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 ]

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: The Ultimate Quest
Author: Annas, Hal
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Ultimate Quest" ***

                          THE ULTIMATE QUEST

                             By Hal Annas

                    Man has evolved slowly, always
                    striving toward a nebulous goal
                     somewhere in his future. Will
                    he attain it--to regret it?...

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
              Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy
                             December 1950
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

Striding down the corridor on long thin legs, Art Fillmore mentally
glanced over the news and his wide brow puckered. "Scientists to awaken
twentieth century man," the mental beam proclaimed. "Dark age to yield
untold volumes of ignorance."

Fillmore paused before the twelve-foot door, closed his eyes and
concentrated until he had achieved the proper attenuation, then entered
the office without opening the door. The bald man in the reclining
chair dropped his feet from the five-foot-high desk and sat up with a

"I wish you wouldn't do that, Art," he said nervously. "You know I've
got the itch."

"Sorry," Fillmore apologized. "Wasn't thinking. Had my mind on my
forthcoming wedding."

"Wedding?" The bald man's narrow mouth dropped open, revealing small
fragile teeth. "Why didn't you tell me? What does she look like?"

"Haven't seen her yet," Fillmore grinned. "Just mental images, and
you know how girls are when they project their own images. But she's a
mental pippin: seven feet eight or nine with a shape you dream about.
Must weigh about eighty-two or three pounds."

"Too fat," the bald man grunted. "I never liked the short and fat type.
Have you paid for her yet?"

"Not yet, but I've got the cash and I'll get a discount."

"How much?"

"Dollar sixty-nine less three per cent."

"Good Lord!" The bald man leaned forward, aghast. "For that price she
must be a pippin. Why, you can buy two hundred average women for that
and the market's glutted with them. How old is she?"

"Hundred and nine."

"Oh! That explains it. You're practically getting her right out of the
cradle and can teach her whatever you want her to know and see that she
doesn't learn anything else. Has she got any mental quirks?"

Fillmore sighed. "She's almost perfect in that respect. Doesn't have to
have her mind erased but once every six weeks. Nine power intelligence
but she holds it back. That way she doesn't come anywhere near a
nervous breakdown oftener than once in six weeks."

"Domestic type?"

"Definitely. Regular homebody. Never been out of the solar system.
She's the kind that likes a quiet picnic on Mars and will settle for
the moon when Mars is crowded. Besides, she's interested largely in
warts and mice. Studies them all the time. Knows how to grow warts on

"You're a lucky man, Art. Planned the honeymoon yet?"

"Sure. She's going to Venus while I go in the opposite direction.
Haven't decided yet where I'll spend that happy time. On one of the
planets of the nearer stars, I suppose."

"That's perfect," the bald man said approvingly. "My wife made me stay
on earth while she went to the moon. That's too close for comfort.
After all, you don't have but one real honeymoon, and in my opinion
every man and woman should strive to make it as nearly perfect as
possible. I think the government ought to subsidize that sort of thing.
Then the happy couple could put more distance between them. Think what
bliss could be achieved if the man could afford to go the maximum
distance in one direction and send his wife twice that far in the
other direction. I mean to say, happiness is next to the ultimate, and
if they could be separated so far that no trace of one ever got back
to the other--well, just think of it! We would never hear of divorce

       *       *       *       *       *

Fillmore's thin angular features darkened. "It is sad to think of the
divorces. There's been a dozen in the past half a century. But isn't
it because the couples were immature? Some of them married at under
eighty years of age, and they insisted on living on the same side of
the earth with each other."

"You're pretty young yourself," the bald man put in.

"I'm ninety-six," Fillmore said defensively. "That's plenty old for a
man. All of my people matured early."

"And probably died early."

"Yes." Fillmore nodded. "A few of them lived to be nearly five hundred,
but they were mostly females. The males usually check out between two
and three hundred. Their fourteen power intelligence burns them up."

"Had your mind erased recently?"

"Yesterday. Did it so I could accept Cynthia's proposal without any


"That's what I call her. Her real name is Xylosh. She found the name
Cynthia in one of those books of ignorance unearthed from the ruins of
that ancient farm called New York. She asked me to call her by that
name. You know how girls are!"

"Sure. They are all very romantic. She may even expect you to be
present at the wedding."

