks to last a lifetime, and he’s confident they won’t be found. Susan notices a conspicuous man in a café looking at them. She thinks he could be a Searcher, but William says he’s nobody.
Read The Fox and the Forest (PDF Pg. 131)
Saul wakes up on Mars, quarantined because of the “blood rust.” He longs to be back in New York. He’s lonely. The sickness makes it difficult for people to talk. A rocket lands and hastily drops off another exile. Saul runs to meet him. He’s a young man named Leonard, still relatively healthy, and he has a valuable ability.
Read The Visitor (PDF Pg. 146)
Braling is out at night walking with his friend Smith, headed for home. They talk about their unhappy marriages. Braling is hopeful that things are taking a turn for the better. He takes out a ticket to Rio and claims his wife won’t even know he’s gone. When they reach Braling’s home, he let’s Smith in on his clever plan.
Read Marionettes, Inc.
Fiorello Bodini wakes at night and goes outside to listen to the rockets flying to Mars, Saturn and Venus. He’s a junk dealer, but has managed to save enough money to send one family member on a rocket ride. An acquaintance tells him this is doomed to fail because the rest of the family will resent whoever goes.
“The Rocket” is the second story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
The neighborhood children are playing a wonderful game, the most exciting game they’ve played in years. It’s called “Invasion”. Only the young children, those nine and under, are playing. The older children don’t care for it and the adults go about their day as usual. Mrs. Morris overhears some of the activity.
Read Zero Hour
A city has been waiting twenty thousand years for a particular type of visitor. A rocket lands and a party disembarks. The city’s various automated functions start working to analyze the visitors. The landing party is armed and they proceed cautiously.
Read The City
“The Golden Apples of the Sun” (1953)
The Fog Horn
The narrator and McDunn are manning a lighthouse. It’s a lonely life with lots of time for thinking about the sea. McDunn reveals it’s the anniversary of an unusual event; it might happen again.
“The Fog Horn” is the first story in the Amazon preview of A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories.
Leonard Mead leaves his house at 8 PM for a walk. In ten years of taking evening walks he has never met up with another person; everyone stays inside to watch television. He is spotted by the police and approached.
The Flying Machine
In ancient China, Emperor Yuan is relaxing when a servant excitedly gives him the news that a man was seen flying with wings. The Emperor enjoys simple things, and this amazing development makes him think about his people’s safety and way of life.
“The Flying Machine” is the seventh story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
Albert Brock is ushered into a psychiatrist’s office. He calls himself “The Murderer”. He’s been destroying machines lately, especially ones that keep him connected with others. He finds them intrusive and annoying.
The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind
A messenger brings distressing news to the Mandarin—the neighboring town of Kwan-Si is building a wall in the shape of a pig. Their own city’s wall is in the shape of an orange. The locals are sensitive to symbolism. Their city’s fortunes will suffer from this new comparison. The Mandarin’s daughter urges him to call the builders to counteract this affront.
Three women sit embroidering on a porch. The women are waiting for five o’clock, when the result of an experiment will become obvious.
A Sound of Thunder
Eckels goes into Time Safari, a business that offers hunting expeditions into the past. They make no guarantees about client safety. They do guarantee dinosaurs and a safari guide who’ll provide specific instructions. It’s expensive and dangerous, but Eckels wants the adventure.
Read A Sound of Thunder
The Great Wide World Over There (or Cora and the Great Wide World)
Cora and Tom live in the Missouri mountains in a sparsely populated area. She’s excited this morning because her nephew Benjy is coming to visit. He’s going to teach her to write so she’ll be able to send and receive letters. Her neighbor, Mrs. Brabbam, is always flaunting the mail she gets, while Cora has never gotten any mail.
There’s more than one published version of this story.
A husband and wife are traveling by horseback across Arizona. The woman is weary and hasn’t spoken for hours. She’s never been religious and has never gone to church. They’re headed for a small town. She had gotten a note saying her mother was dying.
The Garbage Collector
A garbage collector gets up at five every morning to do his job. He does it well, and some days he really likes it. One day after work he’s unusually quiet. Something happened that day that changed the job for him. A new directive was issued to garbage collectors.
