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FEBRUARY 35 CENTS

by Fritz Leiber
THE SECOND

o L
OF F
ERE ARE nine great
novelettes from the first
six years of IF Magazine!
Like The First World of IF,
which received such enthusi-
astic response from science
fiction readers allover
America, this is a volume of
exceptional interest-distin-
guished examples of fine
science fiction writing by
such authors as Cha rl es
Beaumont, James Blish,
Phillip K. Dick, Gordon
Dickson, Charles L. Fon-
tenay, James E. Gunn, Ray-
mond F. Jones, Bryce Wal-
ton and Robert F. Young in
an exciting variety of mood,
idea, theme and pace.
And if you missed The
First World of IF, containing
20 really outstanding short
stories from the first five
years of IF, there are still a
few copies available . . .
Just send 50 a copy for
either the "First World" or
the "Second World" to IF
Magazine, Kingston, New
York, and you r copy wi II be
mailed at once.
WORLDS OF

- ...=:::;:
SCIENCE FICTION
FEBRUARY 1959
==
All Stories New and Complete
===
;;;; Publisher: JAMES L. QUINN

- = Editor: DAMON KNIGHT

~1I1I1I"IIIIIIUIIIIUUIIilIUlIIIllIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII1IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIUlUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
5
~ i
; SHORT STORIES I
~ PIPE DREAM by Fritz Leiber 2 ~
_~= _~ THE WIND PEOPLE by Marion Zimmer Bradley
THE GOOD WORK by Theodore L. Thomas
14
2 ::r::==!

;;;:
THE MAN WHO TASTED ASHES by Aigis Budrys 38
i LOVE AND MOONDOGS by Richard McKenna 50 I
I THE LAST DAYS OF L.A. by George H. Smith 60 I
~ VIRGIN GROUND by Rosel George Brown 78
I DISCIPLINE by Margaret St. Clair 86 I
IN THE JAG-WHIFFING SERVICE by David R. Bunch 99a5
=
:==-
STAR OF REBIRTH by Bernard Wall
====_,

-
i NO , NO, NOT ROGOVr by Cordwainer Smith 106 i
~ ~
=
i FEATURE
=
~
5 5

II IN TH;:~~~NB:E:~I:h:r:::~o~lIustrating
Illustrations by Ed Emsh and Paul Orban
Pipe Dream 7S . ~I=
5
~ i
iOIl1l11l1llllllllllDllnlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllUlIlIlIlIIlIlIlIIlIIlIlIlIIlIIlIIlIlIlIlIlIlII1I11111111111111111III II1111111111111111III IIlIlIIUlUnlil1i
IF is published bi-monthly ~ Quinn Publishing Co.k. Inc. Vol. 9, No.2.
Copyright 1958 bj' Quinn Publishing Co., Inc. Omce of publication 8
Lord Strt-et, Buffalo, N.Y. Entered as Second Class Matter at Post
Office, Buffalo, N.Y. Subscription $3.50 for 12 issues in U.S. and Posses-
sions; Canada $4 for 12 issues; elsewhere $4.50. AU stories are fiction;
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EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES. KINGSTON. NEW YORK


Next (April) issue on sale February 14th
PIPE DREAM
By FRITZ LEIBER

I Tturned
WASN'T until the mermaid
up in his bathtub that
Simon Grue seriously began to won-
der what the Russians \vere doing
on the roof next door.
The old house next door together
Simon Grue found a two-inch with its spacious tarpapered roof,
which held a sort of pent-shack, a
cylindrical old water tank, and sev-
mermaid zn his bathtub. It eral chicken-\\'ire enclosures, had
always been a focus of curiosity in
this region of Greenwich Village,
especially to whoever happened to
had arms, hips, a finny tail, be renting Simon's studio, the north
window-cum-skylight of which
looked down upon it-if you were
and (here the real trouble be- exceptionally tall or if, like Simon,
you stood halfway up a stepladder
and peered.
gan) a face that reminded him During the 1920's, old-timers told
Simon, the house had been owned
by a bootlegger. \\rho had installed
irresistibly of Grushenka Stul- a costly pipe organ and used the
water tank to store hooch. Later
there had been a colony of shaven-
nikov-Gurevich ... headed Buddhist monks, who had
strolled about the roof in their
orange and yellow robes, meditat-
ing and eating raw vegetables.
There had followed a con71nedia
dele OTIc theatrical group, a fenc-
ing salon, a school of the organ
2
(the bottlegger's organ was always brothers-Vasily-at a neighboring
one of the prime renting points of art gallery, came to believe that they
the house), an Arabian restaurant, were both Red and White and
several art schools and silvercraft something more-solid, complete
shops of course, and an Existential- Slavs in any case, Double Dostoev-
ist coffee house. sky Russians if one may be per-
The last occupants had been two mitted the expression. They ordered
bony-cheeked Swedish blondes who vodka, caviar, and soda crackers by
sunbathed intenninably and had the case. They argued intenninably
built the chicken-wire enclosures to (IQudly in Russian, softly in Eng-
cage a large number of sinister lish) , they \vent on mysterious silent
smoke-colored dogs-Simon de- errands, they gloomed about on the
cided they were breeding were- roof, they made melancholy music
wolves, and one of his most success- with their deep harmonious voices
ful abstractions, "Gray Hunger", and several large guitars. Once
had been painted to the inspiration Simon thought they even had the
of an eldritch howling. The dogs bootlegger's organ going, but there
and their owners had departed had been a bad storm at the time
abruptly one night in a closed van, and he hadn't been sure.
without any of the dogs ever having They were not quite as tight-
been offered for sale or either of the lipped as the Swedish girls. Gradu-
girls having responded \vith any- ally a curt front-sidewalk acquaint-
thing more than a raised eyebrow to ance developed and Simon came to
Simon's brave greetings of "'Skoal!" know their names. There was
The Russians had taken posses- Vasily, of course, who wore thick
sion about six months ago-four glasses, the most scholarly-looking
brothers apparently, and one sister, of the lot and certainly the most
who never stirred from the house bibulous-Simon came to think of
but could occa~ionally be seen peer- Vasily as the Vodka Breather. Oc-
ing drealllily from a window. A casionally he could be glimpsed
white card with a boldly-inked holding Erlenmeyer flasks, trays of
"Stulnikov-Gurevich" had been culture dishes, and other pieces of
thumbtacked to the peeling green- biological equipment, or absent-
painted front door. Lafcadio Smits, mindedly wiping off a glass slide
the interior decorator. told Sinlon with his beard.
that the newcomer~ were clearly Then there \vas Ivan, the dourest
White Russians; he could tell it by of the four, though none of them
their bushy beards. Lester Phlegius save Vasily seemed very amiable.
maintained that they were Red Simon's private names for Ivan
Russians passing as White, and were the Nihilist and the Bomber,
talked alanningly of spying, sabo- since he sometimes lugged about
tage and suitcase bombs. \vith him a heavy globular leather
Simon, who had the advantages case. With it and his beard-a
of living on the spot and having square black one-he had more
been introduced to one of the than once created a mild sensation
4 FRITZ LEIBER
in the narrow streets of the Village. never ventured on the roof but she
Next there was Mikhail, who often sat in the pent-shack. As far
wore a large crucifix on a s~lver as Simon could make out, she al-
chain around his neck and looked ways wore some dark Victorian cos..
like a more spiritual Rasputin. tUlne-at least it had a high neck,
However, Simon thought of him long sleeves, and puffed shoulders.
less as the Religious than as the Pale-faced in the greenish gloom,
Whistler-for his inveterate habit she would stare for hours out of the
of whistling into his straggly beard pent-shack's single wjndow, though
a strange tune that obeyed no com- never in Simon's direction. Occa-
mon harmonic laws. Somehow sionally she would part and close
Mikhail seemed to carry a chilly her lips, but not exactly as if she
breeze around with him, a per- were speaking, at least aloud-he
petual cold draught, so that Simon thought of calling her the Bubble
had to check himself in order not Blower. The effect was as odd as
to clutch together his coat collar Mikhail's whistling but not as un-
whenever he heard the approach pleasant. In fact, Simon found him-
of the eerie piping. self studying Grushenka for ridicu-
Finally there was Lev, beardless, lously long periods of time. His
shorter by several inches, and cer- mild obsession began to irk him and
tainly the most elusive of the one day he decided henceforth to
brothers. He always moved at a stay away altogether from his north
scurry, frequently dipping his head, window and the stepladder. As a
so that it was some time before result he saw little of the alterations
Simon assured himself that he had the Russians began to make on the
the Stulnikov-Gurevich face. He roof at this point, though he did
did, unmistakably. Lev seemed to notice that they lugged up among
be away on trips a good deal. On other things a length of large-
his returns he was frequently ac- diameter transparent plastic piping.
companied by furtive but impor-
tant-looking men-a different one
on each occasion. There would be
much bustle at such times-among
other things, the shades would be
S O MUCH FOR the Russians,
now for the mermaid. Late one
night Simon started to fill his bath-
drawn. Then in a few hours Lev tub with cold water to soak his
would be off again, and his man- brushes and rags-he was working
about-town companion too. with a kind of calcimine at the. time,
And of course there was the in- experimenting with portable murals
doors-keeping sister. Several times painted on large plaster-faced
Simon had heard one of the broth- wooden panels. Heavily laden, he
ers calling "Grushenka", so he as- got back to the bathroom just in
sumed that was her name. She had time to shut off the water-and to
the Stulnikov-Gurevich face too, see a tiny fish of some sort splashin fT
though on her, almost incredibly, around in it. 0

it was strangely attractive. She He was not unduly surprised.


PIPE DREAM 5
Fish up to four or five inches in a groveling sort of way. Retrieving
length were not unheard-of appari- anything from behind Simon's an-
tions in the cold-water supply of the cient claw-footed bathtub was a
area, and this specimen looked as Inost difficult feat. There was bare-
if it displaced no more than a tea- ly space to get an ann under it and
spoon of water. at one point the warping of the
He made a lucky grab and the floor boards prevented even that.
next moment he was holding in his Besides, there was the host of dust-
firmly clenched right hand the bot- shrouded objects it had previously
tom half of a slim wriggling crea- been too much trouble to tease out
ture hardly two inches long-and -an accumulation of decades. At
now Simon was surprised indeed. first Simon tried to guide himself by
To begin with, it was not greenish the faint flopping noises along the
white nor any common fish color, hidden base of the wall, but these
but palely-pinkish, flesh-colored in soon ceased.
fact. And it didn't seem so much a Being on your knees and your
fish as a tadpole-at least its visible chest with an ear against the floor
half had a slightly oversize head and an arm strainingly outstretched
shaped like a bullet that has mush- is probably not the best position to
roomed a little, and two tiny writh- assume while weird trains of
ing arms or appenda.ges of some sort thought go hooting through your
--and it felt as if it had rather large head, but sometimes it has to hap-
hips for a fish or even a tadpole. pen that way. First came a remem-
Equip a two-months human embryo bered piece of neighborhood lore
with a finny tail, give it in addition that supported the possibility of a
a precocious feminine sexiness, and connection between the house next
you'd get something of the same door and the tiny pink aquatic crea-
effect. ture now sufferin~ minute agonies
But all that was nothing. The behind the bathtub. No one knew
trouble was that it had a face-a what ancient and probably larceny-
tiny face, of course, and rather minded amateur plumber was
goggly-ghostly like a planarian's, responsible, but the old..timers as-
but a face nevertheless, a human- sured Simon there was a link be-
looking face, and also (here was the tween the water supply of the Rus-
real trouble) a face that bore a sians' house wi th its aerial cistern
grotesque but striking resenlblance and that of the building containing
to that of Grushenka Stulnikov- Simon's studio and several smaller
Gurevich. apartments; at any rate they main-
Simon's fingers tightened convul- tained that there had been a time
sively. Simultaneously the slippery during the period when the boot-
creature gave a desperate wriggle. legger was storing hooch in the
I t shot into the air in a high curve water tan~ that several neighbor-
and fell into the scant inch of space hood cold-water taps were dispens-
between the bathtub and the wall. ing a weak but nonetheless authori-
The next half hour was hectic in tative' mixture of bourbon and
6 FRITZ LEIBER
branch water. to remember what he knew about
So, thought Simon as he groped salamanders-almost nothing, it
and strained, if the Russians were turned out. He thought of embryos,
somehow responsible for this weird but his mind veered away from the
fishlet, there was no insuperable subject.
difficulty in understanding how it He wandered back into the studio
might have gotten here. carrying the thing in his hand. He
But that was the least of Simon's climbed the stepladder by the north
preoccupations. He scrabbled wildly window and studied the house next
and unsuccessfully for several min- door. What windows he could see
utes, then realizing he would never were dark. He got a very vague
get anywhere in this unsystematic iInpression that the roof had
manner, he began to remove the changed. After he had strained his
accumulated debris piece by piece: eyes for some time he fancied he
dark cracked ends of soap, wash- could see a faint path of greenish
rags dried out in tortured attitudes, luminescence streaming between the
innumerable dark-dyed cigarette pent-shack and the water-tank, but
stumps, several pocket magazines it was very faint indeed and might
with bleached wrinkled pages, only be his vision swimming.
elnpty and near-empty medicine He climbed down the stepladder
bottles and pill vials, rusty hairpins, and stood for a moment weighing
bobby pins, safety pins, crumpled the tiny dead thing in his hand. It
toothpaste tubes (and a couple for occurred to him that one of his
oil paint), a gray toothbrush, a friends at the university could dig
j{ty-cent piece and several pennies, up a zoologist to pass on his find.
the mummy of a mouse, a letter But Simon's curiosity was more
from Picasso, and last of all, from artistic than scientific. In the end
the dark comer behind the bath- he twisted a bit of cellophane
tub's inside claw, the limp pitiful around the thing, placed it on the
thing he was seeking. ledge of his easel and went off to
It was even tinier than he'd bed . . . and to a series of disturb-
thought. He carefully washed the ingly erotic dreams.
dust and Bug off it, but it \vas clear-
ly dead and its resemblance to
Grushenka Stulnikov-Gurevich had
become problematical-indeed, Si-
mon aecided that someone seeing
N EXT DAY he got up late and,
after breakfasting on black cof-
fcc, gloolned around the studio for
it now for the first time would think a while, picking things up and put-
it a freak minnow or monstrous ting them down. He glanced fre-
tadpole and nothing more, though quently at the stepladder, but re-
mutation or disease had obviously sisted the temptation to climb up
been at work. The illusion of a and have another look next door.
miniature mermaid still existed in Sighing, he thumbtacked a sheet of
the tapering tail and armlike ap- paper to a drawing board and half-
pendages, but it was faint. He tried heartedly began blocking in a fe-
PIPE DREAM 7
Inale figure. It was insipid and life- ment she looked straight at him.
less. Stabbing irritably at the heavy She lifted her hands and seemed to
curve of the figure's hip, he broke speak imploringly. Then she slo\vly
his charcoal. "Damn!" he said, glar- sank froln sight as if, it horridly
ing around the room. Abandoning occurred to Simon, into quicksand.
all pretense, he threw the charcoal Simon sprang from his chair,
on the floor and climbed the step- heart beating wildly, and ran down
ladder. He pressed his nose against the stairs to the street. T\vo or three
the glass. passersby paused to study hirn as he
In daylight, the adjoining roof alternately pounded the flaking
looked bare and grimy. There was a green door of the Russians' house
big transparent pipe running be- and leaned on the button. Also
tween the water tank and the shack, watching was the shirt-sleeved
braced in two places by improvised- driver of a moving van, emblazoned
looking wooden scaffolding. Listen- "Stulnikov-Gurevich Enterprises,"
ing intently, Simon thought he which ahnost filled the street in
could hear a motor going in the front of the house.
shack. The water looked sallow The door opened narrowly. A
green. It reminded Simon of those man with a square black beard
futuristic algae farms where the frowned out of it. He topped Simon
stuff is supposed to be pumped by almost a head.
through transparent pipes to expose "Yes?" Ivan the BOlllber asked,
it to sunlight. There seemed to be in a deep., exasperated voice.
a trarnparent top on the water tank "I must see the lady of the house
too-it was too high for Simon to immediately," Simon cried. "Your
see, but there was a gleam around sister, I believe. She's in danger."
the edge. Staring at the pipe again, He surged forward.
Simon got the impression there were The butt of the Bomber's right
little things traveling in the water, palm took him firmly in the chest
but he couldn't make them out. and he staggered back. The Bomber
Climbing down in some excite- said coldly, "My sister is-ha!-
ment, Simon got the twist of cello- taking a bath."
phane from the ledge of the easel Simon cried, "In that case she's
and stared at its contents. Wild drowning!" and surged forward
thoughts were tumbling through his again, but the Bomber's hand
head as he got back up on the step- stopped hin1 short. "I'll call the
ladder. Sunlight flashed on the police!" Simon shouted, flailing his
greenish water pipe between the limbs. The hand at his chest sud-
tank and the shack, but after the denly stopped pushing and began
first glance he had no eyes for it. to pull. Gripped by the front of his
Grushenka Stulnikov-Gurevich had shirt, Simon felt himself being
her face tragically pressed to the drawn rapidly inside. "Let go!
window of the shack. She \\'as wear- Help~ a kidnapping!" he shouted to
ing the black dress \vi th high neck the inquisitive faces outside, before
and puffed shoulders. At that mo- the door banged shut.
S FRITZ LEIBER
"No police!" rumbled the Bomb- the apparatus, before the capital-
er assisting Simon upstairs. istic police arrive. Now: what to do
'''Now look here," Simon pro- with this one?" He looked at Simon,
tested futilely. In the two-story-high and clenched one large and hairy
living room to his right, the pipes fist.
of an organ gleamed golden from "Nyet-nyet-nyet/' said the Vodka
the shadows. At the second landing, Breather, and went to whisper in
a disheveled figure met them, Ivan's ear. They both stared at
glasses twinkling-Vasily the Vodka Simon, who felt uncomfortable and
Breather. He spoke querulously in began to back toward the door; but
Russian to Ivan, who replied short- Ivan ducked agilely under the pipe
ly, then Vasily turned and the three and grasped him by the arm, pull-
of them crowded up the narrow ing him effortlessly toward the roof
third flight to the pent-shack. This exit. "Just come this way if you
housed a small noisy machine, per- please, Mr. Gru-ay/' said Vasily,
haps an aerator of some sort, for hurrying after. As they left the
bubbles were streaming into the shack, he picked up a kitchen chair.
transparent pipe where it was con- Crossing the roof, Simon made
nected to the machine; and under a sudden effort and wrenched him-
the pipe, sitting with an idiot smile self free. They caught him again
on a chair of red plush and gilt, was at the edge of the roof, where he
a pale black-mustached man. An had run with nothing clearly in
empty clear-glass bottle \vith a red mind, but with his mouth open to
and gold label lay on the floor at yell. Suspended in the grip of the
his feet. The opposite side of the two Russians, with Ivan's meaty
room was hidden by a heavy plastic palm over his mouth, Simon had a
shower curtain. Grushenka Stul- momentary glimpse of the street
nikov-Gurevich was not in view. below. A third bearded figure,
Ivan said something explosive, Mikhail the Religious, was staring
picking up the bottle and staring at up at them from the sunny side-
it. "Vodka!" he went on. "I have walk. The melancholy face, the
told you not to mix the pipe and deep-socketed tonnented eyes, and
the vodka! Now see what you have the narrow beard tangled with the
done!" dangling crucifix combined to give
"To me it seemed hospitable," the effect of a Tolstoy novel's dust-
said Vasily with an apologetic ges- jacket. As they hauled Simon away,
ture. "Besides, only one bottle-" he had the impression that a chilly
Ducking under the pipe where it breeze had sprung up and the street
crossed the pent-shack, Ivan picked had darkened. In his ears was Mik-
up the pale man and dumped him hail's distant, oddly discordant
crosswise in the chair, with his whistling.
patent-leather shoes sticking up on Grunting, the two brothers set
one side and his plump hands Simon down on the kitchen chair
crossed over his chest. "Let him and slid him across the roof until
sleep. First we must take down all something hard but resilient
P~PE DREAM 9
touched the top ~f his head. It was Nihilist brother Ivan was in cen-
the plastic pipe, through \vhich, tral Europe, while Iny third brother
peering upward, he could see myri- Lev, v.rho is of commercial talents.
ads of tiny polliwog-shapes flitting had preceded us to the New World,
back and forth. \vhere we always felt it would some
"'Do us a kindness not to make day be our destiny to join one an-
noise," said Ivan, rcnloving his other.
palm. "My brother Vasily will no\v "With the aid of brother Ivan, I
explain." He went away. and my sister Grushenka escaped
from Russia. We picked up Mikhail
froIlI his monastery and proceeded
IJRIOSITY as much as shock
C kept Silnon in his chair. Vasily,
bobbing his and snliling, sat
head
here, \vhere Lev had become a
capitalist business Inagnate.
"'My brothers, Ivan especially,
do\vn tailor-fashion on the roof in were interested in nlY research. lie
front of him. "First I must tell you, had a theory that we could even-
Mr. Gru-ay', that I am specialist in tually produce hosts of men in this
biologica I sciences. Here you see re- way, whole annies and political
sults of nlY roost sllccessful expcri- parties, all Nihilist and all of them
rncnL" lIe wi thdrc\\r a round clcar- Stulnikov-Gurevichcs. 1 assured
glass bottlc fron-1 his pocket and him that this was itnpossible, that I
unscrewed the top. could not play Cadlnus, for free-
'''Ah?'' said Simon tentatively. swimming fonns are one thing, we
"Indeed yes. In my researches, have the way to feed thenl in the
~vlr. C;ru-ay, I discovered a chemi- aqueous medium; but to make
cal \\hich \viII inhibit gro\vth at any fully developed Inalnlnals placental
level of c1nbryonic development, nourishlnent is necessary---that I
producing a viable organism at that cannot provide. Yet to please him
point. The basic effect of this I begin with (pardon me!) the egg
chenlical is always toward sUlvival of my sister, that was as good a be-
at whatever level of dcvelopment- ginning as any and perhaps it in-
one cell, a blastula, a \VOrln, a fish, trigued nlY vanity. Ivan dreamed
a four-legger. 1"his research, which his dreaU1S of a Nihilist Stulnikov-
Lysenko scofred at when I told him Gurevich hUlnanity-it was harm-
of it, I had no trouble in keeping less, as I told nlyself."
secret, though at the time I was Simon stared at him glassy-eyed.
\vorking as the unhappy collabora- SOlnething rather peculiar was be-
tor of the godless soviets. But per- ginning to happen inside his head-
haps I am being too technical?" about an inch under the point
"Not at all," Simon assured him. where the cool water-filled plastic
"'Good/' Vasily said with simple pipe pressed down on his scalp.
satisfaction and gulped at his bot- Little ghostly images were darting
tle. "Meanwhile my brother Mik- -delightfully wispy little girl-
hail was a religious brother at a things, smiling down at him im-
monastery near Mount Athas, my pudently, then flirting away with a
10 FRITZ LEIBER
quick motion of their mermaid notic vibration. So long as you keep
tails. them near her, in that tank on the
The sky had been growing stead- roof, this will be. 1f they were gone
ily darker and now there came the from there, far from there, the sub-
growl of thunder. Against the pur- souls would reunite and Grushen-
ple-gray clouds Simon could barely ka's soul would be one again.' He
make out the semi-transparent begged me to stop my research, to
shapes of the golliwogs in the pipe dump it in the sea, to scatter it
over his head; but the images in- a\vay, but Lev and Ivan demand
side his mind were gro\ving clearer I keep' on. Yet Mikhail warned me
by the minute. that works of evil end in the whirl-
"Ah, we have a storm," Vasily wind. I am torn and undecided."
observed as the thunder growled He gulped at his vodka.
again. "That reminds me of Mik- Thunder growled louder. Simon
hail, who is much influenced by was thinking, dreamily, that if the
our Finnish grandmother. 'He had soul of Grushenka Stulnikov-Gu-
the belief as a child that he could revich were split into thousands of
call up the winds by whistling for sub-souls, vibrating hynotically in
them-he even learned special the nearby water tank, with at least
wind musics from her. Later he be- one of them escaping as far as his
came a Christian religious-there bathtub, then it was no wonder if
are great struggles in him. Mikhail Grushenka had a strange attrac-
objected to my researches when he tion for him.
heard I used the egg of my sister. "But that is not yet the worst,"
He said we will produce millions Vasily continued. "The hypnotic
of souls who are not baptized. I vibrations of the free-swimming
asked him how about the water ones in their multitude turn out to
they are in, he replied this is not have a stimulating effect on any
the same thing, these little swim- male who is near. Their sub-minds
mers will wriggle in hell eternally. induce dreams of the piquant sort.
This worried hiln greatly. We tried Lev says that to make money for
to tell him I had not used the egg the work we must sell these dreams
of my sister, only the egg of a fish. to rich men. I protest, but to no
"But he did not believe this, be- avail.
cause my sister changed greatly at "Lev is maddened for money.
the time. She no longer spoke. She Now besides selling the dreams I
put on my mother's bathing cos- find he plans to sell the creatures
tume (we are a family people) and themselves, sell them one by one,
retired to the bathtub all day long. but keep enough to sell the dreams
I ac~epted this-at least in the wa- too. It is a madness."
ter she is not violent. Mikhail said, The darkness had become that of
~See, her soul is now split into many night. The thunder continued to
unredeemed sub-souls, one each for growl and now it seemed to Simon
the little S\Vilnmers. There is a that it had music in it. Visions
sympathy between them-a hyp- swam through his mind to its
PIPE DREAM 11
rhythm-hordes of swimming pyg- a\vare at last of the identity of the
my souls, of unborn water babies, other sound, which had been gro'v-
migrations of miniature mermaids. ing in volume all the time.
The pipe hanging between water Simultaneously Vasily struggled
tank and pentshack became in his to his feet.
ilnagination a giant umbilicus or a "The organ!" he cried. "Mikhail
canal for a monstrous multiple is playing the Whirlwind Music!
We must stop him !~' Pausing only
birth. Sitting beneath it, helpless to
move, he focused his attention withfor a last pull at the bottle, he
increasing pleasure on the active, charged into the pent-shack, follow-
supple, ever more hUlnan girl- ing Ivan.
bodies that swam across his mind. Wind was shaking the heavy pipe
Now more mermaid than tadpole, over Simon's head, tossing him
with bright smiling lips and eyes, back and forth in the chair. Look-
long Lorelei-hair trailing behind ing with an effort toward the west,
them, they darted and hovered Silnon saw the reason: a spinning
caressingly. In their wide-checked black pencil of wind that was writ-
oval faces, he discovered without ing its way toward them in wreck-
shock, there was a transcendent re-age across the intervening roofs.
semblance to the features of The chair fell under him. Stum-
Grushenka Stulnikov-Gurevich-a bling across the roof, he tugged
younger, milk-skinned maiden of futilely at the door to the pent-
the stepp~s, with challenging eyesshack, then threw himself flat,
and fingers that brushed against clawing at the tarpaper.
him with delightful shocks. . . There was a mounting roar. The
"So it is for me the great prob-top of the water tank went spin-
lem," Vasily's distant voice con- ning off like a flying saucer. Mo-
tinued. "I see in my work only the mentarily, as if it \verc a giant
syringe, the whirlwind dipped into
pure research, the play of the Blind.
Lev sees money, Ivan sees dragon the tank. Simon felt himself slid-
teeth-fodder for his political can-ing across the roof, felt his legs lift-
non-Mikhail sees unshriven souls, ing. He fetched up against the
Grushenka sees-who knows?- roof's low wall and at that moment
madness. It is indeed one great the wind let go of him and his legs
problem." touched tarpaper again.
Gaining his feet nurnbly, Sinlon
staggered into the leaning pent-
HUNDER CAME again, shack. The pale man was nowhere
T crashingly this time. The door to be seen, the plush chair empty.
of the pent-shack opened. Framed The curtain at the other side of the
in it stood Ivan the Bomber. "Vas- raoul had fallen '\Vit11 its rods, re-
ily!" he roared. '~Do you know vealing a bathtub more antique
what that idiot is doing now?" than Sinlon's. In the tub, under
As the thunder and his voice the window, sat Grushenka. The
trailed off together, Simon became lightning flares showed her with
12 FRITZ LEIBER
her chin level with the water, her contain a bowling ball.
eyes placidly staring, her mouth The young gentleman listened
opening and closi!1g. .. to his story without changing ex-
Simon found himself puttmg hIs pression, thanked him warmly, and
arms around ~he black-clad figure. shooed him out.
With a straining effort he lifted her The Stulnikov-Gureviches dis-
out of the tub, water sloshing all appeared for good, though not
over his legs, and half carried, half quite without a trace. Simon found
slid with her down the stairs. this item in the n"ext evening's pa-
He fetched up panting and di- per, the first of many he accumu-
sheveled at the top landing, his at- lated yearningly in a scrapbook
tention riveted by the lightning- during the following months:
illuminated scene in the two-story-
high living room belo\v. At the far MERMAID RAIN A HOAX,
end of it a dark-robed figure SCIENTIST DECLARES
crouched at the console of the Milford~ Pa.-The "mermaid
mighty organ, like a giant bat at rain" reported here has been de-
the base of the portico of a black clared a fraud by an eminent Euro-
and gold temple. In the center of pean biologist. Vasily Stulnikov-
the room Ivan was in the act of Gurevich, formerly Professor of
heaving above his head his globu- Geneties at Pire University, Latvia,
lar leather case. passing through here on a cross-
Mikhail darted a look over his country trip, declared the minia-
shoulder and sprang to one side. ture "mern1aids" were "albino tad-
The projectile crashed against the poles, probably scattered about as
organ. Mikhail picked himself up, a hoax by schoolboys."
tearing something from his neck. The professor added, "I would
Ivan lunged forward with a roar. like to know where they got them,
Mikhail crashed a fist against his however. There is clear evidence of
jaw. The Bomber went down and lnutation, due perhaps to fallout."
didn't come up. Mikhail un- Dr. Stulnikov directed his party
wrapped his crucifix from his fin- in a brief but intensive search for
gers and resumed playing. overlooked specimens. His charm-
With a wild cry Simon heaved ing silent sister, Grushenka Stulni-
himself to his feet, stumbled over kov, wearing a quaint Latvian
Grughenka's sodden garments, and swimming costume, explored the
pitched headlong down the stairs. shallo\vs of the Delaware.
When he came to, the house was After collecting as many speci-
empty and the Stulnikov moving mens as possible, the professor and
van was gone. At the front door he his assistants continued their trip
was met by a poker-faced young in their unusual camping car. Dr.
man who identified himself as a Stulnikov intends to found a bio-
member of the FBI. Simon sho\\red logical research center "in the cahn
him the globular case Ivan had and tolerant atmosphere of the
thro\vn at the organ. It proved to West Coast," he declared. END
PIPE CREAM 13
By MARIO ZIMMER BRADLEY
Inhabited only by whispering winds, l?obin's World was a

paradise for the wrong two people-Eve and her son .


