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Dave Martinson eased shut the door of the magnetics lab, and stood still, listening.

In the shadowy silence, with the engineers and technicians gone home, the lab was an unearthly place. Its concrete floor stretched dimly out to the distant walls, making Dave feel like a fly standing on the corner of a table. Overhead, thick loops of heavy black cable branched and rejoined, like the web of a spider woven between the looming bulks of silent equipment.

In the daytime, with the lab blazing with light, and with the cheerful greetings of friends, Dave hardly noticed the strangeness. It was no worse, certainly, than his own lab, where he worked as a cryogenics engineer. But it wasn't just the silence, the darkness, or the strangeness of the lab at night that bothered him.

What really bothered Dave was that, despite the air of emptiness and silence, he knew he was not alone.

Somewhere in the dimness, there was someone else.

And, remembering his conversation several days ago with Sam Bardeen, Dave knew the reason—Sabotage. What Bardeen had said had made that clear.

Bardeen, president of the research corporation, was a mysterious figure. Unknown ten years ago, he and his advisor, Richard Barrow, had risen till they headed one of the biggest, and most successful, private research outfits in the country. Bardeen made it a point to meet everyone who worked for him, and several days ago, he'd sent for Dave. He shook hands with a firm grip, then motioned Dave to a chair. They talked about the research center, and Bardeen asked, "How much do you know about Project 'S'?"

Project "S" involved the most secret work in the research center, and Dave wasn't supposed to know a thing about it.

He said, "I know it's secret. I know a great amount of material has been brought in there, but I have no idea what it was. Naturally, I've wondered about Project 'S'. I suppose we all have. I've heard it said, on good authority, that it's a new process for the purification of sea-water. All I'm really sure of is that it's not 'for the purification of sea-water'."

"Why do you say that?"

"To begin with, the security precautions are too tight. We already have a lighted, well-guarded fence completely around the whole research center, which itself is far out of town, isolated, and set well back from the road. But in addition, there's the so-called 'inner security compound,' with its own gate, guardhouse, and lighted fence, around the Project 'S' building, the cryogenics and magnetics labs. The people in those labs can't go into the Project 'S' building, but Project 'S' people can go into the labs. Everyone who works on Project 'S' lives here with his family, goes to the doctor kept here especially for him, goes to the dentist here, and goes to the movies here. He does his work in the inner compound, yet it's necessary to go through four gates and past three guardposts merely to get into the outer compound."

Bardeen laughed, but said nothing.

Dave said, "With due respect to the people who say they're purifying sea-water in there, I just don't believe it."

"Well," said Bardeen, "you have to remember, there's a severe water shortage developing in this country. Whoever can develop a fast, cheap process for purifying sea water can expect to make a sizeable profit. Naturally, we'd want to keep our process secret."

"If there were need for that much security, the words 'sea-water' would never be mentioned around here. As it is, it's the quasi-official explanation. But I've hardly begun to mention what's wrong with it. For instance, there's the fact that the cryogenics and magnetics labs obviously tie in with Project 'S,' since they too are in the inner security compound. And in the cryogenics lab, we've been doing a great deal of work close to absolute zero. Now, on the everyday Fahrenheit temperature scale, that's around four hundred and ninety degrees below the freezing point of water. At these temperatures, sea-water would long since have been frozen into one solid chunk."

"New processes—" said Bardeen.

Dave nodded. "Granted. But there are other things wrong with the sea-water idea. For instance, the superconductivity work that's been done? Where does that fit in? And the magnetics lab's work to produce powerful magnetic fields of large cross-sections? And the fact that the cryogenics lab is turning out volumes of low-temperature liquids and slushes, which are piped next door to the magnetics lab and run through huge units called 'Blocks,' which obviously are a part of Project 'S'?"

"How do you know?"

"The magnetics lab uses cryogenics products and equipment, and naturally they need our help from time to time. It's impossible to work on that equipment without noticing things. For instance, that the Blocks in the magnetics lab are shaped as parts of some larger structure. But there's no provision to join them or even get them out of the lab, so it follows that they're full-scale models, with the unified, finished device—which would be very large—somewhere else. The Project 'S' building is huge, and it's right next door. The connection is obvious."

Bardeen looked at Dave wonderingly. "I had no idea our cover was as thin as that."

"It might not be to an outsider."

Bardeen thoughtfully massaged his chin.

"What is Project 'S'?"

"In my opinion, it's a thermonuclear reactor."

Bardeen glanced out the window. His hands lay calmly on the desk, but for an instant he was biting his lip. Then he shrugged, and he turned to face Dave frankly.

"You're close enough. I can't tell you just how close, but it's enough to explain the security precautions we're taking. I'm concerned about the security aspect myself, and my partner, Mr. Barrow, thinks there may be trouble with saboteurs or industrial spies." Bardeen looked at Dave as if making some point, then he smiled and said, "Now I wonder if you'd tell me about your work. I understand you've developed a highly effective new cryostat. How did you lick the problem of conduction losses?"

And the rest of the conversation had been technical. But the idea had been firmly planted in Dave's mind that what was going on in the Project 'S' building was something that might readily attract industrial spies, eager to seek out the secrets of a competitor—and it might even attract saboteurs.

It was this thought that had made Dave glance more sharply at the dimly-seen movement near the magnetics lab tonight, when ordinarily he was not at all security-minded. That he should see anything was sheer chance. The three buildings in the inner security compound happened to lie in a straight line from north to south. The cryogenics lab, where Dave worked, was farthest north, connected by an enclosed walkway with the magnetics lab in the middle, which was connected by another enclosed walk to the overshadowing bulk of the Project 'S' building. The labs had their own individual parking lots, separated only by a swath of green grass, and it had been from the northernmost parking lot that Dave, just driving out after working late in the cryogenics lab, had seen the intruder.

