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Writings

Time’s Mausoleum

By NEIL R. JONES
Illustration by LEO MOREY

amazing-stories_33-12-cover
Amazing Stories
December, 1933
Cover art by Leo Morey

Of the twenty-four published Professor Jameson stories, “Time’s Mausoleum” is unique. The story is the only time that Jones outlined his future history in fiction—suggesting that he conceived of his history in 1933 or before—and the only time outside of the published version of “The Jameson Satellite,” that Jameson and the Zoromes had any contact with the Earth. Of greater importance, however, is that we believe the story contains a portion of the original version of “The Jameson Satellite” that was rejected by Gernsback circa 1929 and re-purposed here to more fully flesh out Professor Jameson’s origins.

Jones’ outline of his future history begins in the final chapter of the story and what makes this section so fascinating is that the incidents that Professor Jameson and his companions view are all concerned with stories that had not yet been published, or possibly even written. The first event observed is the cosmic veil that blocks all sunlight from Earth: an occurrence that figures into “The Ransom of Toledo” (1941) and, possibly, is the basis for the unpublished novel, The Cosmic Veil. This is followed in quick succession by other events that had not yet seen print—including mention of the Durna Rangue by name—until the later 1930s and up to 1942. There is even mention of The Outlawed World (published as The Citadel of Space) and the viewing of the past (to Professor Jameson et al.) culminates with the migration of a tremendously evolved human race to a planet around the star Sirius (“The Astounding Exodus” 1937).

That a portion of the original “The Jameson Satellite” was edited and re-purposed for this story is not quite as easily explained. “Time’s Mausoleum”, in its original published form was twenty-two and a half pages long. The first eight pages are a short retelling of Jameson’s origin, a recap of the previous story (“Into the Hydrosphere”) and then the set-up of the current story and an explanation of how the time machine works. This is followed by four and a half pages of a quick history of the Earth—from the birth of the solar system to 1950 and a short look at a civilization that existed on Mars during Earth’s pre-history. Next are five pages covering how Professor Jameson got into space and the story closes with five pages that give a quick tour of Jones’ future history and the climax of the story. What all this means is that nearly one quarter of the story is given over to background on Professor Jameson and the aftermath of his being launched into space, suggesting that this portion of the story had great importance for Jones.

The length of the story section, or its assumed importance, are not quite enough to support the theory that this is a portion of the original “The Jameson Satellite,” but there are other bits of evidence that also point in that direction. The Jameson portion of the story reads, stylistically, like an excerpt from another work. The outer sections come across like a narrative of events, with interjections by the Professor and his comrades, but the Jameson portion is filled with description, characters and dialogue all dealing with the people and events being observed. The Jameson mansion, the rocket, the launch are all detailed, but we also know what time of day actions occur and even the season of the year. There is a feeling of being caught up in the events rather than just observing them.

The difference in storytelling of this section from those around it, and its length, seem the best evidence that this is a portion of the story rejected by Gernsback, but there is one further clue that leads to this conclusion. One of the reasons Gernsback rejected the story was that it lacked action and this excerpt, while filled with description and activities, does lack conflict and tension, although there is a bit of action and dialogue during and after the rocket launch. For those of you interested, we have set off this section with a red line at the beginning and one at the end.

Lastly, a few items about some of the other parts of the story:

“Time’s Mausoleum” originally appeared in the December, 1933 issue of Amazing Stories.

Bob Gay
April, 2019
Introduction © 2019 by Bob Gay
Editor’s Note:The original printing of “Time’s Mausoleum” placed the single illustration as a full page after the first story page. We have moved the illustration next to the relevant portion of the story. All story breaks and chapters are per the original.

times-mausoleum-logo-redux
The author gives us again what he calls a Professor Jameson story. These narratives have already won the favor of our readers, and we are sure that this one will have a special interest for them, as the rather wonderful Professor Jameson, operating a robot structure by means of his human brain, develops a leadership in many adventures preserving what we may call his static nature throughout.
Preface

WANDERER of the cosmos, mariner of the seas of space, convert to the ranks of the machine men of Zor, Professor Jameson, known to his metal companions as 21MM392, found before him a glamorous future among the suns and worlds of deep, unending and mysterious space.

More than forty million years ago, he had lived as a man—a flesh and blood organism of the planet earth. Fired with the inspiration of eternal preservation after death, Professor Jameson had looked to the depths of space as his grave, his coffin a space rocket. The great art of the Egyptians in preserving their dead seemed less than a second compared to a year beside the results obtained by the professor. He knew that, in the depths of space, organic material remained free from the ravages of bacteria and other earthly influence.

He had died in 1950. A nephew, Douglas Jameson, had carried out the terms of his will, and, as the professor had anticipated, his rocket became a satellite of the earth. What Professor Jameson had not anticipated, however, was his awakening to find his brain encased in a metal head equipped with a complete circle of mechanical eyes, a supplementary eye looking straight upward from the peak of his head. He found himself possessed of a metal, cubed body with metal legs and tentacles.

Machine men of Zor, who had long ago searched after immortality by removal of their brains from organic bodies to mechanical counterparts, had come across the professor’s rocket in the shadow of the dying world. With these adventurers of space, who had made him one of them, stimulating his dead brain cells into activity once more, Professor Jameson embarked upon a life of eternal exploration among the worlds of the universe.

Countless adventures had befallen him. He had seen double suns of contrasting colors, he had plumbed the depths of a different plane of dimension; death had stalked him closely in an attempt to destroy his one vulnerable point, the metal head, yet he still lived. He had seen his metal companions die. He had found himself cast adrift in space, helpless. The latest adventure had been inside a world of water.

The Zoromes had found the inhabitants of the hydrosphere menaced and held in ruthless subjection by the Uchke, a race of cruel oppressors from a neighboring planet. The Plekne were freed of their bondage on the home planet, and the machine men then invaded the world of the Uchke to render their future operations harmless to the Plekne.

CHAPTER I
Planet of the Uchke

THE Uchke were conquered. Their planet lay at the mercy of the metal invaders from the planet Zor. A few battles had decided the entire issue, and the Uchke had wisely yielded themselves. Their cities, except those few which had born the brunt of the machine men’s power, were spared, for the Zoromes had no intentions of annihilating the Uchke. To remove their menace against the Plekne was sufficient. To this end, Professor Jameson, 744U- 21, 6W-438 and others of the machine men conferred with the high officials among the Uchke.

It was a puzzle to the professor how these bestial creatures could conceive the high plane of civilization which lay about them. They seemed little more than brutes. If hair had grown on their faces, they would have looked much like gorillas, except for the more prominent forehead which suggested intelligence. But to the professor, they did not seem beings of the order of intelligence he might expect to have conquerd space and made themselves masters of the distant hydrosphere. The bodies of the Uchke were small and were out of proportion to their heads. Clawed digits terminated the upper appendages, and the creatures were afforded movement on two stumpy legs.

The machine men held mental conversation with the leaders of the Uchke.

“Your space ships are to be destroyed so that you may never again cross space and molest the Plekne,” said 744U-21. “All knowledge you possess of space navigation must also be destroyed.”

In the minds of the Uchke, the machine men read the reply.

“We do not design the space ships; neither do we possess the knowledge of space flying, though we are proficient in the operation of the ships. The Qwux show us everything.”

“The Qwux?” queried Professor Jameson, a light breaking in upon his mind. “Then you are not the rulers of this planet, after all.”

“We are the rulers of this world!” the Uchkek flashed, forgetting momentarily that he spoke to the planet’s conquerors.

The proud manifestation of authority was disregarded by the Zoromes as they probed to the crux of the mystery.

“Who are these Qwux?” 6W-438 demanded. “Where do they live?”

“They live on this world, and they are those among us who deal in science.” Though the machine men failed to gain an accurate picture of the Qwux in the oddly fashioned minds of the Uchke, the impression was sufficiently strong for them to conceive of another species. 744U-21 brooked further questioning.

