"No!" Lindy cried. "You can't be sure, you're only guessing, and it isn't fair!"
"My dear woman, don't you realize this is a serious situation? The city's people will starve in time. No one can even bring food in because the trucks make too much noise! As an alternative, we could evacuate, but is your pet more valuable than the life of a great city?"
"Then, please! Listen to reason!"
"Kill it," Judd said. "Go ahead."
Dr. Jamison withdrew from his pocket a small blasting pistol used by the Department of Domestic Animals for elimination of injured creatures. He advanced on Black Eyes, who sat on its haunches in the center of the room, surveying the scientist.
Dr. Jamison put his blaster away. "I can't," he said. "I don't want to."
Judd smiled. "I know it. No one--no thing--can kill Black Eyes. You said so yourself. It was a waste of time to try it. In that case--"
"In that case," Dr. Jamison finished for him, "we're helpless. There isn't a man--or an animal--on Earth that will destroy this thing. Wait a minute--does it sleep, Mr. Whitney?"
"I don't think so. At least, I never saw it sleep. And your team of scientists, did they report anything?"
"No. As far as they could see, the creature never slept. We can't catch it unawares."
"Could you anesthetize it?"
"How? It can sense danger, and long before you could do that, it would stop you. It's only made one mistake, Mr. Whitney: it believes the noises of the city represent a danger. And that's only a negative mistake. Noise won't hurt Black Eyes, of course. It simply makes the animal unnecessarily cautious. But we cannot anesthetize it any more than we can kill it."
"I could take it back to Venus."
"Could you? Could you? I hadn't thought of that."
Judd shook his head. "I can't."
"What do you mean you can't?"
"It won't let me. Somehow it can sense our thoughts when we think something it doesn't want. I can't take it to Venus! No man could, because it doesn't want to go."
"My dear Mr. Whitney--do you mean to say you believe it can think?"
"Uh-uh. Didn't say that. It can sense our thoughts, and that's something else again."
Dr. Jamison threw his hands up over his head in a dramatic gesture. "It's hopeless," he said.
Things grew worse. New York crawled along to a standstill. People began to move from the city. In trickles, at first, but the trickles became torrents, as New York's ten million people began to depart for saner places. It might take months--it might even take years, but the exodus had begun. Nothing could stop it. Because of a harmless little beast with the eyes of a tarsier, the life of a great city was coming to an end.
Word spread. Scientists all over the world studied reports on Black Eyes. No one had any ideas. Everyone was stumped. Black Eyes had no particular desire to go outside. Black Eyes merely remained in the Whitney house, contemplating nothing in particular, and stopping everything.
Dr. Jamison, however, was a persistent man. Judd got a letter from him one day, and the following afternoon he kept his appointment with the scientist.
"It's good to get out," Judd said, after a three hour walk to the Department of Science Building. "I can go crazy just staring at that thing."
"I have it, Whitney."
"You have what? Not the way to destroy Black Eyes? I don't believe it!"
"It's true. Consider. Everyone in the world does not yet know of your pet, correct?"
"I suppose there are a few people who don't--"
"There are many. Among them, are the crew of a jet-bomber which has been on maneuvers in Egypt. We have arranged everything."
"At noon tomorrow, the bomber will appear over your home with one of the ancient, high-explosive missiles. Your neighbors will be removed from the vicinity, and, precisely at twelve-o-three in the afternoon, the bomb will be dropped. Your home will be destroyed. Black Eyes will be destroyed with it."
Judd looked uncomfortable. "I dunno," he said. "Sounds too easy."
"Too easy? I doubt if the animal will ever sense what is going on--not when the crew of the bomber doesn't know, either. They'll consider it a mighty peculiar order, to destroy one harmless, rather large and rather elaborate suburban home. But they'll do it. See you tomorrow, Whitney, after this mess is behind us."
"Yeah," Judd said. "Yeah." But somehow, the scientist had failed to instill any of his confidence in Judd.
