The Sky is Falling [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Lester del Rey
eBook Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
eBook Description: Summoned from Earth by magic, Dave Hanson finds himself embroiled in the politics and engineering problems of an alternate Earth named Terah ... for Terah's sky has shattered, and he may be the one man in all the universe who can restore it! But science and sorcery, beautiful women, and fantastic monsters are just the beginning of his problems ... Originally published in shorter form in "Beyond Fantasy Fiction" in 1954, then expanded to novel length, here is Lester del Rey's classic science-fantasy, "The Sky is Falling"!
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, Published: USA, 1963
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2006
15 Reader Ratings:
"Dave Hanson! By the power of the true name be summoned cells and humors, ka and id, self and--"
Dave Hanson! The name came swimming through utter blackness, sucking at him, pulling him together out of nothingness. Then, abruptly, he was aware of being alive, and surprised. He sucked in on the air around him, and the breath burned in his lungs. He was one of the dead--there should be no quickening of breath within him!
He caught a grip on himself, fighting the fantasies of his mind, and took another breath of air. This time it burned less, and he could force an awareness of the smells around him. But there was none of the pungent odor of the hospital he had expected. Instead, his nostrils were scorched with a noxious odor of sulfur, burned hair and cloying incense.
He gagged on it. His diaphragm tautened with the sharp pain of long-unused muscles, and he sneezed.
"A good sign," a man's voice said. "The followers have accepted and are leaving. Only a true being can sneeze. But unless the salamander works, his chances are only slight."
There was a mutter of agreement from others, before an older voice broke in. "It takes a deeper fire than most salamanders can stir, Ser Perth. We might aid it with high-frequency radiation, but I distrust the effects on the prepsyche. If we tried a tamed succubus--"
"The things are untrustworthy," the first voice an swered. "And with the sky falling, we dare not trust one."
The words blurred off in a fog of semiconsciousness and half-thoughts. The sky was falling? Who killed Foxy Loxy? I, said the spider, who sat down insider, I went boomp in the night and the bull jumped over the moon....
"Bull," he croaked. "The bull sleeper!"
"Delirious," the first voice muttered.
"I mean--bull pusher!" That was wrong, too, and he tried again, forcing his reluctant tongue around the syllables. "Bull dosser!"
Damn it, couldn't he even pronounce simple English?
The language wasn't English, however. Nor was it Canadian French, the only other speech he could make any sense of. Yet he understood it--had even spoken it, he realized. There was nothing wrong with his command of whatever language it was, but there seemed to be no word for bulldozer. He struggled to get his eyes open.
The room seemed normal enough, in spite of the odd smells. He lay on a high bed, surrounded by prim white walls, and there was even a chart of some kind at the bottom of the bedframe. He focused his eyes slowly on what must be the doctors and nurses there, and their faces looked back with the proper professional worry. But the varicolored gowns they wore in place of proper clothing were covered with odd designs, stars, crescents and things that might have been symbols for astronomy or chemistry.
He tried to reach for his glasses to adjust them. There were no glasses! That hit him harder than any other discovery. He must be delirious and imagining the room. Dave Hanson was so nearsighted that he couldn't have seen the men, much less the clothing, without corrective lenses.
The middle-aged man with the small mustache bent over the chart near his feet. "Hmm," the man said in the voice of the first speaker. "Mars trines Neptune. And with Scorpio so altered ... hmm. Better add two cc. of cortisone to the transfusion."
Hanson tried to sit up, but his arms refused to bear his weight. He opened his mouth. A slim hand came to his lips, and he looked up into soothing blue eyes. The nurse's face was framed in copper-red hair. She had the transparent skin and classic features that occur once in a million times but which still keep the legend of redheaded enchantresses alive.
"Shh," she said.
He began to struggle against her hand, but she shook her head gently. Her other hand began a series of complicated motions that had a ritualistic look about them.
"Shh," she repeated. "Rest. Relax and sleep, Dave Hanson, and remember when you were alive."
There was a sharp sound from the doctor, but it began to blur out before Hanson could understand it. He fought to remember what he'd heard the nurse say--something about when he was alive--as if he'd been dead a long time.... He couldn't hold the thought. At a final rapid motion of the girl's hand his eyes closed, the smell faded from his nose and all sounds vanished. Once there was a stinging sensation, as if he were receiving the transfusion. Then he was alone in his mind with his memories--mostly of the last day when he'd still been alive. He seemed to be reliving the events, rethinking the thoughts he'd had then.
It began with the sight of his uncle's face leering at him. Uncle David Arnold Hanson looked like every man's dream of himself and every woman's dreams of manliness. But at the moment, to Dave, he looked more like a personal demon. His head was tilted back and nasty laughter was booming through the air of the little office.
"So your girl writes that your little farewell activity didn't fare so well, eh?" he chortled. "And you come crawling here to tell me you want to do the honorable thing, is that it? All right, my beloved nephew, you'll do the honorable thing! You'll stick to your contract with me."
"But--" Dave began.
"But if you don't, you'd better read it again. You don't get one cent except on completion of your year with me. That's what it says, and that's what happens." He paused, letting the fact that he meant it sink in. He was enjoying the whole business, and in no hurry to end it. "And I happen to know, Dave, that you don't even have fare to Saskatchewan left. You quit and I'll see you never get another job. I promised my sister I'd make a man of you and, by jumping Jupiter, I intend to do just that. And in my book, that doesn't mean you run back with your tail between your legs just because some silly young girl pulls that old chestnut on you. Why, when I was your age, I already had..."