The Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury

“He’s new all right,” said Mink. She started on her second bowl.

“Which one is Drill?” asked Mom.

“He’s around,” said Mink evasively. “You’ll make fun. Everybody pokes fun. Gee, darn.”

“Is Drill shy?”

“Yes. No. In a way. Gosh, Mom, I got to run if we want to have the Invasion!”

“Who’s invading what?”

“Martians invading Earth. Well, not exactly Martians. They’re—I don’t know. From up.” She pointed with her spoon.

“Andinside,” said Mom, touching Mink’s feverish brow.

Mink rebelled. “You’re laughing! You’ll kill Drill and everybody.”

“I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill’s a Martian?”

“No. He’s—well—maybe from Jupiter or Saturn or Venus. Anyway, he’s had a hard time.”

“I imagine.” Mrs. Morris hid her mouth behind her hand.

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack Earth.”

“We’re impregnable,” said Mom in mock seriousness. “That’s the word Drill used! Impreg—— That was the word, Mom.”

“My, my, Drill’s a brilliant little boy. Two-bit words.”

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack, Mom. Drill says—he says in order to make a good fight you got to have a new way of surprising people. That way you win. And he says also you got to have help from your enemy.”

“A fifth column,” said Mom.

“Yeah. That’s what Drill said. And they couldn’t figure a way to surprise Earth or get help.”

“No wonder. We’re pretty darn strong.” Mom laughed, cleaning up. Mink sat there, staring at the table, seeing what she was talking about.

“Until, one day,” whispered Mink melodramatically, “they thought of children!”

“Well!”said Mrs. Morris brightly.

“And they thought of how grownups are so busy they never look under rosebushes or on lawns!”

“Only for snails and fungus.”

“And then there’s something about dim-dims.”




“Four of ’em! And there’s something about kids under nine and imagination. It’s real funny to hear Drill talk.”

Mrs. Morris was tired. “Well, it must be funny. You’re keeping Drill waiting now. It’s getting late in the day and, if you want to have your Invasion before your supper bath, you’d better jump.”

“Do I have to take a bath?” growled Mink.

“You do. Why is it children hate water? No matter what age you live in children hate water behind the ears!”

“Drill says I won’t have to take baths,” said Mink.

“Oh, he does, does he?”

“He told all the kids that. No more baths. And we can stay up till ten o’clock and go to two televisor shows on Saturday ’stead of one!”

“Well, Mr. Drill better mind his p’s and q’s. I’ll call up his mother and—”

Mink went to the door. “We’re having trouble with guys like Pete Britz and Dale Jerrick. They’re growing up. They make fun. They’re worse than parents. They just won’t believe in Drill. They’re so snooty, ’cause they’re growing up. You’d think they’d know better. They were little only a coupla years ago. I hate them worst. We’ll kill themfirst.”

“Your father and I last?”

“Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why? ’Cause you don’t believe in Martians! They’re going to let us run the world. Well, not just us, but the kids over in the next block, too. I might be queen.” She opened the door.



“What’s lodge-ick?”

“Logic? Why, dear, logic is knowing what things are true and not true.”

“Hementioned that,” said Mink. “And what’s im-pres-sionable?” It took her a minute to say it.

“Why, it means—” Her mother looked at the floor, laughing gently. “It means—to be a child, dear.”

“Thanks for lunch!” Mink ran out, then stuck her head back in. “Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

“Well, thanks,” said Mom.

Slamwent the door.

At four o’clock the audio-visor buzzed. Mrs. Morris flipped the tab. “Hello, Helen!” she said in welcome.

“Hello, Mary. How are thinks in New York?”

“Fine. How are things in Scranton? You look tired.”

“So do you. The children. Underfoot,” said Helen.

Mrs. Morris sighed. “My Mink too. The super-Invasion.”

Helen laughed. “Are your kids playing that game too?”

“Lord, yes. Tomorrow it’ll be geometrical jacks and motorized hopscotch. Were we this bad when we were kids in ’48?”

“Worse. Japs and Nazis. Don’t know how my parents put up with me. Tomboy.”

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray