The Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury

“Brother,” she cried, eyes blazing. “Have you been saved?”

“Am I in danger?” Ettil dropped his pen, jumping.

“Terrible danger!” she wailed, clanking her tambourine, gazing at the sky. “You need to be saved, brother, in the worst way!”

“I’m inclined to agree,” he said, trembling.

“We saved lots already today. I saved three myself, of you Mars people. Ain’t that nice?” She grinned at him.

“I guess so.”

She was acutely suspicious. She leaned forward with her secret whisper. “Brother,” she wanted to know, “you been baptized?”

“I don’t know,” he whispered back.

“You don’t know?” she cried, flinging up hand and tambourine.

“Is it like being shot?” he asked.

“Brother,” she said, “you are in a bad and sinful condition. I blame it on your ignorant bringing up. I bet those schools on Mars are terrible—don’t teach you no truth at all. Just a pack of made-up lies. Brother, you got to be baptized if you want to be happy.”

“Will it make me happy even in this world here?” he said. “Don’t ask for everything on your platter,” she said. “Be satisfied with a wrinkled pea, for there’s another world we’re all going to that’s better than this one.”

“I know that world,” he said.

“It’s peaceful,” she said.


“There’s quiet,” she said.


“There’s milk and honey flowing.”

“Why, yes,” he said.

“And everybody’s laughing.”

“I can see it now,” he said.

“A better world,” she said.

“Far better,” he said. “Yes, Mars is a great planet.”

“Mister,” she said, tightening up and almost flinging the tambourine in his face, “you been joking with me?”

“Why, no.” He was embarrassed and bewildered. “I thought you were talking about——”

“Not about mean old nasty Mars, I tell you, mister! It’s your type that is going to boil for years, and suffer and break out in black pimples and be tortured——”

“I must admit Earth isn’t very nice. You’ve described it beautifully.”

“Mister, you’re funning me again!” she cried angrily.

“No, no—please. I plead ignorance.”

“Well,” she said, “you’re a heathen, and heathens are improper. Here’s a paper. Come to this address tomorrow night and be baptized and be happy. We shouts and we stomps and we talk in voices, so if you want to hear our all-cornet, all-brass band, you come, won’t you now?”

“I’ll try,” he said hesitantly.

Down the street she went, patting her tambourine, singing at the top of her voice, “Happy Am I, I’m Always Happy.”

Dazed, Ettil returned to his letter.

“Dear Tylla: To think that in my naïveté I imagined that the Earthmen would have to counterattack with guns and bombs. No, no. I was sadly wrong. There is no Rick or Mick or Jick or Bannon—those lever fellows who save worlds. No.

“There are blond robots with pink rubber bodies, real, but somehow unreal, alive but somehow automatic in all responses, living in caves all of their lives. Theirderrières are incredible in girth. Their eyes are fixed and motionless from an endless time of staring at picture screens. The only muscles they have occur in their jaws from their ceaseless chewing of gum.

“And it is not only these, my dear Tylla, but the entire civilization into which we have been dropped like a shovelful of seeds into a large concrete mixer. Nothing of us will survive. We will be killed not by the gun but by the glad-hand. We will be destroyed not by the rocket but by the automobile . . .”

Somebody screamed. A crash, another crash. Silence.

Ettil leaped up from his letter. Outside, on the street two ears had crashed. One full of Martians, another with Earthmen. Ettil returned to his letter:

“Dear, dear Tylla, a few statistics if you will allow. Forty-five thousand people killed every year on this continent of America; made into jelly right in the can, as it were, in the automobiles. Red blood jelly, with white marrow bones like sudden thoughts, ridiculous horror thoughts, transfixed in the immutable jelly. The cars roll up in tight neat sardine rolls—all sauce, all silence.

“Blood manure for green buzzing summer flies, all over the highways. Faces made into Halloween masks by sudden stops. Halloween is one of their holidays. I think they worship the automobile on that night—something to do with death, anyway.

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray