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´╗┐Title: Security Plan
Author: Farrell, Joseph
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 "Security Plan" ***

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



                             Security Plan

                           By JOSEPH FARRELL

                          Illustrated by WOOD

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Galaxy Magazine April 1959.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



               I had something better than investing for
              the future ... the future investing in me!


"My mother warned me," Marilyn said again, "to think twice before I
married a child prodigy. Look for somebody good and solid, she said,
like Dad--somebody who will put something away for your old age."

I tapped a transistor, put a screwdriver across a pair of wires and
watched the spark. Marilyn was just talking to pass the time. She
really loves me and doesn't mind too much that I spend my spare time
and money building a time machine. Sometimes she even believes that it
might work.

She kept talking. "I've been thinking--we're past thirty now and
what do we have? A lease on a restaurant where nobody eats, and a
time machine that doesn't work." She sighed. "And a drawerful of
pawn tickets we'll never be able to redeem. My silver, my camera, my
typewriter...."

I added a growl to her sigh. "My microscope, my other equipment...."

"Uncle Johnson will have them for _his_ old age," she said sadly. "And
we'll be lucky if we have _anything_."

I felt a pang of resentment. Uncle Johnson! It seemed that every time I
acquired something, Uncle Johnson soon came into possession of it. We'd
been kids together, although he was quite a few years older, a hulking
lout in the sixth grade while I was in the first, and I graduated from
grammar school a term ahead of him. Of course I went on to high school
and had a college degree at fifteen, being a prodigy. Johnson went to
work in his uncle's pawn shop, sweeping the floor and so on, and that's
when we started calling him Uncle.

This wasn't much of a job because Johnson's uncle got him to work for
almost nothing by promising he would leave him the pawn shop when he
died. And it didn't look as if much would come of this, because the
uncle was not very old and he was always telling people a man couldn't
afford to die these days, what with the prices undertakers were
charging.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before I had even started to shave, I had a dozen papers published in
scientific journals, all having to do with the nature of time. Time
travel became my ambition and I was sure I saw a way to build a time
machine. But it took years to work out the details, and nobody seemed
interested in my work, so I had to do it all myself. Somehow I stopped
working long enough to get a wife, and we had to eat. So we ran this
little hash house and lived in the back room, and at least we got our
food wholesale.

And Johnson's uncle fell down the cellar stairs and split his skull
open. So Johnson became the owner of a thriving business after giving
his uncle a simple funeral, because he knew his uncle wouldn't have
wanted him to waste any more money on that than he had to.

"But we have a time machine," Marilyn said fondly. "That's something
Johnson would give us a lot on--if it worked."

"We _almost_ have a time machine," I said, looking around at my life's
work. Our kitchen was the time machine, with a great winding of wires
around it to create the field I had devised. The doors had been a
problem that I solved by making them into switches, so that when they
were closed the coils made the complete circuit of the room.

"Almost," I repeated. "After twenty years of work, I am through except
for a few small items--"

I looked at her pleadingly.

"It will run about twenty dollars. Do you think--?"

She didn't care much for the idea, but finally she slid off the wedding
ring.

"You'll redeem this first thing, Ted? Before any of the rest of the
stuff?"

I promised and took off at a dead run.

Johnson didn't have to inspect the ring; he'd seen it before, and he
counted out twenty dollars. That was the only item he'd give me a
decent price on. He knew I'd be back for it.

"How's the time machine coming along, Ted?" He had a little smirk, the
way some people do when they hear I'm building a time machine. "Get in
touch with Mars yet?"

"I have no interest in Mars," I told him. "I plan to make contact with
the future--about thirty years from now. And for your information, the
time machine is practically finished. The first test will be tonight."

He wasn't smirking now, because he never forgot the way I passed him
in school and he had a good respect for my brain. He looked a little
thoughtful--only a little, because that's all he was capable of.

"You get to the future, Ted, suppose you bring me a newspaper. I'll
make it worth your while. I've always treated you fair and square,
Ted, now haven't I?"

I looked over his shelves. Too many of those dust-covered items were
mine. And I didn't have to be a telepath to know what he was thinking.

"Maybe you'd like a paper with the stock market quotations, Uncle? From
about thirty years from now, say?"