Fillmore shook his head and grinned. "She knows better than to spoil
things. And I love her too much to let anything like that happen. The
ceremony will take place near the earth at the hour when the north pole
and the south pole swap places. I'll be somewhere beyond the sun at
that time."

"Figuring on any children?"

"Of course. She wants three. We'll have them just before the ceremony."

"That's fine. Gets the dirty work out of the way before marriage and
then there's nothing to spoil it. But how are you figuring--"

"That's what I came to see you about. I want to borrow your secretary."

"For what?"

"Well, it's like this. I'm old fashioned. I believe there ought to
be some personal contact between a man and his wife before they
have children. These laboratory things are so cold-blooded. Mental
projections are much better. But there ought to be some personal


"So I want to shake hands with your secretary, then she'll shake hands
with you and you shake hands with one of your men who's going east and
he shakes hands with somebody on the east coast who knows Cynthia's
father and that man shakes hands with her father and her father shakes
hands with one of his men who shakes hands with his secretary who
passes it along until it finally comes to Cynthia. That will give the
matter a sort of warmth and personal touch, and then, just before the
ceremony, Cynthia and I will mentally project the three children."

"Very touching," the bald man said almost tearfully. "I doubted at
first that you and Cynthia actually loved each other, but I see now
that any two people so affectionate can't help but love one another.
You'll love the children, too."

"Of course. We're going to materialize them fully developed in the
government nursery. It will take two or three minutes longer, but we
intend to give them a well-rounded education at the beginning. I want
the boys to understand the simpler mathematics, such as the theory
of relativity and why it is possible to add numerals until you get
an answer of zero square. Of course, not everyone can square zero,
and it may take ten or fifteen seconds just to teach them that, but I
don't want them to grow up to be two or three hours old and still be
ignorant. Then, after they've learned those little unimportant things,
I'll get down to the business of teaching them everything there is to
know. It will take over two minutes and possibly three. Then we'll
erase their minds."

"Very ambitious. But what about the girl?"

"Cynthia thinks she ought to learn about warts and I agree. If she
learns to grow warts she'll have a first-class female education. I
can't think of anything finer in our society. And Cynthia even plans to
teach her all about mice."

"It's beautiful," the bald man said. "I'll have my secretary in
whenever you're ready."

"Thanks. But not just yet. Chloroform her first. It makes me nervous
to be around conscious females. They talk too much."

"Naturally. I don't expect to allow her to speak in your presence.
Think I'm a fool without morals? We've got to preserve the conventions.
If she saw those three strands of hair on your head she'd swoon. You're
the only man in the nation with more than twelve power intelligence who
isn't bald. If I didn't know you well I'd think you were effeminate. My
wife got a mental glimpse of you once and said you were the handsomest
man extant. It's those three strands of blond hair. Even the most
beautiful woman in the world doesn't have more than six or seven. I'll
bet you really projected those in a big way for Cynthia."

       *       *       *       *       *

Fillmore felt the blood rising to his pale cheeks. "I didn't make any
special effort," he denied. "Anyway, I'm very presentable. Just under
nine feet tall and weigh close to a hundred. My forehead is twelve
inches across and eight inches high from the root of the nose. That's
better than average. Few men measure more than eleven inches across the

"True," the bald man admitted "And some persons are troubled with a
chin. Fortunately you don't have one. I've got to admit that you are
typical of the finer specimens of masculine beauty. Do you ever have a

"Not since I had my skull cracked. Finest Ducktor in the realm did it
with a hammer. Said I needed more room to let my brain expand."

"Of course. I've got a two-inch brain expansion myself. Had to soak my
skull in oil until it became malleable enough to allow for the normal
brain growth. I've heard of some men having their brain taken out."

"Yeah. Some people are better off without it. But then they have
to install an antennae. I wouldn't like that. Which reminds me of
something: Got a news flash that scientists were going to awaken a
twentieth century man. I don't approve of that sort of thing, but I'm
going along to watch. Last time they awakened something from the past
it took us quite a while to recover from the mental shock. Had to have
my mind erased six times in as many days. Couldn't we do something to
stop it?"

"There might be something," said the bald man. "Corson was working
on something that would eliminate the past and make everything the
present. Only trouble seemed to be that the future got mixed up in it.
No. We don't have much chance in that direction--unless--"

"I know what you're thinking," Fillmore said. "I've been working on it
myself. Gave it nine seconds solid thought yesterday. If I hadn't been
interrupted I might have got it. You're thinking about pure reasoning
before the fact."