Read The Garbage Collector (scroll down halfway)
“The October Country” (1955)
This collection is mostly made up of stories from Dark Carnival. There are four new additions in it.
A dwarf has a nightly ritual of going into the mirror maze. He thinks what he does in there is a secret, but Ralph, the ticket attendant, has observed him. He tells Aimee about it. Ralph wants to show her.
This story can be read in the preview of The October Country.
Touched With Fire (or Shopping For Death)
Foxe and Shaw stand outside a tenement in the blazing sun. They’re looking for a woman Foxe has been keeping tabs on for three days. She soon comes out and goes on some errands. They follow and observe her interactions. She’s hostile and argumentative with everyone. Foxe and Shaw believe she needs their help.
Read Touched With Fire
“Dandelion Wine” (1957)
This novel is made up of connected short stories with a focus on small-town life. The main character is Douglas Spaulding, a twelve-year-old boy.
The Happiness Machine
Leo Auffmann is in his garage full of supplies and tools wondering where he should start. He’s decided to build a Happiness Machine. He works for ten straight days on it. He goes into his house, announces that it’s finished, and collapses into sleep.
Read The Happiness Machine (PDF Pg. 31 second break to Pg. 37 first break)
Season of Disbelief
Mrs. Bentley, seventy-two-years-old, has saved many little tokens from her life—tickets, scarves, records and the like. She’s lived in her current town for five years. She was always on good terms with the local children until they had a disagreement. They didn’t believe Mrs. Bentley when she said that she used to be young just like them.
“Season of Disbelief” is the third story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
Mr. Tridden stops the trolley in the middle of the block and calls out to the local children. It’s time for their last ride. Mr. Tridden is retiring tomorrow and the trolley is being decommissioned. It will be replaced by a bus.
Read The Trolley (scroll down slightly)
The Whole Town’s Sleeping
Lavinia and Francine are walking to Helen’s on a summer evening. They’re all going to see a movie. They cut through the ravine, even though Francine is worried about The Lonely One, a serial killer who’s been targeting local women. They come upon the body of a recently missing woman. Francine is distraught, but Lavinia convinces her to keep going.
“The Whole Town’s Sleeping” is the first story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
Sam, a mailman, comes home midday to tell his wife, Elmira, about some unusual books he just delivered to Clara Goodwater. She said she was close to getting her diploma as a witch. This gets Elmira thinking about the string of minor misfortunes that have befallen her. She storms over to Clara’s house.
Read Exorcism (PDF Pg. 61 second break to Pg. 69 first break)
Calling Mexico (The Window)
Colonel Freeleigh is confined to his home in a wheelchair. He’s to have no excitement as it affects his heart. The neighborhood boys aren’t allowed to visit anymore. He makes secret calls to an old friend in Mexico to get some exposure to the outside world.
Read Calling Mexico (PDF Pg. 69 second break to Pg. 72 break)
The Leave-Taking (Goodby, Grandma)
A ninety-year-old woman has worked for decades keeping her household running and doing everything under the sun for her family. One day, she makes a final tour of her house, climbs the stairs, and lies down on her bed to die. Word quickly spreads to her family.
Read The Leave-Taking (starts on PDF Pg. 2 at the break)
“A Medicine for Melancholy” (1959)
A Medicine for Melancholy
Mr. Wilkes dismisses Dr. Gimp, fed up with his inability to cure his daughter. Camillia hurts all over and wants to be allowed to die in peace. Her younger brother, Jamie, has an idea that would harness the collective medical knowledge of the community.
This story can be read in the preview of A Medicine for Melancholy and Other Stories.
The End of the Beginning (Next Stop: The Stars)
A man is mowing his lawn as the sun goes down. His wife tells him it’s almost time. A manned rocket is launching to build the first space station. They sit in two chairs on the lawn, anticipating the launch.
The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
Three Mexican-American friends talk outside a pool hall. When a well-dressed man walks by with a woman on each arm, they wish they had nicer clothes. Another man, Gomez, approaches the group and starts taking their measurements. He’s looking for people the same size as himself. He has a plan for getting a nice suit.
