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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