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"The Shadow Men" (1950) — an outstanding golden-age novella by A. E. van Vogt never before republished

Tuesday 3 September 2013, by A. E. van Vogt

This striking tale from the golden age of science-fiction was never republished in either magazine or book form after its initial appearance in the January 1950 issue of Startling Stories, where it was highlighted on the quite spectacular cover [1] by Earle Bergey

With its 36,400 words – the equivalent of some 110 pocket-book pages – it is technically a (long) novella, according to the criteria developed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America association: short story - under 7500 words; novelette - 7,500 to 17,499 words; novella - 17,500 to 40,000 words; novel: 40,000+ words; although it was announced as a novel in the magazine.

Otherwise, with its complex structure – 18 named chapters –, its ambitious themes – crime and punishment, time-travel paradoxes, the sociological divisions of the America of the future – and its well-developed psychological and period atmosphere, this novella certainly does conform to what one can and should expect of a fully-developed novel.

The text of The Shadow Men was integrated into the 1953 "fix-up" novel The Universe Maker with very extensive changes and a great deal of additional material. For this reason the original story was no doubt never republished, much in the same spirit that the crime-thriller writer Raymond Chandler had adopted after the publication in 1939 of his celebrated opus The Big Sleep, that had been composed almost entirely of previously-published magazine stories that Chandler refused to have published in book form during his lifetime.

An overview of The Shadow Men can be consulted here.

An e-book version is available for downloading below.

CHAPTER I - Therapy - To Be Murdered

"This time let’s not waste a moment" said Anne
(Chap. IX)

LIEUTENANT MORTON CARGILL staggered as he came out of the cocktail bar. He stopped and was turning, instinctively seeking support, when a girl emerged from the same bar. She half fell against him.
They clung to each other, maintaining a precarious balance. She seemed to recover first. She mumbled, " ’Member, you promised to drive me home."
"Huh?" said Cargill. He was about to add, "Why, I’ve never seen you before."
He didn’t say it because it suddenly struck him that he had never before in his life been so drunk either. And there was a vagueness about the last hour that lent a sort of a plausibility to her words.
He certainly had intended to find himself a girl before the evening was over.
Besides, what did its matter anyway? This was 1943. He was a man who had three days left of his embarkation leave and he couldn’t stop to argue about the extent of his acquaintance.
"Where’s your car?"
She led the way, weaving, to a Chevrolet coupe. He had to help her unlock the door and she collapsed onto the seat beside the steering wheel, her head hanging limply. Cargill climbed behind the wheel and almost slid to the floor.
For a moment that pulled him out of his own blur.
He thought, startled, "I’m not fit to drive a car either. I’d better get a taxi."
The impulse faded. He was a man who had three days left of his leave. As of right now the pickup was a fact, whatever its history, and he was just tight enough not to have any qualms. He stepped on the starter.

* * * * *

Cargill made the first effort to get out of the car after the crash. The door wouldn’t open. His attempt at movement made him aware of how squeezed in he was. Dazed, he realized that he had escaped death and injury by a miracle.
He tried to reach across the girl toward the door on her side — and got his second big shock.
The whole front of the car was staved in.
Even in the half darkness Cargill realized that the blow had been mortal. In a spasm of comprehension of what this could mean he made a new effort to open his own door. This time it worked. He staggered out and off into the darkness. No one tried to stop him, no one saw him.
In the morning, pale and sober, he read the newspaper report of the accident:


Her car smashed beyond repair when it sideswiped a tree, Mrs. Marie Chanette last night bled to death from injuries sustained in the accident. The body was not discovered until early this morning and it is believed the victim might have been saved had she been found sooner and treated.
Mrs. Chanette, who was separated from her husband recently, is survived by a three-year-old baby girl and a brother, said to be living in New York. Funeral arrangements await word from relatives.

There was no mention of a possible escort. A later edition mentioned that she had been seen talking to a soldier, and that paragraph was enlarged upon in the evening paper. By the second morning there was talk of murder in the news columns, and an amazingly accurate description of the soldier was given. The wretched Cargill took alarm, and returned gloomily to his camp.
He was relieved a week later when his division was sent overseas. It put three years between him and the impulse that had made him scamper off into the darkness, leaving behind him a dying woman. Battle experience hardened him against the reality of death for other people and slowly the awful sense of guilt faded. Completely recovered, he returned to Los Angeles early in 1946. He had been home several months when a note arrived for him in the morning mail:

Dear Captain Cargill:
I saw you on the street the other day and I noticed your name was still listed in the phone book. I wonder if you would be so kind as to meet me at the Hotel Gifford tonight (Wednesday) at about 8:30.
Yours in curiosity,
Marie Chanette.

Cargill read the note, puzzled, and for just a moment the name meant nothing to him. Then he remembered. And then —
"B—but," he thought, stunned, "she never knew my name."
It required minutes to shake off the chilling sensation that stole along his spine. At first he decided against turning up but as evening arrived he knew he couldn’t remain away.
"Yours in curiosity!" What did she mean?
It was 8:15 when he entered the foyer of the magnificent Gifford and took up a position beside a pillar from which he could watch the main entrance.
He waited.

AT 9:30, he retreated, blushing from his fifth attempt to identify Marie Chanette.
He hadn’t noticed the man behind the column who was talking to the girl. The girl was smiling sweetly now, the secret smile of a female who has won the double victory of defending her virtue and simultaneously proving that she is still attractive to other men.
Her gaze turned fleetingly, knowingly and touched Cargill’s eyes, then her attention swung back in a proprietary fashion to the young man. She smiled once more, too sweetly. Then she took her escort’s arm and they moved off through a door above which floated a lighted sign that said alluringly, DREAM ROOM.
The high color faded from Cargill’s cheeks as he took up his position once more. But his determination was beginning to wane. Five women had now repulsed him and that was too strenuous for any one evening.
A big man moved up beside him. He said softly, "Captain, how about peddling your wares in some other hotel? Your repeated failure is beginning to embarrass the guests. In other words, move on, bud, move on. And fast."
House dick — Cargill stared at the other’s smooth face with a pale intensity. He was about to slink off when a young woman’s voice said clearly. "Have I kept you waiting long, Captain?"
Cargill swung around in glassy-eyed relief. Then he stopped. His brain roared. He mumbled, "You’re Marie Chanette."
She was changed but there was no doubt. It was she. Out of the corner of one eye he saw the house detective move off, baffled. An impulse came to call the man back.
Even as the thought came he forgot the fellow. For his fascinated brain, there was only the girl.
"It really is you," he said. "Marie Chanette!"
Her name came hard from his tongue as if the words were pebbles that interfered with his speech. He began to realize how changed she was, how different.
The girl he had picked up three years before had been well dressed but not like this. Now she wore a "hot pink" sari with a fur coat of indeterminable animal lightly held over her shoulders, the most glittering coat Cargill had seen since his return to America.
Her clothes ceased to matter. "But you’re dead," he wanted to say. "I read the account of your burial."
He didn’t say that. Instead he listened as the girl murmured, "Let’s go into the bar. We can talk about — old times — over a drink."
Cargill poured down the first drink without pausing. Then he looked blurrily at the girl. And saw that she was watching him with a faint indulgent smile.
"I wondered," she said, "what it would be like to come back and have a drink with a murderer. It’s really not very funny, is it?"
Cargill began to gather his defenses. There was something here he didn’t understand, a purpose deeper than appeared on the surface. He had seen suppressed hostility too often not to recognize it instantly. This woman was out to hurt him and he had better watch himself.
"I don’t know what you mean," he said sharply and his voice had a faint snarl in it. "I’m not sure that I even know you."
The woman did not answer immediately. She was doing something to her purse. It opened abruptly. She reached in and took out two large photographs. She tossed them across the table without a word.

IT gave Cargill several seconds to focus his unsteady gaze on the prints. His eyes and his mind coordinated finally, and with a gasp he snatched them up.
Each one showed a man in an officer’s uniform in the act of climbing out of a badly wrecked car. The realism of the scenes almost stopped Cargill’s breath. One of the prints showed the girl pinned by the door on her side. Her face was twisted and blood was streaming down over her eyes.
The second print was a full face of the officer, taken on an upward slant from an almost impossible position behind the girl.
Both prints showed the officer’s face and both showed him squeezing out of the partly open door on the driver’s side.
In each ease it was his own countenance.
Cargill let the prints drop from limp fingers and stared at the girl with eyes that narrowed with calculation. "What do you want?" he asked harshly. Then more violently, "Where did you get those pictures?"
The last question galvanized him into action. He snatched the prints as if defending them from her, as if they were the only evidence against him. With tensed fingers he began to rip them into tiny pieces.
"You may keep those copies," said the girl calmly.
Copies! Cargill shifted his feet and he must have looked up. For a waiter darted forward and he heard himself ordering drinks. And then the whisky was back and he was pouring it down into his burning throat. He thought more sanely that, if she were alive, no charge could be brought against him after all this time.
He saw that she was fumbling in her purse. She drew forth a glittering cigarette and, putting it in her mouth, took a deep puff, then exhaled a thin cloud of smoke. Without seeming to notice his gaze fastened on the "cigarette" she delved once again into her purse, this time came out with a card the size of a streetcar pass, tossed it across the table at him.
"You will be wondering," she said, "what this is all about. There, that explains to some extent. Suppose you look at it."

CARGILL scarcely heard.
"That cigarette," he said. "You didn’t light it."
"Cigarette?" She looked puzzled, then she glanced in the direction of his glare. Understanding dawned. She reached once more into her purse, and came out with a second cigarette similar to the one she was smoking. She held it out to him.
"It works automatically," she said, "every time you draw on it. Very simple but I’d forgotten they won’t be available for a hundred years yet. Very soothing they are."
He needed it. The cigarette seemed to be made from some kind of plastic but the flavor was pure mild tobacco. Cargill drew on it deeply three times. Then, his nerves steadier, he forgot the uniqueness of such a cigarette and picked up the document she had thrown on the table. A luminous print stared up at him

Captain Morton Cargill
June 5, 1946

The sinking sensation that came to Cargill had in it a consciousness of darkness gathering over his mind. He was aware of a boogie-woogie record starting to play nearby. He shook himself blurrily. Through a thick mist he gazed at the girl. "This is silly," he muttered. "You’re kidding me."
She shook her head. "It isn’t me. Once I went to them it was out of my control. And as for you the moment you picked up that card you were —"
Her voice retreated into a remote distance as the shadows swept in over him. There was night.

CHAPTER II - Escape in Time

THE blackness ended but his vision remained blurred.

Suddenly Cargill saw the pyramid
(Chap. XIV)

The obstruction cleared away after he had blinked hard for several seconds. Automatically he looked around him.
At first, he did not clearly realize that he was no longer in the DREAM ROOM. There was a tremendous difference but for a moment his mind made a desperate effort to justify a similarity. He tried to think of the cocktail bar as having been stripped of its furniture.
The illusion collapsed. He saw that he was sitting in a chair at one end of a tastefully furnished living room. To his left was an open door through which he could see the edge of a bed. The wall directly across from him was a mirror.
Once more he had to make an adjustment. For as he looked into the "mirror" he saw that there was a girl sitting in what would have been the mirror image of his own chair. It was the girl who resembled Marie Chanette.
Cargill started to his feet. In two minutes, in a frenzy of uneasy amazement, he explored the apartment. The door he had seen when his vision first cleared led to a bedroom with attached bathroom. The bathroom had a connecting door but it was locked. The living room wall was not a mirror at all but a window.
Beyond it was a virtual duplicate of the apartment he was in. There were the same living room and the same door leading to another room — Cargill could not see if it was a bedroom but he presumed that it was. On one wall of the living room was a clock that said: "May 6, 6:22 P.M." It had obviously stopped working a month ago.
He had been moving with a feverish excitement. Now he retreated warily to a chair and sat there, glaring at the girl. He remembered what she had said in the cocktail bar — remembered the card and its deadly threat.
He was still thinking about it when the girl climbed to her feet and came over to the glass barrier. She said something or rather her mouth moved as if in speech. Not so much as a whisper of sound came through. Cargill was galvanized. He plunged up from his chair, and yelled, "Where are we?"
The girl shook her head. Baffled, Cargill explored the wall for a possible means of communication. Then he looked around the room for a telephone. There was none. Not, he reflected presently, in a brief fury of self-anger, that a phone would have done him any good. There was such a thing as having a phone number to call. Another thought struck him. Frantically he searched for pencil and paper in the inside breast pocket of his coat. Sighing with relief, he produced the materials. His fingers trembled as he wrote Where are we?
He held the paper against the glass. The girl nodded her understanding and went back to get her purse. Cargill could see her writing in a small notebook, then she was back at the glass barrier. She held up the paper. Cargill read, I think this is Shadow City.
That was meaningless. Where’s that? Cargill wrote.
The girl shrugged and answered, Somewhere in the future from both your time and mine.
That calmed him. He had his first conviction that he was dealing with queer people. His eyes narrowed with calculation. Cautiously he considered the danger to himself of a cult that put forward such nonsense. The girl was forgotten, and he went back slowly and settled down in the chair.
"They won’t dare harm me," he told himself.
Just how it had been worked he couldn’t decide. But apparently the family of Marie Chanette had somehow discovered the identity of the man who had been with the girl when she was killed and in the distorted fashion of kinfolk, blamed him completely for the accident.
He had no sense of guilt, Cargill told himself. And he certainly had no intention of accepting any nonsense from a bunch of neurotic relatives.
Anger welled up in him, directed now and no longer stimulated by fear and confusion. A dozen plans for counteraction sprang full-grown into his mind. He’d break the glass, smash the door that led from the bathroom, break every stick of furniture in the room.
These people were going to regret even this tiny action they had taken against him. For the third time, with deliberation now, he climbed to his feet. And he was hefting a chair for his first attack when a man’s voice spoke at him from the air directly in front of him.
"Morton Cargill, it is my duty to explain to you why you must be killed."
Cargill remained where he was, rigid.

HE unfroze swiftly. As his mind started to work again he looked wildly around him, seeking the hidden speaker from which the voice had come. He assumed that it had been mechanical. He rejected the momentary illusion that the voice had come from mid-air.
His gaze raked the ceiling, the floor, the walls, in vain. He was about to explore more thoroughly with his fingers, with his eyes close up, when the voice spoke again, this time almost in his ear.
"It is necessary," it said, "to talk to you in advance, because of the effect on your nervous system."
The meaning scarcely penetrated. He was fighting a sense of panic. The voice had come from a point only inches away from his ear and yet there was nothing. No matter which way he turned the room was empty. And there was no sign of any mechanical device. Definitely there was nothing that could have produced the illusion of somebody speaking directly into his ear.
For a third time, the voice spoke, this time from behind him. "You see, Captain Cargill, the important thing in such a therapy as this is that there be a readjustment on the electro-colloidal level of the body.
"Such changes cannot be artificially induced. Hypnosis is not adequate because no matter how deep the trance, there is a part of the mind that is aware of the illusion.
"You will readily see what I mean when I say that even in cases of the most profound amnesia you can presently tell the subject that he will remember everything that has happened. The fact that that memory is here, capable of recall under proper stimulus, explains the prolonged therapies sometimes necessary even with hypnosis."
This time there was no doubt. The speech was long, and Cargill had time to turn around, time to assure himself that the voice was coming from a point in the air about a foot or so above his head. The discovery shocked some basic point of stability in him.
He had let go of the chair with which he had intended to smash the furniture. Now he snatched it up again, He stood with it clenched in his hands, eyes narrowed, body as stiff as the wood of the chair itself, and listened as once more that disembodied voice spoke.
"Only a fact," it said inexorably, "can affect quick and violent changes. It is not enough to imagine that a machine is bearing down upon you at top speed, even if the imagining is accomplished in a state of deep hypnosis.
"Only when the machine actually rushes at you and the danger is there in concrete fashion before your eyes — only then does doubt end. Only then does every part of the mind and body accept the reality."
Cargill was beginning to lose some of his own doubts. He had his first sharp feeling that this was real. Here were not just a few angry relatives. He let go of the chair and began to relax.
Here was danger, definite, personal, immediate. And that was something that he could face. For more than three years he had been conditioned to a series of reactions when he was threatened — a remorseless alertness and an almost paradoxical combination of keyed-up relaxation.
He said now, "What is all this? Where am I?"
That was becoming tremendously important. He needed information now to stabilize himself. This situation was new and different from anything that he had ever experienced before. And what was particularly vital was that he had taken the first step necessary to combating it. He accepted its reality.
Someone was doing something against him. Whoever it was had enough money to set up these two rooms in this curious fashion. It looked very expensive. It was convincing. From the air the voice, ignoring his questions, went on.
"It would not be enough to tell the descendants of Marie Chanette that you had been killed. The girl has to see the death scene. She has to look down at you after you have been killed. She has to be able to touch your cold flesh and realize the finality of what has happened. Only thus can we assure adjustment on the electro-colloidal level."
The Voice finished quietly. "But now I would suggest that you rest awhile. My words need time to sink in. You will hear from me again in the evening — for the last time."
Cargill did not accept the finality of the words. For several minutes he asked questions, talking directly at the point from which the voice had come. There was no reply. In the end, grim and determined, he gave up that approach, and returned to an earlier more violent one.
For ten minutes he smashed a chair against the glass barrier. It was a case of smashing. The wooden chair creaked and vibrated from each blow and shattered section by section. The glass was not even scratched.
Reluctantly, Cargill accepted its impregnability. He headed for the bathroom, and tested the door that led from it. He gave one tug at the knob and his heart sank. The door was made of a hard metal. For an hour he worked on it without once affecting it in any visible fashion.
He headed for the bedroom finally and lay down, intending to rest briefly. He must have fallen asleep instantly.

SOMEBODY was shaking him violently. Cargill came out of the stupor of sleep to the sound of a woman’s voice saying urgently in his ear, "Hurry! There’s no time to waste. We must leave at once."
He was a man who expected to be murdered and that was his first memory. He jerked so spasmodically it seemed as if his body would tear.
And then he was sitting up.
He was still in the bedroom of the apartment with the glass wall. And the girl who was bending over him was a complete stranger.
As he glared at her she stepped back from him and bent over a small machine. Her profile was to him, intent now and almost girlish in the anxiety that was there. Something must have gone wrong, for she began to curse in a most ungirlish fashion in a low tone. Abruptly, in a kind of desperation, she looked at him.
"For — sake" — Cargill didn’t get the word —" don’t just sit there. Come over here and pull on this jigger. We’ve got to get out of here."
He was a man who was trying to grasp many things at once. His gaze flicked apprehensively toward the open door.
"Ssssssh!" he whispered instinctively.
The girl’s eyes followed his gaze. "Don’t worry about them — yet. But quick now l"
Cargill came heavily. His mind held him down. Her presence baffled him.
He knelt beside her — and grew aware of the faint perfume that emanated from her body. It gave him a heady sensation. For a moment, the tiny pin she was tugging at wavered in his vision. And then once more the girl spoke.
"Grab it," she said, "and pull hard."
Cargill sat there. The expression on his face must have penetrated to her at last for she paused and looked at him hard.
"Oh, mud," she said — it sounded like "mud" — "tell mother all about it. What’s eating you?"
He couldn’t help it. His mind was twisting, turning, writhing with doubts and fears.
"Who are you?" he mumbled.
The girl sagged back. "I get it," she said. "Everything’s too fast. You haven’t had time to think. You poor grud you." It sounded like grud. She was shrugging. "Fine, we’ll stay here until one of the Shadows comes."
"The what?"
The girl moaned. "Oh, Mud, won’t I ever learn to keep my mouth shut. I’ve started him off again."
Her tone cut him at last. A flush touched his cheeks.
"Blast you!" he said, "What’s all this about? What are you doing here? What—?"
The girl held up one hand as if to defend herself from attack. "All right, all right," she said. "I give up. Let’s sit down and have a cozy chat, shall we? My name is Ann Reece, I was born twenty-four years ago in a hospital. I spent my first year more or less lying on my back. Then —"
The anger she aroused in him acted like an astringent. It tightened his thoughts and pulled back a dozen wandering impulses into a sort of unity. His very intentness must have impressed her. She parted her lips as if to say something light. Then looked at him — and closed them again.
Then she said, "Maybe we’re going to get somewhere, after all. All right, my friend, a minute ago I wouldn’t have told you anything. You’ve been pulled out of the twentieth century to the — well, the present. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that. I belong to a group who are opposed to the Shadows. And I was sent here after you —"
She stopped. Her brows knitted. "Never mind! Now, please, don’t ask me how we knew you were here. Don’t ask any more questions. This machine brought me into this room in the heart of Shadow City and it will take the two of us out if you will unjam that pin.
"If you don’t want to go with me, loosen the pin anyway, so that I can get to" — Cargill missed the word completely — "out of here. You can stay and be murdered for all of me. Now, please, the pin!"
Murdered! That did it. It wasn’t that he had forgotten. It was the insensate wriggling of his brain that pushed that danger into the background. He leaned forward, his fingers forming to take hold.
"Do I pull or push?" he breathed.
Cargill snatched at it. The first touch startled him. It was as if he had grasped a film of oil. His skin slid over the immense smoothness of it as if there was nothing there. He grabbed again, sweating abruptly with the realization of the problem.
"Jerk!" said the girl harshly.
He jerked. And felt the slight tug as it yielded a fraction of an inch.
"Got it!" It was his own voice, hoarse triumph.
The girl reached past him. "Quick, grab that smooth bar." Even as she spoke her hand guided his. He snatched for a hold. Her hand clutched the same bar just above where he was clinging.
He remembered then a dull glow from the bulbous section near his face. His body tingled.
And then he was lying on a hard smooth floor in a large room.

