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´╗┐Title: A Fall of Glass
Author: Lee, Stanley R.
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 "A Fall of Glass" ***

                            A FALL OF GLASS

                           By STANLEY R. LEE

                         Illustrated by DILLON

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                     Galaxy Magazine October 1960.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

                   The weatherman was always right:
                    Temperature, 59; humidity, 47%;
                occasional light showers--but of what?

The pockets of Mr. Humphrey Fownes were being picked outrageously.

It was a splendid day. The temperature was a crisp 59 degrees, the
humidity a mildly dessicated 47%. The sun was a flaming orange ball in
a cloudless blue sky.

His pockets were picked eleven times.

It should have been difficult. Under the circumstances it was a
masterpiece of pocket picking. What made it possible was Humphrey
Fownes' abstraction; he was an uncommonly preoccupied individual. He
was strolling along a quiet residential avenue: small private houses,
one after another, a place of little traffic and minimum distractions.
But he was thinking about weather, which was an unusual subject to
begin with for a person living in a domed city. He was thinking so
deeply about it that it never occurred to him that entirely too many
people were bumping into him. He was thinking about Optimum Dome
Conditions (a crisp 59 degrees, a mildly dessicated 47%) when a bogus
postman, who pretended to be reading a postal card, jostled him. In the
confusion of spilled letters and apologies from both sides, the postman
rifled Fownes's handkerchief and inside jacket pockets.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was still thinking about temperature and humidity when a pretty girl
happened along with something in her eye. They collided. She got his
right and left jacket pockets. It was much too much for coincidence.
The sidewalk was wide enough to allow four people to pass at one time.
He should surely have become suspicious when two men engaged in a
heated argument came along. In the ensuing contretemps they emptied his
rear pants pockets, got his wristwatch and restored the contents of the
handkerchief pocket. It all went off very smoothly, like a game of put
and take--the sole difference being that Humphrey Fownes had no idea he
was playing.

There was an occasional tinkle of falling glass.

It fell on the streets and houses, making small geysers of shiny mist,
hitting with a gentle musical sound, like the ephemeral droppings of
a celesta. It was precipitation peculiar to a dome: feather-light
fragments showering harmlessly on the city from time to time. Dome
weevils, their metal arms reaching out with molten glass, roamed the
huge casserole, ceaselessly patching and repairing.

Humphrey Fownes strode through the puffs of falling glass still
intrigued by a temperature that was always 59 degrees, by a humidity
that was always 47%, by weather that was always Optimum. It was this
rather than skill that enabled the police to maintain such a tight
surveillance on him, a surveillance that went to the extent of getting
his fingerprints off the postman's bag, and which photographed, X-rayed
and chemically analyzed the contents of his pockets before returning
them. Two blocks away from his home a careless housewife spilled a
five-pound bag of flour as he was passing. It was really plaster of
Paris. He left his shoe prints, stride measurement, height, weight and
handedness behind.

By the time Fownes reached his front door an entire dossier complete
with photographs had been prepared and was being read by two men in an
orange patrol car parked down the street.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lanfierre had undoubtedly been affected by his job.

Sitting behind the wheel of the orange car, he watched Humphrey Fownes
approach with a distinct feeling of admiration, although it was an
odd, objective kind of admiration, clinical in nature. It was similar
to that of a pathologist observing for the first time a new and
particularly virulent strain of pneumococcus under his microscope.

Lanfierre's job was to ferret out aberration. It couldn't be tolerated
within the confines of a dome. Conformity had become more than a social
force; it was a physical necessity. And, after years of working at it,
Lanfierre had become an admirer of eccentricity. He came to see that
genuine quirks were rare and, as time went on, due partly to his own
small efforts, rarer.

Fownes was a masterpiece of queerness. He was utterly inexplicable.
Lanfierre was almost proud of Humphrey Fownes.

"Sometimes his house _shakes_," Lanfierre said.

"House shakes," Lieutenant MacBride wrote in his notebook. Then he
stopped and frowned. He reread what he'd just written.

