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Way of a Rebel   By: (1923-1996)

Way of a Rebel by Walter M. Miller

First Page:

Way of a Rebel

By Walter Miller, Jr.

Illustrated by Rudolph Palais

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from If Worlds of Science Fiction April 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: No one knows the heart of a rebel until his own search for the reason of right or wrong is made. Lieutenant Laskell found the answer to his own personal rebellion deep beneath a turbulent Atlantic, and somehow, when the time came, his decision wasn't too difficult.... ]

Lieutenant Laskell surfaced his one man submarine fifty miles off the Florida coast where he had been patrolling in search of enemy subs. Darkness had fallen. He tuned his short wave set to the Miami station just in time to hear the eight o'clock news. The grim announcement that he had expected was quick to come:

"In accordance with the provisions of the Twenty Sixth Amendment, Congress today approved the Manlin Bill, declaring a state of total emergency for the nation. President Williston signed it immediately and tendered his resignation to the Congress and the people. The executive, legislative, and judiciary are now in the hands of the Department of Defense. Secretary Garson has issued two decrees, one reminding all citizens that they are no longer free to shirk their duties to the nation, the other calling upon the leaders of the Eurasian Soviet to cease air attacks on the American continent or suffer the consequences.

"In Secretary Garson's ultimatum to the enemy, he stated: 'Heretofore we have refrained from employing certain weapons of warfare in the vain hope that you would recognize the futility of further aggression and desist from it. You have not done so. You have persisted in your blood thirsty folly, despite this nation's efforts to reach an agreement for armistice. Therefore I am forced to command you, in the Name of Almighty God, to surrender immediately or be destroyed. I shall allow you one day in which to give evidence of submission. If such evidence is not forthcoming, I shall implement this directive by a total attack....'"

Mitch Laskell switched off the short wave set and muttered an oath. He squeezed his way up through the narrow conning tower and sat on the small deck, leaning back against the rocket launcher and dangling his feet in the calm ocean. The night was windless and warm, with the summer stars eyeing the earth benignly. But despite the warmth, he felt clammy; his hands were shaking a little as he lit a cigarette.

The newscast it came as no surprise. The world had known for weeks that the Manlin Bill would be passed, and that Garson would be given absolute powers to lead the nation through the war. And his ultimatum to the enemy was no surprise. Garson had long favored an all out radiological attack, employing every nuclear weapon the country could muster. Heretofore both sides had limited themselves to non rigged atomic explosives, and had refrained from using bacterial weapons. Garson wanted to take off the boxing gloves in favor of steel gauntlets. And now it would happen the all out attack, the masterpiece of homicidal engineering, the final word in destruction.

Mitch, reclining in loneliness against the rocket launcher, blew a thoughtful cloud of cigarette smoke toward the bright yellow eye of Arcturus, almost directly overhead, and wondered why the Constellation Bo├Âtes suddenly looked like a big club ready to fall on the earth, when it had always reminded him of a fly swatter about to slap the Corona Borealis. He searched himself for horror, but found only a gloomy uneasiness. It was funny, he thought; five years ago men would have been outraged at the notion of an American absolutism, with one man ruling by decree. But now that it had happened, it was not to hard to accept... Continue reading book >>

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