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Runaway   By: (1906-1980)

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Heroism is merely daring and ingenuity at the age of ten experience can come later!

Illustrated by ASHMAN

A thin speck appeared in the visor plate and grew with sinister and terrifying speed. Bursts of flame began to play around the rocketing spaceship, the explosions hurtling it from side to side as it twisted and turned in a frantic effort to escape. Rogue Rogan, his vicious lips compressed, his glittering evil eyes narrowed, heart pounding, knew that this was it.

This was the day of retribution, he had so long feared....


Plato leaped to his feet and slid the book under the pillow. Then he seized a textbook at random, and opened it wide. His eyes fastened themselves to the print, seizing upon the meaningless words as if they would save him from a retribution that Rogue Rogan had never had to fear.

The dorm master frowned from the doorway. "Plato, didn't you hear the Assembly bell?"

"Assembly?" Plato's eyes looked up in mild astonishment. "No, sir, I didn't hear any bell. I was so absorbed in my studying, sir " He shut the book and placed it back with the others. "I'm sorry, sir. I'm willing to accept my punishment."

The dorm master studied the little martyr's expression. "You'd better be, Plato. Now live up to your name and show some intelligence. Run along to Assembly."

Plato ran, but he also winced. How he had suffered from that miserable name of his! Even before he had known that the original Plato had been a philosopher, even before he had been capable of understanding what a philosopher was, he had been able to see the amused expression in the eyes of those who heard his name, and had hated them for it. "Show a little intelligence, Plato." Why couldn't they have given him a name like the others? There were so many ordinary, commonplace, manly names from which they might have chosen. Jim, Jack, George, Tom, Bill anything would have been better than Plato. And infinitely better than what he was sometimes called by his equals "Plato, the dopy philosopher."

He slipped into his seat in the Assembly quietly, so as not to interrupt the droning of the principal. So they thought his name was funny, did they? Let them laugh at him. He was only ten now, but some day he would really act like a man. Some day it would be he himself, and not a fictional hero like Comets Carter, who would be adventuring on strange planets of unknown suns, tracking down the Rogans and the other criminals who sought refuge in the wide reaches of galactic space.

Some day and then the thought burst on him like a nova exploding in his brain.

Why not now?

Why not indeed? He was smart; he could take care of himself. Even his masters admitted that, when they weren't carping at him for his daydreaming. Take that model of a spaceship they had brought to school one day, with a retired astrogator to explain to the pupils how the thing was run, and how it avoided stray meteors. He had sat down at the controls, and even the astrogator had been surprised at how confidently he took over the role of pilot, how he got the idea at once.

He could do as well in real life. He was sure of it. Give him a really worthwhile problem to work on, instead of these silly questions about square roots and who discovered the third satellite of Mars, and he'd show them.


"Thus," declaimed the principal, "you will be prepared to take up your duties "

"Norberts to you," thought Plato. "I'm going to run away."

Where to? There were so many stars to go to, such a bewildering number of planets and asteroids.

Plato sat lost in thought. A planet whose habitation required a spacesuit was out of the question. Spacesuits his size were hard to get. The sensible thing would be to choose a place where the physical conditions, from gravity to atmospheric pressure and composition would tend to resemble those here on Venus or on Earth... Continue reading book >>

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