The sun by then had gone down, and the deep shadow of the magnetics lab was thrown across its empty parking lot. It was the time of evening when it wasn't daylight, and it wasn't yet dark. It was impossible to see clearly, but it was still light enough so that headlights were not much help, either. When Dave saw the blur of motion, he thought at first it was a trick of the eye. But remembering Bardeen's comment, he slowed his car to a stop, and rolled down the window to watch.

From the front of the magnetics lab, about where the door should be, came a large dull flash of light, seen for a moment, then gone.

Dave glanced around. At the end of the drive, several hundred feet in front of him, was a small guardhouse by the gate in the fence of the inner security compound. Tall lightpoles lit the cars that stopped near the gate, and lit the fence that stretched due north along the edge of the compound. The guardhouse itself was dazzlingly bathed in light. One quick glance was enough to show Dave what must have happened.

The door of the magnetics lab was highly polished. The lab, Dave's car, and the guardhouse were on about the same level, with the lab set off to one side. If the door were opened at a slight angle, its polished surface would reflect the brilliant light from the guardhouse. If the door were swinging shut, it would reflect it only briefly.

The question was—Had the door opened when someone came out—Or had someone gone in?

Dave frowned briefly, puzzled that the built-in, photoelectric switch hadn't yet turned on the lights in front of the lab. Then he snapped on his headlights, and swung the car so that their lights rapidly swept over the front of the lab from one end to the other. There, at least, it was dark enough so that the headlights helped, and he could see that there was nothing there but the wide cement walk in front of the lab, the flat outjutting roof, and the empty asphalt of the vacant parking lot.

No-one had come out.—Therefore someone had gone in.

Dave cast a quick glance at the guardhouse down the drive, set the parking brake, got out and locked the car door.

The prudent thing, he knew, was to go down to the guardhouse and tell what he had seen. But the guards, from their position, would have seen nothing. To explain his reasoning would take five minutes at least, and one of the guards might think Dave hadn't seen what he had seen. There usually were only two men on duty in the guardhouse, and they might well have to call up and get permission before either of them could leave. The possibilities of delay stretched out, and Dave decided not to do what he was supposed to do, but instead to do something that ought to bring action in a hurry. Leaving the car with its lights shining on the door of the lab, he turned directly into his headlight beams, ran to the door, and gripped the knob to try it. He found to his surprise that while the door was locked—so that he couldn't turn the knob—it wasn't latched. The catch had not snapped into its slot. As he tugged at it, the door pulled open.

Dave looked quickly around, and saw someone standing in front of the guardhouse, looking his way. He yanked the door wide open, and went inside.

He was immediately rewarded by the blare of a siren.

Once, twice, three, four times it sounded, in short blasts, signaling the need for immediate help at guardhouse number four.

Guardhouse number four was right there at the end of the drive, and the need must seem urgent to them to use the siren. That would bring the reinforcements on the run.

Dave let the heavy door swing almost shut, cutting the siren down to a distant wail. He made sure the door didn't latch, and looked around in the dim light at the closed doors of several offices, the two washrooms, and the lab itself. There was no sound of movement anywhere, and he paused to swiftly think things over. The car lights were directly on the front door, and the two men at the guardhouse would be watching it closely. In perhaps five minutes, the guards from the security building would be here, and any intruder in the offices would be trapped. But from the lab, the two covered walkways led to the cryogenics and Project 'S' buildings. And in the lab itself, a saboteur could make a nightmarish mess. Dave cautiously eased open the lab door, and slid inside.

And found himself listening, in the shadowy silence, with the concrete floor stretching dimly out to the distant walls, and the thick loops of cable like a web joining the looming bulks of equipment.

Then he heard the faint scrape from across the lab to his left.

In the gloom, hoping his eyes would accommodate to the dimness, Dave moved forward. His blood pounded in his ears, and he could hear the sound of his own breathing. The guards by now should be pouring out of the security building into their Jeeps. They would be here in three or four minutes. Their first move on arrival would naturally be to snap on the lights of the lab. It wasn't smart, but it was their only chance to end things fast. The trouble was, whoever was in here would be well-armed. In the exchange of gunfire, a bullet might plow through a surface designed to resist changes of temperature, not impact. One of the pipes might be cut, sending out a spray that would crystallize air in an instant. Worse yet, the liquefied gas in a big damaged cryostat might vaporize, building up enough pressure to burst the cryostat and release a blast of liquid and vapor that would freeze a man solid on contact. Dave abruptly found himself up against a large, gently-corrugated, curving surface. He reached out cautiously across it, and realized it was one of the branching coolant lines leading to the magnetic Block that loomed up over his right shoulder. The gently corrugated surface was a thin sheet of aluminum over the underlying insulation. If he tried to climb over it, it might buckle, with a noise that could bring a fusillade of bullets in his direction. He reached down, and found the space beneath it too narrow to crawl under. He worked to his left, and found another magnetic Block in his way—he looked around. The lab, instead of appearing lighter as his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, appeared darker yet as the feeble daylight coming in the few high windows faded out.

Somewhere, there was the sound of a key sliding in a lock, the faint rattle of a door, then silence.

Dave made his way around the block to his left. He could picture the intruder going down the enclosed passage to the Project 'S' building. But if Dave could reach the door before it shut—

Not four feet in front of him, there was an explosive sigh of disgust, then a soft metallic sliding sound. The door hadn't opened after all.

But Dave was close now, and moving too fast to stop.

His left foot hit a heavy solid bulk on the floor, throwing him forward off-balance.

From a darker shadow beside him, there was a quick insucking of breath. Then the back of Dave's skull seemed to explode. He was on one knee, helpless, when a heavy thud and an agonized curse told him the intruder had tried to finish him, and had hit too high.

Across the room, there was a low voice.

Abruptly, there was a blinding blaze of light.

"Don't move!"