CHAPTER III - Planiac Captive

CARGILL did not look at the girl immediately. He climbed gingerly to his feet and put his hand to his head. It was an instinctive gesture, part of his utter absorption with himself. He found no pain, no dizziness, no sense of unbalance.
Why he had expected such reaction he didn’t know. The complete absence of unpleasant sensation made him feel better. He began to brace up to the situation. With brightening eyes, he glanced around the room. It was bigger and higher than his first impression had indicated. It was made of marble and seemed to be an anteroom. Except for minor seating arrangements for temporary visitors it had virtually no fur-niture.
There was a high arched doorway at either long end of the room but in each case the doors merely opened onto a wide hallway that ran at right angles to them. A single large window to Cargill’s left faced onto shrubbery, so he could not see what was beyond.
He was starting avidly for the window when he grew aware that the girl was watching him with an ironic smile.
Cargill stopped short and looked at her, "Why shouldn’t I be curious?" he asked defensively.
"Go right ahead," she said. She giggled. "But you look funny."
He stared at her angrily. She was a much smaller girl than he had thought and somewhat older. He remembered her language and decided — either older than twenty-five or younger. And unmarried. Young married women with children watched their tongues.
And besides, they didn’t go out risking their lives by joining exotic groups of adventurous rebels.
The shrewdness of the analysis pleased Cargill. It opened his taut mind a little wider. For the first time since leaving the cell, he thought, "Why, I’m way up in the future! And this time I’m free."
He had a sudden desperate desire to see everything before he was returned to the twentieth century. A will came, to know, to experience. He had a thrill of imminent pleasure. Once more he whirled toward the window.
Then once more stopped.
There was a memory in him of what the girl had said — "look funny."
He glared down at his body, naked except for a pair of something similar to gym shorts. It was not exactly indecent but Cargill felt irritated, as if he had been caught in an embarrassing position. His legs were hard and strong but they looked thinner than they actually were. He had never been at his best in a bathing suit.
He said in genuine annoyance, "You could have had some clothes waiting for me here. It’s getting chilly."
It was. Through the window he could see that it was also becoming darker. If he was still in California then the late afternoon sea breezes were probably blowing outside. Even in midsummer that meant coolness.
The girl said casually, "Oh, one of the men will bring you something. You’re to leave here as soon as it becomes dark."
"Oh!" said Cargill.
He shook his head as if he would drive out the blur that was confusing him. All these minutes he had been standing here, adjusting to the simpler aspects of his new environment. They were important, it was true, but they were the tiniest segment of all that was happening to him.
The restlessness of his brain, which had already brought so many spasms of memory and forgetfulness, derived from several major facts. He was in this far future world because an inter-time psychological society was using him to cure one of their patients.
The morality of that was a little too deep for Cargill but just thinking about it brought a surge of fury. Who did they think they were, murdering him to soothe somebody else’s upset nerves.
He fought down the anger, because that danger was temporarily behind him. Ahead was the mystery of the group that had rescued him and that, tonight, intended to take him — elsewhere.
Cargill parted his lips to ask the question that quivered in his mind when the girl said, "I’ll leave you here to look around. I’ve got to go and talk to somebody. Do not follow me, please."
She was at the door to the left of the window before Cargill could find his voice.
"Just a minute," he said. "I want to ask some questions."
"I don’t doubt it," said Ann Reece, with a low laugh. "You may ask him later." She turned, and was gone before he could speak again.

BEING alone soothed him. It was so marked a feeling that he realized how great had been the pressure upon him of the presence of other people while he was trying to adjust. Everybody else had plans about and for him. He had none for himself — except the window.
Peering out the window Cargill had the initial impression that he was looking onto a well-kept park. The impression changed. For through the latticework of the shrubbery he could see a street.
It was such a street as men dream about in their moments of magical imagination. It wound through tall trees, among palms and fruit trees. It had shop windows fronting oddly shaped buildings that nestled among the greenery.
Hidden lights spread a mellow brightness into the curves and corners of that ungeometrical artists’ street. The afternoon had become quite dark and every window glowed as from some inner warmth. He had a tantalizing vision of interiors that were different from anything he had ever seen.
All this was but a glimpse as viewed through the latticework of a rose arbor.
Cargill drew back, trembling. He had had his first look at Los Angeles of hundreds of years in the future. It was an exhilarating experience.
He took another long look but what he could see was too fragmentary to satisfy his expanding need. He retreated from that fascinating view, and peered through the door beyond which the girl had disappeared. It was a hallway and a drab light was shining along it, a reflection from another doorway some score of feet to the right.
He hesitated. Ann Reece had forbidden him to follow her but she had made no threats. He was still standing there, undecided, when he grew aware that a man and a woman were talking in the lighted room.
Cargill strained his ears. But he could hear nothing of what was said. It was the tone of the man’s voice that interested him. He seemed to be giving instructions and the girl was protesting.
Cargill recognized Ann Reece’s voice but how subdued she was! Her reaction dictated his own. This was not the time to barge in on her — better to sit down and wait.
He was halfway across the room, heading toward a chair, when his foot struck something that clanged metallically. It took a moment in the almost darkness to recognize the machine that had brought him and the girl out of the glass-walled room.
Gazing at it, conscious of the wonder of it, Cargill had a wild thought — if he could take this machine and sneak off into the descending night, then he’d be free not only of his original captors but of the new group with their schemes.
That last was important, now that he had heard the sharply unpleasant voice of the man in the next room.
Like a burglar in the night Cargill knelt beside the instrument. It was two-headed, like a barbell used by weightlifters. In the gloom, his quick eyes searched for the "pin" that had caused the earlier trouble. It was not visible.
Carefully, using only the tips of his fingers, he pushed the bar, rolling it slowly. It was warm to his touch but showed no other animation. Cargill withdrew his fingers. This was not really the time to test its potency.
Uncertain, he climbed to his feet — and grew aware that footsteps were coming along the hallway. He turned to face the doorway. The footsteps entered the room; there was a rustling sound and the place blazed with light.
A Shadow shape stood in the doorway.

HE was walking. It was hard to understand how it had happened, but he could feel the pressure of the dirt under his shoes and the play of muscles in his legs as they moved back and forth.
For a long time, in the reflection of the flashlight in the hands of the girl, he watched the rise and fall of her heels. Every little while she kicked up loose soil and it was that which suddenly shocked the blur out of Cargill’s mind.
The shadow figure, he thought. His legs continued their automatic movement but his brain flashed comprehension of his environment.
It was pitch dark. There was no sign anywhere of a city. He seemed to be walking along an unpaved rural road. Cargill looked up. But the sky must have been cloud-covered for he saw no stars and no moon.
Cargill groaned inwardly. What could have happened? One instant he was in a large marble anteroom inside a city, then the shadow shape had come in and seemed to examine him — one long look only. And then this — this dark road behind a silent companion.
"Ann!" said Cargill softly. "Ann Reece."
She did not turn or pause. "So you’re coming out of it," she said.
Cargill wondered briefly just what it was he was coming out of. Amnesia, certainly —temporary amnesia. The thought faded. To a man who had been unconscious several times now another spasm of darkness didn’t matter.
Here he was. That was what counted.
"Where are we going?" he asked and his voice was quite normal.
The girl’s voice oddly suggested she was shrugging. "Couldn’t leave you in the city," she said.
"Why not?"
"The Shadows would get you."
The phrase had a rhythm that snatched Cargill’s attention. The Shadows — will — get you. The Shadows will get you. He could almost imagine children being frightened by the threat.
His thought poised on the fact that at least one Shadow had seen him. He said as much. There was a pause. Then, "He’s not — one of them."
"Who is he?"
"He has a plan"— she hesitated — "for fighting them."
Cargill’s mind made a single, embracing leap. "Where do I fit into this plan?"
Silence answered. Cargill waited, then strode forward and fell in step beside her.
"Tell me," he said.
"It’s very complicated." She still did not turn her head. "We had to have somebody from a time far past so the Shadows couldn’t use their four-dimensional minds on him. He looked at you and said he couldn’t tell what your future was. Here and there through history are individuals who are — complicated — like that. You’re the one we selected."
"Selected!" Cargill exclaimed. Then he was silent. He had an abrupt impossible picture that everything that had happened to him had been planned. In his mind’s eye he saw a drunken soldier being selected to wreck a car and kill a girl. No, wait, that couldn’t be. He had got drunk that night deliberately. They couldn’t have had anything to with that.
The fury of his speculation subsided.
The possibilities were too intricate. With a cold intentness he stared at the shadowed profile of Ann Reece.
"I want to know," he said, "what way I’m supposed to be used."
"I don’t know," she said. "I’m only a pawn."
His fingers snatched at her arm. "Like heck you don’t know," he said roughly. "Where are you taking me?"

THE fingers of her other hand tugged futilely at his hand. She struggled a little. "You’re hurting my arm," she whimpered.
Cargill released her reluctantly. "You can answer my question."
"I’m taking you to a hiding place of ours. You’ll be told there what’s next." Her tone was reluctant.
Cargill pondered the possibilities and liked them less every second. A mysterious group intended to use him against beings they feared so violently that they had gone into remote history for somebody to fight their enemies.
"Look," he said frankly, "I don’t like this situation at all. I don’t think I’m going with you to this hiding place."
That did not seem to worry her. "’Don’t be silly," she said. "Where would you go?"
Cargill pondered that uneasily. Once in Germany his unit had withdrawn in disorder and he had been in enemy territory for two days. He could picture that a similar predicament here might be equally unhappy.
He looked down at himself, undecided. For some minutes, he had been aware that he had on clothes. In that dimness it was impossible to see what they were like but he felt warm and cozy. Surely, they wouldn’t have given him conspicuous clothing. Abruptly, he made up his mind.
"I don’t think," he said quietly, "that I’m going any farther in your direction. Good-by."
He stepped away from her and ran rapidly along the road, back the way they had come. After not more than ten seconds he plunged off the road and found himself scrambling through thick brush. Aim Reece’s flashlight flared behind him obviously seeking him. But the reflections from the beam only made it easier for him to penetrate the brush.
He broke into a meadow and trotted across it — and then he was in brush again. For the first time then he heard her voice calling, "You fool, you! Come back!"
For several minutes, her words broke the spell of the night but he heard only snatches now.
Once he thought she said, "Watch out for the Planiacs! But that didn’t make sense.
He passed over the crest of a hill and thereafter heard her no more.

PURPOSEFULLY though carefully Cargill pressed on through the darkness. He grew startled by the extent of the wilderness but it was important that he keep moving. In the morning there might be a search for him and he had better be as far as possible from the road where he had left Ann Reece.
The night was dark, the sky continued sullen. The tangy smell of water warned him that he was approaching either a river or a lake. Cargill turned aside. He was crossing what seemed to be an open space when, out of the night, the beam of a flashlight focused on him.
A girl’s high-pitched voice said, "Darn you, I’ve got my — on you." He didn’t get the word. It sounded like spitter. "Put up your hands."
In the reflections of the flashlight, Cargill glimpsed a dull metal gadget that looked like nothing else than an elongated radio tube. It pointed at him steadily.
The girl raised her voice in a yell. "Hey, pa, I’ve caught myself a —" The word sounded like wiener but Cargill rejected that. The girl went on excitedly, "Come on, pa, and help me get him aboard."
Afterwards, Cargill realized he should have tried to escape at that moment. It was the unnatural weapon that held him indecisive. Had it been an ordinary gun he’d have dived off into the darkness — or so he told himself when it was too late.
Before he could decide a roughly dressed man loped out of the darkness. "Good work, Lela," he said, "you’re a smart girl."
Cargill had a flashing glimpse of a lean, rapacious, bearded countenance. And then the man had taken up a position behind him and was jabbing another of the tube-like weapons into him.
"Get going, stranger, or I’ll spit you."
Cargill started forward reluctantly. Ahead of him a long, snub-nosed snub-tailed structure loomed up vaguely out of the darkness. The light from the flash seared across it, sending back glassy reflections. And then —
"Follow Lela through that door!’
There was no escape now. The man and the gun crowded behind him. Cargill found himself in a large dimly lighted room, amazingly well constructed and looking both cozy and costly. Then he was being urged across the carpeted floor, past a comfortable lounge into a narrow corridor and toward a tiny room that was even more dimly lighted than the first one.
A few moments later, while the man glowered in the doorway, the girl fastened a chain around Cargill’s right and left ankles. A key clicked twice, then she was drawing back, saying, "There’s a cot in that corner."
His two captors retreated along the corridor toward the brighter light, the girl babbling happily about having "caught one of them at last."
The man said, "Maybe we’d better cast adrift. Maybe there’s more of them."
The light in Cargill’s room went out. There was a jerk and then slow upward movement. Cargill thought, amazed, An airship!
His mind jumped back to what Ann Reece had shouted at him — "Watch out for the Planiacs!" Had she meant — this? Carefully, in the darkness he edged towards the cot the girl had indicated. He reached it and sank down on it wearily.
He spent about a minute fumbling over the chain with his fingers. The metal was hard, the chain itself just over a foot long, an excellent length for hobbling a man.
He was suddenly too tired to think about it. He lay down and must have slept immediately.

CHAPTER IV - Life with Lela

CARGILL had a lazy sensation of drifting along. For some reason he resisted waking up and kept sinking back into the darkness. Throughout that early dreamy stage he had no memory of what had happened or of where he was.
Gradually however he grew conscious of motion underneath him. He stirred and felt the chain clasps against his ankles. That jarred. That brought the beginning of alarm. With a start he woke up.
His eyes took in the curving metal ceiling, and all too swiftly he remembered. He reached down and touched the chain. It was cool and hard and convincing to his touch. It gave him an empty feeling.
And then, just as he was about to sit up, he realized he was not alone. He started to turn his head, caught a glimpse of what was there and barely in time brought his hands up in front of his face.
A whip cracked across his fingers, and licked at his neck with a flame-like intensity. "Get up you lazy good-for-nothing." The man who stood in the doorway was already drawing the whip back for another blow.
With a gasp Cargill swung his legs from the cot to the floor. In black rage he was about to launch himself at the other when the metallic rattle of the chain reminded him that he was desperately handicapped. That dimmed his fury and brought a sense of disaster.
Once more the whip struck at him. Cargill ducked and managed to get part of the blow on the sleeve of his coat. The thin sharp end flicked harmlessly past his shoulder against the metal wall.
Again the whip was drawn back.
He had already, blurrily, recognized his assailant as the man who had been with the girl the night before. Seen in the light of day he was a scrawny, slovenly individual about forty years old. Several days’ growth of beard darkened his face. His lips were thin.
His eyes had a curiously crafty expression and his face was a mask of bad temper. He wore a pair of greasy trousers and his filthy shirt, which was open at the neck, revealed a flat hairy chest.
He stood with an animal-like snarl on his face. "Darn your hide, get going!"
Cargill thought: If he tries to hit me again, I’ll rush him.
Aloud he temporized. "What do you want me to do?"
That seemed to add new fury to the man’s anger. "I’ll learn you what I want!"
The whip came up and it would have flashed down except for one thing. Cargill lunged from the cot and flung himself across the intervening space. The violent impact of their coming together nearly took his breath away but it smashed the other against the metal doorjamb.
He let out a screech and tried to pull back. But Cargill had him now. With one hand he clutched the man’s shirt. With the other hand, clenched, he struck at the thin, bony jaw.
It was a knockout. A limp body collapsed toward the floor. Cargill followed, kneeling awkwardly and with trembling fingers started to search the other’s pockets.
From farther along the corridor, the girl’s voice said, "All right, put up your hands or I’ll spit you."
Cargill jerked up, tensed for action. He hesitated as he saw the weapon, then reluctantly drew back from the man’s body. Stiffly, he sat down on the cot.
The girl walked forward, and dug the toe of her shoe into her father’s ribs.
"Get up, you fool," she said.
The man stirred, and sat up. "I’ll kill him," he mumbled. "I’ll murder that blasted —" It still sounded like wiener.
The girl was contemptuous. "You aren’t going to kill anybody. You asked for a kick in the teeth and you got it. What did you want him to do?"
The man stood up groggily, and felt his jaw. "These darn Tweeners," he said, "make me sick with their sleeping in, and not knowing what to do."
The girl said coldly, "Don’t be such a fool, Pa. He hasn’t been trained yet. Do you expect him to read your mind?" She squeezed past him, and came into the little room. "And besides, you keep your dirty hands off him. I caught him, and I’ll do any beating that’s necessary. Give me that whip."
"Look, Lela Bouvy," said her father, "I’m the boss of this floater and don’t you forget it." But he handed her the whip and said sullenly, "All I want is some breakfast and I want it quick."
"You’ll get it. Now beat it." She motioned imperiously. "I’ll do the rest."
The man turned and slouched out of sight.
The girl gestured with her thumb.
"All right, you, into the kitchen."
Cargill hesitated, half-minded to resist. But the word, kitchen, conjured thoughts of food. He realized he was tremendously hungry. Silently he climbed to his feet and hobbled clumsily through the door she indicated.
He was thinking, these creatures could keep me chained up here from now on.
The despair that came was like a weight, more constricting than the chain that bound him.

THE kitchen proved to be a narrow corridor between thick translucent walls. It was about ten feet long and at the far end was a closed transparent door, beyond which he could see machinery. Both the kitchen and the machine room were bright with the light that flooded through the translucent walls.
Cargill glanced around, puzzled. There was no sign of a stove or of any standard cooking equipment. He saw no food, no dishes, no cupboards. He looked for lines in the glass-like walls. There were hundreds, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curving and circular. They seemed to have no purpose. If any of them marked off a panel or a door he couldn’t see it.
He turned questioningly to the girl. She spoke first. "No clouds this morning. We’ll be able to get all the heat we want."
He watched, interested, as she reached up with one hand, spread it wide and touched the top of the wall where it curved toward the ceiling. Only her thumb and little finger actually touched the glass. With a quick movement she ran her hand along parallel to the floor, lightly.
A thick slab of the glass broke free along an intricate series of lines and noiselessly slid down into a slot. Cargill craned his neck. From where he stood he could just see that there was a limpidly transparent panel inside, behind which were shelves. What was on the shelves, he could not see.
The girl slid the panel casually sideways. For a moment then her body hid what she was doing. She drew back holding a plate with raw fish and potatoes on it. It looked like trout, and surprisingly it had been cleaned. It was surprising to Cargill because neither Bouvy nor his daughter looked as if they were capable of doing anything in advance.
He shrewdly suspected the presence of kitchen gadgets that could scale and fillet a fish automatically.
The girl took a few steps toward him. Once more she ran her little finger and thumb along the upper wall. Another section of that sunlit wall slid down and there was a second panel with shelves behind it. The girl opened the panel, and placed the plate on one of the shelves.
As she closed the panel a faint steam rose from the fish. It turned a golden brown. The potatoes lost their hard whiteness, and visibly underwent the chemical change to a cooked state.
"That’ll do, I guess," said Lela Bouvy. She added, "You better get yourself a bite."
She took out the plate in her bare hands, paused at the refrigerator to take out an apple and a pear from a bottom shelf and walked out, still carrying the plate.
Cargill was left alone in the kitchen. By the time she returned for her own breakfast, he had eaten an apple, cooked himself some chicken legs and potatoes and was busily eating when she paused in the doorway.

