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Title: Unborn Tomorrow
Author: Reynolds, Mack, 1917-1983
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Unborn Tomorrow" ***




Illustrated by Freas

 _Unfortunately, there was only
 one thing he could bring back
 from the wonderful future ...
 and though he didn't want to
 ... nevertheless he did...._

Betty looked up from her magazine. She said mildly, "You're late."

"Don't yell at me, I feel awful," Simon told her. He sat down at his
desk, passed his tongue over his teeth in distaste, groaned, fumbled in
a drawer for the aspirin bottle.

He looked over at Betty and said, almost as though reciting, "What I
need is a vacation."

"What," Betty said, "are you going to use for money?"

"Providence," Simon told her whilst fiddling with the aspirin bottle,
"will provide."

"Hm-m-m. But before providing vacations it'd be nice if Providence
turned up a missing jewel deal, say. Something where you could deduce
that actually the ruby ring had gone down the drain and was caught in
the elbow. Something that would net about fifty dollars."

Simon said, mournful of tone, "Fifty dollars? Why not make it five

"I'm not selfish," Betty said. "All I want is enough to pay me this
week's salary."

"Money," Simon said. "When you took this job you said it was the romance
that appealed to you."

"Hm-m-m. I didn't know most sleuthing amounted to snooping around
department stores to check on the clerks knocking down."

Simon said, enigmatically, "Now it comes."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a knock.

Betty bounced up with Olympic agility and had the door swinging wide
before the knocking was quite completed.

He was old, little and had bug eyes behind pince-nez glasses. His suit
was cut in the style of yesteryear but when a suit costs two or three
hundred dollars you still retain caste whatever the styling.

Simon said unenthusiastically, "Good morning, Mr. Oyster." He indicated
the client's chair. "Sit down, sir."

The client fussed himself with Betty's assistance into the seat,
bug-eyed Simon, said finally, "You know my name, that's pretty good.
Never saw you before in my life. Stop fussing with me, young lady. Your
ad in the phone book says you'll investigate anything."

"Anything," Simon said. "Only one exception."

"Excellent. Do you believe in time travel?"

Simon said nothing. Across the room, where she had resumed her seat,
Betty cleared her throat. When Simon continued to say nothing she
ventured, "Time travel is impossible."



"Yes, why?"

Betty looked to her boss for assistance. None was forthcoming. There
ought to be some very quick, positive, definite answer. She said, "Well,
for one thing, paradox. Suppose you had a time machine and traveled back
a hundred years or so and killed your own great-grandfather. Then how
could you ever be born?"

"Confound it if I know," the little fellow growled. "How?"

Simon said, "Let's get to the point, what you wanted to see me about."

"I want to hire you to hunt me up some time travelers," the old boy

Betty was too far in now to maintain her proper role of silent
secretary. "Time travelers," she said, not very intelligently.

The potential client sat more erect, obviously with intent to hold the
floor for a time. He removed the pince-nez glasses and pointed them at
Betty. He said, "Have you read much science fiction, Miss?"

"Some," Betty admitted.

"Then you'll realize that there are a dozen explanations of the
paradoxes of time travel. Every writer in the field worth his salt has
explained them away. But to get on. It's my contention that within a
century or so man will have solved the problems of immortality and
eternal youth, and it's also my suspicion that he will eventually be
able to travel in time. So convinced am I of these possibilities that I
am willing to gamble a portion of my fortune to investigate the presence
in our era of such time travelers."

Simon seemed incapable of carrying the ball this morning, so Betty said,
"But ... Mr. Oyster, if the future has developed time travel why don't
we ever meet such travelers?"

Simon put in a word. "The usual explanation, Betty, is that they can't
afford to allow the space-time continuum track to be altered. If, say, a
time traveler returned to a period of twenty-five years ago and shot
Hitler, then all subsequent history would be changed. In that case, the
time traveler himself might never be born. They have to tread mighty

Mr. Oyster was pleased. "I didn't expect you to be so well informed on
the subject, young man."

Simon shrugged and fumbled again with the aspirin bottle.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Oyster went on. "I've been considering the matter for some time

Simon held up a hand. "There's no use prolonging this. As I understand
it, you're an elderly gentleman with a considerable fortune and you
realize that thus far nobody has succeeded in taking it with him."

