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Title: Prologue to an Analogue
Author: Richmond, Leigh, 1911-1996
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 "Prologue to an Analogue" ***

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

                         Transcriber's Note:

 This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction June 1961.
 Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright
 on this publication was renewed.

                       PROLOGUE TO AN ANALOGUE

                          By LEIGH RICHMOND

    _Finnagle's Law shows that many times we don't get the effect
     we planned on. But ... there's an inverse to that famous law,

                      Illustrated by Schoenherr

       *       *       *       *       *

The IWC program was a newscast by Bill Howard, and the news was
particularly vicious that night.

Bill, his big homely face leaning across a desk toward the viewer,
talked in horrified tones of the "pest-sub" that had reputedly got
stuck in the Suez and spread epidemic across Cairo.

It was easy to assume, Bill told his audience, that the nations most
interested in creating a crisis in the world right now had put the sub
there to make an excuse to accuse us of the terror. It was undoubtedly
really there, and was undoubtedly really of American make, and the
epidemic was undoubtedly very real indeed, he said. The United Nations
investigating team, due to go into the Canal Zone the next day and
make their report to the world, would find that the epidemic was
caused by laboratory-developed bacteria, carried in by an
American-made sub. It would be at least as bad, if not worse, than

The question before the world, Bill said, was not whether
bacteriological warfare had started, but who had started it--and the
fact that the sub carried United States markings and was of United
States make did not at all answer the question.

Bacteriological warfare had broken out and where it would strike next
was anybody's guess.

"But let there be no mistake," Bill said. "This is war."

It was on that note that the station break came, and the thirteen
witches, trademark of the International Witch Corporation, came on.

Harvey Randolph, manufacturer of the Witch line of products, leaned
toward the screen intently. He had just transferred his account to
Burton, Dester, Duston & Oswald, and they had dreamed up a new-type
commercial for the products.

The thirteen witches were long-legged, slender dancing gals, in tall
black witch caps and long black capes, crimson-lined, and very little
else. Each had long hair that swirled as she danced.

Randolph chewed his lip, watching them thoughtfully.

They came on with what was almost a valkyrie cry--"Witches of the
world, unite--to make it clean, clean, clean, Witch clean--NOW!"

"Hm-m-m," thought Randolph. The cry struck rather sourly at the end
of that "this is war" sentence from the newscast, he thought, but then
that dramatic newscast-ending was rather unusual.

The witches were singing a jingling chorus as they danced. "No task is
too big, no task is too small," they sang. "Which Witch do you need?
You should have them all--"

Each witch, of course, displayed her particular product from the Witch
line--detergent, soap, shampoo, cleanser, cleaning fluid....

"Witch soap or detergent....

"Witch cleanser upsurgent....

"Which Witch do you need? You should have them all...."

This was fairly average as commercials go, thought Randolph. The big
BDD&O radical innovation would be next.

It was. On the screen behind the witches appeared a map of the Suez
Canal, and then a papier-maché model of the nose of a sub, and a
dockside shanty, a gray pall hanging over them.

As the witches turned and began dancing towards it, the deep voice of
the announcer spoke over the muted jingle. "Witches of the world,
unite! If Nasser had enough Witches, he could solve the crisis which
has us all in stitches...."

And the witches, in a united dance-step, approached the sub and shanty
singing "Make it clean, clean, clean, Witch clean, NOW!" Each sprayed
it with a Witch product, and as they sprayed the pall lifted, the sub
and shanty showed shining bright, new-painted.

"Clean, clean, clean," chanted the chorus; "Witch, Witch, Witch,
clean, clean, clean. Defy dirt, defy disease."

"Keep Witch clean!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, thought Randolph. And then again, Well.

He wasn't quite sure, he told himself. The commercial came darn near
being in poor taste, what with the crisis so near, and yet ... it
wasn't something to make you forget the product. By Geoffery, no!
You'd think of Witch products quite a bit, after watching that one.

He reminded himself to check the viewer reaction that would be
available fairly early next day, as he switched off the TV.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was almost noon next day before Randolph reminded himself of the
call he'd planned to make to BDD&O. He got Oswald on the wire almost

"Randolph, here," he said. "I called you about that new commercial. It
seems a little drastic. Are you planning to use it again tonight?"

"Use it? We're taking full credit, in a witchery sort of way!" Oswald
laughed. "Never saw anything like your luck, Randolph. I've got the
entire staff tied up doing the follow-up for tonight. You needn't
worry about libel, either. We've got the whole legal staff turned out,
going over every detail."

"It seemed pretty near the line to me," said Randolph, chewing his
lip. He found himself a little puzzled over Oswald's tone, but not too
much so. Any public relations man was overenthusiastic by nature, in
Randolph's estimation. Maybe it took that to make a good p.r. man.
"People might resent our making hay out of sickness, even if you are
preaching that cleanliness will prevent it."

"Sickness, you might have a point. I admit I'd argue it, but you
might. But wellness, now, it's different. I do know that if the United
Nations team reports there's no epidemic, and that the pest-sub is one
of the cleanest, healthiest-crewed submarines in the business, it's
safe for us to assume it's so, and to imply that Witch Products are
used to keep it clean."

"Mr. Oswald," Randolph's voice took on a note of imperious prissiness.
"Would you mind explaining just exactly what you are talking about?"

"Haven't you heard the news? There's no bacteriological war! I admit
that puts Bill Howard way out on a limb, but there are a lot of very
fine people with him. There's no epidemic in Cairo. There's not even a
bad cold that the United Nations team could find. And they give that
so-called pest-sub the most complete bill of health in the business.

"Now, the deal we plan for tonight...."

       *       *       *       *       *

At the same moment, a number of very important people were closeted
with the President. Their reactions to the United Nations report were
quite otherwise than those Oswald was experiencing.

"It's the exact timing, and the detail of execution that scares me,
Mr. President," the Undersecretary of State was saying. The Secretary
himself was coming in by jet, and would join them immediately on

"It implies a technology that we can't touch even in our wildest
dreams. I've talked to the CIA chief himself, and the reports from our
operatives are beyond question. The epidemic was not only real, it was
widespread. The pest-sub was as real as this chair I'm sitting on, and
its crew near death to the man, and no question about it.

"If they can fight a bacterial war and produce an overnight cure at
the same time ... we're at their mercy. There is no bomb ever
developed--or that can be developed--to touch the power of what
they've just demonstrated."

The President ran his fingers through his hair. His face looked more
drawn than any man had yet seen it. Yet he smiled.

"We're not suing for peace terms yet," he said, and turned to the
nation's foremost biologist, sitting quiet in a nearby chair.

"What's your reaction?" he asked.

"We've always known," the answer came despondently, "that
bacteriological warfare is far deadlier than any bomb--if there were
any protection from its effects for the victor. We had a strain of
bacteria once, for which we had an immunization course, and we
developed it far enough along the line to realize that, even though
you immunized every man, woman and child in this country in advance
of releasing it in another part of the world, mutant strains would
eventually wipe out this nation as well as those we fought."

"How about mutant strains of the Suez bacteria?" the President asked,
then answered himself. "No, they've produced an antidote. An antidote,
if our reports are correct, that works overnight." He shook his head

"The ultimatum should come very soon now," the President said.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It is the timing. I do not understand the timing." The big man in the
Kremlin was allowing himself an appearance of indecision that he did
not often indulge before underlings.

Of course, there was but the one underling, and any audience that
proved to have a later-embarrassing potential could be silenced with
ease. Still, it was unusual, and the lieutenant who served as
combination secretary and backstop for oratory quaked as he listened.

"The timing is all wrong, but the fact is a fact. It must be a fact,
or every operative we have should be Siberianized.

"We must, of course, act. The action must be immediate. We are zeroed

"No!" Vlada heard himself speak, and his whole body was outraged at
the action. He stood white, trembling. But he had spoken, and try as
he would, the word could not be pulled back.

"No? My little dove, and what would you suggest, then, if we are not
to defend ourselves from this capitalistic aggression? That we shall
sit with our hands folded and allow them to dictate the terms of our
surrender? Speak!"

"Send them a pest-sub, and see if they can handle the bacteria we have
developed!" Vlada's throat was dry, and his voice was not his own. No
power on earth could have made him open his mouth, but he had opened
it, and he fully expected the lightning to strike him at that moment.

"Send them ... ah, of course. They can cure their own, and they have
taken a so-dramatic method of saying that they can cure their own. But
can they cure the products of our laboratories? Now that, we shall

"But we shall be as subtle--more subtle, even, than were our
capitalistic friends. We shall not send our sub to them. We shall send
it to a small island, and we shall see whether they wish to taste the
death, the strangulation and crippling and suffering, the destruction
of sanity that shall be the lot of those islanders...."

       *       *       *       *       *

In Peiping the distress was no less acute--but the reaction was
somewhat different.

The scientist being grilled had no hope left. He could answer
honestly, for there was nothing that could save him from that which
was in store.

"The strain was virulent. There is no known antidote--nothing could
have saved that port, nor most of Africa and most of India--and there
was no way for the world to know from whence came the death-dealing
submarine except that it be the mighty America.

"The bombs should have come in retaliation, spreading their death and
adding to the impetus of the epidemic, so that enough of the world was
wiped out to give the great People of the Dragon room into which to
expand. We calculated that a third of our own would be wiped out in
the holocaust, which would have relieved us of many problems. The tan
peoples of India and the darker peoples of Africa should have sued us
to lead them in a unity of the yellow peoples, against the insanities
of the pale peoples of the west.

"There is no antidote ... yet the epidemic is destroyed. I cannot yet
believe what is told me. I would go to my ancestors happily if I could
go to them with the answer to this riddle."

       *       *       *       *       *

That night Bill Howard came on the screen his big homely face wreathed
in smiles, his tweed suit and shaggy blond hair looking even more
informal than usual.

"It's a great day for the people of the world," he said.

"There's undoubtedly tremendous political significance in what
happened at Suez, and every statesman and every politician will have
statements to make, and conclusions to draw.

"Suez's obvious healthiness has been variously attributed to American
technology, garnered from the experts we've sent them over the years;
to Russian technology, garnered from their experts loaned to the
nation involved; to Mohammed and to the God of the Christians.

"The peoples of the world," he said softly, "are concerned with these
things in the abstract, but mostly, we the people are willing to leave
this to the theorists, while we rejoice."

"For we the people, who thought we faced that most degrading, that
most unanswerable, that most horrible fate of all, bacteriological
war, find ourselves at bacteriological peace."

At the break, the thirteen witches danced on, crying their chant, and
behind them as a background was the bright, clean sub-and-shanty

"Witches of the world unite, to make it clean, clean, clean, Witch
clean--NOW!" they chanted. "Pestilence or peril, disease or disaster,
Stay clean, clean, clean, Witch clean!"

"Ah," said the deep voice of the announcer as the jingle muted, "Which
witch do you really wish? Witch is the modern method of cleanliness,
using the best of modern technology, and the Witch witch is witching
through the world...."

Randolph watched the program skeptically. The best lawyers and the
best p.r. agents to be had, he reminded himself. Still.... There was a
nagging worry that this thing was going too far. It's O.K. to claim
the moon, he thought, chewing his lip, but isn't it a little risky to
claim peace on earth for the Witch products?

He made a mental note to call BDD&O the next morning. The audience
reaction would make itself felt by then, and he could decide....

       *       *       *       *       *

It was almost noon next day before Randolph reminded himself of the
call he'd planned to make to BDD&O. He got Oswald on the wire almost

"Randolph, here," he said. "I called about that new commercial. It
seems a little drastic to claim peace on earth for the Witch products.
What are you planning for tonight?"

"More of the same!" Oswald's voice was jubilant. "The switchboard has
been swamped, and we're on almost every program on every channel!
They're taking us apart, of course. 'Witchcraft raises its head,' and
'Salem is here with a new twist and a singing commercial,' and
'Anybody got a pestilence?'--that sort of thing. But they're crediting
Witch products from dawn to dawn. I sure didn't make a mistake when I
tied our contract to your sales! We ought to break the bank!"

Randolph chewed the thought in silence. "Oswald," he said, "It's an
old habit of the American people to make a joke out of what they can't
understand. Sort of Paul Bunyan all over again. But don't overdo it.
That Witches of the world unite, deal. Remember the IWW? Wasn't that
sort of communistic?"

