Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Cancer World
Author: Warner, Harry
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 "Cancer World" ***

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



   Greg tried desperately to find an illegal method of joining his
   family on Mars; for the law said that no healthy man could land on
   a--



CANCER WORLD

_By_

_Harry Warner, Jr._

[Illustration]


"We won the Patagonian trust case," Greg Marson's jubilant tones filled
the apartment--the hall in which he stood, the automatic kitchen in the
rear, the living quarters, bedroom and nursery in between.

But no one replied. Greg let his bulging, expensive briefcase slip to
the floor, strode through the empty hall, poked his head into the
kitchen, then entered the nursery.

Dennis dashed to his father on two-year-old legs, and baby Phyllis
gurgled twice in her pen. Greg wrinkled his nose in puzzlement, then
punched the babyviewer.

"You can cut service," he told the girl whose blonde head appeared on
the screen.

She nodded, counted on her fingers, and said: "That will be seven hours
of viewing. No extras. The children behaved beautifully."

The screen darkened. Greg stared foolishly at it, then turned to Dennis.

"Where'd your mother go?"

Dennis smiled vaguely, and began to tinker with his molecule builder.
Phyllis gurgled again.

Greg looked at the remains of the lunch that had hopped automatically
from its can at noon, and the lowered reservoir of milk in the baby's
feeder. Dora obviously hadn't been there since morning, and she didn't
like to trust the babyview service so long. It was Wednesday, and bridge
club was Tuesday. They'd subscribed to the telebuying service, so Dora
hadn't gone shopping for months. The new baby wasn't due for five
months, so a hurry-up trip to a doctor was unlikely....

The front door screeched, its bad hinge audible in the nursery, and
Greg relaxed. "I'm back here, Dora," he called, and headed for the hall,
closing the nursery door behind him.

Greg saw the policeman before he saw Dora. She was being lead toward the
living room sofa, her face white, her coat soiled.

"What's wrong?" Greg rushed forward.

"You're Marson? Relax. Your wife just got excited for a minute. Lots of
them try what she did. We won't hold it against her."

Dora pressed close to Greg, her head pushing against his chest, her body
trembling. Reproachfully, the policeman was saying:

"You should have stayed home on her check day. If she could have reached
you when she heard the news--" He brushed invisible specks from his
spotless uniform and walked out of the apartment.

Greg led his wife to the sofa and sank down beside her. Check day. He
stared at her with disbelief.

"I'm sorry," she said in a whisper, not looking at him. "You never could
remember anniversaries or dates, and I didn't want to worry you." She
started to quiver again.

"How bad is it?" Greg fought for words, blinking to try to drive away
the haze before his eyes.

"It isn't serious at all," she said, raising her head and looking at him
for the first time. "They said that the operation will take only a few
minutes. They said cancer wouldn't ever be dangerous if they always
found it as quickly as this time. We--I'm really very lucky, they said."

"But you should have told me that this was your check day. I was worried
about the Patagonian case, and I just--"

Then Greg stared straight at his wife, trying to pierce the strangeness
that covered her eyes. He realized in a flood of terror the full
implications of this day.

"Dora--do they let you have the child if you're pregnant when they find
cancer? I don't remember...."

       *       *       *       *       *

She sat erect and pushed the hair away from her eyes, suddenly the
stronger of the two. "Of course, I can have the child," she said. "And
please don't worry about today. I was silly, and fainted when they
brought in the report, and when I came to I tried to pretend that I'd
suffered amnesia. It was foolish because they could have identified me
from their records, but they told me that lots of women get the same
idea, so maybe I'm not so terrible after all."

Dennis wailed from the nursery and Phyllis' thin cry joined his.
"They're lonely," Dora said. "I'll go and see--"

"Wait. You didn't make a decision?"

"Of course I did." She smiled palely. "I reserved passage."

"But you can't go away! What would I do without you and the kids?"

"Don't shout so. You'll frighten them. And stop thinking about yourself.
You know I'd be willing to undergo sterilization. But we can't inflict
it on the kids when they're still too young to decide for themselves."

"I'll find some way out. There must be someone who'd be willing to be
bought--"

"Don't talk that way," she tried to laugh. "After all, you've always
said you'd like to have the children see another planet."

Greg sat down again and covered his face with his hands. "Don't say
that, Dora. Sure, I'd like to take my family to Venus if they ever
opened it up for colonization. But that's a fine planet. Mars is hell,
and the law says I can't go with you or the kids."

