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Out Like a Light   By: (1927-1987)

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[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Astounding Science Fiction April, May and June 1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.]

[Illustration]

OUT LIKE A LIGHT

By MARK PHILLIPS

= Kenneth Malone sometimes known as Sir Kenneth of The Queen's Own FBI had had problems with telepathic spies, and more than somewhat nutty telepathic counterspies. But the case of the Vanishing Delinquents was at least as bad.... =

Illustrated by Freas

[Illustration]

The sidewalk was as soft as a good bed. Malone lay curled on it thinking about nothing at all. He was drifting off into a wonderful dream and he didn't want to interrupt it. There was this girl, a beautiful girl, more wonderful than anything he had ever imagined, with big blue eyes and long blond hair and a figure that made the average pin up girl look like a man. And she had her soft white hand on his arm, and she was looking up at him with trust and devotion and even adoration in her eyes, and her voice was the softest possible whisper of innocence and promise.

"I'd love to go up to your apartment with you, Mr. Malone," she said.

Malone smiled back at her, gently but with complete confidence. "Call me Ken," he said, noticing that he was seven feet tall and superbly muscled. He put his free hand on the girl's warm, soft shoulder and she wriggled with delight.

"All right Ken," she said. "You know, I've never met anyone like you before. I mean, you're so wonderful and everything."

Malone chuckled modestly, realizing, in passing, how full and rich his voice had become. He felt a weight pressing over his heart, and knew that it was his wallet, stuffed to bursting with thousand dollar bills.

But was this a time to think of money?

No, Malone told himself. This was the time for adventure, for romance, for love. He looked down at the girl and put his arm around her waist. She snuggled closer.

He led her easily down the long wide street to his car at the end of the block. It stood in godlike solitude, a beautiful red Cadillac capable of going a hundred and ten miles an hour in any gear, equipped with fully automatic steering and braking, and with stereophonic radio, a hi fi and a 3 D set installed in both front and back seats. It was a 1972 job, but he meant to trade it in on something even better when the 1973 models came out. In the meantime, he decided, it would do.

He handed the girl in, went round to the other side and slid in under the wheel. There was soft music playing, somewhere, and a magnificent sunset appeared ahead of them as Malone pushed a button on the dashboard and the red Cadillac started off down the wide, empty, wonderfully paved street into the sunset while he

The red Cadillac?

The sidewalk became a little harder, and Malone suddenly realized that he was lying on it. Something terrible had happened; he knew that right away. He opened his eyes to look for the girl, but the sunset had become much brighter; his head began to pound with the slow regularity of a dead march and he closed his eyes again in a hurry.

The sidewalk swayed a little but he managed to keep his balance on it somehow, and after a couple of minutes it was quiet again. His head hurt. Maybe that was the terrible thing that had happened, but Malone wasn't quite sure. As a matter of fact, he wasn't very sure about anything, and he started to ask himself questions to make certain he was all there.

He didn't feel all there. He felt as if several of his parts had been replaced with second or even third hand experimental models, and something had happened to the experiment. It was even hard to think of any questions, but after a while he managed to come up with a few.

What is your name?

Kenneth Malone.

Where do you live?

Washington, D. C.

What is your work?

I work for the FBI.

Then what are you doing on a sidewalk in New York in broad daylight?

He tried to find an answer to that, but there didn't seem to be any, no matter where he looked... Continue reading book >>




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