Mr. Oyster returned his glasses to their perch, bug-eyed Simon, but then

Simon said, "You want to hire me to find a time traveler and in some
manner or other--any manner will do--exhort from him the secret of
eternal life and youth, which you figure the future will have
discovered. You're willing to pony up a part of this fortune of yours,
if I can deliver a bona fide time traveler."


Betty had been looking from one to the other. Now she said, plaintively,
"But where are you going to find one of these characters--especially if
they're interested in keeping hid?"

The old boy was the center again. "I told you I'd been considering it
for some time. The _Oktoberfest_, that's where they'd be!" He seemed

Betty and Simon waited.

"The _Oktoberfest_," he repeated. "The greatest festival the world has
ever seen, the carnival, _feria_, _fiesta_ to beat them all. Every year
it's held in Munich. Makes the New Orleans Mardi gras look like a
quilting party." He began to swing into the spirit of his description.
"It originally started in celebration of the wedding of some local
prince a century and a half ago and the Bavarians had such a bang-up
time they've been holding it every year since. The Munich breweries do
up a special beer, _Marzenbräu_ they call it, and each brewery opens a
tremendous tent on the fair grounds which will hold five thousand
customers apiece. Millions of liters of beer are put away, hundreds of
thousands of barbecued chickens, a small herd of oxen are roasted whole
over spits, millions of pair of _weisswurst_, a very special sausage,
millions upon millions of pretzels--"

"All right," Simon said. "We'll accept it. The _Oktoberfest_ is one
whale of a wingding."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well," the old boy pursued, into his subject now, "that's where they'd
be, places like the _Oktoberfest_. For one thing, a time traveler
wouldn't be conspicuous. At a festival like this somebody with a strange
accent, or who didn't know exactly how to wear his clothes correctly, or
was off the ordinary in any of a dozen other ways, wouldn't be noticed.
You could be a four-armed space traveler from Mars, and you still
wouldn't be conspicuous at the _Oktoberfest_. People would figure they
had D.T.'s."

"But why would a time traveler want to go to a--" Betty began.

"Why not! What better opportunity to study a people than when they are
in their cups? If _you_ could go back a few thousand years, the things
you would wish to see would be a Roman Triumph, perhaps the Rites of
Dionysus, or one of Alexander's orgies. You wouldn't want to wander up
and down the streets of, say, Athens while nothing was going on,
particularly when you might be revealed as a suspicious character not
being able to speak the language, not knowing how to wear the clothes
and not familiar with the city's layout." He took a deep breath. "No
ma'am, you'd have to stick to some great event, both for the sake of
actual interest and for protection against being unmasked."

The old boy wound it up. "Well, that's the story. What are your rates?
The _Oktoberfest_ starts on Friday and continues for sixteen days. You
can take the plane to Munich, spend a week there and--"

Simon was shaking his head. "Not interested."

As soon as Betty had got her jaw back into place, she glared
unbelievingly at him.

Mr. Oyster was taken aback himself. "See here, young man, I realize this
isn't an ordinary assignment, however, as I said, I am willing to risk a
considerable portion of my fortune--"

"Sorry," Simon said. "Can't be done."

"A hundred dollars a day plus expenses," Mr. Oyster said quietly. "I
like the fact that you already seem to have some interest and knowledge
of the matter. I liked the way you knew my name when I walked in the
door; my picture doesn't appear often in the papers."

"No go," Simon said, a sad quality in his voice.

"A fifty thousand dollar bonus if you bring me a time traveler."

"Out of the question," Simon said.

"But _why_?" Betty wailed.

"Just for laughs," Simon told the two of them sourly, "suppose I tell
you a funny story. It goes like this:"

       *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I got a thousand dollars from Mr. Oyster (Simon began) in the way of an
advance, and leaving him with Betty who was making out a receipt, I
hustled back to the apartment and packed a bag. Hell, I'd wanted a
vacation anyway, this was a natural. On the way to Idlewild I stopped
off at the Germany Information Offices for some tourist literature.

It takes roughly three and a half hours to get to Gander from Idlewild.
I spent the time planning the fun I was going to have.

It takes roughly seven and a half hours from Gander to Shannon and I
spent that time dreaming up material I could put into my reports to Mr.
Oyster. I was going to have to give him some kind of report for his
money. Time travel yet! What a laugh!

Between Shannon and Munich a faint suspicion began to simmer in my mind.
These statistics I read on the _Oktoberfest_ in the Munich tourist
pamphlets. Five million people attended annually.

