They came to his deathbed. Four dutiful children. Each the victim of a different mother. Each mother the victim of a tragic accident, unsolved murder, mysterious disappearance.
As he sank away they glowered their hatred. It was a hatred he expected, and his revenge was well-planned.
He left a multimillion dollar legacy, bearing a ghoulish price tag. They could pay with their sanity, or their psyches, or their souls, they would be part of an experiment, something to do with brain waves. It would be a great service to science, they were told. Just one last little joke on his kids, and they swore they could hear him laughing - all the way to hell.
Kate Wilhelm (1928-2018)
Working name of the US writer Katie Gertrude Meridith Wilhelm Knight, born in Ohio in 1928. She started publishing SF in 1956 with 'The Pint-Sized Genie' for Fantastic, and continued for some time with relatively straightforward genre stories; it was not until the late 1960s that she began to release the mature stories which have made her reputation as one of the 20th century's finest SF writers. She was married to noted author and critic Damon Knight and together they have had a profound influence beyond their writing, through the Milford Science Fiction Writers' Conference and its offshoot, in which she was directly involved, the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop. She won the Hugo Award for Best Novel with Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, and has won the Nebula Award three times. Kate Wilhelm died in 2018, aged 89.