Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl Read Free Book Online

Book: Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl Read Free Book Online
Authors: Frederik Pohl
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction, adventure, Outer Space, Outer space - Exploration
pushed back at exactly the right magnitude and in exactly the right direction to keep its steady acceleration to whatever goal it had in mind. The only useful thing Vera came up with was a theory: the factory had used up the comet it was working on and was moving on to a new one. But that was only intellectually interesting. It did not do a practical thing to help. So we wandered around, mostly alone, carrying the cameras into every room and corridor we could reach. What we saw they saw, and what they saw was transmitted on the time-sharing beam to Earth, and none of it offered much help.
    We found where Trish Bover had entered the factory easily enough-Payter did that, and called us all to look, and we gathered silently to inspect the remnants of a long-decayed lunch, the discarded pantyhose and the graffiti she had scratched on the walls:
    “Maybe God will,” said Lurvy after a while, “but 1 don’t see how anybody else can.”
    “She must have been here longer than I thought,” Payter said. “There’s junk scattered all around in some of the rooms.”
    “What kind of junk?”
    “Old spoiled food, mostly. Down toward the other landing face, you know where the lights are?” I did, and Janine and I went to see. It was her idea to keep me company, and not an idea I had been enthusiastic about at first. But maybe the 12C temperature and the lack of anything like a bed tempered her interest, or maybe she was too depressed and disappointed to be very interested in her ambition to lose her virginity. We found the discarded food easily enough. It didn’t look like Gateway rations to me. It seemed to come in packets; a couple of them were unopened, three biggish ones, the size of a slice of bread, wrapped in bright red something or other-it felt like silk. Two smaller ones, one green, one the same red as the others but mottled with pink dots. We opened one experimentally. It stank of rotten fish and was obviously no longer edible. But had been.
    I left Janine there to go back to find the others. They opened the little green one. It did not smell spoiled, but was hard as rock. Payter sniffed it, then licked It, then broke off a crumb against the wall and chewed it thoughtfully. “No taste at all,” he reported, then looked up at us, looked startled, then grinned.
    “You waiting for me to drop dead?” he inquired. “I don’t think so. You chew on it awhile, it gets soft. Like stale crackers, maybe.”
    Lurvy frowned. “If it really was food-“ She stopped and thought. “If it really was food, and Trish left it there, why didn’t she just stay here? Or why didn’t she mention it?”
    “She was scared silly,” I suggested.
    “Sure she was. But she did tape a report. She didn’t say a word about food. The Gateway techs were the ones who decided this was a Food Factory, remember? And all they had to go on was the wrecked one they found around Phyllis’s World.”
    “Maybe she just forgot.”
    “I don’t think she forgot,” said Lurvy slowly, but she didn’t say any more than that. There wasn’t anything more to be said. But for the next day or two we did not do much solitary exploring.
    Day 1311. Vera received the information about the food packages in silence. After a while she displayed an instruction to submit the contents of the packages to chemical- and bio-assay. We had already done that on our own, and if she drew conclusions she did not say what they were.
    For that matter, neither did we. On the occasions when we were all awake together what we mostly talked about was what we would do if Base could not figure out a way for us to move the Food Factory. Vera had already suggested that we install the other five side-cargos, turn them all on full-power at once and see if the factory could out-muscle six thrusters. Vera’s suggestions were not orders, and Lurvy spoke for all of us when she said, “If we turn them on full and they don’t work, the next

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