Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

The man with his hood thrown back returned and

gave a nod to the other man waiting at Soraya’s side. He

had brought with him another needle, which he drove

into the fleshy part of her forearmonce more without

warning her.

Eyes pleading, Soraya mutely sought an explanation

for all this.

“There is nothing we can do for your mother,” said

the man who had brought her. “We have said often and

often that the aged are beyond our help. Sickness must

mostly be overcome by the sufferer; we can best help

those who have youth and strength on their side.”

Soraya’s ears were full of the rushing of blood.

“However, by the same token, that makes you very

lucky,” the Receiver said.

“What?” Though the beginnings of tears she gazed


“You are young enough to be helped, and it is still

early in the course of”

“What?” She leapt to her feet. “I’m not sick! 1-1-”

The rushing in her ears gave way to ringing; the cloth

walls, the tall black-garbed Receivers, everything seemed

to swirl around like water in a stirred pot.

She collapsed.

With great apprehension Firdausi saw the Receiver

returning alone from their wagon. He glanced at So-

ray-a’s mother and saw she had drifted back into coma.

But where was Soraya?

“I have good and bad news for you, young man,” the

Receiver said, coming close.

“Idon’t understand!” Firdausi stammered.

“Your girl-friend has come to us in good time, and we

will accept her.”

“But!” His mind froze; his eyes sought a key- to this

mystery on the Receiver’s face.

“I presume you will be entitled to accept the payment

we customarily make?” the black-robed man encour-

aged, and lifted into sight a heavy jingling bag which

could only contain the crude soft metal which served as

currency here.

Greed fought with amazement in Firdausi’s baffled

brain. That bag looked heavythe size of a rich girl’s

dowry. Nonetheless, he choked out, “But her mother?”

“She is old, and past our help.”

There was a moment of silence. Then he said with a

surge of determination, “But Soraya is fit and well!”

“You think so? Then come with me!”

Dumb, he complied, and trailed the Receiver across

the square to the space before the covered wagon.

There, his astonished eyes met the spectacle of Soraya,

being carried down the steps to be laid on a pallet on the

ground. There was absolutely no mistaking the tremors

that racked her slender young body.

The quakes. The dread killer was afflicting her as it

had done her mother.

“In our care, there is hope for her,” the Receiver was

saying. “If you are fond of her, you’ll raise no objec-


Firdausi wasn’t listening. He barely felt the tug on his

hand as the string of the metal-heavy bag was looped

around his nerveless fingers.

Nonetheless, since it was the only consolation he was

likely to be offered, he finally clutched it to him.


AJarm lights were already flashing and bells sounding

discreet but insistent warnings everywhere in the hospi-

tal when Nole came running full pelt to join Langen-

schmidt and Maddalena outside the entry to master

operations control.

“I’ve alerted as many of the staff as I can reach,” he

panted. “Not many, of coarsewe don’t maintain a night

schedule normally. And this isn’t the kind of emergency

we have drills prepared for. What exactly happened?”

Langenschmidt explained how they came to spot

Bracy on their way to )oin him in the computing office.

Nole gave a comprehending nod.

“He must have been looking in at one of the regener-

ation roomsprobably the end one. There’s a woman in

there who lost her right hand in an accident at the main

repair dock last week. What this fisherboy was doing

out of his own room, thoughthat’s what I can’t under-

stand. He seemed very tired and perfectly co-operative

when I checked him earlier.”

“I’ll make a guess,” Maddalena said sourly. “He didn’t

want to miss his one and only chance of seeing over the


“That doesn’t matter,” Langenschmidt cut in. “The

fact is he’s gone down that tunnel there, and it’s taking

him where he can cause one hell of a mess if he’s not

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Categories: John Brunner