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Has Anyone Here Seen Kelly?   By: (1918-1988)

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[Illustration]

The body tanks had to be replenished and the ship had to be serviced and the crew was having a Lotus dream in its bed of protoplasm. But Kelly knew how to arouse them....

Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?

By Kenneth O'Hara

Illustrated by Paul Orban

The Crew pulsed with contentment, and its communal singing brought a pleasant kind of glow that throbbed gently in the control room.

"'Has anybody here seen Kelly ... K E double L Y?'"

"Shut up and dig my thought!" Kelly's stubborn will insisted. "I'm going on out for a while!"

The delicate loom of the Crew's light pattern increased its frequency a little and the song stopped. "Better not," the Crew said.

"But why not?"

"No need."

"We could be running into something bad," Kelly thought.

"No danger now, Kelly. Checking the ship is just a waste of time."

"How can you waste what you have so damn much of?" Kelly thought.

"Do not leave us again, Kelly. We love you and you are the most interesting part of the Crew when you're with it."

"The ship ought to be checked. Our bodies ought to be looked at."

"We know there is no danger any more, Kelly. Do not go. There are so many interesting experiences we have not even begun to share yet. We are only half way through your life and we have not even started to experience your impressions of your colorful and complex Earth culture. And we have not even started on the adult lives of Lakrit or Lljub. Come back with your Crew, Kelly."

"But no one's checked the ship for over a year!"

"Please do not worry about the ship, Kelly. In fifty years nothing has gone wrong. We can trust the ship thoroughly now, it will take care of us."

" It will take care of us ! That's a helluva way to look at it!"

"There can be no danger now, Kelly. In fifty years we have encountered every conceivable danger, every imaginable kind of world or possible menace."

"Have we?" Kelly thought. "Every danger from outside maybe, and I'm not even sure of that. But how about danger from inside?"

"Inside?"

"Us. How about apathy for instance? Apathy's a real danger. You talk about this space can like it was a big metal mother! Listen, I'm supposed to see that this tub holds together. At least until we get back somewhere near enough to the Solar system so we'll feel we've been somewhere else!"

"But, Kelly "

"I'm getting out for a while, I tell you!"

"All right," the Crew sighed. The light loom faded a bit, down to a self indulgent glow. "Hurry back to us, Kelly."

"I'll give some thought to it."

So Kelly concentrated on the increasingly painful and difficult task of tearing his consciousness free of the big glob of protoplasm in the tank, and getting it back into his body that hibernated in the bunkroom.

As usual the switch was too painful. It stretched and stretched and finally snapped in an all too familiar explosion of shocking light.

His bones creaked. His skin rustled as he sat up and looked around. There was the old feeling that there was dust over everything when there was no dust. There was all that emptiness sweeping away into the endless silence and he thought again, as he always did, how comforting and cozy it was being a part of the Crew.

But someone had to check the ship. It was only machinery after all, and machinery could wear out, sooner or later. And he wasn't at all sure, as he kept insisting, that they had encountered all the possible dangers.

It might seem that in fifty years you could run into everything. But fifty years was no time at all out here where time had no real meaning any more.

His body squeaked as he took a few tentative steps about the bunkroom. One did not actually forget how to walk. It was just awkward as the devil. And the blood, the entire autonomic system, tended to slow down. It seemed reluctant to step up general metabolism.

Apathy. Sure it was a danger. This time, Kelly decided, I'll do something about it. He was the engineer and he had signed on the great odyssey to keep the ship going... Continue reading book >>




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