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To Each His Star   By: (1918-1988)

To Each His Star by Bryce Walton

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Space Science Fiction May 1952. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

[Illustration]

TO EACH HIS STAR

by BRYCE WALTON

"Nothing around those other suns but ashes and dried blood," old Dunbar told the space wrecked, desperate men. "Only one way to go, where we can float down through the clouds to Paradise. That's straight ahead to the sun with the red rim around it."

But Dunbar's eyes were old and uncertain. How could they believe in his choice when every star in this forsaken section of space was surrounded by a beckoning red rim?

There was just blackness, frosty glimmering terrible blackness, going out and out forever in all directions. Russell didn't think they could remain sane in all this blackness much longer. Bitterly he thought of how they would die not knowing within maybe thousands of light years where they were, or where they were going.

[Illustration]

After the wreck, the four of them had floated a while, floated and drifted together, four men in bulbous pressure suits like small individual rockets, held together by an awful pressing need for each other and by the "gravity rope" beam.

Dunbar, the oldest of the four, an old space buster with a face wrinkled like a dried prune, burned by cosmic rays and the suns of worlds so far away they were scarcely credible, had taken command. Suddenly, Old Dunbar had known where they were. Suddenly, Dunbar knew where they were going.

They could talk to one another through the etheric transmitters inside their helmets. They could live ... if this was living ... a long time, if only a man's brain would hold up, Russell thought. The suits were complete units. 700 pounds each, all enclosing shelters, with atmosphere pressure, temperature control, mobility in space, and electric power. Each suit had its own power plant, reprocessing continuously the precious air breathed by the occupants, putting it back into circulation again after enriching it. Packed with food concentrates. Each suit a rocket, each human being part of a rocket, and the special "life gun" that went with each suit each blast of which sent a man a few hundred thousand miles further on toward wherever he was going.

Four men, thought Russell, held together by an invisible string of gravity, plunging through a lost pocket of hell's dark where there had never been any sound or life, with old Dunbar the first in line, taking the lead because he was older and knew where he was and where he was going. Maybe Johnson, second in line, and Alvar who was third, knew too, but were afraid to admit it.

But Russell knew it and he'd admitted it from the first that old Dunbar was as crazy as a Jovian juke bird.

A lot of time had rushed past into darkness. Russell had no idea now how long the four of them had been plunging toward the red rimmed sun that never seemed to get any nearer. When the ultra drive had gone crazy the four of them had blanked out and nobody could say now how long an interim that had been. Nobody knew what happened to a man who suffered a space time warping like that. When they had regained consciousness, the ship was pretty banged up, and the meteor repeller shields cracked. A meteor ripped the ship down the center like an old breakfast cannister.

How long ago that had been, Russell didn't know. All Russell knew was that they were millions of light years from any place he had ever heard about, where the galactic space lanterns had absolutely no recognizable pattern. But Dunbar knew. And Russell was looking at Dunbar's suit up ahead, watching it more and more intently, thinking about how Dunbar looked inside that suit and hating Dunbar more and more for claiming he knew when he didn't, for his drooling optimism because he was taking them on into deeper darkness and calling their destination Paradise... Continue reading book >>




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