Where did five million people come from to attend an overgrown festival
in comparatively remote Southern Germany? The tourist season is over
before September 21st, first day of the gigantic beer bust. Nor could
the Germans account for any such number. Munich itself has a population
of less than a million, counting children.

And those millions of gallons of beer, the hundreds of thousands of
chickens, the herds of oxen. Who ponied up all the money for such
expenditures? How could the average German, with his twenty-five dollars
a week salary?

In Munich there was no hotel space available. I went to the Bahnhof
where they have a hotel service and applied. They put my name down,
pocketed the husky bribe, showed me where I could check my bag, told me
they'd do what they could, and to report back in a few hours.

I had another suspicious twinge. If five million people attended this
beer bout, how were they accommodated?

The _Theresienwiese_, the fair ground, was only a few blocks away. I was
stiff from the plane ride so I walked.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are seven major brewers in the Munich area, each of them
represented by one of the circuslike tents that Mr. Oyster mentioned.
Each tent contained benches and tables for about five thousand persons
and from six to ten thousands pack themselves in, competing for room. In
the center is a tremendous bandstand, the musicians all _lederhosen_
clad, the music as Bavarian as any to be found in a Bavarian beer hall.
Hundreds of peasant garbed _fräuleins_ darted about the tables with
quart sized earthenware mugs, platters of chicken, sausage, kraut and

I found a place finally at a table which had space for twenty-odd beer
bibbers. Odd is right. As weird an assortment of Germans and foreign
tourists as could have been dreamed up, ranging from a seventy- or
eighty-year-old couple in Bavarian costume, to the bald-headed drunk
across the table from me.

A desperate waitress bearing six mugs of beer in each hand scurried
past. They call them _masses_, by the way, not mugs. The bald-headed
character and I both held up a finger and she slid two of the _masses_
over to us and then hustled on.

"Down the hatch," the other said, holding up his _mass_ in toast.

"To the ladies," I told him. Before sipping, I said, "You know, the
tourist pamphlets say this stuff is eighteen per cent. That's nonsense.
No beer is that strong." I took a long pull.

He looked at me, waiting.

I came up. "Mistaken," I admitted.

A _mass_ or two apiece later he looked carefully at the name engraved on
his earthenware mug. "Löwenbräu," he said. He took a small notebook from
his pocket and a pencil, noted down the word and returned the things.

"That's a queer looking pencil you have there," I told him. "German?"

"Venusian," he said. "Oops, sorry. Shouldn't have said that."

I had never heard of the brand so I skipped it.

"Next is the Hofbräu," he said.

"Next what?" Baldy's conversation didn't seem to hang together very

"My pilgrimage," he told me. "All my life I've been wanting to go back
to an _Oktoberfest_ and sample every one of the seven brands of the best
beer the world has ever known. I'm only as far as Löwenbräu. I'm afraid
I'll never make it."

I finished my _mass_. "I'll help you," I told him. "Very noble endeavor.
Name is Simon."

"Arth," he said. "How could you help?"

"I'm still fresh--comparatively. I'll navigate you around. There are
seven beer tents. How many have you got through, so far?"

"Two, counting this one," Arth said.

I looked at him. "It's going to be a chore," I said. "You've already got
a nice edge on."

Outside, as we made our way to the next tent, the fair looked like every
big State-Fair ever seen, except it was bigger. Games, souvenir stands,
sausage stands, rides, side shows, and people, people, people.

The Hofbräu tent was as overflowing as the last but we managed to find
two seats.

The band was blaring, and five thousand half-swacked voices were roaring

    _In Muenchen steht ein Hofbräuhaus!
    Eins, Zwei, G'sufa!_

At the _G'sufa_ everybody upped with the mugs and drank each other's

"This is what I call a real beer bust," I said approvingly.

Arth was waving to a waitress. As in the Löwenbräu tent, a full quart
was the smallest amount obtainable.

A beer later I said, "I don't know if you'll make it or not, Arth."

"Make what?"

"All seven tents."


A waitress was on her way by, mugs foaming over their rims. I gestured
to her for refills.

"Where are you from, Arth?" I asked him, in the way of making


"2183 where?"

He looked at me, closing one eye to focus better. "Oh," he said. "Well,
2183 South Street, ah, New Albuquerque."

"New Albuquerque? Where's that?"