"You heard right. The house _shakes_," Lanfierre said, savoring it.

MacBride looked at the Fownes house through the magnifying glass of
the windshield. "Like from ... _side to side_?" he asked in a somewhat
patronizing tone of voice.

"And up and down."

MacBride returned the notebook to the breast pocket of his orange
uniform. "Go on," he said, amused. "It sounds interesting." He tossed
the dossier carelessly on the back seat.

Lanfierre sat stiffly behind the wheel, affronted. The cynical MacBride
couldn't really appreciate fine aberrations. In some ways MacBride
was a barbarian. Lanfierre had held out on Fownes for months. He
had even contrived to engage him in conversation once, a pleasantly
absurd, irrational little chat that titillated him for weeks. It was
only with the greatest reluctance that he finally mentioned Fownes
to MacBride. After years of searching for differences Lanfierre had
seen how extraordinarily repetitious people were, echoes really, dimly
resounding echoes, each believing itself whole and separate. They spoke
in an incessant chatter of cliches, and their actions were unbelievably

Then a fine robust freak came along and the others--the echoes--refused
to believe it. The lieutenant was probably on the point of suggesting a

"Why don't you take a vacation?" Lieutenant MacBride suggested.

"It's like this, MacBride. Do you know what a wind is? A breeze? A

"I've heard some."

"They say there are mountain-tops where winds blow all the time. Strong
winds, MacBride. Winds like you and I can't imagine. And if there was
a house sitting on such a mountain and if winds _did_ blow, it would
shake exactly the way that one does. Sometimes I get the feeling the
whole place is going to slide off its foundation and go sailing down
the avenue."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lieutenant MacBride pursed his lips.

"I'll tell you something else," Lanfierre went on. "The _windows_ all
close at the same time. You'll be watching and all of a sudden every
single window in the place will drop to its sill." Lanfierre leaned
back in the seat, his eyes still on the house. "Sometimes I think
there's a whole crowd of people in there waiting for a signal--as if
they all had something important to say but had to close the windows
first so no one could hear. Why else close the windows in a domed city?
And then as soon as the place is buttoned up they all explode into
conversation--and that's why the house shakes."

MacBride whistled.

"No, I don't need a vacation."

A falling piece of glass dissolved into a puff of gossamer against the
windshield. Lanfierre started and bumped his knee on the steering wheel.

"No, you don't need a rest," MacBride said. "You're starting to see
flying houses, hear loud babbling voices. You've got winds in your
brain, Lanfierre, breezes of fatigue, zephyrs of irrationality--"

At that moment, all at once, every last window in the house slammed

The street was deserted and quiet, not a movement, not a sound.
MacBride and Lanfierre both leaned forward, as if waiting for the
ghostly babble of voices to commence.

The house began to shake.

It rocked from side to side, it pitched forward and back, it yawed and
dipped and twisted, straining at the mooring of its foundation. The
house could have been preparing to take off and sail down the....

MacBride looked at Lanfierre and Lanfierre looked at MacBride and then
they both looked back at the dancing house.

"And the _water_," Lanfierre said. "The _water_ he uses! He could be
the thirstiest and cleanest man in the city. He could have a whole
family of thirsty and clean kids, and he _still_ wouldn't need all that

The lieutenant had picked up the dossier. He thumbed through the pages
now in amazement. "Where do you get a guy like this?" he asked. "Did
you see what he carries in his pockets?"

"And compasses won't work on this street."

The lieutenant lit a cigarette and sighed.

He usually sighed when making the decision to raid a dwelling. It
expressed his weariness and distaste for people who went off and got
neurotic when they could be enjoying a happy, normal existence. There
was something implacable about his sighs.

"He'll be coming out soon," Lanfierre said. "He eats supper next door
with a widow. Then he goes to the library. Always the same. Supper at
the widow's next door and then the library."

MacBride's eyebrows went up a fraction of an inch. "The library?" he
said. "Is he in with that bunch?"

Lanfierre nodded.