T HAD been a long layover for "1 know." Helen Murray, too
Iheavy
the Starholm's crew, hunting
elements for fuel-eight
young and far too lovely for a ship's
officer on a ten-year cruise, still
months, on an idyllic green para- looked weak and white, and her
dise of a planet; a soft, windy, voice was a gentle shadow of its
whispering world, inhabited only by crisp self. "I'm afraid four years in
trees and winds. But in the end it space made me careless."
presented its own unique problem. Merrihew brooded, looking down
Specifically, it presented Captain at her. Something about ship-grav-
Merrihew with the problem of ity conditions, while not affecting
Robin, male, father unknown, who potency, made conception impos-
had been born the day before, and sible; no child had ever been con-
a month prematurely, to Dr. Helen ceived in space and none ever
Murray. would. On planet layovers, the ef-
Merrihew found her lying abed fect wore off very slowly; only after
in the laboratory shelter, pale and three months aground had Dr.
calm, with the child beside her. Murray started routine administra-
The little shelter, constructed tion of anticeptin to the twenty-two
roughly of green planks, looked out women of the crew, herself in-
on the clearing which the Starholm cluded. At that time she had been
had used as a base of operations still unaware that she herself was
during the layover; a beautiful already carrying a child.
place at the bottom of a wide val- Outside, the leafy forest whis-
ley, in the curve of a broad, deep- pered and rustled, and Merrihew
flowing river. The crew, tired of knew Helen had forgotten his ex-
being shipbound, had built half a istence again. The day-old child
dozen such huts and shacks in these was tucked up in one of her rolled
eight months. coveralls at her side. To Merrihew,
Men-ihew glared down at Helen. he looked like a skinned monkey,
He snorted, '~This is a fine situa- but Helen's eyes smoldered as her
tion. You, of all the people in the hands moved gently over the tiny
whole damned crew-the ship's round head.
doctor! It's-it's-" Inarticulate He stood and listened to the
with rage, he fell back on a ridicu- winds and said at random, "These
lously inadequate phrase. "It's- shacks will fall to pieces in another
criminal carelessness!" month. It doesn't matter, we'll have
15
taken off by then." "Captain-" Helen sounded des-
Dr. Chao Lin came into the perate. "Even drugged, no child
shack, an angular woman of thirty- under ten has ever endured the
five. She said, "Company, Helen? shift into hyperspace drive. A new-
Well, it's about time. Here, let me born would die in seconds." She
take Robin." clasped Robin to her again, and
Helen said in weak protest, said, "It's the only way-you have
"You're spoiling me, Lin." Lin for a doctor, Reynolds can
"It will do you good," Chao Lin handle my collateral duties. This
returned. Merrihew, in a sudden planet is uninhabited, the climate
surge of fury and frustration, ex- is mild, we couldn't possibly
ploded, "Damn it, Lin, you're mak- starve." Her face, so gentle, was
ing it all worse. He'll die when we suddenly like rock. "Enter my
go into overdrive, you know as well death in the log, if you want to."
as I do!" Merrihew looked from Helen to
Helen sat up, clutching Robin Lin, and said, "Helen, you're in-
protectively. "Are you proposing to sane!"
drown him like a kitten?" She said, "Even if I'm sane now,
"Helen, I'm not proposing any- I wouldn't be long if I had to aban-
thing. I'm stating a fact." don Robin." The wild note had
"But it's not a fact. He won't die died out of her voice, and she spoke
in overdrive because he won't be rationally, but inflexibly. "Captai~
aboard when we go into over- Merrihew, to get Ine aboard the
drive!" Starholm., you will have to have me
Merrihew looked at Lin help- drugged or taken by force; I prom-
lessly, but his face softened. "Shall ise you I won't go any other way.
we-put him to sleep and bury him And if you do that-and if Robin
here?" is left behind, or dies in overdrive-
The woman's face turned white. just so you will have my services
"No!" she cried in passionate pro- as a doctor-then I solemnly swear
test, and Lin bent to disengage her that I will kill myself at the first
frantic grip. "Helen, you'll hurt opportunity."
him. Put him down. There." "My God," said Merrihew, "you
Merrihew looked down at her, are insane!"
troubled, and said, "We can't just Helen gave a very tiny shrug.
abandon him to die slowly, HDo you want a madwoman
Helen-" aboard?"
"Who says I'm going to abandon Chao Lin said quietly, "Capt:lin,
him?" I don't see any other way. We
Merrihew asked slowly, "Are would have had to arrange it that
you planning to desert?" He added, way if Helen had actually died in
after a minute, "There's a chance childbirth. Of two unsatisfactory
he'll survive. Mter all, his very solutions, we must choose the least
birth was against all medical prece- harmful." And Merrihew knew
dent. Maybe-" that he had no real choice.
16 MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
"I still think you're both cra:zy," between her eyes bore witnes! to
he blustered, but it was surrender, the terror which had closed down
and Helen knew it. on her in the first months, when
Ten days after the Starholm took every new day had been some new
off, young Colin Reynolds, tech- struggle-against weakness, against
nician, committed suicide by the unfamiliar sounds, against loneli-
messy procedure of slicing his jugu- ness and dread. Nights when she
lar artery, which-in zero gravity- lay wakeful, sweating with terror
distributed several quarts of blood while the winds rose and fell again
in big round globules all ,over his and her imagination gave them
cabin. He left an incoherent note. voices, bleak days when she wan-
Merrihew put the note in the dered dazedly around the shack or
disposal and Chao Lin put the stared moodily at Robin. There had
blood in the ship's blood-bank for been moments--only fleeting, and
surgery, and they hushed it up as penanced with hours of shame and
an accident; but Merrihew had the regret-when she thought that
unpleasant feeling that the layover even the horror of losing Robin in
on the green and windy planet was those first days would have been
going to become a legend, spread in less than the horror of spending the
whispers by the crew. And it did, rest of her life alone here; when
but that is another story. she had wondered why Merrihew
had not realized that she was un-
balanced, and forced her to go
OBIN WAS two years old with them . . . by now, Robin
R when he first heard the voices
in the wind. He 'pulled at his moth-
would have been only a moment's
painful memory.
er's arm and crooned softly, in imi- Still not strong, knowing she had
tation. to be strong for Robin or he would
"What is it, lovey?" die as surely as if she had aban-
"Pretty." He crooned again to doned him, she had spent the first
the distant munnuring sound. months in a somnambulistic dreain.
Helen smiled vaguely and patted Sometimes she had walked for days
the round cheek. Robin, his infant at a time in that dream; she would
imagination suddenly distracted, wake to find food that she could
said, "Hungry. Robin hungry. Ber- not remember gathering. Some-
ries." how, pervasive, the dream-voices
"Berries after you eat," Helen had taken over; the whispering
promised absently, and picked him winds had been full of voices and
up. Robin tugged at her ann. even hands.
"Mommy pretty, too!" She had fallen ill and lain for
She laughed, a rosy and smiling days sick and delirious, and had
young Diana. She was happy on the heard a voice which hardly seemed
solitary planet; they lived quite to be her own, saying that if she
comfortably in one of the larger died the wind voices would care
shacks, and only a little frown-line for Robin . . . and then the shock
THE WINO PEOPLE 17
and irrationality of that had star- . . . Robin was listening again.
tled her out of delirium, agonized Helen bent her ear, sharpened by
and trembling, and she pulled her- the silence, but heard only the
self upright and cried out "No!" rustle of wind and leaves; saw only
And the shimmer of eyes and falling brightness along a silvered
voices had faded again into vague tree-trunk.
echoes, until there was only the Wind? When there were no
stir of sunlight on the leaves, and branches stirring?
Robin, chubby and naked, kicking "Ridiculous," she said sharply,
in the sunlight, cooing with his then snatched up the baby boy and
hands outstretched to the rustle of squeezed hinl before hoisting hin'l
leaves and shadows. astride her hip. "Molllmy doesn't
She had known, then, that she mean ,"OU, Robin. Lees look for
had to get well. She had never berries."
heard the wind voices again, and But soon she realized that his
her crisp, scientific Inind rejected head was tipped back ~nd that he
the fanciful theory that if she only was listenillg~ again~ to ~o}ne sound
believed in the wind voices she she could not hear.
would see their forms and hear
their words clearly. And she re-
jected them so thoroughly that N 'VHAT she said Robin's
when she llcard them speak she
shut them away from her mind,
O fifth birihday, IIelen had
rnade aspecial bpd
was

in an-
for hinl
and after a time heard tllenl no . other rOOI}) of the building. He
longer, except in restless dreams. missed the warlnth of I-Ielcn's body,
By now she had accepted the and the comforting sound of her
isolation and the beauty of their breathing; for Robin, since birth.
world, and begun to make a happy had been a wakeful child.
life for Robin. Yet, on the first night alone.
For lac.k of other occupation last Robin felt curiou~ly freed. He did
summer-though the winter was somcthing he had never dared do
mild and there was no lack of before, for fear of waking Helen;
fruits and roots even then-Helen he slipped from his bed and stood
had patiently snared male and fe- in the doorway, looking into the
male of small anitnals like rabbits., fore.;;t.
and now she had a pen of .thcnl~ rfhc forest \vas closer to the door-
They provided a change of diet, \vay no\v; Robin could fuzzily rc-
and after a few smelly unsuccessful lllelnber when the clearing had
experiments she had devised a way been wider. Now, slowly, beyond
to supple their fur pelts. She madc the garden. patch \vhich Helen kept
no effort at gardening, though cleared, the underbrush and sap-
when Robin was older she might linO's
;-, \vcre 0To\vin ,:-:,o' back , and even
~

try that. For the 11101nent, it was what }{obin called "the bUl'lCd
enough that they were healthy and place" was covered \vi th new sparse
safe and protected. grass.
18 MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
Robin was accustomed to being The winds were silent.
alone, during the day-even in his Perhaps, she thought, a storm
first year, Helen had had to leave was coming. Some change in air
him alone, securely fastened in the pressure could cause this stillness-
house, or inside a little tight-fenced but Robin? She tiptoed to the al-
yard. But he was not used to being cove; as she had suspected, his bed
alone at night. was empty.
Far off in the forest, he could Where could he be? In the clear-
hear the whispers of the other peo- ing? With a storm coming? She
ple. Helen said there were no other slid her feet into hand-made san-
people, but Robin knew better, be- dals and ran outside, her quivering
cause he could hear their voices on call ringing out through the silent
the wind, like fragments of the forest:
songs Helen sang at bedtime. And "Robin-oh, Robin!"
sometimes he could almost see them Silen.ce. And far away a little
in the shadowy spots. ominous whisper. And for the first
Once when Helen had been sick, time, since that first frightening
a long time ago, and Robin had run year of loneliness, she felt lost, de-
helplessly from the fenced yard to serted in an alien world. She ran
the inside room and back again, across the clearing, looking around
hungry and dirty and furious be- wildly, trying to decide which way
ca~e Helen only slept on the bed he could have wandered. Into the
witH,her eyes closed, rousing up forest? What if he had' strayed to-
now and then to whimper like he ward the river bank? There was a
did when he fell down and skinned place where the bank crumbled
his knee, the winds and voices had away, down toward the rapids-
come into the very house; Robin her throat closed convulsively, and
had hazy memories of soothing her call was almost a shriek:
voices, of hands that touched him "Dh, Robin! Robin, darling!
more softly than Helen's hands. Robin!"
But he could not quite remember. She ran through the paths worn
Now that he could hear them so by their feet, hearing snatches of
clearly, he would go and find the rustle, winds and leaves suddenly
other people. And then if Helen vocal in the cold moonlight around
was sick again, there would be her. It was the first time since the
someone else to play with him and spaceship left them that Helen had
look after him. He thought glee- ventured out into the night of their
fully, won't Helen be surprised~ and world. She called again, her voice
darted off across the clearing. cracking in panic.
"Ro-bin!"
Helen woke, roused not by a A sudden stray gleam revealed a
sound but by a silence. She no glint of white, and a child stood
longer heard Robin's soft breaths in the middle of the path. Helen
from the alcove, and after a mo- gasped with relief and ran to snatch
ment she realized something else: up her son-then fell back in dis-
THE WIND PEOPLE 19
may. It was not Robin who stood out wild beasts or diseases or sav-
there..The child ,vas naked, about age natives, the crew had requested
a head shorter than Robin, and. permission to camp in the valley
female. clearing beside the river. Permis-
There ,vas something curious sion granted, they had gone apart
about the bare and gleaming flesh, in couples almost as usual, and
as if she could see the child only in even those who had no enduring
the full flush of the moonlight. A liaison at the moment had found
round, almost expressionless face a partner for the night.
was surrounded by a mass of color- It must have been that night. ..
less ~trealning hair, the exact color Colin Reynolds was two years
of the moonlight. Helen's audible younger than Helen, and their at-
gasp startled her to a stop: she tachment, enduring over a few
shut her eyes convulsively, and nlonths of shiptinlc, ,vas based less
when she opened them the path on mutual passion than a sort of
was black and empty and Robin boyish need in him, a sort of im-
was running down the track to- personal feminine solicitude in
ward her. 11elen. All her affairs had been like
Helen caught him up, with a that, companionable, cornfortahle,
strangled cry, and ran, clasping but never passionate. Curiously
him to her breast, back down the enough, Helen was a woman capa-
path to their shack. Inside, she ble of passion, of great depths of
barred ~ the door and laid Robin devotion; but no man had ever
down in her own be<L 'and threw roused it and now no man ever
herself down shivering, too shaken would. Only Robin's birth had
to speak, too shaken to scold him, touched her deeply-pent emotions.
curiously afraid to question. I had But that night, when Colin
a hallucination, she told herself, a Reynolds was sleeping, Helen
hallucination, another dream, a stayed restlessly awake, hearing the
dream. . . . unquiet stirring of \vind on the
leaves. After a time she wandered
A dream, like the other Dream. down to the water's edge, staying a
She dignified it to herself as The cautious distance from the shore-
Dream, because it was not like any for the cliff cruInbled dangerously
other dream she had ever had. She -and stretched herself out to listen
had dreaIlled it first before Robin's to the ,vind-voices. And after a
birth, and been ashamed to speak time she fell asleep, and had The
of it to Chao Lin, fearing the com- Dream, which was to return to her
mon-sense skepticism of the older again and again.
woman. Helen thought of herself as a
On their tenth night on the green scientist, without room for fan-
planet (the Starholm was a dim tasies, and that was why she called
recollection now) when Merri- it, fiercely, a dream; a dream born
hew's scientists had been convinced of some undiagnosed conflict in her.
that the little world was safe, with- Even to herself Helen would not
20 MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
recall it in full. habited it must be. Five years later,
There had been a man, and to hugging her sleeping son close,
her it seemed that he was part of Helen remembered the dream, ex-
the green and windy world, and he amined the content of her fantasy,
had found her sleeping by the river. and once again, shivering, repeated,
Even in her drowsy state, Helen '~I had a hallucination. It was only
had suspected that perhaps one of a dream. A dream, because I was
the other crew meInbers, like her- alone. . ."
self sleepless and drawn to the shin-
ing water, had happened upon her
there; such things were not impos- HEN ROBIN was fourteen
sible, manners and mores being
what they were among starship
W years old, Helen told him the
story of his birth, and of the ship.
crews. He was a tall, silent boy, strong
But to her, half-dreaming, there and hardy but not talkative; he
had been some strangeness about heard the story almost in silence,
him, which prevented her from and looked at Helen for a long time
seeing hiIn too clearly even in the in silence, afterward. He finally
brilliant green moonlight. No said in a whisper, "You could have
dreanl and no man had ever died-you gave up a lot for me,
seelned so living to her; and it was Helen, didn't you?" He knelt and
her fierce rationalization of the took her face in his hands. She
dream which kept her silent, smiled, and drew a little away from
months. later, when she discovered him.
(to her horror and secret despair) "Why are you looking at me like
that she was with child. She had that, Robin?"
felt that she would lose the haze The boy could not put instant
and secret delight of the dream, if ,words to his thoughts; emotions
she openly acknowledged that were not in his vocabulary. Helen
Colin had fathered her child. had taught him everything she
But at first-in the cool green knew, but she had always concealed
morning that followed-she had not her feelings from her son. He asked
been at all sure it was a dream. at lal;)t, "Why didn~t my father stay
Seeing only sunlight and leaves, she with you?"
had held back from speaking, not "I don't suppose it entered his
wanting ridicule; could she have head," Helen said. "He was needed
asked each man of the Starholm, on the ship. Losing me was bad
Was it you who came to me last enough."
night? Because if it was not, there Robin said passionately, "I'd
are other men on this world, men have stayed!"
who cannot be clearly seen even The woman found herself laugh-
by moonlight- ing. "Well-you' did stay, Robin."
Severely she reminded herself, He asked, "Am I like my fa-
Merrihew's men had pronounced ther?"
the world uninhabited, and unin- Helen looked gravely at her son,
THE WIND PEOPLE 21
trying to see the half-forgotten fea- Robin-please--"
tures of young Reynolds in the boy's "If it's only a dream, why are
face. No, Robin did not look like you frightened?" Robin asked,
Colin Reynolds, nor like Helen her- through a curious constriction in
self. She picked up his hand in his throat. "If they've never hurt
hers; despite his robust health, you-"
Robin never tanned; his skin was No, they had never hurt her.
pearly pale, so that in the green Even if, in her long-ago dream,
sunlight it blended into the forest one of them had come to her-and
almost invisibly. His hand lay in the sons of God saw the daughters
Helen's palm like a shadow. She of men that they were fair-a scrap
said at last, "No, nothing like him. of memory from a vanished life on
But under this sun, that's to be ex- another world sang in Helen's
pected." thoughts. She looked up at the pale,
Robin said confidently, "I'm like impatient face of her son, and
the other people." swallowed hard.
"The ones on the ship? They-" Her voice was husky when she
"No," Robin interrupted, "you spoke.
always said, when I was older you'd "Did I ever tell you about ra-
tell me about the other people. I tionalization-when you want
mean the other people here. The something to be true so much that
ones in the woods. The ones you you can make it sound right to
can't see." yourself?"
Helen stared at the boy in blank "Couldn't that also happen to
disbelief. "What do you mean? something you wanted not to be
There are no other people, just us." true?" Robin retorted with a mu-
Then she recalled that every im- tinous curl of his mouth.
aginative child invents playmates. Helen would not let go his ann.
Alone, she thought, Robin's always She. begged, "Robin- no, you'll
alone, no other children, no wonder only waste your life and break your
h~s a little-strange. She said, heart looking for something that
quietly, "You dreamed it, Robin." doesn't exist-"
The boy only stared at her, in The boy looked down into her
bleak, blank alienation. "You shaken face, and suddenly a new
mean," he said, "you can't hear emotion welled up in him and he
them either?" He got up and dropped to his knees beside her and
walked out of the hut. Helen buried his fac~ against her breast.
called, but he didn't turn back. She He whispered, "Helen, I'll never
ran after him, catching at his arm, leave you, I'll never do anything
stopping him almost by force. She you don't want me to do, I don't
whispered, "Robin, Robin, tell me want anyone but you-"
vvhat you mean! There isn't anyone And for the first time in many
here. Once or twice I thought I years, Helen broke into wild and
had seen-something, by moon- uncontrollable crying, without
light, only it was a dream. Please, knowing why she wept.
22 MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
Robin did not speak a~ain of his concealed a half-seen form, and the
quest in the forest. For many distant murmur grew into a voice
months he was quiet and subdued, that mocked him; a white ann, the
staying near the clearing, hovering shadow of a face, until he lifted
near Helen for days at a time, then his head and stared straight at it.
disappearing into the forest at dusk. One evening toward twilight he
He heard the \vinds numbly, deaf saw a sudden shimmer in the trees,
to their promise and their call. and he stood, fixedly, as the stray
I-Ielcn loo wa..; quiet and with- !"lint resolved itself first into a white
dra\vn, feeling Robin's alienation f~cc with shadowy eyes, then into a
throu1!h his sllblnissivc Inood. She translucent flicker of bare arms,
founcl--- herself speaking to him and then into the form of a woman,
sharply for being ahvays under arrested for an instant with her
foot; yet, on the rare days when he hand on the bole of a tree. In the
vanished into the forest and did shadowy spot, filled only with the
not return until after ~unsct, she laSl ray of a cloudy sunset, she was
felt a restless unease that set her very clear; not cloudy or unreal,
\vandering the paths herself, not but so distinct that he could see
foIlo\ving him, but simply uneasy even a small smudge or bramble-
unless she knew he was vvithin call. scratch on her shoulder, and a
Once, in the shadovv~ just bOcfore fallen leaf tangled in her colorless
sunSCl, she thought she sa\v a rnan hair. l~obin, paralyzed, watched her
rnoying through the trees, and for pause, and tum, and smile, and
an instant, as he turned toward then she melted into t1le shadows.
her, she saw that he was naked. He stood with his heart pound-
She had seen him only for a second ing for a second after she had
or two, and after he had slipped gone; then whirled, bursting with
between the shadows again, com- the excitement of his discovery,
mon sense told her it was Robin. and ran do\vn the path toward
She was vaguely shocked and an- hOlne. Suddenly he stopped short,
noyed; she firmly intended to speak the world tilting and reeling, and
to him, perhaps to scold him for fell on his face in a bed of dry
running about naked and slipping leaves.
away like that; then, in a sort of He was still ignorant of the na-
remote clubarrassmpnt, she fore- ture of the emotion in him. He felt
bore to olcntion it. But after that, only intolerable nOjisery and the con-
shc kept out of the forest. viction that he lTIUst never, never
Robin had been vaguely aware speak to Helen of what he had
of her surveillance and knew when seen or felt.
it ceased. But he did not give up
his own pointless ranlbles, although
even to himRelf he no longei' spoke
of searching, or of any drcanlIike
inhabitants of the woods. At times
H E LAY there, his burning face
pressed in to the leaves, un-
aware of the rising wind, the little
it still seemed that son1e shadow flurry of blown leaves, the growing
THE oWIND PEOPLE 23
darkness and distant thunder. At tually pulled himself free of her.
l~t an icy spatter of rain aroused The next day dawned gray and
him and cold, numbed, he made still, beaten with long needles of
his ~ay slowly homeward. Over his rain. They stayed indoors by the
head the boughs creaked woodenly, smoldering fire; Robin, half sick
and Robin, under the driving and feverish from his drenching,
whips of the rain, felt their tumult sprawled by the hearth too indolent
only echoed his own voiceless to move, watching Helen's comings
agony. and goings about the room; not
He was drenched by the time he realizing why the sight of her slight,
pushed the door of the shack open, quick form against the gray light
and stumbled blindly toward the filled him with such pain and mel-
fire, only hoping that Helen would ancholy.
be sleeping. But she started up from The storm lasted four days.
beside the hearth they had ~uilt Helen exhausted her household
together last summer. tasks and sat restlessly thumbing
"Robin?" through the few books she knew
Deathly weary, the boy snapped, by heart-they had allowed her to
"Who else would it be?" remove all her personal possessions,
Helen didn't answer. She came all the things she had chosen on a
to him, a small swift-moving figure forgotten and faraway Earth for a
in the firelight, and drew him into ten-year star-cruise. For the first
the warmth. She said, almost hum- time in years, Helen was thinking
bly, "1 was afraid-the storm- again of the life, the civilization she
Robin, you're all wet, come to the had thrown away, for Robin who
fire and dry out." had been a pink scrap in the circle
Robin yielded, his twitching of her ann and now lay sullen on
nerves partly soothed by her voice. the hearth, not speaking, aimlessly
How tiny Helen is, he tliought, and whittling a stick with the knife
1 can remember that she used to (found discarded in a heap of rub-
carry me around on one arm. Now bish from the Starholm) which
she hardly comes to my shoulder. was his dearest possession. Helen
She brought him food and he ate felt slow horror closing in on her.
wolfishly, listening to the steady What world, what heritage did I
pouring rain, uncomfortable under give him, in my madness? This
Helen's watching eyes. Before his world has driven us both insane.
o\vn eyes there was the clear mem- Robin and 1 are both a little mad,
ory of the woman in the wood, and by Earth's standards. And when 1
so vivid was Robin's imagination, die, and 1 will die first, what then?
heightened by loneliness and un- At that moment Helen would have
diluted by any random impressions, given her life to believe in his old
that it seemed to him Helen must dream of strange people in the
see her too. And \\rhen she came to wood.
stand beside him, the picture grew She flung her book restlessly
so keen in his thoughts that he ac- away, and Robin, as if waiting for
24 MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
that signal, sat upright and said "Then you do believe me-oh,
almost eagerly, "Helen-" Helen," Robin cried, and suddenly
Grateful that he had broken the found himself pouring out the
silence of days, she gave him an story of what he had seen, in in-
encouraging smile. coherent words, concluding "-and
"I've been reading your books," by daylight I can hear them, but
he began, diffidently, "and I read I can't see them-Helen, Helen,
about the sun you came from. It's you have to believe it now, you'll
different from this one. Suppose- have to let me try to find them and
suppose, if there were actually a learn to talk to them-"
kind of people here, and something Hele~ listened with a sinking
in this light, or in your eyes, made heart. She knew they should not
them invisible to you?" discuss it now, when five days of
Helen said, "Have you been see- enforced housebound proximity
ing them again?" had set their nerves and tempers on
He flinched at her ironical tone, edge, but some unknown tension
and she asked, somewhat Inore hurled her sharp words at Robin.
gently, "It's a theory, Robin, but it "You saw a woman, and I-a man.
\vouldn't explain, then, why }'OU see These things are only dreams. Do
them." I have to explain more to you?"
"Maybe I'm-more used to this Robin flung his knife sullenly
light," he said gropingly. "-And aside. "You're so blind, so stub-
anyway, you said you thought you'd born-"
seen thenl and thought it was 9nly "I think you are feverish again."
a dream." Helen rose to go.
Halfway between exasperation Re said wrathfully, "You treat
and a deep pity, Helen found her- me like a child!"
self arguing, "If these other peo- "Because you act like one, with
ple of yours really exist, why your fairy tales of women in the
haven't they made themselves wind. . ."
known in sixteen years?" Suddenly Robin's agony over-
The eagerness with which he an- flowed and he caught at her, hold-
swered was almost frightening. "I ing her around the knees, clinging
think they only come out at night, to her as he had not done since he
they're what your book calls a was a small child, his words stum-
primitive civilization-" He spoke bling and rushing over one another.
the words he had read, but never "Helen, Helen darling, don't be
heard, with an odd hesitation. angry with me," he begged, and
"They're not really a civilization at caught her in a blind embrace that
all, I think, they're like-part of pulled her off her feet. She had
the woods." never guessed how strong he was;
"A forest people," Helen mused, but he seemed very like a little boy~
impressed in spite of herself, "and and she hugged him quickly as he
nocturnal. It's always moonlight began to cover her face with child-
or dusky when you see them-" ish kisses.
THE WIND PEOPLE 25
"Don't cry, Robin, my baby, it's would burst with its ache. She man-
all right," she munnured, kneeling aged to choke out, "I'm not angry,
close to him. Gradually the wild- Robin-we'll talk about this later, I
ness of his passionate crying promise-" and then, her own con-
abated; she touched his forehead trol vanishing, turned and fled
with her cheek to see if it vv'ere precipitately into the pouring rain.
heated with fever, and he reached She plunged through the familiar
up and held her there. Helen let woods for a long time, in a daze of
him lie against her shoulder, feeling unthinking misery. She did not
that perhaps after the violence of even fully realize that she was sob-
his outburst he would fall asleep, bing and muttering aloud, "No, no,
and she was half asleep herself no, n<r-"
when a sudden shock of realization She must have wandered for sev-
darted through her; quickly she eral hours. The rain had stopped
tried to free herself from Robin's and the darkness was lifting before
entangling arms. she began to grow calmer and to
"Robin, let me go." think more clearly.
He clung to her, not understand- She had been blind, not to fore-
ing. "Don't let go of me, Helen. see this day when Robin was a
Darling, stay here beside me," he child; only if her child had been a
begged, and pressed a kiss into her daughter could it have been
throat. avoided. Or-she was shocked at
Helen, her blood icing over, real- the hysterical sound of her own
ized that unless she freed herself laughter-if Colin had stayed and
very quickly now, she would be they had raised a family like Adam
fighting against a strong, aroused and Eve!
young man not clearly aware of But what now? Robin was six-
what he was doing. She took refuge teen; she was not yet forty. Helen
in the sharp maternal note of ten caught at vanishing memories of
years ago, almost vanished in the society; taboos so deeply rooted that
closer, more equal companionship for Helen they were instinctual and
of the time between: impregnable. Yet for Robin nothing
"No, Robin. Stop it, at once, do existed except this little patch of
you hear?" forest and Helen herself-the only
Automatically he let her go, and person in his world, more specifical-
she rolled quickly away, out of his ly at the Inoment the only woman
reach, and got to her fcet. Robin, in his world. So much, she thought
too intelligent to be unaware of her bitterly, for instinct. But have I the
anger and too naive to know its right to begin this all over again?
cause, suddenly dropped his head Worse,. have I the right to deny its
and wept, wholly unstrung. "Why existence and when I die:l leave
are you angry?" he blurted out. "I Robin alone?
was only loving you." She had stumbled and paused for
And at the phrase of the five- breath, realizing that she had wan-
year-old child, Helen felt her throat dered in circles and that she was
26 MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
at a familiar point on the river bank her, the translucent body shifting
\vhich she had avoided for sixteen to a dozen colors before her blurred
years. On the heels of this realiza- eyes. His face had a curious
tion she became aware that for only familiarity-famiLiarity-and in a
the second time in memory, the sudden spasm of terror Helen
\vinds were wholly stilled. . thought, "I'm going mad, it's
Robin, it's Robin-n
His hand was actually out-
ER EYES, swollen with crying, stretched to touch her when her
H ached as she tried to pierce the screanl cut icy lashes through the
<rloorn of the mist, lilac-tinted with forest, stin'ing wild echoes in the
fhe approaching sunrise, which \vind-voices, and she whirled and
hung around the water. Through ran blindly toward the treacherous,
the dispersing mist she made out, crumbling bank. Behind her came
dimly, the form of a man. steps, a voice, a cry-Robin, the
lIe was tall, and his pale skin strange dryad-Juan, she could not
~hone \vith rnisty wltite colors. gucss. The horror of incest, the son
Helen sat frozen, her mouth open, the father the lover suddenly melt-
and for the space of several seconds ing into one, overwhelmed her reel-
he looked down at her without ing brain and she fled insanely to
moving. His eyes, dark splashes in the brink. She felt a masculine hand
the pale face. had an air of infinite actually gripping her shoulder, she
sadness and conlpassion. and she Inight have been pulled back even
thought his lips rnoved in speech, then, but she twisted free blindly,
but she heard only a thin familiar shrieking, ~'No, Robin, no, no--"
rustle of wind. and flung herself down the steep
Behind him, mere flickers, she bank, to slip and hurl downward
seemcd to make out the ghosts 'of and whirl around in the raging
other faces, tips of fingers of in- current to spinning oblivion and
visible hands. eyes, the outline of death ...
a wOlnan's breast, the CUNe of a
child's foot. For a minute, in Many years later, Merrihew,
Helen's weary numbed state, all grown old in the Space SeIVice,
her defenses .went down and she falsified a log entry to send his ship
thought: Then ]'111 not mad and it for a little \vhile into the orbit of
uJosn>t a dream and Robin iln't the tiny green planet he had natned
Reynolds' son at all. His father ,-vas Robin's \'Vorld. The old building~
this-one of these-and they've had fallen into rottcd timbers, and
been watching me and Robin, Merrihew quartered the little world
Robin has seen them, he doesn't for two months from pole to pole
knolt' he's one of them, but they but found nothing. Nothing but
knol.v. 1"Yhey know and ]''l}(' kept shadov;s and whispers and the un-
Robin from them all these sixteen ending voices of the wind. Finally,
years. he lifted his ship and went away.
The man took two steps to\vard END
THE WIND PEOPLE 27
In the cities, 350 billions

swarmed like termites zn a

hill; but J~remiah Winthrop

still called himself a man. ...