Arth thought about it. Took another long pull at the beer. "Right across
the way from old Albuquerque," he said finally. "Maybe we ought to be
getting on to the Pschorrbräu tent."

"Maybe we ought to eat something first," I said. "I'm beginning to feel
this. We could get some of that barbecued ox."

Arth closed his eyes in pain. "Vegetarian," he said. "Couldn't possibly
eat meat. Barbarous. Ugh."

"Well, we need some nourishment," I said.

"There's supposed to be considerable nourishment in beer."

That made sense. I yelled, "_Fräulein! Zwei neu bier!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

Somewhere along in here the fog rolled in. When it rolled out again, I
found myself closing one eye the better to read the lettering on my
earthenware mug. It read Augustinerbräu. Somehow we'd evidently
navigated from one tent to another.

Arth was saying, "Where's your hotel?"

That seemed like a good question. I thought about it for a while.
Finally I said, "Haven't got one. Town's jam packed. Left my bag at the
Bahnhof. I don't think we'll ever make it, Arth. How many we got to go?"

"Lost track," Arth said. "You can come home with me."

We drank to that and the fog rolled in again.

When the fog rolled out, it was daylight. Bright, glaring, awful
daylight. I was sprawled, complete with clothes, on one of twin beds. On
the other bed, also completely clothed, was Arth.

That sun was too much. I stumbled up from the bed, staggered to the
window and fumbled around for a blind or curtain. There was none.

Behind me a voice said in horror, "Who ... how ... oh, _Wodo_, where'd
you come from?"

I got a quick impression, looking out the window, that the Germans were
certainly the most modern, futuristic people in the world. But I
couldn't stand the light. "Where's the shade," I moaned.

Arth did something and the window went opaque.

"That's quite a gadget," I groaned. "If I didn't feel so lousy, I'd
appreciate it."

Arth was sitting on the edge of the bed holding his bald head in his
hands. "I remember now," he sorrowed. "You didn't have a hotel. What a
stupidity. I'll be phased. Phased all the way down."

"You haven't got a handful of aspirin, have you?" I asked him.

"Just a minute," Arth said, staggering erect and heading for what
undoubtedly was a bathroom. "Stay where you are. Don't move. Don't touch

"All right," I told him plaintively. "I'm clean. I won't mess up the
place. All I've got is a hangover, not lice."

Arth was gone. He came back in two or three minutes, box of pills in
hand. "Here, take one of these."

I took the pill, followed it with a glass of water.

       *       *       *       *       *

And went out like a light.

Arth was shaking my arm. "Want another _mass_?"

The band was blaring, and five thousand half-swacked voices were roaring

    _In Muenchen steht ein Hofbräuhaus!
    Eins, Zwei, G'sufa!_

At the _G'sufa_ everybody upped with their king-size mugs and drank each
other's health.

My head was killing me. "This is where I came in, or something," I

Arth said, "That was last night." He looked at me over the rim of his
beer mug.

Something, somewhere, was wrong. But I didn't care. I finished my _mass_
and then remembered. "I've got to get my bag. Oh, my head. Where did we
spend last night?"

Arth said, and his voice sounded cautious, "At my hotel, don't you

"Not very well," I admitted. "I feel lousy. I must have dimmed out. I've
got to go to the Bahnhof and get my luggage."

Arth didn't put up an argument on that. We said good-by and I could feel
him watching after me as I pushed through the tables on the way out.

At the Bahnhof they could do me no good. There were no hotel rooms
available in Munich. The head was getting worse by the minute. The fact
that they'd somehow managed to lose my bag didn't help. I worked on that
project for at least a couple of hours. Not only wasn't the bag at the
luggage checking station, but the attendant there evidently couldn't
make heads nor tails of the check receipt. He didn't speak English and
my high school German was inadequate, especially accompanied by a
blockbusting hangover.

I didn't get anywhere tearing my hair and complaining from one end of
the Bahnhof to the other. I drew a blank on the bag.

And the head was getting worse by the minute. I was bleeding to death
through the eyes and instead of butterflies I had bats in my stomach.
Believe me, _nobody_ should drink a gallon or more of Marzenbräu.

       *       *       *       *       *

I decided the hell with it. I took a cab to the airport, presented my
return ticket, told them I wanted to leave on the first obtainable plane
to New York. I'd spent two days at the _Oktoberfest_, and I'd had it.

