The Golden Age Of Science Fiction Vol Iii Part 53

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"Sorry. I have to call the office." I turned my back on him and headed for the car.

The noise was louder, and the flashes in the sky brighter--it looked as though they were moving this way. Well, I didn't have any money tied up in the car, so I wasn't worried about leaving it in the street. And somebody's cellar seemed like a very good place to be. I called the office and started to tell Harrison what we'd found out; but he stopped me short. "Sandy, where've you been? I've been trying to call you for--Listen, we got a call from Fordham. They've detected radiation coming from the East Side--it's got to be what's going on up there! Radiation, do you hear me? That means atomic weapons! Now, you get th--"

Silence.

"h.e.l.lo?" I cried, and then remembered to push the talk b.u.t.ton. "h.e.l.lo? Harrison, you there?"

Silence. The two-way radio was dead.



I got out of the car; and maybe I understood what had happened to the radio and maybe I didn't. Anyway, there was something new s.h.i.+ning in the sky. It hung below the clouds in parts, and I could see it through the bottom of the clouds in the middle; it was a silvery teacup upside down, a hemisphere over everything.

It hadn't been there two minutes before.

I heard firing coming closer and closer. Around a corner a bunch of cops came, running, turning, firing; running, turning and firing again. It was like the retreat from Caporetto in miniature. And what was chasing them? In a minute I saw. Coming around the corner was a kid with a lightning-blue satin jacket and two funny-looking guns in his hand; there was a silvery aura around him, the same color as the lights in the sky; and I swear I saw those cops' guns. .h.i.t him twenty times in twenty seconds, but he didn't seem to notice.

Sol and the kid from the candy store were right beside me. We took another look at the one-man army that was coming down the street toward us, laughing and prancing and firing those odd-looking guns. And then the three of us got out of there, heading for the cellar. Any cellar.

V.

Priam's Maw My occupation was "short-order cook", as it is called. I practiced it in a locus ent.i.tled "The White Heaven," established at Fifth Avenue, Newyork, between 1949 and 1962 C.E. I had created rapport with several of the aboriginals, who addressed me as Bessie, and presumed to approve the manner in which I heated specimens of minced ruminant quadruped flesh (deceased to be sure). It was a satisfactory guise, although tiring.

Using approved techniques, I was compiling anthropometric data while "I" was, as they say, "brewing coffee." I deem the probability nearly conclusive that it was the double duty, plus the datum that, as stated, "I" was physically tired, which caused me to overlook the first signal from my portatron. Indeed, I might have overlooked the second as well except that the aboriginal named Lester stated: "Hey, Bessie. Ya got an alarm clock in ya pocketbook?" He had related the annunciator signal of the portatron to the only significant datum in his own experience which it resembled, the ringing of a bell.

I annotated his dossier to provide for his removal in case it eventuated that he had made an undesirable intuit (this proved unnecessary) and retired to the back of the "store" with my carry-all. On identifying myself to the portatron, I received information that it was attuned to a Bailey's Beam, identified as Foraminifera 9-Hart, who had refused treatment for systemic weltschmerz and instead sought to relieve his boredom by adventuring into this era.

I thereupon compiled two recommendations which are attached: 2, a proposal for reprimand to the Keeper of the Learning Lodge for failure to properly annotate a volume ent.i.tled U.S.A. Confidential and, 1, a proposal for reprimand to the Transport Executive, for permitting Bailey's Beam-cla.s.s personnel access to temporal transport. Meanwhile, I left the "store" by a rear exit and directed myself toward the locus of the transmitting portatron.

I had proximately left when I received an additional information, namely that developed weapons were being employed in the area toward which I was directing. This provoked that I abandon guise entirely. I went transparent and quickly examined all aboriginals within view, to determine if any required removal; but none had observed this. I rose to perhaps seventy-five meters and sped at full atmospheric driving speed toward the source of the alarm. As I crossed a "park" I detected the drive of another Adjuster, whom I determined to be Alephplex Priam's Maw--that is, my father. He bespoke me as follows: "Hurry, Besplex Priam's Maw. That crazy Foraminifera has been captured by aboriginals and they have taken his weapons away from him." "Weapons?" I inquired. "Yes, weapons," he stated, "for Foraminifera 9-Hart brought with him more than forty-three kilograms of weapons, ranging up to and including electronic."