Exactly what Dave had wanted to avoid had now happened.

And he was nicely placed to collect the bullets.

For an instant, Dave felt the edge of a shoe press against his hand as his opponent pivoted. There was the slide-snap of an automatic made ready to fire. Dave grabbed the ankle above the foot, jerked it up, wrenched the foot.

There was a deafening roar. Bits of cement spattered across his face. The room echoed to a volley of shots. He tipped forward off-balance. There was a crash, another roar, the memory of a high whining noise, and hot wind across his forehead. His left hand slid in a slippery hotness, and then there was the sound of running feet.

In half an hour, it was all over. Dave had shown passes and permits, identified himself to the guards' satisfaction as Dave Martinson, cryogenics engineer, and then they'd called up the administration building, where Sam Bardeen had left for home, but Richard Barrow was still on hand. Barrow examined the collection of burglar's tools, the small flat camera, and the little small black tubes imbedded in them. Barrow looked at Dave quizzically, then glanced questioningly at the doctor, who was bent over the motionless form lying in a pool of blood. The doctor shook his head.

Dave and Barrow exchanged a few more words, then Dave went to wash up. As Dave left the room, Barrow called, "Watch your driving. There are a lot of fools on the road."

Now that Dave was at the wheel, Barrow's comment bothered him. It was the kind of thing anyone might say, but Barrow wasn't anyone. Barrow, like Bardeen, was unpredictable and not given to platitudes.

Irritated, Dave thrust the thought out of his mind. He fingered the bump at the back of his skull. It was large, and it was tender, but at least he was all right. He still had a date tonight.

That thought put Barrow's warning out of his head.

He slowed to show his pass at the outer gate, and a few minutes later he was on the road to town, thinking of Anita Reynolds, who was a lovely girl with a sweet personality, a beautiful figure, and only one flaw.

He was thinking of her when for no reason that he knew, he felt a sense of unease that caused him to lightly press the brake pedal.

Forty feet ahead, a truck loaded with crates of chickens roared out of a side road without stopping, swung halfway across the road to straddle the white line, and then slowed down.

Dave slammed on the brakes. His car slowed so fast the steering wheel dug into his ribs. The rear end of the truck enlarged, the swaying crates rose high above him, and his radiator tried to ram itself in under the rear of the truck.

Dave pressed with all his strength on the brake pedal.

There was a grind of gears up ahead, and Dave found himself stopped dead, the truck swaying down the road in front of him with both left wheels over the white line.

His memory awoke in a rush.

"Watch your driving," Barrow had said. "There are a lot of fools on the road."

Dave swore involuntarily, and stepped on the gas.

Ahead of him, the truck accelerated to exactly thirty miles an hour, and weaved back and forth across the road, staying far to the right on sharp curves, the tops of hills, or when oncoming cars were near, and moving back across the middle when there was a clear straight stretch ahead.

No matter what Dave tried, he couldn't pass. Then from behind came a scream of brakes as some fool, doing ninety down the narrow road, abruptly closed up on Dave, who was held to thirty by the truck ahead. The lights of the car behind rapidly grew dazzling, Dave pulled as close to the truck and as far to the right as he dared. The car swung past on Dave's left, and the driver was promptly rewarded with a rear view of the truck. By some miracle, truck and car remained unhurt, and Dave found himself third in line.

In Dave's memory, Barrow's voice repeated. "Watch your driving. There are a lot of fools on the road."

It was a slow trip back to town. But, with the back of his neck still tingling, Dave made it at last.

Anita Reynolds had a clear, bell-like laugh. Her shining brown eyes lit up as Dave told the story. The laugh made the other diners turn, and the sight of Anita's smile, her face glowing as if lit from within, made them smile with her.

"What did you do?" she asked.

"What could I do?" said Dave. "I slowed down till I had a hundred feet between me and them, then I spent the rest of the trip glancing back and forth from them to the rear-view mirror. The truck slowed down to show who was boss, and we averaged twenty-five miles an hour all the way in."

The waiter discreetly laid the check face-down on the table, and Dave stood up to help Anita with her coat. He left a generous tip for the waiter, paid the cashier, and they started out. Anita glanced at Dave and smiled. "Dinner was very good. Thank you."

Dave grinned. "They have good food here. The place seems generally stuffy and behind the times, but the food is unbeatable."

Anita laughed. "What do you want, dancing girls?"

"Of course."

She was smiling at him, and Dave, smiling back, was aware of her warmth, her quick response to him, and her beauty. If only it could always be like this. He pushed open one of the double glass doors to the corridor that led out to the street, and held the door for her.

She smiled her thanks, turning slightly toward him as she walked by. She had a beautiful figure, and for one instant Dave was dizzyingly conscious of it. In that moment, he knew that everything about this girl was right.

Her voice seemed to reach him only faintly, and it took a moment to understand her words.

"Good heavens," she was saying, her voice crisp, "look at those headlines!"

The sense of bliss was gone. Dave looked around wearily, wondering what it was this time.

Nearby in the hall was a stand displaying candy, cigars, magazines and newspapers. Anita was looking at a newspaper, whose oversize headlines screamed:


Dave looked at her wearily. Her shining auburn hair showed glints of flame in the light, and her face and figure were beautiful. But her brows were drawn, her lips compressed, and her eyes shot sparks.

"Look at this," she said, showing Dave the paper.

Dave looked at it dully, remembering that when he'd first met Anita, he'd told his best friend of his good fortune.

"I've found a wonderful girl," he'd said.

"Good for you."

"The only trouble is, she's a follower of this—Harkman Bates, I think his name is."

"Oh, God!"

"She belongs to the—what do you call it—the—"

"Security League," said his friend promptly. "Okay. You're not engaged to her?"

"No," said Dave, startled.

"You're not married to her?"

"Of course not."

"Drop her."

