"A year ago," Bregg said, "some of the people got hold of her two young ones. They were torn to pieces before they could be saved, and she saw it. I can't blame her, either."
He went on to the gate and opened it and went inside. The people drew back from him. They spat at him, too, and pelted him with food and pebbles. He spoke to them, sternly, in the tone of one speaking to unruly dogs, and he spoke words, in his own tongue. The people began to shuffle about uneasily. They stopped throwing things. He stood waiting.
The yellow-eyed girl came sidling forward and rubbed herself against his thigh, head, shoulder and flank. He reached down and stroked her, and she whimpered with pleasure and arched her back.
"Oh, for God's sake," said Kieran, "let's get out of here."
Later, they sat wearily on fallen blocks of cement inside a dusty, shadowy room of the old building. Only a hand-lamp dispelled the gloom, and the wind whispered coldly, and Bregg walked to and fro in his curious prance as he talked.
"It will be a little while before the necessary medical team can be picked up and brought here," he said. "We shall have to wait."
"And then?" asked Kieran.
"First to--" Bregg used a word that undoubtedly named a city of the Sakae but that meant nothing to Kieran, "--and then to Altair Two. This, of course, is a council matter."
He stopped and looked with bright, shrewd eyes at Kieran. "You are quite the sensation already, Mr. Kieran. The whole community of starworlds is already aware of the illegal resuscitation of one of the pioneer spacemen, and of course there is great interest." He paused. "You, yourself, have done nothing unlawful. You cannot very well be sent back to sleep, and undoubtedly the council will want to hear you. I am curious as to what you will say."
"About Sako?" said Kieran. "About--them?" He made a gesture toward a window through which the wind brought the sound of stirring, of the gruntings and whufflings of the corralled people.
"Yes. About them."
"I'll tell you how I feel," Kieran said flatly. He saw Paula and Webber lean forward in the shadows. "I'm a human man. The people out there may be savage, low as the beasts, good for nothing the way they are--but they're human. You Sakae may be intelligent, civilized, reasonable, but you're not human. When I see you ordering them around like beasts, I want to kill you. That's how I feel."
Bregg did not change his bearing, but he made a small sound that was almost a sigh.
"Yes," he said. "I feared it would be so. A man of your times--a man from a world where humans were all-dominant--would feel that way." He turned and looked at Paula and Webber. "It appears that your scheme, to this extent, was successful."
"No, I wouldn't say that," said Kieran.
Paula stood up. "But you just told us how you feel--"
"And it's the truth," said Kieran. "But there's something else." He looked thoughtfully at her. "It was a good idea. It was bound to work--a man of my time was bound to feel just this way you wanted him to feel, and would go away from here crying your party slogans and believing them. But you overlooked something--"
He paused, looking out the window into the sky, at the faint vari-colored radiance of the cluster.
"You overlooked the fact that when you awoke me, I would no longer be a man of my own time--or of any time. I was in darkness for a hundred years--with the stars my brothers, and no man touching me. Maybe that chills a man's feelings, maybe something deep in his mind lives and has time to think. I've told you how I feel, yes. But I haven't told you what I think--"
He stopped again, then said, "The people out there in the corral have my form, and my instinctive loyalty is to them. But instinct isn't enough. It would have kept us in the mud of Earth forever, if it could. Reason took us out to the wider universe. Instinct tells me that those out there are my people. Reason tells me that you--" he looked at Bregg, "--who are abhorrent to me, who would make my skin creep if I touched you, you who go by reason--that you are my real people. Instinct made a hell of Earth for millennia--I say we ought to leave it behind us there in the mud and not let it make a hell of the stars. For you'll run into this same problem over and over again as you go out into the wider universe, and the old parochial human loyalties must be altered, to solve it."
He looked at Paula and said, "I'm sorry, but if anyone asks me, that is what I'll say."
"I'm sorry, too," she said, rage and dejection ringing in her voice. "Sorry we woke you. I hope I never see you again."
Kieran shrugged. "After all, you did wake me. You're responsible for me. Here I am, facing a whole new universe, and I'll need you." He went over and patted her shoulder.