Charles, a fifteen-year-old, is sick in bed. His right hand starts to change; it feels like it doesn’t belong to him anymore. The doctor gives him medicine and assures him it’s manageable. Later, Charles feels a change in his other hand.
Read Fever Dream
The First Night of Lent
The narrator tells the story of his time in Dublin working as a screenwriter. Every night after collaborating with his producer-director, he would call Heber Finn’s Pub for his cab driver, Nick, who would take him to his hotel. On the night before Lent, the narrator asks Nick what he’s going to give up.
Read The First Night of Lent (scroll down slightly)
A Scent of Sarsaparilla
William starts spending a lot of time in his attic. He views the attic with all its remnants of the past as a Time Machine. His wife doesn’t share his nostalgia.
The Picasso Summer
George and Alice Smith are on vacation in France. George is an art lover and is distracted. There’s a rumor that Picasso is visiting some friends in a nearby town. George would love to buy a Picasso painting, but the cost is prohibitive.
The Day It Rained Forever
Mr. Terle, a hotel owner, talks to his two boarders, Mr. Smith and Mr. Fremley. Terle can’t sell the hotel; it’s in a sweltering ghost town. He believes it’s going to rain on January 29, as it has every year since he was born. Mr. Smith doesn’t believe it.
Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed
Passengers step off a rocket on Mars. Due to a war on Earth, they are colonizing Mars until they can return. The Bittering family settles in, but they are looking forward to going back. One day the daughter runs home with news of an atomic attack on New York.
All Summer in a Day
Humans are living on Venus. The children are eagerly awaiting an event that scientists have confirmed: it will stop raining for two hours, the only break from rain in seven years. The kids speculate about what the sun is like. One student remembers the sun from earth, but the others don’t believe her.
The Strawberry Window
A family is living on Mars. The wife, Carrie, wants to go back to Earth. She misses the small familiar things from home. Her husband, Bob, wants her to hang on. Just as she has reached her breaking point, Bob reveals that he has spent their savings on something.
Two knights warm themselves at a fire in the wilderness. They intend to slay a dragon or be killed by it. It has a huge amber eye, comes out of nowhere, vanishes suddenly, and leaves its victims strewn about the hills.
Read The Dragon
“R is for Rocket” (1962)
This collection is made up of mostly previously collected stories.
Frost and Fire
Sim is born during the night. He quickly becomes aware of his surroundings—a cave and lots of older people, including his father. His planet is close to the sun. The days are scorching and the nights are freezing. Life spans are very short. Their descendants crashed on the planet. There is a working spaceship in sight, but they can’t reach it.
“The Machineries of Joy” (1964)
The One Who Waits
The narrator lives in a well. It’s like smoke or vapor and it waits. In the morning it hears alien voices. It can’t understand them. The voices approach the well. They want to test the water.
Read “The One Who Waits”
Some Live Like Lazarus
The narrator, Anna Marie, has waited more than 60 years for a murder. She tells the story of Mrs. Harrison and her son, Roger. Anna first met Roger when they were both five years old. He and his mother take their summer vacation in Green Bay. Roger is submissive and under his mother’s control. When Anna and Roger were twelve, they said they would get married when they grew up.
The Beggar on O’Connell (Dublin) Bridge
A husband and wife are staying in a hotel in Dublin. The man is upset because he sees a beggar from the hotel window whom he had given some money to. The man had a story about needing train fare to get out of town for a job, but here he is, still in Dublin. The husband is preoccupied with his interactions with the beggars in Dublin, especially one he saw on O’Connell Bridge.
“The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge” is the sixth story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
The Drummer Boy of Shiloh
A fourteen-year-old boy is awakened by a sound at midnight. He’s with an encampment of soldiers at Shiloh. About a mile away, an opposing army waits. The boy is afraid. The soldiers have rifles and shields; he only has his drum and two sticks.
“The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” is the fifth story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
The Best of All Possible Worlds
An older and a younger man ride the train. They take notice of a man who follows a woman off the train. They’re familiar with her game—she flirts on the train but she’s married with kids. She has the best of all possible worlds. The older man tells the story of a man he knew who had the best of both worlds.