I recorded this datum and we landed, went opaque in the shelter of a doorway and examined our percepts. "Quarantine?" asked my father, and I had to agree. "Quarantine," I voted, and he opened his carry-all and set-up a quarantine s.h.i.+eld on the console. At once appeared the silvery quarantine dome, and the first step of our adjustment was completed. Now to isolate, remove, replace.

Queried Alephplex: "An Adjuster?" I observed the phenomenon to which he was referring. A young, dark aboriginal was coming toward us on the "street," driving a group of police aboriginals before him. He was armed, it appeared, with a fission-throwing weapon in one hand and some sort of tranquilizer--I deem it to have been a Stollgratz 16--in the other; moreover, he wore an invulnerability belt. The police aboriginals were attempting to strike him with missile weapons, which the belt deflected. I neutralized his s.h.i.+eld, collapsed him and stored him in my carry-all. "Not an Adjuster," I a.s.serted my father, but he had already perceived that this was so. I left him to neutralize and collapse the police aboriginals while I zeroed in on the portatron. I did not envy him his job with the police aboriginals, for many of them were "dead," as they say. It required the most delicate adjustments.

The portatron developed to be in a "cellar" and with it were some nine or eleven aboriginals which it had immobilized pending my arrival. One spoke to me thus: "Young lady, please call the cops! We're stuck here, and--" I did not wait to hear what he wished to say further, but neutralized and collapsed him with the other aboriginals. The portatron apologized for having caused me inconvenience; but of course it was not its fault, so I did not neutralize it. Using it for d-f, I quickly located the culprit, Foraminifera 9-Hart Bailey's Beam, nearby. He spoke despairingly in the dialect of the locus, "Besplex Priam's Maw, for G.o.d's sake get me out of this!" "Out!" I spoke to him, "you'll wish you never were 'born,' as they say!" I neutralized but did not collapse him, pending instructions from the Central Authority. The aboriginals who were with him, however, I did collapse.

Presently arrived Alephplex, along with four other Adjusters who had arrived before the quarantine s.h.i.+eld made it not possible for anyone else to enter the disturbed area. Each one of us had had to abandon guise, so that this locus of Newyork 1939-1986 must require new Adjusters to replace us--a matter to be charged against the guilt of Foraminifera 9-Hart Bailey's Beam, I deem.

This concluded Steps 3 and 2 of our Adjustment, the removal and the isolation of the disturbed specimens. We are transmitting same disturbed specimens to you under separate cover herewith, in neutralized and collapsed state, for the manufacture of simulacra thereof. One regrets to say that they number three thousand eight hundred forty-six, comprising all aboriginals within the quarantined area who had first-hand knowledge of the anachronisms caused by Foraminifera's importation of contemporary weapons into this locus.

Alephplex and the four other Adjusters are at present reconstructing such physical damage as was caused by the use of said weapons. Simultaneously, while I am preparing this report, "I" am maintaining the quarantine s.h.i.+eld which cuts off this locus, both physically and temporally, from the remainder of its environment. I deem that if replacements for the attached aboriginals can be fabricated quickly enough, there will be no significant outside percept of the s.h.i.+eld itself, or of the happenings within it--that is, by maintaining a quasi-stasis of time while the repairs are being made, an outside aboriginal observer will see, at most, a mere flicker of silver in the sky. All Adjusters here present are working as rapidly as we can to make sure the s.h.i.+eld can be withdrawn, before so many aboriginals have observed it as to make it necessary to replace the entire city with simulacra. We do not wish a repet.i.tion of the California incident, after all.

Contents

THE HOHOKAM DIG.

By Theodore Pratt

At first they thought the attack was a joke. And then they realized the truth!

At first the two scientists thought the Indian attack on them was a joke perpetrated by some of their friends. After all, modern Indians did not attack white men any more.