"Exactly. What are your conclusions?"

"It's possible. The square of nothing equals nothing. When you put
nothing times nothing on paper it comes out minus infinity or infinity
minus. Thus you have something. Take a mind without a fact and let it
confront nothing. Almost at once it will raise nothing to the power
of six. It will still have nothing, and so it will head in the other
direction until it gets down to infinity minus. That in itself is
reasoning _a priori_. Now it has a foundation and from that it can
arrive at any conclusion extant, and quite a few that don't exist. Is
that what you had in mind?"

"No. I want a conclusion without troubling to confront the mind with
even nothing. That is the only way to get pure reasoning."

"If you can give me ten seconds more I'll work it out for you."

"You've already been here thirteen seconds and I'm getting bored. I
only get three thousand dollars a day for sitting here, and at slave
wages like that I can't put up with too much."

Fillmore nodded. "And prices are away out of reach too. Only the other
day I spent six cents for twelve barrels of thousand-year-old whiskey.
The world has been aiming at high wages and low prices for the past ten
thousand years and we're still slaving and starving. You never told me
exactly what you do."

"I work pretty hard. You see, this chair has coils in it that convert
heat into Zeta Rays by shortening the wave-length. I sit here for
twenty-nine minutes each day, two days a month, and concentrate all my
heat through the seat of my pants. It goes through the converter and
comes out Zeta Rays in China. Zeta Rays are no good for anything except
to convert ordinary rock into gold, so the Chinese pipe it to Russia.
Gold, being soft, is good for nothing except to burn ceremoniously
in accordance with the ancient religious rites, and so a lot of it
is stolen and sold on the gray market to be converted into uranium.
Uranium, being useless except for fissionable purposes, is used for
fertilizer in the mineral laboratories where iron is grown. Iron is no
good for anything except food, and you can't put very much of it in
ordinary food, and so it is dissolved into an iron vapor and freed in
the atmosphere. Iron vapor gets heavier as it cools, and so it settles
on top of the clouds and holds them close to the earth and keeps the
warmth of the world from escaping. So, as I sit here and warm this
chair, I'm keeping the world warm."

"And getting only three thousand dollars for twenty-nine minutes of
that sort of slave labor! Scandalous! I'll bet you can't afford more
than a hundred vacations a year. We might as well be back in the dark
age of the twentieth century. I've been advocating a one-minute
work-day for the past decade, one day a month, two months a year. What
good is civilization if it doesn't provide something for the poor
working man? And people call me a visionary, with Utopian ideas! Bah!
If I'm not mistaken, you're the man with the seat of his intelligence
in the back of his lap! Right? You're being exploited!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The bald man shook his head. "No. It's Corson who's got his
intelligence in his back side. Mine is in the soles of my feet,
according to Meyer who knows about such things. But Konwell claims the
intelligence flows through the bloodstream in all persons."

"Not all," Fillmore contradicted. "But Konwell is right. The brain is
merely the antennae. The more blood it gets the more it can express.
For instance, in order to concentrate to the full power of fourteen I
have to stand on my head. But I can't hang around here all day. Get
your secretary in and let me shake hands with her."

"All right. But as a precaution you'd better close your eyes and bring
your thoughts down to a six power level. She isn't too bright. It takes
her nearly half a second to calculate the distance in inches from
here to Andromeda and return via Pegasus--that is, unless you give
her a clue to the problem. She's a plain dumbbell but fantastically
beautiful. Tall as you are and weighs less than sixty pounds. What
a shape! She turned down a billion-dollar contract to dance three
minutes in a spot on one of the planets in the Milky Way. Plain dumb!
But looks! And the clothes she wears! Dazzling! Imported from Eureka.
Must have cost her two-bits or more for one dress with upward of sixty
yards of material in it. Made my wife gape. Nearly bankrupted me, my
wife did, buying clothes after that. Spent four dollars on her in less
than six years. Ten thousand separate items. But, of course, she never
found anything like that imported by my secretary. I doubt if there's
another in the solar system, and I know there isn't another woman able
to afford twenty-five cents for a single dress. I wonder where she gets
her money! Her salary here is only seven hundred dollars a day, two
days a month. I'll bet she hasn't got a million dollars to her name
saved up. Spends every last cent she earns, probably. Ninety cents a
quarter she pays for that seventeen room apartment of hers. My wife and
I have only eighteen rooms between us, her twelve rooms in China and
my six rooms here. Not large either. My six rooms cover only two acres
of ground and extend a mere hundred feet in the air. Cramped! I can't
afford anything better, not and save anything. I've got less than a
billion put aside right now, hardly enough to invest in an enterprise
outside the solar system. Poverty! How that secretary of mine lives
so high on her pittance, I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if she
isn't consorting mentally with somebody on some planet on the edge
of space. Not that I'm narrow-minded. A woman with looks like hers
deserves the best, but allowing a man on the edge of space to think
about her is going pretty far, and I'm a stickler for the convention.