"Listen—" Dave protested.

"You listen to me! Every time you think of her, hold your breath till you're dizzy, and don't breathe till you think of something else. Go join the YMCA, and work out on the dumbbells and parallel bars till you're so worn out girls are meaningless. Sink yourself in abstruse mathematics till you warp yourself around into a frame of reference where sex isn't even conceivable. Go—"

"Listen," said Dave furiously, "I didn't say I was a victim of passion! All I said—"

"Was that you're falling in love with this girl, and she belongs to the Security League."

"I just said she was a wonderful girl. Pretty. Intelligent. Good sense of humor. Nice figure. She's got everything. Only—"

"Yeah," said his friend cynically. "Well, that's all it takes. The uncontrollable passion will come later. Whether it will be love or murder I don't know."

"What do you mean?"

"You're up against something you can't lick, that's all. You can't win. You're an engineer. The motto of the Security League might as well be, 'End Science Before Science Ends Us.' And it's backed up by facts, figures, sentiment, and some kind of mystical claptrap a man can't come to grips with. Right in the focus of this stands Harkman Bates. He's handsome, he's rich, he's got stage presence, he's got a voice of silver, and he's got an organization that works for him from morning till night. You might as well argue with an earth-moving machine.

"If you go with this girl, there'll be endless conflict, because you're an engineer, and you'll represent Science to her. Your ego is going to take the bruising of a lifetime. You're going to cease to exist any time League business comes up. When Bates comes on TV, you're going to find yourself converted into a piece of furniture. Afterward you'll have to listen to how wonderful and how right he is. Get out now. Cut your losses. It's a hopeless cause."

Dave stared at him. "How can you be so sure?"

"I've been through it myself. A different girl, but the same situation. Take my word for it. You might just as well fall in love with a land mine."

And now, Anita was studying the newspaper, her face angry and indignant.

She glanced at him reproachfully, "Your scientific friends are responsible for this. Over three thousand people have died or are in the hospital thanks to those pills, and yet we can go into that drugstore over there—" She pointed across the hall to the entrance of a drugstore—"and buy a bottle right now to cure a headache. It doesn't say on the bottle that if you take too many they'll poison your liver. But—"

Dave remembered the last time he'd tried to argue with her. That had been over a magazine article to the effect that auto exhaust was connected with lung cancer and a lung condition called emphysema.

That argument had lasted three minutes by the clock, but it was three minutes packed with emotion and insult, and Dave wound up in the street, stunned.

This memory, too, passed through Dave's mind as Anita looked at him accusingly.

Then in memory Dave saw the smile on her lips and the glow in her eyes that had been there just a few minutes ago.

And Dave realized that he was not going to cut his losses. Somehow, there must be a way to win.

He'd already tried arguing it out with her, head-on. That had not worked.

He forced himself to look at the paper as if interested.

"I have to admit, you've got a point."

She frowned at him. "I expected a lecture on the virtues of science."

"Why? You're right."

This seemed to leave her totally confused. She started to speak, looked at him for a long moment, then turned away, blushing.

He didn't understand this. But it was better than fighting.

They walked outside.

She drew a deep breath. "What a lovely evening."

"Isn't it?" said Dave. The air was cool and clear, with a fresh breeze. The streets were almost empty. Sometimes there was a solid mass of cars, the combined exhausts of which, as they started up at a green light, was enough to give anyone momentary doubts about technology.

She put her hand in his.

"I'm sorry I snapped, Dave."

"I know how you feel."

"I'm so glad you do." She smiled at him warmly. "Have you ever thought of joining the League?"


They turned the corner. The theater marquee spelled out in bright lights:


Dave said hastily, "We're late. We'll have to hurry."

Where the Security League wasn't involved, Anita's sense of humor was cheerful and robust. And if there was one entertainer she liked above all other, this was the one. Fortunately, she forgot her question.

Two hours later, their disagreement completely forgotten, they came up the aisle of the theater hand-in-hand, and she smiled at him with sparkling eyes. They were buffeted by the crowd, but she didn't seem to mind. When they reached the lobby, she stopped for a box of popcorn. Around them people were rushing outside, and Dave felt a vague anxiety but couldn't pin it down. On the way out, they passed the door of a soda fountain known locally for its ice cream, and its after-movie snacks.

Dave glanced at it. Something told him he should take her in there. He looked at her.

"Would you like—"

She smiled contentedly. "The air's so fresh, and it's such a nice evening. Why don't we just take a walk?"

At the same time, he knew this wasn't going to work out, and he could think of no reason why it shouldn't.

From somewhere came the rumble of a big truck, and on a building across the street the lights of cars were swinging across as the parking lot near the theater emptied itself.

Dave looked into her clear dark eyes.

He held her hand tightly.

At the corner, the traffic light turned green.

A big diesel truck gave a loud Baarroom! It started forward, slowed with a clash of gears, accelerated hard.

A host of cars rushed forward as their drivers, anxious to get home so they'd be wide-awake at work the next day, jammed down the gas pedals.

The traffic shot past down the street.

The wind was right in the face of Dave and Anita.

Gas fumes and diesel smoke whirled around them.

"Oh, Dave!" cried Anita angrily.

Once again she was a member of the Security League.

She was somber as he drove toward her apartment.

He turned the car radio on hoping to get music. Instead he got a smooth commercial voice saying:

". . . boon for allergy sufferers, and it has been scientifically tested and found perfectly harmless, so you can take it without your doctor's prescription."

"Yes," said Anita acidly. "That's what you say now."

"And next," said the voice, "the news."

Dave reached out to change stations, but she said, "Let's listen."