"Every time anybody talks about getting the world peacefully together,
about unity, somebody starts shouting 'commie.' Since when has
communism and unity got anything to do with anything? You're an
international corporation, aren't you? It's in your title, IWC, isn't
it? You don't just sell Witch things in the United States--you've
markets in Europe and Africa and India, and all over the place, or I
read the sales charts wrong. What's worrying you about using it?

"The overseas tapes are going like a cannonball express. Our ratings
have skyrocketed everywhere," Oswald said in satisfaction. "What do
you mean, don't overdo it? You get the world in a hatbasket, and then
you want to throw it away?"


"Incidentally," he added in a calmer tone, "I got one crank call
that's got me thinking. The guy got all the way through to me before
he'd talk, and that takes some getting, what with the salaries I pay
people to keep the cranks off my neck.

"He said that now we had the witches of the world united, why didn't
we do some real cleanup work, like slums and insane asylums. Got me
thinking, you know. A good cause never did a program any harm."

Randolph chewed his lip a while in silence, and Oswald, knowing his
client, waited patiently.

"I like that a lot better than claiming peace on earth for the Witch
products," Randolph said at last. "Why don't you pick a slum we can
clean up for not too much, and let's see what you can work out. This
cleanup theme isn't bad, it's just peace on earth that doesn't really
belong to us you know.

"I tell you what. We'll go to fifty thousand dollars or so on a
cleanup job, and you use that. Leave the world to the politicians and
the eggheads."

After he hung up, Randolph stood by the telephone, still chewing his
lip. Could you clean up something like a slum for say fifty thousand
dollars? Oswald would double the figure in his own mind, of course,
always did. But he'd get the sales out of it. His contract was tied to

Yes, he thought, it was best to call him off the track he was on now.
Lawyers or no lawyers, that sort of thing was dangerous.

It took a week, and it took every member of the staff that could be
pulled off other programs, as well as the ones assigned to Witch.

The "slum" had been located--three buildings in a short block just up
from the Battery, surrounded by new buildings. It was a
one-privy-to-a-floor, cold-water only setup, with a family living in
every room. It existed on high-value land only because the land and
buildings were tied up in an estate and couldn't be sold. But they
could be remodeled and thrown into one, and contracts were signed,
permissions granted, the paperwork alone filled nearly a complete file

It would take double the fifty thousand dollars, of course--maybe
more. But Randolph had authorized it, hadn't he? He always named half
the figure--or less--than he meant to be used. Anyhow, international
ratings and sales would more than make up the purse, because this
thing would hit socko. Worry about the cash was the last thing that
was bothering Oswald. He had a bear by the tail, and his contract
price was tied to the gross....

The show was ballyhooed the whole week while the work went on.

"Clean, clean, Witch clean--what's the witches next big cleanup?
Witches of the world, unite--let's cleanup this old world and make it

The night the new cleanup job was to show, Randolph tuned in his TV as
ignorant of the details as the next viewer. It worried him a little
that Oswald insisted on keeping him in the dark on everything except
the fact that it would be a slum cleanup, but he had the best p.r. men
and the best lawyers in the country working on it, he told himself;
and certainly the sales charts for the past two weeks had been

"We can count on the biggest TV audience of the year tonight," Oswald
had told him gleefully at noon. "The buildup's been a natural, and
those 'Salem with a new twist and a singing commercial' plugs have
been continued on this network--the cost of that was comparatively
small--and I've even gotten them onto a few of the really big shows to

Bill Howard came on the screen, his big homely face leaning across the
desk toward the TV audience.

"The biggest news in the country right now," Bill said in a solemn
tone, "is the biggest single cleanup job in the country today.

"There's a slum," Bill said, "right here in New York that the Witches
of the world will unite to cleanup--tonight."

Then he put on the full power of the personality that made him the
most listened-to newscaster on the air, TV and radio. The manner that
made the news sound human, like it really happened to real people. He
put it on full power, and went to work.

First he showed a big map of New York, and talked about how people
thought of it as a big, impersonal place, but it wasn't. He made it
everybody's home town.

Then he traced the map right down to the exact spot where the
buildings were. Then he turned on a movie, and he showed the
back-door, garbage strewn, and a room where a family slept, seven of
them, and the privy they shared with five other families.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then Bill turned off the movie, and he brought that family to the
mike, each of them dirty and in clothes that never had amounted to
much, and had seen a long life since--even the baby. One kid's shoes
had a sole flapping off, another had the toes cut out so he could wear
them, though he'd long outgrown them.

"We haven't added to what we found," Bill said. "This is the way the ...
I've introduced them as the Jones family, let's leave it at that. This
is how the Joneses have had to dress. This is how they've had to live.
This is a very real part of America," he said, and his voice was choking
a little, and Randolph thought, if he's putting that on, he's the best
actor I've seen yet.

Randolph found himself glad he was alone, and didn't have to speak
himself. His own throat felt choked.

"And now," said Bill to his audience, "It's time for the witches...."

The camera shifted, and there was a papier-maché model of the
buildings, built so you could look in the curtainless windows and see
the squalor, lighted with a single bulb on a string. There was a gray
pall over the whole thing, and newspapers and trash blowing against
the front of the building. The gray pall, Randolph had figured from
the sub-scene two weeks ago, was an effect of lights on a net curtain,
but the effect was really good.

The thirteen witches, slender witches, danced in waving their products
and crying their chant, their crimson-lined capes swirling out to
glimpse the audience their long, slender legs.

They cried their chant as they pranced toward the dilapidated
building. "Witches of the world, unite to make it clean, clean, clean,
Witch clean--NOW!" And each threw a spray of her product toward the

"Witch soap or detergent, Witch cleanser upsurgent, which Witch do you
need? You should have them all...."

Then riding over the muted jingle the deep voice of the announcer
saying "Tonight the Witches of the world clean a slum of the world ...
a particular slum, this slum.

"Witches, unite! And clean, clean, clean, Witch clean...."

The dancing witches now threw each her ingredient on the building
itself, and the gray pall began to lighten, a bright, new-painted
front shone forth. Inside, the single bulbs blacked out for an
instant, and then a soft light showed through curtained windows, a
bright new scene dimly apparent through the curtains.