"Damn you," she said. But she did not move away from him.
IT'S A SMALL SOLAR SYSTEM.
by ALLAN HOWARD
Soon the three representatives of Earth were walking shoulder to shoulder, the Captain first to touch soil.
Well you might say I practically grew up with him. He was my hero in those days. I thought few wiser or greater men ever lived. In my eyes he was greater than Babe Ruth, Lindy, or the President.
Of course, time, and my growing up caused me to bring him into a perspective that I felt to be more consonant with his true position in his field of endeavor. When he died his friends mourned for fond remembrance of things past, but privately many of them felt that he had outlived his best days. Now with this glorious vindication, I wonder how many of them are still alive to feel the twinge of conscience....
Oh, we're delighted of course, but it seems incredible even today to us elated oldsters. Although we were always his staunchest admirers, in retrospect we can see now that no one believed more than we that he did it strictly for the dollar. It is likely there was always a small corps of starry-eyed adolescents who found the whole improbable saga entirely believable, or at least half believed it might be partly true. The attitude of the rest of us ranged from a patronizing disparagement that we thought was expected of us, through grudging admiration, to out-and-out enthusiasm.
Certainly if anybody had taken the trouble to consider it--and why should they have?--the landing of the first manned ship on our satellite seemed to render him as obsolete as a horde of other lesser and even greater lights. At any rate, it was inevitable that the conquest of the moon would be merely a stepping-stone to more distant points.
Oh, no, I had nothing to do with the selection of the Red Planet. Coming in as head of Project P-4 in its latter stages, as I did when Dr. Fredericks died, the selection had already been made. Yes, it's quite likely I may have been plugging for Mars below the conscious level. A combination of chance, expediency and popular demand made Mars the next target, rather than Venus, which was, in some ways, the more logical goal. I would have given anything to have gone, but the metaphorical stout heart that one reporter once credited me with is not the same as an old man's actual fatty heart.
And there were heartbreak years ahead before the Goddard was finally ready. During this time he slipped further into obscurity while big, important things were happening all around us. You're right, that one really big creation of his is bigger than ever. It has passed into the language, and meant employment for thousands of people. Too few of them have even heard of him. Of course, he was still known and welcomed by a small circle of acquaintances, but to the world at large he was truly a "forgotten man."
It is worthy of note that one of the oldest of these acquaintances was present at blast-off time. He happened to be the grandfather of a certain competent young crewman. The old man was a proud figure during the brief ceremonies and his eyes filled with tears as the mighty rocket climbed straight up on its fiery tail. He remained there gazing up at the sky long after it had vanished.
He was heard to murmur, "I am glad the kid could go, but it is just a lark to him. He never had a 'sense of wonder.' How could he--nobody reads anymore."
Afterward, his senile emotions betraying him, he broke down completely and had to be led from the field. It is rumored he did not live long after that.
The Goddard drove on until Mars filled the viz-screen. It was planned to make at least a half-dozen braking passes around the planet for observational purposes before the actual business of bringing the ship in for landfall began. As expected the atmosphere proved to be thin. The speculated dead-sea areas, oddly enough, turned out to be just that. To the surprise of some, it was soon evident that Mars possessed, or had possessed, a high civilization. The canali of Schiaparelli were indeed broad waterways stretching from pole to pole, too regular to be anything but the work of intelligence. But most wonderful of all were the scattered, but fairly numerous large, walled cities that dotted the world. Everybody was excited, eager to land and start exercising their specialties.
One of the largest of these cities was selected more or less at random. It was decided to set down just outside, yet far enough from the walls to avoid any possibility of damage from the landing jets in the event the city was inhabited. Even if deserted, the entire scientific personnel would have raised a howl that would have been heard back on Earth if just a section of wall was scorched. When planet-fall was completed and observers had time to scan the surroundings it was seen that the city was very much alive.
"What keeps them up!" marvelled Kopchainski, the aeronautics and rocketry authority.
