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The Hidden Hand

Before the Flood

Massacre of the Innocents

The Honeymoon Widow

Strange Cargo


The Eggman



An architect named Henry becomes increasingly convinced that he has laid an egg.


Henry didn't feel it coming. He stood up to wipe himself, and there it was, a porcelain peak peering like a snowcap through the clouds of waste floating in the toilet bowl. Henry leaned closer and noticed it was round and pointed, like the top of an egg.

He made sure not to cover it with the soiled tissue and shuffled with short jerky steps to the kitchen, his pajama pants and underwear still wrapped around his ankles, and opened the drawer where he kept the utensils he used to cook his eggs.

Henry loved eggs -- he loved them fried, sunny-side up and medium well; he loved them scrambled, with or without ham, soft-boiled and in omelets. But his favorite was the hard-boiled egg, especially when the surface of the yolk turned a light bluish green, which, after years of experience, Henry had determined was reached at precisely the 13:25 minute mark if he set his particular stove on high and the water he used was cold tap water, though the cooking time could change in winter when the pipes were cold, adding between 15 and 23 seconds to the process.

Henry took the prongs he used to dip and remove the hard-boiled eggs, which he kept neatly lined in the drawer next to the egg timer, egg beater and whisk that he used when he was craving his eggs fluffy and scrambled.

Then he shuffled back to the bathroom, turned on the faucet in the sink and carefully extracted the egg from the toilet bowl. After rinsing it, Henry raised it and held it up to the light. It looked exactly like a chicken egg, but after years of cooking eggs, he knew it wasn't boiled.

"What are you doing?" asked Henry's wife.

Cindy, a nurse, was dressed in her white uniform. She stared at the egg Henry held at the end of the prong, then at the pants draped around his ankles.

"Aren't you going to flush?" she asked. "And what are you doing with an egg?"

"I don't know. When I went to the bathroom, I got up, and it was there, in the toilet bowl."

Henry placed a cushion of toilet paper in the sink and softly set the egg on top. Then, he finished wiping and flushed.

"Where do you suppose it came from?" Cindy said.

"I don't know, but I could have sworn it wasn't there when I sat down."

"You're always half asleep when you get up."

"Maybe," Henry said and finished wiping. He wasn't sure if he had checked the toilet before sitting down, but he began to think that he had and that it was empty, and the harder he tried to remember, the surer he became. "But I'm pretty sure I looked before sitting down."

"Then it probably came up through the sewer system after you sat down," Cindy said. "You know how long it takes you, especially when you start reading."

"But I wasn't reading. Besides, I should know about plumbing systems," said Henry, who was an architect, "and I've never seen one that flows backwards."

"Martha said the other day that a python came up through the sewer system in her condo. Lucky she stood up in time."

"Martha’s in Florida,” Henry said. “Besides, snakes swim. This egg," he said carefully lifting it on the bed of tissue, "doesn't. It's inanimate."

"Then how do you suppose it got there?"

"I don't know, but I'm sure it wasn't there when I sat down."

"Don't tell me what you're thinking," Cindy said staring at the egg. "I don't want to hear it."

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