The Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury

“Let’s examine the bull,” said William.

As they walked past the café entrance Susan saw the man looking out at them, a white man in a salt-white suit, with a blue tie and blue shirt, and a thin, sunburned face. His hair was blond and straight and his eyes were blue, and he watched them as they walked.

She would never have noticed him if it had not been for the bottles at his immaculate elbow; a fat bottle of crème de menthe, a clear bottle of vermouth, a flagon of cognac, and seven other bottles of assorted liqueurs, and, at his finger tips, ten small half-filled glasses from which, without taking his eyes off the street, he sipped, occasionally squinting, pressing his thin mouth shut upon the savor. In his free hand a thin Havana cigar smoked, and on a chair stood twenty cartons of Turkish cigarettes, six boxes of cigars, and some packaged colognes.

“Bill——” whispered Susan.

“Take it easy,” he said. “He’s nobody.”

“I saw him in the plaza this morning.”

“Don’t look back, keep walking. Examine the papier-mâché bull here. That’s it, ask questions.”

“Do you think he’s from the Searchers?”

“They couldn’t follow us!”

“They might!”

“What a nice bull,” said William to the man who owned it.

“He couldn’t have followed us back through two hundred years, could he?”

“Watch yourself, for God’s sake,” said William.

She swayed. He crushed her elbow tightly, steering her away.

“Don’t faint.” He smiled, to make it look good. “You’ll be all right. Let’s go right in that café, drink in front of him, so if he is what we think he is, he won’t suspect.”

“No, I couldn’t.”

“We’ve got to. Come on now. And so I said to David, that’s ridiculous!” This last in a loud voice as they went up the café steps.

We are here, thought Susan. Who are we? Where are we going? What do we fear? Start at the beginning, she told herself, holding to her sanity, as she felt the adobe floor underfoot.

My name is Ann Kristen; my husband’s name is Roger. We were born in the year 2155 A.D. And we lived in a world that was evil. A world that was like a great black ship pulling away from the shore of sanity and civilization, roaring its black horn in the night, taking two billion people with it, whether they wanted to go or not, to death, to fall over the edge of the earth and the sea into radioactive flame and madness.

They walked into the café. The man was staring at them.

A phone rang.

The phone startled Susan. She remembered a phone ringing two hundred years in the future, on that blue April morning in 2155, and herself answering it:

“Ann, this is Rene! Have you heard? I mean about Travel in Time, Incorporated? Trips to Rome in 21 B.C., trips to Napoleon’s Waterloo—any time, any place!”

“Rene, you’re joking.”

“No. Clinton Smith left this morning for Philadelphia in 1776. Travel in Time, Inc., arranges everything. Costs money. But,think— to actually see the burning of Rome, Kubla Khan, Moses and the Red Sea! You’ve probably got an ad in your tube mail now.

She had opened the suction mail tube and there was the metal foil advertisement:



Travel in Time, Inc., can costume you, put you in a crowd during the assassination of Lincoln or Caesar! We guarantee to teach you any language you need to move freely in any civilization, in any year, without friction. Latin, Greek, ancient American colloquial. Take your vacation inTime as well as Place!

Rene’s voice was buzzing on the phone. “Tom and I leave for 1492 tomorrow. They’re arranging for Tom to sail with Columbus. Isn’t it amazing!”

“Yes,” murmured Ann, stunned. “What does the Government say about this Time Machine company?”

“Oh, the police have an eye on it. Afraid people might evade the draft, run off and hide in the Past. Everyone has to leave a security bond behind, his house and belongings, to guarantee return. After all, the war’s on.”

“Yes, the war,” murmured Ann. “The war.”

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