#80 of Lost Sci-Fi
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0 hours 36 minutes
Rocket Summer by Rad Bradbury - The first great rocket flight into space, bearing intrepid pioneers to the Moon. The world's ecstasy flared into red mob-hate when President Stanley canceled the flight. How did he get that way?
The crowd gathered to make a curious noise this cold grey morning before the scheduled Birth. They arrived in gleaming scarlet tumble-bugs and yellow plastic beetles, yawning and singing and ready. The Birth was a big thing for them.
He stood alone up in his high office tower window, watching them with a sad impatience in his grey eyes. His name was William Stanley, president of the company that owned this building and all those other work-hangars down on the tarmac, and all that landing field stretching two miles off into the Jersey mists. William Stanley was thinking about the Birth.
The Birth of what? Stanley's large, finely sculptured head felt heavier, older. Science, with a scalpel of intense flame would slash wide the skulls of engineers, chemists, mechanics in a titanic Caesarian, and out would come the Rocket!
'Yezzir! Yezzir!' he heard the far-off, faint and raucous declarations of the vendors and hawkers. 'Buy ya Rocket Toys! Buy ya Rocket Games! Rocket Pictures! Rocket soap! Rocket teethers for the tiny-tot! Rocket, Rocket, Rocket! Hey!'
Shutting the open glassite frame before him, his thin lips drew tight. Morning after morning America sent her pilgrims to this shrine. They peered in over the translucent restraint barrier as if the Rocket were a caged beast.
He saw one small girl drop her Rocket toy. It shattered, and was folded under by the moving crowd's feet.
'Uh? Oh, Captain Greenwald. Sorry. Forgot you were here.' Stanley measured his slow, thoughtful steps to his clean-topped desk. 'Captain,' he sighed wearily, 'you're looking at the unhappiest man alive.'
Science Fiction & Fantasy
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