The smirk was completely gone now. "You get something like that, Ted,
I'll pay you! Wouldn't help you out any, because you have nothing to
invest. Me now, I could buy something that will keep me in my old age.
I'd give you a--hundred bucks for something like that."

I laughed at him. A hundred dollars! Uncle always had his nerve. He was
scowling when I left, still trying to figure how he could get in on
the gravy, because outside of Marilyn he was the only person who ever
thought I might succeed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Marilyn cooked dinner for us while I was putting the final touches on
the time machine.

"Tonight we celebrate," she said. "Steak."

It smelled wonderful, but the occasional whiff of ozone from my
equipment was more exciting. I'd told Marilyn we had about an hour
before I could make the test, but with my working faster than I had
expected and her getting behind with the meal, she was just putting
the steaks on the table when I was done with the machine.

"Oh, but let's eat first, Ted!" she said.

"I couldn't eat! After so much work--" I stared in fascination at the
master switch--the door. "This is it, Marilyn! What I've been working
toward all these years!"

She saw the way I felt and maybe she was a little excited herself.

"Go ahead, Ted," she told me.

I closed the door.

There was more ozone and a blurring in the middle of the room. We
stepped away from the thickest of the blurring, where something seemed
to be gathering substance.

The something, we soon saw, was a man sitting in a chair surrounded by
strange apparatus, most of which I couldn't guess the purpose of. It
was a very young man, when I could see him better, probably nineteen,
wearing bright clothes in what I figured must be the style of 1989.

"Man-o!" he said. "This time machine is low Fahrenheit, o-daddy! Right
to the bottom! It's the deepest!"

I blinked. "Parlez vous Francais?"

Marilyn said, "I think he means he likes it. But who is he and just
where did he come from?"

The gaily dressed youth got out of the chair and smiled at us. Each of
his shoulders had padding the size of a football. His coat tapered from
four feet wide at the shoulders to a tightly bound waist, the lapels
from a foot at the top to zero. The trousers widened out to wide stiff
hoops that ended six inches above his shoes. And the shoes! But at
least they weren't really alive, as I had thought at first.

"How is it," asked Marilyn, "that a cool cat from the future comes to
visit us in a time machine? I would expect a more scholarly type."

"Not so, doll-o. The angleheads don't reach the real science. The
scientist pros believe that all knowledge is known. They delve not into
the sub-zero regions of thought. That is done by us amateurs."

       *       *       *       *       *

He did a short bit of syncopated tap and introduced himself. "I am
Solid Chuck Richards, ambassador to the past, courtesy of the Friday
Night Bull Session and Experimentation Society."

"Are they all like you?" I asked.

"No, o-daddy-man. Some are deep, some are high on the scale, but all of
them reach together on one thing--they all feel that the pro-scientists
have grown angular and lost the sense of wonder. So we gather together
on Friday nights to work on the off-beat side of science. We read your
books--if you are Ted Langer--?"

I admitted it.

He danced a rhythmic circle around me, staring in what was evidently
adoration, and kept murmuring, "Reach that deep man! Ted Langer--the
father of time travel! O-man-o! Deep! Real deep!"

"Now see here," I finally broke in. "Don't they talk English where you
come from? And just how do you come to be here anyway? I built a time
machine to travel into the future, and instead I get you telling me how
deep I am. Are you here or am I there?"

"You are here, o-daddy-boy, and I also am here. But, to explain this,
I may have to use some angle talk, which is what you mean by English.
We read your books--which are collectors' items, by the way--and we
decided you were way under the zero mark, especially when we saw that
the angleheads wouldn't touch any of your ideas. So we got together
and made our time machine. But I am sad to report, doctor-o, that your
theory was a bit less than two-hundred-per-cent correct. There were a
few errors, which we found."

It was something of a shock to hear this future rock-and-roller tell
me there were mistakes in my work, and I started to argue with him
about it. But his attention wasn't on the conversation. He was sniffing
thoughtfully, the thing he'd called sense of wonder shining in his
eyes. He was looking at the steaks Marilyn had set on the table.

"Reach that!" he said, awed. "Gen-you-wine solid flesh! Man-o! I
haven't seen a steak like that in all my off-beat life!"