With Lindy, he left home at eleven the following morning, after making a thorough list of all their properties which the City had promised to duplicate. Judd did not look at Black Eyes as he left, and the animal remained where it was, seated on its haunches under the dining room table, nibbling crumbs. Judd could almost feel the big round eyes boring a pair of twin holes in his back, and he dared not turn around to face them....
They were a mile away at eleven forty-five, making their way through the nearly deserted streets. Judd stopped walking. He looked at Lindy. Lindy looked at him.
"They're going to destroy it," he said.
"Do you want them to?"
Judd knew that something had to be done with Black Eyes. He didn't like the little beast, and, anyway, that had nothing to do with it. Black Eyes was a menace. And yet, something whispered in Judd's ear, Don't let them, don't let them ... It wasn't Judd and it wasn't Judd's subconscious. It was Black Eyes, and he knew it. But he couldn't do a thing about it-- "I'm going to stay right here and let them bomb the place," he said aloud. But as he spoke, he was running back the way he had come.
He sprinted part of the time, then rested, then sprinted again. He was somewhat on the beefy side and he could not run fast, but he made it. Just.
He heard the jet streaking through the sky overhead, looked up once and saw it circling. Two blocks from his house he was met by a policeman. The entire area had been roped off, and the officer shook his head when Judd tried to get through.
"But I live there!"
"Can't help it, Mister. Orders is orders."
Judd hit him. Judd didn't want to, but nevertheless, he grunted with satisfaction when he felt the blow to be a good one, catching the stocky officer on the point of his chin and tumbling him over backwards. Then Judd was ducking under the rope and running.
He reached his house, plummeted in through the front door. He found Black Eyes under the kitchen table, squatting on its haunches. He scooped the animal up, ran outside. Then he was running again, and before he reached the barrier, something rocked him. A loud series of explosions ripped through his brain, and instinctively--Black Eyes' instincts, not his--he folded his arms over the animal, protecting it. Something shuddered and began to fall behind him, and debris scattered in all directions. Something struck Judd's head and he felt the ground slapping up crazily at his face-- He was as good as new a few days later.
And so was Black Eyes.
"I have it," Judd said to his nurse.
"You have what, sir?"
"It's so simple, so ridiculously simple, maybe that's why no one ever thought of it. Get me Dr. Jamison!"
Jamison came a few moments later, breathless. "Well?"
"I have the solution."
"You ... do?" Not much hope in the answer. Dr. Jamison was a tired, defeated man.
"Sure. Black Eyes doesn't like the city. Fine. Take him out. I can't take him to Venus. He doesn't like Venus and he won't go. No one can take him anyplace he doesn't want to go, just as no one can hurt him in any way. But he doesn't like the city. It's too noisy. All right: have someone take him far from the city, far far away--where there's no noise at all. Someplace out in the sticks where it won't matter much if Black Eyes puts a stop to any disturbing noises."
"Who will take him? You, Mr. Whitney?"
Judd shook his head. "That's your job, not mine. I've given you the answer. Now use it."
Lindy had arrived, and Lindy said: "Judd, you're right. That is the answer. And you're wonderful--"
No one volunteered to spend his life in exile with Black Eyes, but then Dr. Jamison pointed out that while no one knew the creature's life-span, it certainly couldn't be expected to match man's. Just a few years and the beast would die, and ... Dr. Jamison's arguments were so logical that he convinced himself. He took Black Eyes with him into the Canadian Northwoods, and there they live.
Judd was right--almost.
This was the obvious answer which escaped everyone.
But scientists continued their examinations of Black Eyes, and they discovered something. Black Eyes' fears had not been for herself alone. She is going to have babies. The estimate is for thirty-five little tarsier-eyed creatures. No doctor in the world will be able to do anything but deliver the litter.
By JOSEPH P. MARTINO
In one place, a descendant of the Vikings rode a ship such as Lief never dreamed of; from another, one of the descendants of the Caesars, and here an Apache rode a steed such as never roamed the plains. But they were warriors all.
The hatch swung open, admitting a blast of Arctic air and a man clad in a heavy, fur-lined parka. He quickly closed the hatch and turned to the man in the pilot's couch.
"O.K., Harry. I'll take over now. Anything to report?"
"The heading gyro in the autopilot is still drifting. Did you write it up for Maintenance?"
"Yeah. They said that to replace it they'd have to put the ship in the hangar, and it's full now with ships going through periodic inspection. I guess we'll have to wait. They can't just give us another ship, either. With the hangar full, we must be pretty close to the absolute minimum for ships on the line and ready to fly."
"O.K. Let me check out with the tower, and she'll be all yours." He thumbed the intercom button and spoke into the mike: "RI 276 to tower. Major Lightfoot going off watch."
When the tower acknowledged, he began to disconnect himself from the ship. With smooth, experienced motions, he disconnected the mike cable, oxygen hose, air pressure hose, cooling air hose, electrical heating cable, and dehumidifier hose which connected his flying suit to the ship. He donned the parka and gloves his relief had worn, and stepped through the hatch onto the gantry crane elevator. Even through the heavy parka, the cold air had a bite to it. As the elevator descended, he glanced to the south, knowing as he did so that there would be nothing to see. The sun had set on November 17th, and was not due up for three more weeks. At noon, there would be a faint glow on the southern horizon, as the sun gave a reminder of its existence, but now, at four in the morning, there was nothing. As he stepped off the elevator, the ground crew prepared to roll the gantry crane away from the ship. He opened the door of the waiting personnel carrier and swung aboard. The inevitable cry of "close that door" greeted him as he entered. He brushed the parka hood back from his head, and sank into the first empty seat. The heater struggled valiantly with the Arctic cold to keep the interior of the personnel carrier at a tolerable temperature, but it never seemed able to do much with the floor. He propped his feet on the footrest of the seat ahead of him, spoke to the other occupant of the seat.
"Hi, Harry. Say, what's your watch schedule now?"
"I've got four hours off, back on for four, then sixteen off. Why?"
"Well, a few of us are getting up a friendly little game before we go back on watch. I thought you might want to join us."
"Come on, now. What's your excuse this time for not playing cards?"
"To start with, I'm scheduled for a half hour in the simulator, and another half hour in the procedural trainer. Then if I finish the exam in my correspondence course, I can get it on this week's mail plane. If I don't get it in the mail now, I'll have to wait until next week."
"All right, I'll let you off this time. How's the course coming?"
"This is the final exam. If I pass, I'll have only forty-two more credits to go before I have my degree in Animal Husbandry."
"What on earth do you want with a degree like that?"
"I keep telling you. When I retire, I'm going back to Oklahoma and raise horses. If I got into all the card games you try to organize, I'd retire with neither the knowledge to run a horse ranch, nor the money to start one."
"But why raise horses? Cabbages, I can see. Tomatoes, yes. But why horses?"
"Partly because there's always a market for them, so I'll have a fair amount of business to keep me eating regularly. But mostly because I like horses. I practically grew up in the saddle. By the time I was old enough to do much riding, Dad had his own ranch, and I helped earn my keep by working for him. Under those circumstances, I just naturally learned to like horses."
"Guess I never thought of it like that. I was a city boy myself. The only horses I ever saw were the ones the cops rode. I didn't get much chance to became familiar with the beasts."
"Well, you don't know what you missed. It's just impossible to describe what it's like to use a high-spirited and well-trained horse in your daily work. The horse almost gets to sense what you want him to do next. You don't have to direct his every move. Just a word or two, and a touch with your heel or the pressure of your knee against his side, and he's got the idea. A well-trained horse is perfectly capable of cutting a particular cow out of a herd without any instructions beyond showing him which one you want."