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The Instant of Now   By:

The Instant of Now by Irving E. Cox

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Fantastic Universe Aug Sept 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

[ One of the most intriguing of all science fiction patterns is that of the galactic sweep the story which takes for granted human travel between stars at speeds far faster than the speed of light. In its most successful form, such a story combines cosmic action with a wholly human plot. In this case Mr. Cox but read it yourself. ]

the instant of now

by ... Irving E. Cox, Jr.

Revolution is not necessarily a noble thing. Unless shrewdly directed, its best elements may fall victim to its basest impulses.

Eddie Dirrul had destroyed the message seconds after reading it. Yet, as he left the pneumotube from the University, he felt as if it were burning a hole in his pocket. It had come to him from Paul Sorgel, the new top agent from the Planet Vinin. It had been written in High Vininese.

For a moment the alien language had slowed Eddie's reaction to its contents, as had the shocking nature of its words. It had read

Need your help. Glenna and Hurd in brush with Secret Police both hurt. Come at once.

Luckily old Dr. Kramer had asked no awkward questions when Eddie excused himself from the balance of the lecture. If the kindly bumbling professor had been inquisitive, Eddie had no idea how he would have answered. Glenna was his fiancée, Hurd his best friend and their disaster meant disaster for the underground movement that had become the guiding purpose of his entire life.

The night was still young when he emerged from the pneumotube and the slanting ramp lines of windows in the massive unit blocks of the Workers' Suburb rose about him within the darkness of the structural frames that encased them.

Parks, recreation centers and gaudy amusement halls were aswirl with the usual evening crowds. With a sort of angry heedlessness Eddie forced his way among tall perpetually youthful men in bright leisure clothing and consciously alluring women clad in filmy garments as teasingly transparent as mist.

Glenna hurt and Hurd! Seriously, of course, or Paul Sorgel would never have risked a hand message. With quiet desperation he pushed through the crowds in his trim grey Air command uniform he was one with them, a nonentity like themselves.

He knew where to find the three he sought. Beyond the outdoor courts, where his fellow Agronians amused themselves with a variety of racquet games, lay a tiny park, wherein a state of wild disorder was carefuly maintained in imitation of nature.

Few were attracted by its rugged growth, save in very warm weather, when hardy souls ventured within its borders to relax in artificial breezes created by silent concealed fans. In its center stood a small stone building that housed the maintenance machinery. It was deserted, except for once each year when the city engineering crews came to check the machines and to make minor repairs. There the Libero Freedom Movement held its meetings, in the shadow of the whirring wheels.

Sorgel came out of the shadows as Dirrul pushed through the thicket of brush that surrounded the stone building. In a hushed whisper he asked, "That you, Eddie?"

"Yes where are they?"

"Inside. I gave them a hypo they're both under now. It makes it easier."

"How did it happen, Paul?"

"I was to meet Glenna and Hurd at her apartment, to talk over the details of the Plan. The police were there ahead of me but I broke up the party before they could finish the job. Since they've got to do this sort of thing unofficially, to be able to deny it later if any questions are asked, I scared them off easily enough. I brought Glenna and Hurd here in my Unicyl but I'll need your help to get them out."

"This is the second time it's happened, Paul!" said Eddie... Continue reading book >>

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