SHE was rather a pretty thing if you allowed for a certain sullenness of expression. So it seemed to Cargill. Her hair was not too well combed but it was not tangled and it had a kind of a pleasant shine that showed some attention had been lavished on it.
Her eyes were a hot blue, her lips full and her chin came to a point. She wore dungarees and an open-necked shirt that partly exposed a very firm tanned bust.
She could have been very pretty.
She said, with a suspicious tone in her voice, "How did a smart-looking Tweener like you come to get caught so easy?"
Cargill swallowed a vast mouthful of potato in several quick gulps, and said. "I’m not a Tweener."
The hot blue of her eyes smoldered with easy anger. "What kind of a smarty answer is that?"
Cargill cleaned up what was left on the plate and said, "I’m being honest with you. I’m not a Tweener."
She frowned. "Then what are you?" She stiffened. The anger went out of her eyes. They seemed to change color. A fear blue, slightly but curiously different. She whispered, "Not a Shadow?"
Before he could pretend or even decide not to she answered her own question. "Of course, you aren’t. A Shadow would know all about this ship and how the kitchen works without having to watch me first. They fix our ships for us floater folk when the repair job is too big for us to figure out."
The moment for pretense, whatever its possibilities might have been, was past. Cargill said grudgingly, "No, I’m not a Shadow.’
The girl’s frown had deepened. "But a Tweener would’ve known that too." She looked at him warily, "What’s your name?"
"Morton Cargill."
"Where are you from?"
Cargill told her and watched those expressive eyes of hers change color again. Finally she nodded. "One of those, eh?" She seemed disturbed. "We get a reward for people like you."
She broke off, "What did you do — back where you came from — to start the Shadows after you?"
Cargill shrugged. "Nothing." He had no intention of launching into a detailed account of the Marie Chanette incident.
Once more, the blue eyes were flashing. "Don’t you dare lie to me," she said. "All I’ve got to do is to tell Pa that you’re a getaway and that’ll cook your goose."
Cargill said with all the earnestness he could muster, "I can’t help that. I really don’t know." He hesitated, then said, "What year is this?"
The moment he had asked the question he felt breathless.

CHAPTER V - A Woman’s Loud Voice

HE hadn’t thought about it before. He hadn’t had time. The clock in the glass-walled room in Shadow City had indicated that it was May 6th but not what year it was. Everything had happened too swiftly. Even his blurred questions to Ann Reece during those first minutes after her arrival had been so weighted with emotion that the possibilities of being here in the future hadn’t really penetrated.
Which future? What year? What had happened during the centuries that must have passed? Where? How? Who? He caught his whirling mind, fastened it down, brought it to focus. The most important fact was — what year?
Lela Bouvy shrugged, and said, "Two Thousand Three Hundred and Ninety-One."
Cargill ventured, "What I can’t understand is how the world has changed so completely from my time." He described the United States at the end of World War Two.
The girl was calm. "It was natural. Most people want to be free, not to have to live in one place or to be tied to some stupid work. The world isn’t completely free yet. We floater folk are the only lucky ones so far."
Cargill had his own idea of a freedom where the individuals depended on somebody else to repair their machines. But he was interested in information, not in exploding false notions.
He said cautiously, "How many floater folk are there?"
"About fifteen million."
She spoke glibly but Cargill let the figure pass.
"And the Tweeners?" he asked.
"Three million or so." She was contemptuous. "The cowards live in cities."
"What about the Shadows?"
"A hundred thousand, maybe a little more or less. Not much."
Cargill was left alone most of the rest of the day. He saw Lela briefly again when she came in and prepared lunch for herself and her father.
It was not till afternoon that he started to think seriously about what he had learned. The population collapse depressed him. It made the big fight of life seem suddenly less important.
All the eager ambition of the Twentieth Century was now proved valueless, destroyed by a catastrophe that derived not from physical force, but apparently from a will to escape responsibility. Perhaps the pressures of civilization had been too great. People had fled from it as from a plague the moment a real opportunity occurred.

IT was growing dark in the kitchen when Cargill realized the ship was sinking to a lower level. He didn’t realize just how low until he heard the metal shell under him whisk against the upper branches of trees.
A minute later there were a thud and a shock. The floater dragged for several feet along the ground, and then came to a stop. Cargill grew conscious of a muffled roaring sound outside.
Lela came into the room. Or rather, she walked straight through to the kitchen. Cargill had a sudden suspicion of what she planned to do and lurched to his feet. He was too late. The door of the engine room was open, and the girl was in the act of lowering a section of the glass wall.
As he watched she eased down a hinged section of the outer wall and ’stepped through out of sight. A damp sea breeze blew into Cargill’s face and now he heard the roar of the surf.
The girl came back after about a minute and paused in his room. "You can go outside if you want," she said. She hesitated. Then, "Don’t try to run away. You won’t get far, and Pa might burn you with a spit gun."
Cargill said ruefully, "Where would I run to? I guess you folks are stuck with me."
He watched her narrowly to see how she took that. She seemed relieved. It was not a positive reaction but it was suggestive. It fitted with his feeling that Lela Bouvy would welcome the presence of someone other than her father.
As he hobbled through the kitchen a moment later Cargill silently justified the plan he had of worming his way into the girl’s confidence. A prisoner in his situation was entitled to use every trick and device necessary to his escape.
He did not pause at the engine room door — how it opened, he would discover in the morning. He manipulated his chained legs down a set of steps — part of the outer wall folded out and down on hinges.
A moment later he stepped onto a sandy beach.
They spent most of the evening catching crabs and other sea creatures that crowded around a light that Bouvy lowered into the water. It was a wild seacoast, rocky except for brief stretches of sand. A primeval forest came down in places almost to the edge of the rock that overlooked the restless sea below.
Lela dipped up the tiny creatures with a little net and tossed them onto a pile where Cargill with his fingers separated the wanted from the unwanted. It was easy to pick out and throw back the ones that Lela pointed out as inedible, to toss the others into a pail.
Periodically, the girl took a pail-full of the delicacies back to the floater.
She was in a visible state of exhilaration. Her eyes flashed with excitement in the light reflections, her face was alive with color. Her lips parted, her nostrils dilated. Several times when Bouvy had moved farther along the beach and the sound of the surf prevented her father from hearing she shrieked at Cargill, "Isn’t it fun? Isn’t this the life?"
"Wonderful!" Cargill yelled hack. Once he added, "I’ve never seen anything like it."
That seemed to satisfy her and it was true up to a point. There was a pleasure to open-air living. What she didn’t seem to understand was that there was more to being alive than living outdoors. Civilized life had many facets, not just one.

SHE came into his part of the ship a dozen times the next day. Cargill, who had unsuccessfully sought the secret of how to open the engine-room door, finally asked her how it was done. She showed him without hesitation. It was a matter of touching both doorjambs simultaneously.
When she had gone Cargill headed straight for the engine room, paused for a moment to study the engine — that proved a futile process, since it was completely closed in —and then slid the wall section into the floor and looked down at the world beneath.
The world that sped by below was a wilderness, but a curious sort. As far as the eye could see were the trees and shrubbery associated with land almost untouched by the hand and metal of man. But standing amid weeds and forests were buildings.
Even from a third of a mile up those that Cargill saw looked uninhabited. Brick chimneys lay tumbled over on faded roofs. Windows seen from a distance yawned emptily, or gazed up at him with a glassy stare. Barns sagged unevenly and here and there the wood or brick or stone had completely collapsed and the unpainted ruin drooped wearily to the ground.
In the beginning the only structures he saw were farmhouses and their outbuildings. But abruptly a town flowed by underneath. Now the effect of uninhabited desolation was clearly marked — tottering fences, cracked pavement, overgrown, lay weeds and the same design of disintegration in the houses.
When they had passed over a second long-abandoned town Cargill closed the panel that had concealed the window, and returned uneasily to his cot.
Coming as he did from a world in which virtually every acre of tillable land was owned and used by somebody, he was shocked by the way vast areas had been allowed to revert to a primitive state. He tried to picture from what the girl had told him and from what he had observed how it might have happened. But that got him nowhere.
He wondered if the development of machinery had finally made agriculture unnecessary. If it had, then this was still a transition stage. The time would come when these ghost farms and ghost towns and perhaps ghost cities would I return to the soil from which they had, in their complex fashion, sprung. The time would come when these costly monuments of an earlier civilization would be as gone and forgotten as the cities of antique times.
They spent two more evenings fishing. On the fourth day Cargill heard a woman’s loud voice talking from the living room. It was an unpleasant voice and it startled him.
Curiously he had never thought of these people as being in communication with anyone else. But the woman was unmistakably giving instructions to the Bouvy father and daughter. Almost as soon as she had stopped talking Cargill felt the ship change its course. Toward dark Lela came in.
"We’ll be camping with other people tonight," she said. "So you watch yourself." She sounded fretful and she went out without waiting for him to reply.
Cargill considered the possibilities with narrowed eyes. After four days of being in hobble chains, with no sign that they would ever come off, he was ready for a change.
"Basically, all I’ve got to do," he told himself, "is catch two people off guard." And he wouldn’t have to be gentle about it either.
"Careful," he thought. "Better not build my hopes too high."
Nevertheless, it seemed to him that the presence of other people might actually produce an opportunity for escape.

CHAPTER VI – Carmean

THROUGH the open doorway Cargill caught glimpses of the outside activity. Men walked by carrying fishing rods. The current of air that surged through brought the tangy odor of river and the damp pleasant smell of innumerable growing things.
It grew darker rapidly. Finally Cargill could stand it no longer. He stood up and, taking care not to trip over his chain, went outside and sank down on the grass.
The scene that spread before him had an idyllic quality. Here and there under the trees ships were parked. There were at least a dozen that he could see and it seemed to him that the lights of still others showed through the thick foliage along the shore. The sound of voices floated on the air and somehow they no longer sounded harsh or crude.
There was a movement in the darkness near him. Lela Bouvy settled down on the grass beside him. She said breathlessly, "Kind of fun living like this, isn’t it?"
Cargill hesitated and then, somewhat to his surprise, found himself agreeing.
"There’s a desire in all of us," he thought, "to return to nature."
The will to relax, the impulse to lie on green grass, to listen to the rustling of leaves in an almost impalpable breeze — all that he could feel in himself. He also had the basic urge that hail driven these Planiacs to abandon the ordered slavery of civilization. He found himself saddened by the realization that the abandonment included a return to ignorance.
He said aloud, "Yes, it’s pretty nice."
A tall powerful-looking woman strode out of the darkness. "Where’s Bouvy?" she said. A flashlight in her hand winked on and glared at Lela and Cargill. Its bright stare held steady for seconds longer than was necessary.
"Well, I’ll be double darned," the woman’s voice said from the intense blackness behind the light, "little Lela’s gone and found herself a man."
Lela snapped, "Don’t be a bigger fool than you have to be, Carmean,"
The woman laughed uproariously. "I heard you had a man," she said finally, "and now that I get a look at him I can see you’ve done yourself proud."
Lela said indifferently, "He doesn’t mean a thing to me."
"Yeah?" said Carmean derisively. Abruptly she seemed to lose interest. The beam of her flashlight swept on and left them in darkness. The light focused on Pa Bouvy sitting in a chair against the side of the ship. "Oh, there you are," said the woman.
The big woman walked over. "Git up and give me that chair," she said. "Haven’t you got no manners?"
"Watch your tongue, you old buzzard," said Bouvy pleasantly. But he stood up and disappeared into the ship. He emerged presently with another chair.
During his absence the woman had picked up the chair in which he had been sitting and carried it some twenty-five feet along the river’s bank.
She yelled at Bouvy, "Bring that contraption over here! I want to talk to you privately. Besides, I guess maybe those two love-birds want to be alone." She guffawed.
Lela said in a strained voice to Cargill, "That’s Carmean. She’s one of the bosses. She thinks she’s being funny when she talks like that."
Cargill said, "What do you mean, one of the bosses?"
The girl sounded surprised. "She tells us what to do." She added hastily, "Of course, she can’t interfere in our private life."

CARGILL digested that for a moment. During the silence he could hear Carmean’s voice at intervals. Only an occasional word reached him. Several times she said, "Tweeners" and "Shadows." Once she said, "It’s a cinch."
There was an urgency in her voice that made him want to hear what she was saying but presently he realized the impossibility of making sense out of stray words.
He relaxed and said, "I thought you folks lived a free life? Without anybody to tell you what to do and where to get off."
"You got to have rules," said Lela. "You got to know where to draw the line. What you can do and what you can’t do." She added earnestly, "But we are free. Not like those Tweeners in their cities." The last was spoken scornfully.
Cargill said, "What happens if you don’t do what she says?"
"You lose the benefits."
"The preachers won’t preach to you," said Lela. "Nobody gives you food. The Shadows won’t fix your ship." She added casually, "And things like that."
Cargill whistled softly under his breath. The power of the church of the Middle Ages couldn’t have been any greater. This was excommunication with a capital E and ostracism in a rather ultimate fashion.
He said a. last, "So even the Shadows recognize her authority. Why?"
"Oh, they just want us to behave."
But you can capture Tweeners?"
The girl hesitated. Then, "Nobody seems to worry about a Tweener," she said.
Cargill nodded. He recalled his attempts to get information from her during the past few days. Apparently she hadn’t even thought of these restraining influences on her life. Now, though she seemed unaware of it, she had given him a picture of an incredibly rigid social structure.
Surely, he thought desperately, surely he could figure out some way to take ad-vantage of this situation. He moved irritably and the chain rattled, reminding him that all the plans in the world could not directly affect metal.
Carmean brought her chair back to the ship, closely followed by Bouvy. She set it down and then walked slowly over and stood in front of Cargill. She half-turned and said, "I could use a husky guy around, Bouvy."
"He isn’t for sale." That was Lela, curtly.
"I’m speaking to your Pa, kid, so watch your tongue."
"You heard the girl," said Bouvy. "We’ve got a good man here." His tone was cunning, rather than earnest. He sounded as if he were prepared to haggle but wanted the best of the deal.
Carmean said, "Don’t you go getting commercial on me." She added darkly, "You’d better watch out. These Tweeners haven’t got any religion when it comes to a good-looking girl."
Bouvy grunted but when he spoke he still sounded good-humored. "Don’t give me any of that. Lela’s going to stick with her Pa and be a help to him all her life. Aren’t you, honey?"
"You talk like a fool, Pa. Better keep your mouth shut."
"She’s fighting hard," said Carmean slyly. "You can see what’s in the back of her mind."
Bouvy sat down in one of the chairs. "Just for the sake of the talk, Carmean," he said, "what’ll you give for him?"
Cargill had listened to the early stages of the transaction with a shocked sense of unreality. But swiftly now he realized that he was actually in process of being sold.
It emphasized, if emphasis was needed, that to these Planiacs he was a piece of property, a chattel, a slave who could be forced to menial labor or whipped or even killed without any one being concerned. His fate was a private affair that would trouble no one but himself.
"Somebody’s going to get gypped," he told himself angrily. A man as determined as he was to escape would be a bad bargain for Carmean or anyone else. In the final issue, he thought, he’d take all necessary risks and he had just enough front-line army experience to make that mean something.

THE bargaining was still going on. Carmean offered her own ship in return for Cargill and the Bouvy ship. ’It’s a newer model," she urged. "It’s good for ten years without any trouble or fussing."
Bouvy’s hesitation was noticeable. "That isn’t a fair offer," he said plaintively. "The Shadows will give you all the new ships you want. So you aren’t offering me anything that means anything to you."
Carmean retorted, "I’m offering you what I can get and you can’t."
"It’s too much trouble," said Bouvy. "I’d have to move all our stuff."
"Your stuff!" The big woman was contemptuous. "Why, that junk isn’t worth carting out! And besides, I’ve got a ship full of valuables over there."
Bouvy was quick. "It’s a deal if you change ship for ship with everything left aboard."
Carmean laughed curtly. "You must take me for a bigger fool than I look. I’ll leave you more stuff than you’ve ever seen but I’m taking plenty out."
Lela, who had been sitting silently, said, "You two are just talking. It makes no difference what you decide. I caught him and he’s mine. That’s the law and you just try to use your position as boss to change it, Carmean."
Even in the darkness, Carmean’s hesitation was apparent. Finally she said, "We’ll talk about this some more tomorrow morning. Meantime, Bouvy, you’d better teach this kid of yours some manners."
"I’ll do just that," said Pa Bouvy and there was a vicious undertone in his voice. "Don’t you worry, Carmean. You’ve bought yourself a Tweener and if we have any trouble in the morning there’s going to be a public whipping here of an ungrateful daughter."
Carmean laughed in triumph. "That’s the kind of talk I like to hear," she said. "The old man’s standing up for himself at last."
Still laughing, she walked off into the darkness. Pa Bouvy stood up.
"Get that Tweener inside the ship and chain him up good."
"Okay, Pa." She climbed to her feet. "Get a move on," she said to Cargill.
Without a word, moving slowly because of the chain, Cargill went inside and lay down on his cot.
It must have been several hours later when he awoke, aware that somebody was tugging at the chain.
"Careful," whispered Lela Bouvy, "I’m trying to unlock this. Hold still."
Cargill, tense, did as he was told. A minute later he was free. The girl’s whisper came again, "You go ahead — through the kitchen. I’ll be right behind you. Careful."
Cargill was careful.

CHAPTER VII - Shadow Man

CARGILL lay in the dark on the grass with no particular urge to move. The feel of being free had not yet taken firm root inside him. The night had become distinctly cooler and most of the machines were dark. Only one ship still shed light from a half-open doorway and that was more than a hundred feet along the river bank from where he crouched.
Cargill considered his first move. More quickly now he began to realize his new situation. He need only creep out of this camp and then go where he pleased. At least it seemed for a moment as if that was all he had to do. He felt reluctant actually to do it.
In the darkness progress would be difficult and morning might find him still dangerously close to the Planiacs. He imagined himself being seen from the air. He pictured a search party with an air support, finding him within a few hours after dawn. The possibilities chilled him and brought the first change in his purpose.
"If I could steal one of these ships," he thought indecisively.
There was a faint sound beside him and then the whispered voice of Lela Bouvy said, "I want you to take her ship. That’s the only way I’ll let you go."
Cargill turned in the darkness. Her words implied that she had a weapon to force him to do what she wanted. But the darkness under the trees was too intense for him to see if she were armed. He didn’t have to be told that "her ship" referred to Carmean’s. His response must have been too slow, Once more Lela spoke.
"Get going."
Carmean’s ship was as good as any, Cargill decided. He whispered, "Which is hers?"
"The one that’s got a light."
Some of his gathering determination faded. Carmean asleep and Carmean awake were two different propositions. In spite of his qualms he began to move forward. There was such a thing as investigating the situation before making up his mind. A few minutes later he paused behind a tree about a dozen feet from Carmean’s ship.
The dim light that streamed from the partly open doorway made a vague patch of brightness on the grass. Near the edge of that dully-lighted area Carmean herself sat on the grass.
Cargill, who had been about to start forward again, saw her just in time. He stopped with a gulp and it was only slowly that the tension of that narrow escape left him. He glanced back finally and saw Lela in the act of moving toward him. Hastily Cargill headed her off.
He drew her into the shelter of a leafy plant, explained the situation, and asked, "Is there anybody else in the ship?"
"No. Her last husband fell off the ship three months ago. At least that was what Carmean said happened. She’s been looking for another one ever since but none of the men’ll have her. That’s why she wanted you."
It was a new idea to Cargill. He had a momentary mental picture of himself in the role of a chained husband. It shocked him. He could feel himself stiffening to the necessities of this situation.
The sooner he got away from these people, the better off he’d be. And in view of their casually ruthless plans for him he need feel no sense of restraint.
He whispered to Lela, "I’ll jump on her and bang her over the head. Have you got anything I can hit her with?" He felt savage and merciless. He hoped the girl would give him her gun. Just for an instant then, as she slipped something metallic into his hand, he thought she had done so.
She whispered fiercely, "That’s from the edge of your cot. It’ll look as if you got free and took it along as a weapon."
The logic of that was not entirely convincing to Cargill but he saw that she was trying to convince herself. And it was important that there be some kind of explanation for his escape. Bouvy would undoubtedly be furious with her.
Cautiously Cargill stole forward. As he reached the shelter of the tree near Carmean the big woman climbed heavily to her feet.
"So you finally got here, Grannis," she said to somebody Cargill couldn’t see.
"Yes," said a voice from the other side of the tree behind which Cargill crouched, rigid now. The man’s voice went on, "I couldn’t make it any sooner."
"So long as you could make it at all," said Carmean indifferently. "Let’s go inside."
Just what he expected then, Cargill had no idea. He had a brief, bitter conviction that he ought to attack both the stranger and Carmean and then —
A Shadow walked into the lighted area.