The sky swarmed with ships of strange design. The walls were crowded with inhabitants, too far away for detailed observation. Even as they looked an enormous gate opened and a procession of mounted figures emerged. In the event the place was deserted, the Captain would have had the honor of being the first to touch Martian soil. While atmospheric and other checks were being run, he gave orders for the previously decided alternative. Captain, semanticist and anthropologist would make the First Contact.
With all checks agreeing that it was safe to open locks, soon the three representatives of Earth were walking shoulder to shoulder down the ramp. It was apparent that the two scientists purposely missed stride inches from the end, so that it was the Captain's foot that actually touched ground first.
The cavalcade--though these beasties were certainly not horses--was now near enough to the ship for details to be seen. Surprise and wonderment filled the crew, for while the multi-legged steeds were as alien as anyone might expect to find on an alien world, the riders were very definitely humanoid. Briefly, brightly and barbarically trapped as they were by earthly standards, they seemed to be little distinguishable from homegrown homo saps.
The approaching company appeared to be armed mainly with swords and lances, but also in evidence were some tubular affairs that could very well be some sort of projectile-discharging device. The Captain suddenly felt unaccountably warm. It was a heavy responsibility--he hoped these Martians wouldn't be the type of madmen who believed in the "shoot first, inquire later" theory.
Even as he stood there, outwardly calm but jittering internally, the Martian riders pulled up ten feet from the Earthmen. Their leader, tall, dark-haired, and subtly lighter in hue than his companions, dismounted and approached the Captain. With outstretched hand he took the Captain's in a firm grip.
Let it be recorded here, to the shame of an Earth where reading for pleasure is virtually a lost pastime, that not one man on the Goddard realized the significance of what followed.
"How do you do?" he said in perfect English, with an unmistakable trace of Southern accent.
"Welcome to Barsoom! My name is John Carter."
By Laurence Mark Janifer
What they called me, that was what started it. I'm as good an American as the next fellow, and maybe a little bit better than men like that, big men drinking in a bar who can't find anything better to do than to spit on a man and call him Mex. As if a Mexican is something to hide or to be ashamed of. We have our own heroes and our own strength and we don't have to bend down to men like that, or any other men. But when they called me that I saw red and called them names back.
"Mex kid," one of the men said, a big red-haired bully with his sleeves rolled back and muscles like ropes on the big hairy arms. "Snot-nosed little Mex brat."
I called him a name. He only laughed back at me and turned his back, waving a hand for the bartender. Maybe in a big city in the North it would be different and probably it would not: this toleration we hear about is no more good than an open fight, and there must be understanding instead. But here near the border, just on the American side of the border, a Mexican is called fair game, and a seventeen-year-old like me is less than nothing to them, to the white ones who go to the big bars.
I thought carefully about what to do, and finally when I had made my mind up I went for him and tried to hit him. But other men held me back, and I was kicking and shouting with my legs off the ground. When I stopped they put me down, so I started for the big red-haired man again and they had to stop me again. The red-haired man was laughing all this time. I wanted to run, back to my own family in their little house, and yet running would have been wrong; I was too angry to run, so I stayed.
"My sister," I said. "My sister is a witch and I will get her to put a curse on you." I was very angry, you must understand this.
And of course they had no idea that my sister is a real witch, and her curses are real, and only last year Manuel Valdez had died from the effects of her curse. Of all people, sometimes I wish I were my sister most of all, to curse people and see them shrivel and sicken and choke and die.
"Go ahead, half-pint," one of the other men yelled. "Get your sister to put a curse on me. I bet she knows who I am; I been with every Mex girl this side of the border."
This made me see red; my sister is pure and must be pure, since she is a witch. And she is not like some of the others even aside from that. I have heard her talk about them and I know.
I called him a name and ran up to him and hit him; my fist against his solid side felt good, but some other men pulled me off again. Yet it was impossible to leave. This was wrong for me, and I had to make it right. "I shall get my father to fight you, since he is a giant ten feet tall."
The men laughed at me, not knowing, of course, that my father is a giant ten feet tall in truth, and my mother a sweet siren like those in the books, the old books, with spells in her eyes and a strange power. They did not know I was not a daydreaming child but a man who told truth.
