A SMALL ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION ? ? ? Collected by Jerry ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
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FAREWELL TO THE MASTER ALL YOU ZOMBIES ARENA THE LONG CHASE A NICE MORNING DRIVE ALL CATS ARE GRAY
MOON THE DAY THAT TIME STOPPPED …for a single yesterday. THE FOUNTAIN OF AGE HALL OF MIRRORS THE MAN WHO OWNED THE WORLD BEACHWORLD
FAREWELLTO THE MASTER
" Farewell to the Master " was originally published in the Oct. 1940 issue of Astounding , thestory did not even rate a cover blurb, being overshadowed by A.E. Van Vogt's Slan .
Eventually, the story was made into the film The Day The Earth Stood Still , but the storyonly formed the basic premise of the film and was changed in many ways.
In the original story presented here, astute readers will notice that Gort does not appear, his
name in the story is Gnut. The famous phrase, "Klaatu Barada Nikto" is also absent and there is
no love interest for Klatuu; that sub-plot was an invention for the film.
What most will find revelatory is the ending of the story which, without giving anything away,is a wonderful twist by Bates on the science fiction conventions of the time. Now, over 60years later, still reflects on the perceptions that are sometimes a shortcoming of our all toohuman condition.
Farewell to the Master
From his perch high on the ladder above the museum floor, Cliff Sutherland studied carefullyeach line and shadow of the great robot, then turned and looked thoughtfully down at the rushof visitors come from all over the Solar System to see Gnut and the traveler for themselves andto hear once again their amazing, tragic story.
He himself had come to feel an almost proprietary interest in the exhibit, and with somereason. He had been the only freelance picture reporter on the Capitol grounds when thevisitors from the Unknown had arrived, and had obtained the first professional shots of theship. He had witnessed at close hand every event of the next mad few days. He had thereafterphotographed many times the eight-foot robot, the ship, and the beautiful slain ambassador,Klaatu, and his imposing tomb out in the center of the Tidal Basin, and, such was thecontinuing news value of the event to the billions of persons throughout habitable space, hewas there now once more to get still other shots and, if possible, a new "angle."
This time he was after a picture which showed Gnut as weird and menacing. The shots he hadtaken the day before had not given quite the effect he wanted, and he hoped to get it today;but the light was not yet right and he had to wait for the afternoon to wane a little.
The last of the crowd admitted in the present group hurried in, exclaiming at the great puregreen curves of the mysterious time-space traveler, then completely forgetting the ship atsight of the awesome figure and great head of the giant Gnut. Hinged robots of crude manlikeappearance were familiar enough, but never had Earthling eyes lain on one like this. For Gnuthad almost exactly the shape of a man – a giant, but a man – with greenish metal for man'scovering flesh, and greenish metal for man's bulging muscles. Except for a loin cloth, he wasnude. He stood like the powerful god of the machine of some undreamt-of scientificcivilization, on his face a look of sullen, brooding thought. Those who looked at him did notmake jests or idle remarks, and those nearest him usually did not speak at all. His strange,internally illuminated red eyes were so set that every observer felt they were fixed on himselfalone, and he engendered a feeling that he might at any moment step forward in anger andperform unimaginable deeds.
A slight rustling sound came from speakers hidden in the ceiling above, and at once the noisesof the crowd lessened. The recorded lecture was about to be given. Cliff sighed. He knew thething by heart; had even been present when the recording was made, and met the speaker, a youngchap named Stillwell.
"Ladies and gentlemen," began a clear and well-modulated voice – but Cliff was no longerattending. The shadows in the hollows of Gnut's face and figure were deeper; it was almost timefor his shot. He picked up and examined the proofs of the pictures he had taken the day beforeand compared them critically with the subject.
As he looked a wrinkle came to his brow. He had not noticed it before, but now, suddenly, hehad the feeling that since yesterday something about Gnut was changed. The pose before him wasthe identical one in the photographs, every detail on comparison seemed the same, butnevertheless the feeling persisted. He took up his viewing glass and more carefully comparedsubject and photographs, line by line. And then he saw that there was a difference.
With sudden excitement, Cliff snapped two pictures at different exposures. He knew he shouldwait a little and take others, but he was so sure he had stumbled on an important mystery thathe had to get going, and quickly folding his accessory equipment he descended the ladder andmade his way out. Twenty minutes later, consumed with curiosity, he was developing the new
shots in his hotel bedroom.
