Darwyn Cooke on superhero comics

“If we’re talking about mainstream comics, I think there have been a lot of real tactical errors made in this century. I can’t really read superhero comics anymore because they’re not about superheroes. They’ve become so dark and violent and sexualized. I think it’s a real wrong turn. I don’t know how a company like Warner Bros. or Disney is able to rationalize characters raping and murdering and taking drugs and swearing and carrying on the way they do, and those same characters are on sheet sets for 5-year-olds, and pajamas and cartoons. I think there’s a really odd and schizophrenic thing that’s happened within the industry. Everybody’s writing books for themselves. The median age of a creator is probably between 35 and 50 right now. Once they abandoned the notion that these characters were all-ages characters, they really limited the market.

I think the bravest and smartest thing one of these companies could do would be to scrap everything they’re doing and bring in creative people who would have the talent and were willing to put in the effort it takes to write an all-ages universe that an adult or a child could enjoy. If either one of these companies were smart enough to do that, I think they could take huge strides for the industry.”

– Darwyn Cooke

‘Splodey Head Alert – Oregon Poll: Donald Trump 53%, Hillary Clinton 26% (Independents)…

Trump’s magic is the same type of charisma that was MANUFACTURED for JFK to some extent, but which Trump, if anything, possesses naturally to a larger degree:

the “life of politics and the life of myth had diverged too far” during the dull years of Eisenhower and Truman. It was Kennedy’s destiny, Mailer thought (along with many others), to restore a heroic dimension to American politics, to speak and represent the “real subterranean life of America,” to “engage” once again the “myth of the nation,” and thus to bring a new “impetus … to the lives and the imaginations of the American.”

–“The Life of Kennedy’s Death” by Christopher Lasch in the October 1983 issue of Harper’s magazine

#PKD The Hanging Stranger

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Hanging Stranger, by Philip K. Dick

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org
Title: The Hanging Stranger

Author: Philip K. Dick

Release Date: December 5, 2012 [EBook #41562]

Language: English
Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net




[Transcriber’s Note: This etext was produced from Science Fiction
Adventures Magazine December 1953. Extensive research did not uncover
any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
Ed had always been a practical man, when he saw something was wrong
he tried to correct it. Then one day he saw _it_ hanging in the town
Five o’clock Ed Loyce washed up, tossed on his hat and coat, got his car
out and headed across town toward his TV sales store. He was tired. His
back and shoulders ached from digging dirt out of the basement and
wheeling it into the back yard. But for a forty-year-old man he had done
okay. Janet could get a new vase with the money he had saved; and he
liked the idea of repairing the foundations himself!

It was getting dark. The setting sun cast long rays over the scurrying
commuters, tired and grim-faced, women loaded down with bundles and
packages, students swarming home from the university, mixing with clerks
and businessmen and drab secretaries. He stopped his Packard for a red
light and then started it up again. The store had been open without him;
he’d arrive just in time to spell the help for dinner, go over the
records of the day, maybe even close a couple of sales himself. He drove
slowly past the small square of green in the center of the street, the
town park. There were no parking places in front of LOYCE TV SALES AND
SERVICE. He cursed under his breath and swung the car in a U-turn. Again
he passed the little square of green with its lonely drinking fountain
and bench and single lamppost.

From the lamppost something was hanging. A shapeless dark bundle,
swinging a little with the wind. Like a dummy of some sort. Loyce rolled
down his window and peered out. What the hell was it? A display of
some kind? Sometimes the Chamber of Commerce put up displays in the

Again he made a U-turn and brought his car around. He passed the park
and concentrated on the dark bundle. It wasn’t a dummy. And if it was a
display it was a strange kind. The hackles on his neck rose and he
swallowed uneasily. Sweat slid out on his face and hands.

It was a body. A human body.

* * * * *

“Look at it!” Loyce snapped. “Come on out here!”

Don Fergusson came slowly out of the store, buttoning his pin-stripe
coat with dignity. “This is a big deal, Ed. I can’t just leave the guy
standing there.”

