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´╗┐Title: The Deep One
Author: Ruzic, Neil P.
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 "The Deep One" ***

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



                             THE DEEP ONE

                           By NEIL P. RUZIC

                         Illustrated by DILLON

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                  Galaxy Science Fiction March 1957.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


             There wasn't a single mistake in the plan for
              survival--and that was the biggest mistake!


For centuries, the rains swept eight million daily tons of land into
the sea. Mountains slowly crumpled to ocean floors. Summits rose again
to see new civilizations heaped upon fossils of the old.

It was the way of the Earth and men knew it and did not worry. The end
was always in the future. Ever since men first learned to make marks on
cave walls, the end remained in the future.

Then the future came. The records told men how the Sun was before, so
they knew it was swollen now. They knew the heat was not always this
hot, or the glacier waters so fast, the seas so high.

They adapted--they grew tanner and moved farther pole-ward.

When the steam finally rose over equatorial waters, they moved to the
last planet, Pluto, and their descendants lived and died and came to
know the same heat and red skies. Finally there came the day when they
couldn't adapt--not, at least, in the usual way.

But they had the knowledge of all the great civilizations on Earth, so
they built the last spaceship.

They built it very slowly and carefully. Their will to live became
the will to leave this final, perfect monument. It took a hundred and
fifty years and during all that time they planned every facet of its
operation, every detail of its complex mechanisms. Because the ship had
a big job to do, they named it _Destiny_ and people began to think of
it not as the last of the spaceships, but as the first.

The dying race sowed the ship with human seed and hopefully named its
unborn passengers Adam, Eve, Joseph and Mary. Then they launched it
toward the middle of the Milky Way and lay back in the red light of
their burning planet.

       *       *       *       *       *

All this was only a memory now, conserved in the think-tank of a
machine that raced through speckled space, dodging, examining,
classifying, charting what it saw. Behind, the Sun shrank as once it
swelled, and the planets that were not consumed turned cold in their
orbits. The Sun grew fainter and went out, and still the ship sped
forward, century after century, cometlike, but with a purpose.

At many of the specks, the ship circled, sucking in records, passing
judgment, moving on--a bee in the garden of stars. Finally, hundreds
of light-years from what had been its home, it located an Earth-type
world, accepted it from a billion miles off, and swung into an approach
that would last exactly eighteen years.

Immediately, pumps delivered measured quantities of oxygen and nitrogen
atoms. Circuits closed to move four tiny frozen eggs next to frozen
spermatozoa. The temperature gradually increased to a heat once
maintained by animals now extinct.

The embryos grew healthily and at term were born of plastic wombs.

The first voices they heard were of their real mothers. Soft, caressing
songwords. Melodious, warm, recorded women voices, each different,
bell-clear, vivacious, betraying nothing of the fact that they were
dead these long centuries.

"I am your mother," each voice told its belated offspring. "You can see
me and hear me and touch what appears to be me, and together with your
cousins, you'll grow strong and healthy...."

The voices sang on and the babies gurgled in their imported terran
atmosphere. The words were meaningless but important, for it had been
learned on the now dead world that these sounds were one of the factors
in love and learning.

Day after day, the voices lapped warm over the children. Plastic
feeders provided nutrition as noiseless pumps removed excess carbon
dioxide.

In one end of the ship, a miniature farm was born hydroponically, its
automatic grinders pre-digesting ripe vegetables for the children.
Animals were born, too, for food, but also companionship, and later to
stock New Earth ahead.

As the babies began to understand, the woman voices merged into
one mechanical mother who could be heard and seen and summoned on
panel screens throughout the ship. Everything became as Earthlike as
possible, but because the environment was artificial, the children grew
aware of their purpose in life at an age rarely reached on ancient
Earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

They were two years old when their Mecmother informed them: "You are
unlike any children ever born. You are the last of a dead race, but
you must live. You must not be afraid. You must do everything humanly
possible to live."

When they were four, Mecmother introduced them to Mecteacher and said
to pay attention for five hours each day. Mecteacher took their IQs and
explained to Adam that he had a greater capacity than Eve, Joseph and
Mary, and was therefore their leader.

Soon afterward, all the children started "school," but Adam excelled.
At seven, he knew all about landing the ship. He played that he was
already eighteen and the ship was no longer on automatic.

