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Amazing Stories

May, 1928

ANY new thought that comes along that shows ui what will happen hundreds of years hence, is always greeted with acclaim by the true scieutificlion fan. Our uew author presents us with such a situation in a novel dress, and at the same time, you will find that there is plenty of new scientifiction in this interesting story.

A VISITOR FROM THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

by Harold Donitz

MARKHAM slept. What could be more commonplace than this nightly respite from worried and worrying consciousness, during which the nerves and constitution and muscles, exhausted by the work of the day arc |iennittcd to generate new power and vigor for (lie work of the day to come? And yet it is the very nature of this particular sleep, (hat (roubles Markham, and will continue to trouble him for the rest of his life. He is as visionary as ever, but due to the sleep, or perhaps to the disillusionment which followed it, he no longer I lores everyone by trying to put his visions into practice, or by explaining how they could be so put. Very seldom now does he allow his dreams to come to the surface, but when he does nobody can deny that he cuts a truly admirable figure.

To begin with, Markham is somewhat of an architect, considerable of an architect, if wc arc to judge by his success. He specializes in the hollow square and cooperative types of large apartment houses, but at the same time, if sonic wealthy faddist or nouveau riche desires a residence of radical design, embodying all known mechanical conveniences, and many that are not known as yet, he comes to Markham. The worst of it is that his friends and fellow architects seem to imagine that it is not Intent genius that is responsible for his successes, but rather superior practical ability; that he got this ability by industrious application, and all that sort of thing, at school. Markham must realize how futile it would be to attempt to assail this conspiracy of thought, and his present policy of reticence is perhaps the best he could observe under the circumstances.

The day in particular had been a trying one for him, and had held what, he maintains, was a peculiar scries of coincidences. First of all, he had spent the whole morning in preparing his entry in the $10,000 "City Beautiful" contest that was being conducted jointly by several newspapers, two magazines, and a department store. The contest was to determine the l>csl plan for an ideal city on the site of New York. Nothing, of course, could be done about removing the one that was already there, but a comparison of the actual city with the ideal one would arouse considerable interest and bring much publicity to all parties concerned. Furthermore, there were vague rumors that the Board of Estimate and Apportionment had more than a passing interest in the matter, and that if the winning plan appealed to it, it might take primary steps toward moulding little old New York into the ideal city.

At any rate, Markliam had reacted to the contest as a cat reacts to the smelt of He had set his fertile brain to work, and finally had evolved what he considered the ideal plan. But at the same time, as he later revealed, (here was an undercurrent of suspicion that told him that (his was not at all his ideal plan; that it was merely the best his brain could do under pressure; that at any time of the day or night there might leap to his cerebellum, when he least expected it, a vision of the ideal city, and that this city would be a thousandfold better than die one he had produced.

So he pigeon-holed the plan and drawings, expressing the fervent hope that the vision of the ideal might occur to him before the day, two weeks away, when the plans would have to be submitted.

He had intended to spend the afternoon of that day at a library, examining certain scientific and technical magazines, as well as catalogues, for new household devices and labor saving machinery which he would be able to incorporate into his future houses. He found several interesting ideas, but was soon bored and strolled into a cinema house. It was just his fortune to witness some fantasy that attempted to portray the city of (he future, lie could not help smiling, as he walked out of the theater and whenever he thought of the coincidence during supper. In the evening, he planted himself in the most comfortable armchair in his study, and, fortified by his pipe, prepared to enjoy an hour or two of reading. Not until lie had opened the book did he notice that it was a pseudo-scientific novel by Verne, or Wells, or one of that class. And then he threw his head back and indulged in a long, hearty laugh.

His burst of mirth over, Markham felt that in view of the nature of his activities that day, he would rather not read that type of book, lest he develop what he feared most, a "one-track" mind. He was tired, however, and very comfortable, and the smoke of his pipe was beginning to form fascinating spirals in the air. The reader may recall a time when he was in a similar situation. Nevertheless, he finally persuaded himself that the hook was no worse, or less desirable at that moment, than any other book. So he commenced to read.

We arc to assume that at some point in his reading the print on the pages before him seemed to jumble together into a heap, and the pipe somehow stip|>cd through his lips, and his eyelids acquired the weight of lead. His sense of time, his consciousness, everything, became hazy. He sensed that lie was falling asleep. But he was not aware of any subsequent blankness. He seemed to regain full consciousness almost immediately.

HE was in a queer little room. It seemed to he an eight-foot cube, the hollow interior of the building block of some Brobdignagian infant. But while it was indeed eight feet in all three dimensions, it could hardly be oiled a cube, for the walls melted into one another and into the floor and ceiling in smooth curves that appealed to Markham's architectural nature. There was not an angle in the place. Against one wall was a neat little metal cot with a peculiar mattress which, he found by testing, was simply an inflated rubber pad tucked inside of an immaculate white sheet. That was the sum total of bed clothing. He was quick to surmise that as there were no coverings, warmth must be supplied in some other manner. He looked aliout him again, and was amazed ...

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