“If they are your scientific thinkers and masters, take us to them,” he demanded.

“Not our masters,” the Uchkek protested. “We are their masters.”

With this paradoxical statement, the matter was dropped. A fast aerocar took them over the near-by mountain peaks to a huge building which loomed high upon a cliff overlooking a deep valley. The car came to rest at an entrance of the mighty edifice.

Professor Jameson, 744U-21 and 6W-438 were ushered into the building. Instantly, the machine men were all interest. The great structure was literally a beehive of laboratories, scientific workshops and experimental chambers.

“The Qwux live here,” said the Uchkek. “These are their laboratories. They live in the top levels. It is one of their rest periods.”

The machine men saw no one except Plekne slaves and a few Uchke overseers.

“We shall take you to Zlestrm. He is greatest in knowledge among the Qwux. They look up to him. We give Zlestrm all our orders.”

The last remark was given with an egotistical display of authority which puzzled the professor. If another race on the planet possessed such faculties of power, why did they, even though in the minority, allow these ignorant creatures to overrule them and dictate orders?

Elevators lifted the machine men and their guide high into the upper levels of the great building which rivalled the mountain peaks which surrounded it. They were ushered into an ante-room, and never in all his life, nor in all his cosmic travels, had Professor Jameson ever gazed upon such luxury and elegance as that which surrounded him.

CURTAINS of thin woven metal rustled softly at the end of the room. They parted, and into the room stepped a creature whom the machine men readily surmised was one of the Qwux. A pair of long, thin legs supported an oval body, which, like the Uchke, boasted upper appendages ending in long digits. The fingers of the Qwux, however, were more refined in shape and color. It was apparent instantly that they were of a higher intelligence than the Uchke. Their heads and bodies were more in accord with each other than those of the brutal conquerors of the hydrosphere.

“I have been expecting you, men of metal,” said the Qwux, “I am Zlestrm.”

“So we have learned,” replied 744U- 21. “And you are the real figurehead, the ruler of this planet’s destiny?”

Zlestrm spread his palms in a deprecating gesture which Professor Jameson recognized as characteristic of his own long-gone, long-dead race.

“The Uchke rule,” said Zlestrm. “We Qwux are the brains of this world, however, if I may say it.”

Zlestrm bent an apologetic look in the direction of the Uchke. In his expression there lingered a trace of subtle humor. The Uchke failed to gather any significance from the conversation. The machine men bent their concentrations on Zlestrm, and the flow of thought waves were far above the duller perceptions of the Uchke.

“How did such a strange reversal like that ever occur?” Professor Jameson asked.

“Long ago, the Qwux were the rulers of the planet. We were greater in numbers than we are now. The Uchke were little more than roving brutes of the forest. The Qwux were not fighters. We loved luxury. The Uchke finally banded together and overthrew us.”

“But with all this power, you could easily revolt and become masters of the world again!” 744U-21 expostulated.

“Yes,” replied Zlestrm. “We could easily have done that. But why should we? We have a pact with the Uchke which gives us all these enjoyments we so dearly love. We have no fighting or working to do. They, with their boasted power, do all of this. The Uchke are satisfied because it is through our mentality that they possess the great cities you saw.”

“We blew up a few,” mentioned 6W- 438, edging toward the vital point. “The Uchke ceased their fighting after that.”

“Yes—on our advice,” Zlestrm replied. “I suppose your visit concerns the Plekne. Poor creatures. It is well that you freed them from bondage. The Qwux were never amenable to the situation, but the Uchke would have it so, and——”

Zlestrm made a significant gesture which took in the luxurious surroundings about them. It was suggestive that rather than stir up trouble with the Uchke and place their indolent ease in a precarious position, the Qwux would permit almost anything which did not interfere with them. Their rule was to follow the path of least resistance.

“But suppose the Uchke some day learn all your scientific secrets, or reach a stage where they may believe themselves superior to you?” the professor asked.

“That day will never come!” Zlestrm exclaimed triumphantly, with a bit more fire than the machine men had previously credited to him. “Our secrets are handed down hereditarily from one generation to the next. Each of the Qwux specializes in a branch of science. Were it not for the fact that my ancestor handed down to me the fundamental secret of the preparation of space ship propellent fuel, our ability for space navigation would die out.”

“You alone hold that secret?” queried 744U-21.

“I alone do,” was Zlestrm’s proud answer.

The machine men reached a simultaneous decision.

“The easiest and most effective solution to our problem,” the professor observed.

“Zlestrm,” 744U-21 addressed the Qwux. “We are leaving your planet without destroying anything—not so much as a single space ship.”

“That is magnificent of you,” Zlestrm fawned.

THERE is to be no more blood shed,” the machine man added.

Zlestrm could scarcely believe his ears.

“Only one thing,” said 744U-21.

“And what is that?” the Qwux asked.

“You are coming with us on our journey into space.”

On the face of Zlestrm, blank surprise was replaced by consternation.

“But in that case the space ships of this world will soon become useless—unless I convey my secrets to another.”

“You will convey no secrets,” warned 744U-21. “You are our prisoner.”

“This world will carry on without you,” said Professor Jameson, “and without the faculty of space-navigation to the hydrosphere.”

The machine men spent several days upon the planet of the Uchke. During that time, Zlestrm was kept in custody aboard the space ship of Zor. At first he bemoaned his fate, but gradually he grew reconciled to his prospects on assurance that all conveniences necessary for his subsistence during his lifetime stay with the machine men of Zor would be granted him. He finally reached a point of enthusiasm where he actually looked forward to the endless trip—an endless trip for him. The colorful tales of his captors were partly responsible for this.

“You will be dead before we ever reach Zor,” 744U-21 told him. “Your lifetime shall have expired before the home world is reached.”

Zlestrm was offered the privileges of becoming a Zorome but he shrank from the idea of an operation on his brain, with its subsequent removal to a metal head. Though himself a savant of high standing in science, Zlestrm’s timid nature did not inspire him to submit himself to any possible chances of harm.

“There is one additional favor I would like granted,” said the Qwux.

Professor Jameson was instantly reminded of the deep cushioned settee which Zlestrm had been persistent in having moved aboard his airtight compartment in the space ship.

“What is it?”

“I have an invention on which I am working—have almost completed. In fact, it is so nearly complete that I have given it several tests and found it quite successful.”

“It sounds interesting,” said 6W-438. “What is your invention?”

“A time traveler.”

The machine men were visibly moved. “A time machine?”

“Something like that,” replied Zlestrm, his mind catching the picture of intricate, fabled mechanism the thoughts of the machine men had conjured up.

“But it is impossible,” stated the incredulous professor. “I have often heard the theory discussed. It is like the irresistible force hitting an immovable body, a conflicting impossibility.”

“Actual time traveling is an impossibility,” Zlestrm admitted, “that is, a physical impossibility.”

“You probably mean that mental time traveling is possible, memory, for example,” Professor Jameson suggested.

“Not exactly that,” said Zlestrm. “With my time traveler it is possible for me to see actual occurrences I never knew or heard about. I have looked back into time, but looking ahead—that is where my time traveler still lacks in perfection.”

“Bring your machine and the necessary equipment with you,” said the professor. “There are reasons, well timed, which may afford me a specific use for your time traveler.”

And thus it happened that the machine men of Zor took an exile with them when they left the planet of the Uchke, an exile whose sole loss represented future safety for the Plekne in their drifting kelp cities of the hydrosphere.

Zlestrm dwelt in an air-tight compartment furnished with an atmosphere rejuvenator and reserve supplies of his natural air sufficient for the balance of his lifetime which would be spent in cosmic travel. Entrance to and from his compartment was gained by means of an air-lock. When Zlestrm joined the machine men in other parts of the ship, he wore a lightly constructed space suit.

