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´╗┐Title: Micro-Man
Author: Ackerman, Forrest J., 1916-2008
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Micro-Man" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                              MICRO-MAN

                           BY WEAVER WRIGHT

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Fantasy Book Vol. 1
number 1 (1947). Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


[Sidenote: _The little man dared to venture into the realm of the
Gods--but the Gods were cruel!_]


The early morning streetcar, swaying and rattling along its tracks, did
as much to divert my attention from the book I was reading as the
contents of the book itself. I did not like Plato. Comfortable though
the seat was, I was as uncomfortable as any collegiate could be whose
mind would rather dwell upon tomorrow's football game than the immediate
task in hand--the morning session with Professor Russell and the book on
my lap.

My gaze wandered from the book and drifted out the distorted window,
then fell to the car-sill as I thought over Plato's conclusions.
Something moving on the ledge attracted my attention: it was a scurrying
black ant. If I had thought about it, I might have wondered how it came
there. But the next moment a more curious object on the sill caught my
eye. I bent over.

I couldn't make out what it was at first. A bug, perhaps. Maybe it was
too small for a bug. Just a little dancing dust, no doubt.

Then I discerned--and gasped. On the sill, there----it was a man! A man
on the streetcar's window sill----a _little_ man! He was so tiny I would
never have seen him if it hadn't been for his white attire, which made
him visible against the brown grain of the shellacked wood. I watched,
amazed as his microscopic figure moved over perhaps half an inch.

He wore a blouse and shorts, it seemed, and sandals. Something might
have been hanging at his side, but it was too small for me to make out
plainly. His head, I thought was silver-coloured, and I think the
headgear had some sort of knobs on it. All this, of course, I didn't
catch at the time, because my heart was hammering away excitedly and
making my fingers shake as I fumbled for a matchbox in my pocket, I
pushed it open and let the matches scatter out. Then, as gently as my
excitement would allow, I pushed the tiny man from the ledge into the
box; for I had suddenly realized the greatness of this amazing
discovery.

The car was barely half-filled and no attention had been directed my
way. I slid quickly out of the empty seat and hurriedly alighted at the
next stop.

In a daze, I stood where I had alighted waiting for the next No. 10 that
would return me home, the matchbox held tightly in my hand. They'd put
that box in a museum one day!

[Illustration]

I collect stamps--I've heard about getting rare ones with inverted
centers, or some minor deviation that made them immensely valuable. I'd
imagined getting one by mistake sometime that would make me rich. But
this! They'd billed "King Kong" as "The Eighth Wonder of the World," but
that was only imaginary--a film ... a terrifying thought crossed my
mind. I pushed open the box hastily: maybe _I_ had been dreaming. But
there it was--the unbelievable; the Little Man!

A car was before me, just leaving. Its polished surface had not
reflected through the haze, and the new design made so little noise that
I hadn't seen it. I jumped for it, my mind in such a turmoil that the
conductor had to ask three times for my fare. Ordinarily, I would have
been embarrassed, but a young man with his mind on millions doesn't
worry about little things like that. At least, not this young man.

How I acted on the streetcar, or traversed the five blocks from the end
of the line, I couldn't say. If I may imagine myself, though, I must
have strode along the street like a determined machine. I reached the
house and let myself into the basement room. Inside, I pulled the shades
together and closed the door, the matchbox still in my hand. No one was
at home this time of day, which pleased me particularly, for I wanted to
figure out how I was going to present this wonder to the world.

I flung myself down on the bed and opened the matchbox. The little man
lay very still on the bottom.

"Little Man!" I cried, and turned him out on the quilt. Maybe he had
suffocated in the box. Irrational thought! Small though it might be to
me, the little box was as big as all outdoors to him. It was the bumping
about he'd endured; I hadn't been very thoughtful of him.

He was reviving now, and raised himself on one arm. I pushed myself off
the bed, and stepped quickly to my table to procure something with which
I could control him. Not that he could get away, but he was so tiny I
thought I might lose sight of him.

Pen, pencil, paper, stamps, scissors, clips--none of them were what I
wanted. I had nothing definite in mind, but then remembered my stamp
outfit and rushed to secure it. Evidently college work had cramped my
style along the collecting line, for the tweezers and magnifier appeared
with a mild coating of dust. But they were what I needed, and I blew on
them and returned to the bed.

The little man had made his way half an inch or so from his former
prison; was crawling over what I suppose were, to him, great uneven
blocks of red and green and black moss.

