23

I remember reading it close to 10 years ago: a man acquired the ability to see through objects. He used it to cheat at cards, and later, saw through his own flesh and divined a blood clot approaching his heart, threatening his life.

I believe it was a short story, and that it did not take place in the future but rather the present or past.

36

This is probably The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, a short story by Roald Dahl. I had not remembered the clot bit but a little online searching found it:

He looks at the place in his chest where the pain is coming from. . . and he sees. . . or thinks he sees. . . a small dark lump inside the big vein leading into the heart on the right-hand side. What could a small dark lump be doing inside the vein? It must be a blockage of some kind. It must be a clot. A blood-clot!

It is set in the present, although some aspects of that present will now seem a bit dated. Henry does learn to see through cards with practice:

His job now, he told himself, was to keep practising and practising with the cards until he could see through them instantly. He was convinced it could be done. Already, on the second go, he had knocked four seconds off his time. He would give up working with the candle and concentrate solely upon the cards. He would keep at it day and night.

And while he used his skill to cheat at cards, in the end, he arrived at a nobler goal:

With the money I make, I will set up an absolutely first-class orphanage in every country I visit. I will become a Robin Hood. I will take money from the bookmakers and the gambling proprietors and give it to the children. Does that sound corny and sentimental? As a dream, it does. But as a reality, if I can really make it work, it wouldn't be corny at all, or sentimental. It would be rather tremendous.

  • 9
    Notice that the quoted text about the blood clot does not actually happen in the story. It is preceded by: " Now, had this been a made-up story instead of a true one, it would have been necessary to inventsome sort of a surprising and exciting end for it. It would not be difficult to do that. Something dramaticand unusual. So before telling you what reallydid happen to Henry in real life, let us pause here for amoment to see what a competent fiction writer would have done to wrap this story up." – Ori Gurel-Gurevich Dec 14 '19 at 16:06
  • 3
    and afterwards: "That wouldn't be such a bad ending for a work of fiction, but this story is not fiction. It is true. The only untrue things about it are Henry's name and the name of the gambling casino. Henry's name was not Henry Sugar. His name has to be protected. It still must be protected. And for obvious reasons, one cannot call the casino by its real name. Apart from that, it is a true story." – Ori Gurel-Gurevich Dec 14 '19 at 16:08
  • 1
    followed by: "And because it is a true story, it must have the true ending. The true one may not be quite so dramatic or spooky as a made-up one could be, but it is nonetheless interesting. Here is what actually happened." – Ori Gurel-Gurevich Dec 14 '19 at 16:09
  • ...followed by??? Don't let us hanging!! – Vincent Dec 14 '19 at 21:04
  • 1
    @Vincent, what Peter said, but you should read the story, it really is wonderful. – Ori Gurel-Gurevich Dec 15 '19 at 17:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.