Peter Fereny's Death Cell

William McGivern | published Aug, 1941

added Jun 6, 2024
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First Date of Publication
Aug, 1941
Original Source
Fantastic Adventures
Original Source Type
Magazine - Pulp
Short Story
Original Language
Kasman Review
Not in Kasman Database
Summary: A wrongly-imprisoned man on death-row receives a voice from a higher dimension… and presented with a mortal dilemma…

Story Tag Line: “Fereny was doomed to die in the electric chair. But in his cell he heard a weird voice - and found the key to a doorway to another world…”

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  • Vijay Fafat
    Published on

    Peter Fereny is a guy who has been framed by his wife and his best friend for murder, sitting in his prison cell an hour away from execution. As he sits there in the middle of the cell, punching a fist into his palm, he suddenly hits an invisible solid - a cube about eight inches to the side. And then hears voices which claim to be from inhabitants separated from ours in the fourth dimension. They have opened a trap-door into our world, which appears as a cube. Pushing it “up” relative to Peter’s orientation would open the door, pulling it down would close it permanently. The inhabitants, on hearing Peter’s story, want to get the door opened and extract him from the prison through the doorway but Peter’s larger soul knows that it would be unwise to expose the fourth dimension to the cruelties of human behavior. So he closes the door shut and goes to his execution with a satisfied smile.

    The author does not put any effort into explaining the geometry of the situation - a lost opportunity. He also does not explain why the 4-D people are unable to access our 3-D world. My surmise is that those inhabitants are themselves not 4-D but 3-D. They have just managed to find a way to orient or rotate themselves along the fourth axis. Consider the analogy: If two 2-D squares were lying flat on a table and there were a vertical 2-D barrier separating the two, inhabitants of one side would have to access the third dimension and create a 2-D trap door to access the other side of the barrier. Similarly, if two 3-D realms were separated by a barrier, creatures on one side would have to open a 3-D trap door into the other side.

    Also, the story’s similarity to one part of “Flatland” is unmistakable – where the Square in “Flatland” is imprisoned in his cell and hears a voice from a higher dimension…