He crossed from a red into a black patch as I watched his movements
through the glass, and I could see him more plainly against the darker
background. He stopped and picked at the substance of his strange
surroundings, then straightened to examine a tuft of the cloth. The
magnifier enlarged him to a seeming half inch or so, and I could see
better, now, this strange tiny creature.

It _was_ a metal cap he wore, and it did have protruding knobs--two of
them--slanting at 45 degree angles from his temples like horns. I
wondered at their use, but it was impossible for me to imagine. Perhaps
they covered some actual growth; he might have had real horns for all I
knew. Nothing would have been too strange to expect.

His clothing showed up as a simple, white, one piece garment, like a
shirt and gym shorts. The shorts ended at the knee, and from there down
he was bare except for a covering on his feet which appeared more like
gloves than shoes. Whatever he wore to protect his feet, it allowed free
movement of his toes.

It struck me that this little man's native habitat must have been very
warm. His attire suggested this. For a moment I considered plugging in
my small heater; my room certainly had no tropical or sub-tropical
temperature at that time of the morning--and how was I to know whether
he shivered when he felt chill. Maybe he blew his horns. Anyway, I
figured a living Eighth Wonder would be more valuable than a dead one;
and I didn't think he could be stuffed. But somehow I forgot it in my
interest in examining this unusual personage.

The little man had dropped the cloth now, and was staring in my
direction. Of course, "my direction" was very general to him; but he
seemed to be conscious of me. He certainly impressed _me_ as being
awfully different, but what his reactions were, I didn't know.

But someone else knew.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a world deep down in Smallness, in an electron of a dead cell of a
piece of wood, five scientists were grouped before a complicated
instrument with a horn like the early radios. Two sat and three stood,
but their attention upon the apparatus was unanimous. From small
hollowed cups worn on their fingers like rings, came a smoke from
burning incense. These cups they held to their noses frequently, and
their eyes shone as they inhaled. The scientists of infra-smallness were
smoking!

With the exception of a recent prolonged silence, which was causing them
great anxiety, sounds had been issuing from the instrument for days.
There had been breaks before, but this silence had been long-enduring.

Now the voice was speaking again; a voice that was a telepathic
communication made audible. The scientists brightened.

"There is much that I cannot understand," it said. The words were
hesitant, filled with awe. "I seem to have been in many worlds. At the
completion of my experiment, I stood on a land which was brown and black
and very rough of surface. With startling suddenness, I was propelled
across this harsh country, and, terrifyingly, I was falling. I must have
dropped seventy-five feet, but the strange buoyant atmosphere of this
strange world saved me from harm.

"My new surroundings were grey and gloomy, and the earth trembled as a
giant cloud passed over the sky. I do not know what it meant, but with
the suddenness characteristic of this place, it became very dark, and an
inexplicable violence shook me into insensibility.

"I am conscious, now, of some giant form before me, but it is so
colossal that my eyes cannot focus it. And it changes. Now I seem
confronted by great orange mountains with curving ledges cut into their
sides. Atop them are great, greyish slabs of protecting opaque rock--a
covering like that above our Temples of Aerat--'on which the rain may
never fall.' I wish that you might communicate with me, good men of my
world. How go the Gods?

"But now! These mountains are lifting, vanishing from my sight. A great
_thing_ which I cannot comprehend hovers before me. It has many colors,
but mostly there is the orange of the mountains. It hangs in the air,
and from the portion nearest me grow dark trees as round as myself and
as tall. There is a great redness above, that opens like the Katus
flower, exposing the ivory white from which puffs the Tongue of Death.
Beyond this I cannot see well, but ever so high are two gigantic caverns
from which the Winds of the Legends blow--and suck. As dangerous as the
Katus, by Dal! Alternately they crush me to the ground, then threaten to
tear me from it and hurl me away."

_My nose was the cavern from which issued the horrifying wind. I noticed
that my breath distressed the little man as I leaned over to stare at
him, so drew back._

_Upstairs, the visor buzzed. Before answering, so that I would not lose
the little man, I very gingerly pinched his shirt with the tongs, and
lifted him to the table._

"My breath! I am shot into the heavens like Milo and his rocket! I
traverse a frightful distance! Everything changes constantly. A million
miles below is chaos. This world is mad! A giant landscape passes
beneath me, so weird I cannot describe it. I--I cannot understand. Only
my heart trembles within me. Neither Science nor the gods can help or
comfort in this awful world of Greatness!