"Should be very interesting," MacBride said slowly.

"I can't wait to see what he's got in there," Lanfierre murmured,
watching the house with a consuming interest.

They sat there smoking in silence and every now and then their eyes
widened as the house danced a new step.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fownes stopped on the porch to brush the plaster of paris off his
shoes. He hadn't seen the patrol car and this intense preoccupation
of his was also responsible for the dancing house--he simply hadn't
noticed. There was a certain amount of vibration, of course. He
had a bootleg pipe connected into the dome blower system, and the
high-pressure air caused some buffeting against the thin walls of the
house. At least, he called it buffeting; he'd never thought to watch
from outside.

He went in and threw his jacket on the sofa, there being no room
left in the closets. Crossing the living room he stopped to twist a

Every window slammed shut.

"Tight as a kite," he thought, satisfied. He continued on toward the
closet at the foot of the stairs and then stopped again. Was that
right? No, _snug as a hug in a rug_. He went on, thinking: _The old

The downstairs closet was like a great watch case, a profusion of
wheels surrounding the Master Mechanism, which was a miniature see-saw
that went back and forth 365-1/4 times an hour. The wheels had a
curious stateliness about them. They were all quite old, salvaged from
grandfather's clocks and music boxes and they went around in graceful
circles at the rate of 30 and 31 times an hour ... although there
was one slightly eccentric cam that vacillated between 28 and 29. He
watched as they spun and flashed in the darkness, and then set them for
seven o'clock in the evening, April seventh, any year.

Outside, the domed city vanished.

It was replaced by an illusion. Or, as Fownes hoped it might appear,
the illusion of the domed city vanished and was replaced by a more
satisfactory, and, for his specific purpose, more functional, illusion.
Looking through the window he saw only a garden.

Instead of an orange sun at perpetual high noon, there was a red sun
setting brilliantly, marred only by an occasional arcover which left
the smell of ozone in the air. There was also a gigantic moon. It hid a
huge area of sky, and it sang. The sun and moon both looked down upon a
garden that was itself scintillant, composed largely of neon roses.

Moonlight, he thought, and roses. Satisfactory. _And cocktails for
two._ Blast, he'd never be able to figure that one out! He watched as
the moon played, _Oh, You Beautiful Doll_ and the neon roses flashed
slowly from red to violet, then went back to the closet and turned on
the scent. The house began to smell like an immensely concentrated rose
as the moon shifted to _People Will Say We're In Love_.

       *       *       *       *       *

He rubbed his chin critically. It _seemed_ all right. A dreamy sunset,
an enchanted moon, flowers, scent.

They were all purely speculative of course. He had no idea how a rose
really smelled--or looked for that matter. Not to mention a moon. But
then, neither did the widow. He'd have to be confident, assertive.
_Insist_ on it. I tell you, my dear, this is a genuine realistic
romantic moon. Now, does it do anything to your pulse? Do you feel icy
fingers marching up and down your spine?

His own spine didn't seem to be affected. But then he hadn't read that
book on ancient mores and courtship customs.

How really odd the ancients were. Seduction seemed to be an incredibly
long and drawn-out process, accompanied by a considerable amount
of falsification. Communication seemed virtually impossible. "No"
meant any number of things, depending on the tone of voice and the
circumstances. It could mean yes, it could mean ask me again later on
this evening.

He went up the stairs to the bedroom closet and tried the rain-maker,
thinking roguishly: _Thou shalt not inundate._ The risks he was taking!
A shower fell gently on the garden and a male chorus began to chant
_Singing in the Rain_. Undiminished, the yellow moon and the red sun
continued to be brilliant, although the sun occasionally arced over and
demolished several of the neon roses.

The last wheel in the bedroom closet was a rather elegant steering
wheel from an old 1995 Studebaker. This was on the bootleg pipe; he
gingerly turned it.

Far below in the cellar there was a rumble and then the soft whistle of
winds came to him.