Aided by the machine men, he worked a good share of his time on the time traveler. Professor Jameson seemed the most interested of the Zoromes. As 29G-75 had previously reminded him, they would soon pass the planet earth, where the machine men had discovered the professor’s rocket satellite. The professor was eager for the completion of the time traveler before they reached the solar system.

Professor Jameson saw his metal comrades clearly...
Professor Jameson saw his metal comrades clearly as they moved about the space ship, as if nothing stood between himself and them, yet all was silent.

Zlestrm finally announced that the time had come for tests to be made. 29G-75 consulted the constellation chart for the nearest system of planets on which to land and conduct the tests. Zlestrm, however, told the machine men that it was unnecessary. The nature of his invention made it possible for them to try the time traveler inside the space ship.

It was a queer looking apparatus which Zlestrm had put together, yet it appeared to be simply constructed. The mechanism was enclosed in a large container mounted upon a glassy, translucent base. This base was prepared from a tough, viscous substance which seemed nothing more than an exceedingly hard composition of jelly, not unlike India rubber. Several cone-shaped vents protruded from the container, while a small platform was built entirely around it.

WHO will conduct the test with me?” asked Zlestrm. “The platform will easily hold two of you besides myself.”

Professor Jameson stepped forward followed by 41C-98. They took their places on the platform where Zlestrm instructed them to stand. The Qwux then turned to the controls on the top of the container. Out of the cone-shaped vents issued a filmy cloud which gathered about the time traveler and the three who stood on its platform. Like a billowing cloud, it grew and spread over them until their comrades were lost from sight beyond the heavy mist.

As the vapor cleared, the professor saw beside him 41C-98 and Zlestrm still in their same positions on the platform. But all around them lay the heavy mist like a hollow sphere. Indeed, it seemed to Professor Jameson as if they were inside a large rubber ball. Everything beyond lay invisible.

“We must wait for the vapor to solidify,” said Zlestrm. “Then we shall travel back in time.”

Gradually through the cloudy mist the dim shapes of the machine men and parts of the space ship became visible.

“The vapor is disappearing!” 41C-98 exclaimed.

“No—it is solidifying,” corrected Zlestrm. “Soon, it will be transparent and we can see outside as clearly as if it were not there. 744U-21 and the others, however, will see only a large white globe resting on the floor of the space ship. The transparency works but one way.”

Professor Jameson saw his metal comrades clearly as they moved about the space ship, as if nothing stood between himself and them, yet all was silent. He heard not a sound beyond the slight movements of Zlestrm and 41C-98. He mentioned the fact.

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed Zlestrm. “I forgot about the audiophone!”

He adjusted the controls, and there broke into the professor’s hearing the clatter and rustle of metal feet on the metal floor and the rustling of tentacles.

“Can they hear us?”

“No,” replied the Qwux.

He pulled several levers and the scene beyond the time bubble shifted with such amazing rapidity that there was visible only a conglomeration of flickering shadows which resolved into a dull, quivering grayness. A terrible clattering din arose to a shriek and wail. Zlestrm immediately shut off the audiophone and profound silence replaced the bedlam.

“The scene you are about to witness took place some time in the past before your space ship came to the hydrosphere,” Zlestrm explained, busy at the controls of the time traveler.

CHAPTER II
The Backward Path

THE scene cleared. Professor Jameson saw the machine men gathered about the ports of the space ship. Through the ports came the mingled effulgence of blue and orange light. Professor Jameson was surprised to see himself standing beside 25X-987 who had long been dead.

“The planet of the double sun!” he exclaimed.

“Can we hear them?” asked 41C-98.

“Of course,” Zlestrm replied, and he turned on the audiophone once more.

Sounds of the space ship, sounds from the past they were examining, came to the three time travelers, but none of the machine men’s thought waves reached them.

“Your time bubble seems to be impervious to the reception of thought waves,” said the professor.

“You two would know that better than I,” the Qwux replied.

In sporadic leaps, Zlestrm bridged lengthy periods of time, coming up to the present once more.

“We shall now try the future, although I know pretty well what to expect. At present, you have witnessed nothing very sensational, just a review of the past in this space ship. In reality, we have not been moving through the past, but by means of the time bubble we have brought the past to us. Past scenes of this space ship have been mirrored in the time bubble.”

Zlestrm now worked at a different set of controls on the large container. He was a bit careful, cautious of his movements. Again there came the weird cacophony of mingled sounds and the flickering blots of movement.

Professor Jameson once more saw his metal companions moving about the space ship. Again he saw himself, and he saw Zlestrm as well. They were all behaving strangely. Indistinct and hazy, they moved in several directions at once. There seemed to be more than one of each Zorome. The professor saw several counterparts of himself moving about the space ship. Most surprising of all, the conglomeration of double and triple personalities moved through one another easily, without apparent notice or realization.

Baffled, Zlestrm moved the scene far ahead. The results were the same. Sometimes the space ship appeared empty except for dim-moving, shadowy forms. Again, the conglomeration of machine men, like countless superimposed photographs, were visible, sometimes clearly, sometimes dying away. Several times Professor Jameson saw what appeared to be no space ship at all, only the twinkling stars of empty space. Once, a planet loomed into sight through a near-by port, then dissolved from sight.

Zlestrm was just as puzzled as his two metal companions. He seemed unable to understand it, working desperately with his controls to bring some order out of the meaningless chaos depicted by the time bubble. He sped back towards their present existence and overlapped into the near past. He stopped the flight of time.

The scene before them stood out in amazing clarity. It showed Zlestrm and several of the machine men preparing for the test. They saw the machine men staring at them with unseeing eyes, eyes that saw only the opaque globe resting on the floor of the space ship. Again Zlestrm jumped into the future, obtaining the same results as before.

Professor Jameson had been doing a bit of thinking. “I believe I can enlighten you, Zlestrm,” he said.

“How do you explain all this?” asked the Qwux, waving a hand at the confusion of shifting scenes which merged and contradicted each other so chaotically.

“When dealing with the past, you treat with something already established, events which have taken place. In no way can that which has happened be changed. That is the fundamental reason why you could construct no time machine which would carry you either backward or forward in time, physically. Just imagine, Zlestrm, if this were so, you might go back into time, meet and kill yourself, then commit suicide, and your time-machine which took you back into time would never have been invented. It makes just that much sense, a ludicrous impossibility.”

Both Zlestrm and 41C-98 pondered the professor’s sound logic while all about them moved the same endless conglomeration of conflicting events.

NOW, let us consider the future,” said the professor. “None of it has taken place, and it is yet to be made. This mixture of future events portrayed in the time-bubble represents possibilities. Events occur as a matter of simultaneous coincidences linked together like a chain. Suppose, Zlestrm, that you saw the future depicted as accurately as you have reviewed the past. You might see yourself performing some task, for instance. How easy it would be to divert yourself from this and contradict the future in some manner. It would require but a slight deviation from routine to throw into chaos any given train of coincidental events, so closely do they depend on one another. The future is too shifting and unstable to be depicted accurately, and it is surprising that your machine had done so well with the future.”

“I believe you are right, 21MM392.”

“It stands to reason,” Zlestrm agreed.

“Upon my world, forty million years ago,” said the professor, “there were people who forecasted the future. They possessed peculiar qualities of mind not given to the vast majority. This gave them an insight into the future, and they were known under such names as soothsayers, necromancers, diviners, prophets, mediums, clairvoyants and fortune tellers. It is quite possible that their gifted faculty was not unlike the workings of your time machine. They saw the future as a conglomeration of conflicting possibilities, and they chose from this according to judgment and whim. They were not infallible and were often in error. Their percentage of accuracy, of course, depended upon the extent of their power as well as their intelligence and judgment.” “Suppose we return to the present,” suggested Zlestrm. “Our test has been completed.”

“What would happen to us if the time bubble should break while we were in the past or future?” queried 41C-98.

“We would immediately find ourselves in the present with a shattered globe,” was Zlestrm’s reply.

The Qwux brought them back to the present and then pressed a lever which dissolved the globe about them. Once more they were with their companions, telling of their trip into time.