He was in everything and everywhere. His tow hair poked above the
control board. His busy fingers hand-picked an experimental meal from
the farmroom. When he learned how to turn the artificial gravity switch
off in the recroom, his child legs floated haphazardly somewhere above
his head. And in the sunroom, where heat-lamp walls were triggered by
the degree of an occupant's tan, Adam's freckled face stared through
the visiport, seeing in his mind's eye the New Earth he would one day
conquer.

He lived fully, asking questions, accepting the answers, receiving
instructions. Some of them he testily disobeyed, was punished
compassionately, and learned respect and a kind of love for the mecs.

He played the games of childhood, but he played them alone. Once he was
gazing out a port, imaginatively sorting the stars of his universe into
shapes of the animals in the ship's farm. Mecfather lit up at a nearby
panel, glowing faintly red. Adam resisted an impulse to shiver--the
panel always made him flinch when it glowed red. Red, he was being
conditioned, was his conscience, brought out by Mecfather until he grew
old enough to bring it out himself.

"Why aren't you playing with the other children?" Mecfather asked.
"I've been watching you all day and you've avoided them on every
occasion."

Though he feared him, Adam loved Mecfather as he had been taught to
do and did not hesitate to confide. But how could he explain that the
other children did not seem as _real_ to him as the mecs?

"I don't know," Adam answered truthfully.

"They don't ignore you. They ask you to play, but you always go off by
yourself. Don't you like them?"

"They're flat, Father. They're not deep--like you."

       *       *       *       *       *

Silent hidden computers assembled the answer, correlated, circuited a
mechanical smile. Certainly--a child brought up with only three real
children and three talking images in his universe could not distinguish
between reality and appearance. On the screen, Adam saw Mecfather
smile, the panel no longer red.

The voice was quiet now and full of understanding. "It is I who am
flat, Adam. I am only an image, a voice. I am here when you need me to
help, but I am not deep. Your cousins are deep; I am the flat one. You
will understand better when you grow older."

Electronically, Mecfather was worried. He called a "conference" of the
other mecs and their circuits joined in a complicated analog: What was
the probable outcome of this beginning of disharmony? There were too
many variables for an immediate answer, but the query was stored in
each mec's memory banks for later answer.

When the mecconference began, the panel switched off and Adam walked
thoughtfully through the ship's corridors. Unexpectedly, he spotted the
other children. He turned quickly into a room before they saw him and
ducked behind the largest of the couches.

He was in the aft recroom, he realized, not having paid attention to
where he was going. What was it all about? Did Mecfather really mean it
when he said the cousins were deeper than the mecs? Adam could believe
he was different from his parents and teacher--after all, he was
only seven--but he couldn't accept the information that he was _not_
different from his cousins. Somehow, he thought, I am alone....

He heard noises, the loud boisterousness of Joseph, the high-pitched
squeal of Eve, the grating laugh of Mary. Adam cringed deeper behind
the big couch. He _was_ different. _He_ didn't make sounds like that.

"Adam! Oh, A-dam! A-dam!" the cousins called, each their own way. "Come
out wherever you are, Adam! Come out and play!"

From behind the couch, Adam saw the beginnings of an infantile but
systematic search. The three of them were looking behind things, under
furniture, in back of hatches. They tried moving everything they saw,
but couldn't budge the heavy couch Adam hid behind.

Looking for escape, Adam's eyes caught a round metallic handle set
flush into the heavy deck carpet. He lifted it and pulled. Nothing
happened. He stood up, bracing his feet against the deck and heaved
with all his strength. It didn't move.

Then he experimentally turned the handle--to the right until it
clicked faintly, then the left, around twice, another faint click, but
different, a left-hand click, he knew somehow. So he turned again to
the left, this time three turns--and then the click was heavy, almost
audible. He pulled the handle and a door formed out of the carpet,
swinging easily open.

Just then, Joseph peered behind the couch. "Boo!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Adam jumped into the opening, the heavy door slamming shut overhead.
Below, he stood erect and was surprised to feel the hair on his head
brush the ceiling.

He was frightened, but he calmed when he realized there were many
places on the ship he hadn't been before. Mecteacher revealed them
to him, but very slowly, and he supposed he would not be told about
_everything_ for many years. As he recovered his sense of balance, he
became aware of a faint luminescence around him. It seemed to have no
source, but was stronger in the distance.

He began to explore, groping at first, then more smoothly, efficiently,
as his eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness. A long corridor opened
up before him and what appeared before to be an illusion of distance
actually _was_ distance. He guessed he was near the engine compartment
and vaguely sensed that the luminescence had something to do with the
nuclear engines that Mecteacher told him moved the ship.

