The Missionary of Oneness swung his bronzed, well-muscled legs over the side of the hammock and sat up. With an expression of great interest, he watched Spokesman Dorn coming across the sun room towards him from the entrance corridor of his hospital suite. It was the first visit he'd had from any member of the organization of the Machine in the two years he had been confined here.
For Spokesman Dorn it had been, to judge by his appearance, a strenuous two years. He had lost weight and there were dark smudges of fatigue under his eyes. At the moment, however, his face appeared relaxed. It might have been the relaxation a man feels who has been emptied out by a hard stint of work, but knows he has accomplished everything that could possibly have been done.
Dorn came to a stop a dozen feet from the hammock. For some seconds, the two men regarded each other without speaking.
"On my way here," Dorn remarked then, "I was wondering whether you mightn't already know what I've come to tell you."
Rainbolt shook his head.
"No," he said. "I think I could guess what it is-I pick up generalized impressions from outside-but I don't really know."
Spokesman Dorn considered that a moment, chewing his lower lip reflectively. Then he shrugged.
"So actual mind-reading doesn't happen to be one of your talents," he said. "I was rather sure of that, though others had a different opinion. Of course, considering what you are able to do, it wouldn't really make much difference.
"Well ... this morning we sent out a general call by space radio to any Mars Convict ships which might be in the Solar System to come in. The call was answered. Earth's defense fields have been shut down, and the first FTL ships will land within an hour."
"For what purpose?" Rainbolt said curiously.
"There's a strong popular feeling," Spokesman Dorn said, "that your colleagues should take part in deciding what pattern Earth's permanent form of government will take. In recent months we've handled things in a rather provisional and haphazard manner, but the situation is straightened out well enough now to permit giving attention to such legalistic details. Incidentally, you will naturally be free to leave when I do. Transportation is available for you if you wish to welcome your friends at the spaceport."
"Thank you," said Rainbolt. "I believe I will."
Spokesman Dorn shrugged. "What could we do?" he said, almost disinterestedly. "You never slept. In the beginning you were drugged a number of times, as you probably know, but we soon discovered that drugging you seemed to make no difference at all."
"It doesn't," Rainbolt agreed.
"Day after day," Dorn went on, "we'd find thoughts and inclinations coming into our minds we'd never wanted there. It was an eerie experience-though personally I found it even more disconcerting to awaken in the morning and discover that my attitudes had changed in some particular or other, and as a rule changed irrevocably."
Rainbolt said, "In a sense, those weren't really your attitudes, you know. They were results of the conditioning of the Machine. It was the conditioning I was undermining."
"Perhaps it was that," Dorn said. "It seems to make very little difference now." He paused, frowned. "When the first talk of initiating change began in the councils, there were numerous executions. I know now that we were badly frightened men. Then those of us who had ordered the executions found themselves wanting similar changes. Presently we had a majority, and the changes began to be brought about. Reforms, you would call them-and reforms I suppose they actually were. There was considerable general disturbance, of course, but we retained the organization to keep that within reasonable bounds."
"We expected that you would," Rainbolt said.
"It hasn't really been too bad," Spokesman Dorn said reflectively. "It was simply an extraordinary amount of work to change the structure of things that had been imposed on Earth by the Machine for the past century and a half. And the curious part of it is, you know, that now it's done we don't even feel resentment! We actually wouldn't want to go back to what we had before. You've obtained an incredible hold on our minds-and frankly I expect that when at last you do relinquish your control, we'll commit suicide or go mad."
Rainbolt shook his head. "There's been just one mistake in what you've said," he remarked.
Spokesman Dorn looked at him with tired eyes. "What's that?" he asked.
"I said I was undermining the conditioning of the Machine. I did-and after that I did nothing. You people simply have been doing what most of you always would have preferred to do, Spokesman. I relinquished control of the last of you over six months ago."
THE DOPE ON MARS.
By JACK SHARKEY
Somebody had to get the human angle on this trip ... but what was humane about sending me?
My agent was the one who got me the job of going along to write up the first trip to Mars. He was always getting me things like that--appearances on TV shows, or mentions in writers' magazines. If he didn't sell much of my stuff, at least he sold me.
"It'll be the biggest break a writer ever got," he told me, two days before blastoff. "Oh, sure there'll be scientific reports on the trip, but the public doesn't want them; they want the human slant on things."
"But, Louie," I said weakly, "I'll probably be locked up for the whole trip. If there are fights or accidents, they won't tell me about them."
"Nonsense," said Louie, sipping carefully at a paper cup of scalding coffee. "It'll be just like the public going along vicariously. They'll identify with you."
"But, Louie," I said, wiping the dampness from my palms on the knees of my trousers as I sat there, "how'll I go about it? A story? An article? A you-are-there type of report? What?"