"This is not just an illusion," the deep voice of the announcer
continued. "This is really happening, down near the Battery in New
York City. It is happening to the Joneses and the Smiths who live

The chorus rose to cover the announcer's voice, "Clean, clean, clean,
Witch clean!"

The commercial and the witches faded, and Bill Howard's big, homely
face came back on the screen.

"Let me introduce you again to the Jones family," Bill said. "I'll
introduce you to the Joneses, but they're just one of the families who
will now have a decent place to live--and the same miracle has
happened to each of these families."

Now the Joneses came again on camera--clean, in new clothes, hair
brushed, a miracle indeed of the costume-changers speedy art. Randolph
assumed that teams of BDD&O members had been at work during the
commercial, creating the miracle. From the baby up and down they
shone, and their faces shone with an inner light--

When Randolph shut off the TV that night, he was chewing his lip
violently. Must have been more than double that fifty thousand
dollars, he thought. He reminded himself to phone BDD&O first thing in
the morning.

It was still an hour before noon when Randolph's phone rang.

"Randolph, here," he said in the formality he'd adopted on an English
visit and carefully kept.

"Good morning," Oswald's voice was formal. "Good morning." There was a
silence, while Randolph waited for the other to continue.

Finally, Randolph said, "Good show, that. Must have cost a lot more
than my price," he added. "It was good, though," he said again,

"Randolph," Oswald's voice sounded wild, "I don't know what the thing
cost. I don't know--"

"Now, sir, just what do you mean, you don't know the cost? I told you
to spend fifty thousand dollars, and from what I saw last night it'll
cost four times that. I'll go as high as one hundred twenty-five
thousand dollars, but not one cent over. And you'd better make it
worth the money, for that's a pretty penny," he said.

"Look, Randolph, the cleanup job down there was supposed to start this
morning. Contracts let, big crews ready to do the job fast so people
could go look at the finished product. Every family was signed up to
act as guides, like in Williamsburg. We moved 'em all to the country
yesterday, so they'd look healthy when they came back, and the job
could start at the crack of dawn today."


"Well, the job's already done."

"That's pretty fast. You said you started it this morning."

"Yeah. And when my man phoned me from down there I told him to get
black coffee and sober up. But I went down myself--and the job's done.
Exactly the job we specified, too. Done by our plans. Furnished,
painted, paint dry, curtains hung, the works, new bathrooms and
kitchen and plumbing and electricity. The works. It's finished.

"My best man was down there moving the families out yesterday. He
swears the building hadn't been touched then. The contractor says he's
going to sue, because he arrived with his crews to start the job, and
somebody else had done it. You come on. You've got to meet me here and
tell me the answers.

"Just what do you put in that soap of yours, anyhow?"

       *       *       *       *       *

By afternoon it was banners in every paper, wire-serviced across the
nation and the world.

Most of the stories were written tongue-in-cheek about the miracle
part. It was assumed that Witch Products had done the inside job in
advance, and thrown in the outside cleanup during the night.

The tenants were interviewed--Oswald had the sense to move them right
back into their new apartments--and not one of them could be made to
break down and admit that those buildings hadn't been slums yesterday.
Well, you couldn't blame them for sticking by Witch, look what Witch
had done for them was the word that went around Bleek's.

Of course the thing was a curiosity natural, and the police had so
many men assigned there by nightfall it looked like a concentration
camp. TV portables and news photographer's flashbulbs didn't lessen
the confusion any, and the crowds were being let in and through only
when there was room for more.

Bill Howard was there when Randolph went through, in earnest
conversation with a group of youngsters in one room. Oswald arranged
that the Witch manufacturer should have a strong police escort, and
the crowds moved back to make way for him in each apartment.

The tenants answered his questions, but they did so with a sullenness
that surprised Randolph. Yes, it had been a mess the day before. Yes,
it had been rebuilt, obviously, during the night, while they were
gone. Yes, just the one night.

"They should be saying thank you," Randolph noted to Oswald. "They're
acting as though I were a suspicious character."

"It's our escort," Oswald explained suavely. "These people don't think
of cops as their friends. Besides, this is pretty new to them."

Randolph chewed his lip, and decided that Oswald was probably right.
But the attitude was general, and it irritated him. He left after the
briefest go-through.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night Bill Howard was conservative in recounting the big
news-story of the "slum clearance." He wasn't giving it the real
Howard try, Randolph thought, sitting in front of his TV. There was a
quote in the story he told, too, from the father of the Jones family
that had been on the program the night before. "I reckon it's pretty
wonderful, Mr. Howard," Jones had told him. "But I don't rightly know
that I like it. Must admit I'm scared of this stuff," he had said, and
he waved his hand at the newness.

It was just a single sour note in the story, but it stuck out. The
rest was a description, without any mention of the "miracle" part.

At the break, the witches played the credit line to the hilt, though.

"Witches of the world unite to make it clean, clean, clean, Witch
clean--NOW!" they chanted their cry, and reenacted the scene of the
night before, while the announcer's voice rode over the muted jingle
to explain that Witch products had been used to make the slum clean,
clean, Witch clean, even though it took carpenters and builders and
contractors to remodel a slum building itself. That's better, thought
Randolph, watching. No more of this "miracle" nonsense.

It was barely 10:00 a.m. next morning when Randolph's phone rang.

"Randolph, here," he said, and heard Oswald's voice without

"They've gone."

"Who's gone?"

"The tenants of the building. Just picked up their duds and left. I've
put dicks on the case, and one family has moved in with relatives in
the Bronx. The others scattered, but we'll trace 'em. Here's one of
the policemen that was on duty when they left. He'll tell you."

A new voice came on the phone, as Randolph chewed his lip.

"Mr. Randolph? This is what happened, near as I can figure. We roped
off the area at dark, last night. Figured we'd give the families some
rest, and keep out the night-thrill guys.

"Everybody in the apartments must have gotten together after we
cleared out the crowds. It was pretty quiet, but the lights stayed on
till about 2:00 a.m. Then they all started parading out, some even
wearing their old clothes. They were carrying a few things, but
nothing that looked like they hadn't had it before the change, so we
figured what they were taking was theirs, probably.

"Didn't say a word. Just paraded past us. Some of the kids was crying,
but otherwise they were quiet."

"Then one man came running back to me, and he said 'Get out of here.
It's the devil's work. Get away from this place if you're a
God-fearing man.' Then he turned and ran toward the subway with the

"I couldn't figure we had any orders to stop 'em, so we didn't try. We
just watched."