“What has taken place is nothing, however,” the professor promised. “Wait until we reach the earth. I shall trace mankind down through the ages and find what happened to the civilization I left at the time of my death.”

Time passed slowly and monotonously for Zlestrm despite his ability to sleep. He was not a machine man, and an organic body made him aware of the passing of time. Several of his planet’s years had passed before the outer planets of Professor Jameson’s solar system blurred into sight. Since the time traveler had been tested, several improvements and facilities had been added. At the professor’s insistence, the composition, which made up the time bubble, was prepared to withstand the rigors of intense heat and the opposite extreme of cold. An installation of mechanism below the vapor chamber gave the time bubble mobility, either in air or in space.

The space ship of Zor flashed past Neptune. Far off to one side lay Saturn which no longer possessed its rings. The other planets, with the exception of Mars and the earth, lay on the opposite side of the dying sun. Earth glowed dully as a very thin crescent.

A strange sensation seized the professor as he looked upon his home world, yet there was nothing homelike about the dying world, which might have appealed directly to him. The continents as he had known them were gone. Even the poles of the planet were not the identical spots which had characterized his period of life forty million years before. A great change had been wrought.

One half of the dying world forever faced the blood red ball of a cooling sun, the face of the planet heated to a tremendous degree. The remaining half of the sphere was cold, frozen, desolate. The atmosphere, unequally divided over the great globe, was nearly gone. On the daylight half, stars were visible. The Zoromes had discovered on their last trip to the earth that a thousand mile band of territory encircling the earth represented the extreme limits on which they might emerge from their space ship.

The space ship was brought to rest in this twilight zone where the cooling sun, whose gigantic ball now lay nearer the earth, hung upon the horizon. Attracted by the mighty luminary, the earth and its sister planets had circled ever nearer down through the eons of time. Somewheres in the incalculable future, Professor Jameson knew that the earth would return to the flaming folds from which it had been hurled at birth.

"Our time traveler is now also a miniature space ship or globe traveler,” said the professor. "We can penetrate to the uttermost depths of earthly time and make observations on any part of the planet we wish. Our repellor rays can project us as far into space as we wish, and our detector will keep us informed of the exact proximity of the earth’s surface at all times. The machine has been enlarged so that it will now accommodate four machine men and Zlestrm. 744U-21 can select two more to fill the party.”

To accompany Zlestrm, 744U-21 and Professor Jameson into time’s uttermost realms, 6W-438 and 454ZQ2 were given positions on the platform of the time machine. The time traveler was set on a piece of level ground, and in the twilight brilliance of the dying sun, the five anachronistic adventurers took their places.

From the machine issued the dense vapor which enveloped them, presently forming a shining globe about them. The remaining machine men, fifteen in number, stood by the side of the space ship and looked on as their companions became lost in the cloudy haze which grew to the semblance of a shining sphere, the time bubble.

GIVE it your highest acceleration, Zlestrm,” Professor Jameson urged. “We are going back to the beginning of time on the planet earth.”

“I would like to look upon the civilization of your time,” said Zlestrm. “It would be interesting for you to see your

self as you were forty million years ago.”

“Forty million years is as nothing to what you are going to see,” was the professor’s reply. "We are going backward billions of years. We shall eventually move up to my time; then you shall see the race of creatures from which I came.”

The machine men watched Zlestrm as he rapidly stepped up the flight across time’s chasm. There were no flickering shadows, no sounds, this time. The color of the globe was a grayish hue, so rapid and inconceivable was the transition. The machine men were unaware of how much time had passed since they had blown the time bubble about them, but Zlestrm’s recourse to food and drink brought this fact to the professor’s attention. He called to Zlestrm who was busy examining the air rejuvenator.

“Stop and see where we are.”

Zlestrm did as he was directed, and the gray inner surface of the time bubble disappeared. The time travelers found themselves looking upon a strange scene. Smoky vapor curled all about them, and, through it, could be dimly seen an intensely hot globe in the sky.

"Were nearly there,” said the professor. "Go back still farther.”

Once more Zlestrm started them on their backward flight through earthly time. Again the professor told him to stop. The gray of the time bubble grew to a bright gold which slowly resolved itself into an intensely white brilliance. Zlestrm screamed and covered his eyes from the glaring light. The machine men’s eye shutters clicked rapidly shut. Zlestrm cowered on the floor, his head shielded. Professor Jameson groped for the controls, not daring to look.

"Do not look!” he cried. "It means blindness for you, Zlestrm—new optical plates for us!”

"Where are we?” asked 6W-438. "Somewhere near the center of the sun,” the professor replied, finding the object his groping tentacles searched for.

His tentacles curled about the long lever and pulled it. Blackness soon replaced the intense brilliance. The machine men, who had been left beside the space ship, looked on wonderingly as the globe shot into the sky, grew small and disappeared in space.

From far out in space, the machine men and Zlestrm looked back at the bloated star from which they had just emerged and left far behind.

“Where is the earth and the other planets?” asked Zlestrm.

“In there,” said the professor, pointing back at the dazzling star. “They have not been born yet.”

“When will it take place?”

“Just as soon as that other star reaches this vicinity,” Professor Jameson replied. “It may easily be a couple hundred of your lifetimes, Zlestrm, so we had better jump ahead this time. To do that, we must return to the sun. Protect your sight.”

The machine men who had been left behind looked on in awe as they saw the time bubble return to earth and leave again. This maneuver was repeated several times as the five occupants of the time bubble moved upward towards the momentous birth of a solar system.

“We have not long to wait,” said the professor. “The suns are nearing each other. They are behaving strangely.”

It was true. As the machine men and Zlestrm watched from their distant point in space, the two stars bulged at the sides facing each other. Though the movement was not visible, the machine men knew that their rotation had been accelerated. Wispy clouds of flaming material flew away from the great stars, forming a nebula about each. A gigantic paroxysm seized both of the cosmic bodies. It seemed that they literally belched forth their flaming insides which swirled and drifted about them in circling rings.

“Let us return,” said the professor. “It will be the fourth ring which will probably be the earth.”

“Which system?” queried Zlestrm. “The one with the eleven rings,” the professor explained. “You will notice, that the other system has twenty rings or more. Several of them merge.”

“Are you sure of earth’s being the fourth ring?” asked 744U-21. “I thought it would be the third.”

“The earth is now the third planet from the sun,” stated Professor Jameson, “but, during the era at which we are now looking, a nearer planet than Mercury circled the sun.”

THEY entered the vast flaming ring, and the time bubble was rapidly accelerated into the future.

“There will be little to see for many hundred million years,” Professor Jameson told them. “The ring, as you already know, eventually resolved itself into a planet and a moon. We shall reach for the first life on the earth, the first life beyond the fossil stages.”

Down the pathway of time they moved in long jumps, halting now and then to find what period of earth’s lifetime they had reached. Finally, crude forms of life in the way of vegetation and animals became noticeable. When they reached the age of reptiles, Professor Jameson knew that it would not be long before they might expect to view mankind’s predecessors and ancestors. Zlestrm and the professor’s metal comrades were enthralled by the sight of the great dinosaurs, the bloated sun, the myriads of life and the everlasting fight for food and existence, but the professor was impatient to move onward.

There were animals who often took to the trees and swung skillfully among the branches. They bore a remote resemblance to apes and simians of Professor Jameson’s day, yet nowhere could he remember any scientific reconstructions of his day which resembled them. The time bubble made another leap of several thousand years and the professor found that this curious animal had divided into two distinct groups. One species resembled a low form of ape, while the other was apparently of greater intelligence.

Here, thought the professor, might be the answer to evolution’s riddle. Those in the time bubble watched the progression and gradual evolution of this type up through the ages. No longer was there any doubt. This was man’s early ancestor. The creature upon whom the professor looked appeared as a man with apish features and characteristics.

