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The Enormous Room   By:

The Enormous Room by Robert Wilson Krepps

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[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Amazing Stories Oct. Nov. 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

One big name per story is usually considered to be sufficient. So when two of them appear in one by line, it can certainly be called a scoop; so that's what we'll call it. H. L. Gold and science fiction go together like a blonde and a henna rinse. Robert Krepps is also big time. You may know him also under his other label Geoff St. Reynard, but a Krepps by any name can write as well.

The roller coaster's string of cars, looking shopworn in their flaky blue and orange paint, crept toward the top of the incline, the ratcheted lift chain clanking with weary patience. In the front seat, a young couple held hands and prepared to scream. Two cars back, a heavy, round shouldered, black mustached man with a swarthy skin clenched his hands on the rail before him. A thin blond fellow with a briefcase on his lap glanced back and down at the receding platform, as though trying to spot a friend he had left behind. Behind him was a Negro youth, sitting relaxed with one lean foot on the seat; he looked as bored as someone who'd taken a thousand coaster rides in a summer and expected to take ten thousand more.

In the last car, a tall broad man put his elbows on the backboard and stared at the sky without any particular expression on his lined face.

The chain carried its load to the peak and relinquished it to the force of gravity. The riders had a glimpse of the sprawling amusement park spread out below them like a collection of gaudy toys on the floor of a playroom; then the coaster was roaring and thundering down into the hollow of the first big dip.

Everyone but the Negro boy and the tall man yelled. These two looked detached without emotion as though they wouldn't have cared if the train of cars went off the tracks.

The cars didn't go off the tracks. The people did.

The orange blue rolling stock hit the bottom, slammed around a turn and shot upward again, the wind of its passage whistling boisterously. But by then there were none to hear the wind, to feel the gust of it in watered eyes or open shouting mouths. The cars were empty.

"Is this what happens to everybody who takes a ride on the coaster?" asked a bewildered voice with a slight Mexican accent. " Santos ," it continued, "to think I have waited so many years for this!"

"What is it?" said a woman. "Was there an accident? Where are we?"

"I don't know, dear. Maybe we jumped the tracks. But it certainly doesn't look like a hospital."

John Summersby opened his eyes. The last voice had told the truth: the room didn't look like a hospital. It didn't look like anything that he could think of offhand.

It was about living room size, with flat yellow walls and a gray ceiling. There was a quantity of musty smelling straw on the floor. Four tree trunks from which the branches had been lopped were planted solidly in that floor, which felt hard and a little warm on Summersby's back. Near the roof was a round silver rod, running from wall to wall; over in a corner was a large shallow box filled with something, he saw as he slowly stood up, that might have been sand. An old automobile tire lay in the straw nearby, and a green bird bath sort of thing held water that splashed from a tiny fountain in its center. Five other people, four men and a woman, were standing or sitting on the floor.

"If it was a hospital, we'd be hurt," said a thin yellow haired man with a briefcase under one arm. "I'm all right. Feel as good as I ever did."

Several men prodded themselves experimentally, and one began to take his own pulse. Summersby stretched and blinked his eyes; they felt gummy, as though he'd been asleep a long time, but his mouth wasn't cottony, so he figured the blacked out interval must have been fairly short... Continue reading book >>

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