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     Steve gripped his chair's armrests as Doctor Robinson pulled the switch. He could see a slight dimness come over the room, and his eyes became very sore, as if he had been reading fine print for a long time. A flurry of motion caught his eye, and he saw the figure of Dr. Robinson, moving at an ever-increasing rate at the instrument panel. His hands raced over the switches faster and faster until they were only a blur, jumping from dial to dial. Occasionally he stopped to note something in the notebook that never left his side. Then Steve saw the clock. For only a moment he thought that the electric fields surrounding him were making it act strangely: the minute hand was moving about half as fast as a sweep-second hand. He glanced back up at the figure of Dr. Robinson at the switchboard. His hands, arms, and head were moving so fast that they were practically invisible; only his torso could be seen momentarily.
     Almost miraculously, Emily, Dr. Robinson's wife, appeared in the middle of the room. She was talking, but he heard nothing but a constant buzzing in his ears. All words, spoken fifty times faster than normal, were indistinguishable. She darted back and forth like a hummingbird; the clock on the wall kept up its crazy pace, and then all at one Emily's hands were on the chair's armrests. She remained with her hands on the chair, her head waving back and forth so rapidly that to Steve she looked headless. There were flashes of white behind her, whisking from one end of the room to the other in a split-second.
     Then everything stopped: there wasn't a bit of movement anywhere. Steve was looking at what could be a photograph of the room taken at a time when everything was in a state of confusion. The papers on which Dr. Robinson had been so feverishly writing were scattered on the floor. The seat behind the desk was resting on the ground, as if he had risen from it in a great hurry. Steve looked up and saw Emily towering over him, her hands seemingly glued to the chair arms. Glancing at her face, he was horrified at what he saw. Her mouth was open, and the cords of her neck stood out in horrible relief. There was a small droplet of water suspended in the air above him with an almost invisible trail of smaller droplets leading directly to the lower lid of her eye. They were tears. When he saw her hair standing straight out from her head, and the tiny blue sparks, like frozen blue icicles, which were fanning off her head, he realized the truth: she was being electrocuted. She had grabbed onto the charged arms of the chair, and now her body was being unmercifully punished by the powerful currents of the time machine. This explained the confusion in the room: Dr. Robinson had been frantically trying to rescue her from the electric shock.
     Starting up from his seat, Steve instantly thought that he had gone mad. He was looking down at the top of his own head! His mind, his will, had somehow become detached from his body, and while his body sat, photographically still, in the chair, his brain was free to wander at will. Unencumbered with his body, he found movement different and exciting. He willed himself up to the ceiling, and, quick as thought, the room was far below him. Willing himself once more in front of Emily, he could see every pore in her face, every fleck of powder, every tiny hair on her cheek. He found that his vision had no "blur point": he could get very close to an object and still see perfectly. No sooner did he desire to get nearer to her eye, than he saw an iris and pupil as no human being had ever seen it before. Still farther, and he was actually on the inside of her eye.
     The light from her pupil cast a ray of light back into the vitreous humor, and he cold see the fovea and optic nerve as no textbook drawing could ever show it. Feeling an intense awe at the complexity of the eye, and at the same time, a vague fear about his new power, he steeled himself for what might happen and willed himself still farther into Emily's head. His scientific curiosity would not permit him to rest for whatever length of time he might be possessed of this fantastic gift. He passed through her retina and entered the brain. Blackness was all that met his vision, and disappointed until he realized that no matter how marvelous his vision might be, his eye would still need light with which to see. A tangle of gray-black hairs swept past him, and he had traveled completely through her.
     Dr. Robinson was he was motionless behind her, caught in an instant of running which transformed him into a ballet dancer performing an awkward leap. His small notebook, which had fallen to the floor in the confusion, attracted Steve. He had been forbidden to look at this journal, so now his curiosity drew him toward the open book. A broken sentence started on the lefthand page.