The time bubble moved onward ever nearer the era contemporary with Professor Jameson’s life on earth. The professor estimated the period to be roughly two hundred thousand years before the advent of Christianity. Men had banded together and commenced living in caves. Domesticity had found its birth.

Professor Jameson and his companions were watching a colony of the troglodytes in their community on a cliff side when 4S4ZQ3 suddenly pointed to a small dot falling slowly out of the sky.

“One of the flying reptiles,” observed Professor Jameson. “It is rather surprising to find a few surviving saurians in this advanced era. They really belong to an earlier age.”

“That bird has no wings,” said 744U- 21, pointing to the small dot which grew in size and dropped into a near-by forest. “We shall investigate.”

They left off watching the troglodytes and hurried to where a large metal sphere roamed aimlessly over a dense forest bordering the foot of a steep declivity. “A space ship!” cried 6W-438.

“From another world,” said the professor. “Mars—probably.”

“Suddenly, the space ship veered sharply towards the cliff, dropping lower.

Those within the time bubble saw a strange scene. Upon the termination of a narrow ledge stood a cave man, his back against the wall. Down upon him rushed a gigantic cave bear. From the strange space craft there shot forth a blinding ray of white light full upon the fearsome beast which, unable to halt its mad rush, plunged against the rocky wall beside the cave man, dead. The space ship hovered near the cliff, its occupants evidently examining the troglodyne they had just saved.

Zlestrm moved the time bubble to a position which brought their vision within the space craft. It contained two creatures of strange build and overlarge heads, grotesque caricatures of mankind.

“A space expedition from Mars,” concluded the professor after a cursory examination of the space ship and its occupants. “Their world, being much smaller than the earth, cooled first.”

A brief trip was made across space to Mars to verify the professor’s belief. He was right. On the planet Mars they discovered a highly developed civilization, but the entire globe seethed with war and destruction.

“If they keep that up very long, they will be making no more space expeditions,” prophesied 744U-21.

Back once more they went to the earth, and once again time was covered in large leaps of several thousand years each, bringing them to what Professor Jameson recognized as the early Biblical era.

“Right here, I wish to gather some geographical data,” said the professor as he helped Zlestrm maneuver the time bubble off the earth and into space once more.

Below them, the earth rolled like a gigantic ball. The continents stood out clear and bold.

“For what are you looking?” Zlestrm asked.

“Atlantis,” replied the professor. “It was a continent believed to have existed before the dawn of authentic history. It was supposed to have sunk beneath the ocean. Look—there it is! The continent near the center of earth’s crescent!”

“Shall we watch it sink?” asked Zlestrm.

“Not this trip.” the professor replied. “I wish to cover a long period of time before we return to the space ship, and to accomplish it we cannot stop too long in one period of time.”

CHAPTER III
River of Life

THE time bubble was next maneuvered to a position over the Mediterranean. Here, Professor Jameson failed to find a broad expanse of water. It was an immense basin of dry land, partly desert. Where a deep sea was one day to be found, there was now but a vast area of sunken continent. Moving the time bubble, they discovered that a comparatively small section of land separated the great Atlantic from the slowly sinking valley of the Mediterranean.

“If that keeps up,” said 744U-21, “it will take but a slight convulsion of nature to send the ocean flooding into the valley.”

“Yes—that’s what actually did happen,” the professor replied. “And there were people living in the bottom of the valley.”

“A good many of your species must have been drowned,” 6W-438 observed.

“They were,” the professor admitted. “The story, however, as handed down to us by legend, lost nothing in the telling. It grew in size until report had it that the. entire earth was covered with water. The valley dwellers who managed to escape must have thought so, I guess.”

“Let us view the cataclysm,” 744U-21 suggested. “It will be interesting.”

By slow degrees, the time bubble was moved along in twenty year strides; it was moved all over the valley in search of Noah’s Ark which, if the story was authentic, the professor believed must be in the process of construction. But nowhere could trace of it be found, though they searched among all the villages and spots of human habitation.

“Possibly a fable invented by those who escaped to higher ground,” the professor suggested. “Either that or else we have skipped it. Perhaps it is too early to search for it.”

But the next step of the time traveler brought them into the midst of murky green waters which rolled high above them.

“We’ve passed it,” said the professor. “Retrace slowly, Zlestrm.”

The Qwux did so. The water disappeared, and they found themselves in the throes of a terrible storm of unusual ferocity. Terrific downpours of rain deluged the valley for days. Raging, mountainous seas slammed their tons of frightful weight against the weakening barrier-cliffs near Gibraltar rock so that the spray gathered and formed rivulets into the valley of the Mediterranean. The machine men and Zlestrm watched in fascination as part of the rocky buttresses weakened and fell, allowing the mad waves to wash into the valley.

And still the terrific downpour of rain continued unabated, beneath lowering skies as dark as night. Streams of water poured over the cliffs, washing away the rock. By short jumps of the time bubble, the time travelers saw the invasion of the sea increase to alarming proportions. This continued for several days, and then, with a mighty roar and convulsion of the ocean, the remaining wall broke, sending a towering tidal wave rushing into the partly submerged valley.

The time bubble moved onward in erratic jerks covering various periods of time. Occasionally, brief stops were made in order that they might see and hear events occurring in world history. The machine men and Zlestrm witnessed the power of the Pharaohs, the rise and fall of the Mayans, the burning of Rome, the Crusades, the Napoleonic wars, the development of the industrial age, the World War and many other sensational pages out of earth’s history.

"They are now approaching the power and achievements of the Martians,” 6W-438 remarked. “It is a dangerous period.”

“The Martians!” Professor Jameson exclaimed. “We have seen nothing more of them on earth since the time of the troglodytes. Let us see how they fared.”

A rapid trip to the fourth planet disclosed but a few low forms of animals as the only life existing on the planet. All intelligent creatures had disappeared.

“Anything might have happened to the Martians during two hundred thousand years,” said the professor.

“Shall we go back and see?” queried 454ZQ2.

“Not this trip,” urged Zlestrm. “My food supply is becoming low in quantity.”

“That’s true,” the professor agreed. “Let us move forward. We are now reaching the period of time when my rocket satellite was sent into space. I am quite interested in knowing how my nephew went about his duties in carrying out the instructions I left him. You will soon see how I defied all time and preserved my body for forty million years after my death. It happened in the year 1950. First of all, I must find my home town, the village of Grenville.”

PROFESSOR JAMESON took over all controls of the time bubble. Out into space they flitted to get their bearings. Over the continent of North America the professor guided the time traveler, and then they swooped downward towards the earth. It took the professor but a short time to find his native home.

Out of the graveyard of memories came strange sensations of mind. An intense longing, a homesickness, suddenly struck the professor. Once before, immediately following his resurrection to life by the machine men of Zor, he had felt this way. He took a firm grip on himself, gained self-mastery of mind and then jumped the time bubble ahead several years. A small village lay below them. Professor Jameson moved the time traveler to a position just above a large mansion which stood on a hill overlooking the village.

Like a long gone dream across time’s mighty chasm the scene smote the professor’s consciousness. It was a June morning. The sun’s rays penetrated the leafy foliage to create a checkered shade upon the greensward, throwing the long, early morning shadows of houses and trees in a haphazard, chaotic design. A gentle breeze of summer set the leaves of the trees slightly in motion, and fresh bloomed roses dropped their loosened petals. The little village, nestling in the foothills of the great mountains whose jagged contours towered away into the blue distance, represented a picture of peaceful tranquillity, a simple, country village.

From the mansion issued the figure of a middle aged man who walked slowly down the pathway to the gate and stood looking upon the restful panoramic scene stretched out below him.

“That—that’s I!” Professor Jameson exclaimed, rustling his tentacles nervously.

The machine men and the Qwux stared in fascination first at 21MM392 and then at the flesh and blood creature depicted to them through the time bubble.

"Down there, you look as you did when we picked up your rocket satellite!” 744U-21 exclaimed.

