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Divinity   By: (1906-1980)

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Bradley had one fear in his life. He had to escape regeneration. To do that, he was willing to take any chance, coward though he was even if it meant that he had to become a god!

Bradley seemed to have escaped regeneration. Now he had only death to worry about.

Ten minutes before, he had been tumbling through the air head over heels, helpless and despairing. And before that

He remembered how his heart had been in his mouth as he had crept down the corridor of the speeding ship. He could hear Malevski's voice coming faintly through one of the walls, and had been tempted to run back, fearful of being shot down on the spot if he were caught. He had fought back the temptation and kept on. No one had seen him as he crept into the lifeboat.

"This is your one chance," he told himself. "You have to take it. If they get you back to port, you're finished."

Luck had been with him. They were broadcasting the results of the Mars Earth matches at the time, and most of the crew were grouped around the visors. He had picked the moment when news came of a sensational upset, and for a minute or two after the lifeboat blasted off, no one realized what had happened. When the truth did penetrate, they had a hard time swinging the ship around, and by then the lifeboat was out of radar range. He was free.

He had exulted wildly for a moment, until it struck him that freedom in space might be a doubtful gift. He would have to get to some civilized port, convince the port authorities that he had been shipwrecked and somehow separated from the other crew members, and then lose himself quickly in the crowd of people that he hoped would fill the place. There would be risks, but he would take them. It would be better than running out of air and food in space.


It had been the best possible plan, and it had gone wrong, all wrong. He had been caught, before he knew it, in the gravity of a planet he had overlooked. The lifeboat had torn apart under the combined stresses of its forward momentum and its side rockets blasting full force, and he had been hurled free in his space suit, falling slowly at first, then faster, faster, faster

The automatic parachutes had suddenly sprung into operation when he reached a critical speed, and he had slowed down and stopped tumbling. He fell more gently, feet first, and when he landed it was with a shock that jarred but did no real damage.

Slowly he picked himself up and fumbled at the air valve. Something in the intake tubes had jammed under the shock of landing, and the air was no longer circulating properly. Filled with the moisture of his own breath, it felt hot and clammy, and clouded the viewplates.

If he had kept all his wits about him he would have tried to remember, before he took a chance, whether the planet had an oxygen atmosphere, and whether the oxygen was of sufficient concentration to support human life. Not that he had any real choice, but it would have been good to know. As it was, he turned the air valve automatically, and listened nervously as the stale air hissed out and the fresh air hissed in.

He took a deep breath. It didn't kill him. Instead, it sent his blood racing around with new energy. Slowly the moisture evaporated from his viewplates. Slowly he began to see.

He perceived that he was not alone. A group of people stood in front of him, respectful, their own eyes full of fear and wonder. Some one uttered a hoarse cry and pointed at his helmet. The unclouding of the viewplates must have stricken them with awe.

The air was wonderful to breathe. He would have liked to remove his helmet and fill his lungs with it unhampered, expose his face to its soft caress, expand his chest with the constriction of the suit. But these people

They must have seen him tumble down from the sky and land unhurt... Continue reading book >>

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