“See it?” Ed pointed into the gathering gloom. The lamppost jutted up
against the sky–the post and the bundle swinging from it. “There it is.
How the hell long has it been there?” His voice rose excitedly. “What’s
wrong with everybody? They just walk on past!”

Don Fergusson lit a cigarette slowly. “Take it easy, old man. There must
be a good reason, or it wouldn’t be there.”

“A reason! What kind of a reason?”

Fergusson shrugged. “Like the time the Traffic Safety Council put that
wrecked Buick there. Some sort of civic thing. How would I know?”

Jack Potter from the shoe shop joined them. “What’s up, boys?”

“There’s a body hanging from the lamppost,” Loyce said. “I’m going to
call the cops.”

“They must know about it,” Potter said. “Or otherwise it wouldn’t be

“I got to get back in.” Fergusson headed back into the store. “Business
before pleasure.”

Loyce began to get hysterical. “You see it? You see it hanging there? A
man’s body! A dead man!”

“Sure, Ed. I saw it this afternoon when I went out for coffee.”

“You mean it’s been there all afternoon?”

“Sure. What’s the matter?” Potter glanced at his watch. “Have to run.
See you later, Ed.”

Potter hurried off, joining the flow of people moving along the
sidewalk. Men and women, passing by the park. A few glanced up curiously
at the dark bundle–and then went on. Nobody stopped. Nobody paid any

“I’m going nuts,” Loyce whispered. He made his way to the curb and
crossed out into traffic, among the cars. Horns honked angrily at him.
He gained the curb and stepped up onto the little square of green.

The man had been middle-aged. His clothing was ripped and torn, a gray
suit, splashed and caked with dried mud. A stranger. Loyce had never
seen him before. Not a local man. His face was partly turned, away, and
in the evening wind he spun a little, turning gently, silently. His skin
was gouged and cut. Red gashes, deep scratches of congealed blood. A
pair of steel-rimmed glasses hung from one ear, dangling foolishly. His
eyes bulged. His mouth was open, tongue thick and ugly blue.

“For Heaven’s sake,” Loyce muttered, sickened. He pushed down his nausea
and made his way back to the sidewalk. He was shaking all over, with
revulsion–and fear.

_Why?_ Who was the man? Why was he hanging there? What did it mean?

And–why didn’t anybody notice?

He bumped into a small man hurrying along the sidewalk. “Watch it!” the
man grated, “Oh, it’s you, Ed.”

Ed nodded dazedly. “Hello, Jenkins.”

“What’s the matter?” The stationery clerk caught Ed’s arm. “You look

“The body. There in the park.”

“Sure, Ed.” Jenkins led him into the alcove of LOYCE TV SALES AND
SERVICE. “Take it easy.”

Margaret Henderson from the jewelry store joined them. “Something

“Ed’s not feeling well.”

Loyce yanked himself free. “How can you stand here? Don’t you see it?
For God’s sake–”

“What’s he talking about?” Margaret asked nervously.

“The body!” Ed shouted. “The body hanging there!”

More people collected. “Is he sick? It’s Ed Loyce. You okay, Ed?”

“The body!” Loyce screamed, struggling to get past them. Hands caught at
him. He tore loose. “Let me go! The police! Get the police!”


“Better get a doctor!”

“He must be sick.”

“Or drunk.”

Loyce fought his way through the people. He stumbled and half fell.
Through a blur he saw rows of faces, curious, concerned, anxious. Men
and women halting to see what the disturbance was. He fought past them
toward his store. He could see Fergusson inside talking to a man,
showing him an Emerson TV set. Pete Foley in the back at the service
counter, setting up a new Philco. Loyce shouted at them frantically.
His voice was lost in the roar of traffic and the murmur around him.

“Do something!” he screamed. “Don’t stand there! Do something!
Something’s wrong! Something’s happened! Things are going on!”

The crowd melted respectfully for the two heavy-set cops moving
efficiently toward Loyce.

* * * * *

“Name?” the cop with the notebook murmured.