Louie shrugged. "So keep a diary. It'll be more intimate, like."
"But what if nothing happens?" I insisted hopelessly.
Louie smiled. "So you fake it."
I got up from the chair in his office and stepped to the door. "That's dishonest," I pointed out.
"Creative is the word," Louie said.
So I went on the first trip to Mars. And I kept a diary. This is it. And it is honest. Honest it is.
October 1, 1960 They picked the launching date from the March, 1959, New York Times, which stated that this was the most likely time for launching. Trip time is supposed to take 260 days (that's one way), so we're aimed toward where Mars will be (had better be, or else).
There are five of us on board. A pilot, co-pilot, navigator and biochemist. And, of course, me. I've met all but the pilot (he's very busy today), and they seem friendly enough.
Dwight Kroger, the biochemist, is rather old to take the "rigors of the journey," as he puts it, but the government had a choice between sending a green scientist who could stand the trip or an accomplished man who would probably not survive, so they picked Kroger. We've blasted off, though, and he's still with us. He looks a damn sight better than I feel. He's kind of balding, and very iron-gray-haired and skinny, but his skin is tan as an Indian's, and right now he's telling jokes in the washroom with the co-pilot.
Jones (that's the co-pilot; I didn't quite catch his first name) is scarlet-faced, barrel-chested and gives the general appearance of belonging under the spreading chestnut tree, not in a metal bullet flinging itself out into airless space. Come to think of it, who does belong where we are?
The navigator's name is Lloyd Streeter, but I haven't seen his face yet. He has a little cubicle behind the pilot's compartment, with all kinds of maps and rulers and things. He keeps bent low over a welded-to-the-wall (they call it the bulkhead, for some reason or other) table, scratching away with a ballpoint pen on the maps, and now and then calling numbers over a microphone to the pilot. His hair is red and curly, and he looks as though he'd be tall if he ever gets to stand up. There are freckles on the backs of his hands, so I think he's probably got them on his face, too. So far, all he's said is, "Scram, I'm busy."
Kroger tells me that the pilot's name is Patrick Desmond, but that I can call him Pat when I get to know him better. So far, he's still Captain Desmond to me. I haven't the vaguest idea what he looks like. He was already on board when I got here, with my typewriter and ream of paper, so we didn't meet.
My compartment is small but clean. I mean clean now. It wasn't during blastoff. The inertial gravities didn't bother me so much as the gyroscopic spin they put on the ship so we have a sort of artificial gravity to hold us against the curved floor. It's that constant whirly feeling that gets me. I get sick on merry-go-rounds, too.
They're having pork for dinner today. Not me.
October 2, 1960 Feeling much better today. Kroger gave me a box of Dramamine pills. He says they'll help my stomach. So far, so good.
Lloyd came by, also. "You play chess?" he asked.
"A little," I admitted.
"How about a game sometime?"
"Sure," I said. "Do you have a board?"
Lloyd went away then, but the interview wasn't wasted. I learned that he is tall and does have a freckled face. Maybe we can build a chessboard. With my paper and his ballpoint pen and ruler, it should be easy. Don't know what we'll use for pieces, though.
Jones (I still haven't learned his first name) has been up with the pilot all day. He passed my room on the way to the galley (the kitchen) for a cup of dark brown coffee (they like it thick) and told me that we were almost past the Moon. I asked to look, but he said not yet; the instrument panel is Top Secret. They'd have to cover it so I could look out the viewing screen, and they still need it for steering or something.
I still haven't met the pilot.
October 3, 1960 Well, I've met the pilot. He is kind of squat, with a vulturish neck and close-set jet-black eyes that make him look rather mean, but he was pleasant enough, and said I could call him Pat. I still don't know Jones' first name, though Pat spoke to him, and it sounded like Flants. That can't be right.
Also, I am one of the first five men in the history of the world to see the opposite side of the Moon, with a bluish blurred crescent beyond it that Pat said was the Earth. The back of the Moon isn't much different from the front. As to the space in front of the ship, well, it's all black with white dots in it, and none of the dots move, except in a circle that Pat says is a "torque" result from the gyroscopic spin we're in. Actually, he explained to me, the screen is supposed to keep the image of space locked into place no matter how much we spin. But there's some kind of a "drag." I told him I hoped it didn't mean we'd land on Mars upside down. He just stared at me.
I can't say I was too impressed with that 16 x 19 view of outer space. It's been done much better in the movies. There's just no awesomeness to it, no sense of depth or immensity. It's as impressive as a piece of velvet with salt sprinkled on it.
Lloyd and I made a chessboard out of a carton. Right now we're using buttons for men. He's one of these fast players who don't stop and think out their moves. And so far I haven't won a game.