It was warm in here. Not physically warm but friendy warm, like when
Mecmother spoke her comfort. The similarity almost made him cry, for he
understood, even in his seven years, that Mecmother was but the image
of his real mother who lived long ago and said those words of sympathy
to a child yet unborn. He wanted her now, even her image, but he didn't
call because he'd have to explain why he was hiding from his cousins.

He shivered then, thinking that Mecfather and Mecteacher knew where
he was and would light up their panels red. He thought, "Are you down
here, Mecfather?" Nothing answered, so he spoke the thought, and again
the walls stayed dark.

That was why it was so friendy warm in here, he realized. His
mecconscience was left above!

Deciding that the others might miss him, he retraced his steps, located
the trapdoor in the ceiling, pushed it open and ascended. The others
were sitting on the floor, dumbfounded, as Adam climbed out and
slammed the hatch shut.

"How did you get down there?" Joseph asked.

Adam remained silent. After a moment, Eve and Mary lost interest in the
question and started skipping a length of rope.

Joseph persisted. "How? I pulled, too!"

Adam didn't answer. He knew the bigger boy would forget about it if he
changed the subject. "How is it you're not with Mecteacher?"

"We were. But he made us look for you."

The closest wall panel lit bright red. It was Mecteacher. "_Adam! How
did you open that?_"

"I turned it--a certain way," he said evasively. Adam didn't want his
cousins to learn how.

"But how did you know?"

"I--I reasoned it."

       *       *       *       *       *

The image faded as the new information was assimilated. Mecteacher's
voice said, "Wait a while, Adam."

The computer circuited the other mec's memory banks. After ten minutes,
the "conference" was over and Mecteacher returned to the screen. He
asked Adam to come alone to the classroom. The others were dismissed.

Reluctantly, Adam did as he was told. In the classroom, he stood
stiffly in front of the central panels. All three mecs lit up, their
color this time a tranquilizing blue.

"Adam, we are not real people in the _now_," Mecmother began. "Do you
understand that?"

"Y-yes, I understand. You are--planned--fixed before."

"That's right, Adam. We are pre-set. We have a very large number of
choices and actions, but we are not infinite."

"Infinite?"

"We are limited in the help we can give you. We were real--like you--a
long, long time ago. We exist now only to help you and the other
children. We are here to educate you, to love and console you--and one
other thing. We are here to settle your conflicts, to make sure you
don't hurt each other."

"But I didn't hurt anyone, Mecmother!"

"Not yet, Adam, but avoiding the others the way you do could be the
first sign of trouble."

"How do you _know_? How can you talk if you aren't real?"

"What you hear is a combination of recorded words that are
electronically put together to answer an almost infinite number of your
questions. But do not think of me as not real. I was merely in another
time. Do you understand that?"

"Yes."

"Then you also are able to see that your ability to reason things--to
understand what I am telling you now, for instance, is a remarkable
thing."

"You mean because I'm not like the others?"

"You have a superior mind. You are the leader, but do not regard
yourself as better than the others. You have more intelligence, yes,
but do not look down on your cousins for that. They may develop other
qualities better than yours. Stay simple, Adam, and you will be able to
live among them and thereby make the human race live again. The name of
this ship is _Destiny_. Do you know why?"

"Yes--I know."

"Be with the other children then. Play with them. You'll need each
other to live on New Earth--eleven years from now."

       *       *       *       *       *

He thought sullenly, how can I play with them when they're _flat_? But
he didn't object out loud to Mecmother. He didn't like her this way.
Explanation was Mecteacher's job and discipline Mecfather's. Mecmother
should be warm and loving.

Mecteacher appeared and asked Adam to call in the other children so the
science lesson could start.

He found them tanning in the sunroom, their unclothed bodies evenly
browned from invisible light. They followed Adam without question, but
seemed to take a long time doing it. Joseph insisted first in donning
clothes, but he put on protective clothing first. Then, realizing the
absurdity of it, he switched to his formality suit--the loose-fitting
robe Mecteacher instructed the children to wear to lend dignity to the
classwork.

During Joseph's delay, the girls ambled off somewhere and returned only
when Adam shouted after them in exasperation. Quickening his pace,
Adam reached the classroom first and asked Mecteacher, "Are the other
children--deep?"

"Deep? Yes, Adam, Mecfather explained that to you. Why are you
confused? It's us, the mecs, who are flat. The other children are
healthy, living beings. The cells from which all of you were born were
selected after years of controlled breeding. Your parents were the
finest the human race could produce--intelligent, strong, healthy, high
survival quotient. Is this what you mean by deep?"