“Loyce.” He mopped his forehead wearily. “Edward C. Loyce. Listen to me.
Back there–”

“Address?” the cop demanded. The police car moved swiftly through
traffic, shooting among the cars and buses. Loyce sagged against the
seat, exhausted and confused. He took a deep shuddering breath.

“1368 Hurst Road.”

“That’s here in Pikeville?”

“That’s right.” Loyce pulled himself up with a violent effort. “Listen
to me. Back there. In the square. Hanging from the lamppost–”

“Where were you today?” the cop behind the wheel demanded.

“Where?” Loyce echoed.

“You weren’t in your shop, were you?”

“No.” He shook his head. “No, I was home. Down in the basement.”

“In the _basement_?”

“Digging. A new foundation. Getting out the dirt to pour a cement frame.
Why? What has that to do with–”

“Was anybody else down there with you?”

“No. My wife was downtown. My kids were at school.” Loyce looked from
one heavy-set cop to the other. Hope flicked across his face, wild hope.
“You mean because I was down there I missed–the explanation? I didn’t
get in on it? Like everybody else?”

After a pause the cop with the notebook said: “That’s right. You missed
the explanation.”

“Then it’s official? The body–it’s _supposed_ to be hanging there?”

“It’s supposed to be hanging there. For everybody to see.”

Ed Loyce grinned weakly. “Good Lord. I guess I sort of went off the deep
end. I thought maybe something had happened. You know, something like
the Ku Klux Klan. Some kind of violence. Communists or Fascists taking
over.” He wiped his face with his breast-pocket handkerchief, his hands
shaking. “I’m glad to know it’s on the level.”

“It’s on the level.” The police car was getting near the Hall of
Justice. The sun had set. The streets were gloomy and dark. The lights
had not yet come on.

“I feel better,” Loyce said. “I was pretty excited there, for a minute.
I guess I got all stirred up. Now that I understand, there’s no need to
take me in, is there?”

The two cops said nothing.

“I should be back at my store. The boys haven’t had dinner. I’m all
right, now. No more trouble. Is there any need of–”

“This won’t take long,” the cop behind the wheel interrupted. “A short
process. Only a few minutes.”

“I hope it’s short,” Loyce muttered. The car slowed down for a
stoplight. “I guess I sort of disturbed the peace. Funny, getting
excited like that and–”

Loyce yanked the door open. He sprawled out into the street and rolled
to his feet. Cars were moving all around him, gaining speed as the light
changed. Loyce leaped onto the curb and raced among the people,
burrowing into the swarming crowds. Behind him he heard sounds, shouts,
people running.

They weren’t cops. He had realized that right away. He knew every cop in
Pikeville. A man couldn’t own a store, operate a business in a small
town for twenty-five years without getting to know all the cops.

They weren’t cops–and there hadn’t been any explanation. Potter,
Fergusson, Jenkins, none of them knew why it was there. They didn’t
know–and they didn’t care. _That_ was the strange part.

Loyce ducked into a hardware store. He raced toward the back, past the
startled clerks and customers, into the shipping room and through the
back door. He tripped over a garbage can and ran up a flight of concrete
steps. He climbed over a fence and jumped down on the other side,
gasping and panting.

There was no sound behind him. He had got away.

He was at the entrance of an alley, dark and strewn with boards and
ruined boxes and tires. He could see the street at the far end. A street
light wavered and came on. Men and women. Stores. Neon signs. Cars.

And to his right–the police station.

He was close, terribly close. Past the loading platform of a grocery
store rose the white concrete side of the Hall of Justice. Barred
windows. The police antenna. A great concrete wall rising up in the
darkness. A bad place for him to be near. He was too close. He had to
keep moving, get farther away from them.


Loyce moved cautiously down the alley. Beyond the police station was the
City Hall, the old-fashioned yellow structure of wood and gilded brass
and broad cement steps. He could see the endless rows of offices, dark
windows, the cedars and beds of flowers on each side of the entrance.

And–something else.