"Hells bells. I didn't mean to run on like this. But it upsets me to
think about her loose morals when I have to work the seat of my pants
to the bone over a hot chair in order to earn a bare living. And my
wife throwing money around for clothes, and both my boys getting ready
to enter college and not in a position to earn anything."

"I can see you're upset. Better have your mind erased."

"I would, but there isn't a good Ducktor closer than Venus. Could find
a doctor, of course, but they're unreliable. They style themselves
doctors because it sounds like Ducktor. Plain disgrace. Ducktor
comes from the word _Quack_. Ages old. Even in the dark ages there
were plenty of quacks. They had all sorts of diseases then. Yes,
sir. Diseases! Little crawley things working around in their blood
and flesh. And these quacks would feed these diseases all sorts of
medicine! Finally the diseases up and died. Not having any intelligence
to burn them out, the people of those days could live as long as they
wished. Or at least that's the way it's figured. Once in a while,
about every two or three weeks, just as we erase our minds so we won't
burn up too quick, those people would get together and begin killing
one another. Think of it! We try to live, but they tried to die. Seems
they couldn't die fast enough, so they used a lot of fissionable
material and burned up everybody that way. Even that didn't satisfy
them, so they used fusing material, which was more deadly, and finally
completed everything to their total satisfaction. At least they left
very little trace of themselves. Man had to begin all over again from
the sea, beginning with the amoeba. I wonder if we're going to wind up
like that a million years hence."

"Not likely," Fillmore said. "Besides, you're wrong. Man didn't begin
all over again. The amoeba would have worked in another direction,
seeing what a mess man made of things. What actually happened was that
quite a few people were left after the hydrogen chain was set off. They
lived on one of the nearer planets and returned after earth had cooled
again. Then they set up things, or so they claimed, very much like they
were before, with the exception that they changed their philosophy.
Developed their minds first and everything else naturally followed."

"I think it's a mistake," the bald man persisted, "to develop the
mind too early. As I mentioned, my two boys are just now entering
college. Of course they knew a few things before, such as how to fuel
themselves when in the presence of food, and how to walk, and the older
one could even speak a few words, and even the younger one could change
his own diaper--had been doing it since he was forty-nine--but my
wife and I saw to it that they didn't learn too much too fast. That's
the reason my people live so long. Don't burn ourselves up in infancy
thinking. But that doesn't mean you may not be right in teaching your
children, when you have them tomorrow, everything right at the start.
With a fourteen power intelligence, your people are by nature compelled
to do a lot of thinking, and it's your duty, as a citizen, to begin
early. Had any startling thoughts lately?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Fillmore sighed. "Just the normal ones. Figured out a simple method,
just before dozing off to sleep last night, to transfer this planet to
an orbit about another sun. Not that it will be of much use. A sun is
a sun and it would take thirty seconds solid thought to improve on it,
and I don't know anybody capable of that much sustained thought, and
there's not much point in transferring this planet, now that we know
how to renew the sun whenever it cools too much."

"But it's interesting," the bald man pointed out. "It gets sort of
dull staying in the same old orbit. I'm in favor of moving to another
universe. Why don't you bring the matter before the Council?"

"They wouldn't listen. They don't like change. Most of them are aged,
and they still think in terms of light and energy. Imagine that in a
modern world! Men content to travel at the mere speed of light! Can't
get over the idea that breaking through the energy barrier was just
like breaking through the sound barrier."

"Was it?"