MORTON CARGILL stayed where he was, behind the tree. His first feeling of intense disappointment yielded to the realization that there was still hope. This was a secret midnight meeting. The Shadow who had come to talk to Carmean would leave presently and there’d be another opportunity to seize the ship.
He started cautiously to back away and then he stopped. It seemed to him suddenly that perhaps he ought to overhear what was being said. He was planning how he would do it when Lela slipped up behind him.
"What’s the matter?" she whispered angrily. "Why are you standing there?"
"Sh-h-h-h!" said Cargill. That was almost automatic. He was intent on his own purposes, acutely conscious now that anything that concerned the Shadows could concern him.
"I’ve got to remember," he told himself, "that I was brought here by someone who intended to use me."
His capture by Lela was an unfortunate incident not on the schedule of the original planners. He paid no attention to the girl but slipped from behind the tree and headed for Carmean’s floater. He reached the door safely and flattened himself against the metal wall beside it.
Almost immediately, he had his first disappointment. The voices inside were too far away for him to hear. As had happened when Carmean talked to Pa Bouvy earlier, only occasional words came through.
Once, a man’s voice said, "The attack must be carefully timed."
A little later, Carmean’s voice lifted to audible pitch on a triumphant note. "Don’t worry about us. We’ll blast them out of their —"
Cargill thought she said "cities," but he couldn’t be sure. Abruptly the voices came closer.
"All right now," the Shadow was saying, "let’s go and get this man Cargill. I won’t feel right until he’s safely in our hands again and —"

Beyond and through the shadow, a tree was visible
(Chap VII)

Cargill waited for no more. Swiftly, but cautiously, he backed away along the side of the ship. In the darkness under the curving nose of the machine he crouched tensely. The light on the grass in front of the door brightened as the door was opened wider. The Shadow stepped out.
Beyond and through him, a tree was visible. He had a head and body shaped like a man and as he paused, half turning, waiting for Carmean, his eyes were clearly visible. They were shadow eyes for they did not glitter in the light. But dull though they were they were unmistakably eyes.
Carmean came out. She said, "I want to get this straight. I keep this guy Cargill in my ship until I hear from you?" There was satisfaction in her tone.
"Exactly," was the grim reply. "And if I send word bring him without delay. You’ll get all the men you want when the time comes." He broke off. "Which ship?"
Cargill didn’t catch what Carmean said but she must have indicated the direction. They moved off, out of the spread of light into the greater darkness.
A minute passed and then Lela came hurrying from her hiding place. She paused breathless in the darkness beside him.
"Quick," she whispered. "We’ll have to get aboard and leave."
"We?" said Cargill. There was no time to talk about the implication of the plural: near and loud on the night air came the sound of a knock on metal and then Carmean’s voice.
"Bouvy, open up! It’s me."
The discovery of his escape was seconds away. Cargill reached the doorway of Carmean’s ship, paused only long enough to let Lela get in ahead of him and then he was inside.
"You get the ship into the air," he whispered. "I’ll hold them off here." He wasn’t sure just what he would do against guns but he had a vague notion that it was important to keep the door open until the ship was actually rising into the air.
There was a prolonged pause and then — the ship tugged slightly under him,
Cargill held his breath, counting the seconds as the floater drifted upward.

PRESENTLY, with shaking fingers, he closed the door and called to Lela, "Can you turn off the lights?"
There was silence, then darkness. Cautiously Cargill opened the door again and cautiously he peered out. The top of a tree glided by, only inches below. The slow way in which it moved past emphasized that the speed of these light-powered ships at night was negligible.
Lela’s voice came faintly from forward.
"I’m trying to get her out over the river. There’ll be more light there. Anybody following?"
Cargill couldn’t be sure. He was looking down slantingly at a camp that was slowly coming to life. Even that minimum activity was hidden behind dense foliage. He saw splashes of light and there was the sound of excited voices. But if any ship rose up to follow them during those first minutes Cargill did not see it.
Under him the machine seemed to quicken its pace. He looked down and saw that they were over the river. And now he could understand Lela’s purpose. The water was alive with light reflections.
He estimated that they were traveling at least ten miles an hour.
Less than a minute later the camp vanished behind a bend in the river and he saw it no more. He stayed where he was nevertheless for another five minutes.
At the end of that time he closed the door and headed for the all-room. It was somewhat larger than the similar room in the Bouvy’s ship but it was functionally the same room. He glanced into the control room.
Lela was in the control chair. She did not look at him.
Cargill hesitated, then went back to the door that opened outside. He opened it, and spent the next hour gazing into the night.
The moon came up while he sat there and the ship accelerated perceptibly. They were still only a few feet above the forest.


CARGILL consciously thought that control of the sky floater would enable him to do what he wanted. The trouble was, what did he want. The weeks passed and he could not make up his mind.
For some reason he had become involved in a plot. If he made a move that would bring him out into the open the plotters would once more close in upon him, would try to force him to do their will.
After lunch one day Cargill found the restless feeling growing on him. There was an idea in the back of his mind, the beginning of purpose. The nature of that purpose made him uneasy but the idea, once it came, would not go away.
Unhappily, he went into the control room and sat down in front of the video plate. It was not the first time he had examined the machine or listened in to it. But now there was a plan in his mind.
As with the floater engine and other machinery, the TV and radio mechanism was completely enclosed — and so it was not possible to make an examination of the inner workings of the instrument. For a while Cargill simply tuned into conversations and into the one program that was on.
A Shadow station broadcast the program, which consisted of popular music of the jive variety. After each selection, a persuasive voice urged the listener to come to Shadow City and receive Shadow training.
To Cargill, who did not care for jazz, the "commercials" had been fascinating — in the beginning. Now he listened for a few moments to the repetitious music and then absently turned the dial. Occasionally, he adjusted to see if any pictures were being broadcast. He found several.
First, there was a man’s coarse face and the man was saying: "Now look, we’ve got to work this deal without any fooling."
Cargill listened long enough to the "deal" to find out that it had to do with a boss bargaining as to how much he would receive for a new floater, which had been turned over to him by the Shadows. Cargill noted down the man’s name, the details of the transaction and made another adjustment.
The next picture showed the interior of a ship. Apparently, a broadcaster had been left on carelessly. Since only the bosses had TV broadcasting units Cargill presumed that he was gazing into a boss’s control room. He saw no one, though he watched for several minutes.
A third picture featured a youth talking to a girl. He was saying, "Aw, c’mon, Jenny, you get your ma to put your floater down near ours tonight. Don’t be one of these hard-to-get women."
There were other personal conversations. Cargill identified their nature and passed on. It was too early for the only television show broadcast by the Shadows. Not that he was any longer terrifically interested in it. It always featured the arrival of Tweeners and Planiacs at the terminal center just outside Shadow City, with emphasis on the Planiacs.
It was a man-in-the-street type of show in which a Shadow interrogator questioned Planiacs who had come to take Shadow training in response to the propaganda. When he had first heard the show Cargill had hoped the Shadows would actually picturize a part of their training program. So far they had not done so.
He was still not over his disappointment that these receivers were unable to tune in on programs broadcast from Tweener cities. It was very significant, of course. The Shadows were evidently making sure that no one else had the opportunity to control the floater folk.
Abruptly, Cargill shut off the instrument, and sat frowning. His purpose was like a fire, threatening to consume him. And yet, once he took the plunge, he’d be even more of a marked man than he was now.
From the nearby control chair, Lela said anxiously, "What’s the matter, honey?"
Cargill said slowly, "We can’t go on like this forever — with everybody against us. We’ve got to have somebody around who will help us in an emergency or if something goes wrong."
Lela nodded uneasily, said reluctantly, "I’ve been thinking about that once in a while."
"We’ve got to do more than think about it," said Cargill. "We’ve got to do something."
"What, for instance?"
Cargill leaned back in his chair, and closed his eyes. "Lela," he asked finally, "what do people think of Carmean? Do they like her?"
It was a question that she would not actually be able to answer, since she couldn’t know what millions of people thought. Still, he could take that into account.
Lela said savagely, "Nobody likes Carmean. She’s a skunk."
Cargill sighed but pressed on, "What about the other bosses? What do people think of them?"
"Why, you just put up with them," said Lela in a surprised tone. "There they are. They’re part of life."
"I see," said Cargill with satisfaction.
She might not know it but that was a far more significant answer. It decided him.
He opened his eyes, and asked another question.
"Lela, have you ever heard of a revolution?"
She hesitated, frowning.
"You mean, where somebody starts a fight?"
Cargill smiled. "Something like that but it starts off with a barrage of propaganda. Then your supporters use infiltration tactics to get to key centers of control. Finally" — he smiled again — "the fight."
He turned back to the TV set. "Okay," he said. "We take the first step."

BY the fifth day of his broadcasts, Cargill began to have a queer feeling of unreality. He seemed to be talking into emptiness. For the first time in his life he understood how people must have felt in the early days of radio with only a microphone to stare at.
What he lacked was a Hooper rating. There was no mail to bring a picture of audience response, no surveys of any kind to encourage him. But in spite of his doubts he kept on.
Thirty days drifted by. On the morning of the thirty-first day, just as Cargill finished his propaganda talk, a man’s face appeared on his TV plate. He was a cunning-looking individual about forty-five years old.
"I want to talk to you," he said.
A trap? Cargill’s fingers hovered over the dial that would cut him off the air.
He hesitated and the stranger had time to say, "My name is Guthrie. I want to talk to you about this rabble-rousing you’ve been doing."
He looked and sounded like a boss. He was a typical rough older Planiac and his words were sweet music to Cargill. But it was not yet time to talk.
"I’m not interested," said Cargill.
He broke the connection.
From that moment he began to name places where his supporters should meet and get together. It was dangerous but then so was being alive. What would save the great majority from counteraction was that each floater was armed with a mounted spit gun.
The days passed. Late one afternoon, Lela came briefly out of the control room. "It’s going to be dark by the time we get to the lake," she said.
Cargill smiled. "Which lake do you mean?" He added quickly. "Never mind. I’m just amazed constantly at the way you pick out these places."
"It isn’t anything," said the girl. And she meant it. "I’ve been watching this country since I was a baby. I know it like the palm of my hand."
"Better, I’ll wager," said Cargill. They came in low over the trees and landed in a clearing with the aid of their searchlight. As Cargill started to open the door a spit gun flared in the darkness. What saved him was that he was behind the door. The energy spat past him and made a thunderous sound as it struck the metal corridor wall. The door smoked from the terrific heat. He had a sense of suffocation.
Under him the ship began to lift. And then, once more, there was a sun-like glare — only this time the blow was delivered farther back, near the rear of the machine. The floater faltered and, as Cargill got the door shut at last, sagged back to the ground. It struck with a jar unlike anything that Cargill had experienced during his life aboard. He hurried to the control room and found Lela manning their spit gun.
She was very pale. "Those blasted scum," she said, "have wrecked us."
The dawn light filtered through the turgid glass. It was dull at first, little more than a lighter darkness, but it grew bright. From the control room Cargill could see the dark areas outside lightening. To his right was the gray horizon of the lake with the far shore hazed in mist.
From where she sat, manning the ship’s powerful spit-gun, Lela said, "It’s bright enough now. Try and lift her again."

IT WAS a hope that had motivated I. their courage all through the long night — that morning would bring some life to the sluggish motors. The hope died a second later as Cargill eased in the power and pulled it all the way back. The ship did not even stir.
"We’ll try it again," said Lela in a tired voice, "when the sun comes up."
Cargill rejected her hope. "Has your father any influence with the bosses?" he asked.
The girl shrugged. "Carmean kind of likes him."
Cargill silently wondered why. He said finally, "Maybe if we talked to them we could find out what they want."
From the conversation he had heard more than a month ago between Carmean and the Shadow, Grannis, he had a rather sharp conviction they were after him.
He said, "I think you’d better try to get your Pa on the " — he hesitated — radio and see if he can come here. We’ll try to hold them off until he arrives and then, if possible, you can go with him."
Lela was pale. "What about you?"
Cargill did not answer immediately. The feeling of vagueness that was inside him was only too familiar. It was the same kind of blur that had made it possible for him to swim ashore on the coast of Normandy. With that blurred feeling about his future he had entered all the subsequent battles in which he had been engaged.
He said now, "I’ll try to slip away tonight after it gets dark." He was about to elaborate when his gaze strayed past her toward the edge of the clearing a hundred feet away. A Shadow stood there.
His face must have shown that something was wrong for Lela whirled. Her body grew rigid. The Shadow had been motionless as if observing the scene. Now he began to walk toward the ship.
There was a dazed expression on Lela’s face. She straightened slowly, settled herself behind the long spitgun and aimed it. Her face seemed bloodless and she sat very still.
Twice she seemed in the act of pressing the activator of that remarkable weapon. Each time she shuddered and closed her eyes. "I can’t," she whispered at last. "I can’t!"
The Shadow was less than fifty feet away. In a frantic will to action Cargill pulled the girl out of the chair, settled into it and grabbed the gun. A sheet of flame reared up a dozen feet in front of the Shadow.
The Shadow paid no attention. He came on. Once more Cargill fired. The flame blazed through the Shadow. A score of feet behind him grass and shrubbery burned with a white intensity. Twice more Cargill fired directly into the Shadow-shape — and each time it was as if there was nothing there, no resistance, no substance. And the Shadow-shape came closer.
Cargill ceased firing. He was trembling. There was a thought in his mind — a new tremendous thought. If the Shadow-shape were insubstantial, if potent, palpable energy meant nothing to it, then what about steel walls?
The next instant he had his answer. There was a blur of movement near the door, a swelling darkness. Lela screamed.
And then the Shadow was in the room.

CHAPTER IX - The Moment for Action

THIS time, there was no sense of transition. One instant he was in the floater with Lela and the Shadow Grannis. The next moment he was sitting in a chair, trying to blink away a blur over his vision. It cleared after several seconds and, he looked around him.
He saw that he was in a chair at one end of a tastefully furnished living room. On one wall was a clock that said "May 6, 9:24 P.M." To his left was an open door through which he could see the edge of a bed.
The wall directly across from him was made of transparent glass and beyond it, at the far end of another room, he could see a girl sitting in a chair that seemed to be a replica of his own. Just for a moment, Cargill had the feeling that all this was strange and then he recognized the girl. He jerked erect with amazement.
It was the young woman who had tried to pretend that she was Marie Chanette.
It was the room where he had first arrived in the 24th century.
His mind wrenched with a terrible understanding. He was back to the evening of his original arrival.
The astounding thing was that he had no doubt about it. The knowledge grew out of a score of separate incidents that drew together inside him now to form the whole picture. This was about the time and exactly the scene at which and on which he had arrived from the DREAM ROOM from 1946.
It took time to verify that. Trembling, he wrote a note to the girl and held it up against the glass. The note read, How long have you been here?
In answer, she wrote, About three hours.
Cargill nodded in an intensity of understanding. She could be lying, of course. She was unquestionably on a different footing with these people than himself and one of the problems he had to solve was — where had she been during the past few months?
That could wait. Distracted, he realized his limited possibilities for verifying the details. There was no way that he could prove or disprove any of her statements. The feeling he had, that Grannis was not satisfied with events as they had occurred and that the entire scene of his arrival was to be done over again, had come out of his own mind.
He wrote two more notes, repeating the questions he had asked the first time — months ago — and then, in a haze of excitement, he retreated to a chair. Slowly, sitting there, he grew more sober.
Something of the fantastic nature of what had happened penetrated. He wondered almost blankly — what about Lela? What had happened to her? Or rather what would happen to her? Staggered, he thought about some of the possible paradoxes.
The confusion that started then rocketed him out of his chair and sent him on a frantic exploration of the apartment. It was all as he remembered it and what was particularly important was that the bed looked as if he had previously slept on it.
He remembered the chair that he had smashed and raced from the bedroom back to the living room to examine it. He found it crumpled in a corner where he had tossed it. His picture of the limits of the paradox grew sharper. This was the room after Ann Reece had rescued him — not very long after, however.
Cargill began to sag. The pressure that was working on him was different from anything he had ever experienced. Different even from the first minutes of his first arrival. There was a shattering implication here.
If these people didn’t like what had happened in any time period they could alter it. In one directed time-reversal they could cancel what had displeased them and the next time, with foreknowledge, could force it to the pattern they desired.
There was a possibility here that after what he had done in trying to organize a Planiac rebellion Grannis wanted the Shadows to carry through with their original purpose. That would be the simplest way of nullifying the past.
His captors, knowing nothing of his months with the floater folk, could now proceed to kill him without ever suspecting that Grannis had plotted against them.
Cargill decided grimly, "I’ll fix that. The moment they get in touch with me I’ll tell them the whole story."
He was planning his exact words when a voice said from behind him, "Morton Cargill, it is my duty to prepare you for death."
The moment for action — and counteraction — had come.

CARGILL climbed to his feet. Fighting his anxiety and speaking clearly he launched into his account. He had time far half a dozen sentences and then the voice interrupted him, not deliberately, not with any intent to break into what he was saying.
The interruption showed no awareness that he had said anything. Whoever was talking had not heard his words,
The voice said, "Events are supremely convincing. I shall now describe to you the complex problem with which you presented us when Marie Chanette was killed in the Twentieth Century."
Cargill couldn’t help it. He had cut in. He said loudly, "Just a minute. You’ve explained this to me before."
"Violence," the voice said, "affects not just one individual but future generations as well."
Cargill shouted, "Listen to me. There’s a plot —"
"It’s like a stone," said the voice, "that is flung furiously into a limitless sea. The ripples go on forever and wash many a strange flotsam on shores remote beyond imagination."
Cargill trembled with anger. "You stupid idiots!" he yelled, "Surely you haven’t put me in here without any chance of telling you what’s happened." But his very anger measured the extent of his own belief that surely they had indeed.
Inexorably the voice continued. And for the first time Cargill realized that it was giving him information different from that of — months ago.
"Listen to the case," it said, "of Marie Chanette."
For better or worse he listened. His muscles tensed and his mind jumped with impatience but he listened. Gradually then, in spite of his own purposes, he grew calmer and began to feel fascinated.
Much indeed had happened as the result of the death of Marie Chanette. She died in a car accident and in pain. The pain ended with her death but that was not the end.
There was no normal end.
Marie Chanette was survived by a daughter who, at the time of her mother’s decease, was three years and two months of age, and by a husband from whom she was not yet officially divorced. The fight for the possession of the child had been bitter and on the death of her mother little Julia Marie reverted automatically to the care of her father, an insurance salesman.
At first he kept her in a nursery school and had a neighboring woman tend her after the school bus brought her home. At first he spent occasional evenings with her. But he was a hard worker, and evening calls on prospects were part of his routine.
The enforced habit of not having much to do with her made it easy to forget all about her on evenings when it was just a matter of going out with the gang for a good time.
He told himself that she was really getting a better upbringing than if her mother had been alive and that he was "paying plenty" for her care. When she asked why she didn’t have a mummy like the other kids he decided in her own interests (so he informed himself) to tell her his distorted version of the truth.
And he discovered that she already knew it. Some of the other kids had heard garbled stories and had shrieked the words at her. They were locked up tightly inside her heart.
She grew up unstable, blotchy-faced, easily upset, a bad-tempered, willful child — "just like your mother, blast you!" Chanette shouted at her when he was drunk.
She never got over the tensions of her childhood, though she turned out to be a good-looking girl and had a brief exciting spring between the ages of 21 and 25. She married in 1965 a young man named Thompson, who was not good enough for her.
She had too great an inferiority complex to aspire to anything higher. In 1974, she gave him a boy child, a girl in 1976 and died in 1980, ostensibly from a major hysterectomy but actually from an ultimate case of overwrought nerves.
Thompson drifted along for a while at his job but now that the intense, driving, frightening personality of his wife was no longer pushing him he was quick to retreat from responsibility. He lacked the capacity to appreciate the benefits he had accumulated in fifteen years of service with the Atomotor Corporation.
Just as they were about to promote him to the kind of field work which the firm’s "Constitutional" psychologist had recommended for him he traded his atobout for a floater, gave up his job, sold his house — and became a Planiac.
They called them that in those lazy, glorious days just before the turn of the twenty-first century. They were floaters, people who had no home but a house in the sky. All day long they floated through the air anywhere from a few thousand feet to a few miles up.
At night they would come down beside a graceful stream and cast for fish. Or they would float down onto the ocean and return to land with a catch that some cannery would be glad to buy.
They followed the crops. They were the new race of fruit pickers, harvesters and casual laborers. They remained a day, a week, but seldom a month. They only wanted a stake, enough money to live until tomorrow.

