Illustrator: Charles Berger
By IVAR JORGENSEN
You hear a lot of talk these days about secret weapons. If it's not
a new wrinkle in nuclear fission, it's a gun to shoot around corners
and down winding staircases. Or maybe a nice new strain of bacteria
guaranteed to give you radio-active dandruff. Our own suggestion is
to pipe a few of our television commercials into Russia and bore the
enemy to death.
Well, it seems that Ivar Jorgensen has hit on the ultimate engine
of destruction: a weapon designed to exploit man's greatest weakness.
The blueprint can be found in the next few pages; and as the soldier
in the story says, our only hope is to keep a sense of humor!
Me? I'm looking for my outfit.
Got cut off in that Holland
Tunnel attack. Mind if I sit down
with you guys a while? Thanks.
Coffee? Damn! This is heaven.
Ain't seen a cup of coffee in a year.
What? You said it! This sure is
a hell of a war. Tough on a guy's
feet. Yeah, that's right. Holland
Tunnel skirmish. Where the Ruskies
used that new gun. Uhuh. God!
It was awful. Guys popping off all
around a guy and him not knowing
why. No sense to it. No noise.
No wound. Just popping off.
That's the trouble with this
war. It won't settle down to a routine.
Always something new. What
the hell chance has a guy got to
figure things out? And I tell you
them Ruskies are coming up with
new weapons just as fast as we are.
Enough to make your hair stand
Sugar? Christ, yes! Ain't seen
sugar for a year. You see, it's like
this: we were bottled up in the pits
around the Tunnel for seven damn
days. It was like nothing you ever
saw before. Oops—sorry. Didn't
mean to splash you. I was laughing
about something that happened
there—to a guy. Maybe
you guys would get a kick out of
it. After all, we got to keep our
sense of humor.
You see, there was me and a
Kentucky kid named Stillwell in
this pit—a pretty big pit with
lots of room—and we were all
alone. This Stillwell was a nice kid—green
and lonesome and it's
pretty sad, really, but there's a
yak in it, and—as I say—we got
to keep a sense of humor.
Well, this Stillwell—a really
green kid—is unhappy and just
plain drooling for his gal back
home. He talks about his mother,
of course, and his old man, but it's
the girl that's really on his mind as
you guys can plainly understand.
He's seeing her every place—like
spots in front of his eyes—nice
spots doing things to him,
when this Ruskie babe shows up.
My gun came up without any
orders from me just as she poked
her puss over the edge of the pit,
and—huh? Oh, thank you kindly.
It sure tastes good but I don't
want to short you guys. Thank
Well, as I was saying, this Ruskie
babe pokes her nose over the edge
of the pit and Stillwell dives and
knocks down my gun. He says,
"You son-of-a-bitch!" Just like
that. Wild and desperate, like
you'd say to a guy if the guy was
just kicking over the last jug of
water on a desert island.
It would have been long enough
for her to kill us if I hadn't had
good reflexes. Even then, all I had
time to do was knock the pistol
out of her hand and drag her into
With her play bollixed, she was
confused and bewildered. She ain't
a fighter, and she sits back against
the wall staring at us dead pan
with big expressionless eyes. She's
a plenty pretty babe and I could
see exactly what had happened as
far as Stillwell was concerned. His
spots had come to life in very adequate
form so to speak.
Stillwell goes over and sits down
beside her and I'm very much on
the alert, because I know where
his courage comes from. But I decide
it's all right, because I see the
babe is not belligerent, just confused
kind of. And friendly.
And willing. Kind of a whipped-little-dog
willing, and man oh man!
She was sure what Stillwell needed.
They kind of went together like
a hand and a glove—natural-like.
And it followed—pretty natural—that
when Stillwell got up and
led her around a wing of the pit,
out of sight, she went willing—like
that same little dog.
Uhuh. No, you guys. Two's
enough. I wouldn't rob you. Well,
okay, and thanks kindly.
Well, there I was, all alone, but
happy for Stillwell, cause I know
it's what the kid needs, and in
spots like that what difference
does it make? Yank—Ruskie—Mongolian—as
long as she's willing.
Then, you guys, Stillwell comes
back out—wall-eyed—real wall-eyed—like
being hit but not
knocked out and still walking. I
know what it is—some kind of
shock. I get up and walk over and
take a look at the babe where he'd
left her—and I bust out laughing.
I told you guys there was a
yak in this. I laughed like a fool—it
was that funny. As much as I
had time to, before Stillwell cracked.
It was enough to crack him—the
little thing that pushes a guy over
He lets out a yell and screams,
"For crisake! For crisake! Nothing
but a bucket of bolts! Nothing
but a couple of plastic lumps—"
That was when I hit him. I had
to. He was for the birds, Stillwell
was. An hour later we got relieved
and a couple of medicos carried
him away strapped to a stretcher—gone
like a kite.
They took the robot too, and its
clothes, but they forgot the brassiere,
so I took it and I been carrying
it ever since, but I'll leave it
with you guys if you want—for
the coffee. Might make you think
about home. After all, like the
man says, we got to keep our
sense of humor.
Well, so long, you guys—and
This etext was produced from Amazing Stories April-May 1953. Extensive
research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.