Astounding Stories of Super-Science June 1931: The Exile of Time - Chapter XVI by@astoundingstories

Astounding Stories of Super-Science June 1931: The Exile of Time - Chapter XVI

Larry stood alone at an upper window of the palace gazing out at the somnolent moonlit city. It was an hour or two before dawn. Tina and Tugh had started almost at once into the underground caverns to which Tina was told Migul had fled with his two captives. They would not take Larry with them; the Robot workers in the subterranean chambers were all sullen and upon the verge of a revolt, and the sight of a strange human would have aroused them dangerously.
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Astounding Stories of Super-Science June 1931, by Astounding Stories is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. The Exile of Time - Chapter XVI: The New York of 2930

CHAPTER XVI. The New York of 2930

Larry stood alone at an upper window of the palace gazing out at the somnolent moonlit city. It was an hour or two before dawn. Tina and Tugh had started almost at once into the underground caverns to which Tina was told Migul had fled with his two captives. They would not take Larry with them; the Robot workers in the subterranean chambers were all sullen and upon the verge of a revolt, and the sight of a strange human would have aroused them dangerously.

"It should not take long," Tina had said hastily. "I will give you a room in which to wait for me."

"And there is food and drink," Tugh suavely urged. "And most surely you need sleep. You too Princess," he suddenly added. "Let me go into the caverns alone: I can do better than you; these Robots obey me. I think I know where that rascally Migul has hidden."

"Rascally?" Larry burst out. "Is that what you call it when you've just heard that it committed murder? Tina. I won't stay: nor will I let—"

"Wait!" said Tina. "Tugh, look here—"

"The young man from 1935 is very positive what he will and what he won't," Tugh observed sardonically. He drew his cloak around his squat misshapen body, and shrugged.

"But I won't let you go," Larry finished. The palace was somnolent; the officials were asleep: none had heard of the murder. Strangely lax was the human government here. Larry had sensed this when he suggested that police or an official party be sent at once to capture Migul and rescue Mary Atwood and me.

"It could not be done," Tina exclaimed. "To organize such a party would take hours. And—"

"And the Robots," Tugh finished with a sour smile, "would openly revolt when such a party came at them! You have no idea what you suggest, young man. To avoid an open revolt—that is our chief aim. Besides, if you rushed at Migul it would frighten him; and then he would surely kill his captives, if he has not done so already."

That silenced Larry. He stared at them hopelessly while they argued it out: and the three small domesticated Robots stood by, listening curiously.

"I'll go with you, Tugh." Tina decided. "Perhaps, without making any demonstration of force, we can find Migul."

Tugh bowed. "Your will is mine, Princess. I think I can find him and control him to prevent harm to his captives."

He was a good actor, that Tugh; he convinced Larry and Tina of his sincerity. His dark eyes flashed as he added, "And if I get control of him and find he's murdered Harl, we will have him no more. I'll disconnect him! Smash him! Quietly, of course, Princess."

They led Larry through a dim silent corridor of the palace, past two sleepy-faced human guards and two or three domesticated Robots. Ascending two spiral metal stairways to the upper third floor of the palace they left Larry in his room.

"By dawn or soon after we will return," said Tina "But you try and sleep; there is nothing you can do now."

"You'll be careful, Tina?" The helpless feeling upon Larry suddenly intensified. Subconsciously he was aware of the menace upon him and Tina, but he could not define it.

She pressed his hand. "I will be careful; that I promise."

She left with Tugh. At once a feeling of loneliness leaped upon Larry.

He found the apartment a low-vaulted metal room. There was the sheen of dim, blue-white illumination from hidden lights, disclosing the padded metal furniture: a couch, low and comfortable; a table set with food and drink; low chairs, strangely fashioned, and cabinets against the wall which seemed to be mechanical devices for amusement. There was a row of instrument controls which he guessed were the room temperature, ventilating and lighting mechanisms. It was an oddly futuristic room. The windows were groups of triangles—the upper sections prisms, to bend the light from the sky into the room's furthest recesses. The moonlight came through the prisms, now, and spread over the cream-colored rug and the heavy wall draperies. The leaded prism casements laid a pattern of bars on the floor. The room held a faint whisper of mechanical music.

Larry stood at one of the windows gazing out over the drowsing city. The low metal buildings, generally of one or two levels, lay pale grey in the moonlight. Gardens and trees surrounded them. The streets were wide roadways, lined with trees. Ornamental vegetation was everywhere; even the flat-roofed house tops were set with gardens, little white pebbled paths, fountains and pergolas.