THE
GOOD T ALL AND ra\vboned was
Jeremiah Winthrop. Narrow of
shoulder and shallow of chest he
WORK was, but no matter. There was a
dignity to the man that showed it-
self in every moven1cnt. Here was
one who still called himself a man,
one whose traditions sprang from
By the rocky New England soil that
had nourished his forebears. The
THEODORE L. THOMAS mold that produces such a man is
not easily bent or broken, not even
in a world of three hundred and
fifty billion people, not even in a
world where the rocky New Eng-
land soil lies buried and forgotten
beneath the foundations of mon-
strous buildings.
Jerenliah Winthrop rode the
spiral escalator up, up to the two-
part cubicle he called home on the
one hundred and forty-eighth floor.
He stood s\vaying slightly as the es-
calator \vound its serpentine way
upwards. Others rode with him,
tight people, tense people, pushed
28
together, staring straight as they the back of a hand against her fore-
rode the spiral escalator up. And head. "I don't know. They have
now and then at a turn or a bend a had to re-schedule everybody. An-
man would elbow his way out. He'd other eighteen hundred babies born
leave the upflowing river of people in the building this week. They all
and step onto a landing as his floor have to get a little sun. 1 don't
came by. But the escalator was still know."
crowded as it passed the one hun- Winthrop pushed Davy gently to
dred and forty-eighth floor and one side and held the boy to him as
\,yinthrop stepped ofT. He was not he \valked over to Ann. He put a
one of the lucky ones \vho lived high hand in the small of her back and
near the roof where it was at least held her against his chest. She
possible to think about the air and rested her head against the upper
the light and the sun. part of his arm and leaned against
Winthrop boarded a moving belt him.
that carried hirr! over to his own Ann lifted her head, stood on her
corridor. He walked down the cor- toes and kissed Winthrop. She
ridor for ten minutes. It was easy pulled away and led him over to a
\valking, for there were far fewer chair, Davy still hanging on to his
people nO\\7. Finally he came to his leg. "You must be tired," she said.
own door. lIe inserted his thumb in "Ten hours you've been out. Were
the thwnbhole, slid the door open you able to ... Did you-"
and walked in. A tousle-headed "No," said Winthrop. "Nothing.
youngster sat on the floor playing Not so much as a soybean." He
\vith a plastic box. The boy looked looked at his wife and smiled. "I
up as Winthrop entered. guess the time has come for us to
"Daddy!" he shouted. He flung eat that potato. We've been saving
himself to his feet, dashed across the it for a month."
rOOIO and grabbed his father around Ann's eyes wrinkled as she looked
the legs. down at him. "Oh. I-I gave it to
HHello, Davy," said Winthrop, the Brookses. They haven't had
ruffling the curly brown hair. anything in weeks." The words be-
"How's the little man?" gan to pour out. "We have done
"Fine, Daddy. And Mommy says so well, really, in the last few weeks
we can go up on the roof in another that I felt sorry for them. We had
nlonth. Will you come \vith us? This those cabbage leaves and three po-
tilnc? You never go with us, Daddy. tatoes and even that piece of fish
Will you come up with us in a four months ago. I couldn't help
month from now?" myself. I gave-I gave our potato
Winthrop looked over the boy's to them. They were so sick of
head at his wife, Ann. The smile Standard Fare they were beginning
faded from his face. He said, "A to get depressed, really depressed.
month? I thought it was our turn 1-"
again in a week. What happened?" Winthrop reached up and put an
Ann shook her head and pressed ann around her hips and said,
29
"Don't think about it, darling." He row side alley where some of the
was silent for a moment, and then shops were. Immediately the crowds
he continued, "I think I'll go down fell off. A little way down the alley
and see if John Barlow has some Winthrop turned into the door of a
work for me. Let's have a quick tiny store. It was empty except for
dinner of Standard Fare and then John Barlow, the owner.
I'll go." He got up and walked oyer "Nice to see you," said Barlow,
to the sink and began washIng springing up and taking Winthrop's
Davy's hands, talking, joshing, teas- hand. "I was just thinking about
ing a Ii ttle as he did so. you. In fact, I was going to come
Ann took three glasses from the up and see you in the next day or
tiny cabinet. She went to the syn- two. Come in and sit down."
thetic milk faucet and filled the Barlow sat in the chair, Winthrop
glasses and then put them on the on the small counter. The two men
table. She went to the bread slot filled the store completely. "That
and removed six slices of bread. sounds good, John. Do you have
One after. the other she dropped the some work for me?"
six slices of brown bread through Barlow looked long at Winthrop,
the toaster. She picked up a knife and slowly shook his head. "No,
and scooped big gobs of rich yellow Jeremiah. No. I don't even have
synthetic butter out of the butter work for myself any more." He hesi-
slot and spread it on the toast. She tated a moment and went on quiet-
made a pile of the toast on a plate ly, "I'm going out of business,
and then cut the pile in half. "All Jeremiah. I can't make it work. I
right," she called. And she put the don't take in enough money to keep
toast on the table and sat down. my stock up. People don't need
Winthrop helped Davy into a money, what with free movies and
chair and then sat down himself. clothes and food and everything
He bent his head and spoke a brief else. No one buys food. They all live
blessing. And they all ate. They ate on Standard Fare and they don't
Standard Fare, as countless billions seem to care any more. So now I'll
of other people did that night, and have to join them, unless I can find
every night, from birth to death, other work."
Standard Fare. "I'm very sorry, John. I feel I
When the meal was done Win- helped drive you out of business. I
throp got up and kissed Ann and never gave you money for what I
Davy goodbye. He rode down the took."
spiral escalator, down to the ground Barlow shook his head. "No, Jere-
floor, and below. Great throngs of miah. You always worked for every-
people rode with him, crowded in thing. Other people are not as will-
on each other. He rode down to the ing to work as you are; they all want
fifteenth sub-level and changed to a something for nothing. Who else
belt. He rode past the crowded TV would be vaccinated and take the
theaters, the amusement halls. He immunization shots so he could go
stepped off and went down a nar- all the way across the city for me the
30 THEODORE L.. THOJV,AS
way you do?" structions. Then he handed the box
They sat quietly. Winthrop said, to Winthrop. "Take it home, Jere-
"Where is it all going to end, John? miah. I'll be up to see you sometime
\Vhat's going to happen to every- soon. Go on now." And he urged
body?" Winthrop off the counter and out
"I don't know. Some people the door.
\vork; there luust be jobs some- Winthrop went, holding the box
\vhere. I suppose they get them in both hands. As he worked his
through the Ministry of Govern- way through the crowds, he held
ment Employment, and you know the box to his stomach, turning his
what people say about that. Gov- shoulders to meet the press of peo-
ernment workers won't even talk ple. He was still holding it with
about it; everybody says they're both hands half an hour later \\'hen
ashalned of it. I don't know what's he entered his home.
going to happen. Except-I'm
through. I'm going to take my stock
home with me tonight, and that
ends it."
"Vinthrop looked at the box that
ANN LOOKED up, surprised.
"Jeremiah, I didn't expect you
home so soon." Her eyes fixed on
conta.ined all of Barlow's stock. The the package. "What is it? ''''hat
box measured about one foot on a have you got?"
side. Winthrop walked to the table,
"Jeremiah, I want you to have put the package on it, and carefully
something." Barlow reached down began to open it without saying a
to the bottom of the box and word. Ann and Davy stood close to
broug-h t out an object that he held him; Davy clilnbcd on a chair to
toward VVinthrop. see better. When Winthrop lifted
Winthrop looked at it and off the top layer of cotton, Ann' s
gasped. "An egg. A real hen's egg. eyes widened and she clasped her
I recognize it from the pictures." hands together and stared, silently.
Winthrop looked up. "But I can't "What is it, Daddy?"
take it, John. I can't." "It's an egg, son. A hen's egg."
"I want you to have it, Jeremiah. "Is it something to eat?"
I want you and Ann and Davy to "Yes, son. It is." Winthrop looked
have it. Now don't argue. I'll wrap at his wife and said, "Shall we eat
it up and you take it right home." it now?"
Barlow turned and lifted a small Ann nodded, quickly read the
box down from a niche. He lined cooking instructions, and set about
the box with synthetic cotton and preparing scrambled egg. Winthrop
gently nestled the egg in the center. got out the cooking pan,. wiped ofT
After covering the egg with another the dust, and set it down near her.
layer of cotton, he closed the box She smiled at him and put a large
and wrapped it and tied it with a chunk of butter in it and placed the
broad white ribbon under which he pan,on the heater. When the butter
slipped a litde card of cooking in- bubbled, she poured the beaten egg
THE GOOD WORK 31
into the pan; it hissed as it struck He was still staring at the plates
the hot butter. She began to stir the when Ann came out and sat down
egg as it cooked. Winthrop picked beside him. She too looked at her
Davy up so he could see into the husband, looked, and looked again,
pan as the egg thickened. In a mo- closer. There were tears in his eyes.
ment it ,vas done. She leaned toward him and put
Ann lifted three small dishes from a hand on his shoulder. "What is it,
a cupboard, placed them on the Jeremiah?" she asked quietly.
table, and carefully scraped the egg He twned full to\\'ard her,
onto the plates. Buttered toast and started to speak, but could not. He
milk came next, then they sat down pointed to the dirty plates and then
to eat. Winthrop said a grace. cleared his throat. "Ann, that's the
They ate in silence. last of it. It's getting '\forse all the
Davy looked up after his egg was time. There's no work for a man.
gone and said, "I don't like it very 'Vhat are we going to do? Is Davy
much. I like it some, but not very going to live the rest of his life
much." satisfied with Standard Fare? Can
"VVinthrop reached over and ruf- we watch him grow up not knowlng
fled his hair, saying to Ann, "It what it feels like to work? Ann . . ."
\vould have been better if we'd had He stopped and sat quietly for a
some salt, I guess. But it was good moment. "I've got to go to the
anyway. I've often wondered what Ministry of Government Employ-
an egg tasted like." ment."
He looked down at the empty She said, "Jeremiah, are you
plates and stared at them. Then he sure? We've always been able to
said quickly, "Davy, it's your bed- manage on our own. We've never
time. You hop on in now." needed help from the government."
Davy's face grew long, but then "Ann-" He stood up and began
Winthrop looked at him, and he pacing across the room. "How can
climbed off his chair and went over we sit and watch this happen to our
and pulled his father down and boy? We can~t take him out in all
kissed him on the cheek. '"Good those people very often. We can't
night, Daddy." take him to the roof. Ann, he's a
"Good night, son." good boy. We can't let him live like
Ann took Davy by the hand and thi s. "
led him into the bedroom. Win- "But how will you feel? You have
throp listened to the chatter and to make your own \vay. You've al-
then to the prayers. He sat and ways believed that."
lis tened as he stared at the three Winthrop's stooped figure bent
egg-stained plates on the table. The even more. He stopped pacing and
plates pushed into his Inind, occu- stood with his hands hanging at his
pied it, filled it, until there was sides, his chin on his chest. "'I
nothing else. And at that moment know," he said quietly. "I know.
the integrity of Jeremiah Winthrop Help me, Ann. \Vhat should we
broke. do?"
32 THEODORE L. THOMAS
She flew across the roo III to him greater. Ann and Winthrop used
and they clung together. After a their legs to make room for Davy
moment she said, "All right, Jere- to stand on the moving belt. The
miah. I knew this would come some upper portions of their bodies
day. We will go down tomorrow to pushed out against the packed mass
the Ministry of Government Em- of humanity. They held their arms
ployment and see if they have any bent at the elbows to. fonn a bridge
work ,for you. Maybe they have, around Davy's head, stooping a lit-
and maybe it \\'on't be so bad. May- tle to do so. Silently they pushed
be it'sgood \vork after all. \Ve;ll back against the surge of people.
see. " They changed belts by walking in
a kind of lockstep and again formed
a trenlbling bridge with their anns
HE FAMILY was up early the around Davy on the next belt.
T next morning, up and pating
Standard Fare. After breakfast thev
'I\vice !TiOre they changed belts and
in two hours they arrived at the
began to get ready to go oul. An~ building next to their own. It was
went over all the clothes, sponging easier, going up the spiral escalator.
spots off the slick fabric. Jeremiah They came out into a huge room
Winthrop paced back and forth filled with people. Holding tight
with slow measured steps, his hands to Davy's leash, they worked their
clasped behind hiITI, his head bent. \vay through the crowds, seeking a
Ann took a Ii ttle cord harness rcgisLration desk. In half an hour
from the cabinet and slipped it over they found one.
Davy's head. She pulled the cords The line of people was only a few
taut and tied them around him. She hundred yards long in front of that
passed a light piece of cord around particular desk. Jeremiah and Ann
her \vaist and tied the other end of joined the line at the end, smiling
it to Davy's harness. She tied a at each other. In four short hours
second piece of cord to the other they found themselves at the desk.
side of the harness. Then she said Winthrop gave his name and
to Winthrop, "Jeremiah, we're number to the man and explained
ready." why he wanted an interview with
Winthrop stepped over to Davy's one of the ministers. The man
side. He passed the second piece of swiftly filled out a set of papers, as-
cord around his waist and tied it signed Winthrop a line number and
fast. "I'm ready," he said. a chair number, and pointed the di-
They went out the door and it rection to take.
was not bad at first. Riding down Jeremiah, Ann, and Davy slowly
the spiral escalator it began to get passed through the crowds in the
crowded;. people preg.sed shoulder room, this time seeking their line.
to shoulder. Davy clutched a They finally found it and Winthrop
parent's hand in each of his own. gave his papers to the man in
When they arrived a t the bel ts be- charge. Again they were fortunate.
low ground-level, the press grew The line to which Winthrop was as-
THE GOOD WORK 33
signed did not even reach out into laughlng, shouting, or playing. Win..
the room; the end of it had pro- throp turned each one off as he
gressed into the long corridor that came abreast of it, if his neighbors
led to the minister's office. did not object. None of the people
Winthrop settled into his moving in the line were talkative, and that
chair while Ann and Davy bustled suited Winthrop. Mostly he sat
around him and made him com- thinking over his forthcoming inter-
fortable. Then they said goodbye. view. Two minutes to explain why
"Ann, be careful going home. Go he should be given work was not
very slowly. Don't be afraid to very long. But the Ministers of
scream out if Davy begins to get Government Employment were
crushed." busy men.
"Don't worry, dear. We'll be all Toward the end of the second
right." Ann smiled at him, but her week Winthrop had a surprise visit
eyes were too bright. from Ann. She threw her arms
Winthrop saw it and stood up around him and explained that
from his chair. "I'll take you home Helen Barlow had come to see her
and then come back." and had sent Ann off to visit. And
'~No." She gently pushed him it was while Ann was there that
back into the chair. "We'll lose an- Winthrop moved up to a position
other day, and Davy and I will be from which he could see the door
all right. Now you just stay here. of the minister's office. When Ann
Goodbye, dear." She leaned over left, she went with the comforting
and kissed him. knowledge that it would be only a
Winthrop said, "All right, but few days more.
don't visit me, Ann. I'll be home as The time came when Winthrop
soon as this is over, and it's too hard was at the door. Then, suddenly, he
on you to make the trip alone." was in the anteroom, and before
She smiled and nodded. Win- he could fully realize it he was
throp kissed Davy and ruffled his standing in a very small room be-
hair. Then Ann tied both ends of fore the minister.
Davy's leash around her waist, and Winthrop identified himself and
she and Davy walked off. Both of said, "I have a boy of four, a fine
them turned to wave frequently boy, and a fine wife too. I want to
until the crowd swallowed them up. work the way a man should to give
them something besides Standard
The days passed slowly for Win- Fare. Here is what I have worked at
throp. The corridor seemed to in the last five years." And Win-
stretch on interminably as he slowly throp listed the things he had done.
moved down it in his chair. Every The minister listened. He had
few hundred yards there was the white hair and a lined face whose
inevitable milk faucet and the bread skin seemed to be pulled too: tight.
and butter slots, and every few feet When Winthrop had finished, the
there was the inevitable TV screen minister looked steadily into his face
alive with people talking, singing, for a moment; Winthrop could al-
34 THEODORE L. T.HOMAS
roost feel the probing of the level "The reason is that we do not
blue eyes. Then the minister turned want people fighting over jobs. Not
to a device that loomed over him to many who come in here really want
one side and punched a complex to work, but there are a few. We
series of buttons. There was a whir- have to pick good men for this
ring noise behind the wall of the work; those buildings must be kept
tiny room, and then a small packet in good condition. Others less for-
of cards appeared at the slot in the . tunate than you might not under-
bottom of the device. The minister stand that you are just the man we
picked them out and glanced at need. So no talking about your
them, and an odd expression of sad- \vork-no talk of'any kind--on pain
ness swept across his face. It was of dismissal." The minister sat back.
gone in an instant, and then he "\.yell, I guess that is about all. Re-
looked up and said, "Yes, Mr. Win- port for work in the morning. Good
throp. We have a job for you, and luck." "And he held out his hand.
the full six hours a day, too. You Winthrop shook it and said,
\vill be on the maintenance crew "l'hank you, sir. I'll \vork hard for
of your building. Your job is ex- you. 1 didn't know you needed men
plained here-" he passed over a for this work or I would have been
card-"and it consists of tightening here sooner. I had always heard
the nuts <;>0 the expansion joints in that . . . Well, thank you." And
the fralnework of the building. It Winthrop turned to go. Out of the
is very important to do it right, so comer of his eye as he turned, he
read the card carefully." Winthrop thought he saw again that ephemer-
nodded eagerly. al expression of sadness, but when
The minister handed over an- he looked the minister full in the
other card and said, "Here is a face it was gone. Winthrop went out
description of the daily reports you th~ side door. The entire interview
must turn in." Another card. "Here had taken one and three quarter
is how you and your chief decide nlinutes.
your working schedule, and you
must adhere to it; it is very impor-
tant. The chief of your tightening
crew will go over it with you. Here W INTHROP left early the next
morning so as not to be late
is your requisition for the special for work. As it turned out, he was
\vrench you will need. Here is your unable to get off a belt at the
pay schedule; you can decide if proper landing-too many people
you want to be paid in money or in the way-and it took him fifteen
produce. And one very important minutes to retrace his steps. He ar-
thing." The minister leaned for- rived exactly' 9n time.
ward to emphasize his remarks. The chief of the tightening crew
"You are not allowed to talk about was a big, bluff man with a red
your job with anyonc~ not even with face. He took Winthrop in tow and
your best fl;ends. Is that clear?" showed him how they worked. The
\Vinthrop nodded. '''Yes, sir." crew chief had a vast knowledge of
THE GOOD WORK 35
the crawl spaces in the interior of in the Winthrop household, much
the building. He showed 'Vinthrop reading and playing games and tell-
the blueprints from which the tight- ing stories. They even watched the
ening crew worked, and explained TV screen now and then; somehow
that by coordinating their work it no longer seemed so f ruitless. The
with all the other tightening crc\vs monotony of Standard Fare was
they made one cOlTIplete round of broken; the head of the house was
the building every eight years. By working steadily. It was now possi-
then it was time to do i t agai~; the ble to plan ahead for a variety of
nuts worked loose from the constant meals, and that made it easier to
expansion and contraction. It was wait when there was nothing to eat
quite a job keeping track of the but Standard Fare.
area that the tightening crew cov- Winthrop developed skill and
ered; it was a large crew. But each speed at locating and tightening ~e
member turned in daily reports, nuts. He soon covered in a day a
and there was a large clerical staff larger area than any other man,
to keep the records straight. In fact, and the chief told him that he was
there were more men keeping his best man. Winthrop came to
records than there were doing the share the pride and sense of respon-
actual tightening work. The chief sibility that all the other tighteners
pointed out that Winthrop was to felt. They were a select group, and
be one of the elite, one of those they knew it; all the others looked
whose work justified the existence up to them.
of the huge staff. The tone of the It was after dinner one night that
chief's voice made it clear that there Winthrop sat back, hooked his
\vas a kind of quiet pride among thumbs in the armholes of his shirt,
the men who did the actual work. and watched Ann and Davy finish
The chief issued Winthrop his the half-dozen peas. They looked
wrench and showed him where to at him and smiled, and his heart
start. warmed. "You know," he said, "I
The day passed swiftly. The tight- think I'll visit John Barlow for a
ening of the nuts was not so bad, few minutes. I haven't seen him
although Winthrop's arm grew sore since he gave up his store. Do you
after a while. The difficult part was mind, dear?"
gaining access to the nuts in the Ann shook her head. "No, you
first place. Winthrop had to use all run along. I'll play with Davy for
his agility to wriggle through con- a while and then put him to bed.
fined places. Yet it was good to be Don't stay too long."
working again, good to feel the Barlow answered Winthrop's
sweat start from his brow from hard knock. "Well, Jeremiah. Come in,
work instead of from the press of man, come in."
people. Winthrop walked in and the two
In a week Winthrop was no men stood looking at each other.
longer dog-tired when he got home Winthrop was surprised at how well
at night. There was much laughter Barlow looked, and he said so.
36 THEODORE L. THOMAS
Barlo laughed. h la t h, 'm so happy for 0 Jer-
tim e m t I was pretty far down miah. Congratulations. And that re-
in the dumps I QUe . But I'm mind m John. h turned to her
working, Jeremiah. I m actuall hu band. ou ha e 0 get ready to
orking. Important work, too! go to ork. ou know how long it
His enthusiasm as infectious takes to get ther even though it'
and inthrop found himself laugh- in the building.
ing. "I'm glad for you, John. nd "Right. I 11 g tread . Jeremiah,
I know how you feel becau m 1m orry that I hav to go but
orking too. why don't you tay?
Barlow stepped forward and o John. I ju t stopped in to
wrung his hand. "That s fin , man ay hello. You come up and ee u
fine! Government, I guess just lik eal soon. '
mine. It isn t so bad, i it? ot I certainly will."
nearly as bad as e thought. Good There was an e change of ood-
teady important ork mak a man by s and inthrop left.
fe I like it's worth living. Barlo wen into the 0 her room
Helen Barlow came out of th and arne out immediatel with hi
other room. "Why, Jeremiah. rench. He waved it playfully at
didn t know you w re h reo Ho his if. Got to 0,' he said. "The
nice to see you. 100 ning crew won't wait." And he
e and he workin ' aid hIe a ki at his wife and went off
Barlo . to wor . E

TH GOOD WORK 7
H
HE CAR he'd stolen was a the generator would not charge at
beautifully groomed thing: all. all. He would have stolen another
polished lacquer and chrome, with one if he could, but he had got onto
almost brand-new dual tread white- the turnpike before he realized just
wall tires on the nickeled wire how unreliable this one was. If he
heels. But the transmission was changed cars at a restaurant, it
bad, the brake drums scraped, and would be reported and the police
there was a short cir uit in the wir- would s op him wh n he tried to
ing somewhere, 0 that he, had 0 leave the tunlpike.
keep over sixty miles per hour or o he was trapped with what he
38
BY ALGIS BUDRYS

He had been waitin,~ all his lite tor the aliens to turn up-and

noW that the)' were here, he knew exactly what to do.

had. Hunched over the wheel of his minutes before the ship was due to
roaring cage, the yellowish head- take off, with or without him,
lights reflecting white from the lane average speed required: 46.62, ap-
markers, Redfern swept his eyes prox.; round off to allow for stop-
systematically over the instruments: ping the car at the exit toll booth,
ammeter, fuel gauge, oil pressure, for covering two miles of back
water temperature, speedometer, roads, for leaving the car and run-
odometer. He thought of himself ning an unknown distance across
as doing it systematically, every a weed-grown field to the ship's air-
ten minutes, like a professionally lock-they would take off on sched-
trained driver. Actually, he was ule with him six inches from the
dividing his attention almost equal- slamming airlock door; they would
ly between the road and the not stay themselves a microsecond
odometer. A hundred and ten miles to accommodate him-say fifty
covered, seventy miles to go, ninety miles per hour, average. Then allow
continually around immense trailer
trucks in the slow lane. His mind
raced to keep up with the changing
TASTED ASHES figures on the odometer. He wished
he weren't feeling a slight miss in
the engine whenever he eased up
on the accelerator. He cursed the
for speedometer error. Say fifty-five car's owner for his false-front
miles per hour, indicated, average. prodigality with wax and white-
Allow for odometer error. Say sixty walls.
miles per hour, indicated, average. He looked at his watch again.
Allow for unforeseen delays. Sixty- Four in the morning. He turned
five miles per hour. the radio on, ignoring his fear that
Redfern's foot trembled on the something else might happen to the
accelerator pedal. His thigh ached car's wiring.
from hours of unremitting pressure. "-And that's the news," the an-
His car flashed by signboards, wove nouncer's professionally relaxed
39
voice said. "Mter a word about of gin. The bottle his VISitor had
United Airlines, we'll hear, first, brought up was standing on the bu-
Carl Orff's Carmina BUTana~ fol- reau. His visitor, who had given the
lowed by-" name of Charlie Spence, was not
His watch was slow. drinking.
Five minutes? Fifteen minutes? "You don't look like a Charlie,"
How long did the news take? Redfern said abruptly over the tum-
He held the watch to his ear. It bler's rim. "You look as cold as ice."
was an expensive one, wafer thin, Spence laughed, his small mouth
beautifully crafted, left over from stretching as far as it could. "May-
his younger days-he could barely be I'm made of it," he said. "But
hear it running. Was it running at then, you're nothing but a lump of
all? coal. Carbon." He brushed his fin-
gertips together.
Redfern was a leathery man, his "But then," Redfern mocked
yello\\ish-white hair brushed back sharply, "1 don't pretend to be gre-
from angular temples, a scruffy garious."
Guards moustache over his nearly "Oh, I don't pretend--don't pre-
invisible lips. His suits were made tend at all. I am gregarious. I love
for him by a London tailor, from the company of people. I've been
measurements taken in 1925; they moving about among them for sev-
were gored and belted in the backs eral years, now."
of the jackets. Outdoors, he wore a "All right," Redfern said sharply,
Burberry and carried a briefcase. "we've already settled that. Let's let
People who saw him on the street in it be. I don't care where you come
Washington always took him for from-I don't really care what
someone with diplomatic connec- you're made of. It may surprise you,
tions. But since Redfern was always but I've thought for some time that
seen afoot, these connections per- if people were coming to this world
force had to be minor. Was he an from other places, they'd be bound
~ssistant attache of sorts, perhaps? to get in touch with me sooner or
At his age? Looking at Redfern, later."
people would wonder about it. "Why on Earth should we try to
People. But the man who'd sat get in touch with you?" Spence
easily on the edge of Redfern's asked, nonplus~d.
lumpy bed in the wallpapered hotel "Because if you people have been
room-that man, now ... coming here for years, then you're
That man had coal-black hair, not here openly. You've got pur-
broad, flat cheekbones above a poses of your own. People with pur-
sharply narrowing chin, oval, ma- poses of their own generally come to
roon-pupiled eyes and cyanotic lips. me."
He smiled easily and agreeably Charlie Spence began to chuckle.
across the room. "I like you," he laughed. "I really
Redfern sat in the one chair, sip- do. You're a rare type."
ping at the water tumbler half-full "Yes," said Redfern, "and now
40 ALGIS BUDRYS
let's get down to business." He ges- "I heard you the first time.
tured toward the bureau top. "Pour What's all this to do with me?"
me some more of that." Alcohol af- "Well, now," Charlie Spence ex-
fected him swiftly but not deeply. plained, "the ambassador's not from
Once it had stripped him of the a particularly large nation in their
ordinary inhibitions, he could go on bloc. It seems doubtful they'd
drinking for some time before his bother to send along any of their
intellect lost its edge. Since he al- own security police. The only
ways took two aspirins and went guards present will likely be Ameri-
straight to bed at that point, it was can Secret Service personnel, ex-
not a serious sort of weakness. But tending courtesy protection."
without his inhibitions he was a very "Yes."
unpleasant man. "So. In the first place, the am-
bassador is really a small fish. In the
second place, no American, even a
"IT'S A SIMPLE business," trained professional sworn to his
.I Charlie Spence was saying a duty" is apt to be quite as devoted
little later. "The ambassador will to the ambassador's life as he would
land at National Airport and be be to; that of, say, any American
met by the usual sort of reception congressman. Those two factors
committee. Red carpet, band, dig- represent a potential assassin's mar-
nitaries, and so forth. But the red gin of safety."
carpet will be a little shabby, the "And what're you meddling in
band won't be first-rate, and the our politics for?" Redfern growled.
reception committee will not be "Your politics? Redfern, my dear
quite as high-ranking as it might be. fellow, it mayor may not be your
Mter all, the ambassador's country planet, but it's most assuredly our
is definitely on the other side of the solar system."
fence." The neck of the bottle tinked
"Yes," Redfern drawled. "The against the lip of Redfern's glass.
protocol of prejudice." "And I'm your assassin?"
"Dh, no, no, nothing deliberate," "You are."
Spence said, with a hand raised. "What makes you think I'll do
"Diplomats pride themselves on it?" Redfern cocked his head and
equal courtesy to all. But the em- looked narrowly at Spence.
ployee in charge of caring for the "A compulsive need to meddle in
carpets simply won't do his best. human history."
The band won't play with any great "Dh ?"
enthusiasm. And any of your offi- Cha;lie Spence laughed. "You
cials who happen to be ill, with were cashiered from your country's
colds or similar afllictions, will hon- foreign service in nineteen hundred
estly decide their health precludes and thirty-two. But you've never
the effort of attending. This is sim- stopped mixing into international
ply human nature, and any snub situations. Gun running, courier
will be completely unintended." work, a little export-import, a little
THE MAN WHO TASTED ASHES 41
field work for foreign development The ernbassy \"ill close its doors, is-
corporations ... and, now and then, sue a misleading statement., and
a few more serious escapades. Don't call its doctor."
tell me you don't enjoy it, Redfern. "Yes.'~
It's a very hard life, all told. No one "Very well. The embassy staff
would stay in it as long as you have has taken routine steps, and waits
if it didn't satisfy his need for for the ambassador to recover. But,
power." just to allow for all eventualities:
Redfern. pinched his lips together the unofficial courier service is al-
even more tightly, in the fleeting re- ready transmitting a notification to
flex with which he always acknowl- the government at home. The doc-
edged the truth. "I wasn't cash- tor examines the patien t and dis-
iered," he said. "I resigned without covers an inflamed punciure on his
prejudice." right hand. Another message goes
"Oh, yes; yes, you did. Being un- home. The ambassador dies, and
pleasant to one's superiors doesn't tests indicate poison. Obviously, it
disgrace a man-it merely makes was hoped the puncture would go
him unemployable. Except for 'spe- unnoticed and the cause of death,
cial purposes that don't require a which resembles cerebral occlusion.
pukka sahib. And here I am, as would be mistaken. But the tiny
you said, with a special purpose. needle must not have been quite
Ten thousand dollars, on comple- sterilized, by accident, and the
tion, Redfern, and the satisfaction clever doctor has penetrated the
of having started World War III." scheme-and another message goes
Redfern's eyes glittered. "All over home, before the Am~rican State
one little ambassador?" he asked Department even suspects anything
carefully. serious."
"Over one little ambassador. In "Hmm. I'll simply shake his
life, he's not considered worth the hand?"
trouble of protecting him. And no Charlie Spence reached into his
one but a rather stout and liverish pocket. "Wearing this." He held
woman in the Balkans will mourn out a crumpled sOlnething, the size
him in death. But when he dies, his of a handkerchief. Redfern took it
side will suddenly discover a great and unfolded it. "A mask/' Spence
and genuine moral indignation. ~aid. "Drawn over your head, it
Why? Because they will be truly will mold new features for you.
shocked at such a thing happening It'll be devilish uncomfortable, but
in AUlerica." you won't have to wear it long~"
"World War III," Redfern said ~'It'll make me look like someone
ruminatively. entitled to be on the field?"
"'Exactly. You'll shake the am- Spence grinned the grin of a
bassador's hand. An hour later, Renaissance Florentine. "Better
when he's already safe inside his than that. It will give you the com-
embassy refreshing himself after his posite features of six people entitled
trip, he'11 fall into a sudden coma. to be on the field. You will look like
42 ALGIS BUDRYS
none of them, but you will look Redfern snorted. "If I acted only
superficially familiar to anyone who on what I was sure of, I'd still be an
knows any of them. The subsequent embassy clerk."
questioning of witnesses will yield "And you \\'ouldn't like that, I
amusing results, I think." suppose?" Charlie Spence, recov-
"Very clever. Good technique. ered, was looking around the room.
Confuse and obscure. But then, "Sometimes? i\t night, when you
you've practiced it a long time." can't sleep?"
Redfern pushed himself abruptly "I want an out," Redfern said
out of the chair and went into the brusquely. "I won't do it without
adjoining bathroom, keeping the accident insurance."
door open. "Excuse me," he said "Oh?" Charlie Spence's eyebro\\'s
perfunctorily. quivered.
"Lord, you're a type!" Charlie "If I'm caught at the field, I'm
Spence said. ':Will you do it?" . caught and that's it. I'll protect
"What?" Redfern said from the you."
bathroom. "Professionalism. I like that. Go
"Will you do it?" Spence re- on-what if you get away from the
peated, raising his voice. field?"
Redfern came out, picking up "If I get away, but there's trou-
the gin bottle, and sat back down in ble, I want a rendezvous with one
the chair. He tipped the bottle over of your ships."
the glass. "Maybe." "Oh, ho!" Charlie Spence said.
"I've told you too much for you "You do, -do you?"
to back out now," Spence said with "I'll cover my tracks, if you think
a frown. it's important, but I want a rendez-
"Rubbish!" Redfern spat. "Don't vous. I want to be off this planet
try to bully me. You don't care if there's trouble. Change that-I
what any of the natives tell each want to be off it in any case, and if
other about you. There are dozens there's no trouble, I can always be
of people living off their tales about brought back."
you. It's to your advantage to "Oh, hoI" Charlie Spence re-
hire native helpers wherever you peated with a grin. "Yes, I'd think
can-if they're caught, who cares you would want to watch the next
what wild tales they tell? You'd be war from some safe place." It was
insane to risk losing one of your own easy to see he'd been expecting Red-
people." He looked sharply into fern to lead up to this all along.
Charlie Spence's eyes. "I don't sup- "Have it your way," Redfern said
pose you fancy the thought of a dis- ungraciously.
secting table." Charlie Spence was laughing si-
Charlie Spence licked his lips lently, his eyes a-slit. "All right,
with a flicker of his tongue. "Don't Redfern," he said indulgently. He
be too sure of yourself," he said reached into his card case, took out
after a moment, in a more careful a photograph of a dumpy blonde
tone of voice. woman and a string-haired man
THE MAN WHO TASTED ASHES 43
on the porch of a middle western He tried another station on the
farmhouse, and carefully split it radio, but that was playing popular
with his thumbnails. Out of the cen- music. A third was conducting some
ter, he took a bit of tissue paper, sort of discussion program ahout
and stuck the front and back of the water fluoridation. And that \rvas
photograph together again. Replac- all. The rest of the dial yielded
ing the card case in his pocket, he only hisses or garbled snatches from
handed the slip of paper to Redfern. Minneapolis or Cincinnati. His am-
"Dip it in your drink," he said. meter showed a steady discharge as
He watched while Redfern com- long as the radio was on, no matter
plied, but kept his eyes away from how fast he drove. He turned it off
the short handwritten directions the and steered the car, his face like a
alcohol brought up. "Don't repeat graven image. He was seething \vith
the location aloud. I don't know it, anger, but none of it showed. As an
and don't want to. Memorize it and adolescent, he had made the mis-
destroy it. And I tell you now, Red- take of equating self-possession with
fern, if the ambassador doesn't die, maturity, and had studiously prac-
there'll be no ship." He smiled. ticed the mannerism, with the in-
"For that matter, you have no guar- evitable result that he had "-only
antee there'll be any ship at all." learned to hide his feelings from
Redfern growled. "I know." himself. He was the prisoner of his
"Lord, what meager hopes you practice now, to the extent that he
live on, Redfern!" often had to search deep to find
"You're through here now, aren't what emotion might be driving him
you?" Redfern said. at any particular time. Often he
"Yes . . ." Charlie Spence said found it only in retrospect, when it
with pursed lips. was too late.
"T:hen get out." He took the That lunch with Dick Farleagh
palm hypodermic Charlie Spence this afternoon . . .
handed him in its green pasteboard
box, and closed the hotel room door It had been difficult even to reach
behind his visitor. him' a call to the embassy-"Who
shalt I tell Mr. Farleagh is calling?
Mr. Redfern?" and then the barely
HIRTY-FIVE miles to go. His muffled aside, a whispered "Oh,
T watch now read 4:30. It hadn't
stopped, but was merely slow. If
dear." Then the pause, and finally,
with a sigh: "Mr. Farleagh will
he'd thought to have it cleaned by speak to you now, Mr. Redfern_" as
a jeweler, last year or even the year though the secretary thought a bad
before that, it would be accurate' mistake was being made.
now. As it was, he had less than an "Dickie," Redfern said heavily.
hour, and he would be off the turn- "What is it, Ralph?" Farlcagh's
pike fairly soon~ onto roads that voice was too neutral. Obviously,
\vere paved but had been laid out he had taken the call only Oll t of
in the days of horse-drawn wagons. curiosity, because he had not heard
~ ALGIS BUDRYS
directly from Redfern in nearly There was a long pause, during
fifteen years. But he must already which there was a sudden buzz in
be regretting it-probably he didn't the phone, and the sound of Red-
like being called Dickie, now that fern's coin being collected. In a mo-
his junior clerk days were well be- ment, the operator would be asking
hind him. Redfern ought to have for another dime.
thought of that, but he was in a "Are you there?" Farleagh asked
hurry, a~d hurry, like liquor, always with maddening detachment. "See
took away his social graces. here, Redfern-" now the tenor of
"I have to speak to you." his thinking was unmistakeable in
"Yes?" his voice, even before he continued
Redfern waited. Only after a mo- -"if it's a matter of a few dollars
ment did he understand that Far- or so, I can manage it, I suppose.
leagh had no intention of meeting I'll mail you a check. You needn't
him in person. bother to return it."
"I can't do it over the telephone." "Deposit ten cents for the next
'"I see." Now the voice was crisp, three minutes, please," the operator
as Farleagh decided he could meet said at that moment.
the situation with routine proce- "I don't want your blasted
dure. "I'll ask my secretary to make money!" Redfern cried. "I have to
an appointment. She'll call you. see you. ''''ill you be there?"
Can you leave a number?" "1-" Farleagh had begun when
"No, no, no!" Redfern was shout- the operator cut them off.
ing into the telephone~ "I won't be Redfern stared in bafflement at
~bed off like that!" His words and the telephone. Then he thrust it
actions' \\'ere registering on his con- back on its cradle and walked
sciousness in only the haziest way. briskly out of the booth.
He had no idea he was shouting.
"'This is too important for your He waited in the Grosvenor bar
blasted conventionalities! I won't for an hour and a half, rationing his
put up \vith it! 1 have to see you." drinks out of a sense that he ought
His voice was wheedling, now, to keep his head. He was not a
though he did not realize that, stupid man. He knew that he al-
either. "Today. No later than ways got into quarrels whenever
lunch." he'd been drinking.
F~rleagh said with quiet shock, He rationed his drinks, but after
"There's no need to rave at me. the first one he did so out of a spite-
Now, take hold of yourself, Ralph, ful feeling that he ought to, to
and perhaps we can talk this out please that stuffed shirt Farleagh.
sensibly." He already knew that if Farleagh
"Will you come or won't you?" appeared at all, their meeting
Redfern demanded. "I'll be at the would not do the slightest good.
Grosvenor bar in an hour. I'm Hunched over his drink, glowering
warning you you'll regret it if you at the door, he now only wanted to
don't come." be able to say, afterwards, that he
THE /tI\AN WHO TASTED ASHES 45
had made the utmost effort to do he was merely providing for an ex-
the right thing. tremely remote possibility. "Red-
Farleagh came, at last, looking a fern," he said, "if you're attempting
great deal beefier than he had when to involve my government in some
he and Redfern were in public scheme of yours, that will be the
school together. His handshake was end. You'll have gone too far."
perfunctory-his maddeningly level "OUT government, Dickie," Red-
gray eyes catalogued the changes in fern almost snarled. "I still carry
Redfern's face with obvious disap- my passport."
proval-and he practically shep- "Precisely," Farleagh said. "I'm
herded Redfern to the farthest and sure the American authorities
darkest table. Obviously, he did not would deport you, at our request. If
relish being seen in a public place you stand trial at home, you'll not
with a man of Redfern's character. get off easily."
Redfern drawled: "You've gone to "There's nothing in my past
fat." record that breaks the law at
Farleagh's eyes remained steady. home."
"And you to lean. What is it you "There's a great deal about you
want, Redfern?" that breaks laws more popular than
"If it isn't money?" Redfern's those in books."
mouth curled. He turned and sig- "Damn you, Farleagh," Redfern
naled to a waiter. "What will you said in a voice he did not know was
have, Dickie?" high and almost tearful, "you'd bet-
"None for me, thank you," Far- ter be there tonight."
leagh said in an impassive drone. "Why?"
"I'm pressed for time." "Because if you aren't; and I do
"Are you? You've no idea, do get involved in something, it'll be
you, that I might be on a close found out soon enough that you
schedule myself." Redfern glanced could have been there. I warn you
at his watch. The ambassador's now, Farleagh, if I go down, it
plane was due at National Airport won't be easily. Perhaps it won't
in two hours, and there was a great matter to you if your career's
deal still to be done. "You've kept smashed. I tell you now, there's a
me waiting." He waved the waiter great deal more involved in this
away in sudden irritation, without than your career."
ordering. "Now, you listen to mc," Farleagh was still not taking -his
he told Farleagh. "I'm going to be eyes away from Redfern's face, nor
at a definite place and titne tonight. moderating the set of his 111outh. He
Here." He flicked the balled bit of gave the appearance, sitting there
tissue paper across the table into in his expensive suit, with his gray-
Farlcagh's lap. ing black hair combed down sleekly,
Farleagh picked it out and trans- of enormous patience nearly at an
ferred it to a side pocket. He would end.
have been a very bad diplomat if "Very well thenl" Redfern ex-
he had ignored it. But it \vas plain claimed. "I don't care if you believe
46 ALGIS BUDRYS
me or not." He thrust his chair to look toward the man. He had
back. "But if someone gets ill who seen no sign of drawn-up police
shouldn't, today, you'd better be- cars anywhere around the toll
lieve me!" He stalked away, his plaza. That was the important
Burberry flapping from his ann, his thing, the only important thing at
briefcase banging into the backs the moment.
of chairs, his face an unhealthy Now that he was off the turn-
red. pike, he forgot he had been so
afraid of being stopped for automo-
bile theft. It had been another in