He went downstairs to watch out the living room window. This was
important; the window had a really fixed attitude about air currents.
The neon roses bent and tinkled against each other as the wind rose and
the moon shook a trifle as it whispered _Cuddle Up a Little Closer_.

He watched with folded arms, considering how he would start. _My dear
Mrs. Deshazaway._ Too formal. They'd be looking out at the romantic
garden; time to be a bit forward. _My very dear Mrs. Deshazaway._ No.
Contrived. How about a simple, _Dear Mrs. Deshazaway_. That might be
it. _I was wondering, seeing as how it's so late, if you wouldn't
rather stay over instead of going home...._

Preoccupied, he hadn't noticed the winds building up, didn't hear the
shaking and rattling of the pipes. There were attic pipes connected
to wall pipes and wall pipes connected to cellar pipes, and they made
one gigantic skeleton that began to rattle its bones and dance as
high-pressure air from the dome blower rushed in, slowly opening the
Studebaker valve wider and wider....

The neon roses thrashed about, extinguishing each other. The red sun
shot off a mass of sparks and then quickly sank out of sight. The moon
fell on the garden and rolled ponderously along, crooning _When the
Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day_.

The shaking house finally woke him up. He scrambled upstairs to the
Studebaker wheel and shut it off.

At the window again, he sighed. Repairs were in order. And it wasn't
the first time the winds got out of line.

Why didn't she marry him and save all this bother? He shut it all down
and went out the front door, wondering about the rhyme of the months,
about stately August and eccentric February and romantic April. April.
Its days were thirty and it followed September. _And all the rest have
thirty-one._ What a strange people, the ancients!

He still didn't see the orange car parked down the street.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Men are too perishable," Mrs. Deshazaway said over dinner. "For all
practical purposes I'm never going to marry again. All my husbands die."

"Would you pass the beets, please?" Humphrey Fownes said.

She handed him a platter of steaming red beets. "And don't look at me
that way," she said. "I'm _not_ going to marry you and if you want
reasons I'll give you four of them. Andrew. Curt. Norman. And Alphonse."

The widow was a passionate woman. She did everything
passionately--talking, cooking, dressing. Her beets were passionately
red. Her clothes rustled and her high heels clicked and her jewelry
tinkled. She was possessed by an uncontrollable dynamism. Fownes had
never known anyone like her. "You forgot to put salt on the potatoes,"
she said passionately, then went on as calmly as it was possible for
her to be, to explain why she couldn't marry him. "Do you have any
idea what people are saying? They're all saying I'm a cannibal! I rob
my husbands of their life force and when they're empty I carry their
bodies outside on my way to the justice of the peace."

"As long as there are people," he said philosophically, "there'll be

"But it's the air! Why don't they talk about that? The air is stale,
I'm positive. It's not nourishing. The air is stale and Andrew, Curt,
Norman and Alphonse couldn't stand it. Poor Alphonse. He was never so
healthy as on the day he was born. From then on things got steadily
worse for him."

"I don't seem to mind the air."

She threw up her hands. "You'd be the worst of the lot!" She left the
table, rustling and tinkling about the room. "I can just hear them. Try
some of the asparagus. _Five._ That's what they'd say. That woman did
it again. And the plain fact is I don't want you on my record."

"Really," Fownes protested. "I feel splendid. Never better."

He could hear her moving about and then felt her hands on his
shoulders. "And what about those _very_ elaborate plans you've been
making to seduce me?"

Fownes froze with three asparagus hanging from his fork.

"Don't you think _they'll_ find out? _I_ found out and you can bet
_they_ will. It's my fault, I guess. I talk too much. And I don't
always tell the truth. To be completely honest with you, Mr. Fownes, it
wasn't the old customs at all standing between us, it was air. I can't
have another man die on me, it's bad for my self-esteem. And now you've
gone and done something good and criminal, something peculiar."

       *       *       *       *       *

Fownes put his fork down. "Dear Mrs. Deshazaway," he started to say.

