Short Story #171: The Realm of the Unreal by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Realm of the Unreal

Author:  Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceWhile travelling by himself, Mr. Manrich encounters Dr. Dorrimore who insists that Manrich gives him a ride.  Manrich is no fan of Dorrimore, who is a magician of sorts from India whom Manrich has seen perform.  He gives the man a ride but hopes his interaction with the man will be minimal as he believes Dorriomre to be a fraud.  He discovers that Dorrimore is staying at the same place as him.  Shortly thereafter, Manrich's paramour arrives and he spends some time thoroughly enjoying her company.  They spend a few weeks together and he reluctantly introduces her to Dorrimore.  One night, a few weeks later, Manrich is sitting near a graveyard at night when he sees Dorrimore with his love.  He sprang forward but then awakes the next morning in his room with his bruises on his body and throat.  When he asks about his love, he finds out that she has not been staying there and that Dr. Dorrimore has left that morning.  Later when he asks his love about visiting him, she said that she never did.  


Overall, the story does well to keep the reader guessing until the end about what was real and unreal.  Did Dorrimore make up the presence of the love or did he make the love forget that she had visited?  That Manrich cannot figure it out means he must find some means of respect for the magical workings of Dorrimore.  

Short Story #171out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/16/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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