What Cliff saw when he compared the negatives taken yesterday and today caused his scalp totingle. Here was a slant indeed! And apparently no one but he knew! Still, what he haddiscovered, though it would have made the front page of every paper in the Solar System, wasafter all only a lead. The story, what really had happened, he knew no better than anyone else.It must be his job to find out.
And that meant he would have to secrete himself in the building and stay there all night. Thatvery night; there was still time for him to get back before closing. He would take a small,very fast infrared camera that could see in the dark, and he would get the real picture and thestory.
He snatched up the little camera, grabbed an aircab and hurried back to the museum. The placewas filled with another section of the ever-present queue, and the lecture was just ending. Hethanked Heaven that his arrangement with the museum permitted him to go in and out at will.
He had already decided what to do. First he made his way to the "floating" guard and asked asingle question, and anticipation broadened on his face as he heard the expected answer. Thesecond thing was to find a spot where he would be safe from the eyes of the men who would closethe floor for the night. There was only one possible place, the laboratory set up behind theship. Boldly he showed his press credentials to the second guard, stationed at the partitionedpassageway leading to it, stating that he had come to interview the scientists; and in a momentwas at the laboratory door.
He had been there a number of times and knew the room well. It was a large area roughlypartitioned off for the work of the scientists engaged in breaking their way into the ship, andfull of a confusion of massive and heavy objects – electric and hot-air ovens, carboys ofchemicals, asbestos sheeting, compressors, basins, ladles, a microscope, and a great deal ofsmaller equipment common to a metallurgical laboratory. Three white-smocked men were deeplyengrossed in an experiment at the far end. Cliff, waiting a good moment, slipped inside and hidhimself under a table half buried with supplies. He felt reasonably safe from detection there.Very soon now the scientists would be going home for the night.
From beyond the ship he could hear another section of the waiting queue filing in – the last,he hoped, of the day. He settled himself as comfortably as he could. In a moment the lecturewould begin. He had to smile when he thought of one thing the recording would say.
Then there it was again – the clear, trained video of the chap Stillwell. The foot scrapingsand whispers of the crowd died away, and Cliff could hear every word in spite of the great bulkof the ship lying interposed.
"Ladies and gentlemen," began the familiar words, "the Smithsonian Institution welcomes you toits new Interplanetary Wing and to the marvelous exhibits at this moment before you."
A slight pause.
"All of you must know by now something of what happened here three months ago, if indeed youdid not see it for yourself in the telescreen," the voice went on. "The few facts are brieflytold. A little after 5:00 p.m. on September 16th, visitors to Washington thronged the groundsoutside this building in their usual numbers and no doubt with their usual thoughts. The daywas warm and fair. A stream of people was leaving the main entrance of the museum, just outsidein the direction you are facing. This wing, of course, was not here at that time. Everyone washomeward-bound, tired no doubt from hours on their feet, seeing the exhibits of the museum andvisiting the many buildings on the grounds nearby. And then it happened. On the area just toyour right, just as it is now, appeared the time-space traveler. It appeared in the blink of aneye. It did not come down from the sky; dozens of witnesses swear to that; it just appeared.One moment it was not here, the next it was. It appeared on the very spot it now rests on."
"The people nearest the ship were stricken with panic and ran back with cries and screams.Excitement spread out over Washington in a tidal wave. Radio, television, and newspapermenrushed here at once. Police formed a wide cordon around the ship, and army units appeared and
trained guns and ray projectors on it. The direst calamity was feared. For it was recognizedfrom the very beginning that this was no spaceship from anywhere in the Solar System. Everychild knew that only two spaceships had ever been built on Earth, and none at all on any of theother planets and satellites; and of those two, one had been destroyed when it was pulled intothe Sun, and the other had just been reported safely arrived on Mars. Then, the ones made herehad a shell of a strong aluminum alloy, while this one, as you see, is of an unknown greenishmetal."
"The ship appeared and just sat here. No one emerged, and there was no sign that it containedlife of any kind.
That, as much as any single thing, caused excitement to skyrocket. Who, or what, was inside?Were the visitors hostile or friendly? Where did the ship come from? How did it arrive sosuddenly right on this spot without dropping from the sky?"
