Short Story #81: Pythias by Frederick Pohl

Title: Pythias 

Author: Frederick Pohl


Galaxy Science Fiction - February 1955 Cover
Dick, the narrator from the beginning tells us that he committed the murder to which he is accused but he had to do it.  The man he killed was an old friend named Laurence Connaught, who actually saved his life shortly before Dick killed him.  In fact, Connaught is a successful scientist with many degrees while the Dick's life has led him to be security for a senator.  Dick explains that they happened upon each other during an event with the senator.  Terrorists arrived on the scene and while they are put down, one of them pulls a pin on the grenade and Connaught jumps on it, saving Dick's life.  Afterward, Dick needs to understand exactly how Connaught could have survived such a blast.  When he meets with to discuss it, Connaught explains that his scientific experiments have granted him superpowers such as pyschokinesis.  Dick doubts this but Connaught shows him some examples.  Without warning, Dick knocks out Connaught, ransacks his apartment and then shoots him dead after calling the police. He explains in the conclusion that Connaught couldn't be trusted with such secrets because they could easily get out into the world and be abused.  However, Dick believes that he can use the powers properly.  


The story had a hint of Poe with the confessional style, the jealously of a good man, and the death.  The final line of the story, "But I can" is a bit haunting and I think lends to the feel that this story has a Poe influence to it.  Of course, the story has a curious ending about whether the narrator will actually accept the death penalty and take the answers with him to his death or if he plans to escape death.  

Short Story #81 out of 365
Rating: 3  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  3/20/2014
Source:  I purchased the free ebook on Amazon Kindle.  However, it can also be found on Project Gutenberg.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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