“I Sing the Body Electric!” (1969)
Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby’s is a Friend of Mine
A stranger arrives in Green Town. He runs into Ralph Spaulding, a twelve-year-old boy, who brings him to a boarding house. He signs in as “Charles Dickens”. Ralph is impressed to be in the presence of the famous author. The adults humor him for a while. Ralph helps the stranger write his novels.
Heavy-set is a grown man who lives with his mother. He doesn’t socialize much. He spends his time lifting weights and doing other physical exercise. There’s a party tonight, but he’s not sure he’s going to go. His mother wants him to get out so she encourages him to attend.
“Heavy-Set” is the eighth story in the Amazon preview of Bradbury Stories.
Henry the Ninth
Two men in a helicopter are looking for a man named Harry in England. He’s spotted by Sam, an old friend. Sam wants to get Harry out of the area; everyone else is already gone. Harry insists on staying no matter how bad it is.
Read Henry the Ninth
The Kilimanjaro Device (Machine)
A man arrives at the mountains and hills near Ketchum and Sun Valley. There’s one hill with a grave that he doesn’t want to look at. He’s looking for the place that an old man used to walk. He talks to a hunter who remembers seeing the old man. They talk about the old man’s writing.
This story can be read in the preview of I Sing the Body Electric and Other Stories.
The Man in the Rorschach Shirt
The narrator is riding a bus in California. He’s astonished to see Immanuel Brokaw, a great psychiatrist who disappeared ten years ago. He’s in his seventies and dressed very casually, including a wild looking shirt. As he walks down the aisle, he asks the passengers what they see in his shirt.
“Long After Midnight” (1976)
The October Game
Mich puts the gun away. He wants his wife, Louise, to suffer more than that. It’s the last evening of October. They’re preparing to host a party. Their daughter, Marion, gets her costume ready. Mich thinks about why he’s unhappy, and what he’s going to do.
Read “The October Game”
The Blue Bottle
Mars is dead. Albert and Leonard are searching the abandoned buildings for the Blue Bottle, a legendary Martian receptacle that could contain anything.
A Piece of Wood
A young sergeant is called to his superior’s office. The Official offers to transfer him somewhere more to his liking. The young soldier only wants to live in peace. They discuss what would happen if all the world’s guns suddenly disintegrated.
Read “A Piece of Wood”
Punishment Without Crime
George Hill is speaking to a man about killing his wife. The man gets all the relevant information, including a dimensional photo and audio recording. George knows the procedure is risky and illegal. It will take nine hours to prepare everything.
The Utterly Perfect Murder
On his forty-eighth birthday, the narrator gets an idea for a perfect murder. He decides to kill Ralph Underhill for what he did when he was twelve. He boards a train. The trip gives him time to think about his past.
The Better Part of Wisdom
Tom and Frank are relaxing at home when they hear a scratching at the door. It’s Tom’s grandfather. He was hesitant about knocking because he thought Tom might have had a girl with him. Grandpa notices how nicely decorated the place is, which is Frank’s work. They sit down to have a drink and talk.
Long After Midnight
The ambulance reaches the cliff well after midnight. A young woman hangs from a tree. Two veteran responders and one new man, Latting, arrive to take her down. Latting is upset that his colleagues aren’t more deeply affected by the tragedy.
“The Toynbee Convector” (1988)
A Touch of Petulance
Jonathan Hughes met his fate in the form of an old man while he rode the train home from work. He noticed the old man’s newspaper looked more modern than his own. There was a story on the front page about a murdered woman—his wife. His mind raced.
This story can be read in the preview of Killer, Come Back To Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury.
The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair
A man and woman meet at a cocktail party. It was lacking in the stock romantic accoutrements, but they bonded over their shared love of Laurel and Hardy. He calls her Stanley and she calls him Ollie. They leave the party to visit the stairs where Laurel and Hardy carried a piano crate. They become inseparable.
