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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE MAN OUTSIDE *** Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


Illustrated by DILLON

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Galaxy Science Fiction August 1957.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

No one, least of all Martin, could dispute
that a man's life should be guarded by his
kin—but by those who hadn't been born yet?

Nobody in the neighborhood was surprised when Martin's mother disappeared and Ninian came to take care of him. Mothers had a way of disappearing around those parts and the kids were often better off without them. Martin was no exception. He'd never had it this good while he was living with his old lady. As for his father, Martin had never had one. He'd been a war baby, born of one of the tides of soldiers—enemies and allies, both—that had engulfed the country in successive waves and bought or taken the women. So there was no trouble that way.

Sometimes he wondered who Ninian really was. Obviously that story about her coming from the future was just a gag. Besides, if she really was his great-great-grand-daughter, as she said, why would she tell him to call her "Aunt Ninian"? Maybe he was only eleven, but he'd been around and he knew just what the score was. At first he'd thought maybe she was some new kind of social worker, but she acted a little too crazy for that.

He loved to bait her, as he had loved to bait his mother. It was safer with Ninian, though, because when he pushed her too far, she would cry instead of mopping up the floor with him.

"But I can't understand," he would say, keeping his face straight. "Why do you have to come from the future to protect me against your cousin Conrad?"

"Because he's coming to kill you."

"Why should he kill me? I ain't done him nothing."

Ninian sighed. "He's dissatisfied with the current social order and killing you is part of an elaborate plan he's formulated to change it. You wouldn't understand."

"You're damn right. I don't understand. What's it all about in straight gas?"

"Oh, just don't ask any questions," Ninian said petulantly. "When you get older, someone will explain the whole thing to you."

So Martin held his peace, because, on the whole, he liked things the way they were. Ninian really was the limit, though. All the people he knew lived in scabrous tenement apartments like his, but she seemed to think it was disgusting.

"So if you don't like it, clean it up," he suggested.

She looked at him as if he were out of his mind.

"Hire a maid, then!" he jeered.

And darned if that dope didn't go out and get a woman to come clean up the place! He was so embarrassed, he didn't even dare show his face in the streets—especially with the women buttonholing him and demanding to know what gave. They tried talking to Ninian, but she certainly knew how to give them the cold shoulder.

One day the truant officer came to ask why Martin hadn't been coming to school. Very few of the neighborhood kids attended classes very regularly, so this was just routine. But Ninian didn't know that and she went into a real tizzy, babbling that Martin had been sick and would make up the work. Martin nearly did get sick from laughing so hard inside.

But he laughed out of the other side of his mouth when she went out and hired a private tutor for him. A tutor—in that neighborhood! Martin had to beat up every kid on the block before he could walk a step without hearing "Fancy Pants!" yelled after him.

Ninian worried all the time. It wasn't that she cared what these people thought of her, for she made no secret of regarding them as little better than animals, but she was shy of attracting attention. There were an awful lot of people in that neighborhood who felt exactly the same way, only she didn't know that, either. She was really pretty dumb, Martin thought, for all her fancy lingo.

"It's so hard to think these things out without any prior practical application to go by," she told him.

He nodded, knowing what she meant was that everything was coming out wrong. But he didn't try to help her; he just watched to see what she'd do next. Already he had begun to assume the detached role of a spectator.

When it became clear that his mother was never going to show up again, Ninian bought one of those smallish, almost identical houses that mushroom on the fringes of a city after every war, particularly where intensive bombing has created a number of desirable building sites.

"This is a much better neighborhood for a boy to grow up in," she declared. "Besides, it's easier to keep an eye on you here."

And keep an eye on him she did—she or a rather foppish young man who came to stay with them occasionally. Martin was told to call him Uncle Raymond.

From time to time, there were other visitors—Uncles Ives and Bartholomew and Olaf, Aunts Ottillie and Grania and Lalage, and many more—all cousins to one another, he was told, all descendants of his.

Martin was never left alone for a minute. He wasn't allowed to play with the other kids in the new neighborhood. Not that their parents would have let them, anyway. The adults obviously figured that if a one-car family hired private tutors for their kid, there must be something pretty wrong with him. So Martin and Ninian were just as conspicuous as before. But he didn't tip her off. She was grown up; she was supposed to know better than he did.

He lived well. He had food to eat that he'd never dreamed of before, warm clothes that no one had ever worn before him. He was surrounded by more luxury than he knew what to do with.

The furniture was the latest New Grand Rapids African modern. There were tidy, colorful Picasso and Braque prints on the walls. And every inch of the floor was modestly covered by carpeting, though the walls were mostly unabashed glass. There were hot water and heat all the time and a freezer well stocked with food—somewhat erratically chosen, for Ninian didn't know much about meals.

The non-glass part of the house was of neat, natural-toned wood, with a neat green lawn in front and a neat parti-colored garden in back.