"Partly, but also--_feeling_. I think I feel things better."

The other children waddled in, took their seats and switched on
robomonitors in the ritual of classroom procedure. They all looked at
Mecteacher in the central panel.

Mecteacher motioned Adam to his chair-desk and began the lesson. He
described Old Earth and how it circled Old Sol with the other worlds
and the way the moons circled the planets--all of them condensed into
spheres and all the spheres turning in harmony.

He interrupted himself when Mary's robomonitor registered only partial
comprehension. "What don't you understand, Mary? Is it _sphere_?"

"I know what a sphere is," she said, remembering a previous lesson. "A
sphere is an apple or an orange--"

       *       *       *       *       *

Mecteacher detected a covert wince from Adam's monitor. The teacher
appeared to Adam on his desk panel where the others couldn't see or
hear. "Do not think this is because she is not--deep, Adam. She is only
seven and not as advanced for her age as you are. You understand how we
mecs are pre-set?"

"Yes."

"In the classroom, then, if we don't go fast enough for you, try to
be patient. We can only deviate within set limits. It is not a new
problem, Adam. On Earth, it impeded the educational system from the
beginning."

Simultaneously with his conversation with Adam, Mecteacher held up
an apple on the central panel and re-explained the age-old analogy
between the apple and the Earth, the red skin and the Terran crust, and
further, the supposition that New Earth ahead would be like Old Earth
and the apple.

Eve wanted to know whether New Earth would have a New Moon.

"That's an interesting question, Eve. But we are still too many
millions of miles away to know yet. Before you are ready to leave the
ship, you will know."

In the months that passed, Adam tried associating more with the other
children. He played their games, which seemed to him to be played
without a purpose, but they wouldn't or couldn't play his--with one
exception.

He showed them how to turn off the artificial gravity in the recroom
and they became obsessed with the same physical euphoria he had
discovered for himself. But even while in free-fall, Adam maintained
his need for reason and couldn't indulge their pointless pastimes for
long. Often, when he grew tired of free-falling, he visited his lonely
chamber under the deck and explored the working parts of the ship.

On almost each occasion when he returned, he was caught by one of the
mecs and punished with fiercely glowing red panels. Remembering a
previous conversation with the mecs, Adam reasoned that their present
dissatisfaction with him was not real. After all, he recalled, they
were pre-set. They _had_ to act like that when he disobeyed them. Going
against them wasn't necessarily the same as doing wrong.

It took an act of will and intelligence far in advance of his
seven years, for Adam realized that if he continued like this, the
conditioning would eat at his brain like acid and guilt would rise
in the etch. So, from under the ship's deck, he turned the mecs
permanently off.

       *       *       *       *       *

The stars changed with the passing years. The blue giant Adam used to
watch from the darkside port was now a diamond chip lost in starmilk
night. Ahead, a new jewel grew larger in the quartz port, a sapphire
blazing hot and big--bigger than any star in his memory, closer than
the _Destiny_ had ever come to a star.

Adam understood why the star was so big. He was eighteen Old Earth
years of age now and the star was New Sol. Soon there would be a New
Earth and maybe a New Moon. His destiny was near, his job decided. He
would locate the planet, orbit it, search for a clear space and land.
Then he and the others--

The others. The repulsive, flighty, inconsistent trio. They were
alike, all right, with never a serious thought in their heads. Why
weren't they concerned with their destiny as he was? If he were a
genius as the mecs once told him, why weren't the others also geniuses?
They all came from the best stock of Old Earth. No, it wasn't just that
he was supernormal; the others were--flat, undeep.

For years, he had kept peace by yielding to their demands. He suffered
their company, succumbed to their activities. But every so often, when
he felt especially disgusted, he retreated to his private sanctum under
the deck. This was such a time now, he felt, as Eve and Mary giggled
over to him.

They were not nude as had been the custom aboard the ship ever since he
turned off the mecs. They had clothes draped over parts of them that
seemed somehow to make them more than nude. But they wore red coloring
on their lips that he thought was repulsive.

He ducked behind the couch, clicked open the familiar combination and
descended into the only peace he ever knew. He sat at a chair-table he
had lowered into the compartment long ago, and peered pensively at the
drawings before him. If Mecteacher were here, he thought, the orbit
wouldn't be so difficult to calculate. He'd explain how to do it.

And then, he wondered, would Mecteacher have taught the others how
to be deep? Or was depth something inside, something that could not
be altered by education? If this were a world with other people, he
thought, would my cousins be considered abnormals--or would I?