"For two days the ship rested here, just as you now see it, without motion or sign that itcontained life. Long before the end of that time the scientists had explained that it was notso much a spaceship as a space–time traveler, because only such a ship would arrive as thisone did – materialize. They pointed out that such a traveler, while theoreticallyunderstandable to us Earthmen, was far beyond attempt at our present state of knowledge, andthat this one, activated by relativity principles, might well have come from the far corner ofthe Universe, from a distance which light itself would require millions of years to cross."
"When this opinion was disseminated, public tension grew until it was almost intolerable. Wherehad the traveler come from? Who were its occupants? Why had they come to Earth? Above all, whydid they not show themselves? Were they perhaps preparing some terrible weapon of destruction?"
"And where was the ship's entrance port? Men who dared go look reported that none could befound. No slightest break or crack marred the perfect smoothness of the ship's curving ovoidsurface. And a delegation of high-ranking officials who visited the ship could not, byknocking, elicit from its occupants any sign that they had been heard."
"At last, after exactly two days, in full view of tens of thousands of persons assembled andstanding well back, and under the muzzles of scores of the army's most powerful guns and rayprojectors, an opening appeared in the wall of the ship, and a ramp slid down, and out steppeda man, godlike in appearance and human in form, closely followed by a giant robot. And whenthey touched the ground the ramp slid back and the entrance closed as before."
"It was immediately apparent to all the assembled thousands that the stranger was friendly. Thefirst thing he did was to raise his right arm high in the universal gesture of peace; but itwas not that which impressed those nearest so much as the expression on his face, whichradiated kindness, wisdom, the purest nobility. In his delicately tinted robe he looked like abenign god."
"At once, waiting for this appearance, a large committee of high-ranking government officialsand army officers advanced to greet the visitor. With graciousness and dignity the man pointedto himself, then to his robot companion, and said in perfect English with a peculiar accent, 'Iam Klaatu,' or a name that sounded like that, 'and this is Gnut.' The names were not wellunderstood at the time, but the sight-and-sound film of the television men caught them and theybecame known to everyone subsequently."
"And then occurred the thing which shall always be to the shame of the human race. From atreetop a hundred yards away came a wink of violet light and Klaatu fell. The assembledmultitude stood for a moment stunned, not comprehending what had happened. Gnut, a littlebehind his master and to one side, slowly turned his body a little toward him, moved his headtwice, and stood still, in exactly the position you now see him."
"Then followed pandemonium. The police pulled the slayer of Klaatu out of the tree. They foundhim mentally unbalanced; he kept crying that the devil had come to kill everyone on Earth. Hewas taken away, and Klaatu, although obviously dead, was rushed to the nearest hospital to seeif anything could be done to revive him.
Confused and frightened crowds milled about the Capitol grounds the rest of the afternoon andmuch of that night. The ship remained as silent and motionless as before. And Gnut, too, nevermoved from the position he had come to rest in."
"Gnut never moved again. He remained exactly as you see him all that night and for the ensuingdays. When the mausoleum in the Tidal Basin was built, Klaatu's burial services took placewhere you are standing now, attended by the highest functionaries of all the great countries ofthe world. It was not only the most appropriate but the safest thing to do, for if there shouldbe other living creatures in the traveler, as seemed possible at that time, they had to beimpressed by the sincere sorrow of us Earthmen at what had happened. If Gnut was still alive,or perhaps I had better say functional, there was no sign. He stood as you see him during theentire ceremony. He stood so while his master was floated out to the mausoleum and given to thecenturies with the tragically short sight-and-sound record of his historic visit. And he stoodso afterward, day after day, night after night, in fair weather and in rain, never moving orshowing by any slightest sign that he was aware of what had gone on."
"After the interment, this wing was built out from the museum to cover the traveler and Gnut.Nothing else could very well have been done, it was learned, for both Gnut and the ship werefar too heavy to be moved safely by any means at hand."
"You have heard about the efforts of our metallurgists since then to break into the ship, andof their complete failure. Behind the ship now, as you can see from either end, a partitionedworkroom has been set up where the attempt still goes on. So far its wonderful greenish metalhas proved inviolable. Not only are they unable to get in, but they cannot even find the exactplace from which Klaatu and Gnut emerged. The chalk marks you see are the best approximation."