"Not exactly. But the theory that at the speed of light matter will
change to pure energy was just as ridiculous as the theory that matter
would disintegrate into sound waves at the speed of sound. They
figure light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Perhaps it does in
a straight line. I never thought it was worth the trouble of figuring
out. But light waves are always at right angle, different from sound
waves, and we must come to the conclusion that light does not travel
in a straight line, but in a series of curves. While its theoretical
speed is 186,000 miles per second, its actual speed is many times that.
Thus we have a constant and a variable. If there were only a constant,
it would prove out that matter would become pure energy at the speed
of the constant. But it does not, for it must achieve the speed of the
variable, and that cannot be achieved without traveling at a million
different speeds. And even if matter changed to pure energy it must
necessarily change again when it breaks through the energy barrier. But
those old slow pokes in the council insist that we go on traveling at
less than the speed of light. They do not know that a billion miles
per second is considered slow in some laboratories. They may know it
but they ignore it. Backward! Stupid! Even the ancients were better
informed. They conceived varying dimensions, which is a step in the
right direction. Actually we know that there is only one dimension and
that is the mental dimension with diverse corridors. But in order to
learn that, we had to discover, some fifty thousand years ago, upward
of two thousand different dimensions. Then we integrated them and
found that they all emanated from the mind. It was merely a matter of
mathematics and comprehension. And now everything is accomplished by
the mind, and in another hundred thousand years we can dispense with
our bodies."

"Is that good or bad?"

"Definitely good! We have the itch every few weeks and have to have our
minds erased. Nerves! Without bodies we'd be without nerves. That, my
friend, is the ultimate quest."

The bald man shook his head. "No. The ultimate quest is the elimination
of both the body and the mind. Then we wouldn't have any troublesome

"What would be left?"


"How do you figure that?"

"I don't know. But you've got a fourteen power intelligence. Get the
answer to it and you'll be famous."

"I'll do that. I'll do it right now."

"Not in here. Don't do any concentrating in here. I know how you are
when you start thinking. Lightning crackling all around and furniture
getting scorched and the building vibrating, and possibly even an
earthquake. No, sir. You take your thinking home with you and get
inside a thought-proofed vault. You know it's against the law to think
above the seven power level out in public where you might start a
hurricane or cause snow in the middle of summer."

"Yes. I can see you're right. We've got to get rid of our minds. They
are troublesome. I'll go home and figure the whole thing out. And if
it's safe I'll pass it along to the council. Good-bye."

"Wait! You want to shake hands with my secretary. I'm going to have her
come in."

"That's right. I'd almost forgotten about Cynthia."

"That's another good thing about the elimination of the mind. We won't
have to remember anything."

"Well, get her in."

"Right now." The bald man turned his head slightly, glanced at a row
of tubes in a panel, selected one and looked at it for a fraction of a
second. Instantly the tube glowed brightly and the door of an adjoining
office vanished and a woman appeared. Seven strands of jetblack hair on
her massive chinless head gave her an ultra feminine appearance, and
her eyes, behind their rimless radar equipment were almost as large
as a pencil eraser, lending an innocent baby-like air to her lovely

She advanced in mincing four-foot strides, parted her tissue-thick
lips, and spoke out of a ripe mouth that was fully half an inch wide.
The tone of her voice was two octaves above high C, and it so stirred
Fillmore with its rich depth that he was compelled to glance at her
without opening his eyes. The mental effort was immediately felt by the
others, as the temperature of the room increased, and the woman blushed
prettily, swaying her lovely nine feet and sixty pounds of pulchritude.
She looked at Fillmore, taking in the three strands of blonde hair on
his waterbucket head, and swooned. She recovered before she struck
the floor, however, and looked to see whether anyone had projected a
mental couch for her to fall on. No one had, so she righted herself,
readjusted her dress over her twelve-inch bust, patted her seven
strands of hair into place, sat down, drew one sixteen-inch foot under
her and waited expectantly.

Fillmore was almost on the point of opening his eyes. But he determined
to stick to the conventions, because if he gave her any encouragement
she might, he knew, try to get chummy with his mind, and that would
lead to complications.

"Mr. Fillmore wants to shake hands with you," the bald man explained.
"Then you pass it along to me."

"But why doesn't he shake hands with you?" she asked in high C.

The bald man shook his head. "You wouldn't understand about that.
But it has something to do with the voltage. Men's voltage multiply,
whereas a man and a woman's voltage merely add. If we shook hands we'd
burn our brains out. But if you and he shake hands it will merely
stimulate you two physically. Nothing dangerous about it."