Above the City Hall was a patch of darkness, a cone of gloom denser than
the surrounding night. A prism of black that spread out and was lost
into the sky.

He listened. Good God, he could hear something. Something that made him
struggle frantically to close his ears, his mind, to shut out the sound.
A buzzing. A distant, muted hum like a great swarm of bees.

Loyce gazed up, rigid with horror. The splotch of darkness, hanging over
the City Hall. Darkness so thick it seemed almost solid. _In the vortex
something moved._ Flickering shapes. Things, descending from the sky,
pausing momentarily above the City Hall, fluttering over it in a dense
swarm and then dropping silently onto the roof.

Shapes. Fluttering shapes from the sky. From the crack of darkness that
hung above him.

He was seeing–them.

* * * * *

For a long time Loyce watched, crouched behind a sagging fence in a pool
of scummy water.

They were landing. Coming down in groups, landing on the roof of the
City Hall and disappearing inside. They had wings. Like giant insects of
some kind. They flew and fluttered and came to rest–and then crawled
crab-fashion, sideways, across the roof and into the building.

He was sickened. And fascinated. Cold night wind blew around him and he
shuddered. He was tired, dazed with shock. On the front steps of the
City Hall were men, standing here and there. Groups of men coming out of
the building and halting for a moment before going on.

Were there more of them?

It didn’t seem possible. What he saw descending from the black chasm
weren’t men. They were alien–from some other world, some other
dimension. Sliding through this slit, this break in the shell of the
universe. Entering through this gap, winged insects from another realm
of being.

On the steps of the City Hall a group of men broke up. A few moved
toward a waiting car. One of the remaining shapes started to re-enter
the City Hall. It changed its mind and turned to follow the others.

Loyce closed his eyes in horror. His senses reeled. He hung on tight,
clutching at the sagging fence. The shape, the man-shape, had abruptly
fluttered up and flapped after the others. It flew to the sidewalk and
came to rest among them.

Pseudo-men. Imitation men. Insects with ability to disguise themselves
as men. Like other insects familiar to Earth. Protective coloration.

Loyce pulled himself away. He got slowly to his feet. It was night. The
alley was totally dark. But maybe they could see in the dark. Maybe
darkness made no difference to them.

He left the alley cautiously and moved out onto the street. Men and
women flowed past, but not so many, now. At the bus-stops stood waiting
groups. A huge bus lumbered along the street, its lights flashing in the
evening gloom.

Loyce moved forward. He pushed his way among those waiting and when the
bus halted he boarded it and took a seat in the rear, by the door. A
moment later the bus moved into life and rumbled down the street.

* * * * *

Loyce relaxed a little. He studied the people around him. Dulled, tired
faces. People going home from work. Quite ordinary faces. None of them
paid any attention to him. All sat quietly, sunk down in their seats,
jiggling with the motion of the bus.

The man sitting next to him unfolded a newspaper. He began to read the
sports section, his lips moving. An ordinary man. Blue suit. Tie. A
businessman, or a salesman. On his way home to his wife and family.

Across the aisle a young woman, perhaps twenty. Dark eyes and hair, a
package on her lap. Nylons and heels. Red coat and white angora sweater.
Gazing absently ahead of her.

A high school boy in jeans and black jacket.

A great triple-chinned woman with an immense shopping bag loaded with
packages and parcels. Her thick face dim with weariness.

Ordinary people. The kind that rode the bus every evening. Going home to
their families. To dinner.

Going home–with their minds dead. Controlled, filmed over with the mask
of an alien being that had appeared and taken possession of them, their
town, their lives. Himself, too. Except that he happened to be deep in
his cellar instead of in the store. Somehow, he had been overlooked.
They had missed him. Their control wasn’t perfect, foolproof.

Maybe there were others.

Hope flickered in Loyce. They weren’t omnipotent. They had made a
mistake, not got control of him. Their net, their field of control, had
passed over him. He had emerged from his cellar as he had gone down.
Apparently their power-zone was limited.