"The town of Little Falls, Kansas," said the announcer, "was wiped out this afternoon. Not by fire, not by flood, but by a man-made catastrophe. Little Falls is in farming country, and planes were spraying insecticide unaware that the spray was remaining suspended in the air, to be blown in a thick deadly smog straight through town. Scientists say that the combination of atmospheric pressure, humidity, and temperature gradient which caused this smog was so unusual that no change in spraying technique is needed. The smog was only a freak, they say. But tonight, Little Falls is a ghost town—"

Anita huddled near the door, and the announcer droned on about detection of cheating on test bans, radioactive fall-out, the kidnapping of a rocket scientist from a Middle East missile project, an investigation of an additive used in baked goods, a case of the Black Plague carried halfway around the world in an airplane—and all through this recitation Anita shrank further from Dave. To wind it up, the announcer reported an experiment to:

". . . determine, this coming Saturday, the internal structure of the earth, by explosion of nuclear missiles, fired down long shafts with powerful laser 'head-lights' intended to melt the layers of rock in front of them when, at high speeds, they reach the ends of the shafts. These missiles are designed to penetrate further and explode deeper than any other man-made device in history. The object is to set up seismic waves that can be analyzed by new equipment . . ."

Dave slowed to a stop in front of Anita's apartment house.

The news went on.

". . . despite the qualms of we uninformed laymen, scientists assure us there is no danger because the explosions are small, geologically speaking.—And that's the news. Good night."

Dave shut the radio off before it could do more damage.

Anita said, in a small voice, "You didn't answer my question, Dave?"


"Before we went into the movie?"

Dave remembered the question "Have you ever thought of joining the League?"

He sighed.

"To be truthful, Anita I hadn't thought about it."

"Tonight is the first time I've even been able to talk to you about the League. Harkman Bates is going to speak on television in five minutes or so. Would you like to come up?"

"Sure," said Dave wearily, "I'll come up."

Bates's smooth deep voice rolled on. His chiseled features, cleft chin, and wavy silver hair gave him a look of distinction and power. His eyes spoke an unmistakable message of sincerity.

Anita, watching him, sighed.

Dave, contrasting the sincerity with the man's basic message, swore under his breath. Although it was unmistakable that Bates had a point.

". . . deformed children," Bates was saying, "brought into the world because scientists did not know the true nature of the 'harmless drug' gave another warning. But still they do not see the nature of the very thing they work with."

His eyes blazed.

"Science is unpredictable.

"Will scientists never learn that?

"The result of any new and basic experiment is not knowable in advance.

"As science reaches closer and closer to the heart of nature, the results of miscalculation and ignorance loom larger. Already, the womb of woman has been distorted by science, the lungs of man filled with corruption by the technology of science, the natural longings of humanity perverted by this new godless religion.

"Steadily the world becomes more strange to us, made strange by science. Already there are those who cannot make their way in such a world, and the number grows, day-by-day.

"The scientist tells us, we must study, and learn, and take up the things of science. We must all become scientists and technicians, and then we shall all be happy, well-adjusted.

"And all the time he says this, he is blinded to the flaw of his own belief:

"The results of an experiment cannot be foreseen.

"No-one knows where Science will lead us, or how suddenly the trail may end. Foolish men are raising this new unpredictable force to the point where we can no longer control it. Now is the time to control it.

"Now is the time to say—So far and no further!"

From somewhere, there rose an immense cheer, a thundering applause that grew and grew, and the camera shifted to show a huge audience on its feet, waving and cheering.

For just an instant, Dave remembered the blast of gas fumes on the street, the bitter expressions of boys on street corners, ready for trouble because they could find no work—machines had the jobs. He remembered the pills that were known to be harmless, and that did their damage anyway. He remembered his amazement at the list of ingredients in a package of baked goods. What were these things, anyway? He remembered the poisoned insecticide that had wiped out a town, thought of the tons of poison that were dumped on plants yearly, washed into the soil and—then what? Did the plants take up the insecticide and pass it on, little by little, to the man who ate the plant?

These and many other things flashed through his mind.

"My friends," said the voice of the handsome silver-haired man,

"Now is the time to stop it!

"And to stop it forever!"

The cheer rose again, but Dave was out of the spell.

The speech was over.

A band was playing, and Anita, her eyes shining, turned to Dave, including him in her own world.

"Now you've heard him! Now will you join?"

Wearily, Dave shook his head. "For just a minute, I almost agreed. But it's no use, Anita."

She came over to sit beside him.

"Why not, Dave?"

"Because he doesn't know what he's talking about."

He might have slapped her face. "Every word he said was true!"

"I know. But he didn't say enough words. He overlooked a little point."

She drew away from him.

"What do you mean?"

"How do you stop science? How, Anita? And what happens if you do? Science and technology give power, and the world is split up into countries that want power. If one stops, another will go on, and get the power to overcome the country that stops. So no one can stop. But that's only part of it. We—"

"Dave," she said coldly, "don't you suppose he's thought of this? The League isn't made up of fools."

"Then what's his answer?"

"I don't know. I'm sure he has one."

"I'm satisfied there isn't any. We're—"

"Then you'd better go."

Dave stood up angrily. "You don't want to listen, do you?"

She held the door open.

He walked past her. "Thanks. I listened to your side." He turned on his heel.

Her voice was cold as ice. "Thank you for a pleasant evening."

As Dave sat in his chilly car and pressed the starter, he could hear again his friend's voice:

"You can't win . . . It's a hopeless cause . . . You might just as well fall in love with a land mine."

Wearily, Dave drove back to his apartment, and spent the night in a miserable search for sleep.

The next day, at the lab, his friend took one look, nodded wisely, and said nothing.

Around ten o'clock, word came that Bardeen wanted to see him. Barrow was in the office when Dave got there, and listened as Dave told about the intruder in the magnetics lab.

Bardeen nodded finally. "We expected it. It's too bad, but that's life."

Dave said, "Do we have any idea how he got in?"