Oswald came back on the phone.

"Can you keep it out of the papers?" Randolph asked.

"It's already on every newscast, and the papers'll have it by
noon--it's on the wires," Oswald said.

Randolph coughed nervously, but Oswald didn't wait for him to speak.

"I'm working on something to counteract this," he said. "We're being
witch-hunted," Oswald said. "I'll get the whole firm to work on it and
call you back."

       *       *       *       *       *

In Washington, meantime, another conference was going on, far more
intent, far more critical.

"It's more than just a pest plane that crashed in Formosa, Mr.
President," the CIA Chief was saying. "It carried bacterial bombs, and
they exploded.

"There's been no attempt to hide its source. It's, of course, of enemy
make. No identification on the bodies aboard, they're in civilian
clothes. But again, the make is Moscow.

"It shouldn't be long before we know the worst."

"Will they clean this one up as they did the last one, or will they
demand surrender terms on this one?" the President asked.

The Secretary of State and the Secretary of War started to answer
together, but it was State that got the first word in.

"I think they'll clean this one up," he said. "It would be a direct
threat on which they'll demand surrender terms. That's just a guess,
of course.

"The best teams of doctors are being organized and jetted over. The
best bacteriologists the nation has at its command. Every antibiotic
available is being sent."

"Will that make a dent?"


"How long can we keep it under wraps?"

"A week. Ten days, perhaps, with top security."

"Give it everything you've got. But keep it quiet until we know what
the next move is. Twenty-four hour alert, of course, immediately."

"Even if the alert itself endangers the security wraps?"

"Yes. A week to ten days of security isn't enough to pay for taking a
chance the other way."

       *       *       *       *       *

By 4:00 p.m. Oswald was on the phone to Randolph. "We've got the
antidote," he said jubilantly.

Randolph was quiet for a minute, chewing his lip. Then: "I'm being
vilified in the press as the creator of a hoax that even those who
stood to benefit by it couldn't take," he said. "The few who have
decided that a real miracle occurred have also decided that I'm in
league with the devil, and that witches are for burning. Mostly Witch
is the butt of every joke that can be dreamed up by every cub reporter
in the nation. Saxton has started laying the groundwork for making
Witch a political issue. There is talk of an FCC investigation."


"I trust," he said formally, "that your antidote is an efficient one."

Oswald's voice sounded smug, and not at all disgruntled. "Try this on
for size," he said. "First, Witch is known far and wide as nothing
less could have made it known--"

"Yes, and if the churches ban the use of Witch, we'll wish we

"O.K., O.K. Tonight we explain carefully that the 'miracle' was a
miracle of cleanliness, and that carpenters and contractors and all
that did the miracle. You know, American technology and mass
production in operation, something to be proud of. Tie Witch right in
to the whole picture of the United States as the leader of
mechanical--stress mechanical--miracles.

"Then--what's the most appealing thing in the world?" He didn't wait
for an answer. "A child. A small, crippled child, for whom Witch can
provide the funds to make her walk." Oswald hurried on, knowing that
Randolph had to go through a bit of lip chewing before he could
interrupt, and taking advantage of the fact to ride over objections.

"We've got a kid that an expensive operation will save from being a
cripple. I've consulted two top surgeons already, and they say it's
nearly positive.

"We don't do any hocus-pocus. We just say that Witch is going to pay
for the operation. She leaves the broadcast and goes straight to the
hospital. We get a movie of the operation, and we do movies on her
convalescence, and we play it for weeks until she walks on stage
cured--weeks later."

Now Oswald waited. It was a long wait, an unusually long wait, even
for Randolph. Finally, he said:

"All right. But if anything unusual occurs you will answer for it in

"Nothing unusual could occur. I admit I still don't know what happened
last time, but we'll find out.

"Meantime, we'll take a week to build this one up," Oswald continued.
"The buildup will stress that this is a cure being bought by money. No
miracle, except the miracle of American medical know-how. No miracles
meantime. Just keep Witch clean and stay well, and Witch buys the
operation the kid needs. She's pretty, too," he added as an
afterthought. "Ten years old."

       *       *       *       *       *

That night Bill Howard leaned across the desk toward the TV audience,
and tiny droplets of sweat stood on his forehead. His voice was calm,
though. A big map of New York City hung on the wall behind him.

The big news that night was a dope raid. He described the dope traffic
in the nation, the efforts of the FBI and every law enforcement body
in the country, to track it down, clean it out. He described what it
did to the young, who got caught and were slaves for life, unless they
could be cured--and he spoke of the meagerness of the cures that were

Then he described the raid. He took a pointer from his desk and he
outlined how the raid had been staged, and he pointed out the
location of the building where it had occurred. Then he followed with
his pointer the route to the precinct jail where the victims were
being held.

"Cannot our best researchers find a cure for this addiction?" he asked
in his husky voice. "Cannot our best law-enforcement agencies find the
real perpetrators of these crimes? The perpetrators are the fiends who
import dope and create addicts to peddle it for them. These who are
confined are the victims. If no way can be found to cure them, they
must be confined again and again and again, for that addiction will
force them to ever-increasing crime to satisfy it.

"If no way can be found to cure them, these are potential slaves for

As he ended the station break came, and the camera shifted to the
Witches, dancing on stage, crying their chant.

"Witches of the world, unite to make it clean, clean, clean, Witch

"Which soap or detergent, Witch cleanser upsurgent--"

The announcer's voice, when it came in over the muted jingle
"explained" the miracle of the slum-clearance again--a miracle of
American technology. Then he outlined the next "miracle" the Witch
Corporation would promote. This, he said, would be a miracle of
American Medical know-how. Witch would pay for the expensive operation
needed to make a little girl walk again after a crippling disease
several years before. Bone would be grafted, new muscles would be
grafted, American medical know-how in its full extent would be put at
her service.

Keep healthy by keeping clean with Witch, the announcer suggested.
Witch would pay for the expensive operation to undo the effects of one
disease. Meanwhile, Witch's customers could use the preventive
medicine of cleanliness to help them in their fight against disease,
while the researchers of American medicine "seek to find you real

       *       *       *       *       *

It was 10:30 the next morning when the doorbell rang.

