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Let There Be Light   By: (1918-1997)

Let There Be Light by Horace Brown Fyfe

First Page:

Let There Be Light

By Horace B. Fyfe

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction November 1952. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: No matter what the future, one factor must always be reckoned with the ingenuity of the human animal. ]

The two men attacked the thick tree trunk with a weary savagery. In the bright sunlight, glistening spatters of sweat flew from them as the old axes bit alternately into the wood.

Blackie stood nearby, on the gravel shoulder of the highway, rubbing his short beard as he considered the depth of the white notch. Turning his broad, tanned face to glance along the patched and cracked concrete to where squat Vito kept watch, he caught the latter's eye and beckoned.

"Okay, Sid Mike. We'll take it a while."

The rhythm of the axe strokes ceased. Red Mike swept the back of a forearm across the semi shaven stubble that set him as something of a dandy. Wordlessly, big Sid ambled up the road to replace Vito.

"Pretty soon, now," boasted Mike, eyeing the cut with satisfaction. "Think it'll bring them?"

"Sure," replied Blackie, spitting on his hands and lifting one of the worn tools. "That's what they're for."

"Funny," mused Mike, "how some keep going an' others bust. These musta been workin' since I was a little kid since before the last blitz."

"Aw, they don't hafta do much. 'Cept in winter when they come out to clear snow, all they do is put in a patch now an' then."

Mike stared moodily at the weathered surface of the highway and edged back to avoid the reflected heat.

"It beats me how they know a spot has cracked."

"I guess there's machines to run the machines," sighed Blackie. "I dunno; I was too young. Okay, Vito?"

The relieving pair fell to. Mike stepped out of range of the flying chips to sit at the edge of the soft grass which was attempting another invasion of the gravel shoulder. Propelled by the strength of Vito's powerful torso, a single chip spun through the air to his feet. He picked it up and held it to his nose. It had a good, clean smell.

When at length the tree crashed down across the road, Blackie led them to the ambush he had chosen that morning. It was fifty yards up the road toward the ruined city off to the side where a clump of trees and bushes provided shade and concealment.

"Wish we brought something to eat," Vito said.

"Didn't know it would take so long to creep up on 'em this morning," said Blackie. "The women'll have somethin' when we get back."

"They better," said Mike.

He measured a slender branch with his eye. After a moment, he pulled out a hunting knife, worn thin by years of sharpening, and cut off a straight section of the branch. He began whittling.

"You damn' fool!" Sid objected. "You want the busted spot on the tree to show?"

"Aw, they ain't got the brains to notice."

"The hell they ain't! It stands out like one o' them old street signs. D'ya think they can tell, Blackie?"

"I dunno. Maybe." Blackie rose cautiously to peer over a bed of blackberry bushes. "Guess I'll skin up a tree an' see if anything's in sight."

He hitched up his pants, looking for an easy place to climb. His blue denims had been stoutly made, but weakened by many rips and patches, and he did not want to rip them on a snag. It was becoming difficult to find good, unrotted clothing in the old ruins.

Choosing a branch slightly over his head, he sprang for it, pulled, kicked against the trunk, and flowed up into the foliage with no apparent effort. The others waited below. Sid glanced up occasionally, Vito idly kicked at one of the clubs made from an old two by four.

The other lay beneath the piled jackets; but enough of the end protruded to show that they had been chopped from the same timber, gray painted on one side, stained and gouged on the other where boards had once been nailed... Continue reading book >>

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