"It seems immoral," she said.

"I hadn't thought of it that way," the bald man admitted. "But history
reveals that men and women even went further than that centuries ago,
and never thought anything about it."

The woman coyly lowered her eyes. "If he shakes hands with me," she
said softly, "he really should marry me."


"Because I'd probably have a dozen children before tomorrow night."

"Good Lord!" the bald man exclaimed. "That's right. Have you thought
about that, Fillmore?"

"No," Fillmore said. "My mind has been turned off for some time. But
the hypothesis is reasonable. I'll have to figure out something."

"Not here."

"I've got to. Hold on to your chairs for a moment. I'm going to turn my
mind on. Get ready for the shock."

"Not the fourteen power. Don't go over eight or nine."

"Think I'm a fool? I'll keep it down to seven power. Brace yourself,
young lady. This is going to be a shock."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a moment of still silence, then the heat in the room began
gradually to rise. In another moment the three blonde hairs were
sticking straight up on Fillmore's head and waves of thought were
washing about the room in an endless rising tide. The walls creaked
and strained and the ceiling sighed upward elastically, giving as it
was intended, and a thin gray haze obscured the natural light which
was reflected from outside by means of a force field. Fillmore put a
cigarette into his mouth, concentrated on the tip of it until it flared
into flame, then resumed thinking for a total of two seconds.

"I have it," he said at last. "I'll pull out a strand of my hair, seal
it in a ten-ton safe and ship it to Cynthia by armored tube. That is
the greatest expression of love any man can possibly make."

"But," the woman broke in, "that is too much. I'm sure she would be
satisfied with less."

"No." Fillmore shook his head. "The people of my clan are noted for
their courage and chivalry. Should I choose to make the supreme
sacrifice for my beloved, who is there to stop me? Call in the
reporters. We'll make the announcement right now. My Cynthia shall be
honored above women."

"It's beautiful," the woman sighed. "To be loved like that is something
every woman dreams of."

"It may cause trouble," the bald man put in. "There was a case once in
which a man came within speaking distance of his wife, and the women
went wild about it. Some women even insisted on living near their
husbands after that, and then the divorces began. You shouldn't do it,
Fillmore. Take my word for it, you'll start something that will be hard
to stop."

"Maybe you're right," Fillmore admitted. "Men have killed themselves
for their wives, but that's nothing. They have given them planets, but
that is nothing; they have showered them with stars, and that is very
little because there are so many stars. But no man has ever given a
woman, up until this time, a strand of his hair, largely because no man
had any hair to give. Yes, it would cause trouble. You'd have to grow
hair then, and that would cause the race to slip right back into the
dark age. This is a problem that calls for fourteen power thought."

"Not here," the bald man shouted.

"Right here," Fillmore insisted. "I'll project a thought-proofed wall
about me so that you won't get hurt."

"Well, don't take all day. You've been in this room nearly thirty
seconds and haven't accomplished anything yet. Get to work and finish
the task. But remember, don't shake this place down or burn it up."

"Relax," Fillmore said.

The bald man and the woman watched the wall grow and then become a
sphere. They could easily tell that it was more than six feet thick and
harder than a diamond, for it would take every bit of that to restrain
Fillmore's full voltage. Besides, he sometimes became radio-active when
he turned on full power.

The full matter required one point three seconds. Then the
thought-proofed sphere was complete. Then began the dreary wait. Every
second seemed like a light year. Five seconds passed, then ten, and
still they waited. Then the woman sat bolt upright and uttered an

"The sphere is bulging out," she screamed. "It's going to explode."

It was then that the bald man caught the thought beam that came
through the sphere: "I've got it! Thinking about hair reminded me of
the twentieth century man--he destroyed himself and the world with
fissionable hydrogen--only he didn't really destroy himself! Do you get
it? He only changed things.

"That's the answer. To eliminate the mind and body we don't destroy, we
merely change. Change is the only definite thing anyway. Besides, it
will be an interesting thing to cogitate on--the change."

The thought ended on an excited note. Then the sphere shimmered
through the spectrum and with a pyrotechnic display burst outward.

Red, white, blue, purple, and finally black heat shot ten thousand
miles through the earth below. The planet shuddered in protest, then
disrupted into a gaseous nova. The ultimate quest had succeeded.

Just as in the dark age....

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Ultimate Quest" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.