IN 2002 A.D. it was estimated that nineteen million people in the United States had become floaters or Planiacs. The stay-at-home majority was shocked and economists predicted disaster for the land unless something was done to bring the sky-riding population back to earth.
When a hard-pressed Congress in 2004 tried to pass a law restricting skyriding to vacations only it was too late. The voting power of the Planiacs frightened the house majority, and thereafter the floaters — who had themselves received a big scare — were a political force to be reckoned with.
The bitter feeling between the floaters and the grounders, already intense, grew sharper and deadlier with the passing years. Everyone took sides. Some who had been grounders bought floaters and joined the restless throngs in the sky.
Others, vaguely recognizing the danger and moved by some kind of moral feeling, descended from the sky. Among the latter was an oldster named William Thompson, his grown-up son, Pinkey, and his daughter, Christina.
Johnny "Pinkey" Thompson never married and so he was merely an environment, a ne’er-do-well anthropological "climate," an irritant on the slime of time. He existed; therefore he influenced those with whom he came in contact.
Whatever he took into his bloodstream before severing bodily connection with his mother manifested indirectly. Many years were to pass before psychologists proved that the tensions of men too could affect the child. But Pinkey had no child.
When Christina Thompson, his sister, came out of the blue sky her grandmother, Marie Chanette, had been dead sixty-one years. The emotional ripples of her death had therefore already reached into another century.
No one knows definitely what does or does not affect and influence a child. Her mother’s tense body had precipitated Christina into life in the eighth month of her pregnancy. The seventh month would have been better. During the eighth month certain growths occur in a child that should not be disturbed.
The process was disturbed in Christina.
She was a quiet intense little girl, given to sudden, unexpected tears and was quite a nuisance to her father and brother when she was younger. She knew, in a casual fashion, about the way her grandmother had died.
What she did not know was that the new psychology had already established that people could be affected by events in the remote past of the continuous bloodstream that had flowed from mother through daughter since life first channeled the salt sea into a flesh body.
Christina reluctantly attached herself to a job and, when she was twenty-eight, married the son of a former Planiac. The three children that arrived in quick succession were demoralized by the endless plans of their restless poverty-stricken parents to save so they could buy a floater, so that they could forever abandon the hardships of ground life.
Two of the children dreamed with their parents but the second child, a girl, reacted violently against what she came to consider their shiftless attitude. Their very talk made her uneasy and insecure.
Her opinions being discovered she became unpopular until she learned to show false enthusiasm for the venture. She ran away when she was eighteen on the eve of the first trip in the hard-earned floater.
She had several jobs, then at twenty-one she became a clerk in a small air-transport company. Small! It barely paid a living wage to the father and son who owned it, in addition to paying her salary.
When she married Garry Lane, the son, at twenty-two, it looked like a very poor match, even to her desperate eyes. But it was a love match and, surprisingly, the business prospered.
Well, not exactly surprisingly — the son had one of those marvelous personalities. When he made a contact it stuck. Business flew their way and soon they lived in a grand house in the Hollywood Hills.
They had two children, Betty and Jack. And what saddened the parents was that both children were neurotics. They hired specially trained nurses. That helped but not as much as it should have.

AT twenty-four Betty Lane, having been advised that her instability was not rooted in her own childhood, was directed by her personal psychologist to go to the Inter-Time Society for Psychological Adjustment.
She went. An investigation was made and it was decided that the death of Marie Chanette was responsible.
" — and that," said the voice from the air in front of Cargill, "explains why you are here in this therapy room. Tomorrow morning it will be necessary to kill you in order that the effects of Marie Chanette’s violent death can be nullified. That is all."
There was silence and it was evident that the speaker had withdrawn.
For an hour Cargill paced the room like a caged animal, his temper steadily gathering strength. But finally his thoughts narrowed back to reality.
He had become dangerous to Grannis and so now he was to be killed. Incredibly the Shadows, despite their vaunted superiority, were going to be destroyed by the schemes of one of their number.
It served them right, Cargill told himself in fury. Imagine setting up a situation whereby their victims couldn’t even talk to them — the silly, stupid fools!
In abrupt rebellion against his fate, he explored the apartment for some means of escape, first the living room, and then —
As he entered the bedroom, Ann Reece was just getting up from the floor. She saw him, and put a finger to her lips.
"Ssssshh!" she said.
Cargill blinked at her with eyes that watered with relief. He could have rushed over and hugged her. He had to restrain himself from racing over to the elongated tube-like instrument that had brought her, grabbing at it and shouting, "Let’s get out of here!" He restrained himself because it was up to her to show if she remembered a previous rescue.
She said, "This time let’s not waste a moment. It’s bad enough having to come twice?’
This time — twice! That was all he wanted to know. Silently, sure of himself again, Cargill grabbed at the tube. He blinked — and it must have happened as quickly as that.

CHAPTER X - The Tweener World

He was standing on a dusty road and it was already dark. A few feet from him Ann Reece was bent over, making adjustments to the long tube like transport instrument. She had evidently recovered more quickly than he.
She looked up and said satirically, "Well, here we are, starting all over again, Mr. Cargill."
Briefly her sarcastic tone blurred the implication of what she had said. And then he thought shakily "somewhere around, just about that time of day and on that very day, he had run off into the brush. Right then, about a mile from here, Lela and her father were settling down beside a lake, and in a few moments she would capture Morton Cargill number one."
He had an impulse to escape again and watch that other Morton Cargill’s capture. He shook his head, rejecting the desire. A man threatened as he was had no time for side excursions.
Ann Reece lifted the transporter and said to somebody behind Cargill, "All right, Lauer, you take this back to Grannis."
A young man stepped past Cargill. In the darkness it was almost impossible to make him out. He said sourly, "I don’t see why we want to give it back to him. We haven’t got anything like this."
Ann Reece shoved the transporter into his hands, grabbed him by the arm and led him along the road out of hearing. Cargill could make them out vaguely. They were arguing furiously. Presently Lauer must have yielded, for he shouldered the instrument and trudged off. Ann came back to Cargill.
"We wait here," she said, "and this time you’d better not try to run off." She added to somebody behind him, "If he makes a break spit him."
Cargill had heard the men behind him but he hadn’t looked at them and he didn’t intend to. The quarrel between Lauer and Ann interested him. It implied that some Tweeners at least were dissatisfied with Grannis. He wondered idly if he might not be able to start another revolution.
Aloud, deliberately, he said, "Oh, mud."
The young woman showed no sign that she had heard. The minutes trickled by. In the nearby brush a night bird trilled, breaking the intense silence. Far away a coyote howled mournfully. Cargill felt a sudden press of air against him as if a big bird had passed over his head on silent wings.
Beside him Ann Reece’s flashlight blinked on. She pointed it into the sky, waved it violently, then turned to Cargill.
"In a few minutes," she said, "a volor will come down here. Don’t say a word, just get in and go to the rear away from the pilots."
She added in a low tone, "The air transport men are anxious to get hold of you. They want to question you about the air fighting in World War Two. But they can’t have you till you’ve been trained."
Cargill, who had been an Infantry officer, maintained a discreet silence.
"Ssssshh," said Ann Reece unnecessarily, "here they come."
The machine that settled down toward them over the trees was not a floater. It had swept-back wings and a long metal body. It must have been made of super-strong alloys for it crushed down among the trees that lined the narrow roadside and snapped one bole with a casualness that was all the more impressive because the tree came down with a roar.
There was a rush of wind and then the plane slowed for the landing and poked a bright beam of light at them. A side door opened. Cargill ran forward, aware of the young woman following close behind.
The entrance was higher than it had looked from a distance. He had to scramble to get inside. He slipped past a man in uniform, who was coming forward, fumbled his way along a dimly-lighted aisle and finally sank into the seat farthest to the rear.
He heard Ann Reece say, "Help me up!"
The young man said something Cargill couldn’t hear but it had ancient connotations.
Ann Reece snapped, "Let go of my hand. I can hold it myself, thank you."
The officer laughed, then said, "Was that the great man?"

CARGILL heard no more. The machine moving, slowly at first, then with a violence that left no doubt of how different it was from the slow-motion floaters which — as Cargill knew only too well — were practically helpless at night.
It climbed steeply, like a plane rather than an airship. And its speed after less than a minute was something to murmur about. He couldn’t remember ever having been in a machine that moved so fast.
It gave him pause. It made his purpose seem less than possible. People who could build such planes had an advanced mechanical culture, and they would not be easily controlled by a man from the twentieth century. His partial success with the floater folk must have gone to his head. He was setting himself against people who actually planned an attack against the mysterious Shadows.
The city came suddenly out of the distance. Great bulbs of light floated in the sky. They glared down on the buildings below, lighting up the scene vividly. Ann Reece settled into the adjoining seat. Cargill scarcely noticed.
It was a city of skyscrapers. They sparkled at him from the distance with effervescent, changing lights. They seemed to be made of glass, their translucent opalescence glowing softly. The first feeling of alienness passed. Cargill gazed at the city, excitement quickening his pulse.
Beside him Ann Reece said quietly, "You’re the first outsider in twenty years to see the capital."
Cargill looked at her questioningly. "You mean no strangers are allowed in Tweener territory?"
Ann Reece shook her head. "This is our capital city," she said. "It contains all the secrets of our people. We cannot afford to take chances. For twenty years all new Tweeners, all Tweeners who have failed in the Shadow tests, have been sent to other cities. No Shadow, not even Grannis, has been permitted to enter in that time."
"How can you stop the Shadows?" Cargill asked. He was remembering the way Grannis had walked unharmed through the fire of the spit gun that he had directed from Lela’s and his floater.
"They’re not as invulnerable as they would like us to believe," said Ann Reece, a grim note in her voice. "If you concentrate enough fire on them they run as fast as any ordinary mortal. We’ve discovered that." In the darkness inside the volor, she made a gesture he didn’t see.
"Anyway we don’t permit them to enter our territory. We are very strict about that. No one can enter the areas under our control without permission, and everyone who does enter has to submit to a thorough investigation."
"How much of this continent do you control?" Cargill asked.
"About one quarter."
Cargill nodded. He remembered how many times Lela had turned the floater aside, and said, "That’s Tweener territory. We don’t go there." He nodded again, half to himself. The floater folk must have discovered through experience that Tweener territory was dangerous.
"And where’s Shadow City?" he asked.
"Oh, that’s in the Rockies. The city is an impregnable fortress, hewn out of the rocks of almost inaccessible mountain and protected by an energy screen. It’s approachable only by air."
They were over the Tweener capital now.
Cargill had a glimpse of glittering shopping centers adding their refulgence to the dazzling scene. Gradually the streets below became dimmer, more residential in nature.
The volor began to slant down. He saw that they were over a broad expanse of lawn. It was evidently an estate, for he could see in the distance what looked like stone fences.
A large house stood well back among the trees.
Ann Reece said, "This is my home."
Cargill looked at her in surprise. Then he looked again at the house and whistled softly under his breath. He had taken it for granted that Ann Reece was merely a minor agent, an unimportant cog in this affair.

HE looked again at the house. It was spacious and beautiful It was of stone and its castellated walls rose in ever higher peaks and spires until, like some dimly seen dream-castle, they faded from sight in the high shadows.
The windows were tall and pointed at the tops. The door was huge and matched the windows in design. The steps leading up to it were broad and white. It was an estate all right, he thought with a quick intake of breath. Such a house, he estimated, would have cost three or four hundred thousand dollars in Los Angeles, 1946.
He climbed the steps wonderingly. It was evident that in this affair he would be moving in high Tweener circles indeed.
Ann Reece rang the bell. There was a pause and then the door was opened by an elderly man.
The man said, "Welcome home, Miss Reece."
"Thank you, Granger," said Ann. She motioned Cargill to go past her and they walked silently along a brightly lighted corridor and came presently to a room.

CHAPTER XI - Brain-Pattern

THE room was large and well furnished, and Cargill examined it alertly. Directly across from him were a series of French doors that led to a terrace. Without hesitation he strode towards the doors and tried one of them. It opened, which surprised him.
He had intended only to glance out; it was to be one look into the darkness to gain a quick picture of his surroundings.
What he saw snatched his attention. The city — seen for the first time from the ground. When Ann Reece and he had arrived at the house the volor had landed them almost at the door. There had been little chance to observe the great globes of light that floated above the city.
Seen from the air, from the tremendously swift volor, the globes had appeared stationary. Now he saw that they were moving steadily like the stars in their courses. Like miniature suns they shed their light on the metropolis below and followed each other round in a circular movement.
Cargill had to force his eyes away from them. He turned and went back into the room — and realized how tired he was. The long, tense night with Lela on the floater, the prolonged anxiety while he was in the Shadow prison again and the events of the past two hours, had taken toll of his strength. Wearily he sank down into a comfortable chair. Ann said, "I’ll have some food prepared for you."
She was turning away when Cargill remembered something. "I’ve been intending to ask you," he said. "What happened to you after I escaped that first time?"
"I reported your escape to Grannis naturally. About half an hour later there was a time adjustment and I had to do the job again."
"Half — an — hour — later?" said Cargill.
He stared at her, more startled than he cared to admit. His picture of the process of time manipulation had been vague. Suddenly he saw it as something that was done to one individual.
She hadn’t lived those months. For her the adjustment had taken place this very first night. Those who controlled the time stream really had potent power over its flow.
It didn’t seem to occur to Ann Reece to ask what had happened to him. She crossed over to a door and disappeared.

CARGILL was served a thick steak, medium rare, a baked potato and a baked apple for desert. He ate with a concentration and purpose that reminded him of his first meal aboard the Bouvy floater. Thought of Lela tensed him. And so, when he suddenly looked up and saw that Ann was sitting back, watching him with amusement, it irritated him.
She had changed her dress while the meal was being prepared. The short skirt was gone and she wore a long blue gown that matched the color of her eyes. It also made her look much younger.
She had a pert face with a faintly calculating expression on it. Her lips were firm and well-shaped. She carried herself with an air of great assurance.
"What’s all this about?" Cargill said. "What are you going to train me for?"
Her expression changed. A set look came into her eyes and her lips tightened. But her voice retained some of the humor of her earlier amusement.
She said, "You’re the key figure. Without you there’s no war."
"I’m sure I’m thrilled," said Cargill acridly. "Does that make me a general?"
"Well, not exactly." She broke off. She snapped, "We’re sick of the horrible world the Shadows have created for us." Her voice lost all its lightness. It grew hard with anger.
"Imagine," she flared, "changing the past so that people will gradually become more civilized, get over their neuroses and all that nonsense."
Her lips clenched into thin lines. Then she said slowly, "There’s only one way to change the world. We’ve got to get rid of the Shadows, force the Planiacs out of the sky and down to a life of usefulness. Once that happens, it won’t be long before this planet is humming again with industry and all that makes life worth living."
Cargill’s hunger was gone. He felt basically too hostile to her to be impressed by her vision. He demanded, "But where do I fit into this? What is the training that I’m to be given?"
Ann Reece relaxed. The amused look came back to her face. She said with heavy irony, "One times one times one times one times zero equals a million. That’s the mathematics involved in your training. Anything else you want to know?"
"Blast you!" said Cargill. He was on his feet, leaning over the table toward her. "If you people expect any cooperation from me you’d better start telling me the facts. Whose idea was it to use me in whatever you’re going to use me for in this Shadow City attack?"
That held him briefly. "How come," said Cargill finally, "that you’re all playing the game of a Shadow traitor?"
Ann Reece was cool. "We’re not playing his game. He’s playing ours. He agrees with us. He thinks we have the answer to the problems of this age."
"You fools!" Cargill was scathing. "Why, you’re just a bunch of babes in the wood. You —"
He stopped himself in alarm. Careful, he thought. This was no time to reveal his special knowledge of Grannis and his plans. Slowly he settled back into his chair. He stared at her unsmilingly. She said, "As soon as you’ve finished eating I’ll show you to your bedroom. You sound tired." There was no doubt of the sarcasm in her voice.

AFTER she had left him Cargill explored his bedroom. It was small, but skillfully arranged. The walls were done in shades of green, contrasting with a vividly white bed and white furniture — very effective.
He was surprised when he looked out of the window, to see that the room was on the second floor. Since he had climbed no stairs he guessed that the house was built on the side of a hill.
He mentally measured the distance to the ground below, then frowned with irritation. It was at least twenty feet, a considerable drop even for a strong active man. Not that it mattered. He doubted that he’d get far if he tried to escape through the window. His method of handling this situation must be on a much higher level of action.
He turned back into the room and started to undress. In spite of his nap in the living room he was tired and he fell asleep almost immediately.
A voice began to talk to him, urging him to action, something about Shadow City and the necessity of breaking down the Shadow pyramid.
"Throw the switch," the voice commanded. "And the signal for you to act is — is . . ."
It faded away. The sound and its echoes retreated into an abyss of time and space. If the signal was mentioned, it was too far away for him to hear — then.
Hours later, he awoke with a start and simultaneously realized two things. It was broad daylight and a voice was saying from the air just above his head, "The signal for you to act will be the phrase, ’Visit us some time!’ "
He told Ann Reece about it at breakfast, adding irritably, "You don’t think that kind of hypnosis is going to work on me."
She was smugly triumphant. "It’s not exactly hypnosis," she said. "The electronic tube I used works on the principle I mentioned last night, where one times one etcetera equals a million or a billion, or whatever it’s set for — in this case a million. When I turned that tube on last night it established a pattern in your brain that only another tube set differently could eradicate."
She shrugged. "So you’re trained. You can no longer communicate in any way to anybody the knowledge you have of the plan. And when you hear that cue your legs will carry you to the pyramid power house. Your hands will throw the switch. And you’ll do all this exactly at twelve o’clock noon, Shadow City time, after you’ve been given the signal."
"Just a minute," said Cargill. He had been listening with a strained sense of unreality. Now, abruptly, he tried to snatch a shred of victory from the implacable fact.
"What day," he asked hoarsely, "will this happen?"
She was calm. "You’ll find that out," she said, "when it happens." She broke off. "Better finish your breakfast. There’ll be an air force floater here to pick you up in half an hour."
Things were moving fast.

CHAPTER XII - Conspiracy

There must be something he could say or do to make sure that things happened right for himself, Cargill thought as he stood among the volor pilots later that morning. Because — it was obvious — the attack couldn’t take place for at least two months.
That much he knew. He had lived slightly over two months with Lela Bouvy and had listened to a Shadow City radio-TV station right up to the last.
Just for a moment, with Ann Reece, he had forgotten that. He’d never forget it again. He was living a time-paradox existence and for all he knew the paradox was even more intricate than he could hope to guess or imagine.
But he’d have to make sure that there was delay. He’d have to force this situation to his will.
Warily he looked around him. The day was perfect. It was good to be alive and here on this verdantly green hillside, the fleecy white of the small cumulus clouds that floated lazily in the higher vault of the heavens only served to emphasize its blueness. An occasional breeze rustled through the leaves of the trees and puffed against his cheeks, bringing the smell of growing things.
In the distance he could see the slow yellow water of a broad river. The flats that spread between him and that wide expanse of water were covered with clumps of swamp willow and a kind of coarse stiff grass whose tall, serrated blades looked sharp and forbidding even at this distance.
Cargill wondered if this were the Mississippi River. The possibility excited him. He pictured himself standing here in the 24th century, looking down at the great river, its muddy, sluggish water so little changed after all these centuries.
From somewhere in the rear of the group of pilots a man said curtly, "I still don’t approve of this man Cargill being here as an adviser. It’s a Shadow trick of some kind."
Cargill turned stiffly and saw that the speaker was an intense-looking young man with dark brown eyes and a hawk-like nose. The officer, a full-fledged pilot, reminded him of Lauer. There was the same hard questioning tone, the same rebelliousness against the decisions of those higher in authority.
An older officer, who had been introduced to Cargill as Flight Commander Greer, said in a tone of mild reproof, "Withrow, the presence of Captain Cargill makes all our plans possible. Besides, he’s here. We’re committed.
"My own opinion is that if we learn even a little from him about air tactics and strategy of World War Two we’ll be amply repaid in lives saved."
"And I," said Cargill, "will try to assure that I also survive the attack." It was a point he intended to keep driving home — that he had a stake now in their success.
There was no time for Withrow to comment. Dark specks appeared among fleecy clouds. Almost instantly, the sky was full of volors. They came in over the river, low and in close formation. Even as Cargill watched the rushing machines he was aware of the group of officers around him watching him. They expected a reaction. The question was — what ought his answer to be?
He strained to recall the thousands of planes that he had seen in action, the scores of times he had stood on the battered soil of Europe and watched allied and enemy planes maneuver for the kill.
The volors whistled by a few hundred feet above the ground. He judged their speed to be as great as that of a jet plane. Cargill, who had seen only two or three jets — and those German — was impressed.

