Friday, August 26, 2016

"Fred Stone Could Have Been Killed Last Night and Yet Be Walking Around Full of Life Today"

"You'll Die Yesterday."
By Rog Phillips (Roger Phillip Graham, 1909-66).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, March 1951.
Reprinted in Amazing Stories, February 1968.
Short story (14 pages).
Online at SFFAudio HERE (PDF).
"I don't know anything about the mumbo jumbo of time travel. All I know is that a murder has been committed, and that you have been positively identified as the murderer."
Sometimes knowing too much can be fatal; in Fred Stone's case, however, it's simply appearing to know too much that gets him murdered—or should that be executed?

Jan Stevens, a well-known scientist and author of Me and My Robot, is doing a Q & A after a lecture when one of the questioners is gunned down and the killer easily escapes. Jan and Paula, his girlfriend, get to the victim, Fred Stone, just before he dies and the police arrive; among his effects are papers which, when Jan has run tests on them, show they are two hundred and ten years old, which agrees exactly with a card with Stone's name on it having an expiration date of 2163. No doubt about it: Fred Stone was from the future—which is remarkable enough, but then Stone pulls off the trick of disappearing from the morgue and showing up very much alive in Jan's laboratory two days after he was killed. What in the name of Einstein is going on?

Principal characters:
~ Fred Stone: 
   "I should have waited to hear what you wanted to tell me."
~ Jan(uary) Stevens:
   "I think the future is an open book that can be changed. It's the past that can't be changed."
~ Paula Morris:
   ". . . even if you're right, we shouldn't give up. We should try to change what has happen-ed. We must warn him."
~ Police Detective Trowbridge:
   "Do you know anything that a man from the future might be very anxious to find out? Enough so to come back in Time? Something so important that someone else from his Time would follow him and kill him to keep him from finding out? Something the killer knows?"
~ Sigmund Archer:
   "I'm thirsty. Could I have a glass of water?"

Typos: "he came fom the year"; "as Towbridge twisted."
- For a good elementary introduction to the concepts of time travel in science and fiction go to Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE).
- Another story by Rog Phillips was featured on this very weblog (HERE).

The bottom line: "Since my first day on the job as a Starfleet captain I swore I'd never let myself get caught in one of these godforsaken paradoxes — the future is the past, the past
is the future, it all gives me a headache."
Captain Janeway

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