And they laughed; I grew angry again and told them many things, calling them names in Spanish, which they did not understand. That only made them laugh the more.
Finally I left; it was necessary for me to leave, since I was not wanted. But it was necessary, too, for me to make things right. Nights later they were dead for what they had said and done.
For I tell the truth always, and I had told them about my sister and my father and my mother. But one thing I had not told them.
I am sorry they could never know I was the winged thing that frightened and killed them, one by one....
THE NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES.
By FRITZ LEIBER
Any man who saw you, or even heard your footsteps must be ambushed, stalked and killed, whether needed for food or not. Otherwise, so long as his strength held out, he would be on your trail.
--The Twenty-Fifth Hour, by Herbert Best I was one hundred miles from Nowhere--and I mean that literally--when I spotted this girl out of the corner of my eye. I'd been keeping an extra lookout because I still expected the other undead bugger left over from the murder party at Nowhere to be stalking me.
I'd been following a line of high-voltage towers all canted over at the same gentlemanly tipsy angle by an old blast from the Last War. I judged the girl was going in the same general direction and was being edged over toward my course by a drift of dust that even at my distance showed dangerous metallic gleams and dark humps that might be dead men or cattle.
She looked slim, dark topped, and on guard. Small like me and like me wearing a scarf loosely around the lower half of her face in the style of the old buckaroos.
We didn't wave or turn our heads or give the slightest indication we'd seen each other as our paths slowly converged. But we were intensely, minutely watchful--I knew I was and she had better be.
Overhead the sky was a low dust haze, as always. I don't remember what a high sky looks like. Three years ago I think I saw Venus. Or it may have been Sirius or Jupiter.
The hot smoky light was turning from the amber of midday to the bloody bronze of evening.
The line of towers I was following showed the faintest spread in the direction of their canting--they must have been only a few miles from blast center. As I passed each one I could see where the metal on the blast side had been eroded--vaporized by the original blast, mostly smoothly, but with welts and pustules where the metal had merely melted and run. I supposed the lines the towers carried had all been vaporized too, but with the haze I couldn't be sure, though I did see three dark blobs up there that might be vultures perching.
From the drift around the foot of the nearest tower a human skull peered whitely. That is rather unusual. Years later now you still see more dead bodies with the meat on them than skeletons. Intense radiation has killed their bacteria and preserved them indefinitely from decay, just like the packaged meat in the last advertisements. In fact such bodies are one of the signs of a really hot drift--you avoid them. The vultures pass up such poisonously hot carrion too--they've learned their lesson.
Ahead some big gas tanks began to loom up, like deformed battleships and flat-tops in a smoke screen, their prows being the juncture of the natural curve of the off-blast side with the massive concavity of the on-blast side.
None of the three other buggers and me had had too clear an idea of where Nowhere had been--hence, in part, the name--but I knew in a general way that I was somewhere in the Deathlands between Porter County and Ouachita Parish, probably much nearer the former.
It's a real mixed-up America we've got these days, you know, with just the faintest trickle of a sense of identity left, like a guy in the paddedest cell in the most locked up ward in the whole loony bin. If a time traveler from mid Twentieth Century hopped forward to it across the few intervening years and looked at a map of it, if anybody has a map of it, he'd think that the map had run--that it had got some sort of disease that had swollen a few tiny parts beyond all bounds, paper tumors, while most of the other parts, the parts he remembered carrying names in such big print and showing such bold colors, had shrunk to nothingness.
To the east he'd see Atlantic Highlands and Savannah Fortress. To the west, Walla Walla Territory, Pacific Palisades, and Los Alamos--and there he'd see an actual change in the coastline, I'm told, where three of the biggest stockpiles of fusionables let go and opened Death Valley to the sea--so that Los Alamos is closer to being a port. Centrally he'd find Porter County and Manteno Asylum surprisingly close together near the Great Lakes, which are tilted and spilled out a bit toward the southwest with the big quake. South-centrally: Ouachita Parish inching up the Mississippi from old Louisiana under the cruel urging of the Fisher Sheriffs.