Except that these did.

George Arthbut and Sidney Hunt were both out of New York, on the staff of the Natural History Museum. George was an ethnologist who specialized in what could be reconstructed about the prehistoric Indians of North America, with emphasis on those of the Southwest. He was a tall, lean, gracious bald man in his early sixties.

Sidney was an archeologist who was fascinated by the ruins of the same kind of ancient Indians. Medium-sized, with black hair that belied his sixty-five years, he and George made an excellent team, being the leaders in their field.

They had come west on a particular bit of business this spring, trying to solve the largest question that remained about the old cliff dwellers and the prehistoric desert Indians, both of whom had deserted their villages and gone elsewhere for reasons that remained a mystery.

One theory was that drought had driven them both away. Another theory ran to the effect that enemies wiped them out or made off with them as captives. Still another supposition, at least for the Hohokam desert people, the builders of Casa Grande whose impressive ruins still stood near Coolidge, had to do with their land giving out so they could no longer grow crops, forcing them to go elsewhere to find better soil.

No one really knew. It was all pure guesswork.

The two scientists meant to spend the entire summer trying to solve this riddle for all time, concentrating on it to the exclusion of everything else. They drove west in a station wagon stuffed with equipment and tracking a U-Haul-It packed with more.

George drove, on a road that was only two sand tracks across the wild empty desert between Casa Grande Monument and Tonto National Monument where cliff dwellers had lived. It was here, not far ahead, in new ruins that were being excavated, that they hoped to solve the secret of the exodus of the prehistoric Indians. The place was known as the Hohokam Dig.

They topped a rise of ground and came to the site of the dig. Here the sand tracks ended right in the middle of long trenches dug out to reveal thick adobe walls. In the partially bared ruins the outline of a small village could be seen; the detailed excavation would be done this summer by workmen who would arrive from Phoenix and Tucson.

George stopped their caravan and the two men got out, stretching their legs. They looked about, both more interested in the dig, now they were back at it, than setting up camp. They walked around, examining various parts of it, and the excitement of the promise of things to be discovered in the earth came to them. "This summer we'll learn the answer," Sidney predicted.

With skeptical hope George replied, "Maybe."

It was early afternoon when they set up camp, getting out their tent from the U-Haul-It. They took out most of their gear, even setting up a portable TV set run on batteries brought along. They worked efficiently and rapidly, having done this many times before and having their equipment well organized from long experience. By the middle of the afternoon all was ready and they rested, sitting on folding chairs at a small table just outside the opening of their tent.

Looking around at the dig Sidney remarked, "Wouldn't it be easy if we could talk to some of the people who once lived here?"

"There's a few questions I'd like to ask them," said George. "I certainly wish we had some to talk with."

He had no more than uttered this casual wish than there sounded, from all sides of where they sat, screeching whoops. The naked brown men who suddenly appeared seemed to materialize from right out of the excavations. As they yelled they raised their weapons. The air was filled, for an instant, with what looked like long arrows. Most of them whistled harmlessly past the two scientists, but one hit the side of the station wagon, making a resounding thump and leaving a deep dent, while two buried themselves in the wood of the U-Haul-It and remained there, quivering.

George and Sidney, after the shock of their first surprise at this attack, leaped to their feet.

"The car!" cried Sidney. "Let's get out of here!"

They both started to move. Then George stopped and grabbed Sidney's arm. "Wait!"

"Wait?" Sidney demanded. "They'll kill us!"

"Look," advised George, indicating the red men who surrounded them; they now made no further move of attack.

George gazed about. "Oh," he said, "you think somebody's playing a joke on us?"

"Could be," said George. He ran one hand over his bald head.

"Some dear friends," Sidney went on, resenting the scare that had been thrown into them, "hired some Indians to pretend to attack us?"

"Maybe Pimas," said George. He peered at the Indians, who now were jabbering among themselves and making lamenting sounds as they glanced about at the ruins of the ancient village. There were eighteen of them. They were clad in nothing more than a curious cloth of some kind run between their legs and up and over a cord about their waists, to form a short ap.r.o.n, front and back.

