Short Story #334: The Hypnotist by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Hypnotist 

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

The narrator explains that he has some experience with hypnotism but that it is a bit limited to his own personal experience with the ability to hypnotize people.  His first experience with hypnotism was as teenager when he managed to hypnotize a classmate into bring her food to him daily so he could eat.  However, he eventually kills the girl in order to be free of his parents.  As he is being released from prison, he turns to the warden and hypnotizes the man into believing he is an ostrich.  The man dies from swallowing things he cannot digest (including a doorknob).  He makes his way homeward and finds his parents.  The parents explain they are glad to see him but there is still not enough food for him.  The narrator hypnotizes them both and tells them they are broncos.  As broncos, they begin to engage in battle and fight to a brutal death for each.  With that, the man is arrested anew and spends years more in court trials, largely content.  


Another amusing and largely twisted tale from Bierce.  It does make me wonder where or whether all these stories were published.  The elements of absurdity have the makings of a Monty Python skit.  

Short Story #334 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 11/01/2014
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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