A few seats down the aisle a man was watching him. Loyce broke off his
chain of thought. A slender man, with dark hair and a small mustache.
Well-dressed, brown suit and shiny shoes. A book between his small
hands. He was watching Loyce, studying him intently. He turned quickly

Loyce tensed. One of _them_? Or–another they had missed?

The man was watching him again. Small dark eyes, alive and clever.
Shrewd. A man too shrewd for them–or one of the things itself, an alien
insect from beyond.

The bus halted. An elderly man got on slowly and dropped his token into
the box. He moved down the aisle and took a seat opposite Loyce.

The elderly man caught the sharp-eyed man’s gaze. For a split second
something passed between them.

A look rich with meaning.

Loyce got to his feet. The bus was moving. He ran to the door. One step
down into the well. He yanked the emergency door release. The rubber
door swung open.

“Hey!” the driver shouted, jamming on the brakes. “What the hell–”

Loyce squirmed through. The bus was slowing down. Houses on all sides. A
residential district, lawns and tall apartment buildings. Behind him,
the bright-eyed man had leaped up. The elderly man was also on his feet.
They were coming after him.

Loyce leaped. He hit the pavement with terrific force and rolled against
the curb. Pain lapped over him. Pain and a vast tide of blackness.
Desperately, he fought it off. He struggled to his knees and then slid
down again. The bus had stopped. People were getting off.

Loyce groped around. His fingers closed over something. A rock, lying in
the gutter. He crawled to his feet, grunting with pain. A shape loomed
before him. A man, the bright-eyed man with the book.

Loyce kicked. The man gasped and fell. Loyce brought the rock down. The
man screamed and tried to roll away. “_Stop!_ For God’s sake listen–”

He struck again. A hideous crunching sound. The man’s voice cut off and
dissolved in a bubbling wail. Loyce scrambled up and back. The others
were there, now. All around him. He ran, awkwardly, down the sidewalk,
up a driveway. None of them followed him. They had stopped and were
bending over the inert body of the man with the book, the bright-eyed
man who had come after him.

Had he made a mistake?

But it was too late to worry about that. He had to get out–away from
them. Out of Pikeville, beyond the crack of darkness, the rent between
their world and his.

* * * * *

“Ed!” Janet Loyce backed away nervously. “What is it? What–”

Ed Loyce slammed the door behind him and came into the living room.
“Pull down the shades. Quick.”

Janet moved toward the window. “But–”

“Do as I say. Who else is here besides you?”

“Nobody. Just the twins. They’re upstairs in their room. What’s
happened? You look so strange. Why are you home?”

Ed locked the front door. He prowled around the house, into the kitchen.
From the drawer under the sink he slid out the big butcher knife and ran
his finger along it. Sharp. Plenty sharp. He returned to the living

“Listen to me,” he said. “I don’t have much time. They know I escaped
and they’ll be looking for me.”

“Escaped?” Janet’s face twisted with bewilderment and fear. “Who?”

“The town has been taken over. They’re in control. I’ve got it pretty
well figured out. They started at the top, at the City Hall and police
department. What they did with the _real_ humans they–”

“What are you talking about?”

“We’ve been invaded. From some other universe, some other dimension.
They’re insects. Mimicry. And more. Power to control minds. Your mind.”

“My mind?”

“Their entrance is _here_, in Pikeville. They’ve taken over all of you.
The whole town–except me. We’re up against an incredibly powerful
enemy, but they have their limitations. That’s our hope. They’re
limited! They can make mistakes!”

Janet shook her head. “I don’t understand, Ed. You must be insane.”

“Insane? No. Just lucky. If I hadn’t been down in the basement I’d be
like all the rest of you.” Loyce peered out the window. “But I can’t
stand here talking. Get your coat.”

“My coat?”

“We’re getting out of here. Out of Pikeville. We’ve got to get help.
Fight this thing. They _can_ be beaten. They’re not infallible. It’s
going to be close–but we may make it if we hurry. Come on!” He grabbed
her arm roughly. “Get your coat and call the twins. We’re all leaving.
Don’t stop to pack. There’s no time for that.”