       *       *       *       *       *

He pondered the question for a moment, then decided, as he had so often
in the past, that it was truly the cousins who were the flat ones. They
were deviants from an average that couldn't exist on the _Destiny_,
but which must have once existed elsewhere. They had been flat at
seven--perhaps when children are supposed to be flat, as Mecmother had
suggested--but they stayed that way. At eighteen, as at seven, they
still played the same games with scarcely any variation.

He heard them rummaging above, attempting again and again to pull open
the hatch. It had happened this way for years: They'd try to open the
trapdoor for an hour or two, then give it up and turn their attention
to something else. They never thought to turn the handle. Maybe an
undeep person wouldn't be able to reason the combination clicks, but
only a completely flat one would persist in pulling when it always
ended in failure.

Possibly, he thought, the cosmic rays had been more destructive to
their egg cells. Or maybe the alien radiations subtracted something
from the other cells to add to his. If this were true, he was partly a
product of the others and owed his depth to them.

Adam felt sorry for his cousins then and wished he hadn't hurt them
by avoiding their presence. Despite their undepth, they must have
feelings. The mecs probably wouldn't have been able to give them depth
but, he remembered, the other role of the mecs was to prevent each one
of them from harming the others. In their role as arbitrator, Adam
realized, they might have stopped him from hurting them so.

Filled with remorse, he left his desk-chair and walked stoop-shouldered
under the low ceiling. At the trapdoor, he opened the combination on
the inside lock handle and pushed upward. It wouldn't open. He tried
again, but it wasn't the lock that was stuck. They must have slid
something heavy over the hatch, something he couldn't move.

He tried calling to them, but his voice was lost in the insulative
metal of the deck. Finally he sat down, conserving his strength for a
final onslaught.

If he couldn't open the hatch, he realized vividly it would be not
only his failure, but the failure of the human race.

But maybe it did not have to be so. Maybe the differences in the others
weren't biological--maybe they were environmental. And with that
thought, he made his way through the narrow passageway and reversed his
deed of eleven years past. He turned the mecs back on.

Returning to the hatch, he reworked the combination to make sure it was
not the lock that held him. He pushed upward with all his strength,
steadily with increasing pressure, until the beads of perspiration
turned into gulleys that streamed down his face.

Exhausted, he crawled back to his chair and lay across the desk
littered with calculations of a landing he would never make. The soft
luminescence from the _Destiny's_ nuclear engines crept forward and
caressed him.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the aft recroom, Eve and Mary were admiring Joseph's strength in
being able to push the heavy couch over Adam's trapdoor.

Three wall panels lit red. All the mecs appeared together. "It's time
for your science lesson," one said. "But where is Adam?"

"He's in the trapdoor," they answered flatly.

The panel turned green, reserving its redness for the delinquent Adam
when he would choose to appear.

Mecteacher began, "Now about the Solar System...."

But the cousins didn't listen. Joseph had turned the gravity switch off
and they were too busy floating upended, trying new positions, laughing
at each other's ridiculous postures in the ship without bottom. The
game was not a new one, but it was newly discovered and they reveled in
its glories.

Month after month, they played their weightless games while the
mecs implored them to come down. The constellations shifted in the
visiports. New Sol grew larger and then smaller as the _Destiny_ sped
toward its unseen planet.

In the recroom, the mecvoices were only noises to the trio now,
annoying noises that could be silenced, they discovered, with forceful
kicks to the red-glowing panels.

When all the mecscreens had been smashed and the weightless games grew
boring, Mary looked out the sunroom port. She was surprised to see a
rust-yellow sphere hanging in the sky. She watched it seriously for a
time, frowning as it grew bigger and filled a third of her horizon.
Then she called Eve and Joseph.

Mary pointed and they all stared in bewilderment. She opened her eyes
wide and laughed with glee. "It's an apple," she said. "An apple in the
sky!"

But Joseph wasn't fooled. Dimly he remembered something Adam had told
him--something about a thing that would appear in the sky. He fought
hard bringing it to conscious memory. Then he started aft toward the
recroom. In there, under the couch, he remembered, was Adam. Adam would
remind him what it was.

Suddenly Joseph smiled, his face flushed. He turned back to the sunroom
port. He wouldn't have to ask Adam, after all. For a moment, he watched
to make sure, while the huge yellow sphere swam closer.

"No, Mary," he said triumphantly. "It's not an apple in the sky. Apples
are red. It's an orange!"





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