Bill Westerleigh taps at the narrators door. He has tears on his cheeks and asks if this is his house. This has happened many times as Bill, eighty-nine-years-old, gets lost often. They drink and talk. Bill thinks a lot of his time as a pilot in the war. He’s haunted by his memories.
The narrator takes a taxi to Courtown House, the home of his employer and film director John Hampton. They’re going to go over the script he’s just finished. There are some sounds from outside. Hampton claims they’re from a banshee, who’s cries portend a death.
One For His Lordship, and One For the Road!
Some men are drinking at Heeber Finn’s Pub. A man known for his speed, Doone, runs into the pub with news. Lord Kilgotten died less than an hour ago. As they remember the deceased, the men wonder what will become of all the wine they know Kilgotten had stashed away. Perhaps he left it to the citizens of his town. Finn’s wife interrupts their speculation, announcing that the funeral is to be held in one hour.
Albert Beam, aged eighty-two, wakes to an incredible thing, a physiological response that he hasn’t experienced in many years. His old friend, Junior, as a girl had called it, is back. It’s such a pleasant surprise that he has to tell some people about it.
Clara Peck has lived in her old house for ten years. On the landing leading upstairs she notices an attic door for the first time. She feels a fool for not seeing it before. The house has always been quiet, so she’s never had reason to look at the ceiling. That night she hears a faint tapping from above.
Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned
Father Mellon is awakened before midnight on Christmas Eve. He can’t imagine who would be at his door at this time. An old man wants to make a confession. He says God made the priest open his door. He wants to reveal something he did sixty years ago.
“Quicker Than the Eye” (1996)
Maggie and Douglas Spaulding can never forget Sascha. They knew him only a short time. They talked to him late at night, and only in private. Maggie and Douglas were young and in love. One day, Maggie feels a bit sick. Douglas knows Sascha is back.
Read Remember Sascha?
That Woman on the Lawn
Late at night a man hears a young woman crying on his lawn. He can’t ignore it, but by the time he looks out his window, she’s gone. He becomes fixated on the incident; he must know who she is. He wants to catch her the next time.
Miss Adams, the head librarian, stays late to get everything in order. She hears knocking at the front door; a man in uniform wants to come in. She tells him they’re closed. He asks her if she remembers him.
Read Exchange (Pg. 159)
“The Stories of Ray Bradbury” (1980)
Doug’s Grandpa says farewell to summer. Doug goes to have a snack and a nap. He dreams of a band playing and thinks it’s a parade. When he looks out the window, he sees familiar people on the lawn.
This story is the first chapter of the novel by the same name.
The narrator, a writer, returns to Dublin after fifteen years. In front of his hotel, he’s accosted by a beggar woman with a baby. As he hands over some coins, he and the baby look directly at each other. He drops the coins in surprise. He’s speechless. His wife asks him what’s wrong.
A huge aqueduct from the North to the South is almost constructed. Citizens of the South look forward to everything they’ll be able to do with this ready water source. There’s a war between the two Northern countries.
Read “The Aqueduct”
A man and woman are totally in love. About a year into the relationship, the woman brings up a game called “Gotcha”. The man has never heard of it. They make plans to play it that night. She says it will scare him.
“We’ll Always Have Paris: Stories” (2009)
A woman arranges a visit with a reluctant young man. He could feel her grief through the phone, and it’s an unusual situation. They’re both unsure how to handle it. The young man is alive because of her son.
This story can be read in the preview of We’ll Always Have Paris: Stories.
“The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury Volume I, 1938-43” (2011)
Layeville has been swinging in a massive glass pendulum for a long time. The people call him The Prisoner of Time. It’s his punishment for his crime. He had constructed a time machine and invited thirty of the world’s preeminent scientists to attend the unveiling.
Read The Pendulum
“The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury Volume 3, 1944-45” (2017)
The Black Ferris
In the third week of the carnival, two boys, Hank and Peter, are walking at twilight. Hank wants to show Peter the ferris wheel. They secretly watch as Mr. Cooger gets on. The operator makes it turn in reverse. Peter doesn’t see why this matters. It soon becomes apparent what Hank was so excited about.
Read “The Black Ferris”