The Hanging Stranger

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Science Fiction Adventures Dec 1953

Ed Loyce is the only one who seems to find the dead stranger strung up from a lamp post in Pikeville’s town park out of the ordinary. He reports it to the police who want to take him in for questioning, but he escapes from them and discovers the town of Pikeville has been invaded by insect-like aliens from another dimension who have taken on the appearance of everyone in the town, including his family.

He flees to the neighboring town of Oak Grove and attempts to warn the police commissioner there. But the commissioner explains to Loyce that the stranger was hanged in Pikeville as bait to draw out anyone from the town who wasn’t yet under the control of the aliens. Loyce realizes too late he is fated to become the hanging stranger in the similarly-overrun Oak Grove.

“The Hanging Stranger” was adapted as the more politically-minded and muddled tv episode “Kill All Others” in the first season of Electric Dreams.

Cast of characters

  • Ed Loyce – owner of Loyce TV Sales and Service
  • Don Fergusson – salesman at Loyce TV Sales and Service
  • Jack Potter – works at the shoe shop by the town park
  • Jenkins – a stationary clerk
  • Margaret Henderson – works at the jewelry store by the town park
  • Janet Loyce – Ed’s wife
  • Tommy and Jimmy – Ed’s sons
  • The police commissioner of Oak Grove