"Now look here, Fisher, if this is some sort of a gag, I'll see that...."
"No, sir," Harry repeated strenuously, "I really mean the question."
The colonel glanced back over his shoulder into the house. He turned back to the pair. "Yes, the lights appear to be all functioning."
Harry turned to Jed. "Talk to your mother, Jed," he whispered.
Jed shut his eyes. "Ma," he thought, "it's me agin!"
The lights went out all over the colonel's quarters.
Colonel Cartwright gasped and stared at the mountain boy standing with his eyes closed.
"All right, Jed," Harry said, "break it off."
"Jest a minute, Ma," Jed thought, "Harry wants me." He opened his eyes and the lights came on.
"How did he do it?" the colonel breathed.
"He thought them out, sir," Harry said.
"He ... WHAT?" Cartwright spluttered.
"That's right, sir," Harry repeated. "He 'thought' them out. Jed, get Ma on the line again."
Jed shut his eyes. The lights went out again.
Colonel Cartwright sagged against the door jamb. He moaned, "How long has this one been running around loose?"
"Colonel," Harry said cautiously, "he does the same thing with radios, telephones, cars, anything requiring electrical power. He just shuts it off."
The post commander looked stunned.
"That's not all either, sir," Harry continued. "He can 'think' bullets to a target."
"Come in the house," the colonel said weakly. "That's an order, soldiers."
Three weeks later, Sergeants First Class Harold Fisher and Jediah Cromwell were putting the finishing touches to their own private room. Jed sank down onto the soft mattress on the big bed. "Glory be, Harry, I jest can't seem to catch my breath, we've been movin' so fast 'n doin' so much. All them there tests with them tanks and them airyplanes in Californy and that other funny place. Ma thought it was kinda funny I had so much time fer jest a-sittin' 'n chattin' with her. Now we're here 'n I ain't allowed to say nothing to her."
He stole a proud glance at the new chevrons on the sleeve of his fancy, blue dress uniform. "Gosh but Ma would be proud to hear about all what's happened to us. I purely wish I could tell her."
Harry snapped up from the bureau drawer where he had been placing his clothing.
"Watch it, Jed. You know what the general said. Now don't you go and queer this deal for us just because you're getting a little homesick," Harry warned. "We're the only Army GI's in this outfit and this is pretty plush. You know what the general said, 'no talking with Ma until you get permission.' Remember?"
Jed sighed. "Oh, I remember, rightly enough. Only I shore wish they'd let me just think 'hello' to her. I ain't never been so far from her afore and its gonna take a heap of powerful mind-talk to get to her."
"Never you mind, now Jed," Harry said, "you'll get all the chances you want to talk with her. Just be patient."
He turned back to his clothing. The was a knock at the door and then it opened to admit a small, conservatively-dressed civilian. Both sergeants jumped to their feet.
"Good morning, gentlemen," the civilian said. "I'm George Wadsworth, first secretary at the Embassy here." He looked around the room and smiled. "Your quarters satisfactory, men?" Both soldiers nodded happily.
"Good," Wadsworth said. "Oh, by the way Sergeant Cromwell," he turned to Jed, "we've just learned that our hosts plan to launch their manned Moon rocket within the next hour or so. Isn't that interesting?"
Jed nodded vigorously.
"I though so, too," Wadsworth continued. "I should imagine that your mother would find this quite interesting as well, don't you think, Sergeant Cromwell?"
"'Deed she would, sir," Jed said enthusiastically.
"Quite so," Wadsworth said mildly. "Why don't you just take the rest of the day off and tell her about it. While you're at it, you might bring her up to date on your trip. And there's a wonderful view of the Kremlin from this window. I'm sure she'll be interested in all this. Just have a nice long chat. Take all day. Take two days if you like. No hurry, you know."
He smiled and turned to leave the room. "Don't forget to tell her about your airplane ride, too," he added and then walked to the door.
"Thank you, sir," Jed called out after him.
Jed grinned happily and lay down on the nice, soft mattress.
"Ma," he thought, concentrating harder than he ever did before, "it's me agin."
All electrical power went off over the western dominions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
By L. Major Reynolds
The red-headed secretary asked, "Names, please?"