I got more guff there. Something was wrong with the ticket, wrong date
or some such. But they fixed that up. I never was clear on what was
fouled up, some clerk's error, evidently.

The trip back was as uninteresting as the one over. As the hangover
began to wear off--a little--I was almost sorry I hadn't been able to
stay. If I'd only been able to get a room I _would_ have stayed, I told

From Idlewild, I came directly to the office rather than going to my
apartment. I figured I might as well check in with Betty.

I opened the door and there I found Mr. Oyster sitting in the chair he
had been occupying four--or was it five--days before when I'd left. I'd
lost track of the time.

I said to him, "Glad you're here, sir. I can report. Ah, what was it you
came for? Impatient to hear if I'd had any results?" My mind was
spinning like a whirling dervish in a revolving door. I'd spent a wad of
his money and had nothing I could think of to show for it; nothing but
the last stages of a grand-daddy hangover.

"Came for?" Mr. Oyster snorted. "I'm merely waiting for your girl to
make out my receipt. I thought you had already left."

"You'll miss your plane," Betty said.

There was suddenly a double dip of ice cream in my stomach. I walked
over to my desk and looked down at the calendar.

Mr. Oyster was saying something to the effect that if I didn't leave
today, it would have to be tomorrow, that he hadn't ponied up that
thousand dollars advance for anything less than immediate service.
Stuffing his receipt in his wallet, he fussed his way out the door.

I said to Betty hopefully, "I suppose you haven't changed this calendar
since I left."

Betty said, "What's the matter with you? You look funny. How did your
clothes get so mussed? You tore the top sheet off that calendar
yourself, not half an hour ago, just before this marble-missing client
came in." She added, irrelevantly, "Time travelers yet."

I tried just once more. "Uh, when did you first see this Mr. Oyster?"

"Never saw him before in my life," she said. "Not until he came in this

"This morning," I said weakly.

While Betty stared at me as though it was _me_ that needed candling by a
head shrinker preparatory to being sent off to a pressure cooker, I
fished in my pocket for my wallet, counted the contents and winced at
the pathetic remains of the thousand. I said pleadingly, "Betty, listen,
how long ago did I go out that door--on the way to the airport?"

"You've been acting sick all morning. You went out that door about ten
minutes ago, were gone about three minutes, and then came back."

       *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"See here," Mr. Oyster said (interrupting Simon's story), "did you say
this was supposed to be amusing, young man? I don't find it so. In fact,
I believe I am being ridiculed."

Simon shrugged, put one hand to his forehead and said, "That's only the
first chapter. There are two more."

"I'm not interested in more," Mr. Oyster said. "I suppose your point was
to show me how ridiculous the whole idea actually is. Very well, you've
done it. Confound it. However, I suppose your time, even when spent in
this manner, has some value. Here is fifty dollars. And good day, sir!"

He slammed the door after him as he left.

Simon winced at the noise, took the aspirin bottle from its drawer, took
two, washed them down with water from the desk carafe.

Betty looked at him admiringly. Came to her feet, crossed over and took
up the fifty dollars. "Week's wages," she said. "I suppose that's one
way of taking care of a crackpot. But I'm surprised you didn't take his
money and enjoy that vacation you've been yearning about."

"I did," Simon groaned. "Three times."

Betty stared at him. "You mean--"

Simon nodded, miserably.

She said, "But _Simon_. Fifty thousand dollars bonus. If that story was
true, you should have gone back again to Munich. If there was one time
traveler, there might have been--"

"I keep telling you," Simon said bitterly, "I went back there three
times. There were hundreds of them. Probably thousands." He took a deep
breath. "Listen, we're just going to have to forget about it. They're
not going to stand for the space-time continuum track being altered. If
something comes up that looks like it might result in the track being
changed, they set you right back at the beginning and let things
start--for you--all over again. They just can't allow anything to come
back from the future and change the past."

"You mean," Betty was suddenly furious at him, "you've given up! Why
this is the biggest thing-- Why the fifty thousand dollars is nothing.
The future! Just think!"

Simon said wearily, "There's just one thing you can bring back with you
from the future, a hangover compounded of a gallon or so of Marzenbräu.
What's more you can pile one on top of the other, and another on top of

He shuddered. "If you think I'm going to take another crack at this
merry-go-round and pile a fourth hangover on the three I'm already
nursing, all at once, you can think again."


Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Astounding Science Fiction_ June 1959.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Unborn Tomorrow" ***

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