White-faced, his wife moved toward the closet and got down her coat.
“Where are we going?”

Ed pulled open the desk drawer and spilled the contents out onto the
floor. He grabbed up a road map and spread it open. “They’ll have the
highway covered, of course. But there’s a back road. To Oak Grove. I got
onto it once. It’s practically abandoned. Maybe they’ll forget about

“The old Ranch Road? Good Lord–it’s completely closed. Nobody’s
supposed to drive over it.”

“I know.” Ed thrust the map grimly into his coat. “That’s our best
chance. Now call down the twins and let’s get going. Your car is full of
gas, isn’t it?”

Janet was dazed.

“The Chevy? I had it filled up yesterday afternoon.” Janet moved toward
the stairs. “Ed, I–”

“Call the twins!” Ed unlocked the front door and peered out. Nothing
stirred. No sign of life. All right so far.

“Come on downstairs,” Janet called in a wavering voice. “We’re–going
out for awhile.”

“Now?” Tommy’s voice came.

“Hurry up,” Ed barked. “Get down here, both of you.”

Tommy appeared at the top of the stairs. “I was doing my home work.
We’re starting fractions. Miss Parker says if we don’t get this done–”

“You can forget about fractions.” Ed grabbed his son as he came down the
stairs and propelled him toward the door. “Where’s Jim?”

“He’s coming.”

Jim started slowly down the stairs. “What’s up, Dad?”

“We’re going for a ride.”

“A ride? Where?”

Ed turned to Janet. “We’ll leave the lights on. And the TV set. Go turn
it on.” He pushed her toward the set. “So they’ll think we’re still–”

He heard the buzz. And dropped instantly, the long butcher knife out.
Sickened, he saw it coming down the stairs at him, wings a blur of
motion as it aimed itself. It still bore a vague resemblance to Jimmy.
It was small, a baby one. A brief glimpse–the thing hurtling at him,
cold, multi-lensed inhuman eyes. Wings, body still clothed in yellow
T-shirt and jeans, the mimic outline still stamped on it. A strange
half-turn of its body as it reached him. What was it doing?

A stinger.

Loyce stabbed wildly at it. It retreated, buzzing frantically. Loyce
rolled and crawled toward the door. Tommy and Janet stood still as
statues, faces blank. Watching without expression. Loyce stabbed again.
This time the knife connected. The thing shrieked and faltered. It
bounced against the wall and fluttered down.

Something lapped through his mind. A wall of force, energy, an alien
mind probing into him. He was suddenly paralyzed. The mind entered his
own, touched against him briefly, shockingly. An utterly alien presence,
settling over him–and then it flickered out as the thing collapsed in a
broken heap on the rug.

It was dead. He turned it over with his foot. It was an insect, a fly of
some kind. Yellow T-shirt, jeans. His son Jimmy…. He closed his mind
tight. It was too late to think about that. Savagely he scooped up his
knife and headed toward the door. Janet and Tommy stood stone-still,
neither of them moving.

The car was out. He’d never get through. They’d be waiting for him. It
was ten miles on foot. Ten long miles over rough ground, gulleys and
open fields and hills of uncut forest. He’d have to go alone.

Loyce opened the door. For a brief second he looked back at his wife and
son. Then he slammed the door behind him and raced down the porch steps.

A moment later he was on his way, hurrying swiftly through the darkness
toward the edge of town.

* * * * *

The early morning sunlight was blinding. Loyce halted, gasping for
breath, swaying back and forth. Sweat ran down in his eyes. His clothing
was torn, shredded by the brush and thorns through which he had crawled.
Ten miles–on his hands and knees. Crawling, creeping through the night.
His shoes were mud-caked. He was scratched and limping, utterly

But ahead of him lay Oak Grove.