"To see H. Joshua Blair. We have an appointment."
"It's for three-thirty. We called up two weeks ago."
The secretary said, "Oh, yes. I have you on the list." She checked them off, studied them vaguely, asked, "What was it you wanted to see Mr. Blair about?"
Ted Baker held out the small steel box he was carrying. "About this."
"Ah--what is it?"
"It's a box."
"I can see that," the redhead snapped. "What is it for? What does it do?"
"It's for construction work. It makes holes."
The girl sighed. It was late in the day and she didn't care much, really. She snapped an intercom button. An inquiring voice rasped at her. She said, "A Mr. Baker and a Mr. Stephens to see you."
Evidently it was all right because she snapped off the button and pointed to a door. "In there."
They went in the door and faced a desk large enough to play tennis on. The man behind the desk gave them a cordial snarl. "Well, what have you got on your mind? And don't take all day to tell me."
Ted extended the box. "This. We'd like to sell it to you."
"What is it? A bomb?"
"No, sir. It makes holes. It makes holes real quick."
Blair scowled at the box. "What the hell do I want of holes?"
Bill Stephens came forward with further explanation. "You see, sir, Ted and I are inventors. We make, well--things. We've been working on this invention in our basement and it seems to be a success."
"We don't quite know why it's a success," Ted said, "but it is."
"We'd like to demonstrate it for you."
"Well, go ahead and demonstrate."
Ted raised the box and aimed it horizontally at nothing in particular. He pressed a black button. There was an odd whirring noise. He took his hand off the button and lowered the box.
"What are you waiting for?" Blair growled.
"Nothing. That's it. I've made the hole."
"Are you two crazy? What kind of a fool trick--?"
Ted reached down and took a pencil off the desk. "May I borrow this?" Without waiting for permission, he put the pencil carefully into the place he'd pointed the box. Half the pencil disappeared. He took his hand away. The part of the pencil still in sight didn't come with it. It stayed where it was, lying in thin air, horizontally, with no apparent support.
H. Joshua Blair goggled and turned three shades whiter. "Wha-wha-what the hell!"
"And now, if you'll try to move the pencil, the demonstration will be complete."
Like a man in a trance, Blair got up from his desk and grasped the pencil. It wouldn't move. He got red in the face and threw all his weight on it. It would neither pull nor push. It stayed where it was. Finally Blair backed away from the thing. He leaned on his desk and panted.
"You see," Ted said, "The hole goes into the fourth dimension. There's no other explanation. And the fourth dimension holds solider than concrete."
Old Blair's head was spinning, but business instinct came quickly to his rescue. "What happens," he asked, "if something in the third dimension is in the way?"
"It gets out of the way," Bill said.
Ted demonstrated. He trained the box on the visible remains of the pencil. It vanished.
Blair said, "Well, I'll be damned!"
"We figure this will save you a lot of money in construction work," Bill said. "You can get along without riveters. You just have a man put holes in girders with this and push the rivets through. You also make holes for the beam-ends, and your entire building will be anchored in the fourth dimension."
"Do it again," Blair said.
Ted made another hole and put another pencil into it. Blair grasped the pencil and applied leverage. The pencil snapped at the point it entered the next dimension but the broken end of the far piece was not to be seen.
Blair asked, "You say you two invented this gadget?"
"That's right," Bill said. "We've got a workshop in my basement. We invent in the evenings after we come home from work."
"What do you work at?"
"I read gas meters. He's a clerk in a supermarket."
"I suppose you want money for this thing."
"We'd like to sell it, yes, sir."
"How much do you want for it?"
"Well, we don't know. What's it worth to you?"
"Nothing probably. Leave it here a few days. I'll look it over and let you know."
"And don't call me--I'll call you."
"Leave your address and phone number with my secretary."
After Ted and Bill left, Blair yelled, "Get me Jake Steadman in the engineering department!" He didn't bother using the intercom, but his secretary heard him anyhow.
Ted and Bill went to work on an idea they had for the treatment of leather. You dipped your shoes in a solution and they lasted forever. The thing didn't work too well, however. It was full of bugs. They tried to eliminate the bugs and once in a while they thought of H. Joshua Blair.