"That's exactly right. The law says that we're breeding a cancer-free
race of humans on Earth by sending to Mars all the people who prove to
be susceptible."

Greg shook his head. "That plan wasn't set up just to breed out cancer
prones. It was partly to keep Earth from starvation when overpopulation
became an impossible problem. It isn't really a moral issue. Look, you
can probably cancel your passage, and we can arrange sterilization. The
kids will approve when they grow up."

Now it was Dora who held Greg close. "I don't want to leave you," she
said desperately, "but there's nothing else to do. You know the
Carstairs, and the Andresens. The same thing happened to both of those
girls. They talked it over with their husbands and decided on
sterilization, and the Andresens broke up the next year and Mrs.
Carstairs is in a mental home...."

Greg was silent for a moment. Then he looked at her.

"When do you leave?"

The children wailed again. "I won't be here next Wednesday," she arose
and walked unsteadily toward the nursery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Greg drove the next morning through narrow streets and backed his car
into a parking space close to his destination. He sat for a moment,
frowning at the antiquated, dirty buildings, half-residential,
half-business. Then he left the car and walked up the half-dozen uneven
stone steps to Modern Laboratories.

Behind the small front office, Modern Laboratories contained an array
of testtubes, some sluggish guinea pigs, and dusty bottles. A man who
Greg knew must be Dr. Haskett stood in front of the bottles and looked
dubiously at him.

"My contact told me to say that I need altitude shots," Greg said. "He
also told me to say that I've heard of your success in transplantations."

"Sit down."

Greg found a stool, and looked unhappily at the grimy fingernails of Dr.
Haskett which were now tapping the sink's edge. "Did your friend explain
how much it will cost?"

"The check's written." Greg handed it over. "It's dated ahead. I can
stop payment if you don't do what you promise. And secrecy is important.
My wife doesn't know what I'm doing."

"Marta," Dr. Haskett called. A girl from the front office came into the
laboratory, and in bored fashion pulled a soiled white robe over her
street dress.

"Lie down here." Dr. Haskett shoved two tables together to provide a
large, flat surface, and Marta shoved home the lock on the single door
leading out of the room. "But sign this release, first. And undress. You
prefer intravenous anaesthesia, I suppose?"

"There's not much risk?" Greg asked, his perspiring fingers slipping as
he tried to unknot his tie. "Not much risk that you'll fail to make good
... a good transplantation?"

"I guarantee that part of it," Dr. Haskett said, opening a case and
withdrawing instruments. "The only risk lies in the danger that it will
grow too fast in six months."

"I won't give it a chance. My wife gets sent to Mars next week. I'm
going to ask for a special check and get myself sent aboard the same
ship with her. I know the right people."

Marta laughed openly. Dr. Haskett shot a glare in her direction, then
looked calculatingly at Greg.

"You're talking like a child," he said. "If I implant cancerous tissue
in your body, you can't submit to a check for at least six months. The
examiners would find the scars of the operation. There are laws against
what you want me to do for you."

Greg stared at the tie he had finally pulled loose. "But I can't wait
six months," he said helplessly. "If Dora gets sent to Mars alone, you
know what will happen as well as I do. Deported people are automatically
divorced from their husbands and wives on Earth. They have to marry
again as soon as possible on Mars. The women need someone to support
them and their kids, the men need the women to run the houses up
there...."

The woman straightened her face with an effort, took off the white robe,
and tossed it on the floor. Then she unlocked the door and returned to
her office. Dr. Haskett turned his back on Greg, saying, "I'm afraid
there's nothing I can do for you, sir."

       *       *       *       *       *

Greg drove from the rundown district faster than the law allowed. Did
the ordinary man on the street submit calmly when this happened to his
wife or did he have contacts that Greg had never known?

Still, it seemed unlikely that many persons could escape the law. Every
nation on Earth cooperated to send cancerous persons to Mars, not only
to breed the disease out of Earth, but to relieve the tremendous
pressure of a growing population. The effort was succeeding, even though
it was taking much of Earth's resources to send the people and supplies
to Mars, even though the project had delayed the opening of colonization
on a real paradise planet, Venus.

Pulling into the apartment's parking cell, Greg rode the elevator to his
floor.

The apartment was dark and silent. A single lamp glowed faintly on the
living room desk, and then he saw the note beside the viewphone.

"I didn't exactly lie about the date of my passage," the note said, "but
I misled you. The children and I went at noon today. It's the best way.
We couldn't stand the torture of a week, so I asked for immediate
passage. Try to smuggle through a message to the children and me later
on, but don't try to do anything more dangerous. I pray that someday the
laws will change and we'll see each other again." There were a few more
lines of writing, but they had been carefully scratched out. Dora's
signature, barely recognizable in its shakiness, was at the bottom of
the paper....

       *       *       *       *       *

The smoke in the tavern was too thick to permit easy breathing. But Greg
had been choking somewhere deep inside before he had wandered into the
place. He placed his glass carefully over the well in the counter,
pressed the stud at the edge of the counter, and watched the mixed drink
squirt up through the patent bottom of the glass. There was a slight
click as the bottom tightened automatically, the price appeared on the
inset beside the stud, and Greg drank. Then he put down the glass, aware
that the man beside him was studying him intently.

"There comes a time," the man said carefully, "when the fingers refuse
to clench the glass with sufficient resistance. At that point, you begin
to pass out." The stranger raised his glass with only slight effort, and
watched Greg apply time and thought to the same procedure.

"You remind me of the way some doctors talk," Greg said.

"I never forget a patient," the stranger said, peering intently at Greg,
"and you aren't one of mine, even though you're not quite sober enough
to look natural. But people tell me that all doctors act somewhat alike,
even when they aren't very good doctors." He drained his glass with one
gulp.

"My wife was sent to Mars," Greg blurted the words out. He turned to the
stranger.

"There must be some way I can bring her back!"

"Don't proposition me, fellow," the strange doctor said, blinking but
keeping his eyes boring into Greg's face. "You're talking to the wrong
person, if you want one of those little operations."

Greg shook his head. "I thought of that. I went to one doctor. He told
me the scar wouldn't heal for six months.... She'll be married again by
that time."

The stranger pursed his lips thoughtfully for a moment. Then he looked
away from Greg and began to speak lowly, as if he were talking to
himself.

"I've run across other people in your situation. Space freighters go
close to Mars' surface and parachute equipment down. The passenger ships
stay further away and send people down in little auxiliary ships. I've
never heard of anyone smuggling himself to Mars, you understand, but if
you tried to--"

"What I want is a freighter that actually will land on Mars."

"You won't find any," the doctor said. "It takes too much fuel to take
off again. This way, they can carry twice as much load, by just circling
the planet close to the surface." He stopped, looked at Greg
quizzically. "Funny thing about cancer--you study it since you learned
the bad news? No? Well, the cure is something like the disease these
days. Cancer is caused by cells that are harmful to the other cells in
the body and grow too fast. So we're deporting people who might be
harmful to other people by propagating the disease. Then there's
metastasis."

"What's that?"

"Metastasis--the migration of cancer cells. They move from one part of
the body to the other."

"Like we're moving people to Mars?" Greg laughed tiredly and started to
get up.

"Take it easy, bud." A hand was on Greg's shoulder, and the doctor's
voice was in his ear. "We've all got troubles. Look up this guy, if you
really want to do something about the wife and kids." A hand slipped a
card into Greg's pocket.

       *       *       *       *       *

"What can you do?" The recruiting officer eyed Greg suspiciously.

"Anything." Greg spoke slowly, his eyes on the officer. "A fellow gave
me this card, and told me I could get work on a freighter at this
address."

The man glanced at the card and shrugged. "Sign this." He shoved a
dogeared form toward Greg. The table shook slightly as a spaceship
blasted off. Greg signed, glancing over the form.

"This isn't a contract," he said, handing it back. "It's just a release
for you in case something happens to a crew member."

"So we aren't running pleasure trips or slumming expeditions for rich
guys. You were born yesterday if you don't know the freighters are a
little dangerous. We don't know how much money we'll make out of a trip
until we've made it. So we can't settle on any pay now."

"Get me onto the surface of the planet and you get my services free the
whole trip out," Greg said. "Isn't that fair enough?"

"So you want to hop out before the return trip?" The agent's face
darkened. "Just when you've started to learn something useful
aboardship?" A man standing at the door started to move slowly toward
them.

"I've changed my mind." Greg got up, turned, and suddenly an arm
encircled his throat. He twisted fiercely, uselessly, while the
recruiting officer pulled a cloth-covered tube from the desk drawer. The
word _shanghai_ flashed into Greg's mind, an instant before the lead
pipe smashed down against his skull.

       *       *       *       *       *

Someone was shaking Greg, trying to dislodge his consciousness from the
black, cramped niche into which it was wedged. The hand at his shoulder
gripped hard, shook roughly, and a voice was bellowing into Greg's ears.
Greg moved a hand, experimentally. Instantly he was jerked upright.

"Time to get to work," the voice rumbled loudly. "Let's get this show on
the road. My name's Moore. What's yours?"

Greg poked with stiff fingers at his eyes. Light blinded him. He was in
a small room that might have been an overgrown closet. He sat on the
lower half of a two-tier bunk. There was a webbing of ropes at the other
side, and a couple of small lockers around the other sides. The hand
that had been shaking him belonged to a giant blond fellow who might
have been in his forties.

"Feel better?" The blond giant steadied Greg in a sitting position.

"What's this all about?" Greg felt for the lump on his head.

"Well, they haven't told me about you," the fellow grinned, "but I can
guess. When someone starts to ask about a berth on a freighter, they
figure that he's either a potential crew member or a spy. Either way,
they figure they'd better take him aboard. I got took just the same way,
ten years ago. I'm not sorry now. It's a pretty good life."

"Look, I've got some money." Greg struggled to his feet. "Who can I see
to get out of here?"

"Too late," Moore said. "We've blasted off. You've been out cold for two
days. Don't you feel the ship?"

Greg sat down again, and suddenly he felt better. After all wasn't he on
his way to Mars, where he had wanted to go all along? He could worry
about smuggling himself onto the planet later, when they started to toss
out the cargo....

Moore introduced him to his duties in the hours that followed, and later
joined him in their tiny cabin.

"You'll have to take the upper bunk as soon as you feel better," Moore
warned. "I got seniority, you know."

"Maybe I won't be around long. How do you go about skipping ship at
delivery point?"

"It can be done if you've got the money," Moore said. "They run these
boats to make money and they aren't particular about where the money
comes from. They never are sure what sort of a price they can get for
the refrigeration equipment and dehumidifiers and stuff."

"Refrigeration--dehumidifiers?" Greg stared at Moore. "Are they crazy?
Mars is the last place in the world to dispose of stuff like that!"

"Mars? Who said anything about Mars, bud?" Moore looked at him
curiously. "They need that stuff on Venus, because it gets hot and damp
there in the summer time. We're going to Venus, my friend!"

The words stunned Greg's mind. "But my wife and kids were sent to Mars,
and if I'm heading for Venus it'll be too late--"

"But you ought to have known that these birds only go to Venus--" Moore
began. Greg didn't give him a chance to finish, rising abruptly and
running from the cabin.

All the fear, worry and despair that he had felt since Dora's check day
transmuted magically into an alloy of anger and hatred against any
authority.

He searched for the officers' quarters, his feet stamping loudly against
the metal flooring, the noise thrusting new aches into his head, the
aches in his head increasing his fury.

Hopelessly lost after a moment, he opened one door and caught a glimpse
of inferno and the insulation-clad men who tended the propulsion units.
Twice he blundered into the space between the outer and inner hulls on
the wrong side of the ship. One panel in the wall that looked like a
door proved to be the lid for a viewer that gave a fantastically
beautiful image of the stars and planets outside the ship. He had
wandered into a storeroom when a voice came from behind him:

"Getting thirsty again?"

"Where's the captain?" Greg yelled back. The man who had called to him
straightened from behind a row of boxes.

"Last time I saw you, you were more interested in drinks than in the
captain."

       *       *       *       *       *

Greg looked hard at muscular fingers, and the ghost image of a bar back
on Earth materialized for an instant in the stockroom around the man. It
was the doctor who had given him instructions on how to find the
freighter recruiting office!

"So you're the one who had me shanghaied to Venus!" Greg sprang at the
man, fists flying.

The doctor ducked. Greg sprawled clumsily at the opposite wall, thrown
off balance by the slighter gravity maintained in the ship. He started
to rise, then dropped to his knees as knife-like pain shot through his
ankle. The doctor stood over him with that strange half-smile.