It looks like a long trip.
October 4, 1960 I won a game. Lloyd mistook my queen-button for my bishop-button and left his king in jeopardy, and I checkmated him next move. He said chess was a waste of time and he had important work to do and he went away.
I went to the galley for coffee and had a talk about moss with Kroger. He said there was a good chance of lichen on Mars, and I misunderstood and said, "A good chance of liking what on Mars?" and Kroger finished his coffee and went up front.
When I got back to my compartment, Lloyd had taken away the chessboard and all his buttons. He told me later he needed it to back up a star map.
Pat slept mostly all day in his compartment, and Jones sat and watched the screen revolve. There wasn't much to do, so I wrote a poem, sort of.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With Martian rime, Venusian slime, And a radioactive hoe.
I showed it to Kroger. He says it may prove to be environmentally accurate, but that I should stick to prose.
October 5, 1960 Learned Jones' first name. He wrote something in the ship's log, and I saw his signature. His name is Fleance, like in "Macbeth." He prefers to be called Jones. Pat uses his first name as a gag. Some fun.
And only 255 days to go.
April 1, 1961 I've skipped over the last 177 days or so, because there's nothing much new. I brought some books with me on the trip, books that I'd always meant to read and never had the time. So now I know all about Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Gone with the Wind, and Babbitt.
They didn't take as long as I thought they would, except for Vanity Fair. It must have been a riot when it first came out. I mean, all those sly digs at the aristocracy, with copious interpolations by Mr. Thackeray in case you didn't get it when he'd pulled a particularly good gag. Some fun.
And only 78 days to go.
June 1, 1961 Only 17 days to go. I saw Mars on the screen today. It seems to be descending from overhead, but Pat says that that's the "torque" doing it. Actually, it's we who are coming in sideways.
We've all grown beards, too. Pat said it was against regulations, but what the hell. We have a contest. Longest whiskers on landing gets a prize.
I asked Pat what the prize was and he told me to go to hell.
June 18, 1961 Mars has the whole screen filled. Looks like Death Valley. No sign of canals, but Pat says that's because of the dust storm down below. It's nice to have a "down below" again. We're going to land, so I have to go to my bunk. It's all foam rubber, nylon braid supports and magnesium tubing. Might as well be cement for all the good it did me at takeoff. Earth seems awfully far away.
June 19, 1961 Well, we're down. We have to wear gas masks with oxygen hook-ups. Kroger says the air is breathable, but thin, and it has too much dust in it to be any fun to inhale. He's all for going out and looking for lichen, but Pat says he's got to set up camp, then get instructions from Earth. So we just have to wait. The air is very cold, but the Sun is hot as hell when it hits you. The sky is a blinding pink, or maybe more of a pale fuchsia. Kroger says it's the dust. The sand underfoot is kind of rose-colored, and not really gritty. The particles are round and smooth.
No lichen so far. Kroger says maybe in the canals, if there are any canals. Lloyd wants to play chess again.
Jones won the beard contest. Pat gave him a cigar he'd smuggled on board (no smoking was allowed on the ship), and Jones threw it away. He doesn't smoke.
June 20, 1961 Got lost today. Pat told me not to go too far from camp, so, when I took a stroll, I made sure every so often that I could still see the rocket behind me. Walked for maybe an hour; then the oxygen gauge got past the halfway mark, so I started back toward the rocket. After maybe ten steps, the rocket disappeared. One minute it was standing there, tall and silvery, the next instant it was gone.
Turned on my radio pack and got hold of Pat. Told him what happened, and he told Kroger. Kroger said I had been following a mirage, to step back a bit. I did, and I could see the ship again. Kroger said to try and walk toward where the ship seemed to be, even when it wasn't in view, and meantime they'd come out after me in the jeep, following my footprints.
Started walking back, and the ship vanished again. It reappeared, disappeared, but I kept going. Finally saw the real ship, and Lloyd and Jones waving their arms at me. They were shouting through their masks, but I couldn't hear them. The air is too thin to carry sound well.
All at once, something gleamed in their hands, and they started shooting at me with their rifles. That's when I heard the noise behind me. I was too scared to turn around, but finally Jones and Lloyd came running over, and I got up enough nerve to look. There was nothing there, but on the sand, paralleling mine, were footprints. At least I think they were footprints. Twice as long as mine, and three times as wide, but kind of featureless because the sand's loose and dry. They doubled back on themselves, spaced considerably farther apart.
"What was it?" I asked Lloyd when he got to me.
"Damned if I know," he said. "It was red and scaly, and I think it had a tail. It was two heads taller than you." He shuddered. "Ran off when we fired."
"Where," said Jones, "are Pat and Kroger?"