H E DROVE vengefully; in a rage


that included the car and the
radio, his watch, Farleagh, Charlie
a succession of thin-edged risks
which could be shown to extend
back to the beginning of his inde-
Spence and the world. pendent life. He forgot it as he had
Five o'clock, by his watch. He forgotten his fears concerning all
turned into the exit ramp with a the others--as he had forgotten
squealing from the tires, and one that he had been afraid something
part of his mind was hoping there would go wrong at the airport this
would be a blowout, just to prove afternoon, or that he would be
something to the car's owner. He caught as he hung about in Wash-
touched the brakes almost reluc- ington for hours afterward, until
tantly, and at the same time cursed he was sure the embassy was act-
their criminal softness. He fumbled ing as if something were wrong
on the seat beside him for the toll behind its doors.
ticket, and searched in' his nearly As he drove now, forcing his car
empty wallet. He had had to spend around the twisting mountain cor-
a good deal of money today-more ners, he had other things to be
than he'd expected, for the drug afraid of.
and the explosive. It had never Farleagh might not be there--
been his intention to steal a car, but might have been stubborn, or un-
rental had been out of the question. accountably stupid, or simply too
He knew, and damned the fact, slow, in spite of the margin Red-
that another man might have got- fern had allowed him. He looked at
ten better prices with his suppliers. his watch again as he turned off
But what sort of logic was there in onto a dirt track leading almoSt
making up to criminals; slapping straight up the hill. Five-twenty by
their backs and buying them drinks, his watch. He had perhaps five min-
talking to them on an equal basis, utes.
when he could not even see the He took one deep breath-one,
need to do that sort of thing in his and no more, just as he had done
dealings with respectable people? at the airport gate this afternoon,
He slapped the ticket and his and as he had done on other occa-
two remaining dollar bills into the sions in his life-and drove the car
toll attendant's palm, and acceler- into a tangle of shrubbery just past
ated again without bothering even a mortared-stone culvert that was
THE MAN WHO TASTED ASHES 47
his position marker. He shut off the self awkwardly ,vith his one free
ignition and sat as if stupefied by hand, the ladder began to retract
the engine's silence. Almost in- with the sound of metal sliding into
stantly, the headlights were no metal, and other mechanical
more than a sickly orange glow sounds resonated out of the hull,
upon the leaves pressed against the like genera tors cOining up to speed,
car's grille. He shut them off, and relays in a sequence of s\vitch-
picked up his briefcase, and aban- ing operations. He looked up and
doned the car. Burberry flapping saw the airlock door quiver and
around his thighs, he trotted across begin to turn on its malO.isive hinges.
the road and plunged down a slight With a strained motion of his
decline into a stand of tamaracks. aml, he threw the charge overarin
I t was dark except for the remain- into the airlock, and let go the lad..
ing light of a low half-moon seep- der. He heard the briefcase thump
ing through the overcast. to the deck in the lock chamber,
He moved with practiced effi- while he himself was falling ten or
ciency through the trees, keeping twelve feet back to the ground.
his direction by paralleling the When the explosion carne, he was
brook that had trickled through the sprawled on the ground, rearing
culvert, until he emerged without up on his out-thrust anns, and he
warning into an open and long- stared in fascination at the flame-
neglected field, choked with pro- shot billow of orange sinoke gout-
liferating brush, entirely surround- ing through the still half-open lock.
ed by evergreens, with the space- He rolled, off to one side, as the
ship, tall as an oil refinery1s crack- outer door rebounded [roln the
ing tower, standing in its center. hull. He was afraid it might fall on
The airlock door in the side of it him, but then he saw it was still
was open. Redfern began t~ force hanging, like a broken gate.
his way through the brush, toward The starting-noises inside the
the extended ladder which con- ship caIne to a cOlllplctc stop. He
nected the airlock with the ground. had done what he had hoped to do
There was a single light in the lock -breached the hull, and activated
chamber. No other lights were vis- the safety cut-offs in the controls.
ible-the ship was a complex sil- The ship was caught, earthbound,
houette of struts and vanes, given possibly not for very long, but per-
the reality of depth only by that haps for long enough.
open door, and what that door l'he brush crackled and plucked
might lead to, Redfern could not' at his passage. He (:ould not bring
really guess. himself to look away from the ship,
As he struggled up to the ladder, and he blundered through the un-
he was anning the satchel charge dergrowth with his arms behind
in his briefcase. him, feeling his ''lay_ The light in
There was still no sign of life the airlock chamber was off now,
from inside the ship. But as he but sOlnething was still burning in
climbed the ladder, hoisting him- there, with a dull smoldering red
48 ALGIS BUDRYS
flicker. "Oh, no, you don't!" Redfern
A hand placed itself flat between shouted, mortally afraid things
his shoulderblades. "All right, easy could still go wrong. "It won't wash
now, sir," a voice said. -not with me to testify against
He turned convulsively, his face you."
contorted as if by pain, and made ,The Secret Service man at the
out a tall, huskily built young man base of the ship turned his head
in a narrow-brimmed hat, who was in Redfern's direction long enough
holding a short-barreled revolver to show his exasperation. Then he
in his other hand. The brush was pointed his pistol up at the man
parting all around him-there were in the lock. ~'Jump down, you."
many men here-and suddenly a There was the sound of someone
portable floodlight shot up a beam heavy coming toward them through
to strike the airlock. the brush. After a moment, Far-
"We were just about ready to leagh said: "There you are."
send a man aboard when you crip- "Hullo, Dickie." Redfern grinned
pled them, sir," the young man at Farleagh in the spottily reflected
said ~i th his trained politeness. light. "Now you know."
"Is Farleagh here?" Redfern de- "Know what?" Farleagh asked
manded. heavily.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Farleagh's back Redfern shifted his feet nelVOUS-
among the trees, with the chief." lYe "Why I got myself cashiered
A man had stepped up to the years ago. You see I knew they
base of the ship, where the ladder were coming here-at least, I be-
had rested. Like Redfern's young lieved they were-and I decided
man, he wore a civilian suit as if it what sort of human being they
had been made by a uniform manu- would be most likely to contact."
facturer. "Aboard the ship!" he Rage crossed Farleagh's face at
shouted up through cupped hands. last, and shocked Redfern. "Stop
"Can you hear me? Do you speak it, Redfern," he said savagely. "For
r

English? This is t~e Secret Serv- once in your life, admit you're the
ice." sort of man you are."
There was a grating sound up in After that, no one seemed to look
the lock chamber, as someone at him. An improvised ladder was
forced open the balky inner door. brought up, and Secret Service men
Then a man stumbled up to the went into the ship and came down
edge and looked down, his white again escorting sullen, blue-lipped
coveralls smudged and a strained men. The clearing became full of
look on his face. He squinted at the activity as the prisoners were hand-
Secret Service man. cuffed together, machines and rec-
"Jesus Christ, yes, I speak Eng- ords brought down out of the ship;
lish," he said in outrage. "Who and Redfern watched it all, just as
threw that bomb? This is a god- he had been watching all his life,
damn Air Force project, and there's from the outside. END
gonna be all kinds of hell."
THE MAN WHO TASTED ASHES 49
BY ICHARD McKE

HE HEADLI E on the new -


aThe true dog, madame, was
T papers stacked in front of the
drugstote read "RUSS DOG
REACHES MOO ALIVE." A
( r linally the
4 olden jackal, man in a leather jacket stopped to
can it. .
Across the street, fro t lay crisp
Canis aure s ... H,e must love on th courthouse lawn, and he
wm e and tan spott d hound put
up hi for paws on the kitchen
stool as if to warm them.. The fo r
and be loved, or he dies." women were to~ busy hauling down
a
the flag to notice. dog on the moon to starve and
Martha Stonery in the persian freeze and smother and die of lone-
lamb coat paid out the halyard. liness! This dog above our heads
Monica Flint in the reddish musk- cries out to the world against the
rat and Paula Hart in the brown Russian breach of faith between
fox caught the flag and folded it, dog and man. He will stay there
careful not to let it touch the wet until the Russians bring their dog
cement. A postman and the man home safely or make amends for
in the leather jacket stopped on the their crime!"
sidewalk to watch: "Like hell!" said the man in the
Martha, plump face grim under leather jacket, moving in.
pinchnose spectacles, fastened one "Martha!" Abigail shrieked.
halyard snap to a metal ring taped ~'Hc's taking it down!"
and wired to the dog's right hind Monica pulled at his wrists.
leg. Paula slapped and scratched at
"Hoist away, girls." his face. "You brute! You coward!"
Monica, Paula and Abigail Silax they shrilled.
in nutria hauled in unison while Martha jumped off the stool and
Martha held the flag. The hound kicked hinl. He backed a~ay, bent
scrabbled with his forepaws and and holding himself.
barked frantically. As he went ~'Look, ladies," he gasped, "for
struggle-twisting upward he began God's sake-',
to howl in a bell-like voice. The "Here now, here now, this is
women grunted with effort. People county property," said a fat man in
were coming across the lawn and shirtsleeves with pink sleeve garters,
pale faces moved behind the conrt- pushing through the crowd.
house windows. "What's all this? Take that dog
"Two block," Martha said. down, somebody!"
"Vast hauling and belay." "Never!" Martha snapped. She
She pulled the kitchen stool put her back against the halyard
nearer the flagpole and climbed on cleat, unfolded the flag and draped
it to face the small crowd across it around herself. A loose strand of
the shelf of her bosom. Cars were gray hair fell across her face.
stopping, people streaming in from "If you're so big and brave, go
all sides. Martha patted her piled bring dpwn the Russian dog," she
gray hair and made her thin lips told the fat man coldly.
into a parrot beak. "Now listen, lady," the f3:t man
"Fellow Americans!" she cried said. The Clarion press photog-
above the howling. "Our leaders rapher was sprinting across the
are cowards and it is time for the lawn.
people to act before the Russians
come and murder us all in our
beds! We, the United Dames of GEORGE STONERY was tall,
the Dog, hereby protest the Russian thin, stooped and anxious in a
crime of putting a trusting, loving gray business suit.
.51
"I came as soon as I could," he dames lives out in the county," the
told Sheriff Breen across the sheriff said, rising. "You fix up bail,
scarred, paper-littered wooden Mr. Stonery. I got to send out a
desk. "I was away checking one of deputy."
our warehouses." \Valking past the flagpole \vith
"You can make bail for her in her husband, Martha Stonery wore
two minutes, right across the hall," an exalted look.
the sheriff said, scratching his jowl. "All over America dogs will cry
"She wouldn't make it for herself, out in protest against the Russian
said we had to lock her in our crinle," she said. '"I have kindled a
sputnik." lanIe, Ge~rge, that will s\veep away
"Where is she now?" the Kremlin. I, a weak wom-
"In the sputnik." an. . . ."
The desk phone rang and the She insisted on driving herself
sheriff growled into it, "Hell you home in her new station wagon.
say. State forty-three just past Roy
Farm? Right. 1 s'pose you already Sirening police cars passed 8ton-
heard what we had on the lawn ery three times as he drove home
here this morning ?" in the evening. Outside the tan
The phone gave forth an excited stucco ranch-style house on Euclid
gobbling. The sheriff's red eye- Avenue, cars blocked tpe drive-
brows rose in disbelief and his way and a crowd milled on the
heavy jaw dropped in dismay. He lawn. Stonery parked under the oak
put down the phone. tree at the curb and got ou t.
"That was city," he told Stonery. Martha stood in the living room
"Complaint about' a dog hanging by the picture window and ha-
by one leg from a tree just outside rangued the crowd through a
city limits. But it's going on all over screened side panel. Centered in
town too--dogs hanging on trees, the window her spaniel Fiffalo
out of windows, off clotheslines- writhed, hanging by a hind leg
every squad car is out. Your old from the massive gilt ft.oor lamp
lady sure started something!" and yipping piteously. Martha had
"What did she do?" Stonery on her suit of gray Harris tweed
asked in anguish. and her diamond brooch.
. The sheriff told him. "Kicked a ". . . moral pressure the Russians
big fat deputy where it hurts, too. simply cannot resist/' Stonery
Maybe we ought to hold her after heard her shouting as he joined the
all. She says she's president of the crowd. "The men talk, but the
United Dogs of something." United Dames of the Dog are not
"U nited Dames of the Dog," the afraid to act. Putting a dear little
thin man corrected. "They hold dog on the moon to die of heart-
meetings and things. She started it hreak!"
when the Russians put up their Several young men near the win-
second sputnik." dow scribbled on white pads.
"Well, I hope none of them "How many members do you
52 RICHARD McKENNA
have, Mrs. Stonery?" one asked. The reporters swept Stonery into
"The V.D.D. is bigger than you the house with them. One police-
think, young man. Bigger than the man untied Fiffalo and held him in
Russians think, for all their spies his anns. He strained his head back
and traitors!" and away from the spaniel's whim-
Stonery sidled in and tried the pering kisses. Martha glared self-
front door. 1essly while flash bulbs popped.
"She locked it," one of the re- Stonery pulled gently at the
porters told him. "The cops went other policeman's sleeve.
back for a warrant. Say! You're "May I come along, officer?" he
Stonery!" asked. "I'm her husband. I'll have
"Yes," the thin man said, flush- to arrange bail."
ing. A press camera flashed and he "Not taking her," the policeman
put up his hands too late to shield said. "No room left in the pokey.
his face. Since two 0' clock we been arrest-
"Give us a statement, Mr. Ston- ing the dogs."
ery, before the cops come back,"
the reporters clamored.
HE BELLBOY put down the
Stonery backed off, waving his
hands. "Please, please," he said.
"She cracked?" a reporter asked.
T silver bucket of ice cubes,
pocketed the quarter and went out.
"When did you first notice?" The skinny secretary put a bottle
"Please," Stonery said. "Yes, of whisky beside it and turned. to
she's upset. Her' old,est son went that fat adjutant sprawled shoeless
into the state penitentiary in Cali- on the bed.
fornia last week. She's very upset "Looks like. Governor Bob'll be
about it." a while yet, Sam," the secretary
"He' kill somebody?" the same said. "Shall we drink without
reporter, asked. him?"
"No, oh no .. just armed rob- "Hell yes, I need one, Dave,"
bery . . . please don't print that, the adjutant said in his frog voice,
boys." wiggling his toes. "Bob must be
"Here come the cops back!" having himself a time with that
someone shouted. Stonery dame." He chuckled and
Two policemen crossed the lawn, slapped his belly.
one waving a paper. "Here is our The secretary tore wrappers off
warrant of forcible entry, Mrs. two tumblers and clinked ice into
Stonery," he called out. He began them. His rabbit face with its ipec-
reading it aloud. tacles framed in clear plastic ex-
"The V.D.D. will not shrink pressed a rabbity concern.
from any extremes of police bru- "It ain't for laughs, Sam," he
tality," Martha cried sharply. Fif- said. "It's like the dancing mania
fala struggled and yelped louder. of the Middle Ages, ever hear of
The second policeman smashed it ?"
the lock with a ten-pound sledge. hNo. D'they string up dogs by a
LOVE AND MOONDOGS 53
hind leg too?" wrapper off another gla~ and
"No, only danced. But it was splashed it full of ice and bourbon.
catching, like this is. My God, Sam, The adjutant padded to the door
it's allover the state no\\, D.D.D. and opened it. The governor, a
\vomen running in packs at night, stout, florid luan in a gray sports
singing, hanging up every dog they coat, canle in and sat stiffly on the
can catch. Sam, it scares me." edge of the bed. The secretary
He splashed whisky into the two handed him the drink and he
glasses. The adjutant belched, sat gulped half of it before speaking.
up in a creaking of bed springs, "No smoke, boys," he said final-
and scratched his heavy ja.w. ly. "She give it to file just like she
"You're thinking they Illight does to the papers. '''Ie got to go
start hanging up us poor sons of to the moon, or make the Russians
bitches, ain't you?" he asked. "Hell, do it, and bring that poor, dear,
call out the Guard. Clamp on a sweet, trusting, cuddly little dog
curfew." He reached fOf a glass. back to Earth again."
\'Yes, and the Russians'll fake 'Ho\v about her kid out on the
pictures of your boys sticking old coast?" the adjutant asked.
women with bayonets," the secre- "She spit in my eye, Sam. Said
tary said. "Governor Bob couldn~t she was just as brave to be a martyr
get reelected as dogcatcher, even." as the dogs they string up. Why, she
The adjutant drained his glass, even told me about another boy of
lipping back the ice, and whistled hers, living in sin with a black
his breath out through pouting lips. wornan down in Cuba, and dared
~~Good! Needed that," he me to give that to the papers too."
gTunted. "Dave, Bob's got that "She sounds tough as she looks.~
Stonery dame by the short hairs, "She's tougher," the governor
he'll swing her into line. Just that groaned. 'Like blue granite. I felt
about her boy in the state pen out like I was back in the third grade."
in California is enough. Brown He handed his empty glass to the
would do Bob a favor and spring secretary.
him. Or the papers here would "What did you finally do?" the
splash it. Either way." secretary asked.
" I know, I know," the secretary "What the hell could I do? I
said, sippin~ at his drink. "We'll want that D.D.D. vote, it must be
see, when Bob gets here. Mean- a whopper. I wagged my tail and
while, as of yesterday we had barked for her and said I had
thirty-three thousand seven hun- an idea."
dred twenty-six dogs in protec- "And now I got to think up the
tive custody and God knows how idea," the secretary said, still hold-
many more under house arrest. ing the empty glass.
Sixteen thousand bucks a day it's "No, I thought it up on my way
costing us--" back," the governor said. "I'm go-
He broke off as a knock sounded ing to fly to Washington this after-
on the door. He hastily tore the noon."
54 RICHARD McKENNA
"Not the anny, for God's sake," All the reports were favorable.
pleaded die adjutant. The V.D.D. was getting four times
"No, I'm going to dump it on the as many column-inches in the state
Russian embassy. Damn their black press as the Russian moonship. It
hearts, they started this. Hurry up was on TV and radio. A Life team
\vith that drink!" was coming.
"Watch out you don't lose your Changes were recommended.
donkey for sure and all," the ad- Vigilante packs were not to carry
jutant said. "Them Russians are hat pins any more. Two policemen
smart cookies." had lost eyes and the police were
"They'll have to be," the gover- being ugly about it. A bar of soap in
nor said, reaching for the fresh a man's sock was to be substituted.
drink. "They sure . . . as . . . hell More practice on the clove hitch
... will have to bel" was needed. Too often, in their ex-
citement, the pack ladies were only
putting two half hitches around the
A LL THE folding chairs were leg and the dog could struggle out
ft taken. Extra women stood in of it.
the' aisles and along the side of Martha came back to the rostrum
the hall. Martha Stonery bulged to read the honor roll of those
over the rostrum in blue knitted. whom dogs had bitten or policemen
wool and a pearl necklace. Seated had insulted. Each heroine came
around a half-circle of chairs be- forward amid cheers and clapping
hind her, pack leaders and com- to receive a certificate exchange-
mittee chairwomen smoothed at able for the Bleeding Heart medal
their skirts. Monica Flint in dove as soon as the honors committee
gray sat at the organ. could agree on a design and have a
Martha pounded with her gavel supply made up. Martha shook the
so hard that her pearls rattled. hands, some of them bandaged, and
"Everyone will please stand wept a few tears.
while we sing our hymn," she said "And now, fellow U .D.D. mem-
into the resultant hush. She nodded bers," she said, "I will tell you my
to Monica, who began to play. surprise. Tomorrow morning I have
a I did not raise my dog to ride a an appointment with someone com-
sputnik J I will not let him wander ing from Washington!"
to the moon. . . ." The song was a A sighing murmur swept through
shrill thundering. the hall.
Martha beanled across her bosom "No, not Eisenhower," Martha
as the crowd settled itself again. said scornfully. "A man from the
"I have a most thrilling an- Russian embassy, a Mr. Cher-
nouncement to make before we ad- kassov."
journ, girls," she said, "but first we Applause crashed shrilly. Women
will have committee reports. Paula wept and hugged each other.
Hart, will you begin?" She yielded "They want to make peace,"
the rostrum. Martha shouted ringingly into tile
LOVE AND MOONDOGS S5
tumult. "We've won, girls! Sally pearls with Monica Flint, who wore
out tonight and don't come in until white jade and green jersey. Martha
the last dog is hung! We'll show and Mr. Cherkassov made intro-
them what it means to challenge ductions back and forth and the
the massed U .D.D.-ers of Amer- men bowed stiffly. Then Martha sat
ica!" down flanked by her aides on the
gray sofa facing the picture window.
The state police cordon kept the The men sat in single chairs and
2200 block of Euclid Avenue free of rubbed their polished black ~hoes
reporters and idle gapers. The state uneasily against the deep-pile gray
car drove up at 10:00 A.M. and rug.
parked under the oak tree. Mr. "Madame Stonery, I have come
Cherkassov and the two TASS men to justify moondog,'~ Mr. Cherkas-
got out. SOy said. His voice was deep and
Mr. Cherkassov was stocky and controlled.
crop-haired in a blue suit. His "Two wrongs don't make a right,
broad, high-cheekboned face, with Mr.Cherkassov," Martha said, rais-
snub nose and an inward tilt about ing her head. "You needn't bring
the eyes, managed to seem both up Hiroshima. We already know
alert and impassive. Carrying a pig- about those thousands of little black
skin briefcase, he led the way to the ~nd white spaniels. Besides, I saw a
Stonery front door. Life picture where you sewed a little
He stepped on the doormat and dog's head to the side of a big dog's
pressed the bell. The doormat neck."
whirred and writhed under his feet Mr. Cherkassov looked at his
and he stepped back hastily. Martha stubby fingers and hid them under
Stonery, regal in maroon silk, four- his briefcase. Paula and Monica
inch. cameo and piled gray hair, nodded accusingly and one TASS
opened the door. man made a note.
"Don't be afraid of the doormat, "We do not beiieve it is a wrong
Mr. Cherkassov-you are Mr. when a greater value prevails over
Che~kassov, aren't you?" she asked a lesser," Mr. Cherkassov said.
sweetly. "Moondog sends us information
He nodded, looking from her to that will hasten the time of safe
the doormat. space-travel for humans."
"Your weight presses something "And who might you be, to say
and the little brushes spin around which value is greatest? Space
and clean your shoes," she ex- travel is moonshine, just moon-
plained. "I expect you don't have shine!"
things like that in Russia. But do~ "I do not understand your word,
please, come in and sit down." madame. If you mean impossible,
The three men stepped carefully I must point out that moondog has
across the mat on entering. In the already crossed space."
oak-paneled living rOOln, Paula Martha clasped her hands in her
Hart waited in black wool and lap. "That's \vhat I luean, grown
56 RICHARD McKENNA
men and such silliness) and the poor dog saved her mistress' life. Is not
little dog has to pay." that a value to you?"
Mr. Cherkassov spoke earnestly. Martha stared. "Did you dare
"Forgive me if my ignorance of think of sending a poor weak wom-
your language causes me to misun- an to the ... to the moon?"
derstand, madame. We believe be- "Russian women are coarse and
cause man now has the ability to strong," Mr. Cherkassov said sooth-
cross' space he therefore has a duty ingly. "A large number of them,
to all life on Earth to help it reach among the scientists, did volunteer."
other planets. Earth is overcrowded
with men, not to speak of the wild
ARTHA SAT bolt upright and
life that soon nlust all die. We be-
lieve that around other suns we will M made her parrot beak again.
Her fat cheeks flushed under the
find Earth-like planets where we
can plough and harvest and build powder.
homes. I cannot agree that it is "No!" she snapped. "I see where
silly." you're trying to lead me and I won't
Martha flung her head back. go! You should have sent the hussy!
"Well, it is silly. Who'll go? All It is immoral to sacrifice a loving
the men who do things will run little dog just for a careless whim."
away to them and then where will Her two aides gazed admiringly
we be? Oh no, Mr. Cherkassov, at their chieftainess. "Tlunk of it,
that gets you nowhere!" just for a whim!" Paula echoed.
"Your pardon, madame," a Mr. Cherkassov's fingers traced
TASS man interrupted. "What an ainlless, intricate pattern on the
kind of men will run away?" briefcase and he crossed his ankles.
"The sour-faced men who fix "All dogs are not loving in the
pipes and TV and make A-bombs same way, madame. Tell me, how
and electricity and things." do you know when a dog loves
"Oh," said Mr. Chcrkassov. He you?"
drumlned on his briefcase. Then, "You just know," Martha said.
"Perhaps only Russians will go, "Take my little Fiffalo-and I just
madalne. You could pass a law. I know he's so miserable now away
must confess to you, we might have from me in that dreadful concentra-
sent a man to the moon, but we tion camp and it's all your fault,
feared the propaganda use your really, Mr. Cherkassov-when I pet
country might make of it." Fiffalo he jumps in my lap and
Martha made her parrot mouth. kisses me and just wiggles all over.
"You should have sent a man!J~ That's real love!"
She chomped the last \vord off "Ah . . . I perhaps understand.
short. Paula and Monica nodded What does he do when you speak
vigorously. sharply to him?"
Mr. Cherka,ssov stroked his brief- "He lies on his back with his paws
case. "Moondog's mistress wished waving and looks so sad and pitiful
greatly to go. One might say moon- and defenseless that my heart melts
LOVE AND MOONDOGS 57
and 1 feel good all over. You just but even to hinl he ,yill display little
know that's love, ,vhen it happens outward affection. Perhaps a wag of
to you." the tailor a head laid on the knee,
Monica dabbed at a tear. Both not too often. No others except
TASS men scribbled. quite young children lllay pet him
"I think I may see a way to re- at all. "fa all but his Jnaster he dis-
solve our clifferences," Mr. Cher- plays a kind of tolerant indifference
kassov said. He put his feet side unless he is nl0lested, and then he
by side and leaned slightly forward, defends himself."
gripping the briefcase on his knees. HWhat a horrihlc creature, not a
"What do you know of the history dog at all!" ~1artha exclaimed.
of the dog?" he asked. "Not culturally, you ~lrc quite
"Well, he's always been man's correct, madame," :Nlr. Cherkassov
best friend and the savage Indians agreed, shifting his hold on the
used to eat him and . . . and. . . ." briefcase and leaning further for-
"The true dog, madame, was ward, "but unfortunately he is a dog
domesticated about twenty thou- biologically. SOlne wolf blood has
sand years ago. He was originally crept into most of the jackal-derived
the golden jackal, Canis aureus, breeds, you know. It betrays itself
which still exists in a wild state. in high cheekbones and slanting
Selective breeding for submissive- eyes and in the personality of the
ness and obedience over that long breed. The chow, for instance, has
tinle has resulted in the retention considerable wolf blood."
through maturity of many trails "Chows!" !vlartha beaked her
nonnal only to puppyhood. l-'hc lips again. "I despise thcln! No bet-
modern pureline golden jackal dog ter than cats!" Paula nodded em-
no longer develops a secret life of phatic agreement.
his own, with emotional self-suffi- "But your little Fiffalo, as you
ciency. He must love and be loved, describe him, is probably of pure
or he dies." Canis aureus descent and very high-
Monica sniffed. "What a beauti- ly bred."
ful name," Paula munnured. Mar- "I'm sure he is. Blood will tell.
tha nodded warily. Monica, haven't I always said blood
"But, madame, there is also a will tell?"
kind of false dog. Certain Siberian Monica nodded, her eyes shining.
tribes slow to reach civilized status Mr. Cherkassov shifted his position
also domesticated the northern wolf. sli~htly, nearer to the chair edge.
Canis lupus. This was many thou- "Now moondog, Madame Ston-
sands of years later, of course, and ery, is of the lajka breed and has
in the false dog the effect of long even more wolf blood than the
breeding is not so evident. He is cho'v. If you brought her back 'to
loving as a puppy, but when he ma- Earth she vvould just walk ~way
tures he is aloof and reserves his from you \vith cold indifl'erence."
loyalty to one master. He is intense- "Not rrall,,?"
ly loyal and will die for his master, ~'Madame, you know the wolf

58 RICHARD McKENNA
traits only as you find them tem- Mr. Cherkassov raised his sandy
pered with the loving jackal traits eyebrows, and a frosty twinkle shone
in such dogs as the chow. But a in his tilted eyes.
Russian dog! If you were to hand "You must realize that I could
moondog a piece of meat, do you hardly admit to such a thing, even
know what she would do?" if it were true, Madame Stonery,"
"No. Tell me." he said judiciously.
Mr. Cherkassov leaned forward, "It is true! Go back to your
his slanting gray eyes opening wide, Kremlin, Mr. Cherkassov, and
and dropped his voice almost to a shoot every wolf in Russia to the
whisper. "Madame, she would bite moon. I'm sure the U.D.D. won't
your hand!" mind!"
"Then she doesn't deserve to be Mr. Cherkassov and the TASS
rescued!" Martha said sharply. men stood up and bowed. Martha
Mr. Cherkassov straightened up rose and sailed ahead of them to
and began stroking his briefcase. the door. Hand on knob, she turned
"In one sense she is not even a dog," . to face them. .
he suggested. "Our meeting will be historic,
"No, she's an old wolf-thing. Like Mr. Cherkassov," she said. "I have
a cat. Dogs are loving!" forced you to betray your country's
"Perhaps not morally worthy of plot to undennine our loving dogs.
your campaign?" You may expect from the D.D.D.
"No, of course not. Mr. Cherkas- instant and massive retaliation! An
sov, you have given me a new aroused America will move at once,
thought ... I hadn't realized...." to set up miscegenation and segre-
Mr. Cherkassov waited attentive- gation barriers against your despic-
ly, his fingers tracing another pat- able wolf blood!"
tern. Paula and Monica looked- at Paula and Monica stood up, each
Martha and held their breaths. with her hands clasped under her
". . . hadn't realized how that flushed and excited face. Mr. Cher-
subversive wolf blood has been kassov bowed again. Martha opened
creeping into our loving dogs all the door.
this long time. Why . . . why it's "Goodbye, Mr. Cherkassov," she
miscegenation! It's bestiality! Con- said. "You will, no doubt, be liqui-
fess it, Mr. Cherkassov-that's one dated in a few days."
way you Russians have been in- Mr. Cherkassov stepped carefully
filtrating us, now isn't it?" across the doonnat. END

-.-
All that philosophers have sought,
Science discovered, genius wrought.
-James Montgomery

LOVE AND MOONDOGS 59


The Last Days of L.A.
Murder on a small scale may be illegal

and unpleasant, but mass murder can be

the most exhilarating thing in the world!

