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The Happy Man   By: (1939-)

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This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction March 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

THE HAPPY MAN

More's "Utopia" was isolated cut off from the dreary world outside. All Utopias are....

by GERALD W. PAGE

ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE SCHELLING

Nelson saw the girl at the same time she saw him. He had just rounded an outcropping of rock about ten miles from the East Coast Mausoleum. They were facing each other, poised defensively, eyes alertly on each other, about twenty feet apart. She was blond and lean with the conditioning of outdoor life, almost to the point of thinness. And although not really beautiful, she was attractive and young, probably not yet twenty. Her features were even and smooth, her hair wild about her face. She wore a light blouse and faded brown shorts made from a coarse homespun material. Nelson had not expected to run into anyone and apparently, neither had she. They stood staring at each other for a long time; how long, Nelson was unable to decide, later.

A little foolishly, Nelson realized that something would have to be done by one of them. "I'm Hal Nelson," he said. It had been a long time since he had last spoken; his voice sounded strange in the wilderness. The girl moved tensely, but did not come any closer to him. Her eyes stayed fixed on him and he knew that her ears were straining for any sound that might warn her of a trap.

Nelson started to take a step, then checked himself, cursing himself for his eager blundering. The girl stepped back once, quickly, like an animal uncertain if it had been threatened. Nelson stepped back, slowly, and spoke again. "I'm a waker, like you. You can tell by my rags." It was true enough, but the girl only frowned. Her alertness did not relax.

"I've been one for ten or twelve years. I escaped from a Commune in Tannerville when I was in my senior year. They never even got me into one of the coffins. As I said, I'm a waker." He spoke slowly, gently and he hoped soothingly. "You don't have to be afraid of me. Now tell me who you are."

The girl pushed a lock of almost yellow hair from her eyes with the back of her hand, but it was her only show of carelessness. She was strong and light. She was considerably smaller than he and could probably handle herself as well as he in this country. The landscape was thick with bushes, conifers and rocks. She would have no trouble in getting away from him if he scared her; and he would scare her with almost any sudden movement. It had been too long for Nelson to keep track of when he had been accompanied by others and he hungered for companionship; especially for a woman. The patrol that had captured Sammy and Jeanne and the old man, Gardner, had also gotten Edna and almost had gotten him. The fact that the girl was alone now more than likely meant that she had no one either. They needed each other. Nelson did not want to scare her off.

So he sat down on the ground with his back to a large rock and rummaged in his pack to find a can.

"You hungry?" he asked looking up at her. He couldn't be sure at the distance, but he thought that her eyes were brown. Brown, and huge; like a colt's. He held the can out where she could see it. She repeated the gesture of a while ago to brush back that same lock of almost yellow hair, but there was a change in her face which he could see even twenty feet away, and another, more subtle change about her which he had to sense. "You're hungry, all right, aren't you?" he said. He almost tossed her the can, but realized in time that she would run. He considered for a moment and then held it out to her. She focused her eyes on the can and for a moment Nelson might have been able to reach her before she turned and ran; but he had better sense than to try... Continue reading book >>




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