The light, gritty wind of a spring morning blew in on the doctor's shining, cleared desk, and on the tall buttonhook of a man who leaned agitatedly toward him.
"I have some kind of small animal lodged in my chest," said the man. He coughed, a slight, hollow apologia to his ailment, and sank back in his chair.
"Animal?" said the doctor, after a pause which had the unfortunate quality of comment. His voice, however, was practiced, deft, colored only with the careful suspension of judgment.
"Probably a form of newt or toad," answered the man, speaking with clipped distaste, as if he would disassociate himself from the idea as far as possible. "Of course, you don't believe me."
O homem diz ao médico como ele conseguiu o newt de um aluno:
"'I'll never get rid of it now!' he wailed. From then on it wasn't hard to get the whole maudlin story. It seems that shortly after Hallowell's arrival at school he acquired a reputation for unusual proficiency with animals and with out-of-the-way lore which would impress the ingenuous. He circulated the rumor that he could swallow small animals and regurgitate them at will. No one actually saw him swallow anything, but it seems that in some mumbo-jumbo with another boy who had shown cynicism about the whole thing, it was claimed that Hallowell had, well, divested himself of something, and passed it on to the other boy, with the statement that the latter would only be able to get rid of his cargo when he it turn found a boy who would disbelieve him."
Perto do final da história, a novidade muda os hosts novamente:
"O.K., O.K. . . !" he shouted suddenly, slapping his hand down on the desk and thrusting his chin forward. "Have it your way then! I don't believe you!"
Rigid, the man looked back at him cataleptically, seeming, for a moment, all eye. Then, his mouth stretching in that medieval grimace, risorial and equivocal, whose mask appears sometimes on one side of the stage, sometimes on the other, he fell forward on the desk, with a long, mewing sigh.
Before the doctor could reach him, he had raised himself on his arms and their foreheads touched. They recoiled, staring downward. Between them on the desk, as if one of its mahogany shadows had become animate, something seemed to move–small, seal-colored, and ambiguous. For a moment it filmed back and forth, arching in a crude, primordial inquiry; then homing straight for the doctor, whose jaw hung down in a rictus of shock, it disappeared from view.
Eu não conheço a outra história. Apenas no caso de as duas histórias realmente estarem na mesma antologia, aqui estão algumas das antologias em que "Azia" apareceu:
- Histórias eternas para hoje e amanhã , editadas por Ray Bradbury
- Melhores Histórias de Terror , editadas por John Keir Cross
- De repente , editado por Marvin Allen Karp e Irving Settel
- The Cold Embrace , editado por Alex Hamilton
- Fantasia: formas de coisas desconhecidas , editadas por Edmund J. Farrell , Thomas E. Gage, John Pfordresher e Raymond J. Rodrigues
- Nine Strange Stories , editado por Betty M. Owen
- 65 Grandes contos de terror , editado por Mary Danby
- Haunting Women , editada por Alan Ryan
- Sombras Noturnas: Histórias do Inquietante do Século XX , editadas por Joan Kessler