"Turn on the audiophone,” Zlestrm suggested.

The professor did so. In the village below, life commenced to stir. The roosters had long since ceased their crowing. A dog barked; voices were heard. The village was rousing itself and throwing off sleep to begin the labors of a new day. Joyous knots of straggling children went their leisurely way to school.

The lone figure at the gateway gazed past the village and away towards the great mountains whose giant fingers lay outstretched against the azure sky like huge monoliths of the gods. Professor Jameson remembered that day particularly well, and he knew what his next actions would be.

Eagerly he watched himself walk back towards the house. His companions also watched closely, sensing something imminent. But the professor did not enter the house. He proceeded in the direction of a high fenced enclosure. Inside rose a tall structure. The high tower bore a strong resemblance to a silo and was tilted at an alarming degree, suggesting the leaning tower of Pisa. The professor entered the strange building.

Across the yawning maw of more than forty million years, his mechanical successor moved the time bubble to a position which enabled them to view the interior of the tower.

"There is my rocket!”

Zlestrm and the machine men stared long at the cylindrical rocket which tapered slightly at its base. Eight cylindrical protuberances affixed to the base provided the radium release for the recoil charge, while stabilizer fins were constructed to guide the rocket safely beyond the atmosphere and into the seas of space. Four

straight guide rails ran the length of the tower.

Professor Jameson reached for a lever of the mechanism guiding the time bubble. The scene disappeared, and the time bubble was once more above the mansion. In short, hesitating jumps, the machine man moved the time traveler along through the following months. Finally, reaching the time he sought, the professor stopped the flight of the time bubble.

It was twilight. From out of a leaden sky, big, white, feathery flakes of snow came floating softly down upon the little village of Grenville, clothing it in a blanket of fleecy down. The dark gray of the overcast sky deepened as dusk settled at an early hour of the evening, and still the countless myriad legions of silent, drifting snowflakes continued their descent, the hitherto dark roof-tops of the little township putting on their white caps. Lights twinkled in the windows, and mothers called children, who, with lagging footsteps, reluctantly abandoned their merry gamboling amid the first snowfall in answer to the supper call.

Sitting majestically on its hill overlooking the village, the grim, austere mansion of the late Professor Jameson presented a lonesome aspect, even though a solitary light shed its glow from one of the windows of the massive house. The machine man knew that his dead body had been laid to rest within its grave yard vault. A slight shifting of the time bubble showed the professor’s nephew, Douglas Jameson, reading the documents and instructions of his dead uncle.

THE professor saw ghastly surprise and wonderment cross the young man’s face as he read the professor’s plans and preparations. Douglas Jameson hurried from the house and entered the outer laboratory of the professor with its rocket tube. Snow had ceased to fall, leaving the ground covered with a ghostly carpet of pure white to the depth of a foot. Overhead, a few dark clouds scudded across the star-lit sky, veiling at frequent intervals the twinkling points of light, set like fiery gems against a background of jet blackness.

Douglas Jameson emerged from the workshop rather bewildered and made his way back to the house. It was several hours later, around midnight, before the four Zoromes and the Qwux saw the young man emerge once more from the mansion and start out through the snow. Under his arm he carried a small bundle.

“Where is he going?” queried Zlestrm.

“To the cemetery,” Professor Jameson replied, “after my dead body.”

They followed him in the time bubble. Sure enough, over the cemetery fence he climbed among the snow capped gravestones, heading for the Jameson vault. The graveyard was silent, deserted. He was unobserved, yet he looked cautiously all about him.

At the vault, he fumbled with several keys before the grated door swung around and gave him entrance. He was gone for only a few minutes. When he emerged, he carried a bulking white bag over his shoulder. No heed was there of the professor to tell his companions what the bag contained. They watched Douglas Jameson with his heavy burden as he made his way towards the cemetery fence. Several times he stumbled over hidden footstones and fell in the light snow which covered him from head to foot with feathery flakes.

Reaching the fence, he hesitated before climbing over, looking cautiously up and down the road to be sure there were no late travelers in sight. Sensing his purpose, the professor also looked up and down the road from his position in the time bubble, and farther down the road he saw what a thin growth of evergreens had concealed from the hasty observation of his nephew who was in unseen danger.

A man came staggering along the snow covered road, leaving a winding path of footsteps. Douglas Jameson stood in peril of discovery. Rapidly, the machine man brought the time bubble to a position where the lonely pedestrian’s face was visible to him. The professor repressed a mental exclamation of surprise. The man’s face was black. It was George Jackson, Grenville’s colored handy man, and he was drunk. How well Professor Jameson remembered the superstitious old negro who had often done odd jobs around the Jameson estate.

If the negro’s unsteady gait had not apprised the professor that he was drunk, the fact that George took the route home past the cemetery would have brought to his recollection George’s weakness for liquor. The negro’s legs constantly persisted in becoming crossed, and it was apparent that he had fallen in the snow several times. The lanky black had no thoughts of the cemetery until he was beside it, and then, when the fact impressed itself beneath the wool of his kinky head, he merely shook his head lugubriously and passed on, emboldened by the influence of strong drink.

He possessed courage unexperienced during his sober moments, and so without trepidation he continued his winding trail past the army of silent, ominous gravestones, interspersed here and there with a grim, forbidding vault, standing like ghostly sentinels over the dead in the pale, uncertain light of the moon which peeped intermittently through the irregular fringe of the drifting cloud mass.

Douglas Jameson, in the act of climbing over the fence with his heavy burden, saw the negro at the same moment the latter discovered him. He hurried to get over the fence and across the road. The negro shook as with palsy, a dark, graven image of fright and horrible immobility, his eyes bulging in violent alarm at the sight which confronted him. Outlined dimly against the snow, the white figure with its big white bundle swung over one shoulder sobered George Jackson instantly.

He wanted to scream, but his throat was paralyzed, and his legs refused to cooperate with the wild entreaties of his brain. He might as well have been carved of stone for all the sound or motion he was able to elicit from his body. His black, woolly hair stood straight up from his head as Douglas Jameson hastily crossed the road and hurried from sight into a copse of woodland.

Not until the spectre had disappeared from view did the negro once more gain control of his body. A shrill cry of terror issued through the audiophone of the time bubble as George Jackson gave a ludicrous bound which cleared an amazingly large amount of ground as he was off down the road like a shot. Minus hat, and with coat-tails flying in the breeze created by his passage, he was a credit to any cross-country running team, his long thin legs working like pistons to escape the grim apparition which he felt certain was no greater distance than two steps behind him.

The stupefying effects of the alcohol had left him completely the moment he had seen the ghostly phantom scale the cemetery fence. As he ran, his breath came in great, sobbing gasps, and when he stumbled and fell it was to perform a rapid somersault and again continue his breakneck speed. George made his lonely cabin in record time, shoving open the door and slamming it shut behind him.

Professor Jameson, amused at the incident, followed with the time bubble. He had seen the birth of a planetary system, he had looked upon the dawn of civilization, the conquests of Rome and other epochal events, yet none of them impressed him so greatly as this homely little incident which brought back to him so poignantly recollections of his life on earth with its joys and sorrows in the long ago.

THE machine men and Qwux queried the professor over the strange happenings they had witnessed, and the professor explained to them their relationship with his rocket satellite.

“Secrecy regarding the matter was desired until after my nephew’s death,” Professor Jameson explained.

They waited patiently as George Jackson emerged from under his bed, fear and curiosity mingled on his face. Cautiously, he approached the door and opened it a slight crack, ready to shut it at a moment’s notice. No one was outside. He opened the door a little wider and thrust his head outside. The clouds had drifted away and now a steady, unobstructed flow of moonlight afforded an excellent view of the landscape. The negro’s heart pounded against his ribs as the eyes in his mahogany face rolled in terror-stricken gaze towards the vicinity of the cemetery. Something upon the heights of the Jameson estate attracted his attention. It also attracted the attention of those within the time bubble.

A blue, luminous flare arose, and then with a crackling sound barely audible, the gleam of violet-tinted light shot off into the sky. With a scream of fear, the shaking negro endeavored to do two things at once and do them fast; to pull his head inside and close the door. He attempted the feat with such startling alacrity that the muscles of his arms coordinated with his brain a moment sooner than the time required in which to withdraw his head. The result was inevitable. His head caught in the door, leaving him squirming and howling in an effort to extricate himself. He finally succeeded when he reversed the persistence of his hands in their frantic attempt to dose the door.

“That was my rocket he saw!” exclaimed Professor Jameson. “We must go back and trace its flight!”

A slight reverse in time was necessary to bring them back to the point where Douglas Jameson had fastened the professor’s body in the rocket. They saw him place the corpse against the plush upholstering of the rocket’s interior, fasten a strap beneath the chin and strap the wrists and ankles in place. Then, consulting his watch, he pulled the lever at the base of the rocket and immediately left the place to watch the tower from a vantage point in a window of the mansion. Five minutes later, a blue phosphorescent glow tinged with violet appeared suddenly from the top of the tower, and the rocket broke forth at a slow speed, contrary to his expectations.

There came a low, crackling hiss. The rocket arose slowly to a distance of five hundred feet above the tower, where, with a wild burst of speed, it hurtled rapidly upward, disappearing among the stars. In the time bubble, the professor and his friends followed the flight of the funeral rocket, watching it curve into an orbit around the earth at a distance of sixty-five thousand miles.

“And now to discover how my nephew carried out his further orders,” said the professor as they returned to earth once more.

Still in the vicinity of Grenville, they jumped ahead to the next day. Great excitement reigned about the Jameson estate on the hill. The leaning tower and its surrounding laboratory was a seething mass of flames, too far beyond the power of the village fire volunteers to save. Their best efforts were employed in preventing the fire from spreading to the mansion and the other buildings.

Satisfied, Professor Jameson moved ahead a few hours and brought the time bubble to the exact spot where he might learn if his nephew’s actions had been discovered. The professor and his weird companions found themselves the invisible bystanders in Grenville’s general store. Several of the village residents were lounging there, among them the negro, George Jackson. Eagerly, Professor Jameson listened through the audiophone.

“Reckon some of those darned chemicals, the perfessor used t’ fool with, must have exploded,” ventured the store keeper.

“Slim Burton was tellin’ as how he saw some funny lights in the sky late last night right up over the Jameson grounds.”

“Ah h’aint s’prized at nothin’ as happened las’ night,” said the negro, rolling his eyes fearsomely. “Las’ night wan’t no night fo’ good folks t’ be out! No suh! Dere was ghosts a prowlin’.”

“Ghosts?”

“As Ah live an’ breathe—an’ I wondah that Ah still does—fo’ a ghost chased me all de way home fum de cemet’y!”

The loungers joined in a loud laugh. George Jackson remained serious, his dark face a deep study of superstitious belief.

“When Ah got home an’ opened de doah t’ see if it follered me, it grabbed hold ma haid an’ tried t’ pull me outside t’ put me in a big bag!”

At this point, the negro exhibited several large bruises about his neck and chin.

Professor Jameson chuckled inwardly to himself, deriving a great deal of humor from this delightful old character whom he had known so intimately during his earthly life. The transposition of the professor’s brain to a metal body had not diminished his interest in the events of his past life, and he had never lost his sense of humor, something which most of the Zoromes did not possess.

CHAPTER IV
Across the Years

THEY moved onward for many decades, finding that a great catastrophe had stricken the earth. An immense cloud of cosmic dust had enfolded the earth from out of space in its drifting mass, shutting off the light of the sun. Humanity found refuge in vast, subterranean cities. Another jump of a hundred years, however, found civilization once more living on the surface in rebuilt cities, the earth free of the cosmic veil. The professor was eager to return and see how it had all happened, but Zlestrm’s food supply was nearly exhausted and they must move onward faster.

In the twenty-third century, the time travelers found that interplanetary navigation had been conquered.

“They have now reached the stage which the Martians reached two hundred thousand years ago,” 744U-21 remarked.

The next hundred years saw colonization of the other planets, inclusive of Mars and Venus. Here and there, Professor Jameson and Zlestrm picked up bits of life contemporary with the period they were visiting. Bandits menaced the colonies of Venus. There was the Durna Rangue, a cult persecuted on earth because of practices in condemned sciences. The hideous organization had fled to Mars. The time travelers also heard of a sensational escape of a prisoner from the interplanetary penal colony on the Martian moon of Phobos.

Space expeditions to the moons of Saturn came back with strange, manlike creatures from Dione, their arms ending in swordlike protuberances. They were veritable bom swordsmen. And from Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons, were brought even stranger beings. In no way did they resemble humans. They were more like large rubber balls with appendages for movement, these appendages folding into their body at will.

Another leap of two centuries across the years found all three worlds, the earth, Venus and Mars equally settled by mankind. No longer were Mars and Venus the wild, unsettled frontiers of interplanetary colonization. They were firmly established along with the earth. There were space pirates who menaced interplanetary commerce. These, the Interplanetary Guard often fought, when they could find them. The little asteroids and many other out of the way hiding places of the solar system effectually sheltered the buccaneers of space.

Daring astronauts were sent out alone in their tiny space fliers to follow the flight of wild, careening meteors and extract from them their strange metals and precious stones from far flung corners of the universe. The courses of dangerous meteors and small planetoids were accurately charted.

Space craft seemed to avoid the professor’s rocket. Those there knew of its history and respected it. Others feared it. Radium repulsion rays, designed by the professor to swerve the rocket from the path of meteors always kept it at a respectful distance from space ships.

One of the strangest cases ever brought to the professor’s eyes had happened less than six hundred years following his death. A mastery of super-scientific surgery had been performed. A human being killed in a space wreck among the asteroids had been brought back to life. With mangled limbs, a fractured skull and punctured heart, Nez Hulan had been given mechanical arms and legs, an aluminum brain pan, radiophone ears, a rubber heart and had been restored to life, a human robot.

“Half machine man and half human!” marvelled 6W-438.

The case of the human robot was followed a while. The operation had stimulated his brain cells to greater activity and in some way his intellect was perverted to evil deeds. The next time the time travelers heard of him he was the master mind of Carconte’s moon pirates, one of the most dangerous bands of pirates ever to infest the interplanetary space lanes.

Decades later, the time traveler found the earth an outlawed world, condemned by its sister planets. Ruled by unscrupulous forces banded together from the three worlds, it represented a menace to the social order of the solar system, a peril to the integrity and order of civilization.

Zlestrm’s food was gone. He urged them to abandon further exploration, return to the space ship of the Zoromes and restock with food for him. Then, they might build another bubble around the time traveler and come back again.

THE professor knew the wisdom of this, and so rapidly they moved onward in long jumps of several hundred thousand years in an effort to discover exactly when mankind’s reign had ended upon the earth. Fleeting glimpses were caught of mankind’s gradual evolution. There were periods of degeneracy as well as progress, scientific wars being partly responsible for this. World-wide catastrophes, such as insect invasions and ice ages, also smote civilization heavily.

Several million years beyond his own lifetime, Professor Jameson found humanity still clinging tenaciously to the worlds of the solar system. Venus, a newer world than its two contemporaries, now held the center of life.

Then came invaders from the far off stars, as the Zoromes had come, but with less peaceful intent. Mankind was conquered and held in cruel, oppressive bondage. In the next flight of the time traveler, it was discovered that civilization had thrown off the chains of the invaders. Not a one of the creatures was left. The entire atmosphere of Venus was gone, however, leaving that planet as cold and dead as earth’s moon. Earthmen had destroyed their oppressors, but at a terrible price.

The air envelope of Venus had been rent asunder and exploded, the terrific concussion rocking the nearby planets, throwing Venus off its old orbit and nearly disrupting the entire solar system. Millions of human lives had been snuffed out along with the space invaders. Those who escaped to earth found themselves free.

But earth was chill and cold, the atmosphere rarified. With the loss of Venus’ atmosphere had gone the last ideal world of the solar system. Mars had long ago become uninhabitable. The sun, though much nearer its planets than formerly, represented only a cooled, subdued semblance of its past glory, its brilliance dulled.

At a later period of a few hundred thousand years, Professor Jameson found marked changes in humanity. Man had reached an advanced stage of evolution, where one of his ancestors of five million years ago would have disowned him as an incredible monstrosity. His legs were jointed to move in either of two given directions. Four arms terminated in eight digits. The body was comparatively small. This, the professor learned, was due to the disappearance of the digestive tract. Science of that era so far flung from the professor’s life on earth, had supplanted the comparatively short existence of the gastric organs with a more practical means of sustenance.

Man’s radioactive blood was kept charged with energy from huge broadcasting units located over the earth and on the space ships in which they traveled. Oxygen was superfluous, too. A lifetime of ten thousand years was common.

Man’s head had become devoid of both mouth and nostrils. Like the appendix of man, the unused mouth had finally disappeared. Food no longer was a necessity, and articulate speech had long since yielded to mental telepathy, like that of the Zoromes.

Instead of hair, there arose from the head fully two dozen antennae, serving a double purpose of picking up thought waves and the reception of the broadcasted energy for their bodies. Two black, lidless eyes peered intently from the face. Humanity had done away with sleep. The energy broadcasters kept the body recharged constantly.

Professor Jameson found that plans were being made for an exodus from the dying world. An expedition to the solar system of Sirius had discovered an ideal world. The next time Professor Jameson brought the time bubble to a stop, all life had disappeared from the earth. It was silent and desolate, left only with vague, haunting memories.

“They left for a world of Sirius,” said the professor.

“That was over thirty-five million years ago,” 744U-21 observed.

“It is a wonder that with all the interplanetary strife, my rocket satellite was not destroyed.”

“Yes—it was rather a miracle,” 6W- 438 agreed, “but I am inclined to believe that your automatic radium repulsion rays for protection from meteors served more than its original purpose.”

ONCE more the professor sought and found his rocket satellite on its eternal pilgrimage about the deserted world, from which it had been sent upon its endless career. Like a cosmic coffin, it pursued its lonesome way in the silence of the illimitable, unending space which enshrouded it.

“And thirty-five million years later we came and took you from your rocket,” said 744U-21.

“I am hungry,” was Zlestrm’s simple statement.

With an empty stomach, the Qwux lacked any kind of an appetite for scientific theorizing.

“We must return to the space ship at once,” said the professor.

“How can we find it unless we return to our own time?” asked Zlestnn. “There’s no telling on what section of the earth we are.”

“That is so,” said the professor. “Raise the time bubble and prepare it for movement while I accelerate us to our own time.”

Zlestrm moved to the controls, while, under the professor’s manipulation the bubble grew hazy as they raced swiftly through the millions of years. There came a rapid bumping and jolting of the time bubble which nearly staggered the machine men off the narrow platform.

“What was that?”

“We’re not rising!” Zlestrm cried in desperation. “I cannot move away from here!”

Professor Jameson sprang to the aid of the Qwux, stopping the mad flight through time. Together, machine man and Qwux worked the time traveler in all directions.

“We’re caught!”

“Something is holding us down!”

Beyond the time bubble, they looked out upon a peaceful, quiet scene. A cooled sun moved agonizingly slowly towards the distant horizon. A few stars shone from a twilight sky.

“Where are we?” asked 744U21. “I mean—in what time?”

“About twenty-eight million years beyond my own life,” the professor replied, “or twelve million years short of the present.”

“Move onward and we shall see what is holding us down,” 744U-21 advised.

Before Professor Jameson could touch the time accelerator the time bubble rolled to one side violently. A rasping crash roared above them. The sun disappeared, blotted out by intense darkness, and the twilight sky with its scattered stars changed instantly as the stars seemingly leaped to new positions and were joined by vast legions of their twinkling companions in the velvety blackness.

“The time bubble has burst!” flashed 6W-438, quick as thought.

Machine men leaped nimbly aside to avoid a rain of shale, which slid from an overhanging rock formation. Professor Jameson picked up the bewildered Qwux and raced with his fellow Zoromes from danger. Behind them, the avalanche, which the trapped time bubble had brought down upon itself by the efforts of its operators to extricate it, buried the wreckage. The machine men became aware of a marked difference in the temperature.

“We are on the night side of the earth!” the professor exclaimed. “This is the hemisphere which never faces the sun!”

Zlestrm shook in paroxysms of chill. He was fully protected from the rarified atmosphere by his air mask but at the mercy of the biting cold. There was nothing the machine men could do. The Qwux became frantic. He fell to the ground, nearly paralyzed, then staggered to regain his feet. 454ZQ2 assisted him. Zlestrm became delirious.

“We’re lost in time!” he cried, tearing crazily at his air mask. “Twelve million years in the past!”

He hung suddenly limp in 454ZQ2’s tentacles. Several violent shivers passed through his body. He relaxed and became quite still.

“Dead!” spoke 744U-21. “It was more than flesh and blood could endure!”

AND more than we can hope to endure for long,” warned 6W-438. “Our brains in their metal cases will stand a certain amount of cold and then——”

The pause was all too significant. The machine men knew what to expect.

Fiery clusters of stars shone down upon them through the thin, dying air. Icy hills and rough, barren land stretched away to meet the horizon, visible only where the star-sprinkled sky met black shadows. They had left the space ship in earth’s twilight zone. Where this was they did not know. They only knew that they were lost in the frigid wastes of the dark, frozen hemisphere, alone with death. They had explored the mysteries of time. Now, time mocked them with its precious quantity to be doled out so sparingly ere their brains, like the stiff, inert body of Zlestrm, yielded to the intense cold.

“Let us walk,” Professor Jameson suggested, “as far as we can.”

Together, the four Zoromes trudged over the frozen world in the direction of a fiery red star hanging low in the Stygian sky. Onward they walked, strange ideas forcing themselves in their all important, yet vulnerable, brains. For the first time in his career as a machine man, Professor Jameson felt an inclination to sleep. It was strange. The stars appeared to be dancing and racing about one another. He was still walking, yet he seemed unconscious of it, as if he were standing still or floating. Yes—that was it. He was floating.

Darkness swept over the land, and the stars disappeared. Were there such things as clouds in this thin air? The professor doubted it. Then suddenly he found himself alone. He was back in Grenville, walking a familiar road. A sudden jerk brought back the bright, glittering stars once more.

“Take command of yourself, 21MM392!” was 6W-438’s desperate warning.

Professor Jameson saw his metal companions walking onward at a faltering gait and felt the supporting tentacle of 6W-438 about his cubed body.

“This must be the end,” he philosophized. “Right where I started—back on the planet earth!”

He fought desperately to retain his senses. It was no use. Again he saw the stars obscured as if by a dark cloud. This time, the cloud swept downward, the stars flickering into view again as it swooped past, nearly engulfing them.

“The space ship!” cried 744U-21. “We are saved!”

That was all the professor knew. Once more his consciousness left him. When he regained his senses, he found himself in the space ship.

“We reached you just in time,” related 56F-450. “During your travels around the earth in the time bubble, we thought it well to follow and watch you. Your bubble went through some strange antics, but we never lost track of it. From out in space we saw your sudden catastrophe when the gleaming time bubble suddenly disappeared. We came and found you as quickly as possible.”

“Poor Zlestrm. He met a quick death.”

“And the time traveler is a buried mass of wreckage,” added 744U-21.

“I am glad that time traveling is a physical impossibility,” 6W-438 observed. “I’d have hated to have found myself marooned twelve million years in the past.”

THE END

Famous (and forgotten) Fiction
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