"Under the outer and inner fences, over the walkway between the magnetics lab and Project 'S', then around to the front and through the door. He had the key, and someone had changed the filter on the control that snaps on the lights around the roof of the magnetics lab. He obviously had an accomplice, but we have no idea who."

"The intruder wasn't one of our own people?"

"No. The police have identified him. The only interesting point so far is that he was a member of the Security League."

Dave blinked.

Barrow said, "They're naturally interested in anything that tends to discredit science. A disaster in any advanced research center would back up their argument that science is unpredictable."

"Would Bates stoop to that?"

"In that outfit," said Bardeen, "the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing, and the head is ignorant of both. Do you know much about the League?"

"I know a girl," said Dave, "who has every quality a woman should have. But she's also a member of the League. I can tell you, that can ruin a date."

Bardeen smiled. "She doesn't question you about your work?"

"Never. It's a part of science, and she doesn't like science."

Barrow said, "What do you think of Bates' argument."

"He's right that the ultimate results of an experiment are unpredictable. We don't really know whether, in the long run, science will turn out to have been good or bad. But that's beside the point."

"How so?"

"We're committed. We're in the position of a man who'd decided to jump a chasm, has gone back for a start, and now, running full speed, is almost at the edge. That's no time to think, 'Maybe I won't make it. I'll stop here.' He can't stop. He's got to go faster yet, and hope and pray he makes it. We're in the same spot. Science and technology have depleted the natural resources of the earth, disturbed the balance of nature, enlarged the population. If we tried to drop science now—even if we could get everyone on earth to agree to it—we'd face a terrific explosion of hunger, disease, and misery, followed by a drop straight into barbarism. The only visible way out is to complete the jump."

Bardeen nodded. "That's the point. Exactly."

Barrow looked at Dave almost with awe. "That's a remarkable comparison."

Bardeen, too, for some reason was looking at Dave with visible respect. Then he thanked Dave for coming over, and expressed his appreciation for Dave's help in catching the intruder. When Dave was in the hall, Barrow came out.

"Excuse me," said Barrow, frowning. "You like this girl you mentioned?"

"Very much," said Dave.

Barrow paused, his eyes unfocussed. Dave waited. This was the way things often went, and the reason why Dave had been so surprised at Barrow's commonplace remark about fools on the road.

"Yes," said Barrow, "we must have an open house. Project 'S' is almost finished. That's the only way. We'll have the people here, in case—" He looked directly at Dave, and smiled. "Invite her. Show her around. Perhaps she'll see your viewpoint."

"I don't know if she'll come."

"Tell her if you can't convince her science is all right, you'll join the League. That will bring her." He looked Dave flatly in the eyes. "If you really like her, be sure she's here. The day after tomorrow. Before two in the afternoon."

Barrow went back into Bardeen's office.

Dave stood staring for a moment, then shook his head, and went back to the lab.

When he mentioned this to some friends, they all laughed. "That's Barrow, all right. That's our boy."

Official word soon came from Bardeen's office, and they were all excited.

"Who knows," said someone. "Maybe we'll find out what Project 'S' is."

The day of the open house saw the wives, sweethearts, and families of the men thronging the grounds. Barrow's family was there, as was Bardeen's. And for once it was possible to move freely. Even the inner security compound was opened to the visitors, though the Project "S" building remained closed.

Anita had agreed to come, and visited the lab, but Dave's explanation of his work was no great success.

"You see," he was trying to tell her, "atoms and molecules at ordinary temperatures are in a state of rapid vibration. The properties that we take for granted, as natural characteristics of matter, actually are only special characteristics, dependent on the comparatively high temperature—which to us seems normal. But at such temperatures, the atoms and molecules are in a rapid state of vibration. In cryogenics, we study matter at low temperatures."

"Are they going to have lunch outdoors?" said Anita. She was lovely, but her features were slightly pinched, as though she felt the intense cold of the cryogenics lab around her.

Dave, realizing the hopelessness of it, suppressed a grin. "How can you judge what you don't understand?"

"By its results," she said.

Dave said, "Unfortunately, I don't know yet just what the final result of all this is going to be."

"Then," she said, brightening, "we can't very well judge it, can we?" She was studying his face intently, and suddenly grinned. "You're teasing me, aren't you?"

Dave laughed. "At the beginning I was in earnest."

"I'm sorry. It just doesn't mean anything to me. I suppose a man would feel the same way if a woman described the fine points of sewing to him."

Dave nodded. "Let's go outside."

It was a beautiful day, with small fluffy clouds against a delicate blue sky, light at the horizon, and deep blue overhead. The sun was bright, and there was a brisk cool breeze that fluttered the women's dresses as they stood by the tables that were laden with potato salad, and steaming trays of hot dogs and hamburgers. Dave realized that he was hungry. But as he and Anita started toward the crowd, abruptly Dave stopped.

The whole scene for an instant seemed unreal to him, as if it were painted on a balloon that had been blown so tight it could almost be seen through.

Anita said, "What is it?"

He shook his head. "I don't know."

He felt a compulsion again, the same feeling that had led him to press the brake pedal the other night. But this feeling was far stronger and more urgent.

Anita was watching him. "What's wrong, Dave?"

"I don't know. But I've got to find Bardeen." At that moment, he saw Bardeen, standing with Barrow a little apart from the crowd, which was now spreading out into small groups, holding paper plates and rolls, and balancing their cups.

Anita said, "I'll get you something to eat. I'll wait over here while you talk to Mr. Bardeen."

"Yes," he said. "Thanks."

Bardeen and Barrow were standing like two statues, each of them holding a hamburger and a paper cup. Barrow had his eyes shut as Dave approached, but now he opened them.

"No chance," Barrow said. "The lasers will melt the rock in front of them and when the rocket passes, the additional heat, and the release of pressure, will cause sudden vaporization."

Bardeen said, "It can't be that hot."