"We stop. I hang motionless in the air. The ground beneath is utterly
insane. But I see vast uncovered veins of rare metal--and crystal,
precious crystal, enough to cover the mightiest Temple we could build!
Oh, that Mortia were so blessed! In all this terrifying world, the
richness of the crystal and the marvelous metal do redeem.

"Men!----I see ... I believe it is a temple! It is incredibly tall, of
black foundation and red spire, but it is weathered, leaning as if to
fall--and very bare. The people cannot love their Gods as we--or else
there is the Hunger.... But the gods may enlighten this world, too, and
if lowered, I will make for it. A sacred Temple should be a
haven--friends! I descend."

_The little man's eye had caught my scissors and a glass ruler as I
suspended him above my desk. They were his exposed vein of metal and the
precious crystal. I was searching for something to secure him. In the
last second before I lowered him, his heart swelled at the sight of the
"Temple"--my red and black pen slanting upward from the desk holder._

_A stamp lying on my desk was an inspiration. I licked it, turned it gum
side up, and cautiously pressed the little man against it feet first.
With the thought, "That ought to hold him," I dashed upstairs to answer
the call._

_But it didn't hold him. There was quite a bit of strength in that tiny
body._

"Miserable fate! I flounder in a horrid marsh," the upset thought-waves
came to the men of Mortia. "The viscous mire seeks to entrap me, but I
think I can escape it. Then I will make for the Temple. The Gods may
recognize and protect me there."

       *       *       *       *       *

I missed the call--I had delayed too long--but the momentary diversion
had cleared my mind and allowed new thoughts to enter. I now knew what
my first step would be in presenting the little man to the world.

I'd write a newspaper account myself--exclusive! Give the scoop to Earl.
Would that be a sensation for _his_ paper! Then I'd be made. A friend of
the family, this prominent publisher had often promised he would give me
a break when I was ready. Well, I _was_ ready!

Excited, dashing downstairs, I half-formulated the idea. The
headlines--the little man under a microscope--a world afire to see him.
Fame ... pictures ... speeches ... movies ... money.... But here I was
at my desk, and I grabbed for a piece of typing paper. They'd put that
in a museum, too!

The stamp and the little man lay just at the edge of the sheet, and he
clutched at a "great orange mountain" covered by a "vast slab of
curving, opaque glass" like the "Temples of Aerat." It was my thumb, but
I did not see him there.

_I thrust the paper into the typewriter and twirled it through._

"I have fallen from the mountain, and hang perpendicularly, perilously,
on a limitless white plain. I tremble, on the verge of falling, but the
slime from the marsh holds me fast."

_I struck the first key._

"A metal meteor is roaring down upon me. Or is it something I have never
before witnessed? It has a tail that streams off beyond sight. It comes
at terrific speed.

"I know. The Gods are angry with me for leaving Mortia land. Yes! 'Tis
only They who kill by iron. Their hands clutch the rod in mighty tower
Baviat, and thrust it here to stamp me out."

And a shaking little figure cried: "Baviat tertia!... Mortia mea...." as
the Gods struck wrathfully at a small one daring to explore their
domain. For little man Jeko had contrived to see Infinity--and Infinity
was only for the eyes of the Immortals, and those of the Experience who
dwelt there by the Gods' grace. He had intruded into the realm of the
rulers, the world of the After Life and the Gods Omnipotent!

A mortal--in the land of All!

In a world deep down in Smallness, in an electron of a cell of dead
wood, five scientists were grouped before the complicated instrument so
reminiscent of early radios. But now they all were standing. Strained,
perspiring, frightened, they trembled, aghast at the dimensions the
experiment had assumed; they were paralysed with terror and awe as they
heard of the wrath of the affronted Gods. And the spirit of science
froze within them, and would die in Mortia land. "Seek the skies only by
hallowed Death" was what they knew. And they destroyed the machine of
the man who had found Venquil land--and thought to live--and fled as
Jeko's last thoughts came through.

For many years five frightened little men of an electron world would
live in deadly fear for their lives, and for their souls after death;
and would pray, and become great disciples, spreading the gospels of the
Gods. True, Jeko had described a monstrous world; but how could a mere
mortal experience its true meaning? It was really ethereal and
beautiful, was Venquil land, and they would spend the rest of their days
insuring themselves for the day of the experience--when they would
assume their comforted place in the world of the After Life.

_As I struck the first letter, a strange sensation swept over me.
Something compelled me to stop and look at the typing paper. I was using
a black ribbon, but when the key fell away, there was a tiny spot of
red...._





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