So naturally we invited him to sit down at the table and he didn't have
to be asked more than once. It seemed that food was pretty expensive in
1991, which is the year he came from, and what there was of it mostly
came from factories where they shoveled soy beans and yeast into a
machine and it came out meat at the other end, if you didn't make too
much fuss about what you called meat. But with so much of the good farm
land ruined by atomic dust, and so much more turned into building lots
on account of the growing population, it was the best they could do.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we heard this, we pushed the second steak in front of him and he
showed he was a growing boy by finishing every scrap, along with a
double order of French frieds and half a dozen ears of corn on the cob.
But he had to give up after two pieces of pie.

He sat back in the chair, patted his stomach and looked as if he had
just won the Irish sweepstakes. He looked at the big refrigerator. When
Marilyn opened it to put things away, his eyes almost popped out at the
sight of the meat stored there.

"Man-o!" he said. "You must be rich!"

Marilyn laughed. "No, not rich--far from it. We operate a restaurant
and that's our stock you see."

"Oh, doll-o! I should not have eaten so much. What do you charge for a
meal like that?"

"We would get three and a half for each order," I said, diplomatically
not mentioning all his side orders, "although we don't get much
carriage trade here. But don't let it worry you. Nothing's too good for
a guest from the future."

"Three and a half?" He looked amazed. "Why, such a feed would bring
twenty-five or thirty where I come from--if you could find it! Let me
pay, o-daddy-friend, at least your price."

And he pulled out some bills. I started to push them back, for of
course I wasn't going to spoil this great moment in my life by asking a
traveler from the future to pay for a meal.

But then I saw what he was trying to give me.

I picked up the bills and stared. Marilyn's head was over my shoulder
and she was staring just as hard. She took one out of my hand.

"It's not real," she said. "There's not that much money in the world."

She had the five. I had the ones. The five-thousand and the
one-thousand-dollar bills, that is. I looked up at Solid Chuck Richards.

"When you said that meal would cost twenty-five or thirty, did you mean
twenty-five or thirty _thousand_?"

"You reach me, man. Inflation, you know. It's terrible. I remember when
a gee would keep the beat rocking in a juke palace for an hour. Now you
pay half a gee a number. It's terrible."

       *       *       *       *       *

After we explained to him that the inflation was even worse than that,
he decided it was something more than terrible. It seems he hadn't paid
much attention to money in his younger days, though he did recall now
that when he was very small he'd been able to get a good nickel candy
bar for twenty dollars, but he hadn't seen anything smaller than a
hundred in some time now.

"There should be a law against this sort of thing," he said
indignantly. "It's enough to turn a man into an anglehead, the way they
keep pushing up the price of fumes. And what they charge for Bulgy
Sanders records--"

He picked up the bills and looked at them.

"But I think maybe we can find a way to profit on this, daddy-boy! I
have a deep thought--we members of the Friday Night Bull Session and
Experimentation Society will come to your restaurant and pay you five
gees for a steak dinner, which is a fine price for you but very little
for us. In that way, we will eat good food and you will gather a good
bundle of the stuff of life."

There was a thudding noise at the window. I looked over quick. Somebody
was hanging on outside, off balance, as if he had been standing on a
ladder outside and had fallen against the window.

I ran for the door, forgetting it was a switch. But Solid Chuck
Richards realized it. He dived back into his chair and called, "Reach
you later, o-daddy!" He disappeared as I pulled the door open.

The sudden flash as the time machine stopped operating reminded me
about those switches on the door, but it was too late now. I ran out
and around the side just in time to see a figure disappearing up the
alley. Sure enough, there was a ladder against the window.

I didn't bother chasing the man very far, because, after a fast look at
him, I had a pretty good idea who it was. I'd speak to him later.

       *       *       *       *       *

Marilyn and I sat around looking at the big bills. They were the size
of present-day currency, and were beautifully made, and would have
passed easily except for a few things. Such as that "Series 1988"
inscribed alongside the signature of Irving P. Walcourt, Secretary of
the Treasury. And the Treasurer of the United States in 1988 would be
Kuru Hamonoto. From the State of Hawaii, I wondered, or--?

"They're no use to us at all," said Marilyn. "Unless we hold them until
1988. I was talking about security for our old age. Do you suppose--?"