Martin missed the old neighborhood, though. He missed having other kids to play with. He even missed his mother. Sure, she hadn't given him enough to eat and she'd beaten him up so hard sometimes that she'd nearly killed him—but then there had also been times when she'd hugged and kissed him and soaked his collar with her tears. She'd done all she could for him, supporting him in the only way she knew how—and if respectable society didn't like it, the hell with respectable society.

From Ninian and her cousins, there was only an impersonal kindness. They made no bones about the fact that they were there only to carry out a rather unpleasant duty. Though they were in the house with him, in their minds and in their talk they were living in another world—a world of warmth and peace and plenty where nobody worked, except in the government service or the essential professions. And they seemed to think even that kind of job was pretty low-class, though better than actually doing anything with the hands.

In their world, Martin came to understand, nobody worked with hands; everything was done by machinery. All the people ever did was wear pretty clothes and have good times and eat all they wanted. There was no devastation, no war, no unhappiness, none of the concomitants of normal living.

It was then that Martin began to realize that either the whole lot of them were insane, or what Ninian had told him at first was the truth. They came from the future.

When Martin was sixteen, Raymond took him aside for the talk Ninian had promised five years before.

"The whole thing's all my brother Conrad's fault. You see, he's an idealist," Raymond explained, pronouncing the last word with distaste.

Martin nodded gravely. He was a quiet boy now, his brief past a dim and rather ridiculous memory. Who could ever imagine him robbing a grocery store or wielding a broken bottle now? He still was rather undersized and he'd read so much that he'd weakened his eyes and had to wear glasses. His face was pallid, because he spent little time in the sun, and his speech rather overbred, his mentors from the future having carefully eradicated all current vulgarities.

"And Conrad really got upset over the way Earth has been exploiting the not so intelligent life-forms on the other planets," Raymond continued. "Which is distressing—though, of course, it's not as if they were people. Besides, the government has been talking about passing laws to do away with the—well, abuses and things like that, and I'm sure someday everything will come out all right. However, Conrad is so impatient."

"I thought, in your world, machines did all the work," Martin suggested.

"I've told you—our world is precisely the same as this one!" Raymond snapped. "We just come a couple of centuries or so later, that's all. But remember, our interests are identical. We're virtually the same people ... although it is amazing what a difference two hundred odd years of progress and polish can make in a species, isn't it?"

He continued more mildly: "However, even you ought to be able to understand that we can't make machinery without metal. We need food. All that sort of thing comes from the out-system planets. And, on those worlds, it's far cheaper to use native labor than to ship out all that expensive machinery. After all, if we didn't give the natives jobs, how would they manage to live?"

"How did they live before? Come to think of it, if you don't work, how do you live now?... I don't mean in the now for me, but the now for you," Martin explained laboriously. It was so difficult to live in the past and think in the future.

"I'm trying to talk to you as if you were an adult," Raymond said, "but if you will persist in these childish interruptions—"

"I'm sorry," Martin said.

But he wasn't, for by now he had little respect left for any of his descendants. They were all exceedingly handsome and cultivated young people, with superior educations, smooth ways of speaking and considerable self-confidence, but they just weren't very bright. And he had discovered that Raymond was perhaps the most intelligent of the lot. Somewhere in that relatively short span of time, his line or—more frightening—his race had lost something vital.

Unaware of the near-contempt in which his young ancestor held him, Raymond went on blandly: "Anyhow, Conrad took it upon himself to feel particularly guilty, because, he decided, if it hadn't been for the fact that our great-grandfather discovered the super-drive, we might never have reached the stars. Which is ridiculous—his feeling guilty, I mean. Perhaps a great-grandfather is responsible for his great-grandchildren, but a great-grandchild can hardly be held accountable for his great-grandfather."

"How about a great-great-grandchild?" Martin couldn't help asking.

Raymond flushed a delicate pink. "Do you want to hear the rest of this or don't you?"

"Oh, I do!" Martin said. He had pieced the whole thing together for himself long since, but he wanted to hear how Raymond would put it.

"Unfortunately, Professor Farkas has just perfected the time transmitter. Those government scientists are so infernally officious—always inventing such senseless things. It's supposed to be hush-hush, but you know how news will leak out when one is always desperate for a fresh topic of conversation."

Anyhow, Raymond went on to explain, Conrad had bribed one of Farkas' assistants for a set of the plans. Conrad's idea had been to go back in time and "eliminate!" their common great-grandfather. In that way, there would be no space-drive, and, hence, the Terrestrials would never get to the other planets and oppress the local aborigines.

"Sounds like a good way of dealing with the problem," Martin observed.

Raymond looked annoyed. "It's the adolescent way," he said, "to do away with it, rather than find a solution. Would you destroy a whole society in order to root out a single injustice?"

"Not if it were a good one otherwise."

"Well, there's your answer. Conrad got the apparatus built, or perhaps he built it himself. One doesn't inquire too closely into such matters. But when it came to the point, Conrad couldn't bear the idea of eliminating our great-grandfather—because our great-grandfather was such a good man, you

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