|Ambrose Bierce was
satirist and prolific writer of short stories.
Bierce disappeared in Mexico in 1913 and athough there has been much
speculation about what happened to him, it is unlikely that anyone will
ever learn the truth and his fate remains a mystery to this day.
"An Unfinished Race"
published in the San Francisco
(October 14th, 1888).
Horror Stories (public domain)
List of classic horror
available to read on this site
An Unfinished Race
by Ambrose Bierce
Burne Worson was a shoemaker who lived in Leamington,
England. He had a little shop in one of the by-ways leading
off the road to Warwick. In his humble sphere he was esteemed
an honest man, although like many of his class in English towns he was
somewhat addicted to drink. When in liquor he would make
foolish wagers. On one of these too frequent occasions he was
boasting of his prowess as a pedestrian and athlete, and the outcome
was a match against nature. For a stake of one sovereign he
undertook to run all the way to Coventry and back, a distance of
something more than forty miles. This was on the 3d day of
September in 1873. He set out at once, the man with whom he
had made the bet—whose name is not remembered—accompanied
Wise, a linen draper, and Hamerson Burns, a photographer, I think,
following in a light cart or wagon.
For several miles Worson went on very well, at an easy gait, without
apparent fatigue, for he had really great powers of endurance and was
not sufficiently intoxicated to enfeeble them. The three men
in the wagon kept a short distance in the rear, giving him occasional
friendly “chaff” or encouragement, as the spirit
moved them. Suddenly—in the very middle of the roadway, not
a dozen yards from them, and with their eyes full upon him—the
seemed to stumble, pitched headlong forward, uttered a terrible cry and
vanished! He did not fall to the earth—he vanished before
touching it. No trace of him was ever discovered.
After remaining at and about the spot for some time, with aimless
irresolution, the three men returned to Leamington, told their
astonishing story and were afterward taken into custody. But
they were of good standing, had always been considered truthful, were
sober at the time of the occurrence, and nothing ever transpired to
discredit their sworn account of their extraordinary adventure,
concerning the truth of which, nevertheless, public opinion was
throughout the United
Kingdom. If they had something
to conceal, their choice of means is certainly one of the most amazing
ever made by sane human beings.