By John Jakes (born 1932).
First appearance: Fantastic Adventures, September 1952.
Short short story (9 pages).
"Gordon's invoice read: 'Ten bodies. Deliver to Mars.' But there was an eleventh coffin, and Gordon found it contained more than the dead body of a Martian."It seemed like just another unremarkable, prosaic cargo run to Mars, but then sudden death changes everything:
. . . He raced through the lock and into the hold. The lights were on and the biers were in their racks, steely sides glinting dully in the light. Gordon's eyes swept over the room, up, then down. And suddenly he knew what the smell was. Blood. . . .And just about the last person Gordon would expect to encounter on his ship is a wanted criminal whose "voice was like a mixture of honey and thunder":
. . . He towered, a giant of a man, looking down on Gordon like some haughty god, aware of his own might and intelligence. With the pistol he had complete power. . . .Not only is he big, but he also entertains grandiose ideas, notions that make it almost certain Gordon won't survive this flight:
. . . "That German fellow had the idea, but he needed it refined by more education. Only the intellect can rule, and the intellect says kill in order to rule. You see?" He smiled again, and then the smile vanished. "I'm getting tired of you, pilot." . . .Resources:
- John Jakes is much more famous for his historical novels, many of which have been adapted to film; see HERE (Wikipedia) and HERE (IMDb) for more.
- More bibliographical data about our author are HERE (FictionMags) and HERE (ISFDb).
The bottom line: I don't want to own anything that won't fit into my coffin.
— Fred Allen