Conger agreed to kill a stranger he had never seen. But he would make no mistakes because he had the stranger's skull under his arm.
or a moment he glanced through them. Then he was on his feet again. He crossed the room to a wide rack against the wall. His heart began to beat heavily.
Newspapers--weeks on end. He took a roll of them over to the table and began to scan them quickly. The print was odd, the letters strange. Some of the words were unfamiliar.
He set the papers aside and searched farther. At last he found what he wanted. He carried the Cherrywood Gazette to the table and opened it to the first page. He found what he wanted:
PRISONER HANGS SELF
An unidentified man, held by the county sheriff's office for suspicion of criminal syndicalism, was found dead this morning, by--
He finished the item. It was vague, uninforming. He needed more. He carried the Gazette back to the racks and then, after a moment's hesitation, approached the librarian.
"More?" he asked. "More papers. Old ones?"
She frowned. "How old? Which papers?"
"Months old. And--before."
Nice Dick story, it reminded me of Behold the Man, but anticipated Moorcock's story by 20 years. A criminal is recruited by the political regime to go back in time to 1960 and murder the founder of a cult before he could get the cult started. Everything about the story is tight and all the miraculous stuff is tied up convincingly. It's not hard to see the direction the story is going, but it was a pleasure to read.
This story is nice and entertaining. It's a SF, mystery story with a bit of religion and politics thrown in. I did like it and do recommend it.
Brief but engaging - PKD's pacing and characterization are lean and to the point. A good story.
It's inevitable that the reader accustomed to PKD's usual mind bending plots will anticipate this particular ending. For those new to PKD, it will be a fine story. For those who have read his later works, it is interesting to see his early plot devices.