A mile or so away, a river gleamed like a silver ribbon—the Hudson. To the south were docks, low against the water, with rows of blue-white spots of light. The whole city was close to the ground, but occasionally, especially across the river, skeleton landing stages rose a hundred feet into the air.

The scene, at this hour just before dawn, was somnolent and peaceful. It was a strange New York, so different from the sleepless city of Larry's time! There were a few moving lights in the streets, but not many; they seemed to be lights carried by pedestrians. Off by the docks, at the river surface, rows of colored lights were slowly creeping northward: a sub-sea freighter arriving from Eurasia. And as Larry watched, from the southern sky a line of light materialized into an airliner which swept with a low humming throb over the city and alighted upon a distant stage.

Larry's attention went again to the Hudson river. At the nearest point to him there was a huge dam blocking it. North of the dam the river surface was at least two hundred feet higher than to the south. It lay above the dam like a placid canal, with low palisades its western bank and a high dyke built up along the eastern city side. The water went in spillways through the dam, forming again into the old natural river below it and flowing with it to the south.

The dam was not over a mile or so from Larry's window; in his time it might have been the western end of Christopher Street. The moonlight shone on the massive metal of it: the water spilled through it in a dozen shining cascades. There was a low black metal structure perched halfway up the lower side of the dam, a few bluish lights showing through its windows. Though Larry did not know it then, this was the New York Power House. Great transformers were here, operated by turbines in the dam. The main power came over cables from Niagara: was transformed and altered here and sent into the air as radio-power for all the New York District.

Larry crossed his room to gaze through north and eastward windows. He saw now that the grounds of this three-story building of Tina's palace were surrounded by a ten-foot metal wall, along whose top were wires suggesting that it was electrified for defense. The garden lay just beneath Larry's north window. Through the tree branches the garden paths, beds of flowers and the fountains were visible. One-story palace wings partially enclosed the garden space, and outside was the electrified wall. The Time-traveling cage stood faintly shining in the dimness of the garden under the spreading foliage.

To the east, beyond the palace wall, there was an open garden of verdure crossed by a roadway. The nearest building was five hundred feet away. There was a small, barred gate in the palace walls beyond it. The road led to this other building—a squat, single-storied metal structure. This was a Government laboratory, operated by and in charge of Robots. It was almost square: two or three hundred feet in length and no more than thirty feet high, with a flat roof in the center of which was perched a little metal conning tower surmounted by a sending aerial. As Larry stood there, the broadcast magnified voice of a Robot droned out over the quiet city:

"Trinight plus two hours. All is well."

Strange mechanical voice with a formula half ancient, half super-modern!

It was in this metal laboratory, Larry knew, that the other Time-traveling cage was located. And beneath it was the entrance to the great caverns where the Robots worked attending inert machinery to carry on the industry of this region. The night was very silent, but now Larry was conscious of a faraway throb—a humming, throbbing vibration from under the ground: the blended hum of a myriad muffled noises. Work was going on down there; manifold mechanical activities. All was mechanical: while the humans who had devised the mechanisms slept under the trees in the moonlight of the surface city.

Tina had gone with Tugh down into those caverns, to locate Migul, to find Mary Atwood and me.... The oppression, the sense of being a stranger alone here in this world, grew upon Larry. He left the windows and began pacing the room. Tina should soon return. Or had disaster come upon us all?...

Larry's thoughts were frightening. If Tina did not return, what would he do? He could not operate the Time-cage. He would go to the officials of the palace; he thought cynically of the extraordinary changes time had brought to New York City, to all the world. These humans now must be very fatuous. To the mechanisms they had relegated all the work, all industrial activity. Inevitably, through the generations, decadence must have come. Mankind would be no longer efficient; that was an attribute of the machines. Larry told himself that these officials, knowing of impending trouble with the Robots, were fatuously trustful that the storm would pass without breaking. They were, indeed, as we very soon learned.

Larry ate a little of the food which was in the room, then lay down on the couch. He did not intend to sleep, but merely to wait until after dawn; and if Tina had not returned by then he would do something drastic about it. But what? He lay absorbed by his gloomy thoughts....

But they were not all gloomy. Some were about Tina—so very human, and yet so strange a little Princess.

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Various. 2010. Astounding Stories of Super-Science, June 1931. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/31893/31893-h/31893-h.htm#Page_386

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