WITH a hiss of tortured air the volors plunged past. Cargill turned to follow their flight but they were already gone into the glare of the sun in the eastern sky — and the time had undoubtedly come for him to say something.
He began to ask questions. "Just what is the nature of the assault you’re planning? Will you attack in flight formation or is it going to be individual ships diving down?"
Withrow said coldly, "Their protective pyramid of energy goes down and we dive in."
"We plan to attack without regard for danger," said Commander Greer.
Cargill was silent. He knew that kind of attitude, and it was basically sound — except for one thing. As he examined the possibilities he nodded half to himself. The question was — could he convince them? Could he make them see? He had better think over carefully what he ought to say, and for that he needed delay.
He said, "I’d like to see this from the other side before I tell you my ideas." He pointed. "From up there. Can we go up?"
He sat in the co-pilot’s chair in the control room, and watched the volor climb. The machine rocketed upward like a shooting star. Cargill was squeezed back into his seat. The blood seemed to drain from his body. And then they were leveling off and the earth flowed by below.
Cargill watched that unfolding scene for nearly a minute, finally turned to the men who were crowded into a series of small seats in the control room.
He said to Commander Greer, "How many weapons do you have aboard?"
The officer leaned forward and indicated a trigger device in front of the pilot. "From here," he said, "you can see everything below us. You just have to make these hair lines balance on the target, then press the trigger. The billion-tube goes into action."
Cargill nodded, unhappily. One times one times one times one times zero equaled a billion with this tube, the power of which could be varied at will. He had learned some trick mathematics at college, where one times one equaled one and a half plus one plus one equaled three. But this was a million, billion, quadrillion times different. Here was the power source of this era. A variable tube. From what he had seen and heard he gathered that it was some kind of electronic tube.
He stopped thinking about that. They had turned and were rushing back toward the city. They crossed the river like a shot from a gun. The city blurred by beneath them, then they were catapulting above a tremendous forest. A second city blinked by below, came into sight again as the volor and its companions made a U-turn in perfect formation, was lost to sight in the distant haze.
The speed of the volors was colossal. Cargill had a singing feeling of wonder at their rate of travel. He asked, "How fast?"
The pilot answered, "At this moment one and a half times the speed of sound."
Before he could more than grasp the figure the capitol showed ahead and they were diving. The ground rushed up to meet them. He saw the firing fields ahead. The pilot gripped the firing device and pressed the trigger gently.
Flame rolled up from below, a colossal sheet of it. Cargill strained to look back through the transparent floor. He had a brief glimpse of a raging inferno, then that was gone behind them.
From the back of the control room the satirical voice of Withrow said, "Well, Captain Cargill, what advice can you offer us?"
The man sounded smugly arrogant. His tone indicated that he at least took it for granted that the Tweener air force was perfect as it was. Clearly he would attach no value to any minor suggestions made by a man from the remote dark ages of the twentieth century. Cargill drew a deep breath and accepted the challenge.
He said, "The fighting standards of this air force are too low. Any appreciable resistance would, in my opinion, shatter the attack. And unquestionably there will be resistance.
"Certain comments I have heard seem to indicate the belief that Shadows will be overwhelmed in the first minutes of the attack. Such a notion strikes me as utterly fantastic."

HE did not look directly at any individual, as he went on, coolly, He described how entire divisions had been withdrawn from battle because the men had been trained by officers who did not know how to put fighting spirit into their soldiers.
"Such divisions," he explained, "can be massacred by resistance forces that would normally not even be able to slow down a fighting division."
He continued in an inexorable tone, "The shock to the nervous system of a man under fire for the first time has to be experienced to be understood. On the ground the method used was to land him on an enemy beach or otherwise commit him to battle — and depend on his training to carry him through.
"Those who survive a series of such engagements become seasoned veterans, all this providing they have been handled well by their officers. In the air force bombers made their bomb runs and then headed for home. In this way the crews were under heavy fire for only a few minutes at a time and so those that survived became enormously cunning and skillful."
He dared to pause at that moment and take a lightning glance around the faces of the officers. It was a long time since he had seen so many white faces. He pressed on quickly.
"As for specific suggestions for the volors, here’s my picture. You’ve got to have weapons in the rear, so that you can fire at the target coming and going. In addition, I think you should have fighter protection for the volors that actually attack the target. And any attack should be in broken formation from all sides, unevenly and without pattern. Practice that."
He broke off. "So far as the pilots are concerned let me give them lectures during the next few weeks and accustom them to the idea that they may have to endure fire for hours. And now" — he shrugged — "I’ll have to think over any further points. Let’s go down."
The landing was smooth as glass. They drew up before a huge, streamlined building. Absently, as he talked to Greer, Cargill watched Withrow walk over to a group of officers under an alcove.
When he looked again a minute later the group seemed to be in earnest conversation. Presently one of the men sauntered over and Cargill recognized the officer who had ferried him from Ann Reece’s home to the airfield that morning — a man named Nallen.
The man said casually, "Whenever Captain Cargill is ready, I’ll take him home."
Commander Greer held out his hand. "We’ll be seeing you again, Captain. Your recommendations shocked me but I can already see what you mean."
Cargill accepted the proffered hand shake, half-minded to object to Nallen. He stopped himself deliberately. This was another group. He must find out their purpose.

A FEW minutes later he was in a floater, heading out over the city. He had not long to wait. Withrow stepped out of the control room, followed by two other officers. He sank into the seat across the aisle from Cargill. There was a faint ironic smile on his face.
"Captain," he said, "I have to make an apology to you. I put on an arrogant front in order to conceal my true intentions. I represent a group that is opposed to the Shadow war. It is our opinion that you cannot be violently in favor of the attack.
"Accordingly we want to ask your advice, and to offer you some in turn. You must try to win Miss Reece to our point of view. Grannis tells us that the best method would be for you to try to make love to her —"
"Grannis!" Cargill echoed.
He sat blankly, letting the shock waves subside. But, he thought finally, with an almost owlish seriousness, that didn’t make sense. Grannis was the Shadow behind these murderous schemes. Why should he advise —?
Swiftly, the weight of doubt lifted from him. It was possible there was no hope here. The deadly thing in all this was that if Grannis didn’t like any particular development he could use his control of time to nullify it.
But a man in Cargill’s position could not seriously consider such a limitation. He must fight for his life with every tool at his disposal. Here, in Withrow and his group, was possibly such a tool.
Cargill looked up alertly. "Just what kind of organization have you got?"
Later, he said, "We’ll have to change it. Too many people know each other. Set up the following system —" He described the infiltration tactics necessary for a successful revolution.
Just before they landed he explained seriously, "In our time we watched the process of forcible transfer of governmental control a score of times. You make a list of all the people who are likely to be troublesome or who are in positions of power.
"At a set moment you put them under arrest, take control of the centers of communication and start issuing orders. Get the important military leaders on your side. If there’s doubt of the outcome a leader with a large force at his disposal can sway the balance."
As they were separating, he said with a laugh, "Yes, I’ll woo Miss Reece. I don’t think there’ll be any result but at least it will distract her attention from other things."
But it was a week before he even saw her again. And then, annoyingly, she chose an evening to be home when he and Withrow had a rendezvous in the terrace garden.

CHAPTER XIII - The Wooing of Ann

NIGHT. And time for Withrow. The trouble was, it seemed to the irritated Cargill, Ann Reece showed no inclination to leave the living room. He watched her from his chair as she paced the floor. She stopped suddenly and stared at him with narrowed eyes.
"In spite of all my efforts these last few days," she said, "you’ve done it." Her tone was accusing.
"You’ve put off the attack at least a month, possibly longer," she said. "I tried to convince them it was a trick on your part but Commander Greer swore that your criticisms showed a grave weakness in our attack tactics. The leaders have accepted that."
She came close to him and there was not even a hint of the satirical lightness of manner that he had come to expect of her.
"Captain Cargill," she said grimly, you’re playing this game altogether too well to suit our group. We’ve decided to accept the delay this time but —" She stopped. Her rather full lips were drawn into a menacing smile.
Cargill studied her, fascinated. In spite of his will to get her out of the way, the very depth of her determination caught his interest.
He said slowly, "What puzzles me is that a young woman as good looking as you should be a conspirator in man’s game of war."
The words were seriously spoken. Not until he had uttered them did he realize they could be an opening wedge for the lovemaking Grannis had suggested.
They even had a secondary possibility. He stood up.
"Where I come from," he said, "we were just coming out of a period when a girl had a pretty clear idea that a man in uniform who whistled at her didn’t want to talk about the ideals we were fighting for."
The remark must have been unexpected, its import far from her thoughts. She gave him a startled look and then a frown creased her forehead.
She said curtly, "Stay away from me."
Cargill walked slowly toward her. It seemed to him Grannis had definitely misread this cold young woman but more sharply now he saw in her visible perturbation the solution to that secondary problem of his.
"You must," he said, "have grown up under very curious circumstances. It’s unusual to see a woman of your courage so afraid of herself. Did the death of your parents put you on the defensive with men?"
She stopped backing away. Her voice showed that his words had struck deep. She said too sharply, "Our group has a single purpose, to destroy the Shadows. When that is accomplished there will be time enough to think of marrying and having children."

CARGILL paused five feet from her. "I can tell you right now," he said, "you’ve got the wrong slant about what goes on during a war. The birth rate goes up, not down. Every hospital is filled with women carrying out some man’s desperate determination to survive the war if only by proxy."
’We shall marry the survivors," said Ann Reece calmly. "It would be silly for a girl, particularly one in poor circumstances, to burden herself with a dead man’s child."
Cargill said dryly, "When I lecture to the volor pilots I’ll be happy to tell them the girls feel a civilian is the best bet for a husband."
"I didn’t say that. I said —"
Cargill cut her off. He was not going to get anywhere with this girl and therefore the sooner he put her to flight the better.
"And what," he asked, "about the man to whom you’ve so casually assigned the job of disengaging the pyramid switch in the heart of Shadow City? Do you mean to tell me he’s not even going to get a kiss from a pretty girl?"
He stepped forward and tried to take her in his arms. She evaded him and retreated to the door. Laughing, careful not to move so fast that he would actually catch her, Cargill followed.
For one moment Ann Reece hesitated and then, her face scarlet with anger, she fled precipitately along the corridor and up the broad stairs. He heard the door of her bedroom suite slam shut.
His amusement faded quickly. Cool and intent, Cargill hurried across to the French windows and out into the darkness. A minute later he was talking to Withrow, learning what he had half-expected — that it would require at least a month to set up their underground organization on the cell basis. The first week had shown the general speed of development that could be expected.
Cargill’s final comment was, "The important thing is that if anything goes wrong individuals may suffer but the organization itself will remain intact."
They separated on that note.
Later, on his way to his bedroom, he paused on impulse, and knocked on Ann Reece’s door. "May I come in?" he called.
There was silence and then an outraged answer.

"Don’t dare try the door" cried Ann
(Chap. XIII)

"Don’t you dare even try the door."
Cargill twisted the knob noisily. The door was locked. He went on, smiling to himself and quite without shame or guilt. He believed firmly with ninety percent of all the soldiers he had ever met that during wartime every woman was a possible conquest — and how else could you find out her attitude unless you pursued her?
Having started to pursue Ann Reece he intended to continue. The trouble was that he caught only fleeting glimpses of her. Every night he tried her door but only occasionally could he be sure that she was actually inside. After the first evening’s outburst she gave no further hint of her presence.
A month went by. And still the secret organization was not of satisfactory size. The trouble, according to Withrow, was that men known to be opposed to the war adjusted slowly to the concept that a government could be seized from within. It was apparently a brand new idea in this remote age.

FOR six weeks the air force kept Cargill busy. He was flown to distant stations to give his lectures, and he was able to form his first estimate of the size of the Tweenerland — the Tweeners called it America, which was something of a presumption considering their small numbers. But still it pointed the direction of their thoughts.
The new civilization was bounded on the west by the foothills of the Rockies, on the north by what Cargill guessed to be about the southern border of Montana, in the east by a line curving southwest from the lower tip of Lake Michigan, and in the south by northern Texas.
It was a tremendous area for three million people to control but there was no doubt of the control. Cargill could imagine that eventually they would extend their dominion over the entire continent.
He learned that far-sighted Tweeners were already filing claims to vast acreage. He remembered the landless millions of the twentieth century, and it struck him that already the errors of the past were being repeated.
"If I get out of this business alive," he told himself, "I’ll try to put a stop to that."
Wherever he looked he saw things that his personal, casual observation of end results in his own age made it possible for him to evaluate. A score of times he mentally filed away the notation, "I’ll have to do something about that — later."
With each day that passed he convinced himself more completely that with his automatic knowledge he could be of enormous value to the people of this age. It stiffened his will power
He walked straighter, and with a firmer stride. He felt an alertness within himself, a will to action that yet had behind it an enormous instinctive caution. He used words as if they were tools and he was always aware of the possible danger that might come the very next instant.
And so, one evening, he entered Ann Reece’s house, walked along the carpeted hallway toward the living room — and heard a man’s emotional voice say, "I intend to kill you both the moment he comes."
Cargill stopped as Ann said in a shaky voice. "You’re mad. You’ll hang for this."
"Shut up!" The tone was not normal. "I know you. You started all this. You’re the one that’s associated with the Shadow Grannis. I heard all about how he came to you a year ago and you’ve been his echo ever since."
"I did not start it." Her answer was in a firmer tone. "The volors were already built, the plan made, when Grannis got in touch with me. I reported it to the government and I’ve been the contact with him ever since."
"That’s what I said." The man sounded tremendously satisfied. "You’re the contact. With you and this new fellow dead, that’ll stop the whole rotten business."
Cargill heard no more. He was racing back toward the front door. He guessed that the assassin had come in through the garden and would be facing into the living room, watching the other entrances.
Out of the door Cargill slipped, around the house, through the gate and — stealthily now, though still swiftly — across the terrace. One of the French windows was open. He moved up beside it, partly sheltered by the wooden frames. And there he paused to size up the situation inside.
The intruder was saying in a high-pitched tone, "My folks were Planiacs. They took the Shadow training, and failed. But they came here and I was born into a good home. I had civilized upbringing, a decent education. I married a wonderful girl and I’ve got two fine kids. The Shadows made that possible."
His voice lifted even higher. "You and those murderous scoundrels who planned the attack hate the Shadows because you all failed. Now you’re trying to force the rest of us to your rotten notions. You want to destroy what you aren’t smart enough to win."
Cargill saw the man, a powerful-looking individual. His back was to the terrace, and a spitter was barely visible in his fingers. It pointed in the general direction of the girl.

ANN REECE said scathingly, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a big man like you acting like a cowardly child. Have you thought of what’s going to happen to your wife arid children if you do anything foolish now?"
Her voice was calm and forceful. She sounded as if she had got all her courage back. She said, "I’m going to give you one chance. Leave now and I won’t report this. Quick, make up your mind."
"I’ll show you what mind I’m going to make up," the man said violently. He waved the spitter menacingly. "In just about one second —"
He must have heard a sound or noticed a change of expression on Ann Reece’s face. He started to turn.
In that unbalanced position Cargill’s tackle caught him. The big man went down heavily but firmly. Swiftly, brutally, Cargill plunged on top of him. He was aware of Ann Reece snatching the spitter.
"Get away from him," she yelled at Cargill, "and I’ll spit him."
The stranger was doing some yelling of his own. "Help!" he called. "Manot, Gregory."
There was a sound. "All right," said a cold voice from the door. "Ann, put down that gun. Cargill, get up."
Cargill hesitated and then, tense with the new danger, climbed to his feet. He was puzzled. The situation seemed wrong somehow. He turned slowly and saw the two men in the uniforms of volor pilots. The man returned his gaze steadily.
"Just testing, Captain, just testing," he said. "We’ve had reports about some kind of underground scheme and so we decided to try to get a reaction."
As the man talked Cargill’s mind darted over the events and found nothing out of the way. Ann had acted in character — why not? It was her character — and he himself had done only what could have been expected.
He said slowly, "I hope you learned what you wanted."
The pilot said with apparent frankness. "Exactly what we wanted." He bowed to Ann Reece, who was unusually pale. "I want to congratulate you, Miss Reece, on your courage. And don’t blame us. Grannis suggested this test."
To the big man, who was just getting up from the floor, he said curtly, "You put on a good act. But now come along."
When they had gone Cargill walked over to the young woman and said, "That was very unkind of them. Here, you’d better sit down. They don’t seem to realize what a shock a thing like this can be to the system."
He was thinking, "Grannis again — what could the Shadow be up to?"
Ann Reece allowed herself to be led a chair. She looked up at him, her face still very white. She said in a low voice, "Thank you for saving my life, captain,"
"I didn’t actually save it," said Cargill "After all it was a fake menace."
She said stiffly, "You didn’t know that when you made the attack. I don’t know how I can ever repay you."
"Forget it. I thought I was saving my own as well."
She seemed not to hear. "They were testing me," she said. "Mel" She seemed overwhelmed.
Cargill started to say something but stopped himself. For the first time he realized that this girl was undergoing a profound emotional experience. He watched her narrowly for a few moments, then reached down and took her hand.
"I think you’d better go to your room and lie down," he said.
She let him lead her. At the door of her bedroom, she stopped. A touch of color came into her cheeks. She didn’t look at him.
"Captain," she said, "tonight I realized what you meant about war being different from any picture that I had of it. And I’m very sorry for my share in bringing you into this desperate danger. Can you ever forgive me?"
Cargill thought of the imminent rebellion and said coolly, "I’m in. I’ve accepted the idea. I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to make sure that I survive." He added, "You’d better lie down."
He opened the door for her. She stepped through and there was more color in her face as she gave him a quick glance.
She said breathlessly, "Captain, you said something once about a reward for a soldier . . . Tonight, when you try the knob of this door, you’ll find that it — turns."
She slipped all the way in. The door closed gently. The faint perfume of her presence lingered.
From that moment Ann Reece was his girl.

CHAPTER XIV - Shadow City

SHE didn’t realize that at first. She had no idea how much emotion went along with a physical commitment. If she had been experienced it might have been different. She might have been able to divide herself figuratively into two individuals, on the one hand the patriot, on the other the mistress of the prisoner.
The patriot, in spite of the rude shock of the test, remained fairly intact for five days. At that point she had her first breakdown. Thereafter she cried easily in Cargill’s presence. On the eighth day she came out openly with the suggestion that they find some method of escape.
Her plans were vague, curiously impractical for someone who had been so hardheaded. She had a fine contempt for Cargill’s objections. Half a dozen times within the space of a few days she lost her temper with him.
It put a pressure on him in addition to his own anxiety. On the twelfth day he visited the airport and drew Withrow aside angrily.
"I have a feeling," he said, "that your group is stalling. There’s a weakness here somewhere, an unwillingness to burn your bridges."
Withrow looked unhappy. "There’s something to that," he admitted. "All I hear is excuses."
Cargill could understand that. Only too well he pictured these leaders who had never before seen action. It reminded him of the eve of D-Day. As the stormy dawn broke he had thought and hoped that surely the invasion would be called off. And, curiously, he had thought simultaneously," Thank heaven, the issue is being forced at last."
This issue also had to be forced. And there was only one man who had the motivation, the will and the experience to force it.
He said in measured tone, "Withrow, the attack must be made not later than tomorrow morning. If it isn’t made I will inform Commander Greer who the ringleaders are."
Withrow turned pale. "You wouldn’t dare."
Cargill said quietly, "Perhaps you’d better let the others think that I would dare."
He returned the pilot’s gaze steadily. At last Withrow sighed. He held out his hand.
"You’ve named the day," he said. "Thank you."
They shook hands silently and separated.
Cargill had his first premonition of disaster as he entered the house shortly after dark. Ann, her face gray, met him at the door.
"They’ve posted guards around the house," she whispered. "They’re sending you to Shadow City tonight."
Cargill stood stock-still, dimly aware of her fluttering hands stroking his arm.
"Oh, darling," she whispered, "I’m sorry."
He patted her hand absently. He was thinking, "Is this timed? Do they know or suspect?"
Aloud he said, "Why did they select tonight?’
"Grannis —" she began.
The shock of the name pierced him like a fire. He cut her off in astounded fury, gripped her shoulders cruelly. "But I thought you were his contact?"
"I used to be," she whispered. "I don’t know what’s happened. Please, you’re hurting me."
He let her go with a mumbled apology. The sense of imminent catastrophe was greater. The incredible fantastic mysterious Grannis had taken one more step in his inexplicable scheme. But this time he had moved in a direct and deadly fashion.
Whatever else Grannis had in mind it was clear that he intended Captain Morton Cargill to experience the terrible risk of going to Shadow City.
With an effort Cargill caught hold of himself. He said, "Better go and see about dinner. I’ll investigate the situation."
He headed for the terrace, crossed the garden in the dark, climbed over the fence — and was stopped by a guard.
"Get back!" The command was curtly spoken. A spitter glinted in the man’s hand.
Cargill obeyed readily and headed immediately for the gate that led to the front of the house. It was unlocked. But as he stepped through a soldier came from behind a tree, and angrily motioned him to return.

