To escape from Mars, all Clayton had to do was the impossible. Break out of a crack-proof exile camp—get onto a ship that couldn't be boarded—smash through an impenetrable wall of steel. Perhaps he could do all these things, but he discovered that Mars did evil things to men; that he wasn't even Clayton any more. He was only—WANT you to put me in prison!" the big, hairy man said in a trembling voice.
"But it isn't fair! The most I'd have got on that frame-up would've been ten years. I've been here fifteen already!"
"I'm sorry, Clayton. It can't be done. You're here. Period. Forget about trying to get back. Earth doesn't want you." Her voice sounded choppy, as though she were trying to keep it calm.
Clayton broke into a whining rage. "You can't do that! It isn't fair! I never did anything to you! I'll go talk to the Governor! He'll listen to reason! You'll see! I'll—"
"Shut up!" the woman snapped harshly. "I'm getting sick of it! I personally think you should have been locked up—permanently. I think this idea of forced colonization is going to breed trouble for Earth someday, but it is about the only way you can get anybody to colonize this frozen hunk of mud.
"Just keep it in mind that I don't like it any better than you do—and I didn't strong-arm anybody to deserve the assignment! Now get out of here!"
She moved a hand threateningly toward the manual controls of the stun beam.
Clayton retreated fast. The trackers ignored anyone walking away from the desk; they were set only to spot threatening movements toward it.
Outside the Rehabilitation Service Building, Clayton could feel the tears running down the inside of his face mask. He'd asked again and again—God only knew how many times—in the past fifteen years. Always the same answer. No.
When he'd heard that this new administrator was a woman, he'd hoped she might be easier to convince. She wasn't. If anything, she was harder than the others.
The heat-sucking frigidity of the thin Martian air whispered around him in a feeble breeze. He shivered a little and began walking toward the recreation center.
There was a high, thin piping in the sky above him which quickly became a scream in the thin air.
He turned for a moment to watch the ship land, squinting his eyes to see the number on the hull.
Fifty-two. Space Transport Ship Fifty-two.
Probably bringing another load of poor suckers to freeze to death on Mars.
That was the thing he hated about Mars—the cold. The everlasting damned cold! And the oxidation pills; take one every three hours or smother in the poor, thin air.
The government could have put up domes; it could have put in building-to-building tunnels, at least. It could have done a hell of a lot of things to make Mars a decent place for human beings.
But no—the government had other ideas. A bunch of bigshot scientific characters had come up with the idea nearly twenty-three years before. Clayton could remember the words on the sheet he had been given when he was sentenced.
"Mankind is inherently an adaptable animal. If we are to colonize the planets of the Solar System, we must meet the conditions on those planets as best we can.
"Financially, it is impracticable to change an entire planet from its original condition to one which will support human life as it exists on Terra.
"But man, since he is adaptable, can change himself—modify his structure sl
He was addressing his request to a thin woman sitting behind a desk that seemed much too big for her. The plaque on the desk said:
Book year: 2014
Book pages: 26
Book language: en
File size: 32.23 KB
File type: epub
Published: 30 September 2020 - 22:00