He took a deep breath and started down the hill. Twice he stumbled and
fell, picking himself up and trudging on. His ears rang. Everything
receded and wavered. But he was there. He had got out, away from

A farmer in a field gaped at him. From a house a young woman watched in
wonder. Loyce reached the road and turned onto it. Ahead of him was a
gasoline station and a drive-in. A couple of trucks, some chickens
pecking in the dirt, a dog tied with a string.

The white-clad attendant watched suspiciously as he dragged himself up
to the station. “Thank God.” He caught hold of the wall. “I didn’t think
I was going to make it. They followed me most of the way. I could hear
them buzzing. Buzzing and flitting around behind me.”

“What happened?” the attendant demanded. “You in a wreck? A hold-up?”

Loyce shook his head wearily. “They have the whole town. The City Hall
and the police station. They hung a man from the lamppost. That was the
first thing I saw. They’ve got all the roads blocked. I saw them
hovering over the cars coming in. About four this morning I got beyond
them. I knew it right away. I could feel them leave. And then the sun
came up.”

The attendant licked his lip nervously. “You’re out of your head. I
better get a doctor.”

“Get me into Oak Grove,” Loyce gasped. He sank down on the gravel.
“We’ve got to get started–cleaning them out. Got to get started right

* * * * *

They kept a tape recorder going all the time he talked. When he had
finished the Commissioner snapped off the recorder and got to his feet.
He stood for a moment, deep in thought. Finally he got out his
cigarettes and lit up slowly, a frown on his beefy face.

“You don’t believe me,” Loyce said.

The Commissioner offered him a cigarette. Loyce pushed it impatiently
away. “Suit yourself.” The Commissioner moved over to the window and
stood for a time looking out at the town of Oak Grove. “I believe you,”
he said abruptly.

Loyce sagged. “Thank God.”

“So you got away.” The Commissioner shook his head. “You were down in
your cellar instead of at work. A freak chance. One in a million.”

Loyce sipped some of the black coffee they had brought him. “I have a
theory,” he murmured.

“What is it?”

“About them. Who they are. They take over one area at a time. Starting
at the top–the highest level of authority. Working down from there in a
widening circle. When they’re firmly in control they go on to the next
town. They spread, slowly, very gradually. I think it’s been going on
for a long time.”

“A long time?”

“Thousands of years. I don’t think it’s new.”

“Why do you say that?”

“When I was a kid…. A picture they showed us in Bible League. A
religious picture–an old print. The enemy gods, defeated by Jehovah.
Moloch, Beelzebub, Moab, Baalin, Ashtaroth–”


“They were all represented by figures.” Loyce looked up at the
Commissioner. “Beelzebub was represented as–a giant fly.”

The Commissioner grunted. “An old struggle.”

“They’ve been defeated. The Bible is an account of their defeats. They
make gains–but finally they’re defeated.”

“Why defeated?”

“They can’t get everyone. They didn’t get me. And they never got the
Hebrews. The Hebrews carried the message to the whole world. The
realization of the danger. The two men on the bus. I think they
understood. Had escaped, like I did.” He clenched his fists. “I killed
one of them. I made a mistake. I was afraid to take a chance.”

The Commissioner nodded. “Yes, they undoubtedly had escaped, as you did.
Freak accidents. But the rest of the town was firmly in control.” He
turned from the window. “Well, Mr. Loyce. You seem to have figured
everything out.”

“Not everything. The hanging man. The dead man hanging from the
lamppost. I don’t understand that. _Why?_ Why did they deliberately hang
him there?”

“That would seem simple.” The Commissioner smiled faintly. “_Bait._”

Loyce stiffened. His heart stopped beating. “Bait? What do you mean?”

“To draw you out. Make you declare yourself. So they’d know who was
under control–and who had escaped.”

Loyce recoiled with horror. “Then they _expected_ failures! They
anticipated–” He broke off. “They were ready with a trap.”

“And you showed yourself. You reacted. You made yourself known.” The
Commissioner abruptly moved toward the door. “Come along, Loyce. There’s
a lot to do. We must get moving. There’s no time to waste.”