A big man was standing outside in a topcoat, hat in hand. Randolph
stood in the door, waiting.

The man silently held out a badge, and Randolph moved aside, gesturing
him in.

"I didn't look at your badge close enough," Randolph said as he closed
the door behind his visitor. "Who are you?"

"Narcotics squad," the man said briefly. "I was on the raid last

"Oh? The one Bill Howard was talking about in his newscast?"

"Yes. That one. I don't figure there's any connection, and my boss
just laughed when I suggested there was a connection."


"You see, I took a break from questioning those boys we pulled in.
Trying to get a lead to the higher-ups. They were doped to the ears,
and sometimes you can get info from them right quick. I took a break
for a cup of coffee across the street, and there was a TV in the
place, and I watched your Bill Howard.

"I left just when your witches came on, shouting that thing about make
it clean NOW. I went right back and started in on the questioning
again, but the guy they brought in for me to question next was--not
dopey. He was ... well, there's a difference between boys with the
monkey on their back, and when there's no monkey. There was no monkey,
but the kid began giving me everything he knew would take us to the
higher-ups. It was being taped, of course, and I asked him when he'd
had his last shot. Not twenty minutes before the raid, he said, calm
as you please.

"I had the guys brought back that I'd talked to before and they
were--different. Only way I can describe it is, no monkey. The monkey
had been there before. I don't know. They each gave us all they had in
leads--they'd been stubborn before, but they sang like canaries.

"I checked and nobody'd done anything to 'em to bring 'em off their
jazz. If there's anything can be done to pull a guy out of a jazz,
anyhow, I've never heard of it, and I've been in the narcotics squad
since the year One. I couldn't figure it. I'd been hearing stories
about Witch Products and that miracle at the Battery, sort of as a
joke, and I thought, just maybe, just possibly, you know....

"Anyhow, I took the tapes to my boss, and spoke my bit, but he just

"Maybe you'll just laugh, too, but I thought I'd ask."

       *       *       *       *       *

At the same time in Washington, the cabinet was in full session.
Reports coming in from Formosa were worse than even the most
pessimistic had dreamed. The bacteria hit at the nerves and the brain,
and the victims--excruciating was a word being used.

"It's hit everywhere on the island at once. I assume it is contagious
as well as having been broadcast from whatever bombs or broadcast
methods were used," the CIA chief reported.

"Any word from their embassy?"

State answered that one. "No word at all. Phone calls to the
Ambassador only elicit reports that he is not available. I can't reach
anybody higher than a fourth assistant undersecretary."

"At least it's not been on the air or in the press."

"I don't know how long we can hold them in leash. Most of your leading
papers know there's a twenty-four hour alert on--that was bound to
leak--but I've kept them quiet. We'll have to give them something
soon, though. They won't take a muzzle too long without at least
knowing why."

"Could you give them the story and trust them, when it's this
important, and the consequences of leakage this apparent?"

"I'd thought of that. You can convince some newsmen--but there's
always a Joe somewhere who figures the American people have a right
to know their destiny before it's decided, no matter what the
effect--and no matter if their most highly elected officials feel it
would not be good for them."

"Keep it top security as long as possible. Let me know before it

"If I can. I'm not a witch. I might not know when it was breaking."
The CIA chief grinned sourly at his own allusion.

The next night, the big news was the countdown in process at Canaveral
to put a functioning "dome" on the moon. If the dome could be landed
successfully, complete with live animals, a man would follow shortly.
That was foregone. The question was landing the dome, just a small
spaceship body, but completely equipped to keep a man alive for two
years, in case anything went wrong with plans to bring him back

Bill Howard's voice was excited, and he ran his fingers through his
hair, pushing it back as he leaned across the desk, the map of Florida
behind him.

"To the statesmen, this is a question of who is first and who is
second, and perhaps who will control the spaceways," he said after
describing the countdown in process.

"But to the peoples of the world, this is mankind, reaching for the

"It is not known," he said solemnly, "whether the failure of many of
our shots has been human error or sabotage. Human error is a frailty
of the race. Sabotage is a frailty of statesmanship, that the world
is still divided as it reaches for the stars. Yet each is possible.

"Is there a mechanical error built in by human frailty in tonight's
shot? Is there a saboteur at work?

"Or, as the countdown reaches zero, one hour from now, will the dome
tear through the atmosphere of Earth in man's first real step to the
stars successfully? Is our bird perfect this time?" he asked, as the
break came.

The witches danced on crying their chant ... "Witches of the world,
unite to make it clean, clean, clean, Witch clean,--NOW!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Randolph was chewing his lip still as he went to bed that night. The
man from the Narcotics Squad had left peaceably. There were answers to
all the questions, and it wasn't his worry anyway. He'd be glad when
the little girl had her operation. Grafting bones and muscles might be
miraculous, but they were explicable and everybody understood them.
Talk of the FCC investigation had died aborning, but talk like that
was enough to upset anybody. Everything had been upsetting recently,
even though the up-curve on Witch products was holding steady.

       *       *       *       *       *

The American dome landed on the moon the morning of the day that the
crippled child was scheduled to come on the Witch program.

For the American people it was a day of celebration comparable to the
Fourth of July. In the White House gloom hung like a palpable shroud.

"They'll have to move fast now," the Secretary of War was reporting to
his chief. "They can't afford to let us get our man up there. Even if
we could shoot him off successfully."

"We can't shoot a man up there until we've proved in at least two more
successful shots that we can get him there," Security declared
forcefully. "The threat from our enemies is as nothing to the threat
from the vote-wielding public if we tried and failed when a human life
is at stake."

"Formosa is leaking," admitted the CIA chief. "We can't hold it more
than three days now at the outside."

The President rested a hand on his desk. "Two more shots mean at least
six months before a man is up there, armed. Three days means Formosa
is in the news this week. When the news breaks, credit our doctors and
bacteriologists with being on the way to a cure. Fix it so that if
they clean up their epidemic, the way they did Suez, we get the

"That's the best we can do right now. Besides looking for a miracle.
But miracles are popular these days," he added ruefully.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Bill Howard who stood outside when Randolph answered his
doorbell next morning. He let the big, homely, almost shambling figure
in without a word.

"I came to ask you a question I don't think you can answer," Howard
said morosely, not moving farther than the foyer.

"I came to ask you what it is about the witches?"

Randolph chewed his lip, standing there beside his much-larger guest,
conscious of his own prim--almost prissy--neatness as it contrasted to
the other's shaggy look. Shaggy dog, thought Randolph. Big, unkempt,
shaggy St. Bernard.

"What about the witches?" he asked finally.

"Well ... there have been some funny things. That slum, of course. I
was there, of course. I saw it. And I talked to the small-fry. It was
a tenement the day before, I'd stake a lot on it."

There was a silence before Randolph answered.


"Well, then a few little things. A narcotics man came to see me. Just
personal. Just curious. They've been pulling in the higher-ups in the
dope traffic, by the way--on info from the guys caught in that raid.

"Then that Canaveral deal? Were you listening that night?"

"I always tune you in. It seems to me that today is one of
celebration. The dome landed."

"Yeah Yeah, celebration. I'm a newsman, and I get stories that don't
go out. There's one that just an hour before zero--a man suddenly died
of a heart attack. The technician who took his place--you don't stop a
countdown like that for a heart attack--checked his work and found an
error that would have misfired the thing. There was also one circuit
that had been changed, but they left that because it was changed to
be more accurate. They figured the dead guy had done it."


"So ... well, nothing. I just wanted to ask you. The witches don't touch
anything real these days, of course, so even if ... they were ... well,
magic somehow, they couldn't have been involved."

There wasn't even a pause for lip-chewing this time.

"Are you trying to insinuate that Witch products--"

The question was left hanging, but Bill Howard stood there looking his
sponsor in the eye.

"Mr. Randolph, I'm not trying to insinuate one damn thing. I'm not
even saying anything to anybody, and if I did say anything I'd be
laughed off the air, not by you, but by whoever I said it to.

"I'm just telling you what twos and twos have been setting themselves
in front of my everlasting consciousness, and asking if you know
anything to add to them?"

The lip-chewing started again, and the two stood there. Then Randolph
said quietly, "Mr. Howard, I have been manufacturing Witch products
for twenty-five years. They have been improved steadily since I first
started with a very good formula. They are the best cleaning products
available in the world today, I most sincerely believe. They are that
exactly, and nothing more than that exactly. So you will have to find
another explanation for your twos and twos, which I admit are a rather
spectacular run of coincidence, though not beyond the bounds of

"Myself, I suspect BDD&O with perpetrating some sort of hoax in the
first instance. If any more hoaxes are perpetrated, I plan to switch
agencies, switch programs, and call for an FCC investigation of BDD&O
to clear the Witch name, which never has and never would condone any
hoax of any sort, much less one of the magnitude of whatever occurred,
which I profess I do not understand, but which I expect the FCC can
trace to its source.

"Good day to you, sir," Randolph ended the unprecedentedly long
speech, turned on his heel and left Bill Howard to find his own way

       *       *       *       *       *

That night, as Bill Howard ended his newscast, the camera did not
switch to the witches. Instead it switched to the announcer.

"Tonight, Witch Products would like you to meet a little girl," the
announcer said in a soft voice that contrasted well with Howard's just
ended powerful one.

As he spoke the camera backed away to broaden its scope and include in
its picture, beside the announcer, a small blond child in a wheel
chair. Her hair was shoulder-length and carefully combed. Her eyes
were downcast shyly. Her hands gripped the arms of the wheel chair as
though for security. Her legs were covered with a shawl.

"This is Mary," said the announcer, then leaned toward her. "Will you
speak to the audience, Mary?"


She lifted deep blue eyes briefly to the camera, then dropped them
quickly. "Hello," she said in a voice barely audible.

"Mary is not used to many people, or to audiences," the announcer
said. "Mary has been sitting in this wheel chair for almost three
years, since a crippling disease twisted her limbs.

"We hope that Mary can be made to walk. The finest surgeons in the
country have been consulted, and they believe an operation can give
her back her legs, that were twisted when the disease struck.
International Witch Corporation has arranged for that operation.

"Tomorrow Mary will go to the hospital. She will have the operation
soon. In a few weeks, perhaps Mary will walk.

"Will you like that, Mary? Will you like walking?" he asked, leaning
toward the child.

Again the eyes lifted for the briefest instant. Again they dropped

"Yes," Mary said in that barely audible voice.

"Then you shall have it, if it can be done," the announcer said, and
the camera moved even farther back to include a stage onto which the
witches danced.

The witches came onto the stage, not toward Mary, but stage center,
chanting--their cry.

"Witches of the world, unite to make it clean, clean, clean, Witch

At the corner of the screen, the child-body in the wheel chair
shuddered suddenly. Mary took a deep breath, went white and then red.
With a forceful gesture she threw off the shawl and looked at her
legs. Her hand reached down to touch them.

On the stage itself, one witch stopped dancing to watch. The others
noticed, stopped. The jingle died, half through....

And Mary stood up, looking at her legs. She took a step towards the
camera, and another. Her blue eyes lifted to the camera, widening.

In the absolute quiet, as everyone on stage stood frozen, Mary walked
towards the camera, her eyes like saucers looking into it. Her voice,
barely above a whisper, spoke.

"I'm ... I'm walking," said Mary.

       *       *       *       *       *

The papers called it the cruelest hoax of all.

They carried the story side by side with the withdrawal of the Witch
program from the network, both by network and by International Witch
Corporation order.

The carried the statement of FCC officials that an investigation would
be made.

They carried the statement by Randolph that he would sue BDD&O.

They carried the statement by Oswald that he would sue Witch Products.

But mostly they carried the story of a little girl, who had been
whisked from sight and couldn't be located. Who had probably been
given an operation to make it possible for her to walk, but had been
forced to pay for the operation by taking part in a cruel hoax of
unbelievable magnitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bill Howard stayed with the network, on the same time, sponsorless.
He'd been cleared of any implication in the hoax by all parties
concerned, and his reputation had always been good. He was asked to
stay in town and be available to appear as a witness, but the network
gambled that he was clear, and kept him on. He was one of the biggest
draws in newscasting, his personality that made the news seem to
belong to the people, to be a continuing story of their lives, was
unique. The network decided the gamble of keeping him on was

By the next night the Formosa crisis had broken into the news, and it
was the news.

The details were horrible, and they were uncovered aplenty. Finally
ungagged, those who had been holding off gave the story the works.