ALTOGETHER in the course of a few minutes he counted nine guards, all armed, all aware of his identity. When he re-entered the house Commander Greer was there with Ann.
"Sorry, Captain," he said, "but we just couldn’t take any chances. Grannis advised us that there was going to be a rebellion and so we’ve ordered all officers to report to their units. Just in case there is a disturbance you leave right after dinner for Shadow City."
Greer remained for dinner. As Cargill and Ann followed him to the outer hall when the meal was over she whispered, "Find some way of kissing me good-by. I’ll pretend to resist."
A volor-powered floater-like craft waited for them on the lawn. Cargill turned to Ann and, mustering all his sardonicism said, "Miss Reece, once it amused you to say that you would kiss me good-by when I left like this. I demand that kiss."
He didn’t wait for assent. Firmly he stepped up to her, put his finger under her chin, lifted her head and bent his own. The kiss he gave her was outrageously bold and the only trouble was that she didn’t resist very hard. Fortunately the guards thought it was an attack and pulled him violently away from her.
"Good-by, darling," said Cargill cheerfully. "I’ll be back.
He meant it. He liked Ann Reece. And, besides, this was war. "I love them all," he told himself with an almost drunken blurriness. "Ann, Lela and —" He thought of some of the wonderfully personable girls who had been the milestones in his life up until 1946.
He realized he was indulging in self-pity.
The metal door clanged shut behind him. The ship lifted violently. As he sank into a seat the black reality of his position crushed down upon his spirits.
"You can see Shadow City," said the pilot, "if you look straight ahead through the mist." He broke off. "Ed, give Captain Cargill your seat."
They had invited him into the control room voluntarily. The pilot’s voice was friendly. Cargill had recognized none of the five volormen aboard, but undoubtedly they were among those to whom he had lectured.
The co-pilot promptly yielded his seat. Cargill settled into it and looked. Fog and haze blurred the horizon ahead. Mountain peaks seemed to waver in the uncertain light. It was hard to distinguish one shape from another.

SUDDENLY then he saw the pyramid. It was uneven to his vision and very small, as the peak of a stupendous mountain seems toy-like from afar, He estimated that it must be at least a hundred miles ahead.
The floater continued to move toward it at normal floater speed. This was natural enough — Cargill had gathered that they didn’t want the Shadows to suspect anything unusual about this particular machine. Besides, the ship was not built to attain volor velocity. They had evidently installed a volor-type motor so that it could travel at night. Actually the night speed had been very sedate.
Half an hour went by and all that time the fantastic city ahead grew larger. The towering pyramid shape came into sharper and sharper focus. At ten miles, it was a tremendously high pointed structure, set on a vast base. It straddled a nest of mountains.
At five miles the pyramid resembled a slope of glass through which Cargill could see the buildings inside, mostly residences, hard to see because of the foliage of towering trees. There were commercial buildings concentrated in the central area.
Seen close-up it was hard to believe that the pyramid was a powerful energy screen. It was even harder to grasp that he was here to disconnect the energy of the screen so that the Tweeners could dive down in their marvelous volors upon the unprotected metal and concrete of Shadow City — shadow no more.
"We land below there at the terminal." The pilot pointed at a building that stood at the edge of a forest.
No other words were spoken. The floater came gently down on the greensward a hundred and fifty feet from the low long building. Cargill stepped out without being asked. The door clicked shut behind him. He watched as the machine rose into the sky and headed off toward the east.
Cargill turned and automatically started toward the terminal. Abruptly he stopped short.
"Just a moment," he thought, "I’m free. They didn’t wait to make sure that I would go in. Why shouldn’t I just head downhill and lose myself in the wilderness?"
It looked immeasurably desolate — peaks and crags and valleys and ravines and everywhere the primitive forest. It would probably take several days to reach the foothills.
But it was a way out. Cargill made as if to turn. Nothing happened. He stood very still, startled. He remembered the tube that had "trained" him. Carefully he walked forward, then abruptly tried to twist on his heels. The muscles wouldn’t respond.
Pale but determined he thought, "I’ll just stay here. I’ll act so queerly that the Shadows will become suspicious."
His legs began to move, easily, naturally, without any sense of strain. He tried to stop them but it was as if he had forgotten how. Involuntarily, but without any of the appearance or feeling of being an automaton, he walked across the lawn toward the terminal building.
He was able to pause at the door, but only long enough to peer briefly through the thick glass into a marble alcove. A young woman inside smiled at him and pressed a button. The door opened.
A moment later Cargill was inside.

CHAPTER XV - Unexpected Welcome

CARGILL paused again just inside the door. In spite of his tenseness, he was curious. He stared with interest and some excitement at the young woman behind the alcove desk. A Shadow? he wondered.
She had something of the intellectual look that he’d half expected. But there was an intensity about her also — it was hard to define.
The young receptionist smiled and said in a rich, emotional voice, "We’re so very glad to see you here of your own free will. We welcome you with all our hearts. We wish you luck. We want you to be one of us."
Cargill studied her warily. He recognized an emotional appeal when he heard one and he was impressed by the psychology of it. He was not so prepared to accept it for himself. He had too many walls erected against chance breakthroughs of an emotional nature.
The young woman was speaking again. "You go through this door," she said. She pressed a button.
Cargill had already glanced through the door. It was wonderfully transparent and led into a corridor that slanted off to the right. He could only see a portion of it and that was a marble wall.
He smiled at the receptionist, said, "Thank you!" and walked through the door she had opened for him. Two nice-looking older women — Cargill guessed about forty years each — sat at a records section to the right.
One of them said, "You’re a fine-looking young man. We wish you luck."
The other came out from behind the counter. "Come with me."
She led the way along a corridor that was lined with glass-fronted cubbyholes. They reminded Cargill of the way some department stores arranged their credit sections. In each office were a desk and two chairs. Cargill’s guide paused at one of the entrances.
"Here’s your prize of the day, Moira." She touched Cargill’s arm lightly. "Good luck, young man."
"Thank you."
He spoke automatically, then walked into the office. The young woman looked up and surveyed him thoughtfully for a moment.
Then she said, "I like you."
"Thanks," said Cargill somewhat dryly. It seemed to him he was beginning to get the idea. And it was pretty terrific. In little more than a minute they had tried to make him welcome. He saw that Moira was studying him understandingly.
"You’re a cynic?" she said.
That was unexpected. Cargill protested, "I think you’ve got an excellent system."
"It didn’t hurt me to say I liked you," said the girl, "so I said it. Do you mind closing the door?"
Cargill closed it and said, "It’s a very good technique for making new arrivals feel at home."
She shook her head. "I’m very happy to disillusion you. That’s the way we live. Part of our life is so tremendously intellectual, so precise and scientific, that we long ago adopted a warmly emotional personal approach on every level of our community life. You’ll see when you get into the city. But now, please sit down."
As Cargill complied, she took out a card and picked up a pen. "You’re Morton Cargill, aren’t you?"
Cargill stiffened. He had had a false name quivering on the tip of his tongue. Now he sank a little lower in his chair, silent and alarmed. It seemed to him that he had no recourse but to admit the truth.
The chilling effect of the identification grew. He had a sense of being finally committed. Everything he had done since coming to the twenty-fourth century had been done under pressure. And yet, throughout, he’d had the feeling that he would he able to control his destiny. That feeling was gone. In spite of all his actions and counteractions here he was just where the plotters wanted him to be.

HE braced himself to the reality. His opposition, it seemed to him, must now be narrowed down to one individual. If he could somehow kill Grannis that, and that alone, might still sway the balance.
Aloud he said, "Am I expected?"
She nodded but said nothing. He watched as she wrote down his name, his nervousness growing. He thought of more implications of the recognition.
Mentally he pictured himself back in the original therapy room, being killed while Betty Lane — who had made the original complaint against him — looked on. It put a pressure on him. He had to have more information.
"I don’t understand how you could possibly know my name. Do you know in advance the name of everyone who comes here?"
"Oh, no. You’re special." She looked up. "You’ve come for the training, of course?"
It was only partly a question. The point was one that she evidently wanted to be taken for granted. Cargill decided temporarily to abandon his effort to find out how these people had learned his name. The young woman smiled at him again. She looked so young suddenly that he said with impulsive curiosity:
"Are you a Shadow?"
The girl nodded. "Yes, I am." "You don’t always maintain the Shadow shape then?"
"Whatever for?" She seemed genuinely astonished. "That’s a highly specialized state of being." As if she suspected his instant fascination with the subject matter she said hurriedly, "Have you any idea what your responsibilities will be when you become a Shadow?"
Cargill noted that she said "when" and not "if." It gave him a heady sensation and emboldened him to ask directly, "How did you know my name?"
"Time paradox."
"You mean something has — already — happened that you know about but I don’t?"
She nodded.
"What?" asked Cargill with automatic absorption.
She shrugged. "It’s really very simple. For your own private reasons you’ve been doing things for months. We don’t know why but it brought you to our attention."
Cargill was cautious. "No one has investigated my reasons?"
The woman smiled. "Naturally not. But now — it’s customary for me to explain what our work is."
Cargill restrained the questions that quivered on his lips. He forced himself to sit back. He watched the woman intently as she spoke.
"We Shadows," she began, "are trying to undo the effects of the psychological disaster that demoralized the human race, beginning in the Twentieth century. The pressure of civilization was apparently too much for millions of people.
"Everywhere men sought escape and they found the means late in Nineteen Eighty in the newly invented floaters. When it became apparent that a mass flight from responsibility was under way psychologists searched frantically for the causes.
"Naturally, in accordance with their training, they looked into the immediate past of each individual and so it was only gradually that they learned the truth.
"It was an inherited weakness, the result of experiences and disasters that had befallen the affected bloodline, sometimes one, sometimes many generations earlier. Jung, one of the pioneer analysts, suspected its existence very early. He called it the ancestral shadow.
"After many years of experiment, a technique was developed for reaching into the past and rectifying to some extent the effects of the original disaster. The results are becoming more apparent to us every year. Planiacs are accepting our training in ever-increasing numbers.
"Unfortunately, since they start from such a low level of culture, most of them fail in their purpose. The result of the test, I must explain, is something we cannot control. It is purely mechanical.
"The individual either responds to the training and becomes a Shadow or does not respond and so gains only the educational benefits that enable him to become a Tweener. But the Shadow shape depends on a balance within the individual. We know how that balance functions but we have no artificial method for producing it. Do you understand that?"
Cargill said, genuinely interested,
"What types of people generally succeed?"
"Your type." said Moira. She stood up. She pointed at a closed door to his right — which he hadn’t noticed till that instant. "You go through there. Good luck."
Cargill stood up uncertainly but he opened the door. There were a grassy lawn outside and a spread of flowering shrubs that hid his view. He stepped across the threshold, walked around the shrubbery end saw with a start that he was inside Shadow City.

WITH a hissing intake of his breath Cargill stopped. He was on a plateau, looking down at the city proper. But how had he come here so quickly? It was a mile at least to the terminal center where he had reported.
In spite of his previous knowledge of their method of transportation he felt compelled to turn around and investigate. When he looked he saw that there was a shallow cliff behind him. It was about fifty feet high and it was covered with growth. Flowers of every hue peered from among shining green leaves and the dry cool air was heavy with the blended perfume.
For a moment, Cargill stood there, breathing deeply in relaxed enjoyment, and then he saw the door. It was in the side of the cliff. He went to it and it seemed ordinary enough. On impulse he turned the knob, pushed and stepped through. He was back in terminal center.
The woman was still at her desk. "Curious?" she asked.
Cargill said intently, "How does it work?"
She pointed up at the top of the door frame. "There’s a tube up there. It focuses on you as you step over the threshold."
"Is it instantaneous?"
She shook her head. "Not exactly."
Cargill hesitated. Another thought had struck him. There had been no resistance to his returning here. The "training" Ann Reece had given him had earlier, prevented him from so much as turning around but now he had come back a mile and a half.
"If I could tell this woman about Grannis," he thought tensely.
He parted his lips, swallowed, tried again but no words came. He guessed the explanation. His return this time had been natural, had had nothing to do with opposition to the "training." The moment, however, that he had consciously tried to take advantage of the situation the pressure resumed.
He found himself struggling against the inhibition as he stood there. It was a silent fight but desperate for all that. He could think the words. He could even imagine the exact shape his mouth should take to utter them. But they didn’t come.
He swallowed again, and gave it up. He said quietly, "I guess I’d better be going."
He stepped through the door and found himself once more in the park. A minute later he was walking along a pathway when he heard the sweet sound of a child’s laughter. A woman said something in a pleasant voice. Presently mother and daughter — Cargill assumed the relationship — emerged from behind a large path.
Cargill watched them out of sight behind a line of brush. He was trying to picture this city, its protective screen zone, attacked by swarms of volors. It was a deadly scene he visualized and it stiffened him. Because he had to stop it — had to.
He turned down the hill, and came after a little to a street. A line of floaters, drawn in to the curb, stretched out of sight behind a bend. A signboard read:

Use These Floaters

Square Building

Cargill climbed into one of the machines, guided it up and in the indicated direction. He had no difficulty finding the square building. It was surrounded by a series of round structures, and on its roof was a huge sign that spelled out:


Another smaller sign said:


Once out of the floater Cargill followed a line of arrows to a doorway, down a flight of marble stairs and into a marble corridor. Both sides of the hall were lined with transparent plexiglass doors and there was a woman at a great desk behind a counter to his left. Cargill walked over to her. He identified himself a little nervously and she consulted a folder.
"You will receive your first training," she said pleasantly, "in cubicle eleven. It’s down the corridor to your right." She smiled at him. "Good luck."
His heels clacked on the marble floor as he walked and that gave him a cozy feeling of being in friendly surroundings. This coming to Shadow City had burdened his mind with the fear that he would find only the alien and the unknown.
But the human beings he had met so far were the friendliest and most relaxed he had ever seen. That made him uneasy for it didn’t fit at all with the ruthless — therapy — they had planned for him. And yet there was the little girl he had seen in the park — so childlike, so normal.
He could feel the pressure of this gathering crisis closing in upon him. What to do?
The thought ended as he came to cubicle eleven, hesitated, opened the door and stepped inside.


THE cubicle was larger than the one in which he had been interviewed at terminal center. Except for that it looked very similar at first sight. A desk, one chair (not two) and another door — he wondered if it led to some remote point. There was also a mirror on the wall to his left.
He had a strong will to know his surroundings, so he tried the door. It was locked. As he turned back a voice spoke out of the air in front of him.
"Sit down, please."
The tone was friendly. Tense in spite of that, not knowing what to expect, Cargill seated himself. The voice spoke again.
"See this!"
The room flashed into pitch darkness and in the air only about two feet in front of Cargill’s eyes appeared a stream of radiant energy. It was a delicate lacework of brightness, as if he were looking at a filament out of its vacuum environment.
The voice said, "You are witnessing electron flow in a vacuum tube. Now watch."
The direction of the flow began to change. It followed a more winding path, and it seemed to be turning on some kind of an axis. Several moments passed before he saw that the flow direction was a distinct spiral.
The voice said, "Old in mathematics is the idea that two forces exerted at right angles to each other produce a diagonal curve of motion. And so one times one may equal one and one-half or some fraction thereof, something other than it might equal in the old classical mathematics. Watch as we bring the spirals closer together."
To Cargill they had seemed close as they were. But now as he stared at the filament the spiraling line of light seemed to draw together, a tiny bit only. "One times one times one times one times zero," said the voice, "equals a million."
Again there was a change in the flow. The filaments were closer together.
". . . equal a billion," said the voice.
There was a pause. The filament glowed on. Then the voice said, "Now, we superimpose ordinary infra-red light powered by a tiny battery. And we have — a spitgun."
The outline of a spitgun appeared in the air and Cargill saw how the tube was fastened into it, how the battery powered it.
"We superimpose," said the voice, "a magnetic field. Now we can bend steel."
Cargill saw how that was done.
The voice went on, "We superimpose ordinary sunlight — and we have a sun motor, power source of the floater. A score of energy possibilities suggest themselves."
In quick succession, three were shown, how the volor worked, a method of turning a wheel and the way thoughts were imposed on a brain.
"Now," said the voice, "would you like to do these various things with your own mind? We focus a million-power brain-pattern tube on the somaesthenic centers of the parietal lobe of the left hemisphere of the brain — since you are right handed — and establish a high conditionality of flow patterned exactly after that of the steptube itself. We thus create a nerve tube in the brain.
"Since it is not possible for you in your normal body to superimpose other rhythms on the flow of this organic tube we use the new control to alter slightly the atomic pattern of the body. And so, by drawing on the broadcast power of the pyramid screen, we create the Shadow shape. Young man, look at yourself in the mirror."
The light came on. Cargill, in spite of the words not knowing what to expect, stepped over to the mirror.
A Shadow image was reflected back at him.
"Oh, my lord!" he thought. He looked down at himself. He was a Shadow, too.
He began to feel the difference. His vision sharpened. He turned toward the mirror. It seemed now to be less substantial, as if most of the light were coming through it. Through it, beyond it, he looked.
He stood on a height and his vision was Olympian. A speck in the distant sky beyond the now completely invisible pyramid touched his tension. His vision leaped to it. It was a bird, a hawk, wheeling in flight.

ASTOUNDED at the remarkable telescopic effect he drew back into the room and looked at the floor. It half-dissolved before his eyes and then became as transparent as glass. He looked down at the floor below, down into the soil beneath.
It was bright and dark brown, then gray stone, then brown-red soil, then a dark shale, then — it was harder to see. Some kind of clay, he decided finally. Below that he couldn’t make it out at all. He drew his gaze back, conscious that there were depths he could not penetrate.
The voice said, "Now, we bring you back to normal. Please notice though that what counted was the direction of your attention. The general secret is vibration and visualization."
The mirror was visible again. The image of Morton Cargill was reflected back at him.
The voice said, "That is all for today. Congratulations, Morton Cargill. Your body responded easily to all the mechanical manipulation, which is unusual even for a Tweener and almost impossible to a Planiac.
"Except for some minor conditioning you can now make yourself a Shadow at will, merely by thinking it so. The second door is now unlocked. It leads to a series of apartments. The ones that show a green light are unoccupied and you may select one of them as your own for the time being. Good luck."
The apartment he entered was surprisingly large, five rooms and two baths. Cargill explored it hurriedly, stopped only when he saw the phone. It was in a little alcove and it included a TV scanner and a viewing plate against the wall.
On the lower right corner of the viewer — and it was that that interested him — was a series of small knobs. Above them was the word:


With fingers that trembled he first explored the mechanical process, then manipulated the three knobs that had the letters of the alphabet arranged on them. He set the first one for G, the next for R, the third and last for A. Then he pressed the switch.
A long list of names flashed on to the viewer — Granger, Granholm, Grannell, Grant
There was no Grannis listed.
"But that’s ridiculous," Cargill thought. "Now is the time for me to get hold of him before he can transmit the cue word to me."
At the moment he could turn the equivalent of a mobile spitgun on Grannis before the man could suspect his intention or change into the protective Shadow shape. Surely he would be vulnerable in his human form.
"I’ve got to find him," he told himself, "there must be some reason why he isn’t listed. If I could only ask questions about that!"
There was a clock in the living room and it showed ten minutes after ten. That galvanized him. Suppose they had selected today for him to disconnect the pyramid switch.
He left the apartment hurriedly by an entrance that opened onto a winding street, a shopping center. The stores were crowded with shoppers and he had to stifle an impulse to go into on of the spacious buildings. He did pause to peer in at a window but that merely emphasized the normalcy of the whole situation.
He pressed on. He was a man with a deadly mission who had no idea where he ought to go to carry it out. He only knew that it must be done quickly.
For a while he walked feverishly along quiet shady streets. Here in the residential area quiet cozy houses were set well back in their flower and shrub gardens. Children played in most of the yards. At different times he saw both men and women working among the shrubs. Not once did he see a Shadow.
It was a role and a state they must assume for time travel and when danger threatened. Tensely Cargill wondered how quickly they could put on their protective cloaks of darkness.
And minute after minute he looked on the name plates for the name Grannis. As the morning lengthened towards midday the virtual impossibility of his search being successful penetrated deeper. A man who was not even listed in the directory would not be locatable by a hasty street-to-street search in a city of more than a hundred thousand people.

