Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

‘That is not a question one asks. '

‘Well, excuse me, please! And pray, why not? '

‘We will leave that to you as an exercise in deduction. But don't ask such a question again. And do not be late again. You are the subject of our discussion tonight, Lady Macbeth -‘

‘Maureen Johnson, if you please. '

‘It does not please me. It is one more instance of your unwillingness to observe the rules necessary to the safety of the Dead Men. Yesterday you were observed exchanging words with one of the hotel staff, a chambermaid. What were you talking about? '

I stood up. ‘Count Dracula. '

‘Yes, Lady Macbeth? '

‘You can go to hell. And I'm going to bed. '

‘Sit down! '

I did not. But all those near me grabbed at me, and sat me down. I don't think any three could have managed it; they all were ill, deathly ill. But seven were too much for me - and I was reluctant to be rough in resisting them.

The chairman went on, ‘Milady Macbeth, you have been with us over two weeks now. During that time you have refused every mission offered you. You owe us for your rescue -

‘Nonsense! The Committee owes me! I would never have been in a position to need rescue had you not kidnapped me and shoved me into bed with a corpse, one of your killings, Judge Hardacres. Don't talk to me about what I owe the Committee! You returned some of my clothes - but where's my purse? Why did you drug me? How dare you kidnap an innocent visitor to dress up one of your assassinations? Who planned that job? I want to talk to him. '

‘Lady Macbeth. '

‘Hold your tongue. You will now have a mission assigned to you. It has been planned and you will carry it out tonight. The client is Major General Lew Rawson, retired. He was in charge of the recent provocation incident in -‘

‘Count Dracula! '

‘Go hang by your heels! '

‘Don't interrupt again. The operation has been fully planned. Jack the Ripper and Lucrezia Borgia will go with you, and coach you. You can kill him in his bed, or, if you balk, you will be killed as he is killed and the two of you arranged in a tableau that will give substance to the rumours about him. '

The attention of everyone was on the row between the new chairman and me; proctors poured in off the balcony before they were seen. But a voice I recognised called out, ‘Watch it, Maureen! ' and I dived for the deck.

The robes and hoods were the Ku-Klux-Klan ersatz of the proctors, but the voice was that of Dagmar. When I turned my head at her voice, I spotted Pixel with. her.

Time Corps military units have stun guns they use when killing must be selective. They fanned the room with them. I got the edge of one charge, did not quite pass out but did not object when a big, husky proctor (one of my husbands! ) scooped me up. Then we were all out on the balcony and into a small troop carrier hovering at the rail.

I heard the door dose, felt it in my ears. ‘Ready? '

‘Ready! '

‘Has somebody got Pixel? '

‘I've got him! Let's go! ' (Hilda's voice)

And then we were home in Boondock, on the parking lawn at the Long residence.

A voice I know well said, ‘Secure all systems, ' and the pilot turned in his seat and looked at me. ‘Mama, ' he said mournfully, ‘you sure give me a lot of grief. '

Tm sorry, Woodrow. '

‘Why didn't you tell me? I would have helped. '

‘I'm sure you would, dear. But I was merely scouting. '

‘But you should have -‘

Hilda interrupted. ‘Stop it, Lazarus. Mama Maureen is tired and probably hungry. Mama, Tamara has lunch ready. Two hours from now - local time fourteen hundred - is an operation briefing, all hands. Jubal is in charge of the briefing and -‘

‘Operation briefing? What operation? '

‘Your operation, Mama, ' Woodrow answered. ‘We're going to go find Gramp. Either rescue him, or slip him into a body-bag. But we're doing it right, this time. It's a Time Corps major operation, resources as needed; the Circle of Ouroboros is unanimous. Mama, why didn't you tell me? '

Hilda said, ‘Shut up, Woodie. And stay shut. We've got Mama Maureen back and that's all that counts. Right, Pixel? '

‘Rrrrite! '

‘So let's go to lunch. '