The effects of the pest plane, of the pest bombs, were the most
vicious that could be developed in the laboratories of bacterial
war--and they put to shame the naturally-occurring epidemics that have
scourged mankind throughout his history.

And the effects were spreading with the speed of a prairie fire before
a high wind.

The entire area was quarantined, and daily the quarantine was
extended. No plane could land and take off again. No ship could enter
and leave. An airlift of supplies dropped by parachute was being

Bacteriologists and doctors jetted to the area were dying with the
rest, caught in disease for which there was no answer.

The propaganda attempts to make it seem as though cures were near were
flatly not believed. Suez was remembered, but was remembered as a
hoax--and the country had had its complete fill of hoaxes.

Randolph had a number of what he referred to--and reported--as "crank
calls," asking Witch to try its might. He arranged for every call that
reached him to be traced immediately. He remained in seclusion.

Oswald had a few of the "crank calls" and reported them as such.

Bill Howard had a number of calls, and didn't report them.

Bill Howard worried, and added two and two, and sweated, and reported
the details of Formosa each night. The details giantized in
gruesomeness until their very content was too much for the airways,
and he had to censor them as he gave them out.

Bill Howard sweated in the cold January weather, and each day he
ferreted further, seeking out the realities behind the censorship that
lay heavy now even over the wires. By phone, by gossip, by hearsay and
by know-how he got the stories behind the story--the real horrors that
he couldn't broadcast.

Sometimes he rebelled at the censors and himself as one of them, but
he knew better than to rebel. It's facing us all, he thought. We each
have the right to know.

This is the way the world ends, he thought. With a whimper that comes
after the agony, when agony is too great.

And he kept remembering a little girl walking towards a camera with
big eyes.

If I were a physicist, he told himself, if I were a physicist instead
of a newshawk, I could get a computer to tell me the probability ratio
of whether I hold an answer.

That probability ratio is probable ten billion to one, he told

That probability ratio is zero.

Witches are for burning, he told himself.

He told himself a lot of things, and he sweated through the cold
January weather.

       *       *       *       *       *

It had been two weeks since the world heard the first details of
Formosa, and the details were so grim now that you couldn't use them
at all. Just a blanket story.

That night, the map of the world behind his desk, Bill Howard leaned
toward his audience.

He told them the human side of the story of Formosa.

He spoke of the people there, the pawns in a game of international
suicide, real people, not just statistics.

He described a family, and he made them the family next door. Mother,
father, children, watching one another die, not prettily but with all
the torture that the laboratories of the world could dream and put
together. A family that watched each other go insane, knowing what was
happening. A family that watched each other die, writhing and
unknowing in insanity.

He took his pointer and he showed the growing perimeter of the
quarantine. He traced the location of the center of the disaster.

Then he leaned again toward his audience. "Listen, now," he said, "for
the world cannot sustain this torture."

He took a deep breath and he put the full force of his being into his

"Witches of the world, unite," he said, "to make it clean, clean,
clean, Witch clean--NOW!"

The final word was out before the network censor reached the cut-off

       *       *       *       *       *

The President and his cabinet put the country on a double alert.
Russia had cleaned up Formosa, they knew, and would hit the United
States with disease and ultimatums next.

The people of the world took the story with an unexpected calm. Like
Hiroshima, it was too unexpected, too big, too unimaginable. There was
a hooker somewhere, and they went about their business annoyed, angry,
worried, but quiet.

The papers editorialized on the question of who cleaned up
Formosa--who had the answers?--and left the subject of what the
possession of such a clean-up force could mean to the world, to the
statesmen. They turned as quickly as possible to other matters, for
nobody was sure what to think, and nobody told them what to think.

Bill Howard was off the air, of course. It didn't bother him. He had
a real problem now.

We've bought a little time, he thought. A little time to grow in.

We've bought a little time from the fanatics and their statesmen, from
the eggheads and their politicians, from the military and the
industrial and the just generally foolhardy.

We, the people of the world, have a little time now that we didn't
have yesterday.

How much? He didn't know.

On this one, there'd been time to get together. On this one, there'd
been weeks, while the crisis built and the world faced a horrible
death. This crisis had been a lengthy one. There'd been time for a man
to make up his mind and try a solution.

The next one might be different. There might be a satellite up there
waiting, with a button to be pushed. There were an awful lot of
buttons waiting to be pushed, he told himself, buttons all over the
world, controlling missiles already zeroed in on--well, on the people
of the world.

The next one might occur in hours, or even minutes. The next one, the
bombs might be in the air before the people even knew the buttons were
for pushing.

Bill Howard got out his typewriter.

You've got a problem, you talk to a typewriter, if that's the only
thing that will listen.

What's the problem? he asked himself, and he wrote it down. He started
at the beginning and he told the story on the typewriter. He told it
the way it had been happening.

Now, he thought, you've got to end the story. If you leave it just "to
be continued," it'll be continued, all right. Somebody will push a
button one day, and that will write 30 at the end for you. Conclusion.

The problem was, in essence, quite simply stated in terms of miracles.

The way things were stewing, it'd be a miracle if the world held
together long enough for unity to set in. It'd take a miracle to bring
about the necessary self-restraint, which was the only possible
substitute for the imposed restraint of war.

The witch power was, quite clearly, a power of the people--of the
people who needed that protection, needed those miracles. And it was
the power that had worked miracles.

We'll never know who does the job, he told himself. It's better that
way. Like table-tipping. You can say "I didn't do it." You can even be
sure you didn't do it, if you want to. But the table tips if you get
enough people around the table. Ouiji writes, if at least two people
have their fingers on it, so that they each can say "I didn't do it."

Who are the witches? Why, they're the people, and they're not for burning.
The fanatics and their statesmen, the eggheads and their politicians, the
brains and the brain trusts and the world-weary--they're for burning, but
not the witches. Which witch is a witch? Doesn't matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour later, Bill Howard sat down to the typewriter again. He'd
stated the general problem--but now he had a specific problem, and,
for a man in his line of business, it was a fairly straightforward

He need only plot out the necessary moves so that he could call on
that witch power just one more time. Just once. Just long enough to
clean out the violent, rooted resistance to the idea that people had
powers--and could work miracles!


       *       *       *       *       *

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