Search the Sky by Frederik Pohl & C M Kornbluth

Search the Sky by Frederik Pohl & C M Kornbluth

Author:Frederik Pohl & C M Kornbluth [Pohl, Frederik & Kornbluth, C M]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

They ate; and then they thought. Nothing much seemed to come from all the thinking, though.

They were a long, long way from the spaceship. Ross commandeered all of Helena’s leftover cash. It was almost, not quite, enough for one person to get halfway hack to Azor City. He and Bernie turned out their pockets and added everything they had, including pawnable valuables. That helped. It made the total almost enough for one person to get three-quarters of the way hack.

It didn’t help enough.

Ross said, “Bernie, what would happen if we, well stole something?”

Bernie shrugged. “It’s against the law, of course. They probably wouldn’t prosecute, though.”

“They wouldn’t?”

“Not if they can prove egalitarianism on you. Stealing’s against the law; preaching equality is against the state. You get the maximum penalty for that.”

Helena choked on her drink, but Ross merely nodded. “So we might as well take a chance,” he said. “Thanks, Bernie. We won’t bother you any more. You’ll forget you heard this, won’t you?”

“The hell I will!” Bernie squawked. “If you’re getting out of here, I want to go with you! You aren’t leaving me behind!”

“But Bernie—” Ross started. He was interrupted by the manager, a battleship-class female with a mighty prow, who came scowling toward them.

“Pipe down,” she ordered coarsely. “This place is for decent people; we don’t want no disturbances here. If you can’t act decent, get out.”

“Awk,” said Helena as Ross kicked her under the table. “I mean, yes ma’am. Sorry if we were talking too loud.” They watched the manager walk away in silence.

As soon as she was fairly away, Ross hissed, “It’s out of the question, Bernie. You might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.”

Bernie asked, startled, “The what?”

“The—never mind, it’s just an expression where I come from. It means you might get out of this place and find yourself somewhere worse. We don’t know where we’re going next; you might wish to God you were back here within the next three days.”

“I’ll take that chance,” Bernie said earnestly. “Look, Ross, I played square with you. I didn’t have to stick my neck out and warn you. How about giving me a break too?”

Helena interrupted, “He’s right, Ross. After all, we owe him that much, don’t we? I mean, if a person does that much for a person, a person ought to—”

“Oh, shut up.” Ross glared at both of them. “You two seem to think this is a game,” he said bitterly. “Let me set you straight, both of you. It isn’t. More hangs on what happens to me than either of you realize. The fate of the human race, for instance.”

Helena flashed a look at Bernie. “Of course, Ross,” she said soothingly. “Both of us know that, don’t we, Bernie?”

Bernie stammered, “Sure—sure we do, Ross.” He rubbed his ankle. He went on, “Honest, Ross, I want to get the hell away from Azor once and for all. I don’t care where you’re going. Anything would be better than this place and the damned female bloodsuckers that—”

He stopped, petrified.


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