BY GEORGE H. SM I TH

OU ARE HAVING the same


Y recurring dream, the dream
that has haunted the whole world
do scream and wake yourself up.
Once more, this one more tilDe, it
is only a dream. You lie there pant-
since that day in 1945. The dream ing, too weak from terror to move
of the sudden flash in the night, the out of the puddle of your own
rising mushroom cloud and then sweat. You lie there and think and
annihilation. You are living the your thoughts aren't very pretty. It's
nightmare again but this time it's a week day and you ought to be
true, you know it's true. You can't down at the office turning out ad-
be dreaming. The bombs are ac- vertising copy by the ton but instead
tually falling and huge fireballs are you lie there. and think even though
sweeping upward while seas of you don't like what you're thinking.
flame spread at supersonic speeds It's got to be SooD. It can't be much
to engulf the city. You feel the blast, longer now, not the way things arc
the scaring heat, you feel your flesh going.
IncIting away. You try to scream You finally crawl out of bed
but the sound dies in your throat as around noon and ease your way into
your lungs shrivel. Horror makes the kitchen. You realize that you
you try again and somehow you have a hangover and since you can't
60
remember what you did the night Bar. A wino edges up to you and
before yo uppo e 0 m s 1 e asks for money to buy a sandwich
been drunk. y he tim you finish and a cup of coffee.
one of the two quarts of beer you You give him a dollar but make
find in the refrigerator you know him promise not to spend it on any-
that isn't what you need, so you put thing so foolish as food. 'Liquor
on some clothes and wander out to brother, is the salvation of the
a bar. race," you tell him. "Believe and
After a ew quick drinks you wal be saved!"
somewhat ns adily out into the "Amen!" he says and hurries off.
street again and head toward the You make the mistake of stop-
place you always think of as The ping to read the headlines on the
61
comer so you know you're not kind of elegant pornography. She
drunk enough yet. U. S. REJECTS'~ is the only one in the group who
NEW RUSS NOTE. MOON makes any money and that is be-
GUNS CAN DESTROY CITIES: cause her book FLAME ROSE has
KAGANOVITCH. BURMA been banned all across the country.
LEADER KILLED IN FRESH 'You like her very much, probably
UPRISING. because she is the most irritatingly
Just before you get to The Bar ugly woman you have ever met.
you pass an alleyway and as you A howling bank of jets hurls
glance into the darkness, you see a across the sky screaming for human
huge rat standing there staring at l?lood and you shiver as you squeeze
you with arrogant red eyes. After a in at the table. You are convinced
moment he walks away, unhurried that the elementals of .hell are loose
and cocky. An icy chill runs down above and the world is in its. last
your spine. The rats will swvive. stages. All the children born this
The rats always survive. Maybe year will probably have twenty-one
they are the Master Race. Some- teeth and Anti-Christ will walk the
thing else tugs at your memory, land.
something you read somewhere. Oh "Why worry about the next
yes, it was a statement by an ocea- war?" Dale Bushman asks. "It
nographer. He said that even if the won't last forever."
H-bomb should annihilate every liv- "No," John says. "No war ever
ing thing on the surface of the has ... yet."
earth, the sea creatures would be "Do you think it's coming?" you
'able to carry on. The rats and the ask.
fish will carry on and build a better "If you read the papers, you'd
world. take to the hills right now," Pat
Your friends are sitting in their O'Malley says, finishing his bowl of
usual places when you get to The chili and reaching for his drink.
Bar. John Jones-Very who has the "Ah, the hills," Ian says. "But
reddest, bushiest and longest beard what good? The H-bomb is bad
and also the record for staying enough but they'll use the C-bomb,
drunk the longest, is doing the talk- the cobalt bomb, and this is the
ing. Listening are Dale Bushman final weapon."
who paints huge canvases which he "Just the same," you say. "I think
never finishes, Ian, an out-of-work we ought to take to the hills." Why
musician whose last name you don't not hide yourself way back of rio-
know, Pat O'Malley the actor and, where? Hide so deep in the woods
of course, Anna. and mountains that you won't even
Anna is small and thin with deep- know when it happens. You could
ly tanned skin drawn tightly over wrap the silence around you and
high cheekbones. She wears a plain pull the earth over you. You could
dress and no makeup and her hair bury yourself so deep that ... but
is. done up in a bun on the nape of of course you won't. You have a job
!;nr neck. The poetry she writes is a and, like everyone else, at least a
GEORGE H. SMITH
thousand other reasons for staying gence, and the women with the
on until the end. pearly teeth and perfect permanent
~'But really/' you say, "a man \vaves, without body odor or souls."
should be able to survive a time of "I have body odor," Anna says.
terror by disengaging himself as "But no soul," Ian says. "No soul
conl plclcly as possible from the rest at all."
of the human race. If he were to "You're just mad because I
reduce his needs to a minimum ... \vouldn't sleep with you last night."
a little bread, a few vegetables, a "No soul," Ian says.
blanket or t\VO, a \varm cave Thc jukebox offers Tin Pan
and ...)' Alley's solution to the \vhole thing:
'~A blonde or t\VO," Pat says.
Bushlnan adds, "A cellar of good OH BABY, OR MY BABY 0
Scotch." MY BABY IS MY BABY 0
"And books, lots of books," Jones- MY BABY IS MY BABY 0
Very puts in. l\1Y BABY LOVES ME 0
'~No blondes, no Scotch, no SHE DOES, SHE DOES, SHE
books," you tcll them, banging your DOES 0
mug on the table so hard their
glasses jump. "Minimum needs ... "Our trouble is too much his-
minimum needs!" tory," John says. "A period without
"How about plumbing?" Anna history is a happy one and we've
demands. "I \von't go without had too much historv."
plumbing." '"No soul-too l;luch history,"
"\Ve're facing the end of the Ian hiccups. ~'Not enough s('x-_-
world," says John, "and you worry everybody dies."
about plumbing!" "Everybody is going to die damr
"I'm sorry, but if plumbing isn't fast, unless something happens/'
going to survive, I'd just as soon you say.
not either," Anna says. "I just can't "No soul-so sad," Ian mumbles.
see Inysclf squatting in the bushes." No soul and no sex ... everybody
"What difference does it make?" dies, nothing happens."
Ian asks. "Everybody dies anyway. "So what?" Anna demands.
From the moment you're born, you "What is life anyway? Why try to
start d'ying." - be like everyone else in this beauti-
"Ycs, but-" ful but messy Brave New World of
"So why bother? Everybody dies. 1970? Why run searching for a
Why prolong it more than you have messiah when all the messiahs died
to? Everybody dies." a thousand years ago?"
"Worlds mayor may not blow This starts you thinking about
up," O'Malley says, "but it seems to religion. You've never thought
me it's the little indignities of much about it before but a man
modern life that hurt the most. The can change, maybe even accept the
constant repetition of th~ advertis- old lnyths as real until they actually
ing slogans that insult your intelli- begin to seem real. Instead of d\vel-
THE -LAST DAYS OF L.A. 63
ling on your body being burned to a "Hey, bud," the poljceman calls
cinder in an atomic holocaust you to you, "what's the matter with
could think of your slightly singed you?" .
soul being wafted to paradise on a "Nothing-nothing at all, offi-
mushroom cloud while U-235 atoms cer," you tell him, and dive into the
sing a heavenly chorus to speed yo~ next church you pass.
on your way. This one is called the Church of
The others don't even notice the New Cosmology. Inside, a
\vhen you get up and walk out to round-faced little man is talking to
look for a church. a few listless people.
"A geologist will never kno\v the
rocks until he has seen the Rock of
HURCHES AREN'T hard to
C find in Los Angeles on any day
of the week or at any hour of the
Ages. The botanist will never know
plants until he has beheld the Lily
of the Valley, the cosmologist will
day. They're behind the blank never know the universe until he
fronts of painted-over store win- has listened to the Word of God!
do\vs. They're locatcd in big old "Let us consider for a moment
nineteenth-century houses along the sun. What do \ve know about
Adams; they spring up under tents the sun, my friends? What do the
in vacant lots and in large cxpen- so-called scientists know about it?
sive temples and bank-like buildings What do they tell us about our
in the downtown area. heavenly light? They say it's a giant
You pass by several likely-looking ball of fire millions of miles across
churches because they are in neigh- and ninety-one million miles away.
borhoods that have alleyways, and Now why, I ask you, would that be
you still remember that rat, that so? The Bible says that God made
red-eyed rat. the sun to light the world. Now
Then as you walk through down-' have you ever known the Lord to
town crowds, you remember some- do anything silly or foolish? Of
thing else. Some dentist once said course you haven't! Then why do
that the teeth of the people in the they ask us to believe that He would
A-bombed Japanese cities hadn't put the sun, which is supposed to
been affected by radiation. This is light the world, ninety-one million
very funny, it makes you laugh. You miles away from it? An engineer
picture a world of blistered corpses, who did something like that
none of whose teeth have been \vouldn't be much of a God. The
affected. You laugh out loud and true answer, my friends, is that
people turn to look at you. Jehovah God did nothing so im-
A woman points you out to a practical and no rnattcr who tells
policeman and he looks your way. you different, don't believe it!"
You want to keep on laughing but The little man's voi~e dropped to
now you don't dare to. So you just a husky whisper. "I have studied
keep on walking, trying to keep the my Bible and I've listened to the
laughter from bubbling out of you. scientists and I've talked to God
64 GEORGE H. SMITH
Himself about it and I tell you this This is thirsty work. You have a
is the truth. The sun is our heavenly couple more drinks an.d then you
light, the sure sign of God's love, look for another church. You find
and right this minute it is just two one called the Church of Christian
thousand three hundred miles from Capitalism.
Los Angeles! It is not a wasteful The thin old man with the dusty
million nliles across, it is just forty- fringe of gray hair has his audience
five and five-tenths miles across ... well in hand as you walk in and
just the right size to give us our take a seat. He makes the sign of
beautiful California sunshine. the cross and the sign of the dollar
"How do I know?" The whisper over their heads as he harangues
had gTO\Vn to a hoarse shout. "How them.
do I kno\v? I know because it's the ~'Blessed are the wealthy for they
"Vord of God, Iny friends! The per- shall please God," he says. "Christ
sonal word of God given to me by was the first capitalist, dear friends.
God Himself. He took a loaf and seven fishes and
"What else do I know? What else blessed them and made them into
has God told Inc, to confound the enough food to feed a multitude.
Godless scientists? Why, my friends, He walked in poverty but he came
the Bible says that this earth upon to own the world!
which we live is flat-as flat as this "God is the Good Capitalist, the
book!" He brings his hand down Owner and Proprietor of all things
\vith a sharp slap on the Bible. "You on this earth. This country \vas
ask then how is it possible to cir- created by those saints of Capital-
cumnavigate the world when it is a ism-Morgan, Rockefeller and
flat plane. The answer is that it Gould."
isn't possible. A ship that seems to Christian Capitalism sends you
go around the world really makes a home to bed by way of another bar.
circle on the flat surface like this."
With a stubby forefinger he draws a
circle on the book. "Now I know
that those scientists up on the moon
say that the world is round, but
Y OU'RE SITTING in a room
with people all around you. At
first you don't know why you're
whoever saw or heard of a scientist there and then you remember it's
that wasn't a liar? Can any of you a party. Everyone except you is
really bring yourselves to believe laughing and drinking and having
that this flat earth of ours is travel- a good time. You have a strange
ing t~OUgh space at the tremen- sense of foreboding, of something
dous seed that they say it is? Tell about to happen that you can't
me, d you feel any \vind from this avoid. You see a girl you know
great speed? Do you feel anything across the room and get up and
at all?" start to cross the room to her.
No, you have to admit, you don't. There's a sudden blinding flash
You don't feel a thing. Even his of light outside the house and the
own congregation doesn't seem to. windows come crashing in. You see
THE LAST DAYS OF L.A. 65
.murderous slivers of glass piercing intensely quiet people as you enter.
the flesh of those about you and you "Is there a ,vall in front of you?"
hurry over to the girl you know only he asks.
to find her face and neck slashed "Yes, there is a wall in front of
by the flying glass and blood stream- us," the people answer.
ing down over her bare breasts. You "Can you see the \vall in front of
try to stop the flow of blood with a you?"
handkerchief but it's coming in such "Yes, we can see the walL"
strong spurts that you can't. "Is there a wall behind you?"
A second shock wave follows the "Yes, there is a wall behind us."
first with an even brighter flash. "Can you see the wall behind
You're knocked to the floor and the you?"
building comes crashing down. You They all turn around and look.
struggle against the falling masonry "Yes, we can -see the wall behind
but it does no good. You feel the us."
crushing weight and scream ... and "Is there a floor beneath your
your screams wake you up. feet?"
You feel almost as bad awake as "Yes, there is a floor beneath our
you did asleep, only now the crush- feet."
ing weight is on your head instead '"Are you sure? Feel the floor
of your chest and your mouth is with your feet."
filled with the taste of death and There is a loud shuffling as they
decay. You figure you must have do as they are told.
been drinking last night but you "Are you sure the floor is there?"
can't quite remember. "Yes, we're sure the floor is
You reach out your hand and it there."
locates a bottle that still guggles a "Now feel your feet with the
little. \Vithout opening your eyes floor."
you lift it hurriedly to your mouth There is more shuffling and dur-
and then almost choke trying to spit ing this you steal quietly out. This
it out. Mouthwash! one reminds you of the D.T.'s and
You manage to get your eyes you want nothing at all to do with
open, and remember with thankful that.
heart that today is Sunday and you You get tossed out of the next
don't have to go to work. It's been place you try because the preacher
five days since the last dream and says you're drunk. You're not, but
that's not so bad, but just the same you wish you were, so you head to-
you'd better get up and get a drink ward The Bar. You stop when you
because this one really shook you see the sign, '"FLYING SAUCER
up. Or maybe you ought to go to CONVENTION." It's over the
church. Perhaps you'd better do door of a large building and under-
both. neath in smaller letters it says, "Lis-
A tall blond man in a black suit ten to the words of the Space Peo-
is standing on a platform in the ple. Hear the advice they bring us
center of a group of forty or fifty in these troubled times."
66 GEORGE H. SMITH
Surely, you tell yourself, the but you can help avoid this if you
Space People will have a solution, are alert. Look around you for per-
surely they can bring peace. You sons who seem strange. It is the
enter and see a young, ordinary- Zenonians who have made you
looking- fpllow addressing a crowd of \vhat you arc. It is the Zenonians
about three hundred. You take a \vho cause your \oval'S and your
seat next to a bald man who is crime with their evil rays. We will
\vriting down what the young man use our good Nobil rays to combat
is saying even though it doesn't their evil Z rays. When we have
seem to make much sense. driven them out, the \vorld will be a
". . . rnernbcr of a slTlall group better place in \vhich to live. But-
that has been in touch with the be\varc! "'fhey are all about you.
S pace People and feel that this Exan1ine the Inan next to you. Be-
world can be saved only through the ware! They are all about you. You
aid of superior beings. I will now shall hear from us again."
play this tape which I obtained You turn and look at the man
{roln the captain of a Flying next to you; he's looking at you.
Saucer.)' He is a rather strange-looking guy
He places the tape OIY the spindle and you edge away from him just
and it begins to vvhirl. A/voice be- as he edges away from you. You
gins to speak in slightly stilted turn to look at the man on the other
English. "I am Lelan. I am what side of you. He is moving away
you people of Earth think of as the from you also.
head of the govcrnlnent of the '1 ~hcn you hear the stories of the
planet Nobila. 1 speak to you across people in the audience. Every one
the parsecs in order to bring you of them who stands up to speak has
good and bad news. The good is had a mysterious visitor in the night
that a new age is about to begin for or had a flying saucer land in his
the people of Earth through the aid backyard. Most of them have had
of we Nobilians. V\'e have already trips to the Oloon and elsewhere in
contacted the President of the flying saucers. Space you think must
United States, the Pope of the be as crowded as the Hollywood
Catholic Church and all other Freeway at rush hour. Almost all
world leaders. A new age is about of them have been contacted by
to begin for you as soon as we have superior beings from space because
saved you fronl the evil influence they are the only people in the
of the vicious Zenonians from the world who are wise enough to in-
planet ~eno. All Earth kno\vledge terpret the Space People to the
will bec me obsolete as we supply Earth people.
you wit new information and all You feel pretty good from the
good things will be free in the days drinks you've had, so you stand up
after we drive the Zenonians from and tell them what you think.
among you. "The first flying saucers were
"But first we must warn you that sighted after the atomic bombs were
the Zenonians will try to stop us, first exploded," you begin. "And
THE LAST DAYS OF L.A. 67
they became very prevalent after "That isn't so," you blurt out.
the first Earth satellites were put "There's purpose--there's got to be
into space and again after the first purpose. You can't look around you
moon rockets. I therefore think that and say there isn't purpose in the
the Earth is a cosmic madhouse in universe; that there isn't a reason
which the human race has been in- for our being here."
carcerated for its own good and This time they all turn and look
that every time we start rattling the at you strang~ly. Then they look at
bars, the keepers hurry down to take each other.
a look." "I wonder," Jones-Very says, "if
No one seems to care much for I wasn't closer to the truth than I
your theory, and you are escorted thought when I talked about con-
to the door none too politely. tagion."
No, the Space People don't seem "What the hell do you mean by
to have the answer. With the head- that?" you demand, half rising from
lines you see at every corner chasing your seat.
you, you head for The Bar and "Nothing . . . nothing at all,"
dive gratefully through the door. Jones-Very says, looking at the
"So everybody dies," Ian is say- others.
ing. "We're all dying, just sitting "What this world needs is a moral
here." renovation-a new birth of the
"'Vill you stop that? God damn spirit," you go on.
it, will you stop that?" you yell at "Oh, my God," Jones-Very
him. moans, his head in his hands.
Ian looks at you owlishly for a "Would you listen to that, in this
few seconds and then back at his age of space stations and moon
drink. J ones-Very and the others go guns," Anna says.
right on with the conversation. "J ohn, yo u' re right-you're
"It's merely what I was saying right! It's got him!" Bushman says.
the other night," Jones-Very says. You won't listen to any more of
"It's the contagious spread of the this. You get to your feet and stag-
madness that is epidemic in our ger with great dignity to the door.
time. No one wants war. But still
we are goirig to have a war. After
OU'RE DRESSED in high
all, the very zeitgeist of our times is
one of complete callousness toward Y altitude equipment and you're
human life. You have only to think sitting in the nose of a jet bomber
of the Russian slave camps, the listening to the vicious growling of
German gas chambers and our own the motors. You have a tremendous
highway slaughter." feeling of power and you think
"Maybe life itself is just some sort about how many you'll kill this trip.
of stupid mistake," Anna says. You think about the big black
"Maybe we're a cosmic blunder, a bombs nestled in the bomb bay and
few pimples on the tail of the uni- remember there is one for each of
verse." the three cities on your list.
68 GEORGE H. SMITH
God, it will be beautiful ! You can "Why not?" he says. '~WC have
almost see the glorious colors of the only our souls to lose."
rising mushroom cloud and hear the The two of you enter the first
screaming of the shattered atoms. one you come to and the woman
You can't hear the screaIning of the on the platform is an amazing sight.
people up here, that's one of the She's big and full-bodied and has
nicest parts of this kind of murder. all the grace and arrogance of a
You can't hear them. This makes lioness. She's got the Word and
you as happy a! it must have made she's passing it out in large doses.
f\ttila and Hitler \vhen they killed "That's Dr. Elinda A. Egers,
their Illillions. Murder on a small D.C.F.," O'Malley whispers. '~Doc
scale may be illegal and unpleasant, tor of Complete Faith."
but mass murder can be the most You watch fascinated as that lush
exhilarating thing in the world. body of hers moves restlessly around
Then your bombs are gone and the platfonn.
you're passing through the most "In these troubled times the tor-
beautiful clouds you've ever seen tured mind of man is hanging in
but someho\v they srnell of charred the balance, because he has forgot-
flesh and even up here you hear the ten his great enemy," Elinda shouts.
screams of the people. The sound There's a wildness in her eyes and a
rips and tears at your brain, destroy- sensuousness in the way she moves
ing what little sanity you have left. her body that makes you move for-
You've got to stop thenl! You've ward until you'r~ sitting on the edge
got to, before they drive you com- of your seat. Any stripper, you muse,
pletely mad. You tilt the nose of \vould give her G-string to be able
the bomber and dive toward the to imitate this woman's uninhibited
screams. You've got to stop them! way with her hips.
You scream back at them as you "Why are our asylums filled with
dive and again your own screams millions of the mentally sick? And
wake you up. why are there tens of millions of the
1"'his is the worst one you've ever physically sick among us? WHY?"
had and your hangover is almost as she demands at the top of her lungs.
bad. You dress and hurry out of "Because the doctors and the psy-
your a~rtment to get away from chologists absolutely fail to recog-
the terror and the guilt but sudden- nize or blindly refuse to recognize
ly you remember that you aren't the demoniac origin of these ill-
really the guilty one. Or are you? nesses. They have failed, my dear
You look for a bar or a place to friends, because they are bound to
buy a bottle and then remember the unreality of conventional
that you haven't any money. You science. They have failed because
see Pat O'Malley up ahead of you they did not look into their souls to
in the crowd and hurry to catch up see what God has written there for
with hiJn. He hasn't any money all to read.
either, so you suggest that both of ~'If we face the truth, we \vill
you go to church. learn to recognize the presence of
THE LAST C>AYS OF L.A. 69
demons and only then can we cure The man jerks even Inore vio-
the inflicted!" lently. "Heal him, Lord, heal him!
Demons, you think. What a lovely They're coming out ... the demons
idea. Perhaps you have fallen are coming out. Can't you feel
through a rift in time and come out them leaving you, brother?"
in the Middle Ages with only won- The fellow jerks once more and
derful things like witches and almost falls as an attendant leads
demons to worry about. You turn to him away. "He's cured," Elinda
O'Malley to tell him this, only to shouts. "Praise God! He'll never
find him sound asleep. You've often have another convulsion."
\vondered \v here he did his sleeping, "Praise God! Praise God!" the
and now you know. congregation shouts. Only the sti11-
"The battle in the world today is jerking man seems to have any
not between nations but between doubts as to his cure.
Jesus Christ and the Devil!" She "The Power of God will save
has gone into a kind of bump and you," she says to the little boy now
grind routine now with her hands kneeling before her. "From the top
on those glorious hips and her body of his head to the bottom of his feet,
moving back and forth while her I charge you, Satan, come out!"
legs relnain absolutely still. It looks She hugs the child against those as-
real good from where you sit but tonishing breasts of hers. "TIllS can
you think it might look even better be your cure if you believe, Jimmy.
up closer so you leave Pat snoring All things are possible if you only
gently and take a seat further to- believe. Little Jimmy, do you have
ward the front. faith ?"
"Come to me and the Lord will The boy nods his head e~gerly
put out his hand and save you. He and his face is so full of faith and
has said unto me: 'You shall have belief that you find yourself nodding
the power to cast out demons,' and with him.
I have replied that I will do so. If "Restore him tonight in the name
you feel it, say Amen!" of Jesus Christ!" she shouts, placing
There is a lusty chorus of amen's her hands on his thin little legs.
from the winos and bums who fill "This little leg, Lord . . . send the
the auditorium. You have an idea Power to restore this little leg. Drive
they were attracted here by the the demon of evil from it!" Her
same thing that keeps you on the voice grows even louder. "The
edge of your seat. Power is coming! The Power is
A Inan with the jerks of some coming! The Power is within me
sort comes down the aisle and the now and it will flow from me to
healing starts. Dr. Egers lays one you. Do you feel it, Jimmy? Do you
hand on his head and the other at feel it? Do you feel it flowing in
the back of his neck. your legs?"
"Get out of him, you demons! She has lifted him from the floor
Out! Out! In the name of the and is cradling him in her anns.
Lord, I charge thee--get out!" "Do you feel it, jinuny?"
70 GEORGE H. SMITH
OU'RE RUNNING ... run-
Christ, you can almost feel it
yourself. Y ning, terror riding you like a
jockey using the whip. You're run-
"Don't your legs feel different,
Jimmy?" ning while a boiling sea of flame
"I think they're tingling a little," rolls over the city. Behind you and
he says. close on your heels come breakers.
"Do you hear that?" she shouts of radioactive hell, smashing build-
again. "His legs are tingling! The ings and lifting cars and people into
God Power is making them tingle!" the air. People are running on all
She lowers the child to the floor. sides of you. A girl in a spangled
"'You can do it, Lord! Send the evening dress, a puffing little man in
Power in the name of Jesus! Send it Bermuda shorts, a woman carrying
into this little foot, into this little two children, a man with a golf bag
leg. Try, Jimmy, try it for me, try over his shoulder and two men in
it now!" gray flannel suits followed by a
Jimmy tries to stand up but woman ina sack dress that keeps
wavers and falls. With renewed blowing up over her face as she
effort he manages to pull himself runs.
erect and stand swaying. The harder you run, the closer
"YOU'VE SEEN IT! YOU'VE the fire seems to get. You can feel
SEEN IT WITH YOUR OWN it singeing your back and the fat
EYES!" Elinda screams at them little man screams as a lashing
joyously. tongue catches up with him and
Sure they've seen it but they don't turns him into a cinder. The wom-
seem much impressed. In fact, most an in the sack dress tramples across
of them get up and leave after this the bodies of the two men in gray
round. You ease yourself out of your flannel but the man with the golf
seat and head toward the door, be- club fights her off with his mashie.
cause you need a drink, but you Then the four of them are eaten up
turn before goiI1g, out to look back by the hungry flames. You rnoan
at .~. She looks tired and disap- and your legs pump harder. Therc\
pointment shows in her full sensu- an underground shelter ahead and
ousface. you run toward it only to find the
You know that she's the most entrance jammed with people. \"ou
wonderful thing you have ever seen. try to fight your way in. You grab
You've found your religion. You've hold of a man but his boiled flesh
found something to worship- comes away in your hands. Then
Elinda Egers, the only real goddess you see they are all dead, packed
in the world. You'll come here every together so tightly they can't fall.
night and the bomb won't worry You're running again and you see
you because you have a religion the woman with the two children
now. Elinda Egers will save you. only there~s nothing left of then]
You head for the nearest bar, sing- but a charred ann and a hand
ing "Rock of Ages" at the top of which she still clutches. The girl in
your lungs. the evening dress falls in front of
THE LAST DAYS OF L.A. 71
you and you stwnble over her. You coming faster and faster.
see her dress and then her hair Someone .else is breathing heavily
burst into flames. She throws her and you're not surprised to find it's
arms around you and you feel the you.
suffocating flames. "If this is what you want, say
"Oh Lord-Lord," you moan, Amen!"
and \\'ake up. The bottle of wine "Amen!" you shout before you
on the nightstand is only half empty realize you're not supposed to this
and you drink from it gratefully time. No one seems to notice. Beads
and think of going out for more. of perspiration are forming on the
But you remember your goddess back of your neck and trickling
and you know that you have to go down your spine. The tabernacle is
to see her. jammed and there" isn't much ven-
She's in good form tonight as tilation. You're dizzy with the wine,
she talks about the Kinsey Report. lack of food and desire.
"If you're listening, say Amen!" "Go ahead! Let your kids go to
She raises both anns as she yells Hell! Let them read comic books
this and you're amazed at the way and smoke and drink and fornicate
her big breasts rise with them. in the back seats of jalopies! Let
"In the Old Testament, God de- them go to filthy movies, let them
manded death for the adulteress listen to dirty jokes on television, let
but Dr. Kinsey in his day tried to them look at the brazen women
make her sins sound nonna!. But I with their breasts hanging half out
tell you that this gin is the road to of their dresses."
Hell, for the person and for the "Oooooh . . ." a woman in front
nation. God has destroyed other of you moans, and you feel like
cities for this sin and His wrath moaning with her.
will fall upon yours as well. "But if you don't want these
"If you're listening, say Amen!" things," Elinda shouts, her voice
"AMEN!" on the verge of breaking, "sing-
"Are you really listening? Do you sing, sing with me!
honestly want to hear? Or do you
prefer the way Los Angeles and the "Come home~ come home,
rest of the nation is going? Do you Ye who are weary,
prefer the way of sex, the way of Come home."
fornication and adultery? Do you
prefer to read about sixteen-year You are sitting in a metal room
old girls found in love nests with with telescreens on the wall and a
older men? Do you prefer to think big red button in front of you.
of boys and girls in the back seats Sweat is standing out on your fore-
of cars? Do you prefer to think of head and trickling down the back
some man's hand running over your of your neck because you know the
daughter's body, touching her...." time is coming, the time when you
Elinda Egers is swaying back and have to decide whether to push
forth, her body rigid, her breath that button and send a dozen
72 GEORGE H. SMITH
ICBM's \vith hydrogen warheads And just as you feel it go down,
arcing over the Pole. In the tele- the walls of the roonl burst in\vard
screens you see cities . . . peaceful in a volcano of noise and terror and
scene~ of people going about their the gray dust comes swirling in over
business. "fhcn the people are run- you, blotting out your screams....
ning, leaping out of their cars and You wake up and hurry through
leaving them on the street, vanish- the streets with this last dreanl
ing into buildings and underground hanging over you more heavily
shelters. Your hand is poised over than any' of the others. You've got
the big red button and your muscles to run-you've got to get out. But
are tightened as if your whole hand look at all the other people. None
and ~nn \verc turned to \vood, and of thcln ~re running. They"re go-
you know that even if you have to, ing home frolll work-going into
you can't push that button and de- cafes, walking the dog ... oh God,
stroy half the world. walking the dog at a time like
Then in one of the telescreens this. . . .
there is a sudden \\hite glare, and You're scared. The bloody world
the screen goe~ blank-burncd out ig coming to a bloody end. You
-and then in another telescrcen know it just as sure as you're sit-
you see destruction fountaining like ting here in the warm sun in Mac-
dirty white dust boiling out of the Arthur park with the fifth you've
streets . . . and you see the build- bought and are drinking from in
ings breaking and falling in rubble, a paper bag.
and no\\' you hear the people's It's close now. You're not sure
screams, a sound that tears through how close but it's close. The world
your guts and drives you crazy, and is coming to an end and you knov/
the rubble is falling and sending up you can't convince anyone that it
more fountains of gray dust-and is. You feel the way Henny Penny
you kno\v that this is happening to -or was it Chicken Little?-must
your O\A'n country, your o\vn peo- have felt. The sky is falling! The
ple, ~d you have to strike hack, sky is falling! Hell-you're just one
you have to push the button and more caterwauling messiah in a city
avenge them, stop the slaughter by of messiahs. Los Angeles, where
killing the enemy's people and de- every man is his own messiah.
stroying their cities too. but you Then you know what the trouble
can't make yourself push the but- is. You've been looking for someone
ton, your 'UlTIl won't Hlove and your to help you, \\hen what you should
fingers are paralyzed, and then all have been doing was helping them.
the telescreens are glaring white or Now you realize that you are the
blowing up in clouds of destruc- one, you are the messiah YO'u've
tion, and you scream, scream in the been seeking. It's up to you to lead
metal room until yOll can't hear them out of the city into the wilder-
anything but your own screalning, ness. You drink luore and you drink
and then somehow you force your it fast and the more you drink the
hand down and push the button. more a feeling of ~finite compas-
THE LAST DAYS OF L.A. 73
sion comes over you for your fellow the can and with the bottle tucked
men. safely in your pocket you begin to
You can save them. You can do pound on the can with both hands.
it. You drain about two-thirds of "Hey, listen, everybody! I've got
the bottle and then get up and walk to tell you about the Last Days of
toward a man in that uniform of Los Angeles. Listen to me! I can
success, a gray flannel suit. save you if you'll just listen ! You're
"Wait a minute, friend," you say, doomed. The city is doomed!"
shifting the bottle to your left hand You pound like mad on the can,
so you can take his arm with your but this being L.A. where such
right. things happen every day, only a
"What is it? What do you very few passersby stop. "Come
want?" he says, looking at you as over here and let me tell you about
though you're drunk. it!" you yell. "Do you know what
"Have you seen the papers to- the power of the H-Bomb can do?
day, friend?" you ask. Have you heard of the C-Bomb?
"Let go of me," he says, pulling Do you know what nerve gas is?
away. Have you seen the Sputniks over-
"If you have seen them, what are head? Do you know how far an
you going to do about it?" ICBM will travel and how fast? Do
"I'm going home and eat my you know that there is no de-
dinner." He hurries off. fense?"
You approach a plump, pretty You grab a man by the ann, but
little blonde pushing a baby car- he shakes you off, so you reach for
riage. "Miss, can I have a few a gray-haired old lady and get an
minutes of your time in which to umbrella in your middle from the
save your life?" dear little thing.
She looks frightened and tries to "Boy, is he ever soused." Two
wheel the buggy around you. teen-aged girls are standing in front
"Have you thought about the of you, giggling. "Did you ever see
future of this dear little child of a guy so drunk?"
yours?" You want to save them and you
She breaks into a half trot and start toward them with outstretched
soon disappears with the baby car- arms, but they move back into the
riage bouncing along ahead of her. crowd. This ma~es you furious and
You sit down for a few minutes you start to yell again.
and have a few more swallows of You grab the nearest person. It's
the bourbon. When you get up a woman but you shake her any-
you're surprised to find that you way. Someone has got to listen.
stagger a little. But you've got to "Let go of me, you masher," the
tell the people, you've got to make woman screams. "Help, somebody,
them listen. Your eye lights on a help!"
garbage can a short way off and The crowd closes in on you. A
you know you've' found the way sailor grabs you from behind and
to do it. You take a stand beside (Continued on page 97)
74
IN THE BALANCE
Book Reviews by the Editor

