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Inside John Barth   By:

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Transcriber's Note: This e text was produced from Galaxy Magazine, June, 1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

INSIDE JOHN BARTH

By WILLIAM W. STUART

Every man wants to see a Garden of Eden. John Barth agreed with his whole heart he knew that he'd rather see than be one!

Illustrated by DILLON

I

Take a fellow, reasonably young, personable enough, health perfect. Suppose he has all the money he can reasonably, or even unreasonably, use. He is successful in a number of different fields of work in which he is interested. Certainly he has security. Women? Well, maybe not any woman in the world he might want. But still, a very nice, choice selection of a number of the very finest physical specimens. The finest and no acute case of puritanism to inhibit his enjoyment.

Take all that. Then add to it the positive assurance of continuing youth and vigor, with a solid life expectancy of from 175 to 200 more years. Impossible? Well just suppose it were all true of someone. A man like that, a man with all those things going for him, you'd figure he would be the happiest man in the world.

Wouldn't you?

Sure. A man with all that would have to be the happiest unless he was crazy. Right? But me, Johnny Barth, I had it.

I had all of it, just like that. I sure wasn't the happiest man in the world though. And I know I wasn't crazy either. The thing about me was, I wasn't a man. Not exactly.

I was a colony.

Really. A colony. A settlement. A new but flourishing culture, you might say. Oh, I had the look of a man, and the mind and the nerves and the feel of a man too. All the normal parts and equipment. But all of it existed and was beautifully kept up, I'll say that primarily as a locale, not a man.

I was, as I said before, a colony.

Sometimes I used to wonder how New England really felt about the Pilgrims. If you think that sounds silly perhaps one of these days you won't.

The beginning was some ten years back, on a hunting trip the autumn after I got out of college. That was just before I started working, as far off the bottom as I could talk myself, which was the personnel office in my Uncle John's dry cleaning chain in the city.

That wasn't too bad. But I was number four man in the office, so it could have been better, too. Uncle John was a bachelor, which meant he had no daughter I could marry. Anyway, she would have been my cousin. But next best, I figured, was to be on good personal terms with the old bull.

This wasn't too hard. Apart from expecting rising young executives to rise and start work no later than 8:30 a.m., Uncle John was more or less all right. Humor him? Well, every fall he liked to go hunting. So when he asked me to go hunting with him up in the Great Sentries, I knew I was getting along pretty well. I went hunting.

The trip was nothing very much. We camped up in the hills. We drank a reasonably good bourbon. We hunted if that's the word for it. Me, I'd done my hitch in the Army. I know what a gun is and respect it. Uncle John provided our hunting excitement by turning out to be one of the trigger happy types. His score was two cows, a goat, a couple of other hunters, one possible deer and unnumbered shrubs and bushes shot at . Luckily he was such a lousy shot that the safest things in the mountains were his targets.

Well, no matter. I tried to stay in the second safest place, which was directly behind him. So it was a nice enough trip with no casualties, right up to the last night.

We were all set to pack out in the morning when it happened. Maybe you read about the thing at the time. It got a light hearted play in the papers, the way those things do. "A one in a billion accident," they called it.

We were lounging by the campfire after supper and a few good snorts. Uncle John was entertaining himself with a review of some of his nearer, more thrilling misses. I, to tell the truth, was sort of dozing off.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a bright flash of blue green light and a loud sort of a "zoop zing" sound... Continue reading book >>




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