"Many people have feared that Gnut was only temporarily deranged, and that on return tofunction might be dangerous, so the scientists have completely destroyed all chance of that.The greenish metal of which he is made seemed to be the same as that of the ship and could nomore be attacked, they found, nor could they find any way to penetrate to his internals; butthey had other means. They sent electrical currents of tremendous voltages and amperagesthrough him. They applied terrific heat to all parts of his metal shell. They immersed him fordays in gases and acids and strongly corroding solutions, and they have bombarded him withevery known kind of ray. You need have no fear of him now. He cannot possibly have retained theability to function in any way."
"But – a word of caution. The officials of the government know that visitors will not show anydisrespect in this building. It may be that the unknown and unthinkably powerful civilizationfrom which Klaatu and Gnut came may send other emissaries to see what happened to them. Whetheror not they do, not one of us must be found amiss in our attitude. None of us could very wellanticipate what happened, and we all are immeasurably sorry, but we are still in a senseresponsible, and must do what we can to avoid possible retaliations."
"You will be allowed to remain five minutes longer, and then, when the gong sounds, you willplease leave promptly. The robot attendants along the wall will answer any questions you mayhave."
"Look well, for before you stand stark symbols of the achievement, mystery, and frailty of thehuman race."
The recorded voice ceased speaking. Cliff, carefully moving his cramped limbs, broke out in awide smile. If they knew what he knew!
For his photographs told a slightly different story from that of the lecturer. In yesterday's aline of the figured floor showed clearly at the outer edge of the robot's near foot; intoday's, that line was covered. Gnut had moved!
Or been moved, though this was very unlikely. Where was the derrick and other evidence of suchactivity? It could hardly have been done in one night, and all signs so quickly concealed. Andwhy should it be done at all?
Still, to make sure, he had asked the guard. He could almost remember verbatim his answer:
"No, Gnut has neither moved nor been moved since the death of his master. A special point wasmade of keeping him in the position he assumed at Klaatu's death. The floor was built in underhim, and the scientists who completed his derangement erected their apparatus around him, justas he stands. You need have no fears."
Cliff smiled again. He did not have any fears.
A moment later the big gong above the entrance doors rang the closing hour, and immediatelyfollowing it a voice from the speakers called out "Five o'clock, ladies and gentlemen. Closingtime, ladies and gentlemen."
The three scientists, as if surprised it was so late, hurriedly washed their hands, changed totheir street clothes and disappeared down the partitioned corridor, oblivious of the youngpicture man hidden under the table. The slide and scrape of the feet on the exhibition floorrapidly dwindled, until at last there were only the steps of the two guards walking from onepoint to another, making sure everything was all right for the night. For just a moment one ofthem glanced in the doorway of the laboratory, then he joined the other at the entrance. Thenthe great metal doors clanged to, and there was silence.
Cliff waited several minutes, then carefully poked his way out from under the table. As hestraightened up, a faint tinkling crash sounded at the floor by his feet. Carefully stooping,he found the shattered remains of a thin glass pipette. He had knocked it off the table. Thatcaused him to realize something he had not thought of before: A Gnut who had moved might be aGnut who could see and hear – and really be dangerous. He would have to be very careful.
He looked about him. The room was bounded at the ends by two fiber partitions which at theinner ends followed close under the curving bottom of the ship. The inner side of the room wasthe ship itself, and the outer was the southern wall of the wing. There were four large highwindows. The only entrance was by way of the passage.
Without moving, from his knowledge of the building, he made his plan. The wing was connectedwith the western end of the museum by a doorway, never used, and extended westward toward theWashington Monument. The ship lay nearest the southern wall, and Gnut stood out in front of it,not far from the northeast corner and at the opposite end of the room from the entrance of thebuilding and the passageway leading to the laboratory. By retracing his steps he would come outon the floor at the point farthest removed from the robot.
This was just what he wanted, for on the other side of the entrance, on a low platform, stood apaneled table containing the lecture apparatus, and this table was the only object in the roomwhich afforded a place for him to lie concealed while watching what might go on. The only otherobjects on the floor were the six manlike robot attendants in fixed stations along the northernwall, placed there to answer visitors' questions. He would have to gain the table.