     ?---and particularly because of the Kruz-Hermann experiments in 1939, outlined above, and my own successful attempts in the field of auto-telekinesis, which may be found in my book ?Mind over Matter,? I hold that travel in time is predominantly a matter of self-will. My goal now will be to find someone intelligent enough to exert great mental kinetic powers, and firm enough to believe in time travel in an age that scoffs at such theories. With this person's brain, and my Synapse-Controller, time travel is only a matter of days."
     The writing broke off on that page, and was started again, with a different shade of ink, on the top of the opposite page.
     "Steven Aultman has passed all his physical and mental tests more than satisfactorily. How lucky I am to have found him."
     Steve read ahead with increased interest.
     "I have chosen Boise City, Oklahoma, for my permanent station. It is large enough so that strangers will not be interfered with, yet small enough to afford a necessary measure of privacy. Most important of all is its structural stability: Boise City is situated on a solid granite sub-flooring which has been remarkably resistant to subterranean stresses, according to the most accurate seismo-tectonic charts. There is no mining, excavating, or blasting work being carried on in the surrounding regions, so my time device will risk very little shock. I was astounded to discover the sensitivity of the machine. Experimentation on the West Coast would have been virtually impossible because of the frequent earth shocks in the region. The electro-synaptic charges in the human brain are so infinitesimal that a slight variation in the exciting charge would cause a tremendous spatio-temporal displacement of the subject, with the 
      Steve groaned inwardly as the words reached the bottom of the page. So this was why Dr. Robinson had made him assist with so many experiments on the test animals. At first Steve had seen no reason for removing the entire brain from a living monkey, placing that brain in a vat of warm, saline solution, and then mapping the electronic reactions which took place as the monkey performed various tasks and exercises. But now he realized that the two seemingly unconnected phenomena---the electric reaction in an animal brain, and the working of a time machine---were actually intimately related. Steve desperately wished he could see more of the Doctor's journal: the neurobiology course he had taken at Stanford the previous year had been simply a matter of vague theories and formless hypotheses, but this thin book contained what Dr. Robinson had managed to discover about the basic controls of the brain synapses. Here were empirical facts at his fingertips, and he couldn't turn the pages of the book.
     With great reluctance he turned away from the fallen book, forcing his attention to other things. Moving toward the window on the wall facing the street, he simply wished it, and he found himself outside the second-floor window of the Doctor's house. Suspended twenty feet above Boise Avenue, Steve had no sensation of giddiness or height, because he was confident that he was perfectly secure in his weightless state. He looked up the Avenue toward Main Street, the chief intersection of the small town. It was brightly lit, and he had no trouble finding the source of the illumination.
     In the center of the intersection there was a brilliant yellow hemisphere about four feet in diameter. From his vantage point, Steve thought it looked like a fire, but it was too brilliant for its size, and the surface looked quite smooth. Even as he wished it, he found himself at the edge of the object in the crossroads.
     Since this was a Saturday night, the townspeople were taking it easy, walking up and down the streets, talking on front porch swings, sipping sodas in the corner drugstore. Steve looked around and saw everything looking very natural, yet at the same time unnatural, because, although not moving, the people in the streets gave the impression of being alive. An old lady was shooing a cat across her front yard a few houses from the intersection. Brightly painted girls were walking arm-in-arm with drab-looking soldiers from the nearby base. Teenagers were dancing to the jukebox, and the town wolf was making a pass at a busty blond. However, it wasn't natural that pop bottles on the initialed tabletops were suspended about an inch above them, that table legs were raised a tiny bit off the scratched floors, that cats which had been dumped off ledges had already started to twist in the air so that they could land on their feet. A woman walking near the corner was poised two full inches off the level of the sidewalk, an expression of surprise just beginning to creep into her face. Nearby was a car, with exhaust looking like gray cotton candy, whose driver had raised his hands a fraction of an inch off the steering wheel, preparing to shield himself from the flash.
