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

‘How does Gay Deceiver have two portside bathrooms without being lopsided? Maureen, if you insist on believing in World-as-Logic you will never understand World-as-Myth. Pixel knows nothing about Einsteinian space-time, or the speed of light as a limit, or the Big Bang, or any of those fancies dreamed up by theorists, so they don't exist for him. Pixel knew where you were, inside the little world that does exist for him, but he doesn't speak much English. In Boondock, that is. So we took him where he can speak English -‘

‘Oz, of course. Pixel doesn't know what a cathedral is but he was able to describe that one fairly well once we were able to get his mind off all those wonderful new places to investigate. The Cowardly Lion helped us question him, and for the first time in his life Pixel was impressed - I think he wants to grow up to be a lion. So we hurried back and sent a task force to get you out of the Supreme Bishop's private jail. And you weren't there. '

Dagmar picked it up. ‘But I was, and Pixel led them straight to me - looking for you. I was in the cell you had been in - the proctors came for me as soon as you escaped. '

‘Yes, ' agreed Hilda. ‘Dagmar had befriended you and that was not a safe thing to do, especially after the Supreme Bishop died. '

‘Dagmar! I'm sorry! '

‘About what? "All's well that ends well", to coin a phrase. Look at me now, ducks; I like it here. So back they went to Oz, taking me along this time, and after I listened to Pixel, I was able to tell Hilda that you were being held in Grand Hotel Augustus -‘

‘Hey! That's where I started! '

‘And that's where you wound up, too, in a suite that isn't in the hotel directory and can be reached from inside only by a private elevator from the sub-basement. So we came in by the scenic route, and caught the Committee with their pants down:

Lazarus had joined us, and now sat on the grass at my knees, without interrupting - and I wondered how long his angelic behaviour would last. Now he said, ‘Mama, you do know how true your words are. You remember when we moved? I was in high school. '

‘Yes, certainly. To our old farmhouse, out south. '

‘Yes. Then after World War Two you sold it, and it was torn down?

(How well I remembered! ) ‘Tom down to build the Harriman Hilton. Yes. '

‘Well, Grand Hotel Augustus is the Harriman Hilton. Oh, after more than two centuries not much is the same structure, but the continuity is there. We researched it, and that's how we located this VIP suite that is not known to the public. ' He rubbed his cheek against my knee. ‘That's all, I guess. Hilda? '

‘I think so. '

‘What a moment! ' I protested. 'What became of that baby? And the man with the bloody stump? The one with his arm chopped off in that accident. '

‘But, Maureen, ' Hilda said gently, ‘I tell you three times: it was not an accident. That "baby" was just a prop, a lifelike animation, to keep your hands busy and your attention distracted. The "wounded" man was a piece of grisly misdirection while they injected you - an old amputee with make-up; he wasn't freshly maimed. When I had my driver hanging over the snakes, he became downright loquacious and told me many details, mostly nasty. '

‘I'd like to speak to that driver! '

‘I'm afraid you can't. I don't encourage employees to sell me out, Maureen. You are a gentle soul. I'm not. '

‘The surgical teams will be' - we were gathered in a lecture room in Ira Johnson Hall, BIT, and Jubal had started his briefing - ‘matched as nearly as possible in professional background. Tentatively they are: Dr Maureen with Lapis Lazuli as her scrub nurse; Dr Galahad with Lorelei Lee; Dr Ishtar with Tamara; Dr Harshaw - that's me - with Gillian; Dr Lafe Hubert a. k. a. Lazarus, with Hilda; and Dr Ira Johnson with Dagmar Dobbs.

Dagmar, your match with Johnson Prime is not too close; you are over-qualified by a century and a half, plus whatever you have learned here. But it's the best we can manage Dr Johnson will not know that you are assigned to him. However, we know from library research and from quite a lot of oral history research - interviews conducted by field agents in Coventry and elsewhere in the years 1947-50, recording the experiences of persons who served in civil defence first-aid teams in that war - we know that team-up between surgeon and nurse could be last minute, scratch, either one of them not fully qualified. Battle conditions, Dagmar. If you get there first when the sirens sound - and you will - Dr Johnson will simply accept you. '

‘I'll try ‘

‘You will succeed. All of us assigned to first aid will be wearing gowns and masks that won't look odd in wartime England, 1941, and you'll be using surgical instruments and other gear that does not scream anachronism. .. although anachronisms won't matter much, we think, in the pressure of a heavy bombing raid. '

Jubal looked around the hall. ‘Everyone in this operation is a volunteer. I can't emphasise too often that this is an actual battle you are going into. If you are killed in England in 1941, history may be revised - but you will be dead. Those so called "iron bombs" used by the Nazi Luftwaffe will kill you just as dead as an exotic weapon of a later century. For that reason all of us are volunteers and anyone can quit right up to H-hour. All of Major Gretchen's young ladies are volunteers. .. and are on max hazard pay, as well. ' Jubal stopped and cleared his throat, then went on.

‘But there is one volunteer we don't need, don't want, and who is urgently requested to stay home. '