He turned and began cautiously tiptoeing out of the laboratory and down the passageway. It wasalready dark there, for what light still entered the exhibition hall was shut off by the greatbulk of the ship. He reached the end of the room without making a sound. Very carefully heedged forward and peered around the bottom of the ship at Gnut.
He had a momentary shock. The robot's eyes were right on him! – or so it seemed. Was that onlythe effect of the set of his eyes, he wondered, or was he already discovered? The position ofGnut's head did not seem to have changed, at any rate. Probably everything was all right, buthe wished he did not have to cross that end of the room with the feeling that the robot's eyeswere following him.
He drew back and sat down and waited. It would have to be totally dark before he essayed thetrip to the table.
He waited a full hour, until the faint beams from the lamps on the grounds outside began tomake the room seem to grow lighter; then he got up and peeped around the ship once more. Therobot's eyes seemed to pierce right at him as before, only now, due no doubt to the darkness,the strange internal illumination seemed much brighter. This was a chilling thing. Did Gnut
know he was there? What were the thoughts of the robot? What could be the thoughts of a man-made machine, even so wonderful a one as Gnut?
It was time for the cross, so Cliff slung his camera around on his back, went down on his handsand knees, and carefully moved to the edge of the entrance wall. There he fitted himself asclosely as he could into the angle made by it with the floor and started inching ahead. Neverpausing, not risking a glance at Gnut's unnerving red eyes, moving an inch at a time, he snakedalong. He took ten minutes to cross the space of a hundred feet, and he was wet withperspiration when his fingers at last touched the one-foot rise of the platform on which thetable stood. Still slowly, silently as a shadow, he made his way over the edge and meltedbehind the protection of the table. At last he was there.
He relaxed for a moment, then, anxious to know whether he had been seen, carefully turned andlooked around the side of the table.
Gnut's eyes were now full on him! Or so it seemed. Against the general darkness, the robotloomed a mysterious and still darker shadow that, for all his being a hundred and fifty feetaway, seemed to dominate the room. Cliff could not tell whether the position of his body waschanged or not.
But if Gnut were looking at him, he at least did nothing else. Not by the slightest motion thatCliff could discern did he appear to move. His position was the one he had maintained theselast three months, in the darkness, in the rain, and this last week in the museum.
Cliff made up his mind not to give away to fear. He became conscious of his own body. Thecautious trip had taken something out of him -- his knees and elbows burned and his trouserswere no doubt ruined. But these were little things if what he hoped for came to pass. If Gnutso much as moved, and he could catch him with his infrared camera, he would have a story thatwould buy him fifty suits of clothes. And if on top of that he could learn the purpose ofGnut's moving – provided there was a purpose -- that would be a story that would set the worldon its ears.
He settled down to a period of waiting; there was no telling when Gnut would move, if indeed hewould move that night. Cliff's eyes had long been adjusted to the dark and he could make outthe larger objects well enough.
From time to time he peered out at the robot – peered long and hard, until his outlineswavered and he seemed to move, and he had to blink and rest his eyes to be sure it was only hisimagination.
Again the minute hand of his watch crept around the dial. The inactivity made Cliff careless,and for longer and longer periods he kept his head back out of sight behind the table. And soit was that when Gnut did move he was scared almost out of his wits. Dull and a little bored,he suddenly found the robot out on the floor, halfway in his direction.
But that was not the most frightening thing. It was that when he did see Gnut he did not catchhim moving! He was stopped as still as a cat in the middle of stalking a mouse. His eyes werenow much brighter, and there was no remaining doubt about their direction: he was looking rightat Cliff!
Scarcely breathing, half hypnotized, Cliff looked back. His thoughts tumbled. What was therobot's intention?
Why had he stopped so still? Was he being stalked? How could he move with such silence?
In the heavy darkness Gnut's eyes moved nearer. Slowly but in perfect rhythm the almostimperceptible sound of his footsteps beat on Cliff's ears. Cliff, usually resourceful enough,was this time caught flatfooted. Frozen with fear, utterly incapable of fleeing, he lay wherehe was while the metal monster with the fiery eyes came on.
For a moment Cliff all but fainted, and when he recovered, there was Gnut towering over him,legs almost within reach. He was bending slightly, burning his terrible eyes right into hisown!