tag: Fantasy

Small Town

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First published in Amazing May 1954

Starting when he was a child Verne Haskel has been creating a perfect miniature replica of Woodland, where he has lived his whole life, for his model train set. By the time he is in his forties he has built the entire town down to the last detail. 

After another miserable day at Larson’s Pump and Valve Works where he has worked for twenty years he returns home, heads straight to his model world in the basement and destroys the Pump and Valve Works building. The next day he quits his job and comes home to find his wife Madge cheating on him with Paul Tyler. Instead of dealing with that he spends the rest of the day remodeling his tiny version of Woodland, vindictively replacing everything to match the world he wants.

Somehow Paul Tyler suspects what will happen next. When Haskel declares he is finished with his grand project Madge and Tyler find that he and the train set have disappeared, and when they drive to the police station to report him missing they see the town now mirrors Haskel’s fantasy world. As Haskel has made himself mayor in this new Woodland things aren’t going to end well for Madge and Tyler.

Cast of characters

  • Verne Haskel 
  • Madge Haskel – Verne’s wife
  • Paul Tyler – having an affair with Madge

Of Withered Apples

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First published in Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy July 1954

A woman has had what seems to be a love affair with an old apple tree. She goes to see the dried up old tree one last time to break up with it for good, but for some reason eats the apple that rolls down the hill behind her as she leaves. 

That night she gets violently ill. Their farm is far from the hospital, and she dies from what the doctor ends up ruling appendicitis before her husband can get her there. Seven or eight months later her husband and father-in-law visit her grave and find an apple tree growing in the field.

It’s obviously a quirky story but I like the mise-en-scène.

Cast of characters

  • Lori Patterson
  • Steve – Lori’s husband
  • Ed – Lori’s father-in-law
  • The apple tree?

Project: Earth

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First published in Imagination Dec 1953

Eleven-year-old Tommy is fascinated by Mr. Billings who is renting an apartment at his friend’s house. Mr. Billings turns out to be a cosmic bureaucrat of sorts who is cataloging everything about the current batch of humans, known as Project B, on Earth. Project A (implied to be the angels) was considered a failure as those beings were given too much self-dependence which eventually turned into pride. This latest round of humans were given a herd mentality, but they have also become more individualistic over time, likely because of influence from any surviving members of Project A.

Once Mr. Billings has completed his documentation Project B will be eliminated and it will be on to Project C, still in its very early stages as tiny two-inch creatures kept in a pen in his rooftop garden. These “humans” have antennae and no innate drives with the hope they will be more rational than previous iterations. 

Tommy wants the creatures for himself, so he steals them. Mr. Billings wins them back in a game of marbles, but it’s too late as they’ve already learned about independence from Tommy. When Mr. Billings tries to return them to their pen they attack him and escape. He decides to report to his superiors the conclusion they might as well just let Project B run its course, since any consecutive attempts to create the perfect humans will end up in rebellion and failure anyway. 

Cast of characters

  • Tommy Jackson
  • Dave and Joan Grant – Tommy’s friends whose parents own the house where Mr. Billings rents a room
  • Edward Billings – currently documenting the Project B round of humans on Earth

Beyond the Door

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First published in Fantastic Universe Jan 1954

Larry buys his wife Doris a cuckoo clock, mostly because he was able to get it for a good price, not because he cared that she really wanted it. Doris loves it in spite of Larry’s intentions, but the cuckoo, apparently a good judge of character, doesn’t get along too well with Larry and takes a nick out of his thumb while he’s winding the clock. Doris knows her antique-loving friend Bob would appreciate the cuckoo clock, but Larry catches the two of them together when she is showing it to him, and he throws her out of the house. 

Larry keeps the clock though, since he paid for it after all, but the cuckoo refuses to come out on the hour. When Larry approaches it angrily with a hammer the cuckoo strikes him in the eye and kills him. The doctor rules that he died from a fall, but only Bob suspects the truth about what happened. 

Cast of characters

  • Larry and Doris
  • Bob – Doris’s friend

The Cookie Lady

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First published in Fantasy Fiction Jun 1953

An elderly woman tempts a schoolboy to her house with freshly-baked cookies where she siphons away his life force to become young again. 

Cast of characters

  • Bernard “Bubber” Surle – a cookie-loving schoolboy
  • Mrs. Drew – the titular cookie lady
  • May and Ralf Surle – Bubber’s parents

Out in the Garden

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Fantasy Fiction Aug 1953

Before Robert Nye’s wife Peggy has even announced her pregnancy, his friend, when he sees Peggy in the garden with her pet duck, is reminded of the story of Zeus who took the form of a swan and gave Leda a child. Later Robert begins to wonder if the father of his son might actually be this pet duck his wife is so fond of, and his suspicions are confirmed when his young son invites him to a meal of spiders and worms.

Cast of characters

  • Robert Nye – suspects his son might not actually be his son
  • Peggy Nye – Robert’s wife
  • Tom Lindquist – Robert’s friend
  • Sir Francis – Peggy’s pet duck and possible lover and deity in disguise 
  • Stephen – Robert’s “son”