     Steve's curiosity picked up these myriad details quickly, and he turned back to the center of the crossing. He was surprised to find that the object was composed largely of gases, intermingled with particles of sand and occasional chunks of twisted metal. This was the birth of an explosion: an explosion that had been stopped only microseconds after detonation. His attention was again drawn to the woman suspended in the air. He could see from the almost calm expression on her face that she hadn't had a chance to react in the time between the explosion and this instant; therefore, the bomb must have produced a shock wave powerful enough to lift people and tables into the air. Then Steve saw everything. The same shock wave had thrown the delicate mechanism of the time machine off; it had gone haywire, and he was stranded in the eternity of an instant.
     This worry was brushed from his mind, and a new interest took its place. It would be interesting, Steve thought, to investigate an explosion only a fraction of a second old. He focused his attention downward into the mass of smoke and sand particles. As he neared the center of the cloud, he saw that the materials were becoming incandescent. His vision still possessed the microscopic quality that he had noticed when he had scrutinized Emily's eye: he could come so close to a particular particle that he could see its form on the cooler, outer side, and could see the side closest to the blast just begin to fuse into a glass from the heat of the explosion. Lurid flashes of solidified color crowded his vision, and as he reached the core of the blast, he saw the elements in a state of confusion. The asphalt of the pavement, right under the most intense heat, had melted, and there was a pool of tar, covered with half-submerged bits of metal. The light had reached a point of blinding intensity, and he was forced to flee from the center of the chaos.
     When he left the sphere, he found that it was just the same size it had been before, which indicated to him that time had actually STOPPED, rather than slowed to a tiny fraction of normalcy. A kind of fear clutched at him when he realized that he could be stranded eternally in a world which had become a photograph, a permanent picture of events about to happen---events with no possibility of being accomplished. He was about to return to the apartment when he happened to see an Air Force bomber in the air directly above the city. His curiosity to see the airplane closer transported him high above the city. With no physical effort whatsoever, he propelled himself into the pilot's cabin, where he found the pilot in the process of turning the plane in a large circle above the town. Steve looked at the copilot, whose pencil was frozen in the middle of his report.
     "First bomb away, 2235, hit---" and there it stopped, the tip of his pencil just finishing the cross on the "t." Looking around him, Steve found an open copy of the orders which were to be followed.
     "Drop ten bombs, on ten circles of the target, reporting position and time of each drop." Target? He willed himself out of the cockpit, and gazed down at the lights of the town below. From a point directly beneath him fanned out four lanes of lights. With the town's main intersection at the hub, the four spokes of North and South Boise, and East and West Main looked not unlike the approach lanes to a target. He stared in fascination at the intense pattern of light and deep shadow on the town below. A yellow glow filled the town. This glow would have dissipated almost immediately, had not his stoppage in time halted the blast. He looked down on the spectacle, and a feeling of terror and the unknown overcame him. Leaving the ship, he willed himself back into the room that he had left---exactly zero seconds before.
     Once more he was seated in the chair, Emily still poised above him with great pain etched on her face. He noticed for the first time that her hands were charred from the electricity, and tiny wisps of smoke from burning flesh, like puffs of cotton, stood above her hands. Wondering if possibly he could find why he had been thrown into this position of timelessness, rather than into a future or progressive time, as a tampering with the mechanisms would seem to indicate, he studied his body in the chair. Then he saw it. One foot had moved far enough to lose contact with one of the many electrodes ranged about the chair---electrodes which must contact his body at all times. His will slid into his body like a hand slides into a tight rubber glove. Instantly he felt the pressure of his body on all sides. Moving his leg back against the electrode seemed a great effort after his previous weightlessness.
     When his leg touched the contact, there was a surge of electricity that stood his hair on end. With the same feelings he had experienced before the bomb hit, he watched his watch tick off seconds in the same amount of time it took the wall-clock to sweep out minutes. He saw that Emily had fallen away from the chair, and was suddenly gone, along with the Doctor, who reappeared an instant later, darting lightning-like around the laboratory. For a moment he paused in front of Steve, looking at the contacts. After the lapse of four seconds, by Steve's watch, there was another jolt out of time, but now he experienced a new type of helplessness.