V oR..), byis aJames


~r)
Blish (Avon,
novel which began
Wh~ther there ever was enou~h
meat in this story to be worth de-
its interlnittcnt life some 17 years veloping into a novel, I don't kno\,v ;
ago, as a story of mine called I'm inclined to think not. At any
"Mercy Death.~' I had what I rate, what Blish has done is to keep
thought was a hell of a problem, the original story more or less in-
but I couldn't think of any \vay out tact, and pad it by introducing a
of it, so the story remained about new set of characters and a nc\v
half written until c. 1948, when story line. The original characters
Jim Blish completed it as a novel- were VOR (to give him his latest
ette. It was published in Thrilling name), two scientists and a couple
Wonder as "The Weakness of of' supernumeraries. The new ones
RVOG." (All these initials refer to are a gaggle of CAP pilots, notably
colors~~he alien creature in the one narned Marty Petrucelli who
story has a color organ in place of has a war-caused phobia against
a Inou th, and his narnc was origi- flying, and is losin~ his ,vifc to a
nally "Red-green-orange-violet," or brash pilot named Al Strickland on
"RGOV." Sam Merwin, then edi- account of it.
tor of Thrilling Wonder, switched The CAP background is authen-
the initials around for reasons best tic and impressively technical
kno\vn to hilTIsplf. and no\v Blish (Blish was for several years a lllenl-
has sirnplificd thelll to VOlt.) bel' of a CAP squadron); so is
The essential part of the story Blish's lnarshalling of details about
consists of my problem and Blish's the AEC, radiation problems,
solution-the problem being, atomic physics; and so on.
"What do you do when an appar- The introduction of the CAP
ently indestructible being tells you characters has some color of reason
to kill him, or he'll kill you?" For in the ope!ling chapters: they're
Blish's solution, see the book. the nearest squadron to the site of
75
the alien's landing. After that, in however, in the 22nd century A.D.,
spite of heroic efforts on Blish's part is a flannelly compound of old
to shoehorn them into the plot, ideas, tastelessly muddled. As in
they simply get in the way. Jack Williamson's The Humanoids,
As early as p. 50, for example, men have fallen under the rule of
AEC Commissioner Holm con- benevolent but overcautious r0-
fronts the alien, risking his life to bots. Cooper adds the twist that the
try to open communication. If the robots are close counterfeits of hu-
story had been written from man beings, male and felnale; his
Holm's viewpoint, this could have hero, in a bathetic sequence, tries
been a scene of hair-raising drama. to make a woman out of one of
As it is, it takes place almost in- them, a girl robot named Marion-
visibly off-stage, \vhile we get a A. In the process, it seems to me,
\vonn's-eye view of Marty and his everything that makes a robot inter-
stone-cold love life. esting is smoothed out; Cooper
In padding- a novel, the problem might as well have made his robot
is not to advance the story but to characters human, and been done
slow it down. This one is slowed with it.
to a crawl-one-sixth story, five- The novel is not by any means
sixths the endless, repetitive emo- all bad; there a re nice touches here
tional Laocoons that identify Blish's and there, and even some markedly
hack-work. The writing itself, ex- good thinking. But it has the same
cept for one or two notably good exasperatingly bl~nted and dimmed
passages (particularly Marty's flight quality as Bright Phoenix by Har-
\vith the scared Russian scientist in old Mead, A Sign of the Times by
chapter 9) , is as tortuous and knob- Robert Kee, and other recent Brit-
jointed as Blish's \vorst. 'Nearly ish work: and the same well-bred
every sentence has too much in- reluctance to travel any but fa-
formation packed into it; and since miliar paths.
nlost of it is unnecessary informa-
tion, the result is the same as jf it Signet has issued an amiable but
\vere noise. fatheaded satire called 43,000 Years
Later, by Horace Coon (35),
Deadly Image, by Edmund Coo- \vhich you had probably better
per (Ballantine, 35 ) is another avoid. The burden of the book is a
of those curiously m ufHed science long series of homilies on man and
fiction novels that keep coming out his history-most of them Qnex-
of England. This one tackles the ceptionable but awfully trite. And if
old suspended-animation plot with you are extraordinarily sensitive to
more than usual plausibility-the scientific ignorance, you may not
hero, John Markham, is acciden- even get through the first ten pages,
tally deep-frozen in an under- in which Coon's alien space-
ground food storage chamber, be- travelers arrive on Earth from their
ing prepared against World War home "on the Great Galaxy" (Coon
III. The world he wakes up to, seems to think this is a good name
76
for a planet), to find such relics of of which I'd never heard, seems to
mankind's 43,000-years-dead civili- have been an 1890 forerunner of
zation as rusted auto frames and Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equa-
concrete dinosaurs. tions." Other obscure works that
sound very lively in Green's de-
scriptions are Legends of the Lakes,
OGER Lancelyn Green's Into bv Thomas Croften Croker (1829),
R Other Worlds (Abelard~ $3.75 )
is a scholarly survey of space-fligh t
Across the Zodiac, by Percy Greg
(1880), Lieutenant Gullivar Jones:
fiction in hard-bound books, from His Vacation, by Edwin Lester
Lucian to "the latest scientifiction." Arnold (1905 ). and T7 0 yage to
Lewis does not attempt to dcal with Arcturus, hv David I~indsay
the TllaSS of material published in (1920). .
magazines, which is probably wise, We also get the usual lengthy
and he stops with C. S. Lewis's Out (and by now wearisome) discourses
of the Silent Planet (1938) and on Lucian of Samosata, Ariosto,
Perelandra ( 1943) , which he Kepler, Godwin, Cyrano de Ber-
names "the highest peak" of space- gerac and the like, all of whom
travel fiction. Although startled~ I sound as dull as they ever did. In-
think he's right. cidentally, Green traces the history
Green's religious and moral views of that idiotic noisy meteorite that
color his judgments noticeably roars through all the bad s-f films,
( e.g.., "the ghastly matel;alistic to its first appearance in Poe's H anJ
tenacity" of Olaf Stapledon~s Last Pfaal, and its second in Verne's
and First Men in overcoming a Autour de La Lune.
ho~ environment on Venus, in- ''''hat is surprising to me about
stead of sitting on their noble fan- the whole survey is that there
nies and admiring the work of should turn out to be so little in
God). He also drops SOInc \vords print on the subject, and so few
about H. G. Wells that Inake me ideas about other worlds and their
bristle; but it's hard to hate a man inhabitants. The 17th and 18th cen-
\vho loves the Burroughs Mars tury works are all pretty nluch of a
books so unashamedly. stripe-satirical or moralistic fan-
He makes the usual confident tasies with the moon or other
scholarly blunders about space- planets as background. The Vic-
flight: "A schoolboy ... could tell torian novels have a monotonous
you that a hlunan bcing cannot family resemblance, too, and in fact
stand an increasing velocity of mo- only three or four writers in the
tion greater than thirty-two feet per whole lot seem to have produced
second per second.... ~' Neverthe- anything really vivid and plausible.
less, a great deal of the ground he Probably adding the magazine
covers is new to me, and I found stories would not lengthen the list
the book a provocative introduction much.
(0 science fiction before 1920. Rob- Something will have to be. done
ert Cromie's A Plunge Into Space, about this.
77
BY
ROSEL GEORGE

BROW

73
GROUND
44nnie signed on a bride ship for Mars. There

were forty brides. And when she got there,

thirty-nine men were waiting.

T HE PILOT shoved open the


airlock and kicked the stairs
denly. She could feel it, like some-
thing being peeled off her skin. Arid
dO\\Tn. climate.
';Okay, girls. Carry your suit- It was cold. But she had the
cases and I'll give each of you an warmth to meet it.
oxygen mask as you go out. The There they were! Forty men.
air's been breathable for fifteen There were supposed to be forty.
years, but it's still thin to newcom- What if one of them had died!
ers. If you feel dizzy, take a whiff Who would go back? .
of oxygen." "Not me," Annie prayed to her-
Thelorty women just stood there self. "Dear God, not 'me." She tried
and looked at each other. Nobody to count them. But they moved
wanted to be first. around so!
Annie moved forward, her bulky They were looking at something.
suitcase practically floating in her Not Annie. The girl coming down
hand. She was a big woman with the ramp behind Annie.
that wholesome expression which It was Sally, with the blonde hair
~ome women have to substitute for on her shoulders. That's all they'd
sex appeal. She'd made a great be able to see from there. The
senior leader at summer camps. blonde hair.
"I'll go first," she said, grinning But a nlan was coming forward.
confidence into the others. "I'm not He had a tam-like hat pulled low
likely to bring out the beast in to good-humored eyes, and an easy
them." She waved herself out, let- stride.
ting the grin set and jell. "Wait, Ben," one of the other
I t was odd to feel light. She'd felt men said. "See the others."
too heavy as far back as she could "I pulled first, didn't I?"
remember. Not fat heavy. Bone "Yeah. But you ain't seen but two
heavy. yet."
The sweat on her face dried sud- "I want that blonde one. Let
79
Gary see the others." "You're both probably too good for
And he led Sally away. somebody like me. I don't know.
He didn't feel her muscles or Both fine women."
look at her teeth or measure her The two women stood in silence.
pelvic span. "What's your name?"
After Sally came Nora. Nora gig- "Annie."
gled and waved, making a shape "Mary."
under the shapeless clothes. Wasn't "Mary? My sister's named Mary.
that just like Nora? Okay. So she Fine woman." He took Mary's
was cute. hand. "No disrespect to you,
Second man took Nora. He didn't Annie."
,vait for the others. They were all gone.
Third man took Regina. Regina "I could take you on my Venus
looked scared, but you co.uld see run," the pilot said. He, too, was
those big cow eyes a mile off. embarrassed. "But I'm afraid I'll
Regina obviously needed somebody have a full ship after that. Unless
to protect her. you can buy the weight and space.
The other girls came out. Annie I'd be glad to take you free. But
counted and her heart hit bottom. the company ..."
Someone was going to be left over. Annie's eyes were full but she
Four women, three men. They all wasn't going to let them spill.
felt embarrassed. It was the kind of Sally brought Ben by, already
thing the colonists would talk about looking self-consciously married.
for years. Who was last. Who was "I'm sorry, honey," she said.
second to last. Spiteful people "Look, Annie, if you want to come
would remember, and in a tight stay with us until another shipment
little community, spite took root of pioneers come to break ground,
and throve on the least misinter- you're welcome. Maybe you'd-er
preted expression or- But then, -find one of them you liked."
this wouldn't be a tight little com- It was a gesture of kindness, of
munity, Annie remembered. The course, but it made Annie's eyes
lichen fanns were spread out over spill. She turned her head away,
the whole temperate belt of the toward the red hills. Red and the
world. Because the lichens were cultivated ones green. Christmas
grown only on hills, where the sand colors.
would not cover them. And because "Sure," Ben said. "Swell. Any
they did a more efficient job of friend of Sally's is a friend of mine."
oxygenating the atmosphere when And the way they looked at each
they were spread over a wide area. other made Annie's heart lurch.
One man, hat in hand, even in "Thanks, kids," she said. "But I
the cold. A little shriveled man with don't believe I'll try it. And don't
a spike of dust-colored hair, but worry. This isn't the first time I've
kind-looking. been stood up."
"Aw ..." he drawled in embar- "Are you coming?" the pilot
rassment. He clicked his tongue. shouted across the field. "Hate to
80 ROSEL GEORGE BROWN
rush you, but I've got a schedule "1 think you look fine, Annie. It's
to meet." -it's any woman. He told them not
Was she coming? What else could to send a wife for him. Any wom-
she do? an."
"What happened to him, Ben?" "But that's ridiculous. He knows
Annie asked. "My-the other man the laws. Five years and then a wife.
that should have been here." Why did he stake out in the first
Ben worried a hole in the sand place?"
with one foot and cleared his throat. "That was before," Ben an-
"He stayed home." swered.
"You mean he's alive! Here?" "Before what?"
"Well ... yes. But he didn't-" "Aw, it's not for me to say. Why
"Never mind. I don't need any- don't you just forget Bradman.
body to strum a guitar under my He's a good enough guy. But not for
window. H he couldn't get away you. You com~"
from the fann today I can certainly "Which way and how far?"
go to him. I've got a pair of legs Ben looked at her hard. "Okay.
that'll walk around the ",orld." On Mars your life is your own." He
"You coming?" the pilot shouted. pointed. "Second fannbubble you
"No!" Annie cried. "I live here." come to. And you'd better hurry. It
The spaceship took off, a phoenix ought to take eight hours and night
rising from the flames. falls like a ton of bricks here."
Ben was shuffiing his feet, hands Annie made it in seven. Easy.
in his pockets. "We'd be proud to
have you stay with us, Annie."
WENT up to the trans-
"Oli;Cut it out, Ben. I'm no hot-
house rose. Just tell me which way
and I'll find my own fann." She
S HE
parent hemisphere. He was
side working. She shouted, but if
in-

paused, trying to guess his thoughts. he heard her he didn't look up.
"You think he might be disap- She went to the flap that must be
pointed when he sees me? Is that it, the door. There wasn't anything to
Ben? I know I'm no pinup girl. knock on, so she opened the flap
But I'm a worker and a breeder. and walked in.
He'll see it. In the end, that's what's There was nothing in the room
going to count." but a cot, kitchen equipment and
Ben was still making holes in the lichen, growing on a number of
sand with his feet, trying to say tables. The air was richer than out-
something. side and Annie breathed it thirstily.
"Please don't worry," Annie went "I'm Annie Strug," she said, smil-
on, "your friend won't be sorry. If ing and wishing it wasn't such an
he doesn't want to marry me right ugly name.
away~kay. I can understand it. He glanced up, angry blue eyes
But I can give him a chance to under a growth of black hair. He
watch me work." didn't say a word.
"That isn't it," Ben said finally. Annie set her suitcase down and
VIRGIN GROUND 81
looked out at the green growth on "I'm not leaving," she said, still
the hills. holding tight the doors of her anger.
"Look, Mr. Bradman/' she cried "] am." He paced heavily over
suddenly, pointing a spatulate fin- the sand floor and pulled back' the
ger to the western horizon. "What fla p of the door.
in the name of heaven is that ?'~ "Where are you going?" Annie
There was a catch of fright in her glanced back at the towering gianL
voice. now glo\ving red in the sunlight.
"We don't say "mister' on Mars," like some huge, grotesque devil.
he said reluctantly. "Brady. But you "Into the storm cellar. Nobody
don't have to call me anything be- lives through a Martian sand-
cause you're leaving soon." He ,vas storm."
a big, arid man with a sandy voice. Annie ran after him. "For God's
But his hands, as he stripped the sake take me with vou! You can't
lumpy brown fruits from a giant leave me ..." ,
lichen, were surprisingly delicate. "Mine's built for one," he said~
"What is it?" Annie asked again, and pulled the top in over him ac;
turning instinctively to the big man he disappeared into the hole.
for a reassurance and protection she Annie broke her fingernails pull-
had no reason to expect. ing at the cover. The \-vind ,vas
Bradman straightened and blowing sand in her eyes. She saw
moved away from her, looking at blood staining the rim of her index
the black giant growing up from the finger. She pounded with her fists.
earth in the distance and moving "Let me in!" she screamed. "In
straight toward them. the name of God!" But all she
"It's a sandstorm," he said. "It'll heard was the keening sand in the
be here in ten minutes." wind.
Annie let out the breath she had She looked around. The devil was
been holding. "Oh. That doesn't closer, malignant and hungry. It
sound so bad. I don't know what I wanted to eat her alive.
thought it was. I was just fright- It made her angry.
ened." She smiled shyly and apolo- "I'll fight it," she screamed. "By
getically at Bradman. God, I'll fight!"
Bradman grimaced at her, his Five minutes, she guessed. Maybe
agate eyes frozen in a pallid face five minutes left. She ran into the
that should have gone with red hair. house, ripped open her suitcase.
The sand-blown lines in his face Bundles of nylon marriage clot4es.
were cruel. "Sister, you've got a She began to soh. Somp were with
smile like a slab of concrete. Don't lace.
try it again." "Fight!" she shouted to herself.
"You didn't have to say that," There was her oxygen mask. How
Annie said quietly, closing her eyes much oxygen? Anybody's guess. It
against the winds of her anger. was made for maybe a few whiffs a
"You didn't have to come here," day over a period of several months.
he replied. "Goodbye." Swell. But it wouldn't keep the
12 ROSEL GEORGE BROW,N
sand from tearing through her eye- bag over her head inside out, so the
balls and flaying her alive. zipper would close completely.
Wrap in nylon nightgowns? Then she folded the zipper part
Ridiculous. under once and wedged herself as
Spacesuit? far as she could go into the space
Annie went through the one- between shrub and hemisphere,
room house as fast as she could. No holding the oxygen mask in her
spacesuit. Why should he have one? teeth.
Three minutes left. \-Vith infinite care, though she
Sand was blowing under the was not likely to split the heavy bag,
hemisphere, piling up at one end she pulled off her shoes and her
and oozing out beneath. heavy, woollen \valking socks. She
I t was possible she would simply put the shoes back on. Her slacks
be buried. covered her legs. Only her ankles
The refrigerator! were bare.
That wasn't a refrigerator. Only She unraveled one sock and
a cabinet, loosely joined. stuffed the yarn in her ears. There
Annie went outside, on the side was a sudden, remarkable quiet.
where the field of lichens gre\v up Then, even through the yarn came
a smooth, stone hill. The red devil the roar of the stonn. For it was
was whistling at her no\v; a low, 'upon her.
insinuating whistle. She looked through the milky
Something rattled faintly against plastic into a wild, red inferno, spit-
one steel rib of the hemisphere. It ting at her in furious frustration.
was a shrub, about five feet tall. Then she bound the other sock over
Annie began to laugh hysterical- her eyes.
ly. Brady h(td protected the shrub She was in a blind, muffled world
with loving care. It \vas tied to the now, buffeted against the shrub and
steel rib through grommetted holes the wires and the steel rib, but not
in the hemisphere, and covered painfully, because of her heavy
with its own plastic bag to shield clothing. It was as though suddenly
off the wind. all her senses had been switched to
One minute. the last pitch before silence.
The red devil was shouting now, "I might live," Annie thought. "1
laughing with triumph. He ran his might."
sandy fingers through her hair and
blew his gritty breath in her eyes.
She pulled the zipper at the bot- HERE WAS sand in the bag
tom of the polyethylene bag that
covered the shrub and yanked the
T now. Annie could feel it sifting
under her collar and blowing up her
bag off. It was heavy, ahnost oily ankles. Not much. It was coming
plastic, slippery and pliant. from the bottom of the bag. Prob-
There was no time to decide ably the end of the zipper had
whether it would be better inside worked open just a little.
or outside the house. She pulled the Was that the dull roar of the
VIRGIN GROUND 83
storm through her stoppered ears She opened her eyes briefly and
or the rushing of her own blood? closed them. The grit stayed in.
If sand \vere seeping in, the storm She didn't dare open them again.
must still be on. But the storm looked weaker.
How did Bradman breathe in his Or was it her imagination?
stOffil cellar? \'"ould the stonn last She groped for the zipper. Foul
long enough for the air to go bad? air would kill her quicker than
It would go bad fast, in an en- sand. She couldn't find it.
closed place on Mars. Hell with the zipper! She pulled
Bradman. What sort of monster her little mending kit out of her
would walk off and let another hu- pocket and slashed the bag with
man being die? \Vithout a glance the scissors.
backwards? Did the cold desert The storm sounded louder now..
wear the humanity out of a man? with the bag gone. The sand ble~
How did a human being get like under her eyelids. Ripped her face.
that? Tore a burning circle around each
" 'You've got a smile like a con- ankle.
crete slab.' " Is that what you say to Annie put her face in her hands,
a person when you know you're breathing through her nose and the
about to leave them to die? sock.
She held herself stimy. She didn't
UNMARRIED WOMEN BE- want to cough.
TWEEN THE AGES OF 21 The whole world was a blind,
AND 30. GOOD HEALTH. gritty pain. There was no end to
WELL ADJUSTED. MAR- think of. Only pain.
RIAGE ON ARRIVAL. A grayness.
MARS TRANSPOR T A blackness.
LEAVES~OCT. 1. Finally, a voice. Bradman.
"You ruined my shrub. Did you
Good health ... well adjusted ... have to slash the bag, too?"
she could see the printed words, Annie opened her eyes. They felt
red stereo words reaching out from red and ruined. They were water-
the page. Unmarried women be- ing so much her cheeks were wet.
tween . . . they came and went in She could hardly see.
her mind and there was a roar in She was having a coughing fit.
her ears. The words were gone now. She dragged herself upright. All
Only a redness that came and went. she could see was sand. The plastic
No. A~lackness. bubble had blown off the girders
AnDIe snatched the exhausted and if the furnishings and her suit-
oxygen mask off her face and case were there, her eyes were still
gulped a pallid, sandy breath of too dim to see them.
air. It wouldn't do. She took the "Do you know what that shrub's
sock off her eyes and bound it worth on Mars?"
around her nose and mouth. It Annie found the yarn had fallen
would filter some of the aand out. out of ODe ear and she pulled it out
8~ ROSEL ~EORGE IROWN
of the other. man. Better. She worked. How she
"Do you know what that bag's worked! She kept herself numb with
worth?" labor, her mind drunk with the
Gall ran in her veins. She spat it liquors of fatigue.
out of her mouth.
She backed up to the steel beam After five years, he came. He just
and braced her feet against it, light appeared inside the door flap, look-
in the Martian gravity. ing a little nervous but grinning.
"I told them not to send a wom- "I'm Jack Hamstrong," he said,
an out here." his voice full and wholesome, like
She pushed off and sank her fist Iowa corn. "I-you weren't at the
into his teeth. He went down. spaceport so I figured, what the
She was too light. But he was too heck. I just walked."
light, too. It evened out. "This is my farm," Annie said.
She turned his face and held it in "My hands are on every inch of it."
the sand. Her strength \vas insane. Hamstrong's ruddy face turned
"Do you know \\That a human in on itself a little. "1 know. I know
life is worth?" she screamed. the story. I didn't come to take any-
He struggled, but she fought his thing away. 1 came to-good Lord,
bucking body, kept his face buried didn't you know you'd be sent a
in the sand until he was dead and husband?"
a long time after. Annie's eyes went queer, like a
An age passed. Annie was frozen eat's. "A husband?" If they'd told
in a world rimed over \vith \vhite her, she hadn't heard. "Go away,"
starlight, sequinned \\7ith frost. she said. She looked around at her
oThen-the crosseyed moons came fann, the fruits of her travail-
up. alone. The virgin birth.
-She found an edge of the plastic "No," he said firlnly. "It's yours
bubble, rwnpled and limp and half and mine. Legally. I'm not a mean
buried in the sand. She pushed off man, Annie. You'll find me patient.
the heaviest hills of sand with her But stubborn. \1 can wait."
hands and pulled it out. She Annie sighed. Or \vas it a shud-
climbed up the anchored girders der? She looked up again at the
with it, and then slept the rest of the puckering edges of the evening sky.
night in her o\vn home. She put down the knife she had
The next day she dug out her been peeling a giant lichen with.
household supplies from the sand. She wiped her hands on her apron
The day after she cleared the and lifted the door flap.
sand from the lichens on her farm. "All right, then," she said.
On the fourth day she called a "Wait."
few neighbors in and late in the "For \vhat?"
evening she buried Bradman. . "The sandstorm," she said.
No one questioned her. It had And she got into the storm cellar
been, after all, self-defense. and pulled down the weighty lid,
She kept the farm as \vell as any locking it behind her. END
VI~G1N GROUND 85
By MARGARET ST. CLAIR

'WE XCUSE ME, sir," Denton


said deferentially, "but isn't
pronounced their language, and so
what was the point of calling them
the gender of (shar-su~ feminine?" Bi-Yan instead of Te-Hok? Or say-
"No," Walsh replied brusquely. ing shar-su instead of mosh-tal
He turned a\vay, to end the discus- He must have muttered the old
sion, but Denton had already got word under his breath, because
A Lexicon of the Bi-Yan Language Denton said in that irritating way
from its place on the cabin shelf, of his, "I beg your pardon, sir?"
and was ruffiing its pages. "Nothing. Never mind. Well,
ccShen-sheg-shar-" he read. you've proved your point. But don't
"Here it is. 'Shar-su. Adverbial you think we ought to be getting
noun of two terminations. Femi- back to the dig? It isn't wise to let
nine. Warningly, in a warning man- robot shovels work too long un-
ner. (To take) warning.' Yes, . . . attended, you know. I imagine
it does seem to be feminine." you'll agree with me about that,
Walsh felt his face growing hot. at any rate."
How could he have forgotten that There was an instant's silence.
the damned word was feminine Denton too had turned red. He
now, in the revised Gerson-Mc- stood holding the lexicon between
Mahon grammar? In his student his hands, his head lowered Then
days there hadn't been any gender he followed the older man through
at all-in-Bi-Yan, or Te-Hok as they the airlock into the ship's changing
called it then. It seemed to him room.
that things had been going to pot Their suits were hanging under
ever since that upstart, Gerson, had sterilamps. Walsh climbed into his
put over his revised system of pro- gear stiffly; his arthritic knee was
nouncing Bi-Yan, ten years ago. It bothering him again. Denton was
meant that older scholars had prac- ready before he was, and stood
tically had to learn the language waiting while Walsh opened the
all over again. It was most unfair. outer lock.
Suppose there had been a fc\v in- Walsh jumped to the ground. If
consistencies in the old phonetic he didn't hurry, Denton would try
system? Nobody could ever know to help him. Why had the Founda-
how the Bi-Yan themselves had tion saddled him with a "trainee-

No one had labored harder in alien archaeology than Walsh.

He w~ not going to let them destroy his life's work now.


