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Cancer World   By:

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Greg tried desperately to find an illegal method of joining his family on Mars; for the law said that no healthy man could land on a



Harry Warner, Jr.


"We won the Patagonian trust case," Greg Marson's jubilant tones filled the apartment the hall in which he stood, the automatic kitchen in the rear, the living quarters, bedroom and nursery in between.

But no one replied. Greg let his bulging, expensive briefcase slip to the floor, strode through the empty hall, poked his head into the kitchen, then entered the nursery.

Dennis dashed to his father on two year old legs, and baby Phyllis gurgled twice in her pen. Greg wrinkled his nose in puzzlement, then punched the babyviewer.

"You can cut service," he told the girl whose blonde head appeared on the screen.

She nodded, counted on her fingers, and said: "That will be seven hours of viewing. No extras. The children behaved beautifully."

The screen darkened. Greg stared foolishly at it, then turned to Dennis.

"Where'd your mother go?"

Dennis smiled vaguely, and began to tinker with his molecule builder. Phyllis gurgled again.

Greg looked at the remains of the lunch that had hopped automatically from its can at noon, and the lowered reservoir of milk in the baby's feeder. Dora obviously hadn't been there since morning, and she didn't like to trust the babyview service so long. It was Wednesday, and bridge club was Tuesday. They'd subscribed to the telebuying service, so Dora hadn't gone shopping for months. The new baby wasn't due for five months, so a hurry up trip to a doctor was unlikely....

The front door screeched, its bad hinge audible in the nursery, and Greg relaxed. "I'm back here, Dora," he called, and headed for the hall, closing the nursery door behind him.

Greg saw the policeman before he saw Dora. She was being lead toward the living room sofa, her face white, her coat soiled.

"What's wrong?" Greg rushed forward.

"You're Marson? Relax. Your wife just got excited for a minute. Lots of them try what she did. We won't hold it against her."

Dora pressed close to Greg, her head pushing against his chest, her body trembling. Reproachfully, the policeman was saying:

"You should have stayed home on her check day. If she could have reached you when she heard the news " He brushed invisible specks from his spotless uniform and walked out of the apartment.

Greg led his wife to the sofa and sank down beside her. Check day. He stared at her with disbelief.

"I'm sorry," she said in a whisper, not looking at him. "You never could remember anniversaries or dates, and I didn't want to worry you." She started to quiver again.

"How bad is it?" Greg fought for words, blinking to try to drive away the haze before his eyes.

"It isn't serious at all," she said, raising her head and looking at him for the first time. "They said that the operation will take only a few minutes. They said cancer wouldn't ever be dangerous if they always found it as quickly as this time. We I'm really very lucky, they said."

"But you should have told me that this was your check day. I was worried about the Patagonian case, and I just "

Then Greg stared straight at his wife, trying to pierce the strangeness that covered her eyes. He realized in a flood of terror the full implications of this day.

"Dora do they let you have the child if you're pregnant when they find cancer? I don't remember...."

She sat erect and pushed the hair away from her eyes, suddenly the stronger of the two. "Of course, I can have the child," she said. "And please don't worry about today. I was silly, and fainted when they brought in the report, and when I came to I tried to pretend that I'd suffered amnesia. It was foolish because they could have identified me from their records, but they told me that lots of women get the same idea, so maybe I'm not so terrible after all... Continue reading book >>

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