The Currents of Space (Page 39)

Samia stopped at the threshold. "They won’t hurt him?"

"I doubt if he’ll make us go to extremes. He will be easy handling."

"Lady! Lady!" Rik called. "I can prove it. I’m from Earth."

Samia stood irresolute for a moment. "Let’s hear what he has to say."

The Captain said coldly, "As you wish, my Lady."

She returned, but not very far. She remained a step from the door.

Rik was flushed. With the effort of remembering, his lips drew back into the caricature of a smile. He said, "I remember Earth. It was radioactive. I remember the Forbidden Areas and the blue horizon at night. The soil glowed and nothing would grow in it. There were just a few spots men could live on. That’s why I was a Spatio-analyst. That’s why I didn’t mind staying in space. My world was a dead world."

Samia shrugged. "Come along, Captain. He’s simply raving." But this time it was Captain Racety who stood there, open-mouthed. He muttered, "A radioactive world!"

She said, "You mean there is such a thing?"

"Yes." He turned wondering eyes on her. "Now where could he have picked that up?"

"How could a world be radioactive and inhabited?"

"But there is one. And it is in the Sirius Sector. I don’t remember its name. It might even be Earth."

"It is Earth," said Rik, proudly and with confidence. "It is the oldest planet of the Galaxy. It is the planet on which the whole human race originated."

The Captain said softly, "That’s so!"

Samia said, mind whirling, "You mean the human race originated on this Earth?"

"No, no," said the Captain abstractedly. "That’s superstitiOn. It’s just that that’s how I came to hear about the radioactive planet. It claims to be Man’s home planet."

"I didn’t know we were supposed to have a home planet."

"I suppose we started somewhere, my Lady, but I doubt that anyone can possibly know on what planet it happened."

With sudden decision he walked toward Rik. "What else do you remember?"

He almost added "boy," but held it back.

"The ship mostly," said Rik, "and Spatio-analysis."

Samia joined the Captain. They stood there, directly before Rik, and Samia felt the excitement returning. "Then it’s all true? But then how did he come to be psycho-probed?"

"Psycho-probed!" said Captain Racety thoughtfully. "Suppose we ask him. Here, you, native or outworider or whatever you are. How did you come to be psycho-probed?"

Rik looked doubtful. "You all say that. Even Lona. But I don’t know what the word means."

"When did you stop remembering, then?"

"I’m not sure." He began again, desperately. "I was on a ship."

"We know that. Go on."

Samia said, "It’s no use barking, Captain. You’ll drive out what few wits are left him."

Rik was entirely absorbed in wrenching at the dimness within his mind. The effort left no room for any emotion. It was to his own astonishment that he said, "I’m not afraid of him, Lady. I’m trying to remember. There was danger. I’m sure of that. Great danger to Florina, but I can’t remember the details about it."

"Danger to the whole planet?" Samia cast a swift glance at the Captain.

"Yes. It was in the currents."

"What currents?" asked the Captain.

"The currents of space."

The Captain spread his hands and let them drop. "This is madness."

"No, no. Let him go on." The tide of belief had shifted to Samia again. Her lips were parted, her dark eyes gleamed and little dimples between cheek and chin made their appearance as she smiled. "What are the currents of space?"

"The different elements," said Rik vaguely. He had explained that before. He didn’t want to go through that again.

He went on rapidly, nearly incoherently, speaking as the thoughts came to him, driven by them. "I sent a message to the local office on Sark. I remember that very clearly. I had to be careful. It was a danger that went beyond Florina. Yes. Beyond Florina. It was as wide as the Milky Way. It had to be handled carefully."

He seemed to have lost all real contact with those who listened to him, to be living in a world of the past before which a curtain was tearing away in places. Valona placed a soothing hand upon his shoulder and said, "Don’t!" but he was unresponsive even to that.

"Somehow," he went on breathlessly, "my message was intercepted by some official on Sark. It was a mistake. I don’t know how it happened."

He frowned. "I’m sure I sent it to the local office on the Bureau’s own wave length. Do you suppose the sub-ether could have been tapped?" He did not even wonder that the word "sub-ether" came so easily to him.

He might have been waiting for an answer, but his eyes were still unseeing. "Anyway, when I landed on Sark they were waiting for me."

Again a pause, this time long and meditative. The Captain did nothing to break it; he seemed to be meditating himself.

Samia, however, said, "Who was waiting for you? Who?"

Rik said, "I-I don’t know. I can’t remember. It wasn’t the office. It was someone of Sark. I remember speaking to him. He knew about the danger. He spoke of it. I’m sure he spoke of it. We sat at a table together. I remember the table. He sat opposite me. It’s as clear as space. We spoke for quite a while. It seems to me I wasn’t anxious to give details. I’m sure of that. I would have had to speak to the office first. And then he…"

"Yes?" prompted Samia.

"He did something. He- No, nothing more will come. Nothing will come!"