     An entity without body, without thought, he whirled through vast reaches of space-time. An eternity of spinning seized his emotions, an eon of blackness and flashes of color, an immortality of insanity gripped his senses. Cascading through hyper-time and hyper-space, speeding through a realm of impossibility, he careened toward utter madness.
     Another thrust of cosmic energies, and he was once again sitting in a chair in Apartment 2020, 10 N. Boise Avenue, Boise City, Oklahoma. Fully expecting to see Dr. Robinson flashing by him again, he was immeasurably relieved when the Doctor walked toward the chair at a normal rate of speed. Concern showed on his face.
     "How are you, Steve? Are you all right?"
     Steve stared uncomprehendingly at the man in front of him for a moment, then he relaxed his tensed muscles and slumped down in the chair. "I think so; what's happened?"
     "I'm not too sure---what's happened to YOU, I mean. I do know that this town has been going mad the last ten minutes. There have been three explosions of some kind in that time. I haven't had a chance to raise the shades, because I've been trying to keep things fairly stable around here. They have completely ruined anything I may get from this particular trial, because the shock waves have thrown most of my dials off the scales. I don't know what's causing these blasts, but if they don't stop soon, something horrible may happen, if it hasn't already." Dr. Robinson reached out to take Steve by the shoulders, suddenly stopped, and let his hands drop to his sides.
     "I daren't try to touch you; I haven't the slightest idea how much electricity is running through your brain---you needn't worry about it, though," Dr. Robinson hastened to add. "Since you're completely insulated, it can't hurt you, but I might be instantly killed if I came within an inch of you." He wrung his hands in despair. "Emily got a severe shock by leaning on the chair---"
     "Yes, I know. How is she?" Steve interrupted.
     "The doctor is with her now; her hands are badly burned, but---wait, how did you know what happened?"
     "I saw it all. I also know what is causing those explosions."
     "Tell me. Can they be stopped?"
     "An Air Force plane has mistaken this town for one of their practice targets. They have orders to drop ten bombs, and since this town looks so much like a target from the air, they---"
     A look of astonishment flashed across Dr. Robinson's face. "Wait a minute, wait a minute. TEN bombs; and how do you know how this town looks from the air?"
     "Well, when you pulled the switch, I started going forward in time, at a rate approximately sixty times normal. Then everything stopped, and my---my MIND could move around outside my body and see anything and go anywhere I wanted by just wishing myself there."
     Incredulity flickered momentarily in Dr. Robinson's face, but then he grabbed for his notebook and began writing rapidly. "Yes, yes, go on."
     "I saw so many things: I saw the inside of Mrs. Robinson's eye---" Dr. Robinson seemed incapable of more amazement; he simply sat on top of his desk and took notes. "I went out into the street and saw the first bomb just a second after it had been exploded. I went inside the blast, and saw what it looked like. Then I saw the plane above the town, and just by willing myself up there, I could sit beside the pilot, read his order, and see just how this town looks from the air. Then I got scared and came back here. Then everything speeded up again just like before the first bomb."
     "How did you speed up again? If time---if you were where there was no time, how could you get back to this---this system?"
     "My foot had slipped of this electrode," Steve pointed down, "and then when I put it back on, time speeded up for---for about four minutes, your time, and then everything changed again."
     "THAT electrode, you say---yes, yes, no wonder. You must NEVER lose that one." Steve opened his mouth to ask a question, but Dr. Robinson waved him to be quiet. He scribbled on for a minute or more, then raised his head. "Please, go on. That second change must have been the second bomb. You disappeared right after that."
