The first sentence of every story in ALONE AGAINST TOMORROW by Harlan Ellison.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Limp, the body of Gorrister hung from the pink palette; unsupported – hanging high above us in the computer chamber; and it did not shiver in the chill, oily breeze that blew eternally through the main cavern.

The Discarded

Bedzyk saw Rila go mad, and watched her throw herself against the lucite port, till her pinhead was a red blotch of pulped flesh and blood.

Deeper Than the Darkness


They came to Alf Gunnderson in the Pawnee County jail.

Blind Lightning

When Kettridge bent over to pick up the scurrying red lizard, the thing that had been waiting, struck.

All the Sounds of Fear

“Give me some light!”

The Silver Corridor

“We can’t be responsible for death or disfigurement, you know,” reminded the Duelmaster.

“Repent, Harlequin,” Said the Ticktockman

There are always those who ask, what is it all about?

Bright Eyes

Feet without toes.

Are You Listening?

There are several ways I wanted to start telling this:

First I was going to begin it:

I began to lose my existence on a Tuesday morning.

Try a Dull Knife

It was parchanga night at The Cave.

In Lonely Lands

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring’d with the zure world he stands.

Pederson knew night was falling over Syrtis Major; blind, still he knew the Martian night had arrived; the harp crickets had come out.

Eyes of Dust

It was inevitable they should marry.

Nothing for My Noon Meal

There was a patch of Fluhs growing out beyond the spikes, and I tried to cultivate them, and bring them around, but somehow they weren’t drawing enough, and they died off before they could mature.

O Ye of Little Faith

Niven felt for the rock wall behind him.

The Time of the Eye

In the third year of my death, I met Piretta.

Life Hutch

Terrence slid his right hand, the one out of sight of the robot, up her side.

The Very Last Day of a Good Woman

Finally, he knew the world was going to end.

Night Vigil

Darkness seeped in around the little Quonset.


The form of the habit she had become still drove him to one side of the bed.

Pennies, Off a Dead Man’s Eyes

It was a slow freight in from Kansas City.

1 Comment

  • Great exercise! Studying a great master like Harlan Ellison is time well spent.

    My favorite opening line is from Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch: “Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.”

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