HE admitted defeat abruptly and hurried back toward his apartment. "I’ll stay inside," he thought. "I won’t answer the door. I won’t answer the phone. That way no one can give me the cue."
He had the empty feeling that he had made a mistake leaving the place at all. As he approached the square building his watch — which he had set by the clock in the apartment — pointed at twenty minutes to twelve. Cargill began to perspire.
He was surprised to notice that several hundred people were gathered in front of an entrance to one of the great round buildings. Cargill asked one of them, "What’s going on?"
The stranger glanced at him with a good-nature d smile. "We’re waiting for the announcement," he said. "We received notice from the future that the results of an election held several years from now would be announced today and go into effect immediately. It —"
Cargill hurried on. So they had elections, did they? He felt immensely cynical and critical until he thought, "From the future — but that’s ridiculous! And — why, that would mean this danger was overcome." He recalled that he had been told it was impossible for a person to go into his own future without assistance. He’d have to ask questions about that.
He reached his apartment at last. As he entered the door a voice from the phone alcove said to him mechanically, "You are to report at once to Office One, Building C. Grannis requests that you report to Office One, Building C. You are to report to Office —"
"Oh, my word!" thought Cargill. Grannis had located himself.
Swiftly after his first shock Cargill emerged from his daze. This was it.
"I’ll practice being a Shadow," he thought grimly. "I’ll superimpose the spitgun tube and then—"
It seemed to him that he couldn’t escape the necessity, in spite of somebody coming from the future to hold an election. Everything that had happened so far he had forced by his own actions. Even knowing of the paradox did not relieve him of responsibility until he personally had done what was required.
As of now only he knew of the imminent catastrophe, personal as well as national. Across the land Tweeners and Planiacs must be tensing for their desperate roles.
Cargill walked forward, shut off the automatic repeating device on the phone and left his apartment. Outside he asked a passerby which was Building C. A few minutes later he was at his destination.
The man in Office One of Building C was a large pleasant looking individual with a touch of gray in his hair. He seemed about sixty years of age. He did not ask Cargill to sit down. He stood up.
"I’m getting old," he said to Cargill. "In spite of all my shuttling around, in spite of having lived altogether about a thousand years, old age has finally caught up with me. I used to think that would never happen."
He chuckled. "I’ve been Grannis now for eighty-seven years, so I’m rather glad that someone has been selected to replace me. It’s unusual for a newcomer to be chosen but the choice was made by the people of the future and they will have good and sufficient reasons for it. And so " — he waved at the large room — "here it is."
He became businesslike. "It won’t take you long to learn your duties. Protector of the State — that’s easy. To do that properly you’ve got to live periodically among the Tweeners. They’re the ones that have to be watched.
"What I did was to marry a Tweener girl — that’s in addition to my Shadow wife — but she died four years ago for the last time." He didn’t explain that but went on, "I haven’t been near the Tweeners since then, so I suggest you take a look at what they’re up to sometime soon."
He finished, "Then of course you sign documents authorizing therapies. You have no veto power on that but " — he smiled —"you’ll get onto it."
He held out his hand, "And now, before I go, any questions?"

CHAPTER XVII - The Therapy

GRANNIS!" said Cargill at that point. His mind had been a receptive blank. Now there was thunder.
The old man was amused. "As a newcomer," he said, "you won’t know about our history. We started as a legal secret society with all the ritual, including resounding titles. Our leader was called The Grandest Guy. For short we addressed him satirically as Grandest, which, since it meant nothing to us, we eventually slurred down to Grannis."
"Grannis!" Cargill repeated. He had a blinding vision of the truth, a mental picture of one man using the time energy, first to save his own life, then to prevent an unnecessary war, finally to establish himself in the twenty-fourth century as the Grannis of the Shadows.
He said tautly, "Will you tell me a little bit more about my duties?"
As he listened his mind soared so swiftly that only a part of the meaning came through. His body was warm with excitement. His thoughts were vague and roseate and at first he had no desire to establish any logical connection with reality.
He was Grannis, who would now plan the Planiac attack on the Tweeners and the Tweener attack on the Shadows. He would do that not because of any traitorous scheme but because it was the way things had already happened.
Unsteadily, he halted the wilder gyrations of his thoughts. Tensely he recalled the way he had been taken back to the therapy room here in Shadow City and so on to the Tweener capital. Why had that been necessary? How did that fit?
Why live over again a period of this age — when all he had to do was come to the terminal center, enter Shadow City and be on hand for the only kind of election where the electorate could decide on an officeholder’s capacity after his term?
There was, of course, the fact that Grannis had merely tried to control, under great difficulties, plots that were already in the making. As Grannis he would be forced to act according to Morton Cargill’s knowledge of what had happened. As Cargill he had acted according to Grannis’s interference.
He paused, astounded. "Just a moment," he thought. "That doesn’t make sense. We can’t both act according to what the other did. That would make it a closed circle —"
The older man interrupted him as he reached that point in his logical progression. "Well, I see it’s half-past twelve. I leave you to familiarize yourself with the office. You’ve got assistants in the outer office. Don’t hesitate to use them."
Once more he held out his hand. This time Cargill shook it. After the man had gone he stood for a while stolidly and then he thought, "Did he say half- past twelve?"
A clock on the wall indicated that it was now thirty-seven and a half minutes after high noon. Cargill stared at it shakily. He should have known that they wouldn’t give him the cue so quickly after his arrival.
He remembered what the voice had told him when he first found himself in the therapy room after being transported from the cocktail bar in Los Angeles, 1946 — that the body reacted with final positivity only to the impact of real events. Here was a real event. The cue to disconnect the pyramid switch had not been given him. He had approximately twenty-four hours to prevent it from ever being given.
Confidence surged through him. In his mind’s eye he could see exactly what he must do. But first there was one little item — how had the Shadow therapists reacted to the disappearance of Morton Cargill from their therapy room two months ago now? There must be a record of the incident. It would be here in one of the files of the Grannis.
He found the record almost at once. With a pale face Cargill read the notation under his name.

Morton Cargill, 1946. Recommended therapy: "To he killed in the presence of Betty Lane." Disposition: "Therapy executed at 9:40 A.M. Comments: "Subject seemed unusually calm at time of death."

That was all there was. Apparently, the process was so automatic that the everyday details were left out. Only the bare facts were permanently recorded. And they were simple.
Morton Cargill, despite all his frantic maneuverings, had somehow landed back in the therapy room — and, without the Shadows even being aware of his wanderings, had at his proper time been given the prescribed treatment.
There was no mention of what had been done with the body.
Cargill emerged slowly from his profound depression. "I don’t believe it," he told himself. "Surely, as Grannis, I could have faked that report."
He read it again and saw that it was signed by two names in addition to his own and stamped with an official seal. That shook him a little but stubbornly he held to his conviction.
Besides, for all he knew, the death scene might be a thousand years in his future. These Shadows, with their tremendous understanding of life processes, had created the environment for just such a paradox.
The possibility definitely cheered him. He looked around the spacious office. He walked over and glanced out of a window that overlooked the lovely mountain city. For a moment then he was dazzled. He was the Grannis of the Shadow people. He could move through all the past ages of man at will.
"And all I’ve got to do," he thought, "is make sure that everything happens as I know it happened."
Hastily he prepared for the paradox. First he changed himself into a Shadow and back again several times. He stood finally as a Shadow, thinking, "I want to go back to —" He named the destination mentally. He waited but nothing happened. That was startling but he refused to accept the defeat.
"I must be using the wrong technique," he told himself. The trouble was — what could be the right one? He remembered what the Shadow instructor had said about vibration and visualization.
He changed from the Shadow shape and thought, "What basic vibration can I use as a measure?" The only one he could remember was middle C on the musical scale. He hummed the C softly as he figured out on paper how many middle C vibrations there were in a day.
He changed back to the Shadow shape, visualized his destination again. Then he hummed middle C — and thought the number of vibrations.
He felt a tingle — indescribable.

SO, two hours before the volor-powered floater with Morton Cargill aboard left the Tweener capital for Shadow City, another Morton Cargill contacted Withrow. As a result, half an hour after the first Cargill was on his way and before any real counter-action could take effect, the Tweener revolution was launched.
The complete surprise achieved a virtually bloodless victory nearly ten hours ahead of schedule. The cue words, which were to have been sent to him to disconnect the pyramid switch, would never be uttered.
The Shadow Grannis-Cargill headed back to the floater on which Lela Bouvy and another Morton Cargill were trapped. The moment he was inside the floater he transferred the "earlier" Cargill to the glass-walled therapy room in Shadow City, where — presently — Ann Reece would rescue him for the second time.
As Grannis he returned immediately to the floater. Ignoring the cringing Lela he walked through to the engine room. After the training he had received he needed only one glance at the drive tube to notice that the light-focusing lens had been jarred out of position. He reached in with Shadow fingers and adjusted it. The floater started to rise immediately as normal energy-flow was resumed.
Lela safe, he visited Carmean on the night that Lela and Morton Cargill escaped in Carmean’s floater. By making casual references to previous meetings he found out from Carmean when and where they had taken place.
He began to keep a diary of his movements, then thought in an anguish of self-annoyance, "Why, of course, this very diary will be up there in the future. I’d have put it where it would be easy to find."
He located it in the top drawer of Grannis’s desk. The list was there, complete with names, places and actions taken.
It seemed to him, gloomily, there was only one item missing from that com-prehensive record of a man’s determination to do everything he had to do. The list contained no hint of any method to keep Morton Cargill from being given the therapy of death.
All through the weeks — in actual time lived — that followed he had the memory of that therapy nagging at the back of his mind. He rejoined Lela and pushed the Planiac rebellion. There was no doubt of its success after Carmean and the other bosses were captured. To the sullen prisoners he offered a choice. They must either take the Shadow training or be taken to Tweener land.
They chose the training, failed without exception and became Tweeners.
Cargill performed every action listed in his diary, right down to meeting the obscure Lauer and receiving from him the transport instrument entrusted to that rebellious individual by Ann Reece.
The job done, he returned to Office One, Building C, Shadow City, one minute after his previous departure. The time was 1:01 P.M. Only a few hours had gone by in Shadow City since he had first arrived at terminal center.
At five minutes after one the phone rang. It was the instructor who had given him Shadow training.
"If you will come to cubicle eleven," he instructed Cargill, "we will complete your training. There isn’t much but still it is a part of our pattern."
Cargill walked over to the cubicle, thinking, "If only I could ask a question in such a way that I wouldn’t give myself away — about that death scene."
He had tried to imagine just how he might be present when the therapy was executed but he rejected the idea. There was such a thing as straining a paradox to the point where it wouldn’t work.

AS soon as he had entered cubicle eleven the light went out and the disembodied voice spoke out of the air in front of him.
"Long ago, when we first discovered the processes involved, we decided that every Shadow must go through the experiences of death and of course revival. The reason for this is the universal fear of death. When a person actually goes through death and is brought back to life the associative terror is gone forever except in rare cases.
"The process of dying also has other effects on the system. Particularly it breaks forever certain types of tensions. For this latter reason we do not hesitate to recommend it as a therapy for people we bring out of the past in our inter-time psychological work —"
"What’s that?" Cargill said at that point. "What did you say?" But he did not utter the startled questions out loud.
The instructor continued, "We always revive the therapy patient after he and the complaining party are convinced on the action level that death has indeed taken place, though the complainant is never aware of the resurrection.
"Many of these latter are morally shocked by what has happened but we use the million tube to persuade them that justice has been done. And with that combination and that only the effect we want is achieved."
Cargill said slowly, "This death experience — can the same person undergo it several times without being harmed?"
"Very few Shadows," was the reply, "would live to be a thousand years old if that were not true. You cannot imagine the number of accidents that take place despite all precautions."
He finished with a hint of irony in his tone, "We do not, however, recommend the death experience more than a dozen times. The cells begin to remember the process."
Cargill hesitated. "There’s another thing that’s been bothering me. Can I go into my own future?"
"No. Only a pattern that has already occurred can be repeated by the body. For you to go into the future from here would require that somebody from the future pull you ’up’. The pattern would then be established, and you could operate from that particular future into the past."
"I see," nodded Cargill. He paused again, then, "Are you going to give me the death experience here?"
"Like this."
Something bright flashed in his eyes.
He died instantly.

CHAPTER XVIII - The Ultimate Reality

HE awakened from that first death, feeling calm and rested. Certain tensions in his mind must have been relaxed for he remembered that he still had several things to do before he could be certain he was in this age to stay.
There was, for instance, that very first time when Ann Reece had brought Captain Morton Cargill, newly arrived from the twentieth century, to a marble room where he had had an opportunity to see and be seen by the Shadow Grannis. The reason for that had been obscure. Now, it was suddenly clear.
"Of course," he thought, "it was important that Cargill see a Shadow. Besides that was the simplest way to get back the transport instrument that had to be loaned to Ann so that she could make the rescue."
And there was the matter of the false notions the Tweeners and Planiacs had had about what the Shadows could and could not do. Some of that was due to their own ignorance of course, but Grannis must have confirmed their ideas with deliberate intent to deceive.
And finally the fact that there had been previous getaways. It seemed incredible now that they had escaped by themselves. He must have helped them. Why? In order to establish among Planiacs the reality of the existence of such people, so that when Morton Cargill came along his identity as a getaway would be taken for granted.
Cargill sighed. The task of establishing oneself in the future was an intricate one, involving many details.
But he carried these out, one by one — and afterwards headed for the therapy room in Shadow City for his second death experience.

* * * * *

The blackness ended. When he opened his eyes Shadows were bending over him. The two technicians straightened and he saw that he was in a large laboratory. A machine floated in the air above him.
It was alive with lights, thousands of tiny lights that waxed and waned as if reacting to infinitesimal pressures from some invisible source. One of the Shadows walked away. The other gazed down at Cargill for a moment with inscrutable glittering eyes and then made an unmistakable gesture.
Sit up!
He realized the difference within himself, as he obeyed. He felt refreshed and energized, wonderfully alert and alive. And they must have used the million-tube on him also to educate hint as to the why of what had happened. For he knew with a sharper understanding that he had been relaxed and that Betty Lane had had the equivalent of a cathartic experience.
Old, old was that pattern. Punishment is known among animals and when there is none neurosis strikes as deeply into the mind of the beast as any comparable situation in man. A bull elephant, nursing along his females, is attacked by a larger bull and is driven into the jungle. The injustice of it tears him to pieces, and after a time a dangerous rogue elephant roams the forests.
There was a hell before heaven was thought of. Once people were hanged for stealing a shilling — until twenty-five cents ceased to be an important sum. Morality changes, of course. The crime of one generation is common practice in the next and so a thousand easements come automatically to the tensed descendants of people who did not have the satisfaction of catharsis.
But there are eternal verities. Murder will be paid for by someone. Gross obscenities leave their impress on the blood stream. Revolutions and wars conducted without regard for the humanities — ah, but how they will be paid for. Disaster shocks the universe and the impulse goes on and on.
The shock waves of the collapse of vanished empires go on for ages.
The victim gains catharsis when the thief is captured and imprisoned. The prisoner, his guilt expiated by his imprisonment, also gains easement. There was only one thing wrong with that. As Cargill sat up, relaxed and free, he realized for the first time that there was still another thing he must do.
This "prisoner" had not yet committed the crime that would make it possible for Morton Cargill to come to the twenty-fourth century.

IT WAS 1943. A Shadow moved along a war-darkened street of Los Angeles. It took a little while to locate the exact cocktail bar. He couldn’t remember clearly where he had been that night at the beginning of things.
Suddenly, however, he saw the unlighted sign that jarred his memory — ELBOW ROOM. A glance through the wall showed Morton Cargill inside.
There was no sign of Marie Chanette.
That puzzled Cargill. He stepped back into the darkness of a doorway across the street from the bar and for the first time seriously considered what he was about to do. He realized it had been in the back of his mind all these weeks and that he had deliberately forgotten it
Somehow he had known that sooner or later he would have to come to the twentieth century and make sure that everything happened — as it had happened. He had to be certain that Marie Chanette did indeed die.
Cargill thought shakily, "Am I really going to let her be killed, knowing that I can stop it at any time up to the actual moment of the accident?"
Having put the question so sharply he had a sense of a desperate crisis.
It had to be done, he argued with himself. If he faltered now everything might be disarranged. He had been warned about trying to alter events. Only experts could do that and they only under special conditions.
He was still undecided when the drunken Lieutenant Cargill in the bar staggered to his feet and came out into the darkness.
But where was the girl?
The Shadow Grannis-Cargill had a sudden flash of insight. In abrupt excitement he projected himself over to the scene of the accident. He saw the wrecked car against a tree almost immediately. Inside was Marie Chanette. He examined her. She had been dead nearly an hour, judging by her condition.
Relieved, the Shadow hastened back to where Lieutenant Cargill was standing, swaying. The blur-minded Cargill was unaware of the being who hovered behind him, directing the power of a million-tube on him. Without his being aware of it, the belief was impressed on his mind that at this moment he was meeting Marie Chanette.
The hallucination firmly established, the Shadow was about to transport Cargill to the wreck when he thought, "All I’ve got to do is go back about an hour in time and I can save Marie Chanette’s life."
Cargill said aloud, "No!"
It was not really a rejection, he realized wretchedly. He tried to argue with himself. "If I once get started on a thing like this, I could spend the rest of my life just preventing accidents."
Even the Shadows didn’t consider that a solution to the psychological problems with which they dealt.
"Besides," he told himself, "she did it herself. I’m not responsible in any way." Abruptly he realized he was not convincing himself. General truths simply did not apply. Marie Chanette was one woman in the vast universe; one bewildered human being on the drift of time. In the moment before her death she must have cried out in sudden agonized awareness of her fate.
Cargill made his choice — life for Marie Chanette. He stood grimly a few minutes later, watching her car come towards the scene of the accident. It would be dangerous for her if he got in beside her.
So he noted the direction from which she was coming, went back in time and space — and so by jumps traced her to the point where she came out of a night club accompanied by a soldier. The two were quarreling bitterly in drunken fashion. Cargill decided not to wait till he got disgusted. Before the girl could get into her car he transported her to her bedroom.

HE returned to what would normally have been the scene of the accident. "I’ll wait here till the time for it is past."
The moment arrived when — earlier — Marie Chanette would have died.
In space-time, an energy thread "broke". No words can describe the intricacy of that "break". But the fabric of the universe "shifted" slightly. And that "shift" too cannot be described, cannot be thought or imagined.
A combination of forces concentrated on the "break" area. Cargill was snatched and flung a billion years into the future. He stood for a moment on a desolate hill overlooking a lake that glittered at him with radioactive fluorescence. The lake was in communication with another being on a remote star and, briefly, he was in the path of that abnormal telepathy. He learned something about reality in that instant which nearly wrecked his brain.
Then he was sinking. The time impulse yielded to the pressure of his presence — a new factor for it — and another thread "broke". The sudden threat of imminent chaos alarmed a group of associated cities a quadrillion years away in space and time. The great beings of that universe went to sleep as of one accord, thinking, "We mustn’t interfere in that war."
Their thought touched Cargill, and he said aloud into fathomless night, "War? But it’s not a war. It’s a struggle between Balance and Variation, between Order and Change, between —" He could not name the final synonymic graduations. They had no name. They were process and unspeakable.
In that moment of awful revelation he knew who he was. He thought in anguish: "I’ve got to fight. I’ve got to get back."
The broken energy threads refused. Marie Chanette shook her head blurrily and climbed into her car. What puzzled her was the momentary conviction that she had been in her own bedroom. She was so intent on the thought that she forgot the soldier and drove away even as he was stumbling around to the other side to get in.
Grimly Cargill waited for the crash. When it was over he transported the earlier Cargill to the wrecked car and put him into it beside Marie Chanette. He took the pictures that would "later" — in 1946 — shock Captain Cargill.
He waited there, then, until the terrible tensions in him let up, waited till he could think, "I’ve broken through the barriers of life and death. The whole sidereal universe is open to me now that I know the truth."

Satisfied, he returned to Shadow City. The cycle was complete.

The Shadow Men

[1the iconic pulp-fiction graphic on the cover of the January 1950 issue of Startling Stories does not however relate to The Shadow Men, but to another story, The Return of Captain Future by Edmond Hamilton.