     "Disappeared?" Chills trickled down Steve's back. "I didn't know where I was or where I was going. Everything was confused, and I couldn't seem to think straight. Everything seemed out of order---I couldn't think, I could just FEEL. It was---"
     "And then the third bomb brought you back to here?" interrupted Dr. Robinson.
     "I guess so. Please, Doctor, can't I get out of this?" Steve motioned toward his bulky headset.
     "I'm sorry, I can't risk it. As I said, I can't read half my dials because the blast put them out of commission. If I try to interfere, it may be fatal to both of us." He glanced at his watch. "Four minutes is about up; if what you say about the bomb is true, there should be another blast any second now. Whatever you do, don't leave this chair. I'll try to get you back as soon as possible, but---"
     Steve felt himself wrenched from the present and tossed toward the future. There was a fearful sensation of speed this time, and objects whirled before his eyes so rapidly that he could discern nothing in particular. He felt himself rocketing through time at a speed that would make centuries only seconds. This time, he feared, he would not end up only four minutes, but ages and ages in the future. The fourth bomb must have caused this phase of his travel through time, he figured, and---there was another grinding transition from motion to stability---the fifth one must have just stopped him.
     So unearthly was his new view that the possibility of return suddenly seemed horribly remote.
     He found himself in the middle of a lake of incredible transparency. As before, he had no feeling of temperature or pressure, nor did he feel any sensation of wetness. Off in the far distance, he saw a small, shimmering bubble, like a gossamer jewel, hovering in the center of the greenish waters. Directing himself toward the bubble, he saw that it was an immense container of jelly-like substance. It wasn't ONE substance, however, but was composed of many distinct globules of mass, thrusting out pseudopodia, and oozing over and under one another. Each was seemingly embracing the others by pushing out membranes and attempting to envelop them. Curious as to the make-up of these strange beings, and made confident by his previous disembodiedness, he willed---he willed himself into the center of the pasty-looking creatures.
     A feeling of terror seized him as he felt himself oppressed on all sides by warm, moist, moving masses. He willed himself back out of the sphere, but found that he no longer had the power of thought-movement. These creatures must be entirely of thought, too, so we are mutually tactual, thought Steve. At first he was repulsed by the contact of these clammy creatures, but then he found that he almost enjoyed the warm caresses of the beings. Another sensation came to him, one that was very difficult to describe. There was an attitude of love entirely surrounding him. It was as if the entire bubble were filled with low, humming sounds, mingled with light, slippery noises which came from all directions. He wandered as he pleased through the sphere, until it almost seemed that he was one of them, slipping and sliding among his fellows in movements which had become quite satisfying.
     Suddenly all movement surrounding him ceased. There was a pause, and the atmosphere, which once had been full of love and pleasure-seeking, became one of fear. Then, one by one, the globs near him quivered, then deflated like pricked balloons. Steve felt flashes of stark fear streak upwards past him. Somehow, the minds which inhabited these pleasure-bodies dwelled in them only temporarily; whenever danger of any kind drew near, as it was obviously doing now, they would abandon these shells and flee to a point of safety.
     The bubble had almost cleared of the milky forms, and the body which Steve had taken possession of came to the surface. Off in the distance, coming rapidly closer, he could see dark forms moving. In an instant, inky clouds had muddied the clearness of the water, and every so often he would see a grotesque shadow dart out of the cloud, forcing itself against the walls of the undersea sphere. Thicker and faster these attacking figures came, until with a thunderous crack the undersea pleasure-haven shattered to bits.
     Panic rising within him, Steve willed himself after the retreating thoughts of the others. One or two of the black creatures attempted to follow him, but they seemed to lack the speed the mind-creatures had.
