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´╗┐Title: Field Trip
Author: Hunter, Gene
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 "Field Trip" ***

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    _It is rumored that technology might eliminate many useless items
    from our regulated life of the future--including good, old-fashioned
    sex. However, let's kibitz for a moment ..._


FIELD TRIP

By Gene Hunter


Kial was disgusted with the slow, cumbersome train. He disliked using
this uncomfortable means of travel, but since he wanted to learn more
about these strange creatures who were his ancestors, he had decided to
try to become used to their ways.

He was lonely in this strange, backward age and when he unexpectedly saw
another being like himself in the same coach, he hastened to make his
presence known. He introduced himself and asked politely:

"When are _you_ from?"

"8000," the other replied. "Name's Broyk, from VII Galaxy."

"I'm from out XIX way myself," Kial said. "Just a country boy. But
8000--that's only a period ahead of my own time. Maybe you could tell
me ..."

"Ah, ah!" the other admonished. "Remember the First Law of Thek!"

"Oh, Center," Kial grumbled. "I know: 'One may not divulge any
scientific, technical or social information to anyone from his own past
whom he may meet at an equidistant point in a Thek-travel.' I forgot."

"Bad," Broyk said. Then he added, almost jokingly: "You wouldn't want to
be marooned in this dismal era, would you?"

Kial shuddered. "Of course not. But the Laws seem so ridiculous."

"Not a bit," Broyk said, warming up to the subject. "It's very simple,
really. Same principle that doesn't allow anyone to Thek-travel into the
future.

"Look. I'm from 8000. Say that I went into 12,000, where I memorized as
much information as I could on some subject such as medicine. So I
return to 8000, retaining all such knowledge in my mind that's been
learned in four periods. Therefore, I'd have knowledge that wasn't
dreamed of in my own time, but was discovered sometime during the next
four periods. But then it couldn't be discovered, because I'd brought
it back to 8000 and--well, I'm no Logician, but you see my point."

"Oh, it's reasonable, I suppose," Kial admitted. "I realize the Laws are
really for our own good. By the way--I'm here on a field trip to gather
material for my thesis on Advanced Therapeutical Psychology and its
development since the Twentieth Century. What phase of this era are you
here to study?"

"I--I'm afraid I couldn't tell you that," Broyk said. "It's of rather a
secret nature and ..."

"You mean we might violate a Law and be stuck here for good--is that
it?"

"Yes--in a way."

Frightened, Kial let the matter drop. His gaze wandered through the
coach, examining the other passengers with interest. As time-travelers
from a different space-time plane from their 20th Century ancestors, he
and Broyk were naturally invisible to their fellow travelers.

Two pompous old gentlemen were lighting cigars and Kial was about to
remark on the habit of smoking when he noticed an even more remarkable
phenomenon. A few seats ahead of them sat a good-looking young couple,
oblivious to others about them.

"Look!" Kial cried excitedly. "Lovers! Honeymooners! I've read about
such things! Isn't it disgusting?"

"Oh, I don't know," Broyk said, a little wistfully. "I sometimes think
it was a mistake for Center to do away with sex. It must have been
interesting."

"Atavist!" Kial snapped in horror.

Had his people's emotional make-up provided for blushing, Kial would
undoubtedly have turned beet-red. Broyk's words had caused him acute
embarrassment.

       *       *       *       *       *

As he sat reflecting upon his strange companion, he suddenly began to
feel a sensation he had often heard about but never before had
experienced. Terror and dismay filled him as he sought to throw off the
probing finger that was penetrating his mind.

He looked at Broyk. There was the faintest notion of a smile on the
other's face as he said: "Yes, Kial--I am a Telepath."

Kial's mind reeled. He felt himself on the brink of some gigantic abyss
and then, as suddenly as it had come, the searching sensation faded
away.

"Since you are unable to enter my mind," Broyk said calmly, "it's only
fair that I tell you about myself. You were right--I'm an atavist. Even
in period 8000, such things can happen. Always such creatures are
destroyed after their first psychotests, but my case was different.
The Controller who bred me was only a dabbler in such things. I
was a failure, but he took a fancy to me. I was allowed to mature
secretly--few people knew of my existence. When I reached my majority my
presence became dangerous and I was sent back into time to try and find
the proper place for myself. And I think I've found it--here!"

Kial was a very amazed young man. "But such a barbarous age," he
complained. "Sex and atom bombs and everything ..."

"Remember," Broyk smiled, "these people are the forebears of the
geniuses who created Center and the Galactic Empire. They'll survive,
despite their barbarism. The existence of Center is proof."

"It's rather horrible to contemplate," Kial said thoughtfully, calmer
now, "and yet, this might really be a great age. In a way I almost envy
you."

"Of course you do," Broyk said. "You have certain tendencies--they
bother you, although you manage to hide them well. I discovered them
when I took the liberty of telepathing you. Artificial Genetics isn't
perfect, even in our time--perhaps because we originally sprang from
man. Perhaps we'll never be quite perfect, because of that, even after
thousands of periods of breeding."

Kial took another look at the loving young couple. "It--it might be fun,
after all."

Broyk laughed. "You needn't envy me at all, you know."

Kial frowned.

"I'm telling you about myself," Broyk went on, "I have also told you of
a specific condition existing a period ahead of your own time. Remember
the First Law?"

"Center!"

"We're marooned in the Twentieth Century. You have to accept it."

"But what will we _do_?" Kial's mind was reeling again.

"Since we've already broken the First Law," Broyk said, "we may just as
well break the Second: 'No Thek-traveler may enter the body of a native
of a foreign space-time ...'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The young lovers kissed again and this time there seemed to be an added
zest, even to their passionate embrace.


THE END



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _If Worlds of Science Fiction_ May
    1953. 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.





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