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Fly By Night   By:

Fly By Night by Arthur Dekker Savage

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By Arthur Dekker Savage

Illustrated by Ed Emsh

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction May 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: A young man and a young woman alone on the first over the moon ship. The world cheered them as the most romantic adventurers in all history. Do gooders decried them as immoral stunters. Gaunt, serious militarists pronounced them part of the most crucial experiment ever undertaken.... ]

The general introduced them in the ship's shadow, a trim lieutenant, a clean cut major. "You probably already think of each other as Carol and Ken. At any rate, there are no two people in the world who have heard as much about each other without previously meeting."

She offered her hand and he took it, held it for a long moment while their eyes locked. "Hello, Carol," he said warmly. "I'd have known you from your pictures." And he realized as never before what a poor substitute were the hoarded scraps of paper.

"Hello Ken." A smile made her face radiant. "I've sort of studied your pictures too."

Ken turned his eyes to the crowd a roaring, cheering multitude surrounding the poised rocket ship here on the California desert in this zero hour. To certain harried physicists and engineers, it was a moment promising paramount achievement. To romanticists of 1966, watching their video screens avidly, it was fulfillment of their most sensual dreams: a beautiful girl being given wholly and unreservedly to a handsome young man; the flight around the moon was merely an added fillip. To a few gaunt military psychologists it was the end of a long nightmare of protests by women's clubs, demonstrations by national female societies and actual attempts at murder by fanatical blue noses; and a mere beginning of the most crucial experiment ever undertaken which had to be a success.


Suddenly Ken was angry at the knowing looks from the throng's nearest ranks. While the general continued his prepared speech into the mike, focus of the hollow, hungry eyes of the video cameras, Ken pulled Carol to his side and held her with an arm about her waist, glaring when the crowd murmured and the cameras swung their way again. He had not questioned the actions of the military, of the world, before. But now a public spectacle

During the years of rigorous, specialized training almost from childhood they had kept him away from Carol, teasing him it was the only word that now occurred to his mind with the dangled promise of her presence on the flight. They had let him see her pictures intimate, almost nude photos harvested by the gossip columnists, snaps of her glory in bathing attire as she lounged by a swimming pool.

Swimming. Since he had been selected as a boy, every free afternoon he had been made to swim, swim, swim developing the long, smooth muscles they wanted him to have. It had been, he knew, the same with Carol.

Had they taunted her with his pictures too? Had she responded by wanting him, loving him, longing for him? How did she feel about their first moment together being shared by the greedy eyes of continents?

The President was speaking now, rolling sonorous sentences into the mike, words which would officially sanction this unorthodox act of the military, which would justify the morally unprecedented dispensing of maid to man without benefit of anything. Because the psychologists had wanted it that way. Ken leaned down to whisper in her ear, "I wish I could get you inside the ship."

She looked at him with sudden coolness. "Impatient, Major?" She turned away quickly and he could feel her body stiffen.

Had he said something wrong? Or the new thought was jarring disharmony: did he represent the end of this girl's his girl's hopes for a conventional, happy marriage? Did she think him the altar of sacrifice, whereupon she would accrue the moralist's scorn and, tomorrow, attract only the lecherous? Or was it just an act? What, besides ship and instrument operation, had they taught her?

Grimly he listened to the President, who was then extolling their merits as though well, as though they were some sort of laboratory specimens... Continue reading book >>

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