"The rockets will be traveling at such a speed as to compress the laser beam longitudinally. Remember, the rockets won't be working against gravity. Gravity will be helping them."

Dave frowned. How could that be, unless a rocket were fired down into a hole? Suddenly he remembered the news broadcast. Geologists planned to study the structure of the earth by analyzing the shock waves from underground explosions.

Bardeen said, "The phenomenon will be evanescent, unstable. But it will travel right along with the rocket, which will be moving at too high a speed to be crushed from the sides by the pressure. Remember, the deep layers will liquefy, then vaporize, and the pressure of vaporization behind the rocket will plunge it deeper and faster. The top of that hole will be hell on earth. There'll be a column of vapor miles high and the uprush will blast away the sides of the hole, widening it as it goes."

"It will melt the rocket."

"Yes, but too late."

"Will it explode?"

"Yes. Very, very deep."

"So far, we have a geological expedition wiped out."

"Yes, but a nuclear explosion at that depth is going to find matter under higher pressure than in any previous experiment. When the particles from the explosion strike those close-packed atomic nuclei—"

Bardeen said tightly, "Chain reaction?"



"I can't tell yet. A small error at the beginning would slowly cause the rocket to fall behind the wave front, and penetrate less deeply."

"If we could only warn—"

"How? We tried that once, remember?"

"I know. There's no reason for them to believe us."

Before he thought, Dave said, "What is this—precognition?"

Sam Bardeen's eyes were cool. Barrow glanced at Dave without expression, then nodded.

"So that's how you could warn me last night about fools on the road."

Bardeen cleared his throat.

Dave said, "I remembered after those fools almost finished me off twice."

Bardeen started to speak.

Barrow said, "Hold it, Sam." He frowned at Dave. "After they almost hit you twice, then you remembered?"

"That's right." Dave, thinking it over, was wondering again where these hunches came from. What had made him put his foot on the brake pedal?

Bardeen started to speak.

Barrow silenced him with a raised hand. "My department, Sam." He shut his eyes for a long moment, then looked at Bardeen with a faint grin. "Now the twins work."

Dave glanced from one of them to the other.

Bardeen was saying incredulously. "No waiting to match configurations?"

"They'll match on signal. This is our boy here. They'll match, if he gives the signal."

Bardeen glanced from Barrow to Dave, and abruptly the coldness was gone.

"You see," he said to Dave smiling, "why Dick and I have come up fast. With precognition it's possible to avoid wasted time following the wrong path."

"If," said Barrow, "the experiment first has been carefully formulated."

Dave still felt the overpowering sense of pressure.

"What are the 'twins' you spoke of?"

Barrow said, "That's Project 'S'."

Bardeen said, "Project 'S,' is a twin set of transmission stations."

"What do they transmit?"



"That's right. The structure of the matter is sent in a code that modulates a carrier wave. The matter is picked up here, converted to energy, transmitted as a finely-focused transient beam, and reverted to matter."

"The way a radio station sends a voice? One of the 'twins' is a transmitter and the other a receiver?"

"Not quite. Either one can focus on an object close enough to be encoded, send out its focused signal, and at the focus the object sent is reconstituted."

"How far away?"

"Tens of thousands of miles. Further yet, outside the Earth's gravitational field."

"Why 'twins'? Are they the same?"



"We need two."

"What for?"

"Because neither one can send itself."

Dave looked at him blankly, then stared.

"Good Lord! The two together are a space vehicle?"

Bardeen nodded.

Barrow shut his eyes.

Dave could feel, around him, the tight-stretched balloon of the pleasant scene drawn tighter yet. The sunlight shimmered on it and it sparkled. But to Dave it seemed that any minute it might snap and be gone.

Barrow sighed. "That does it."

Bardeen said, "Self-sustaining?"

"Self-sustaining. The picture's clear now. They'll drop that rocket with absolute precision. It's the same thing as lighting a fuse that leads straight to the dynamite shack."

Dave said, "You see this?"

Barrow nodded. "I shut my eyes, and it's right there, like a garden, in a way, and in another like an attic half-full of mirrors. All kinds of things are there, some clear, and some fuzzy, some already here, and mirrored as in a mirage. Those are in the future."

"How did you learn—"

"I don't know. The knack runs in my family. My mother, uncles, and children have it. It's a maddening thing, because usually you aren't interested. But there it is, the instant you shut your eyes. Mostly it's too complex to follow the interlocking chains of cause and effect. But with a scientific experiment, it's different. So far as possible, extraneous factors are ruled out, and the chains of cause and effect are simplified. To that extent, it becomes possible to predict results accurately."

"And the accident I almost had?"

"A matter of possibilities. I could see just enough to tell you'd be in danger."

Bardeen said, "How will this—" but didn't finish the question. He looked at Dave. "It's all up to you now. Come on."

Bardeen started for the Project "S" lab. Barrow waited to speak to several of the men, then followed.

The "twins" were two huge cylinders lying side-by-side, mirrored in each other's brilliant stainless surface. Above each, near the center, was an apparatus like a wide, polished hoop. Thrust out on both sides of each huge cylinder were two short wide braces, each one powerfully hinged at the outer end to a long slender arm. At the end of each arm was a thing like a smooth bright dish. The four arms were held almost vertically, prevented, by heavy coil springs on the cylinder, from touching each other.

Bardeen said, "That short cylinder, or hoop, in the center, can detect and record very complex electromagnetic forces. When the twins are in action, a housing rises up behind it and a sequence of fine penetrating beams of coding radiation reaches out to pass through every part of the object being sent. This structural information will be received in the form of faint, brief complex echoes—reflections from the atoms struck by the coding beam. These echoes will be interpreted, stored, and used to help modulate the carrier wave sent out from the ends of the four transmission arms, which will be lowered, and adjusted to focus on a distant place.

