14. Beyond the Door
Philip K Dick
This is day Fourteen of my Month of Short Stories – a story a day for June.
Though he never had any real financial success during his life, Philip K Dick was unquestionably one of the most unique, imaginative, and influential Science Fiction writers of all time. He has had at least ten films adapted from his work: Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. Most of his prodigious output could only find a printed home in low-paying magazines.
Some of his early fiction ended up in the public domain – and that’s where we find today’s little piece of pulp, Beyond the Door.
I’m not sure if the simple little lurid tale can be considered good… the characters are pretty cardboard, the action predictable, no real theme… but it’s a fun read anyway. It’s not a real good example of Philip K. Dick’s best work – his unique warped take on the slippery and ephemeral nature of reality and the inevitabilty of paranoia in modern life influenced a whole generation of modern and postmodern writers. I’ve always though of him as a readable Pynchon – as a Gateway drug into the world of fantastic paranoid literature and film.
In the weeks that followed after Doris left, Larry and the cuckoo clock
got along even worse than before. For one thing, the cuckoo stayed
inside most of the time, sometimes even at twelve o’clock when he should
have been busiest. And if he did come out at all he usually spoke only
once or twice, never the correct number of times. And there was a
sullen, uncooperative note in his voice, a jarring sound that made Larry
uneasy and a little angry.
But he kept the clock wound, because the house was very still and quiet
and it got on his nerves not to hear someone running around, talking and
dropping things. And even the whirring of a clock sounded good to him.
—- Beyond the Door, Philip K Dick