Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Syl Is a Violent Man and I Think He's Getting Suspicious"

"The Chase."
By E. K. Jarvis (house pseudonym).
First appearance: Fantastic Adventures, April 1952.
Reprinted in Fantastic Adventures (U.K.), May 1953.
Short short story (7 pages).
Online HERE.
Parental caution: Strong language.
"Through seven weary years—over the entire solar system—Syl stalked Johnny. Only—can you kill a man you really hate?"
Just back from the Mars run, Syl Martin returns home to Margaret, his wife:
. . . He found her in the bedroom. She had cut her wrists and most of her blood had soaked into the carpet around her. There was a shadow of regret in her eyes as he knelt beside her . . .
His grief turning to cold rage, Syl makes a fateful phone call to the man he thought was his friend:
. . . "I'm going to kill you, Johnny. You're a rotten son-of-a-bitch. I'm going to kill you."
Syl put down the receiver and turned back to the dead thing on the floor; the dead thing that had been his wife.
If Syl had just thought it through, he wouldn't have made that call—and for years he's going to pay for his mistake until, having come full circle, the moment arrives:
. . . Syl raised his gun: Johnny Martin's head settled into the sights.
But a question stayed Syl's finger. A strange, inane question: Why do I want to kill him?
Seven years. Now, at the last moment, he had to stop and remember.
Comment: This one shows how noir elements (as defined just below) had begun to penetrate science fiction:
Noir fiction (or roman noir) is a literary genre closely related to hardboiled genre with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist. — From Wikipedia HERE

- FictionMags and the ISFDb have info on "E. K. Jarvis" HERE and HERE.

The bottom line: Vengeance is mine; I will repay.
The Bible

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