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Circle of Flight   By:

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Thorus, the vengeful, had determined his way. Aria, the healer, had determined her way. Which determined this classic meeting of the twain.



By Richard E. Stockham

Illustrated by Ed Emsh

It seemed they had argued for years as they were arguing tonight. The man paced back and forth chain smoking cigarettes; the woman sat motionless, watching him. They glanced at their watches with fearful eyes. They heard, with acutely alert ears, the goings and comings of people in the hall; heard the shattering blast of rockets in the sky above the city. And they argued.

"So you're going through with it tonight," he said heavily, "in your own way."


"Perhaps I should stop you." He crushed out his cigarette. "If the police were to hear "

"No!" The word was thrown at him. "I know you don't mean that. But it's unworthy of you even to say it." She covered her face with nervous hands. "After all I am your wife."

He stood over her, his lips tight. There was something of the fragile, finely made puppet about her, he thought, as though she had been refashioned a hundred times by some artisan seeking after perfect delicacy and precision. He softened momentarily.

"Come with me then," he said.


"Why? Why?"

"Your way is wrong ."

"We're the last two leaders of the opposition alive." His voice came swiftly and low. "The authority's beaten us. Their setup for killing, imprisonment, bribery and blackmail functions too well. Our whole organization's been scattered like matchsticks. The police are closing in on us. We're finished here on earth. We'll be lucky if we're killed quickly." He waited a moment for his words to take effect. "We go along together that far."

She stood, clasping her hands. "Of course. Of course."

"Look. I know you've finished that damned contraption of yours that'll take you into the atoms. I know you've been working on it for years. But I've been working too. My ship's been ready to take off into super space for two days. But I haven't gone. I've been waiting for you. To wait at a time like this is to ask for death or worse. Now I demand you give up this insane idea of going into the atoms. You've got to come with me."

"I've told you I can't escape with you out into the macrocosm. It's not my way !"

"The word 'escape' doesn't apply," he snapped, "to what I'm doing. You're escaping. You'll creep into the microcosm and sit there like a seed that won't grow. You can't fight the Authority from the microcosm. That way is utter passivity and death. My way is fighting back. I'm going into hyper space. My ship and I'll become so huge and powerful I'll throw suns around like snowballs. I'll toss meteors around like grains of corn. I'll upset gravities and warp time. I'll stretch and straighten space. I'll turn dimensions inside out "

"Yes. You'll destroy. You'll ruin everything, you'll break the innocent as well as the guilty."

"I'll have to take that chance," he said grimly. "But I'll destroy the Authority and everything that goes with it."

She pulled from his grasp. "Violence and destruction are not my way. They never have been." Slowly now she sank into the chair, looked past him as she spoke. "You've always worshipped spaces and vacuums and voids. I've always been happy working with flowers and trees, the life of the meadow and valley, the rain and the new, small buds in springtime. We have always gone in opposite directions."

She paused and smiled a bit wistfully. "It's funny. Now we find, too late to help our marriage, that there's a whole universe between us. You refuse, or perhaps you're afraid, I don't know, to go to the source of everything this table, this chair, this gown, your own flesh. You don't want to understand life; any more than you want to understand me... Continue reading book >>

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