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The Odyssey of Sam Meecham   By: (1927-)

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This story may, in a sense, be tongue in cheek. But the underlying struggle, if you look into the characters' hearts, is terrifyingly real and human the kind of struggle so many of us go through. But Sam Meecham was lucky. He not only got what he wanted, but something he hadn't realized he wanted.

the odyssey of sam meecham

by ... Charles E. Fritch

Sam Meecham did not realize that his chance discovery of unlimited power would bring back that which he had lost eight long years ago.

To look at Sam Meecham you'd never have dreamed he was a man of decision and potential explorer of the unknown. In fact, there were times when Sam wouldn't either. He was a pink, frail looking person with a weak chin and shoulders used to stooping, and stereotyped thinking immediately relegated him to the ranks of the meek and mannerly. These, oddly enough, happened to be his characteristics but that was before he discovered the hyperdrive.

In his capacity as an atomic engine inspector, his work was most uncreative. He was a small cog in a large cog laden machine. A government worker helping to produce engines that would send supplies and immigrants and tourists to the U.S. Sector of the Moon Colony.

Day after day, week after week, freshly made engines would come sliding down the conveyor belt. And mechanically Sam Meecham would attach to each two wires that led from a machine by his side, flip a switch, and if the dial on his machine read at least fifty, he could pass the machine on as being adequate for the job of Moon ferry. He'd been attaching those two wires in place and watching fifties for five years, and it looked as though he'd be doing it for fifty five more.

Then one day a defectively wired machine came sliding along, and dutifully Sam hooked it up and flipped the switch. Automatically, his eyes glanced disinterestedly at the dial showing Comparative Thrust. His eyes bugged. The needle had passed fifty, had gone to the 100 mark (never before reached), struck the metal projection, bent, and was whirling in a rapid circle!

Sam quickly cut off the motor, then he glanced furtively about to see if anyone had noticed. The room was a flurry of men busy at routine tasks and none of them seemed particularly interested in anything that was going on at his table.

Sam checked his own machine and found the tester in perfect working order. He hesitated a brief moment, then flipped the switch again. He was prepared for the whir of the dial now but still it frightened him a little. There must be something wrong; no atomic engine could have that much Comparative Thrust. Yet the tester was perfect.

Sam Meecham shut off the tester and stood very still for a minute and thought about it. His glance fell on the intricate wiring within the atomic engine and he saw with a start that it looked different from usual. Wires were where wires had never been before, where wires were not supposed to be.

With another quick glance about him Sam began copying the wiring pattern on a sheet of paper. He thrust the paper into his pocket as the foreman came up to him.

"Say, Meecham," the foreman said, "that last engine okay?"

Sam Meecham hesitated briefly, then said, "The wiring was a little fouled up. Busted the dial on the tester."

The foreman shook his head. "I was afraid of that. Some wireman on the third floor came in half drunk a few minutes ago. That was only his first machine, so the others ought to be okay." He jabbed a finger at the engine. "You'd better send it back up."

When the foreman was gone Sam checked the wiring with his diagram to make certain he hadn't made any mistakes, and then he disconnected some of the wires just in case.

For the first time in years Sam Meecham felt a new freedom. He'd always been a dreamer hampered by cold reality a man with his head in the stars and his feet chained to solid earth. He'd wanted to go to the Moon when the government first started colonizing; but Dorothy, his wife, talked him out of it... Continue reading book >>

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