87
assistant," anyhow? Did they think was the best-preserved Bi-Van
he \vas too old to excavate a Bi- tomb-shrine that anybody had ever
Yan shrine without a younger man found. All the others had been in
to help him? Hell, he was only various stages of wreckage. This
sixty-four. An archaeologist wasn't one was almost miraculously per-
old until he was eighty. Or did the fect. Except for an enormous gap-
Foundation think that he, the dean ing hole in the left \vall, caused by
of Bi-Y an archaeologists, the top a meteor impact cons ago, it \\Ias
authority in the field, needed a almost as it had CaDle from the
younger brain to check up on his hands of its builders.
work? Lovely . . . \Valsh's ill-tclnper
The way to the dig was over \vas lcaving him. It \vas impossible
rough ground. Like all the Proxima to feel anger while looking at the
planets except one, Marianna had shrine.
a thin, cold atmosphere, unbreath- Denton was as affected as he.
able by human standards, but the "Beautiful," Walsh heard him say
surface was covered with primitive softly. "Millennia have gone by.
algae, lichens, molds and a few And yet it's like the first days of
mosses. The puzzle was why the spring."
Bi-Yan had erected most of their There were things to be said for
tomb-shrines on these inhospitable Denton after all. "Let's go inside,"
planets, and almost none on the Walsh said.
mother world. That was one of the The plan of the shrine was like
questions he was attempting to an- that of all the other Bi-Yan tomb-
swer in the book he had in progress shrines. A smallish oval building,
-The Bi-Yan Tomb-Shrine: An perfectly proportioned, with a
Archaeological Estimate. deeply recessed door.
Absorbed in these thoughts, Inside, in the shrine proper, were
Walsh stumbled over a loose stone. the double storeroonls, one on
He would have taken a sharp fall either side of the door, \\'here the
if Denton hadn't caught him by offerings to nourish the dead were
the elbow and steadied him. kept. And then the inner shrine,
"Thanks," Walsh said harshly, and with the checkered twenty-foot el-
jerked away. lipse on the floor that marked the
They reached the dig in silence. "holy of holies," and the statues
The robot shovels were working of the dead whom the tomb--ac-
away carefully at the excavation of tually a cenotaph-was designed to
the back wall of the shrine, the commemorate.
only part yet unexcavated. The "Stay clear of the ellipse," Walsh
shovels stopped every six inches for cautioned automatically as they
an automatic camera to take pic- stepped into the inner shrine.
tures of the sides of the trench. Denton grinned. "Still think
It probably wasn't necessary to there's a density field generator un-
have so many pictures. It was a der it, sir?" he asked.
simple site. On the other hand, it "Yes. That, or something very
88 MARGARET ST. CLAIR
similar." Walsh raised an ann to "To immolate victims?" Denton
indicate the calligraphic ~nscr~p repeated.
tions that ran .around the lntenor "Animal victims, in honor of the
wall of the cella. "The warnings dead man whose cenotaph the tomb
about touching the 'holy of holies' ,vas."
are certainly explicit. The curse ... "In honor of the dead man,"
Sooner or later we'll try some ex- Denton repeated in an unsatisfied
periments to find out just what is voice. He began to w~ up and
under the floor." down even more rapidly.
"Ye-es," Denton replied. "There's
no doubt there's something under
there. Fragments of machinery ~ BRUPTLY he stopped in front
have been found under the ellipses f t of Walsh. "Look here, sir," he
in other digs. But-" He began to said, "have you considered-"
walk up and down restlessly, be- "Considered what?"
tween Walsh and the ~llipse. "Considered-" Denton paused
"But!" Walsh said, trying to to swallow- "considered, sir, that
laugh. He didn't like the way Den- this may not be a shrine?"
ton kept arguing with him. "Do "May not be a shrine!" Walsh
you think it was merely a coinci- felt a touch of pure amazement.
dence that the dirt in the cella had His eyebrows went up. He began to
stayed completely clear of the ellip- laugh. "Oh, my dear boy!"
tical area? You remember, Den- Denton flung out one hand in an
ton-the cella was half full of dirt. impatient gesture. "Please, sir!
I thad been-titifting in through the What I mean is, why does everyone
hole in the wall for centuries. It was take for granted that the Bi-Yan
packed up to the ceiling in spots. constructions on the outer planets
But there wasn't a grain of dust on aTe shrines?"
the ellipsoid." After a moment, Walsh decided
"Oh, I remember," Denton said, to treat the absurd question as if it
laughing. "I'll never forget those were serious. "For a number of rea-
two weeks with hand tools. But-" sons," he replied. "The tomb 'curse'
"But what?" Walsh said \vith a -you can read it on the walls here
touch of irritability. yourself-that is one of them.
"Well, sir-" He hesitated. "Sir, Then, there is the offering of food
what was the holy of holies for?" to the dead, and the holy of holies
"For?" Walsh repeated rather in the center. And, finally, the very
blankly. existence of the shrines, so beauti-
"Yes, sir. What did they use it fully wrought, so filled with art
for?" treasures. There is nothing other
"It was the center of the shrine, than shrines that they could be."
the focal point. If they 'used' it for "Isn't there?" Denton asked
anything-if there's actually a keenly. "Isn't any other explanation
density field generator under it-I possible?"
think it ,vas to immolate victims." His voice had taken on that
DISCIPLINE 89
needling edge that Walsh so dis- moment there had been the argu..
liked. He felt himself growing an- ment, and his sudden anger. The
gry, and it exasperated him. "No," next, Denton had been gone. Walsh
he aIisWered. "No, it isn't." He felt an irrational impulse to go
turned away. about the shrine looking- for him.
''But, sir-" What had happened? Walsh had
"I don't want to discuss it fur- ahvays felt the "holy of holies" was
ther. You're not here to argue with dangerous, but no\\r that its potency
me, Denton, but to be trained in had been actually shown, 'Valsh
archaeology." was stunned. The density field gen-
Denton stepped in front of him, erator Inust still have been active,
between Walsh and the elliptical after all these ages; poor Denton
area. "Don't be such a fool," he had been immolated in Inuch the
said in a low, choked voice. SaIlJe ,vay the old Bi- Yan priests'
'"... Sorry. 1- Sorry. You get un- sacrificial victims had been. An en-
der my skin. But if you'd only gineer could examine the generator
listen-" later and find out ho\v it \vorked.
"you couldn't tell me any- \Valsh wouldn't poke about \vith it
thing," said Walsh, losing control -he didn't want to share Denton's
of hirnself. "You're a young ass fate.
\vho brays instead of thinking. Keep Had it been his fault? He gave a
your hee-haws to yourself." I-lis deep sigh. No, he didn't think so.
hands had clenched. True, he had struck the blo\v that
"You old fool!" Denton cried had driven Denton into the danger
wildly. "It's not a shrine, it's a area. But on the other hand, he had
ma-" warned him against the spot again
He was not allowed to finish the and again, and Denton hadn't lis-
sentence. At the repetition of the tened. There was a certain poetic
unbearable word "fool," Walsh, justice-Walsh managed a shaky
blind \vith fury, struck out. laugh-in Denton's having fallen
It was an old man's blow, weak victim to the very "curse" whose
and badly aimed. But Denton in- existence he had denied.
voluntarily stepped backward to Walsh felt an overpowering fa-
avoid it. He stepped across the tigue. He hadn't liked Denton. In-
dark-checkered rim, fairly into the deed, he had hated him. But it had
elliptical area. been dreadful to see the young
11is mouth came open. Walsh man disappear like that. Wslsh
heard him give a faint cry. His wanted to go back to the ship and
body grew diaphanous. In less than rest-and, now that there was no
two seconds after he had taken the longer a need to keep up appear-
backward step, he \vas gone. He ances, there was no reason why he
had disappeared. shouldn't. He would feel better
Gone . . . 'tValsh looked around after a rest.
dazedly. It had happened so quick- lIe went outside the shrine, still
ly that he couldn't take it in. One haunted by tl:ie illogical feeli~g
90 MARGARET ST. CLA1R
that Denton must be hiding in it. a week or ten days. Denton's writ-
He shut down the robot shovels. ing was clear and easy to read.
He switched off the lights. He'd Almost at once Walsh found
come back later. . . . What was it traces of what he was looking for.
Denton had been trying to say "More than ever I doubt the reality
when he disappeared? of the Bi-Yan 'curse,' " ran an entry
"This isn't a shrine, it's a ma-" dated a week ago. "The 'curse'
A what? What would the word inscribed on the cella of the shrine,
have been if Denton had lived to about whose direfulncss Walsh is
finish it? Walsh didn't even have so insistent, seems to me, properly
an idea what the first syllable would read, much less of a curse than a
have been. Man? Mar? Mat? Mat- caution. Or-an idea I am just be-
ter . . . well, it probably didn't ginning to form-a series of in-
matter. Denton was gone. structions. Instructions for what?
I don't know. I can't but feel,
though, that Walsh is basing his
ALSH entered the ship's main interpretation on a misconception.
W cabin, switched on the phos-
phors, and lay down in his bunk.
I don't suppose it will do much
good to tackle him about this."
After he'd rested, he'd get himself Walsh raised his eyebrows. He
something to eat. And, before he gave a short laugh. But the curse
~ent to bed, he'd tape an account had got Denton-poor young fel-
of Denton's mishap for the ship's low-in the end.
log. He read on. Two days on unim-
'Desperately tired as he was, he portant things. Then, "I cannot ac-
couldn't 'relax. ,He kept shifting cept the reality of the 'neolithic
about on his mattress and sighing. psychology' Walsh talks so much
No matter how he had felt about about. No cOlnparisons with the
Denton, it had been appalling to tomb~ and shrines of ancient Egypt
see the younger man's body thin out will convince me. It is, to me, in-
and disappear. Denton- credible that people as technically
What had Denton been trying advanced as the Bi-Van could be-
to say? lieve that by putting food in the
Walsh swung his feet around tomb-shrines of their dead they
and sat up on the edge of his bunk. were providing for them in the
After a moment he rose and went after-world.
over to Denton's bunk. He opened "Bi-Yan art is unsurpassed. We
the foot-locker. have a considerable body of evi-
Denton's diary was on top of the dence that their spaceflight had
folded shirts and underwear, just carried them to the ends of our
where Walsh had often seen him galaxy. And these people thought
put it. Walsh \vent back to his own they could feed their dead-or,
bunk with it. rather, the images of their dead; no
He opened the book. He wouldn't one has ever found any bodily re-
go too far back in the entries-say mains in a Bi-Yan tomb-shrine-
'"C>ISCIPLINE 91
with canned protein? Faugh! tions on how to handle awesome
"Nor does Walsh's lugging in the potencies.
'transubstantiation' of the old Yes, Denton was undoubtedly
Catholic mass-ritual make his idea right. And Walsh's work-his
about the Bi-Yan any the more whole work, the work of his whole
convincing. Again, faugh !" life-had been wrong. He had built
Denton seemed, Walsh thought on sand.
sourly, to have used most of the Everything he had written had
space in his diary in trying to re- been wrong. His ne,'\' book, the
fute whatever Walsh had told him. book he had been preparing for
He went on with his reading. thirty years to write, could ne}'er be
The day before yesterday's entry written. It would be nothing but
was only one line: "I have a hy- lies. And he would be a laughing
pothesis.,, stock. The dean of Bi-Van archae-
And then the last entry of all, ologists. Talking about neolithic
yesterday: "Yes, 1 have a hypothe- psychology as if he knew some-
sis. And, unlike Huygens and his thing. It had taken a smart young
idea about the existence of the rings man to show him up.
of Saturn, 1 am not going to en- Walsh had to bite his lips to keep
code it elaborately. from groaning. Archaeology had
"The Bi-Yan shrines are not been the only thing he had ever
shrines at all. They are relay sta- had, the only thing he had ever
tions in a space-spanning system. cared for. And now it had been
"'Why hasn't anyone else sus- taken away from him,' forever,
pected this? There are, I think, two ruined by a few pages in a diary.
reasons. One, the surpassing beauty Pages written by a smart young
of the Bi-Van installations. And, man.
two, the fact that no Bi-Yan No. No, it hadn't. No, it hadn't.
'shrine,' except the one Walsh and Walsh didn't even hesitate. He
I are currently engaged in exca- didn't even give an order to his
vating, has ever been found reason- fingers. Of their own accord they
ably intact. Meteor falls, mechani- reached for the diary and ripped
cal failure in the course of ages, the bad pages out.
and wars have gutted them. Only He drew a terrible, shuddering
in the present 'shrine' has the 'holy breath. On wobbling legs he walked
of holies,' which I suspect of being over to the waste-reducer and
a matter-transmitter, survived." threw the pages in. They flared up
. . . which I suspect of being a and were gone.
matter-transmitter. Walsh's whole I t was going to be all right. He
body was trembling. Oh, yes, Den- could forget all about the nonsense
ton's idea--damn him, damn him Denton had written. Now he could
-had a horrible cogency. The cans go ahead and write his own book.
of food: not offerings, but provi- His wonderful, exhaustive, monu-
sions for travelers. The curses, not mental book.
curses but warnings and instruc- For a moment Walsh covered
92 MARGARET ST. CLAIR
his face with his hands. God, if infection from one of the local
only he hadn't been curious! Now, fungi or bacteria-it had been
before he could think about his known to happen-and in his de-
book, he'd have to fix things. He'd lirium had wandered off into the
destroyed the diary, yes. But he wasteland while Walsh was asleep.
hadn't put things back to where Then . . . oh, yes. Then 'tValsh
they'd been before. He'd have to had gone after him in the ship's
do a lot of lying to accomplish launch, .and hadn't been able to
that. find him. He simply hadn't been
He'd have to make up some able to find him, that was all.
plausible account of what had hap- It was such a simple story that
pened to Denton, something that Walsh was sure people would be-
didn't involve the material \\'ork- lieve it. It wasn't complicated
ing of the Bi-Yan curse. And then enough to sound like a lie. . .
he'd have to destroy the shrine. When he read it into the log, he'd
It was so beautiful! But as long put in some sad reflections about
as it was intact; it was a danger to how Denton must even now be
him. The first engineer, if not the dying of asphyxiation.
first archaeologist, to investigate it And that \vas probably the
would sunnise what the "holy of truth,. Walsh thought. Wherever
holies" was for. There must be a the matter-translnitter had sent
lot of machinery under the ellipsoid Denton, even if there had been a
area where Denton had disap- still-functioning receptor at the
peared. Walsh would have to de- other end, it wasn't likely he'd be
stroy it. There was some blasting able to get av.ay from there. Assum-
powder among the ship's stores. ing he'd survived the journey, Den-
Perhaps he could fake damage ton .must even now be sitting on
from a meteor fall. the bleak surface of some wretched
He was so tired. He'd try to planet, watching the gauge on his
concoct some reasonable-sounding air tank slip around to zero, and
story about Denton's disappear- wondering how much longer he
ance, and get it into the log to- could last.
night. He didn't think he'd be able A wretched way to die. But at
to sleep at all unless he got at least least tWs was something Walsh
part of his difficulties settled. And didn't have to blame himself for.
tomorrow, when he was a little He wasn't even morally responsible.
fresher, he'd try to destroy the tell- He hadn't sent him there.
tale machinery. He switched on the recorder.
Better get hls account of the rnat-
ter down now, while it \vas still
HAT COULD have hap- clear in his mind. Tomorrow he'd
W pened to Denton, reasonably?
A young man, strong, impetuous
destroy the site.
He switched the recorder off
. Oh, now he had it. again. It wasn't so much that he
Denton had contracted a general minded telling lies about what had
DISCIPLINE 93
happened to Denton. And certain- what being 'transmitted' will be
ly no reasonable person could ex- like. But I am willing to try to
pect him to go after Denton, to risk rescue him. End of entry."
his own life trying to save a man he
hated. He could excuse himself He opened the ship's belly, got
these things. out the launch, and climbed into
But he couldn't excuse himself the tiny cabin. On low manual
if he destroyed the site. power he worked the craft over the
He had put Denton's diary in the rough terrain, through the hole in
\vaste-reducer; that was disgraceful, the wall, and onto the rim of the
but a personal matter. He was will- elliptical "holy of holies". He made
ing to connive at Denton's death; sure that the nose of the launch was
he wasn't under any obligation to centered on the 'same dark-
try to save him. But he couldn't checkered area that Denton had
destroy an archaeological site. A stepped over. If there \vas any con-
science, in the old and honorable trol system built into the trans-
tenn, was a discipline. mitter-anything that determined
Walsh's head had gone up a little. where you landed-that might be
He might be old, and a fool. He it. One more little push, and the
might be willing to tell lies. But he craft would be over in the trans-
was a scientist. And he couldn't mitting area.
destroy an archaeological siteo He paused. Did he still hate Den-
Once more he switched on the ton? Yes, as much as ever. The
tape recorder. He gave a full and smart young bastard. The smart
complete account of what had hap- righryoung son of a bitch.
pened, including his destruction of He was risking his life to save a
the diary. He hesitated. Then he man he still hated. He couldn~t ex..
said, "I am going to try to rescue plain his action, even to hinlself. He
him. I do not think my chances arc grinned sourly. Still faintly grin-
very good. Earth technology has ning, he touched the manual con-
not yet been able to build a matter- trol and gave the craft the last little
transmitter, and I have no idea push. END

SPACE ACE
~rI-IEfact reporter for the worlds of science and space ... A magnificent
example of space journalislll and photography--excitingly beyond any-
thing of its kind you have ever seen! Read General Robert L. Scott's
ilnportant article, A Call to Arms, follow the cameraman's reports on the
Luna and Mars rockets, witness the human side of America~s space ven-
tures in The Men Behind the Missiles, and other unusual word and pic-
ture features in the current issue. Ask your news dealer-50c a copy.

94
IN THE
JAG-WHIFFING
SERVICE
By DAVID R. BUNCH

I anHAD
we
ALWAYS said there was
easier way. And I think, when
invade, I'll be proved right. But
a little now and then like a greeting
going past. But tell the people that!
They'd throw a big glass on one of
you know how things get started, the whirlcrs and see spikes sticking
and how powerful tradition can be out and maybe a big pair of eyes
and how old-line thinking can keep inside and a nose and a long red
people, even a \vhole planet, in a tongue hanging down. "The
rut. Earthits !" they'd scream like they'd
The big cargo saucers were get- just fallen into one of the hot
ting bigger a.nd bigger each year, canals, and they'd race off to a jag-
what with the growing popularity whiff jag like Judgment-Day-of-
of the jag-whiff places, and the jag- Sins itself was after them. And the
,vhiff places thernsclvcs were grow- funny part of it is, I guess the peo-
ing in number with more and more ple were right being scared like
people going "on the jag" because that, the way things turned out.
-well, partly because-of troubles But is it any wonder we were
in the sky, like strange balls whirl- having to increase the size of the
ing around and unexplainable ob- saucers to space-haul all that jag-
jects going beel) and lL'Ut! and li'UfJ whiff up through the rattleballs?
lL'UfJ. We of the saucers had slipped And a big reason makes nle think it
past these first baby objects O.K. could have been done nlore effi-
and knew they were just little old cien tl y, we '\Tere having to take so
hannless ping-pongs that chattered much junk stuff, extra accessories

The jag-stuff in those black rzngs was wonderful, but why

did they have to package it with so many extra accessories?


95
I guess you'd call ~t, to get the jag- reaches of our breath bags and go
whiff. Our Earthlt contacts were into our blood and suddenly all five
ah"lays giving us the old breeze of our eye sticks would start whirl-
about cost of labor, cost of materi- ing and focusing and zeroing-in for
als, improvement in design and dames and our arms and legs would
next year's inventories. Apparently start a kick and a slap dance,
the dealers didn't understand at all enough to shake the planet do\vn.
\vhat the play was with us because And when our face spines and head
they'd give us so much blab-blab tubes would go in to that special
that didn't apply, all about futur- sharp buzz of contentment, we'd
istic design and about how one jag- know we were on our jag, full and
whiffer machine had it all over an- 'Nann and happy with as much
other jag-whiffer machine, which pleasure as any Martian is ever sup-
to us didn't mean a thing. And \Ne posed to know. But we never re-
didn't talk, because we'd heard al- vealed the play to our Earthit con-
ready how some Earthits feared the tacts, just slipped in at night in our
saucers, and how some Earthits said noiseless saucers with all lights
they didn't exist at all, and how dimmed, cleared our cargo tubes
some other Earthits were on the of the tons of pay-picture we'd
fence, saying maybe they did maybe brought (green copy of the Earthits'
they didn't so what? and how there currency) and took on as many of
was wide fear and great unrest the gleaming jag-whiffer machines
among the Earthits in general. And as our cargo tubes \vould hold.
when it's like that, and you're a
possible source of the wide fear and
unrest, a whole planet full of peo- UT IT IS ten years no\v since
ple can easily decide they don't
\vant any part of contributing to
B a jag-whiffer captain has
steered his saucer through the
your pleasure. whirling balls. It got so the satellites
And that's what the jag-whiff would drum on the saucer from a
\vas to us actually, pleasure. Back long way out. Deafening! Dreadful!
home when our troubles had us We saw what was coming and we
down, or maybe we just felt like tried to beat it. We saucered around
raising a little dust, we'd go to a the clock for a while trying to stock-
jag-whiff place. We'd plunk down pile enough jag-whiff to last us. But
our pay-pictures, and the whiff- of course we couldn't. We are about
tender would wheel out one of those out of it now, and our lanel is
black rings, which they have to keep strewn with the glittery shells that
under special pressures in our cli- were once attached to the black
nlatc. Then he'd screw on the tube tubes of the jag-whiff.
with the face piece and we'd take And it could all have been done
our \vhiff and something out of the so different. I'm sure it could. Th~t
black ring-just seemed like real stuff \vasn't just in the tubes of the
thick chest filler to me-would jag-whiffer lTI.achines down there,
spread all through to the farthest I'm convinced of that. That stuff
96
may have been all around us down ment to catch and explode the
there. I believe it was. But our whirlyballs, I think we're going to
government would insist we get find out plenty. Among other
into these suits, about so far out, things, I think we're going to find
you see, about the time we'd start out that the stuff we cargoed up
contacting the rattle balls. And they here at such great cost, that was so
threatened us with removal of the inefficiently packaged, is all around
contacts if we broke the rules about us down there. I think when we
the suits. In addition to that, they take over down there, with the right
said we'd die anyway. So you see filtering equipment, jag-whiffing
how life can be-grim and fuzzy may become as common and eco-
and unsafe most of the time. And nomical as breathing. And another
to make things even more uncer- thing, I think we're going to find
tain, just because they couldn't out we were taken for quite a ride
duplicate the product we were haul- by the Earthits with their silly way
ing, our scientists got uppity and of packaging jag-whiff. Imagine
ignored the whole problem. Except having to buy all that chrome and
to run off to the jag-whiff places steel, guaranteed to go over one
of course to ease their frustrations, hundred miles per hour, just to get
which they did plenty often when four little black rings of whiff. And
they thought they wouldn't be seen. for all the Earthits talked about it,
But when we invade down the rings with the white sidewalls
through there, which we plan to do didn't whiff one bit better than the
soon now, with our special equip- others! END
~.-

THE LAST DAYS OF L.A. smashes against your head. You see
(Continued from page 74) a woman's nylon-clad leg as she
a man in working clothes hits you raises her spiked heel and brings it
with a lunch bucket. You let go of ripping down a'cross your cheek.
the woman and hit back at him. Other feet crash into you.
"Help! Help!" the woman is still "Let me help you," you're still
yelping. yelling, but they keep on kicking.
"Call the cops-a man's trying Some of the shoes have blood on
to rape a girl!"
them, you notice through the haze,
Someone hits you with an um-
but they still keep on kicking.
brella, and you know it's the same
dear little old lady. A guy grabs you Then iCs getting dark and you
by the neck and tries to throw you lie there and think how Henny
to the ground but you kick him in Penny-or was it Chicken Little?-
the groin and trade punches \vith must have felt. You want to tell
two others. Then they're all over someone about it but you don't.
you. The old lady trips you and You just lie there and \vait for the
you go down. She starts beating you screaming sirens to come and take
with the wnbrella as a man's foot you away. END
97
/

tanta knew the red star was

the home of his people after

death ... And for months now 'I,

it had been growing briahter.

y BER ARC WALL


9
VERYONE should have its footprints in the snow. Indeed,
E known. They should have
known as surely as though it were
Atanta was sure, the leopard his
people wanted would be much too
written in the curved palm of the large to fit into the cave. Well, per-
wind. They should have known haps there would be a bird.
when they looked up at the empty He held himself very tall and
sky; they should have known when straight so that his dejection might
they looked down at the hungry not show to either his people or his
children. Yet somehow they did not gods. But after forty days of the
know that their last migratory hunt trackless hunt, .Atanta felt with cer-
was almost over. tainty that the gods were deaf or
The straggling band had woven dead ... or at least very far away.
its slow trail among the mountains The sun was hot and the gods
for forty days of vanishing hopes were gone, and he would not keep
and shrinking stomachs. Ahead of his people waiting with false hopes.
the main party, the scouts had He closed his eyes and took up the
crawled until their knees and palms crude bone cross that hung from
were raw; but still there was no his waist, and he cursed the gods
track of game, and the only scent with silent venom. And when his
was that of the pungent air that chastisement of the delinquent g~
rose from the ragged peaks of ice. was done, he dropped the cross to
At last they halted, only a few dangle at his waist again.
footsteps from The Cave of the Two hunters moved stealthily
Fallen Sun, the farthest western forward, their spears disappearing
reach 'of their frozen domain. In the before them into the cave. It was
rear of the column the women somehow pathetic, Atanta felt, the
threatened the children into silence way they moved so courageously
and the scouts went first to the into the empty darkness.
mouth of the cave to look for signs. How many caves had there been,
of an animal having entered. Pres- Atanta wondered, since they left
endy the scouts stood up with their the mouth of the river? Fully a
massive shoulders drooping, turned dozen, always empty, except for the
to the rest and made a hopeless ges- scattered bones of bears and men.
ture. Perhaps he should have kept his
Atanta, who stood alone and mo- people at the river. No, he told
tionless between the scouts and the himself. He had done the only thing
rest of his band, knew that all were he could do. The season had been
waiting for him to use his magic to bad and their meager catch of fish
make a great leopard appear in the carefully stored. But the already
empty cave. "A very great leopard," heavy ice thickened with the ap-
he thought sarcastically. Enough to proach of winter and made fishing
feed them all for a hundred days. A almost impossible. When their sup-
leopard so huge it would whine piti- plies were almost gone, he had done
fully while they killed it. A leopard as so many had done before him.
so gigantic that it would not leave . He had led his people on the futile
99
hunt, hoping for the miracle of a I he could rest.
dozen sleeping bears or a great "Listen to Ine," he said, and his
white leopard. Such miracles had voice rang through the ice-sheeted
happened in the past. Once he had cave. The tired eyes of the men
gone with his father on such a win- and women opened and everyone
ter hunt. sat up.
But miracles without footprints How should he tell them? They
were quite another matter. That were waiting no\v. Should he simply
was the way his people lived: just say it swiftly and have done with it?
existing when the catch was good, Tell them that they had followed
stalVing when it was not. an impotent god until now they
Presently the two hunters stepped \vere to die? Surely he should pre-
out of the darkness with the blunt pare thenl sonleho\v. Prepare them
ends of their spears dragging be- for the hnportance of \vhat he \vas
hind them, and their countenances to say.
told the others that the cave was in-- -~Listen, for I tell you of the end
deed empty. of the empty caves."
Children bef.{an to cry. \Vomcn He stood silent for a nlonlent
picked up their packs and slung \vat.ching hope filter into their faces,
them across their shoulders. rrhc hope that Inade their dull eyes shine
men mumbled inaudible words that in the semi-darkness.
turned into whisps of smoke in the "Do not let joy curl your lips
icy air. At Atanta's sig;nal, everyone until you have listened, for it "'ould
entered the ice-floored cave, thank-- be a false joy."
ful at least to be out of the blinding- The lines of tiredness and worry
brightness of the sun and snow, and returned to the faces about him.
into the soothing dark where they Atanta did not look down at his
could rest. woman's face, for she knew him
Atanta stood while his people very ,veil and she would kno\v what
stretched their furry bodies out over he had to do.
the frozen ground. lIe looked down
at his woman who lay before him.
watching him with her black eyes
large and warm. It made his
"W E ARE told of a time
long- ago, ,vhen the cave of
stomach ~lutch itself into an angry man was filled with food as the
knot, to see her young face so drawn night is filled with stars, and the
\vith exhaustion and hunger. There caves and the Inen covered t he' five
\vere lines in her face he had never corners of the world. But these were
seen lJefore; the fur of her head and not the caves that we know now.
body had lost its sheen and was now They were Inagic caves, and these
bri ttle and dry. She patted the ice were magic men. The men of that
and motioned him to lie down be- long-ago world created the very
side her; but he turned his eyes mountains into which they dug their
away from her, because he knew caves. rrhe mountains they created
that he must tell the others before raised their peaks through the high-
100 BERNARD WALL
est clouds, and every mountain held "' ~Yes, father,' the son ans\\lercd,
countless caves . . . caves stuffed 'if you can.'
with bear and fish and captive win- "'No,' the old man told him. 'I
ter winds. These were magic times am so near to death there is no
when every man was a priest. Every time. A woman will have to do.'
man could make fire blossom from "And so the old man drew from
nowhere and every man could fly his chest another rib which he
through the air like a bird. fashioned into a woman. This being
"All this was long ago when the done, he turned to his son and said:
world \vas young, and the world was 'My son, the time has come for me
hot, and our people could live in to die. Do not mourn for mc, for
the heat. But Nuomo the God of when each evening comes you will
Night becanlC jealous of these sec my home--thc red star wlIich
magic lHen, for he had seen them travels quickly in the night. For
fly into the night itself in search many ten tens of years, I have been
of the stars. And so Nuomo preparing it to become a suitable
\vrapped his black wings around the place to be born again. When your
world and shook it for ten tens of time comcs, you too will be wel-
days. The world cracked and burst come there.'
\vith flame that sprouted up into "Thus saying, the old man placed
the darkened sky. The people ran his hands upon the shoulders of his
in terror and their mountain-caves son. Then he wrapped his cloak
were sucked down into the earth or about him and rose up into the
burned i.nto ash by the flame. At the heavens to the star of rebirth.
end of the ten tens of days, NUOlno "Only when, the old man had
thought that all were dead and so gone to the star of rebirth, did the
he rolled a sheet of ice across the son turn to his woman. Only then
earth to cool it. did he see that she had not been
"Only one man was able to es- made in his image, for she was
cape the wrath of that ancient hairless and delicate and not made
god. H~ \vas an old man with only to live upon the ice. She was a
little lnagic and he felt hinlself on Hotland woman. But the son, whose
the edge of death. He took from his name was Dectar, took his woman
body a rib which he fashioned into whose name was Sontia, shielded
a son. But he made the son in such her from the icy winds and com-
a way that he could live upon the forted her as best he could. Some of
ice itself, as we do now. their children had hair and loved
"The son knew that the old nlan the cold; some were weak and hair-
was about to die, and so he said: less and did not. In those days the
'Father, use your Inagic to make hunting was good and the strong
a woman to keep me from being sheltered the weak, fed them, car-
lonely.' ried them on the long hunts. But
" 'Woman!' the old man cried. 'I Sontia was a jealous woman.
should think you would wan t me to Jealous of her strong husband and
teach you the use of magic.' their offspring of his kind. She
STAR' OF REBIRTH 101
prayed to Ram, God of the Sun, lying somewhere on the white float-
and begged him to melt the ice. ing ice of heaven, wallowing in
And so the ice began to melt, leav- idleness while my people starve."
ing the Hotlands a paradise for He dropped the cross to the
\\'eak selfish creatures. Sontia de- smooth ice floor, knelt and smashed
serted Dectar, taking with her those the cross into pieces with one swift
of their children who were hairless blow of his hammerstone.
and weak like herself. When he looked up the people
"When the ice began to melt, we were silent and unmoving. Perhaps
sons of Dectar were forced to hunt he had been a fool. Perhaps he had
farther northward year by year. The told them nothing they didn't know.
game became not so plentiful as it Perhaps they had already given up
had been. Our people learned to and knew that they viould die here
fish and hunt as we do now-to fish in the cave and that he could pro-
in the summer, to hunt when the duce no magic to help them.
ice becomes thick. "Will you take another god?" one
"But the jealous sons of Sontia of the scouts asked.
,vho swarm in the Hotlands were "I see no other god to take."
not content to see us perish year by "Then do you think we can be
year. Even to this day, if we should delivered without a god?"
wander down to the edge of their Wasn't it evident? Surely they
domain to beg for a few scraps of must know. Should he tell them
food, they would answer our plea there was no deliverance, with or
\vith death. And even in death they without a god?
\vould allow us no dignity, but "I don't know," he lied. "I don't
\vould strip us of our hides and know."
\vear them in mockery. Ark's woman drew a strip of
"1 tell you of this now, because leather from the mouth of a sleep-
\vhen a man comes on a long hunt ing child and put it in her own
\vhich ends in an empty cave, it is mouth. "Then you'll have to deliver
well to remember and be proud of us yourself," she said and lay down
the successful hunts of other years." to go to sleep.
Atanta took the white bone cross A sudden rage burned in Atanta's
carefully from about his waist. brain. The muscles in his square
"It was I who first saw this god jaw trembled as he glared at the
go across the sky." He held up the sprawling furry figures, who would
cross for all to see. "It went slowly lie there and die while they waited
like a bird from horizon to horizon like children for him to provide for
and I knew that it was not a bird the future.
for it did not flap its wings, but kept Abruptly he turned and left the
them still and outstretched. I be- cave, and walked out under the
lieved it to be the god who would yellow sun that made the ice-cov-
fill our hunting trails with game, ered mountains shimmer. He felt
but now I know that this god is im- that he must get away from them.
potent. At worst it is a foolish god, He did not want to die with fools.
102 BERNARD WALL
T HE SUN blazed hot upon the
hair of his head and back as he
traveled rapidly downward and
see him and perhaps he would not
die in the sun. Perhaps he would
find some game by the edge of the
away from his people in the cave. Hotlands. Perhaps ...
He traveled too quickly to think of The sun had tucked itself behind
anything else bu t where his next a white western peak when Atanta
footstep should be, and within an at last came to the end of the ice
hour he was at the edge of a great field. Tired now, he crouched for a
ice field that stretched itself out be- moment like a bird with his bottom
fore him like the footprint of a sitting squarely upon his heels. Pres-
giant. There could be no more swift ently his tiredness became true 'ex-
traveling nO\\7. Cautiously, he haustion, so he dug hiUlself a little
started out over the Clnpty plain, space in a shadowed snow bank
prodding the ice befQre him with and then covered himself with a
his spear. nlound of snow.
I t was not that they were chil- While Atanta slept,. a great lost
dren. He knew that he had been bird came on the last feeble rays of
wrong to judge them so. There was light, flapping its black wings be-
nothing they could do. They had cause there was no wind to glide
walked their lives away on the long upon and there was no footing but
hunt that cnded now without a sign the frozen ground. When above
or scent of prey. Atanta, the bird caught a slight
And he, Atanta, had led them. scent in the air, held its wings stiff
They were strong and loyal people, and tilted itself to glide in slow cir.
too, for if he ordered them up and cles that became smaller and small-
back along the trail tliat they had er and ever lower until at last the
COlne, each man would go without bird's tired feet sank deep into the
a word and hope that there was snow beside the mound where
some magic Atanta had yet to use. Atanta lay. The bird folded its
But the animals were gone and wings about itself and pecked at the
the gods were gone, and there was mound, its beak digging cautious
but one thing left. He would go holes in the snow. Atanta stirred
down below this range where the slightly at this intrusion, and the
Hotlanders were known to be. bird drew its beak away and flapped
Probably he would simply die in the its wings against the windless air
sun. If not, the Hotlanders would and flew away.
kill him on the spot, as they were When Atanta woke, the night
usually so quick to do. The Hot- wind had curled itself with a scream
landers had good magic. Not as about the mountains and brought
good as his ancestors', Atanta was with it a fresh snow. He dug him-
sure. But still, they could kill a man self from his bed and smiled with
from a great distance, simply by his eyes closed at the night that sent
pointing a magic charm and mak- the wind and snow to caress his
ing a certain noise. hair. When he opened his eyes, his
Perhaps the Hotlanders wouldn't face was tilted upward to the sky,
STAR OF REBIRTH 103
and he smiled at the lonely stars. let his people starve? He raised his
The moon was full and heavy eyes, and saw the very head of the
tonight, and it hung low in the god peering up above the next rise.
western sky. Atanta wished his He stood up with a semblance of
woman could be here beside him, dignity on his unsteady legs. When
nestling close to him in the soft the god did not move from behind
snow, her delicate hands caressing the rise for many minutes, Atanta's
the hair on his cheek. He thought of courage overbalanced his fear and
her hands rubbed ra\v from the he kicked the snow with his foot
straps of the heavy pack. Perhaps and obliterated the sign of the cross.
it was better that he had left with- He waited for the god to strike him
out saying goodbye. dead, but nothing happened. The
He felt rested enough to go on, head of the god was motionless.
and was about to hoist himself to Atanta set out with cautious
his feet when the red star caught steps. Presently he hid behind a
his attention. For Dl0nths now it little ice dune where he could see
had. been growing brighter with the god in its aweSOlne en tirety~
every night that passed, as if herald- Now he was close enough to hurl
ing some important event. This was his spear at it if the "god suddenly
the red star of rebirth, and he struck in anger; and he gripped the
wished he could believe that he and spear in readiness. Suddenly he was
his people would someday go to live filled with a new awe, for he real-
there; but he no longer believed in ized that this was not the god of the
anything. cross! There were no stiff wings at
It was then that Atanta saw the its side. It was like a huge shining
god. It was a great and fearful god spear with its dull end stuck in the
that turned the black night yellow snow and its point stretching up to
and scrcalned louder than the wind. the sky. But how could this be a
In an instant it fell out of the sky; god?
then the yellow light was gone and Perhaps he should not yet pray.
the voice of the god was gone, and Time had shown there were many
the dark night returned and the false gods.
voice of the wind returned. Presently a black mouth ap-
Atanta fell to his knees and his peared magically in the side of the
trembling hand etched out the sign great still thing. The mouth sucked
of the cross in the snow. Surely this in the icy air for a moment and
must be a sign. The god had COille then extended a long jagged tongue
aut of the sky and fallen in the path do\vn to the fresh snow.
before him-forbidding him to go Atanta saw something move in
into the lowlands. He knew he must the blackness of the gaping mouth
pray and ask forgiveness but for and then a figure stepped out onto
lllany lTIOments he was too fright- the tongue and looked about at the
ened to pray, and when the fear falling snow and the white jagged
subsided, he was too proud. Why mountains in the darkness. It was
should he pray to a god who would the figlUe of a man. At least it was
104 BERNARD WALL
in a man's shape, but it did not look in the moonlight. He spoke, but
like a man of the mountains nor the man did not understand. Then
did it look like the man-creatures he pointed up to the sky, then to
of the Hotlands. It walked slowly the man, and tilted his head ques-
and laboriously down the tongue, tioningly.
and it seemed to be made of the The man smiled and nodded his
saIne shiny stun' as the tongue and head. He pointed to the sky, but
the flying wingless god itself. For not straight up. He pointed to a
a moment, Atanta wondered \vhich spot low in the west.
,vas the god. The great huge thing He pointed to the star of rebirth.
with the nlouth and the tongue, or While Atanta watched in unbe-
the man-thing? lieving awe, the man touched his
1'he stranger stepped off the o\vn chest, then stooped to lay his
tongue into the snow where he palms on the snow at his feet. rfhen
knelt and scooped up the snow in l:te pointed once more to the red
his arms, tossed it into the wind star and made a rapid upward ges-
which hurled it to the ground again. ture. Then he laid his closed hands
Then he stood and clutched his beside his head and pretended to be
head. For a moment Atanta asleep. His fingers opened and
thought he had taken his own head closed, again and again. "~1any
off, but then he could tell that sleeps," said Atanta, understanding.
he had taken a covering off his head "Tens of ten sleeps."
\vhich he tossed into the snow. Smiling, the man straightened
Then it seemed that the man had and made a rapid down\",ard ges-
been entirely covered, like the men ture, ending with his palms again
of the Hotlands \vho wore furs. on the snow. Then he stepped for-
Presently the lnan had taken off ward, placing one hand on his chesL
all his covering, and stretched his the other on Atanta's.
furry arms up to feel the sweetness The two furry men stood as tall
of the wind. Atanta leaped up, and straight as their dignity could
shouting his surprise. For tIus was make them, and their faces were
a true man. bright with joy. Then Atanta took
For a moment the man was the halnlnerstone out of the binding
startled and then his face filled with about his \vaist, and tossed it into
joy. Showing his empty palms, he the snow.
began to walk slo\vly toward The nlan nodded. Stepping- back,
Atanta. he lifted his hand in an arc across
Atanta moved to meet him, the the sky, and offered Atanta the
dark fur of his shoulders glistening stars. END


Human history is in essence a history of ideas.
-H. G. Wells

STAR OF REBIRTH 105


,
( We may even spy into the brain of the chief rascal

himself. . . . Wouldn't. it be wonderful if our machine

'could stun him and leave him addled at his desk?"

