This is from a collection of sci-fi/fantasy short stories bought many years ago in a second-hand book shop. A friend borrowed the book, loaned it out, and it has never been seen since. I’d love to know the name of the story and author if possible please.

The book cover was orange.

Brief description of plot: A salesman selling a fatal curse visits a workplace — an office I think — and describes this killer curse to the man in question. The man considers its use and decides it would be perfect to eliminate his office nemesis and asks the salesman if he can purchase the curse, only to be shocked and terrified to be told that, in fact, he is not here in fact to sell the curse on this occasion, rather, he is here to deliver it on behalf of someone else, his office enemy who already purchased it — for him. He has been cursed and will soon be dead in a horrific manner....

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    Huh, sounds interesting. I may have to look into this... Sep 16, 2021 at 21:36
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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. About when would "many years ago" have been? 2010? 1965?
    – DavidW
    Sep 16, 2021 at 22:02
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    Was that orange book a paperback or a hardcover? Any guess whether it was published in the US or UK or elsewhere? What country was the bookstore in?
    – user14111
    Sep 16, 2021 at 23:02
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    I'm sure I've seen that plot in a TV show. If I'm right that was likely based on a short story. Unfortunately I can't remember the show and I wasn't able to find it by searching (my search terms turned up a lot of non-related stuff). One element that I remember that wasn't mentioned in the question was that the person explaining the curse goes in to great detail about how it works and convinces the victim that it does work. This is because simply cursing someone won't work, they have to know about it and believe it will work.
    – Eric Nolan
    Sep 17, 2021 at 10:46
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    The curse works by having a large number of people will/wish/pray the victim to die. People who want to avail of the service agree to help kill subsequent victims by the power of their wishes. It was possible to come away thinking that there is nothing really supernatural at work, the mere idea that 100s of people want you die is enough to cause some people to die (heart attack, distractedly stumbling in front of a truck, whatever). If someone can identify the TV show then it might be easy to figure out the story it was based on.
    – Eric Nolan
    Sep 17, 2021 at 10:50

1 Answer 1


The story you are thinking of is "The Candidate" by Henry Slesar in 1962. It has been published in a lot of anthologies, so it could have been any of those that you read it in.

I haven't read the written story, only seen the short, but it matches your description almost completely. The original short story author was credited on the short.

  • Thanks. That is certainly the short film I was thinking of. I saw this as part of a season called Dust on Channel 4 (UK station). I'd completely forgotten about that series which is partially why my efforts to locate that particular one failed. I will award the bounty after the 24 hour window has expired. This is almost certainly the short story the asker was looking for but I'm not them so I can't accept.
    – Eric Nolan
    Sep 21, 2021 at 17:02
  • Funny, I only know Dust from YouTube. It never occurred to me that they were aired on tv. I think they took their copy of "the candidate" off of YouTube though, as I could only find a Vietnamese and Russian bootleg. Sep 21, 2021 at 17:38
  • You can find a version without subtitles here - shortoftheweek.com/2013/07/25/the-candidate
    – Eric Nolan
    Sep 22, 2021 at 9:10

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