Monday, January 9, 2017

"For the First Time in the History of Crime, a Murderer Had at His Disposal the Sure Means of Ridding Himself of His Corpse"

"Murder in the Time World."
By Malcolm Jameson (1891-1945).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, August 1940.
Reprinted in The Alien Envoy and Other Stories (2012) and Anachron, Inc. and Other Stories (2013).
Short story (17 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Parental caution: Strong language and violence.)
"'They can't accuse me of a crime when there is no evidence that it has been committed,' said Karl Tarig. So he sent the body of the murdered man into the future. But he didn't realize the truth of the adage: Time will tell!"
Chapter I: "I haven't time now, but ten years from now . . ."
Chapter II: "Escape"
Chapter III: "The Plot Thins"
Chapter IV: "Oblivion"

"Have his carcase" is a well-established requirement in Anglo-American jurisprudence; for the state to prosecute a case of murder against the accused there must a body, or at least evidence of it.

He might not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but Karl Tarig, a greedy wastrel with a criminal record for relatively minor offenses, knows about "have his carcase" and, feeling emboldened by it, undertakes something he's been wanting to do for a long time: murder his boss (who is also his cousin), Dr. Claude Morrison; adding to Tarig's confidence is knowing that he has the perfect means of evading suspicion, an operational time machine:
Heretofore he had refrained from major crime because he was yellow—afraid. Afraid of the law—the noose or the chair. But he was bold now. He was immune from the law. To hell with the law! For he had thought out the perfect crime. There could be no dangerous consequences. You can't hang a man for murder without a body—a corpus delicti.
As (bad) luck would have it, Dr. Morrison has just perfected a time machine (although he prefers the term D-4 Accelerator) and Tarig, although not too smart, has learned just enough to operate it. You could say that, as far as Karl Tarig's despicable plans are concerned, the future looks bright indeed—until the moment comes when he hears a voice say, "You thought you were clever, but in all my career I never saw a more stupid crime," just as he finds himself "being led towards a black door marked only by a single white death's head"...

Comment: Our author seems to have realized that, unlike time travel into the past, travelling into the future entails a lot fewer paradoxes and, therefore, not as many plot snarls.

Typos: "stringing that Waren girl along"; "There was a sign swing".
- Our latest encounter with Malcolm Jameson was last May (HERE).

The bottom line: "If I could time travel into the future, my first port of call would be the point where medical technology is at its best because, like most people on this planet, I have this aversion to dying."
Neal Asher

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