     He now found himself on a vast plain, covered with more of the larva-like pleasure-bodies. They continued to ooze over each other with obvious satisfaction, but they had different objects here to fix their attentions on. Scattered over the plain, dimly seen through a fine mist which covered everything, stood huge, complex leviathans, very tall, and with many outcroppings of the main masses, which, at the bases, were rather slender as compared to the bulkiness of the superstructures. Literally swarming over these strange edifices were hundreds and thousands of the milk-white globules, moving effortlessly from one part of each structure to the other. This generalized movement continued for what seemed hours, but the beings were tireless, needing neither sleep nor nourishment, nor having any desire to stop their enveloping maneuvers on the tower-like objects.
     Suddenly the fine mist disappeared, to be replaced with fiery orbs hung an indefinite distance above the ground. These spheres burned and blazed with an intense greenish-blue color, and once more a massed feeling of fear came up from the ameba-like beings. The orbs grew larger and hotter, and gradually the mind-beings left the pleasure-beings, seeking flight from the attackers. The larvae-forms shriveled in the heat, melting away from the ground, and from the structures in the field. Most of the larvae-bodies flowed off the towers, and deflated themselves on the ground; other mind-beings left their shells on the colossi, from which they fell like withered leaves from strange misshapen trees. Steve surged toward the nearest structure, interested in seeing the objects of this almost-adoration shown by the slug-people. However, while the outside layers of globules were removed, an inner layer remained faithful to the end, as it seemed, and crisped and caught fire right where they were positioned on the structures. The edifices, as their superficial outer layers were removed, took on a vaguely familiar shape, a tantalizing form that Steve could not quite place. Then, when he thought he had put his finger on it, the fiery orbs suddenly split apart like ripe seedpods, spreading the horrid black beings that had attacked the underwater bubble. A smell of putrefaction flowed over the plain from the dead bodies of the white blobs, and from the yawning orbs came an acrid brown smoke. Not knowing which way to turn, Steve remained on the plain after all the mind-creatures had left. The black monsters appeared ready to overrun the body he was inhabiting, but then a flash of multicolored dots struck his senses with an overwhelming force, and the next thing he knew he was again rocketing through time. His last sensate thought was that the sixth bomb had been exploded.
     Kaleidoscopic bursts of color accompanied him on his swirling course through time. These colors flashed and glowed warmly at first, but then they gradually grew dimmer and dimmer, until they merged into a featureless gray. An air of decay spread all around him, and then he saw, only dimly, a gigantic black mass beside him, receding farther and farther into the distance, until its blackness merged into the greater blackness of the dead cosmos. A huge, lonely feeling of emptiness fell upon him like a shroud. There was no sensation of movement, either of self or of time or of space. Everything had entropied to nothing, and the infinite sadness of bleak eternity made Steven Aultman cry aloud in despair.
     As if from a foreordained signal, the limitless reaches of space vomited forth the refuse of the universe. A mote caught the corner of his staring eye. Then, from the opposite direction came a rush of wind, then a flash, finally resolving itself into an insane rush of matter and energy, sweeping to the center of the cosmos. Fires were enkindled anew, chaos reigned as the universe, which had once reached Maximum Entropy, came crashing back.
     From the utmost reaches of space the contents of the cosmos fell. The entity which once was called Steven Aultman had no choice but to follow the inexorable course. That which came from infinity met at one point, and thought could not encompass what it witnessed. Back to the Primordial Atom, and then---
     REBIRTH! The ultimate cataclysm, and the microcosm shot out, filling the ether, starting on its eternal progression toward the macrocosm. Steven Aultman reeled in the procession of events, his being staggering, crushed under the burden of knowledge.
     The cosmos evolved into the thousands of universes, the billions of galaxies, the uncounted, uncountable solar systems. Around one of these minute suns revolved a planet called "Earth" by its inhabitants, one of whom had once been named Steven Aultman.
     Lost in the course of time and space, his mind was erased of identity and thought by the re-creation of the cosmos.
     The Primordial Atom, total matter occupying an infinitely small point in the space-time continuum, devolved once more into total energy occupying an infinitely great area, and the point of Maximum Entropy was again reached.
     When the seventh bomb exploded, Steve Aultman ceased to be.