This is a 1950s - 1960s short story about two pals trapped on top of an oil tank. Two guys are killing time messing around in an abandoned oil storage tank farm. They climb up a rusty ladder (or at least one does, can't recall) and part of it breaks off. There they are, on top of this 100 foot oil tank -- nobody around for miles -- no way down, no way to call for help -- sun is beating down on them.

The end.

Not a happy story. I think this was in a paperback collection of "macabre" stories. Can't Google up the slightest trace of this story, so it's probably an obscure author.


1 Answer 1


"The Vertical Ladder" by William Sansom has some similarities, but only one boy is left trapped.

Dared to by a girl he fancies, a youth attempts to climb to the top of a disused gas tank via a metal ladder bolted to the side of it, but soon finds he has bitten off more than he can chew.

Source: The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories (1960) (31 March 2014) on the Pandaemonian blog.

He can't go down - his friends had removed the wooden ladder which connected the iron one to the ground and left him. And he finds the real top rungs missing... the platform jutting five feet above.

  • Welcome to Literature! Please could you edit to include some description of this story, or at least a link to a summary somewhere? Ideally, anyone reading should be able to tell whether or not this sounds right, by comparing it with the OP's description. (See also our guidelines on writing a good story-ID answer.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 17, 2017 at 22:13
  • Done (I meant to just leave comment, I didn't realize I posted an answer).
    – Ayshe
    Dec 17, 2017 at 22:27

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