The Story Behind the Story: “The Death Flyer”
“The Death Flyer” is Hubbard’s earliest blending of mystery and the supernatural. In this superbly crafted story, a runaway passenger train speeds forever from the past into the future, racing toward an unknowable destiny.
Originally published in April 1936. The basis for this story was his own trip to the Northeast as a civil engineer which he described in a 1935 Letter to the Editor.
“I studied to be a civil engineer in college.
“Civil engineering seemed very handsome at the time. I met the lads in their Stetsons from Crabtown to Timbuktu and they seemed to lead a very colorful existence squinting into their transits. However, too late, I was sent up to Maine by the Geological Survey to find the lost Canadian Border. Much bitten by seven kinds of insects, gummed by the muck of swaps, fed on johnny cake and tar heel, I saw instantly that a civil engineer had to stay far too long in far too few places and so I rapidly forgot my calculus and slip stick and began to plot ways and means to avoid the continuance of my education. I decided on an expedition into the Caribbean.” —L. Ron Hubbard
“The Death Flyer” is currently available within the book
The Carnival of Death.