"You shouldn't be angry. You wanted transportation, didn't you?" He
kneeled to look at Greg's ankle and the pain conquered Greg's impulse to
smash a fist into his face.

"Exactly what I wanted," Greg answered bitterly. "Of course I wanted to
get shanghaied on a freight headed for Venus while my family's on Mars!"

"I think it's just a sprain, not a break," the doctor said, running a
finger over the swelling ankle. "But we'd better take a picture. Come
on." He hoisted Greg to a standing position with unexpected strength,
and walked him out of the storeroom to his cabin. Medical equipment
lined the room.

"Did it ever occur to you that someday you're going to get the lawbooks
thrown at you?" Greg asked, quietly but with hatred. "They stopped
tolerating this sort of thing centuries ago."

The doctor laughed. "Fine talk from a man who tried to smuggle himself
on Mars."

"You don't have any proof. I don't even know your name."

"It's Coleridge. You can put doctor in front of it, too. I really did
study and get a diploma. Then I decided I could have more fun out in
space than in some stuffy office back on Earth. Maybe you'd enjoy this
sort of life, too, if you haven't congealed completely." He sat Greg
before a small X-ray machine.

"I've always wanted to spend the rest of my life fighting dinosaurs on
Venus while my family is on Mars and my career is on Earth." Greg said
acidly.

"You know very well there aren't any dinosaurs on Venus," Coleridge
replied mildly. "It's practically perfect as a planet, with a few
gadgets to keep things dry and cool." He looked straight at Greg. "You
know it's the most desirable planet in the system but they've
discouraged emigration because they need the spaceships to handle the
cancer colonies on Mars. It's only tramp freighters like this that can
get away with trips to Venus." He pulled the film from its fixing bath
and squinted at it. "Not a sign of a fracture."

       *       *       *       *       *

Greg began to wonder what Coleridge was leading up to. Everything he
said appeared to be a case of diverting attention from Greg's problem by
talking about Venus' merits. He decided to play along until he found
out.

"You think I could find something to keep myself occupied on Venus?"

"Sure, they need smart men, and you can tell the employment agencies
that your wife and kids are on the way."

Greg stared at him, feeling the torment return.

Coleridge grinned. "Haven't you ever put two and two together about the
population figures?"

"You mean there's a chance for my family to get from Mars to Venus?"

"Look. You remember that they started to send people from Earth to Mars
a century ago, because the population had overgrown Earth. Emigration
has gone on all that time, millions of people have been sent to Mars,
and once they get there they have children and raise families just as
they would do on Earth. Now, if you weren't a lawyer, always splitting
hairs and quibbling, you'd have guessed long ago what other intelligent
people sooner or later realize. Mars is smaller than Earth, only part of
it is warm enough for Earthmen--so Mars got overpopulated, too, a few
years back.

"Remember what I told you in the bar about metastasis? I thought you'd
catch on then, when I tried to draw an analogy about migrating cancer
cells and migrating people.

"They've been afraid to tell people on Earth the real situation, because
Venus has been held up for so long as the second Eden where we'll all
live as soon as the cancer problem is licked. But actually, they've had
to ship new arrivals on Mars off to Venus in recent years, because
there's no more room on Mars. I suppose they'll break the news to Earth
some of these days, formally. If you were closer to the grapevine, you
probably would have heard the rumor long ago."

Greg sat there gaping at Coleridge. Finally he asked, in humbled tones:
"If Venus is such a paradise, how come you don't drop off there and stay
there yourself?"

"Well," the doctor said, beginning to put away his equipment, "I've been
thinking of it, but I wanted to save up some money first, and this
seemed to be about the best way to do it. It's a little more humane than
the way some doctors do, implanting cancer conditions into people who
have to undergo operations to get themselves deported. Of course, it's a
little more uncertain.

"For instance," he said, eyeing Greg sharply, "now that you have that
bum ankle, I could probably tell the captain that you'll be no good as a
crew member, and I could have you dumped overboard when we begin to
circle Venus. That way you wouldn't have done a thing illegal and you'd
have a clean slate to meet your family a few days later."

Greg rubbed the lump on his head, gingerly flexed his sore ankle,
remembered the emotions of the past three or four days, and then reached
for his check book.

"I think I'm beginning to understand," Greg smiled. "Got a pen?"


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note.

This etext was produced from Imagination May 1954. Extensive research did
not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was
renewed.

       *       *       *       *       *





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cancer World" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home