"And of course when they do find out and they ask you why, Mr. Fownes,
you'll tell them. No, no heroics, please! When they ask a man a
question he always answers and you will too. You'll tell them I wanted
to be courted and when they hear that they'll be around to ask _me_ a
few questions. You see, we're both a bit queer."

"I hadn't thought of that," Fownes said quietly.

"Oh, it doesn't really matter. I'll join Andrew, Curt, Norman--"

"That won't be necessary," Fownes said with unusual force. "With all
due respect to Andrew, Curt, Norman and Alphonse, I might as well state
here and now I have other plans for you, Mrs. Deshazaway."

"But my dear Mr. Fownes," she said, leaning across the table. "We're
lost, you and I."

"Not if we could leave the dome," Fownes said quietly.

"That's impossible! How?"

In no hurry, now that he had the widow's complete attention, Fownes
leaned across the table and whispered: "Fresh air, Mrs. Deshazaway?
Space? Miles and miles of space where the real-estate monopoly has
no control whatever? Where the _wind_ blows across _prairies_; or is
it the other way around? No matter. How would you like _that_, Mrs.

Breathing somewhat faster than usual, the widow rested her chin on her
two hands. "Pray continue," she said.

"Endless vistas of moonlight and roses? April showers, Mrs. Deshazaway.
And June, which as you may know follows directly upon April and is
supposed to be the month of brides, of marrying. June also lies beyond
the dome."

"I see."

"_And_," Mr. Fownes added, his voice a honeyed whisper, "they say
that somewhere out in the space and the roses and the moonlight,
the sleeping equinox yawns and rises because on a certain day it's
_vernal_ and that's when it roams the Open Country where geigers no
longer scintillate."

"_My._" Mrs. Deshazaway rose, paced slowly to the window and then came
back to the table, standing directly over Fownes. "If you can get us
outside the dome," she said, "out where a man stays _warm_ long enough
for his wife to get to know him ... if you can do that, Mr. Fownes ...
you may call me Agnes."

       *       *       *       *       *

When Humphrey Fownes stepped out of the widow's house, there was a
look of such intense abstraction on his features that Lanfierre felt a
wistful desire to get out of the car and walk along with the man. It
would be such a _deliciously_ insane experience. ("April has thirty
days," Fownes mumbled, passing them, "because thirty is the largest
number such that all smaller numbers not having a common divisor
with it are _primes_." MacBride frowned and added it to the dossier.
Lanfierre sighed.)

Pinning his hopes on the Movement, Fownes went straight to the
library several blocks away, a shattered depressing place given over
to government publications and censored old books with holes in
them. It was used so infrequently that the Movement was able to meet
there undisturbed. The librarian was a yellowed, dog-eared woman of
eighty. She spent her days reading ancient library cards and, like the
books around her, had been rendered by time's own censor into near

"Here's one," she said to him as he entered. "_Gulliver's Travels._
Loaned to John Wesley Davidson on March 14, 1979 for _five_ days. What
do you make of it?"

In the litter of books and cards and dried out ink pads that surrounded
the librarian, Fownes noticed a torn dust jacket with a curious
illustration. "What's that?" he said.

"A twister," she replied quickly. "Now listen to _this_. Seven years
later on March 21, 1986, Ella Marshall Davidson took out the same book.
What do you make of _that_?"

"I'd say," Humphrey Fownes said, "that he ... that he recommended it
to her, that one day they met in the street and he told her about
this book and then they ... they went to the library together and she
borrowed it and eventually, why eventually they got married."

"Hah! They were brother and sister!" the librarian shouted in her
parched voice, her old buckram eyes laughing with cunning.

Fownes smiled weakly and looked again at the dust jacket. The twister
was unquestionably a meteorological phenomenon. It spun ominously, like
a malevolent top, and coursed the countryside destructively, carrying
a Dorothy to an Oz. He couldn't help wondering if twisters did anything
to feminine pulses, if they could possibly be a part of a moonlit
night, with cocktails and roses. He absently stuffed the dust jacket
in his pocket and went on into the other rooms, the librarian mumbling
after him: "Edna Murdoch Featherstone, April 21, 1991," as though
reading inscriptions on a tombstone.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Movement met in what had been the children's room, where unpaid
ladies of the afternoon had once upon a time read stories to other
people's offspring. The members sat around at the miniature tables
looking oddly like giants fled from their fairy tales, protesting.

