The Illustrated Man, 1951
1. Prologue: The Illustrated Man, 1951
It was a warm afternoon in early September when I first met the Illustrated Man. Walking along an asphalt road, I was on the final long of a two weeks' walking tour of Wisconsin. Late in the afternoon I stopped, ate some pork, beans, and a doughnut, and was preparing to stretch out and read when the Illustrated Man walked over the hill and stood for a moment against the sky.
I didn't know he was Illustrated then. I only know that he was tall, once well muscled, but now, for some reason, going to fat. I recall that his arms were long, and the hands thick, but that his face was like a child's, set upon a massive body.
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3. The Veldt, 1950
"George, I wish you'd look at the nursery."
"What's wrong with it?"
"I don't know."
"I just want you to look at it, is all, or call a psychologist in to look at it."
"What would a psychologist want with a nursery?"
"You know very well what he'd want." His wife paused in the middle of the kitchen and watched the stove busy humming to itself, making supper for four.
"It's just that the nursery is different now than it was."
"All right, let's have a look."
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10. Kaleidoscope, 1949
The first concussion cut the rocket up the side with a giant can opener. The men were thrown into space like a dozen wriggling silverfish. They were scattered into a dark sea; and the ship, in a million pieces, went on, a meteor swarm seeking a lost sun.
"Barkley, Barkley, where are you?"
The sound of voices calling like lost children on a cold night
"Hollis, Hollis, this is Stone."
"Stone, this is Hollis. Where are you?"
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8. The Other Foot, 1951
9. The Highway, 1950
10. The Man, 1949
11. The Long Rain, 1946
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12. The Rocket Man, 1951
The electrical fireflies were hovering above Mother's dark hair to light her path. She stood in her bedroom door looking out at me as I passed in the silent hall. "You will help me keep him here this time, won't you?" she asked.
"I guess so," I said.
"Please." The fireflies cast moving bits of light on her white face. "This time he mustn't go away again."
"All right," I said, after standing there a moment. "But it won't do any good; it's no use."
She went away, and the fireflies, on their electric circuits, fluttered after her like an errant constellation, showing her how to walk in darkness. I heard her say, faintly, "We've got to try, anyway."
6. The Fire Balloons, 1951
7. The Last Night of the World, 1951
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8. The Exiles, 1949
Their eyes were fire and the breath flamed out the witches' mouths as they bent to probe the caldron with greasy stick and bony finger.
"When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"
They danced drunkenly on the shore of an empty sea, fouling the air with their three tongues, and burning it with their cats eyes malevolently aglitter:
"Round about the cauldron go;
8. No Particular Night or Morning, 1951
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9. The Fox and the Forest, 1950
There were fireworks the very first night, things that you should be afraid of perhaps, for they might remind you of other more horrible things, but these were beautiful, rockets that ascended into the ancient soft air of Mexico and shook the stars apart in blue and white fragments. Everything was good and sweet, the air was that blend of the dead and the living, of the rains and the dusts, of the incense from the church, and the brass smell of the tubas on the bandstand which pulsed out vast rhythms of "La Paloma." The church doors were thrown wide and it seemed as if a giant yellow constellation had fallen from the October sky and lay breathing fire upon the church walls; a million candles sent their color and fumes about. Newer and better fireworks scurried like tight-rope walking comets across the cool-tiled square, banged against adobe cafe walls, then rushed on hot wires to bash the high church tower, in which boys' naked feet alone could be seen kicking and re-kicking, clanging and tilting and re-tilting the monster bells into monstrous music. A flaming bull blundered about the plaza chasing laughing men and screaming children.
2. The Visitor, 1948
3. The Concrete Mixer, 1949
4. Marionettes, Inc., 1949
They walked slowly down the street at about ten in the evening, talking calmly. They were both about thirty-five, both eminently sober.
'But why so early?' said Smith.
'Because,' said Braling.
'Your first night out in years and you go home at ten o'clock.'
'Nerves, I suppose.'
'What I wonder is how you ever managed it. I've been trying to get you out for ten years for a quiet drink. And now, on the one night, you insist on turning in early.'
'Mustn't crowd my luck,' said Braling.
8. The City, 1951
9. Zero Hour, 1947
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10. The Rocket, 1950
Many nights Fiorello Bodoni would awaken to hear the rockets sighing in the dark sky. He would tiptoe from bed, certain that his kind wife was dreaming, to let himself out into the night air. For a few moments he would be free of the smells of old food in the small house by the river. For a silent moment he would let his heart soar alone into space, following the rockets.
Now, this very night, he stood half naked in the darkness, watching the fire fountains murmuring in the air. The rockets on their long wild way to Mars and Saturn and Venus!