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Chain of Command   By: (1922-)

Chain of Command by Stephen Arr

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction May 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.




By going through channels, George worked up from the woodwork to the top brass!

Illustrated by ASHMAN

"George," Clara said with restrained fury, "the least you could do is ask him. Are you a mouse or a worm?"

"Well, I have gone out there and moved it every night," George protested, trying to reason with her without success.

"Yes, and every morning he puts it back. George, so long as that trap is outside of our front door, I can never have a moment's peace, worrying about the children. I won't go on like this! You must go out and talk some sense into him about removing it at once."

"I don't know," George said weakly. "They might not be happy to find out about us."

"Well, our being here is their own fault, remember that," Clara snorted. "They deliverately exposed your great great grandfather Michael to hard radiations. George," she continued fervidly, "all you have to do is to go out and ask him. I'm sure he'll agree, and then we'll have this menace removed from our lives. I simply can not go on like this another minute!"

That, George knew, was a misstatement. She could go on like this for hours. He stared at her unhappily.

"Yes, dear," he mumbled finally. "Well, maybe tomorrow."

"No, George," she said firmly. "Now! This morning. The very moment he comes in."

He looked at her silently, feeling harried and unsure of himself. After living here so long, they'd observed and learned human customs and speech they'd even adopted human names.

"George," she pleaded, "just ask him. Reason with him. Point out to him that he's just wasting his time." She paused, added, "You're intelligent you can think of the right things to say."

"Oh, all right," he said wearily. But once he had said it, he felt better. At least, he would get it over with, one way or another.

As soon as he heard the swish swish of the broom outside his home, he got up and walked out of the front door. He saw that the trap was still off to one side, where he had pushed it the night before.

"Hello," he shouted.

Swish swish swish went the broom, busily moving dust from one part of the room to another, swish swish swish. The man looked tremendous from so close a view, yet George knew that he was just a little, bent, old man, a small specimen of the species.

George took a deep breath. " Hello! " he bellowed with all his strength.

The janitor stopped swish swishing and looked around the room suspiciously.

" Hello! " George shrieked. His throat felt raw.

The janitor looked down and saw the mouse. "Hello yourself," he said. He was an ignorant old man and, when he saw the mouse shouting hello at him, he assumed right away that it was a mouse shouting hello to him.

" The trap! " the mouse bellowed.

"Stop shouting !" the janitor cried, annoyed. He liked to think as he worked, and he hated loud noises. "What about the trap?"

"My wife doesn't want you to put it by the front door any more," George said, still speaking loudly, so that the janitor could hear, but at least not bellowing so that it tore his throat. "She's afraid it might hurt the children."

" Will it hurt the children?" the janitor demanded.

"No," George replied. "They know all about traps but my wife still wants it removed."

"Sorry," the janitor said, "but my orders are to put a trap by every mousehole. This is an atomic plant, and they don't want mice."

"They do, too!" George said defiantly. "They brought my great great grandfather Michael here themselves and exposed him to hard radiations... Continue reading book >>

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