"You forget," I said, "that steak will run you twenty-five or thirty
thousand in 1988. This is going to be a great disappointment to the
members of the Friday Night Bull Session and Experimentation Society,
but I fear we must explain to Solid Chuck Richards that we just cannot
afford to do much business of this type."

I pushed aside the money and began thinking about some of the things
the youth from 1991 had told me. There were holes in my theories--a
lot of holes. True, I had succeeded in building a time machine, but I
could never go anyplace in it. Because time travel was possible only
by traveling from one time machine to another. The amateurs of 1991,
knowing from my books (I must remember to write them) that I had built
a time machine in 1959, were able to make contact. Solid Chuck Richards
was selected by lot from several volunteers to try the machine. I met
the other members of the Society later and learned that and a number of
other things from them.

The reason Solid Chuck came back instead of my going forward made solid
sense. I could see it now. My time machine had never existed in 1991.
His had existed in 1959, or at least its parts had. I could overcome
that problem--if I had the full power of the Sun for several minutes to
work with, and a way to handle it. Then I could change things so that
my time machine would have existed in the future....

Even the verb tenses were going wrong on me.

These amateur experimenters, it seemed, were considered a bit on the
crackpot side, taking such pseudo-science as mine seriously. Not
knowing enough science to realize that the ideas I wrote about were
impossible, as any professional scientist would have, they followed
them through. They tried to get in touch with me in their time, but I
wasn't available, which saved me another paradox. Suppose I had joined
the Society and come back as a volunteer?

But it was encouraging to know the reason I was going to be
unavailable in 1991. Marilyn and I had gone on a second honeymoon--on
the first commercial passenger liner to Mars.

"And so," I told her, "you don't have to worry about security in your
old age. Tickets to Mars must cost a few trillion dollars. We won't be
poor."

Marilyn was still looking at the currency of the future.

"We will be," she said, "if we keep selling steak for the price of
soy-bean hamburger. By the way, Ted, I wonder who that was at the
window?"

The answer came to me then. I put the bills into my pocket and kissed
her.

"We will not have to eat soy-bean hamburger, o-doll. And I will take
you to Mars for your second honeymoon--as soon as they start passenger
service. I am going out to make a down payment on the tickets right
now."

       *       *       *       *       *

Uncle Johnson took the glass from his eye. He looked very tense, like a
fisherman with a prize catch on a very thin line.

"It's good," he said, and his voice trembled a little. "I--suppose your
time machine worked?"

"Surprised, are you, Uncle?"

"Yes, yes. But I see your situation, Ted. You, of course, can't afford
to hold these for thirty years. Now--ah--I can. And I'll be glad to
help you out by taking them off your hands. Naturally I have to hold
them a long time, so--let's say twenty dollars a thousand?"

"Let's not say that." I took the bill from his hand. "I figure fifty
is a fair price. There'll be lots more, Uncle. And, as you say, I am
always broke and cannot afford to put them away for my old age. But
running the time machine is expensive and I can't afford to take less
than fifty."

He looked as if he were going to snatch the bill right out of my hand,
he was so eager.

"All right, Ted, I realize there are expenses. Thirty-five."

We compromised on forty.

"But I want a promise," he said emphatically. "I'm to be the only one
you sell these bills to!"

"You reach me, o-uncle." I handed him the bills. "You're deep, man.
Real deep!"

Real deep in the hole, that is--he mortgaged his house and his regular
inventory to buy up all the money I began taking in. Once we redeemed
the wedding ring and all the other articles, I got to feeling mellow
and even a bit grateful. He'd started me in business, so to speak. I
couldn't stick him with all those millions that would just about buy
him a helicab ride to the poorhouse in 1988.

So when Marilyn and I got just as deep in the black, because the
Society members gave us some books on stock-market statistics, I
started giving Uncle tips every now and then. Not free, of course--I
asked for half and we settled on seventy-thirty. With that plus the
ones I bought, both for now and the long pull, I guess we're the only
people living today who can be sure of having a second honeymoon
on Mars, although Solid Chuck Richards tells me he hears Mars is
overrated, there not being a juke on the whole planet, and even if
there were you couldn't jump to any decent kind of beat in that low
gravity.

I wouldn't say so to Solid Chuck Richards, but that sounds like
absolute zero to me.





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