By CORDWAI ER SM IT
106
hat ,Gold.n hap on th aolden truction, mankind had leaped
~ teps shook and flutt l' d lik a bird amon a the stars.
oon mad-lik a bird imbued with Out of the shock 0/ meeting in-
an int II ct and a oul, and, ne er- human art of on/ronting non-
tIL I . driven mad b c a i sand human dan mankind had made
t r or. b yond human under tand- a sup rb e th tic effort and had
in . A thou 'and orlds atched. leaped upon the stage of all th
Had tli anci nt calendar con- orlds.
tinu d, thi ould hav been A. D. The golden steps reeled. Some
13,582. After defeat, after disap- eyes that watched had retinas. Some
pointment~ after. ruin and recon- had crystalline cones. Yet all eyes
107
were fixed upon the golden shape are good to me. I am an academi-
which interpreted HThe Glory and cian of the All Union Academy of
Affirmation of Man" in the 1nter- Sciences, a major general in the
fV orid Dance Festival of what Red Air Force, a professor in the
might have been A. D. 13,582. University of Kharkov, a deputy
Once again mankind was lvin- works manager of the Red Flag
ning the contest. Music and dance Combat Aircraft Production Trust.
were hypnotic be)'ond the limits of From each of these I dra\v a
systems, compelling, shocking to hu- salary."
man and inhuman eyes. The dance Sometimes he would narrow his
was a triumph of shock-the shock eyes at his Russian scientific col-
of dynamic beauty. leagues and ask them in dead
The golden shape on the golden earnest, "Would I serve capital-
steps executed shimmering intrica- ists?"
cies of meaning. The body was gold The affrighted colleagues would
and still human. The body was a try to stammer their \vay out of the
woman, but more than a woman. embarrassment, protesting their
On the golden steps, in the golden common loyalty to Stalin or Beria,
light, she trembled and fluttered or Zhukov, or Molotov, or Bul-
like a bird gone mad. ganin, as the case may have been.
Rogov would look very Russian:
calm, mocking, amused. He would
HE MINISTRY of State Se- let them stammer.
T curity had been positively
shocked when they found that a
Then he'd laugh.
Solemnity transformed into hilar-
Nazi agent, more heroic than pru- ity, he would, explode into bubbling,
dent, had almost reached N. Rogov. effervescent, good-humored laugh-
Rogov was worth more to the ter: "Of course I could not seIve
Soviet armed forces than any two the capitalists. My little Anastasia
air armies, more than three motor- would not let me."
ized divisions. His brain was a The colleagues would smile un-
weapon, a weapon for the Soviet comfortably and would wish that
power. Rogov did not talk so wildly, or so
Since the brain was a weapon, comically, or so freely.
Rogov was a prisoner. Rogov was afraid of nothing.
He didn't mind. Most of his colleagues were afraid
Rogov was a pure Russian type, of each other, of the Soviet system,
broad-faced, sandy-haired, blue- of the world, of life, and of death.
eyed, with whimsy in his smile and Perhaps Rogov had once been
amusement in the wrinkles at the ordinary and mortal like other peo-
tops of his cheeks. ple, and full of fears.
"Of course I'm a prisoner," But he had become the lover, the
Rogov used to say. "I am a prison- colleague, the husband of Anastasia
er of State service to the Soviet peo- Fyodorovna Cherpas.
ples. But the workers and peasants Comrade Cherpas had been his
108 CORDWAINER SMITH
rival, his antagonist, his competitor, and Cherpas, there is a team.
in the struggle for scientific emi- They're Communists, good Com-
nence in the frontiers of Russian munists; but they're better than
science. Russian science could never that! They're Russian, Russian
overtake the inhuman pClfection of enough to beat the world. Look at
Gennan method, the rigid intellec- them. That's the future, our Rus-
tual and moral discipli.ne of Ger- sian future!" Perhaps the quotation
man teamwork, but the Russians was an exaggeration, but it did
could and did get ahead of the Ger- show the enormous respect in which
mans by giving vent to their bold, both Rogov and Cherpas were held
fantastic ima~inations. Rogov had by their colleagues in Soviet science.
pioneered the first rocket launchers Shortly. after their marriage
of 1939. Cherpas had finished the strange things happened to them.
job by making the best of the Rogov remained happy. Cherpas
rockets radio-directed. was radiant.
Rogov in 1942 had developed a Nevertheless, the two of them
whole new system of photo-map- began to have haunted expressions,
ping. Comrade Cherpas had ap- as though they had seen things
plied it to color film. Rogov, sandy- which words could not express, as
haired, blue-eyed, and smiling, had though they had stumbled upon
recorded his criticisms of Comrade secrets too important to be whis-
Cherpas' naivete and theoretical pered even to the most secure
unsoundness at the top-secret meet- agents of the Soviet State Police.
ings of Russian scientists during the In 1947 Rogov had an intervie'v
black winter nights of 1943. Com- with Stalin. As he left Stalin's office
rade Cherpas, her butter-yellow in the Kremlin, the great leader
hair flowing down like living water himself came to the door, his fore-
to her shoulders, her unpainted face head wrinkled in thought, nodding,
gleaming with fanaticism, intelli- "Da, da, da."
gence, and dedication, would snarl Even his own personal staff did
her own defiance at him, deriding not know why Stalin was saying
his Conlffiunist theory, pinching at "Yes, yes, yes," but they did see the
his pride, hitting his hypotheses orders that went forth marked
where they were weakest. ONLY BY SAFE HAND, and TO
By 1944 a Rogov-Cherpas quar- BE READ AND RETURNED.
rel had become something ,vorth NOT RETAINED, and further~
traveling to see. more stamped FOR AUTHOR-
In 1945 they were married. IZED EYES ONLY AND UN-
Their courtship was secret, their DER NO CIRCUMSTANCES
wedding a surprise, their partner- TO BE COPIED.
ship a miracle in the upper ranks of Into the true and secret Soviet
Russian science. budget that year by the direct per-
The emigre press had reported sonal orders of a noncommittal
that the great scientist, Peter Stalin, an item was added for
Kapitza, once relnarked, "Rogov "Project Telescope." Stalin toler-
-NO, NO, NOT ROGQV! lCW
ated no inquiry, brooked no com- big, big, big. There'll be no cold
ment. war if they do it. There won't be
A village which had had a name any war of any kind. We'll finish
became nameless. capitalism before the capitalists can
A forest which had been opened ever begin to fight. If they do it. If
to the workers and peasants became they do it." Khrushchev was re-
military territory. ported to have shaken his head
Into the central post office in slowly in perplexity and to have
Kharkov there went a new box said nothing more but to have put
number for the village of Ya. Ch. his initials on the unmodified
Rogov and Cherpas, comrades budget of Project Telescope when a
and lovers, scientists both and Rus- trusted messenger next brought him
sians both, disappeared from the an envelope from Rogov.
everyday lives of their colleagues. Anastasia Cherpas became a
Their faces were no longer seen at mother. Their first boy looked like
scientific meetings. Only rarely did the father. He was followed by a
they emerge. little girl. Then another little boy.
On the few occasions they were The children didn't stop Cherpas'
seen, usually going to and from work. The family had a large dacha
Moscow at the time the All Union and trained nursemaids took over
budget was made up each year, the household.
they seemed smiling and happy. But Every night the four of them
they did not make jokes. dined together.
What the outside world did not Rogov, Russian, humorous, cou-
know was that Stalin in giving them rageous, amused.
their own project, granting them Cherpas, older, more mature,
a paradise restricted to themselves, more beautiful than ever, but just
had seen to it that a snake went as biting, just as cheerful, just as
with them in the paradise. The sharp as she had ever been.
snake this time was not one, but But then the other two, two who
two personalities-Gausgofer and sat with them across the years of
Gauck. all their days, the two colleagues
who had been visited upon them by
the all-powerful word of Stalin
TALIN DIED. himself.
SThe
Beria died too-less willingly.
world went on.
Gausgofer was a female: blood-
less, narrow-faced, with a voice like
Everything went into the forgot- a horse's whinny. She was a scientist
ten village of Ya. Ch. and nothing and a police woman, and com-
came out. petent at both jobs. In 1920 she had
It was rumored that Khrushchev reported her own mother's where-
himself visited Rogov and Cherpas. abouts to the Bolshevik Terror
It was even whispered that Khrush- Committee. In 1924 she had com-
chev said as he went to the Kharkov manded her father's execution. He
airport to fly back to Moscow, "It's was a Russian German of the old
110 CORDWAINER SMITH
Baltic nobility and he had tried to Gauck was solid, impassive,
adjust his mind to the nevv system, blank-faced. In body he was about
but he had failed. In 1930 she had the same height as Rogov. Where
let her lover trust her a little too Rogov \vas muscular, Gauck was
much. He was a Rumanian Com- flabby. Where }{ogov's skin was fair
munist, very high in the Party, but and shot through with the pink
he had a sneaking sympathy for and health of exercise, Gauck's skin
Trotsky. When he whispered into was like stale lard, greasy, gray-
her ear in the privacy of their bed- green, sickly even on the best of
room, whispered with the tears days.
pouring down his face, she had lis- Gauck's eyes were black and
tcned affectionately and q~ietly and small. His glance was as cold and
had delivered his \\lords to the sharp as death. Gauck had no
police the next morning. friends, no enemies, no beliefs, no
With that she came to Stalin's enthusiasms.
attention. Gauck never drank, never went
Stalin had been tough. He ad- out, never received mail, never sent
dressed her brutally, "Comrade, you mail, nevcr spoke a spontaneous
have some brains. I can see you word. He was never rude, never
know what Communism is all kind, never friendly, never really
about. You understand loyalty. withdrawn: He couldn't withdraw
You're going to get ahead and serve any more than the constant with-
the Party and the working class, but drawal of all his life.
is that all you want?" He had spat Rogov had turned to his wife in
the question at her. the secrecy of their bedro8m soon
She was so astonished that she after Gausgofer and Gauck came
gaped. and had said, "Anastasia, is that
The old man had changed his ex- man sane?"
pression, favoring her with leering Cherpas intertwined the fingers
benevolence. He had put his fore- of her beautiful, expressive hands.
finger on her chest, "Study science, She who had been the wit of a
Comrade. Study science. Commun- thousand scientific meetings \vas
ism plus science equals victory. now at a loss for words. She looked
You're too clever to stay in police up at her husband with a troubled
work." expression. "I don't know, com-
Gausgofer fell in love with Rogov rade . . . I just don't know."
the moment she saw him. Rogov smiled his amused Slavic
Gausgofer fell in hate-and hate smile. "At the least then I don't
can be as spontaneous and miracu- think Gausgofer knows either."
lous as love-with Cherpas the mo- Cherpas snorted with laughter
ment she saw her. and picked up her hairbrush.
But Stalin had guessed that too. "That she doesn't. She really
With the bloodless, fanatic Gaus- doesn't know, does she? I'll wager
gofer he had sent a man nanled B. she doesn't even know to \vhom he
Gauck. reports."
-NO, NO, NOT ROGOV! 111
That conversation had reached The first product Stalin had
into the past. Gauck, Gausgofer, asked for was a receiver, if possible,
bloodless eyes and the black eyes- one capable of tuning in the
they remained. thoughts of a human mind and of
Every dinner the four sat down translating those thoughts either
together. into a punch tape machine, an
Every morning the four met in adapted German Hellschreiber ma-
the laboratory. chine, or phonetic speech. If the
Rogov's great courage, high grids could be turned around, the
sanity, and keen humor kept the brain-equivalent machine as a
work going. transmitter might be able to send
Cherpas' flashing genius fueled out. stunning forces which would
him whenever the routine over- paralyze or kill the process of
loaded his magnificent intellect. thought.
Gausgofer spied and watched At its best, Rogov's machine was
and smiled her bloodless smiles; designed to confuse human thought
sometimes, curiously enough, Gaus- over great distances, to select hu-
gofer made genuinely constructive man targets to be confused, and to
suggestions. She never understood maintain an electronic jamming
the whole frame of reference of system which would jam straight
their work, but she knew enough into the human mind without the
of the mechanical and engineering requirement of tubes or receivers.
details to be very useful on occa- He had succeeded-in part. He
sion. had given himself a violent head-
Gauck came in, sat down quietly, ache in the first year of work.
said nothing, did nothing. He did In the third year he had killed
not even smoke. He never fidgeted. mice at a distance of ten kilometers.
He never went to sleep. He just In the seventh year he had brought
watched. on mass hallucinations and a wave
The laboratory grew and with it of suicides in a neighboring village.
there grew the immense co~figura It was this which impressed Khrush-
tion of the espionage machine. chev.
Rogov was now working on the
receiver end. No one had ever ex-

IwasNproposed
THEORY what Rogov had
and Cherpas seconded
imaginable. It consisted of an
plored the infinitely narrow, in-
finitely subtle bands of radiation
which distinguished one human
attempt to work out an integrated mind from another, but Rogov was
theory for all the electrical and trying, as it \vere, to tune in on
radiation phenomena accompany- minds far away.
ing consciousness, and to duplicate He had tried to develop a tele-
the electrical functions of mind pathic helmet of some kind, but it
without the use of animal material. did not work. He had then turned
The range of potential products away from the reception of pure
was immense. thought to the reception of visual
112 CORD\Vi\INER S,\~IIH
and auditory images. Where the One November there had been
nerve-ends reached the brain itself, seventy cases of hysteria, most of
he had managed over the years .to them ending in suicide,' down in
distinguish whole packets of micro- the city of Kharkov several hun-
phenomena, and on sOlne of these dred kilometers away, but Rogov
he had managed to get a fix. was not sure that his own machine
With infinitely delicate tuning he was doing it.
had succeeded one day in picking Comrade Gausgofer dared to
up the eyesight of their second stroke his sleeve. Her white lips
chauffeur, and had managed, slniled and her watery eyes grew
thanks to a needle thrust in just happy as she said in her high, cruel
below his own right cyelid, to "see" voice, .;you can do it, comrade.
through the other man"s eyes as the You can do it."
other man, all unaware, washed Cherpas looked on with con-
their Zis limousine sixteen hundred tempt. Gauck said nothing.
meters away. The female agent Gausgofer saw
. Cherpas had surpassed his feat Cherpas' eyes upon her, and for a
later that winter, and had rnanaged moment an arc of living hatred
to bring in an entire fanlily having leaped between the two women.
dinner over in a nearby city. She The three of them went back
had invited B. Gauck to have a to work on the machine.
needle inserted into his cheekbone Gauck sat on his stool and
so that he could see ,vith the eyes watched them.
of an unsuspecting spied-on stran-
ger. Gauck had refused any kind
of needles, but Gausgofer had T WAS the year in which Eris-
joined in the experirnent and had
expressed her satisfaction ,,\lith the
Iluadc
tratov died that the machi~
a breakthrough. Eristratov
work. died after the Soviet and People's
The espionage machine ,vas be- democracies had tried to end the
ginning to take fornl. cold war with the Americans.
T"vo lllore steps rClnained. The It was May. Outside the labora-
first step consisted of tuning in on tory the squirrels ran among the
some relnote target, such as the trees. The leftovers from the night's
White House in Washington or the rain dripped on the ground and
NATO Headquarters outside Paris. kept the earth moist. It was com-
The second problem consi'ited of fortable to leave a few windows
finding a method of jamrning those open and to let the smell of the
minds at a distance, stunning thenl forest into the workshop.
so that the subject personnel fell The smell of their oil-burning
into tears, confusion, or insanity. heaters, the stale smell of insula-
Rogov had tried, but he had tion, of ozone, and of the heated
never gotten more than thirty kilo- electronic gear was something with
meters from the nameless village of which all of them were much too
Va. Ch. familiar.
NO, NO, NOT ROGOV! 113
Rogov had found that his'eye- got in my way. We're all good seN-
sight was beginning to suffer be- ants of the Soviet State. It's not a
cause he had to get the receiver question of loyalty. It's a question
needle somewhere near his optic of enthusiasm. Don't you ever want
nerve in order to obtain visual im- to glimpse the science we're mak-
pressions from the machine. After ing? We are a hundred years or a
months of experimentation with thousand years ahead of the capi-
both animal and human subjects he talist Americans. Doesn't that ex-
had decided to copy one of their cite you? Aren't you a human be-
last experiments, successfully per- ing? Why don't. you take part?
formed on a prisoner boy fifteen How will you understand me when
years of age, by having the needle I explain it?"
slipped directly through the skull, Gauck said nothing; he looked
up and behind the eye. Rogov had at Rogov with his beady eyes. His
disliked using prisoners, because dirty-gray face did not change ex-
Gauck, speaking on behalf of se- pression. Cherpas said, "Go ahead,
curity, always insisted that a pris- Nikolai. The comrade can follow
oner used in experiments be de- if he wants to."
stroyed in not less than five days Gausgofer looked enviously at
from the beginning of the experi- Cherpas. She seemed inclined to
ment. Rogov had satisfied himself keep quiet, but then had to speak.
that the skull-and-needle technique She said, ~'Do go ahead, cOlnrade
was safe, but he was very tired of professor."
trying to get frightened, unscien- Said Rogov, "Kharosho, I'll do
tific people to carry the load of in- what I can. The machine is now
tense, scientific attentiveness re- ready to receive minds over im-
quired by the machine. mense distances." He wrinkled his
Somewhat ill-humored, he shout- lip in amused scorn. "We may even
ed at Gauck, "Have you ever spy into the brain of the chief ras-
kno\vn what this is all about? cal himself and find out what
You've been here years. Do you Eisenhower is planning to do today
know what we're trying to do? against the Soviet people. Wouldn't
Don't you ever want to take part it be wonderful if our machine
in the experiments yourself? Do could stun him and leave him sit-
you realize how many years of ting addled at his desk?"
mathematics have gone into the Gauck commented, "Don't try it.
making of these grids and the cal- Not without orders." .
culation of these wave patterns? Rogov ignored the interruption
Are you good for anything?" and went on. "First I receive. I
Gauck had said, tonelessly and don't kno\v \vhat I \\rill get, who I
without anger, "Comrade profes- will get, or where they will be. All
sor, I am obeying orders. You are I know is that this machine will
obeying orders too. I've never im- reach out across all the minds of
peded you." men and beasts now living and it
Rogov raved, "1 know you never will bring the eyes and ears of. a
11~ CORDWAINER SMITH
single mind directly into mine. push through the dura mater at ex-
With the new needle going directly actly the right point.
into the brain it will be possible for All this work she did deftly with
me to get a very sharp fixation of kind, very strong fingers. She was
position. The trouble with that boy gentle, but she was firm. She was
last week was that even though we his wife, but she was also his fellow
knew he was seeing something out- scientist and his colleague in the
side this room, he appeared to be Soviet State.
getting sounds in a foreign lan- She stepped back and looked at
guage arrd did not know enough her work. She gave him one of
English or German to realize where their own very special slnilcs., the
or what the machine had taken him secret gay smiles which they usually
to see." exchanged with each other only
Cherpas laughed, "I'm not wor- when they were alone. "You won't
ried. I saw then it was safe. You go want to do this every day. We're
first, my husband. If our comrades going to have to find some way of
don't mind-?" getting into the brain without using
Gauck nodded. this needle. But it won't hurt you."
Gausgofer lifted her bony hand "Does it matter if it does hurt?"
breathlessly to her skinny throat said Rogov. "This is the triumph
and said, "Of course, Comrade of all our work. Bring it down."
Rogov, of course. You did all the Cherpas, her eyes gleaming with
work. You must be the first." attention, reached over and pulled
Rogov sat down. down the handle which brought the
A white-smocked technician tough needle to within a tenth of a
brought the machine over to him. millimeter of the right place.
It was mounted on three rubber- Rogov spoke very carefully: "All
tired wheels and it resembled the I felt was a little sting. You can
small X-ray units used by dentists. turn the power on now."
In place of the cone at the head Gausgofer could not contain her-
of the X-ray machine there was a self. Timidly she addressed Cher..
long, incredibly tough needle. It pas, "May I turn on the power?"
had been Inade for them by the best Cherpas nodded. Gauck watched.
surgical steel craftsmen in Prague. Rogov waited. Gausgofer pulled
Another technician came up with down the bayonet switch.
a shaving bowl, a brush, and a The power went on.
straight razor. Under the gaze of With an impatient twist of her
Gauck's deadly eyes he shaved an hand, Anastasia Cherpas ordered
area of four square centimeters on the laboratory attendants to the
the top of Rogov's head. other end of the room. Two or
Cherpas herself then took over. three of thcln had stopped working
She set her husband's head in the and were staring at Rogov, staring
clamp and used a micrometer to like dull sheep. They looked em..
get the skull-fittings so tight and so barrassed and then' they huddled
accurate that the needle wo1ll1d in a white-smocked herd at the
--NO, NO, NOT ROGOV! 115
other end of the laboratory. Rogov did not know it, but the ma-
The wet May wind blew in on chine had conquered time.
all of them. The scent of forest The machine had reached the
and leaves was about them. dance, the human challenger and
The three watched Rogov. the d~nce festival of the year that
Rogov's complexion began to might have been A.D. 13,582.
change. His face became flushed. Before Rogov's eyes the golden
His breathing was so loud .and shape and the golden steps shook
heavy they could hear it several and fluttered in a ritual a thousand
meters away. Cherpas fell on her times more compelling than hyp-
knees in front of him, eyebrows notism. The rhythms meant noth-
lifted in mute inquiry. ing and everything to him. This
Rogov did not dare nod, not with was Russia, this was Communism.
a needle in his brain. He spoke This was his life-indeed it was his
through flushed Iips, speaking soul acted out before his very eyes.
thickly and heavily, "Do--not- For a second, the last second
stop--now." of his ordinary life, he looked
through flesh and blood eyes and
Rogov himself did not know saw the shabby "voman whom he
what was happening. He had had once thought beautiful. He
thought he might see an American sa,v Anastasia Cherpas, and he did
room, or a Russian room, or. a not care.
tropical colony. He might see palm His vision concentrated once
trees, or forests, or desks. He might again on the dancing image, this
see guns or buildings, washrooms woman, those postures, that dance!
or .beds, hospitals, homes, churches. Then the sound came in-music
He might see with the eyes of a that would have made a Tschaikov-
child, a woman, a man, a soldier, a sky weep, orchestras \vhich would
philosopher, a slave, a worker, a have silenced Shostakovich or
savage, a religious, a Communist, Khachaturian forever.
a reactionary, a governor, a police- The people-who-were-not-people
man. He might hear voices; he between the stars had taught man-
might hear English, or French, or kind many arts. Rogov's mind. was
Russian, Swahili, Hindi, Malay, the best of its time, but his time
Chinese, Ukrainian, Armenian, was far, far behind the time of the
Turkish, Greek. He did not knowlo great dance. With that one vision
None of these things had hap- Rogov went firmly and completely
pened. . mad.
It seemed to him that he had He became blind to the sight. of
left the world, that he had left Cherpas, Gausgofer, and Gauck.
time. The hours and the centuries He forgot the village of Va. Ch.
shrank up like the Ineters, and the He forgot himself. He was like a
machine, unchecked, reached out fish, bred in stale fresh water, which
for the most powerful signal which is thrown for the first time into a
any human mind had transmitted. living stream. He was like all in.;..
116 CORDWAINER SNtITH'
se~t emer~ing from the chrysalis. want to be with that golden shape/
HIS twentIeth-century mind could and rubbish like that. Maybe
not hold the imagery and the im- you've ruined a first-class brain
pact of the music and the dance. forever-" He stopped short as
But the needle was there and though he had said too much.
the needle transmitted into his After all, the problem was a se-
mind more than his mind could curity problem and apparently
stand. both Gauck and Gausgofer repre-
The synapses of his brain flicked sented the security agencies.
like switches. Th~ future flooded Gausgofer turned her watery
into hinL eyes on the doctor and said in a
He fainted. low, even, unbelievably poisonous
Cherpas leaped forward and voice, "Could she have done it~
lifted the needle. Rogov fell out of comrade doctor?'~
the chair. The doctor looked at Cherpas,
answering Gausgofer, "How? You
were there. I wasn't. How could
IgovTtors.WAS Gauck who got the doc-
By nightfall they had Ro-
resting comfortably and under
she have done it? J11 hy should she
do it? You were there.~-
Cherpas said nothing. Her lips
heavy sedation. There were two were compressed tight with grief.
doctors, both from the military Her yellow hair gleamed, but her
headquarters. Gauck had obtained hair was all that remained, at that
authorization for their services by moment, of her beauty. She was
a direct telephone call to Moscow. frightened and she was getting
Both the doctors were annoyed. ready to be sad. She had no time
The senior one never stopped to hate foolish women or to worry
grumbling at Cherpas. about security; she was concerned
"You should not have done it, with her colleague, her lover, her
Comrade Cherpas. Comrade Rogov husband Rogov.
should not have done it either. There was nothing much for
You can't go around sticking things them to do except to \\'ait. They
into brains. That's a medical prob- went into a large room and waited.
lem. None of you people are doc- The servants had laid out im-
tors of medicine. It's all right for mense dishes of cold sliced meat,
you to contrive devices with the pots of caviar, and an assortment
prisoners, but you can't inflict of sliced breads, pure butter, genu-
things like this on Soviet scientific ine coffee, and liquors.
personnel. I'm going to get blamed None of them ate much. At 9: 15
because I can't bring Rogov back. the sound of rotors beat against the
You heard what he was saying. All house. The big helicoptor had ar-
he did was mutter, 'That golden rived from Moscow.
shape on the golden steps, that mu- Higher authorities took over.
sic, that me is a true me, that
golden shape, that golden shape, I The higher authority was a dep-
NO, NO, NOT ROGOV! 117
uty minister, a man named V. Cherpas leaned over him so that
Karper. her face was directly in his line of
Karper was accompanied by t,,o vision. "My darling! My darling,
or three uniformed colonels, by an ,vake up. This is serious."
engineer civilian, by a man from It was evident to all of them that
the headquart~rs of the Communist Rogov did not hear her. .
Party of the Soviet Union, and by For the first time in many years
two doctors. Gauck took the initiative. He spoke
They dispensed with the cour- directly to the man from Moscow.
tesies. Karper merely said, "You "Comrade, may I make a sugges-
are Cherpas. I have met you. You tion?"
are Gausgofer. I have seen your re- Karper looked at him. Gauck
ports. You are Gauck." nodded at Gausgofer. "We were
The delegation ,vent into Ro- both sent here by orders of Conl-
gov's bedroom. Karpel" snapped, rade Stalin. She is senior. She bears
"'Wake hiln." the responsibility. All I do is double
The military doctor who had check."
given him sedatives said, "Com- The deputy minister turned to
rade, you mustn't-" Gausgofer. Gausgofer had been
Karper cut him off. "Shut up." staring at Rogov on the bed; her
He turned to his own physician, blue, watery eyes were tearless and
pointed at Rogov. "\Vake him up." her face was drawn into an expres-
The doctor from Moscow talked sion of extreme tension.
briefly with the senior military doc- Karper ignored that and said to
tor. He too began shaking his head. her firmly; clearly, commandingly,
He gave Karper a disturbed look. "What do you recommend?"
Karper guessed what he might Gausgofer looked at him very di-
hear. He said, "Go ahead. I know rectly and said in a measured voice,
there is some danger to the patient, "I do not think that the case is one
but I've got to get back to Moscow of brain damage. I believe that he
with a report." has obtained a communication
The two doctors worked over which he must share with another
Rogov. One of them gave Rogov human being and that unless one of
an injection. Then all of them us follows him there may be no
stood back from the bed. answer."
Rogov writhed in his bed. He Karper barked: "Very well. But
squirmed. His eyes opened, but ;he what do we do?"
did not see the people. With child- "Let me follow-into the ma-
ishly clear and simple words Rogov chine."
began to talk, ". . . that golden Anastasia Cherpas began to
shape, the golden stairs, the music, laugh slyly and frantically. She
take Inc back to the music, I want seized Karper's ann and pointed
to be with the music, I really am her finger at Gausgofer. Karper
the music . . ." and so on in an stared at her.
endless monotone. Cherpas restrained her laughter
118 CORDWAINER SMITH
and shouted at Karper, "The wom- gofer will find it for both of us."
an's mad. She has loved my hus- The whole group of them went
band for many years. She has hated back into the laboratory. The
my presence, and now she thinks , frightened technicians were brought
that she can save him. She thinks over frorn the barracks. The lights
that she can follow. She thinks that were turned on and the windows
he wants to communicate with her. were closed. The Mav \\rind had
That's ridiculous. I will go myself!" become chilly. .
Karper looked about. He selected The needle was sterilized. The
two of his staff and stepped over electronic grids were warmed up.
into a corner of the room. They Gausgofer~s face \vas an impas-
could hear him talking, but they sive n1ask of triumph as she sat in
could not distinguish the words. the receiving chair. She smiled at
After a conference of six or seven Gauck as an attendant brought the
minutes he returned. soap and the razor to shave clean
"You people have been making a patch on her scalp.
serious security charges against Gauck did not smile back. His
each other. I find that one of our black eyes stared at her. He said
finest weapons, the mind of Rogov, nothing. He did nothing. He
is damaged. Rogov's not just a watched.
nlan. He is a Soviet project." Scorn Karper walked to and fro, glanc-
entered his voice. "I find that the ing from time to time at the hasty
senior security officer, a policewom- but orderly preparation of the ex-
an with a notable record, is charged periment.
by another Soviet scientist with a Anastasia Cherpas sat down at a
silly infatuation. I disregard such laboratory table about five meters
charges. The development of the away from the group. She watched
Soviet State and the work of Soviet the back of Gausgofer's head as
science cannot be impeded by per- the needle was lowered. She buried
sonalities. Comrade Gausgofer will her face in her hands. SOIne of the
follow. I am acting tonight because others thought they heard her
my own staff physician says that weeping, but no one heeded Cher-
Rogov may not live and it is very pas very much. They were too in-
important for us to find out just tent on watching Gausgofer.
what has happened to him and Gausgofer's face became red.
why." Perspiration poured down the
He turned his baleful gaze on flabby cheeks. Her fingers tightened
Cherpas. "You will not protest, on the arm of her chair.
comrade. Your mind is the prop- Suddenly she shouted at them,
~rty of the Russian State. Your life "That golden shape on the golden
and your education have been paid steps." .
for by the workers. You cannot She leaped to her feet, dragging
throw these things away because of the apparatus with her.
personal sentiment. If there is any- No one had expected this. The
thing to be found, Comrade Gaus- chair fell to the floor. The needle
NO, NO, NOT ROGOV! 119
holder, lifted from the floor, swung Gauck remained utterly impas-
its weight sidewise. The needle sive. With superhuman assurance
twisted like a scythe in Gausgofer's and calm he said to Karper, "Com-
brain. rade, I do not dispute the matter.
The body of Gausgofer lay on I know these people, though I do
the floor, sWTounded by excited not know their science. Rogov is
officials. done for."
Karper was acute enough to look At last Karper believed him.
around at Cherpas. They all looked at Anastasia
She stood up from the laboratory Cherpas, at her beautiful hair, her
table and walked toward him. A determined blue eyes, and the two
thin line of blood flowed down thin lines of blood.
from her cheekbone. Another line Karper turned to her. "What do
of blood dripped down from a posi- we do now?"
tion on her cheek, one and a half For an answer she dropped to her
centimers forward of the opening knees and began sobbing, "No, no,
of her left ear. not Rogov! No, no, not Rogov!"
With tremendous composure, her And that was all that they could
face as white as fresh snow, she get out of her. Gauck looked on.
smiled at him. "I eavesdropped."
Karper said, "What?" On the golden steps in the golden
"I eavesdropped, eavesdropped," light, a golden shape danced a
repeated Anastasia Cherpas. "I dream beyond the limits of all
found out where my husband has imagination, danced and drew the
gone. It is not somewhere in this music to herself until a sigh of
world. It is something hypnotic be- yearning, yearning which became a
yond all the limitations of our sci- hope and a torment, went through
ence. We have made a great gun, the hearts of living things on Q
but the gun has fired upon us be- thousand worlds.
fore we could fire it. Edges of the golden scene faded
"Project Telescope is finished. raggedly and unevenly into black.
You may try to get someone else to The gold dimmed down to a pale
finish it, but you will not." gold-silver sheen and then to silver,
Karper stared at her and then last of all to white. The dancer who
turned aside. had been golden was now a forlorn
Gauck stood in his way. white-pink figure standing, quiet
"What do you want?" and fatigued, on the immense, white
"To tell you," said Gauck very steps. The applause of a thousand
softly, "to tell you, comrade deputy worlds roared in upon her.
minister, that Rogov is gone as she She looked blindly at them. The
says he is gone, that she is finished dance had overwhelmed her, too.
if she says she is finished, that all Their applause could mean noth-
this is true. I know.'.' ing. The dance was an end in itself.
Karper glared at him. "How do She would have to live, somehow,
you know?" until she. danced again. END
120 CORDWAINER SMITH
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