"Where did the old society fail?" the leader was demanding of them. He
stood in the center of the room, leaning on a heavy knobbed cane. He
glanced around at the group almost complacently, and waited as Humphrey
Fownes squeezed into an empty chair. "We live in a dome," the leader
said, "for lack of something. An invention! What is the one thing
that the great technological societies before ours could not invent,
notwithstanding their various giant brains, electronic and otherwise?"

Fownes was the kind of man who never answered a rhetorical question. He
waited, uncomfortable in the tight chair, while the others struggled
with this problem in revolutionary dialectics.

"_A sound foreign policy_," the leader said, aware that no one else had
obtained the insight. "If a sound foreign policy can't be created the
only alternative is not to have any foreign policy at all. Thus the
movement into domes began--_by common consent of the governments_. This
is known as self-containment."

Dialectically out in left field, Humphrey Fownes waited for a lull
in the ensuing discussion and then politely inquired how it might be
arranged for him to get out.

"Out?" the leader said, frowning. "Out? Out where?"

"Outside the dome."

"Oh. All in good time, my friend. One day we shall all pick up and

"And that day I'll await impatiently," Fownes replied with marvelous
tact, "because it will be lonely out there for the two of us. My future
wife and I have to leave _now_."

"Nonsense. Ridiculous! You have to be prepared for the Open Country.
You can't just up and leave, it would be suicide, Fownes. And
dialectically very poor."

"Then you _have_ discussed preparations, the practical necessities of
life in the Open Country. Food, clothing, a weapon perhaps? What else?
Have I left anything out?"

The leader sighed. "The gentleman wants to know if he's left anything
out," he said to the group.

Fownes looked around at them, at some dozen pained expressions.

"Tell the man what he's forgotten," the leader said, walking to the far
window and turning his back quite pointedly on them.

Everyone spoke at the same moment. "_A sound foreign policy_," they all
said, it being almost too obvious for words.

       *       *       *       *       *

On his way out the librarian shouted at him: "_A Tale of a Tub_,
thirty-five years overdue!" She was calculating the fine as he closed
the door.

Humphrey Fownes' preoccupation finally came to an end when he was one
block away from his house. It was then that he realized something
unusual must have occurred. An orange patrol car of the security police
was parked at his front door. And something else was happening too.

His house was dancing.

It was disconcerting, and at the same time enchanting, to watch one's
residence frisking about on its foundation. It was such a strange sight
that for the moment he didn't give a thought to what might be causing
it. But when he stepped gingerly onto the porch, which was doing its
own independent gavotte, he reached for the doorknob with an immense

The door flung itself open and knocked him back off the porch.

From a prone position on his miniscule front lawn, Fownes watched as
his favorite easy chair sailed out of the living room on a blast of
cold air and went pinwheeling down the avenue in the bright sunshine. A
wild wind and a thick fog poured out of the house. It brought chairs,
suits, small tables, lamps trailing their cords, ashtrays, sofa
cushions. The house was emptying itself fiercely, as if disgorging an
old, spoiled meal. From deep inside he could hear the rumble of his
ancient upright piano as it rolled ponderously from room to room.

He stood up; a wet wind swept over him, whipping at his face, toying
with his hair. It was a whistling in his ears, and a tingle on his
cheeks. He got hit by a shoe.

As he forced his way back to the doorway needles of rain played over
his face and he heard a voice cry out from somewhere in the living room.

"Help!" Lieutenant MacBride called.

Standing in the doorway with his wet hair plastered down on his
dripping scalp, the wind roaring about him, the piano rumbling in the
distance like thunder, Humphrey Fownes suddenly saw it all very clearly.

"_Winds_," he said in a whisper.