"Or Zunis," said Sidney.

"Maybe Maricopas," said George.

"Except," Sidney observed, "none of them look like those kind of Indians. And those arrows they shot." He stared at the two sticking in the U-Haul-It. "Those aren't arrows, George--they're atlatl lances!"

"Yes," said George.

Sidney breathed, "They aren't holding bows--they've got atlatls!"

"No modern Indian of any kind," said George, "uses an atlatl."

"Most of them wouldn't even know what it was," Sidney agreed. "They haven't been used for hundreds of years; the only place you see them is in museums."

An atlatl was the weapon which had replaced the stone axe in the stone age. It was a throwing stick consisting of two parts. One was the lance, a feathered shaft up to four feet long, tipped with a stone point. The two-foot flat stick that went with this had a slot in one end and two rawhide finger loops. The lance end was fitted in the slot to be thrown. The stick was an extension of the human arm to give the lance greater force. Some atlatls had small charm stones attached to them to give them extra weight and magic.

Charm stones could be seen fastened to a few of the atlatls being held by the Indians now standing like bronze statues regarding them.

George whispered, "What do you make of it?"

"It isn't any joke," replied Sidney. He gazed tensely at the Indians. "That's all I'm sure of."

"Have you noticed their breechclouts?"

Sidney stared again. "They aren't modern clouts. George, they're right out of Hohokam culture!"

"They aren't made of cloth, either. That's plaited yucca fibre."

"Just like we've dug up many times. Only here ..." George faltered. "It's being worn by--by I don't know what."

"Look at their ornaments."

Necklaces, made of pierced colored stones, hung about many of the brown necks. Sh.e.l.l bracelets were to be seen, and here and there a carved piece of turquoise appeared.

"Look at the Indian over there," George urged.

Sidney looked to the side where George indicated, and croaked, "It's a girl!"

It was a girl indeed. She stood straight and magnificent in body completely bare except for the brief ap.r.o.n at her loins. Between her beautiful full copper b.r.e.a.s.t.s there hung a gleaming piece of turquoise carved in the shape of a coyote.

At her side stood a tall young Indian with a handsome face set with great pride. On her other side was a wizened little old fellow with a wrinkled face and ribs corrugated like a saguaro.

Sidney turned back and demanded, "What do you make of this? Are we seeing things?" Hopefully, he suggested, "A mirage or sort of a mutual hallucination?"

In a considered, gauging tone George replied, "They're real."

"Real?" cried Sidney. "What do you mean, real?"

"Real in a way. I mean, Sidney, these--I sound crazy to myself saying it--but I think these are--well, Sid, maybe they're actual prehistoric Indians."

"Huh?"

"Well, let's put it this way: We asked for them and we got them."

Sidney stared, shocked at George's statement. "You're crazy, all right," he said. "Hohokams in the middle of the Twentieth Century?"

"I didn't say they're Hohokams, though they probably are, of the village here."

"You said they're prehistoric," Sidney accused. He quavered, "Just how could they be?"

"Sid, you remember in our Indian studies, again and again, we meet the medicine man who has visions. Even modern ones have done things that are pretty impossible to explain. I believe they have spiritual powers beyond the capability of the white man. The prehistoric medicine men may have developed this power even more. I think the old man there is their medicine man."

"So?" Sidney invited.

"I'm just supposing now, mind you," George went on. He rubbed his bald pate again as though afraid of what thoughts were taking place under it. "Maybe way back--a good many hundreds of years ago--this medicine man decided to have a vision of the future. And it worked. And here he is now with some of his people."

"Wait a minute," Sidney objected. "So he had this vision and transported these people to this moment in time. But if it was hundreds of years ago they're already dead, been dead for a long time, so how could they--"

"Don't you see, Sid? They can be dead, but their appearance in the future--for them--couldn't occur until now because it's happened with us and we weren't living and didn't come along here at the right time until this minute."

Sidney swallowed. "Maybe," he muttered, "maybe."

The Golden Age Of Science Fiction Vol Iii Part 53

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