"The coding beam is of a type of radiation we discovered in studying the various forms of instability that occur in an experimental fusion reactor. We call it 'efflux radiation'."

Dave, concentrating hard under the increasing sense of pressure, nodded briefly, and Bardeen said, "Efflux radiation is to ordinary radiation much as contraterrene matter is to terrene matter."

"What does it do?"

"When an efflux ray strikes ordinary matter, that matter is converted into ordinary radiation, traveling in precisely the opposite direction. The total effect is that the atoms of the object sent, and everything in it are converted into electromagnetic radiation, which is sent out through the focused transmitter, and reassembled far away."

Dave nodded slowly. "You said I was needed. Why?"

"The trouble with this process is that we have great difficulty bringing about the form of instability that generates efflux radiation. The worst of it is that the proper form of instability must occur simultaneously, in both twins, if the process is to be successful."

"What do you mean?"

"Both of these cylinders are fitted out as colonization spaceships. We have a whopping government contract for this work, which is certain—was certain—to put this country far ahead of any other in space. Because after one of these two ships transmits the other, that other ship focuses on and transmits the first. But the proper type of instability to generate efflux radiation must occur in both ships simultaneously, because if only one has it, the other may be carried out of range before it can do its part."

"What can I do about that? I never heard of efflux radiation before. I don't know the first thing about it."

Barrow smiled. "Last night you were wrestling an intruder when a volley of shots was fired at him. He was killed. You were not touched. A moment before that volley of shots, he was shooting at you himself from a distance of possibly two feet. You weren't touched. Shortly after, you were in a deadly situation on the highway, again untouched."

"Yes, but what did I have to do—"

"Did you ever hear the expression 'wild talents'?"

"Yes. Sure, but—"

"Within limits, I can foresee the future—that's precognition. But you have a deeper control of time and motion relationships. It may be as automatic and unconscious as the blink of an eye, but it's there. And we need it."

The crowd was coming into Project "S" building. They looked tense, white-faced, scared.

Dave could feel the pressure, all but unbearable.

"What do I do?"

Barrow led him inside one of the huge cylinders, and down a corridor that had wide strips of strong black mesh on both walks.

"For getting around," said Barrow, "when we're in space. You take hold of the mesh. We have no arrangement for artificial gravity on these ships."

He unlocked a door marked "No Admittance," and there before Dave was a softly-polished panel with a large black circular screen marked off in radians, and two centers of intense violet light, surrounded by an oscillating purple region, its boundary shifting irregularly from moment to moment. Just beside the panel was a lever marked "Danger—Manual Interlock." On the pale green wall nearby was an intercom unit.

Barrow said, "These two centers of light represent the ships' fusion reactors. As long as a band of purple exists around either center, conditions are wrong to move the ship. When the purple disappears, and there are only the two centers of violet light, we have simultaneous efflux instability. Then pull back that lever."

"We have just a few minutes," said Barrow. "When everyone's on board, I'll speak to you through that intercom."

The door clicked shut.

Dave looked at that pale-green door, then turned to urgently will the writhing purple boundary out of existence.

Unaffected, the two bright violet centers swam in a twisting pool of purple.

Dave's heart pounded, and he felt dizzy with effort. But nothing happened.

There was a click from the wall speaker.

"All right, Dave. Everyone's on board. We've opened the dome of the building. Go ahead."

Dave opened his mouth to demand more time, to insist on an explanation—and a calmness slid over him suddenly. The intensity of the pressure was suddenly gone, the writhing purple shrank into the violet centers of light.

Unhesitatingly, Dave pulled back the lever.

There was blurring of consciousness, suggesting a room seen in a rapidly flickering light.

Then Barrow's voice was saying, "Break interlock."

Dave shoved forward the lever.

Once more, consciousness was continuous. He had a strange feeling as if he had raced over the precisely-spaced railroad ties after a train, and had finally caught it and hauled himself aboard.

He glanced at the intercom.

"Will you need me right away?"

"Not where you are. Come up to the viewer. You turn to your left as you go out, and up the ladder to your right."

"Be right up."

Dave tried to turn around, and promptly drifted up from the floor. It was only then that he really believed it.

It had worked.

They were out in space.


Earth hung on the screen before them like a big blue-green basketball with a tiny incandescent plume bursting from its equator.

Anita, her face pale, was clinging to Dave as they watched the screen. The crowd around them was tense and silent, their gaze riveted on the screen.

Bardeen and Barrow were nearby. Bardeen murmured, "It's started?"

"Yes." Barrow's eyes were shut.


"It must be."

On the screen, the blazing plume strengthened and grew brighter. Dave held his breath.

The single flame erupted into a blazing circle that shot around the globe.

The terrible heat flashed the nearby seas into vapor, huge cracks appeared, and the sudden violence hurled up chunks of the solid planet that were the size of mountains. Then the blinding scene was blurred by dense expanding clouds of vapor.

How long they'd watched, Dave didn't know, but he felt worn-out and sick. He held Anita, who was crying miserably and quietly.

Bardeen turned wearily from the screen. "Any chance of the fragments fusing themselves together again?"

Barrow shook his head. "Just another asteroid belt. Maybe that's what caused the first one."

Dave forced his dulled mind to assess the situation. Science had destroyed a planet. And science had enabled a few survivors to escape in ships especially equipped to colonize another planet.

Bardeen, apparently thinking along the same line, said, "At least these ships are equipped to make us self-sustaining. We have advanced equipment, and the reactors put more energy at our disposal than the whole human race had twenty years ago. We can start again."

Anita looked up. "And try more scientific experiments? How long before the next mistake?"

"Ask Dave," Bardeen said quietly, "and he'll tell you our method is different. An experiment isn't an experiment when you can foresee the result, and stop in time."

He turned to the screen where the blaze of light glowed through boiling clouds of vapor.

"That," he said, "was the last experiment."


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