"What's happening?" MacBride yelled, crouching behind the sofa.

"_March_ winds," he said.


"April showers!"

The winds roared for a moment and then MacBride's lost voice emerged
from the blackness of the living room. "These are _not_ Optimum Dome
Conditions!" the voice wailed. "The temperature is _not_ 59 degrees.
The humidity is _not_ 47%!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Fownes held his face up to let the rain fall on it. "Moonlight!" he
shouted. "Roses! My _soul_ for a cocktail for two!" He grasped the
doorway to keep from being blown out of the house.

"Are you going to make it stop or aren't you!" MacBride yelled.

"You'll have to tell me what you did first!"

"I _told_ him not to touch that wheel! Lanfierre. He's in the upstairs

When he heard this Fownes plunged into the house and fought his way
up the stairs. He found Lanfierre standing outside the bedroom with a
wheel in his hand.

"What have I done?" Lanfierre asked in the monotone of shock.

Fownes took the wheel. It was off a 1995 Studebaker.

"I'm not sure what's going to come of this," he said to Lanfierre with
an astonishing amount of objectivity, "but the entire dome air supply
is now coming through my bedroom."

The wind screamed.

"Is there something I can turn?" Lanfierre asked.

"Not any more there isn't."

They started down the stairs carefully, but the wind caught them and
they quickly reached the bottom in a wet heap.

Recruiting Lieutenant MacBride from behind his sofa, the men carefully
edged out of the house and forced the front door shut.

The wind died. The fog dispersed. They stood dripping in the Optimum
Dome Conditions of the bright avenue.

"I never figured on _this_," Lanfierre said, shaking his head.

With the front door closed the wind quickly built up inside the house.
They could see the furnishing whirl past the windows. The house did a
wild, elated jig.

"What kind of a place _is_ this?" MacBride said, his courage beginning
to return. He took out his notebook but it was a soggy mess. He tossed
it away.

"Sure, he was _different_," Lanfierre murmured. "I knew that much."

When the roof blew off they weren't really surprised. With a certain
amount of equanimity they watched it lift off almost gracefully,
standing on end for a moment before toppling to the ground. It was
strangely slow motion, as was the black twirling cloud that now rose
out of the master bedroom, spewing shorts and socks and cases every
which way.

"_Now_ what?" MacBride said, thoroughly exasperated, as this strange
black cloud began to accelerate, whirling about like some malevolent

       *       *       *       *       *

Humphrey Fownes took out the dust jacket he'd found in the library. He
held it up and carefully compared the spinning cloud in his bedroom
with the illustration. The cloud rose and spun, assuming the identical
shape of the illustration.

"It's a twister," he said softly. "A Kansas twister!"

"What," MacBride asked, his bravado slipping away again, "what ... is a

The twister roared and moved out of the bedroom, out over the rear of
the house toward the side of the dome. "It says here," Fownes shouted
over the roaring, "that Dorothy traveled from Kansas to Oz in a twister
and that ... and that Oz is a wonderful and mysterious land _beyond the
confines of everyday living_."

MacBride's eyes and mouth were great zeros.

"Is there something I can turn?" Lanfierre asked.

Huge chunks of glass began to fall around them.

"Fownes!" MacBride shouted. "This is a direct order! Make it go back!"

But Fownes had already begun to run on toward the next house, dodging
mountainous puffs of glass as he went. "Mrs. Deshazaway!" he shouted.
"Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Deshazaway!"

The dome weevils were going berserk trying to keep up with the
precipitation. They whirred back and forth at frightful speed, then,
emptied of molten glass, rushed to the Trough which they quickly
emptied and then rushed about empty-handed. "Yoo-hoo!" he yelled,
running. The artificial sun vanished behind the mushrooming twister.
Optimum temperature collapsed. "Mrs. Deshazaway! _Agnes_, will you
marry me? Yoo-hoo!"

Lanfierre and Lieutenant MacBride leaned against their car and waited,

There was quite a large fall of glass.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Fall of Glass" ***

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