The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Killer

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Title: The Killer

Author: J. T. Oliver

Release date: July 5, 2021 [eBook #65770]

Language: English

Credits: Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at



By J. T. Oliver

Smith made a profitable business out of
murder. It was all quite simple—he killed a
man and then disposed of the body—forever!

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy
March 1952
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

The sign on the door said Ernest H. Smith, Private Investigator. The door opened and a woman came in. She was a brunette, about five-feet-two, wearing a yellow dress with black buttons. She carried a brown alligator handbag. "I am Mrs. Wilma Rogers," she said. "You were recommended to me."

Smith motioned to a chair in front of his desk. "Sit down, Mrs. Rogers. Do you have a card?"

She sat down and opened her handbag. She took out a small card and handed it to him. He looked at the printed words, "Recommended to Smith." He opened a desk drawer and removed a small bottle of red liquid, spilling a few drops on the blank side of the card. Soon there was visible writing on it. "Okay for any service," it said.

"All right," Smith nodded, "what can I do for you?"

"I want you to kill my husband," she said pleasantly.

Smith swiveled his chair around to face the typewriter, inserted a blank sheet of white paper, and began to type. "Why do you want him killed?"

"He's stingy—he won't give me enough money."

"How much money will he leave you, Mrs. Rogers?"

"Roughly two hundred thousand," she said. "There's insurance, of course, but I understand we can't count on that."

Smith smiled. "That's a nice sum. Now what time would be most convenient?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "Any time suits me."

Smith laughed. "I mean for your husband. What time would be best for killing him?"

"Oh," she said. Her brow wrinkled and she began to mutter, "Let's see, now ... home at five-fifteen, reads the paper ... takes a shower ... dinner at six-fifteen ... I can send the servants out at seven-thirty ... oh, I think eight will be perfect."

"Eight it is," said Smith, putting the information on paper. "Now for a bit of information about the house and grounds. Can't afford to bungle into the wrong place and foul up the job."

Mrs. Rogers opened her purse again and withdrew a folded sheet of paper. "I've got a floor-plan of the house here, with the address and everything marked off."

Smith took the paper and looked at it. "You don't overlook anything, do you? Why didn't you just go ahead and do the job yourself?"

She smiled and shrugged. "I understand you can perform a perfect murder. I'm afraid I couldn't."

Smith removed the typewritten sheet from the machine and inserted a fresh sheet. He filled it in with names, dates, and figures. When he finished he handed it to her. "Sign on the bottom line."

She took the paper and looked at it.

"It's our contract," said Smith. "I have to have a guarantee that you'll go through with your part of the bargain. If you don't, I'll have that signed confession."

Mrs. Rogers looked at him in silence for a moment, then she laughed and signed the paper. "You don't overlook anything, yourself."

"No, Ma'am," said Smith.

At exactly five minutes before eight, Smith drove his panel truck through the gate to the Rogers home, turned out the lights, and drove silently to the house. He parked near the side entrance, got out, went around the truck, which was labeled, "Smith's TV Repair," and opened the back doors. He lifted a pile of ragged quilts from the floor and picked up a small air-pistol. Wrapped carefully in the quilts was a tiny bottle of dark green liquid, marked "Poison." He took a small dart from his pocket, opened the bottle and applied a small amount of the liquid to the tip of the projectile. Then he loaded the pistol with the dart, stuck it in his coat pocket, and replaced the bottle.

He walked rapidly to the door of the house, stopped at the steps to consult the floor-plan, and then entered. He went up the stairs and directly to the second door on the left. He turned the knob silently and eased inside.

A small man, dressed in a dark suit, was seated at a desk, writing with a fountain pen on light blue paper. He looked up and said, "Who are you?"

"I'm Smith, the TV repairman—are you Rogers?"

"Yes, but I—"

Then Smith killed him.

He emerged from the house with Rogers draped over his shoulder and staggered over to the truck. He shoved the corpse in and crawled in after. Moving rapidly, he opened the door of a trim metal cabinet directly behind the cab and shoved Rogers inside. Then he pushed a button on the side of the contraption and it began to hum.

After two minutes he cut the power and opened the cabinet. It was empty.

Smith whistled softly as he walked back to the house. He strode noisily in and called, "Hey, Mrs. Rogers!"

She emerged from a door near the head of the stairs and came down. "Yes?" she said.

Smith grinned at her. "It's okay, lady—the job is over."

"Good! Let me fix you a drink, and you can tell me all about it."

Smith sat down on a couch. She prepared the drinks and brought his over. They sat together and sipped the liquor.

"Science is wonderful," she said.

"Yeah, it sure is," said Smith. "They spend millions figuring out fancy ways to catch crooks, and then some dumb professor invents a way so I can kill people and never be caught."

"I wonder what the cops a hundred years in the future will think when bodies start popping up all over the place?" she observed.

"Who cares?" said Smith. "I'm making my dough, even if I will have to wait seven years for the heirs to collect."

"It won't be too hard to wait," she said, "since we know for certain we'll get it."

"Let's drink to our success," Smith said.

"Let's," she smiled.

"Here's to a fine old professor, who invented a time machine and kindly let me kill him and take it away. Here's to a policeman's nightmare—the perfect murder."

They drank.

Smith got to his feet then and put the glass down. "Well, I've got to go now, I—"

He saw the blank look of astonishment on her face. Her mouth had dropped open and her eyes were wide, staring. But they weren't looking at him—they were looking behind him.

And then he heard the polite cough.

Smith spun around. He stared in amazement at the figure of a man standing there. A man clad in a strange shimmering metallic uniform. The man held an odd-looking weapon in his hand. He was smiling.

"Mr. Smith, I believe?"

Smith nodded automatically. "Yes, but who—"

"—am I?" the stranger completed the sentence for him. "It's quite simple. I'm Inspector Graevod, homicide. I'm arresting you for murder."

Smith shook his head dully. "But that's impossible. There's no murder—no body.... Where did you come from?"

The shimmering man smiled pleasantly. "Oh but there is a body. Matter of fact there are quite a few. We've had quite a bit of difficulty in tracing you down. I've come all the way from 2035 to find you." He turned his eyes to the woman. "As an accessory to the fact you are also under arrest. Come along, both of you."

He pointed the strange weapon at them and a silver radiance swept from it to envelope their bodies.

But only for a moment. Then they were gone....