Loyce started slowly to his feet, numbed. “And the man. _Who was the
man?_ I never saw him before. He wasn’t a local man. He was a stranger.
All muddy and dirty, his face cut, slashed–”

There was a strange look on the Commissioner’s face as he answered.
“Maybe,” he said softly, “you’ll understand that, too. Come along with
me, Mr. Loyce.” He held the door open, his eyes gleaming. Loyce caught a
glimpse of the street in front of the police station. Policemen, a
platform of some sort. A telephone pole–and a rope! “Right this way,”
the Commissioner said, smiling coldly.

* * * * *

As the sun set, the vice-president of the Oak Grove Merchants’ Bank came
up out of the vault, threw the heavy time locks, put on his hat and
coat, and hurried outside onto the sidewalk. Only a few people were
there, hurrying home to dinner.

“Good night,” the guard said, locking the door after him.

“Good night,” Clarence Mason murmured. He started along the street
toward his car. He was tired. He had been working all day down in the
vault, examining the lay-out of the safety deposit boxes to see if there
was room for another tier. He was glad to be finished.

At the corner he halted. The street lights had not yet come on. The
street was dim. Everything was vague. He looked around–and froze.

From the telephone pole in front of the police station, something large
and shapeless hung. It moved a little with the wind.

What the hell was it?

Mason approached it warily. He wanted to get home. He was tired and
hungry. He thought of his wife, his kids, a hot meal on the dinner
table. But there was something about the dark bundle, something ominous
and ugly. The light was bad; he couldn’t tell what it was. Yet it drew
him on, made him move closer for a better look. The shapeless thing made
him uneasy. He was frightened by it. Frightened–and fascinated.

And the strange part was that nobody else seemed to notice it.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Hanging Stranger, by Philip K. Dick


***** This file should be named 41562.txt or 41562.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Updated editions will replace the previous one–the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties. Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission. If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research. They may be modified and printed and given away–you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase “Project
Gutenberg”), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License available with this file or online at
Section 1. General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B. “Project Gutenberg” is a registered trademark. It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See
paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works. See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (“the Foundation”
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works. Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States. If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed. Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work. You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work. The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase “Project Gutenberg” appears, or with which the phrase “Project
Gutenberg” is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org

1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges. If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase “Project Gutenberg” associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
“Plain Vanilla ASCII” or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.org),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original “Plain Vanilla ASCII” or other
form. Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

– You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
you already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee is
owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty payments
must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
returns. Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
address specified in Section 4, “Information about donations to
the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.”

– You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License. You must require such a user to return or
destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
Project Gutenberg-tm works.

– You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
of receipt of the work.

– You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark. Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
“Defects,” such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund” described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund. If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you ‘AS-IS’, WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law. The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6. INDEMNITY – You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.
Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm’s
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation information page at http://www.gutenberg.org
Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service. The Foundation’s EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state’s laws.

The Foundation’s principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations. Its business office is located at 809
North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887. Email
contact links and up to date contact information can be found at the
Foundation’s web site and official page at http://www.gutenberg.org/contact

For additional contact information:
Dr. Gregory B. Newby
Chief Executive and Director

Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://www.gutenberg.org/donate

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations.
To donate, please visit: http://www.gutenberg.org/donate
Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone. For forty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:


This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

Try a New Hypothesis, Sherlock

It is time to break the futile cycle of ufology. Try a new hypothesis, Sherlock. You certainly haven’t investigated the one you like.


Try a New Hypothesis, Sherlock
by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, PhD.

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

— Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Sherlock Holmes’s sage scolding reminds us not to fall easy prey to unwarranted assumptions and the limits of human imagination.  It, or something similar, is often invoked to defend the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) as the best explanation for UFO observations.  Unfortunately, little thought has been given to the bias inherent in using this technique.  It may work well provided the roster of potential possibilities is complete.  However, attempting to establish the ETH represents the best explanation presumes a thorough working knowledge of all the possibilities and the application of reliable methods to assess them.  It is not clear either of these conditions…

View original post 888 more words