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SPACE SCIENCE FICTION, NOVEMBER, 1952

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY

BY MICHAEL SHAARA

She wanted to be a mother—to have a child
of her own, with everything that went with
the act of birth. But she was in the wrong
world for that. There was the freeze....

His baby was due at four that afternoon. His baby, was all he kept thinking, his son. He lived through the long morning of that day tense-nerved and grinning. He left the office early and was home before noon.

Although he had been gone only a few hours, when he arrived home he felt a superb and wonderful joy of homecoming that he had not known since the first days of his marriage. He bounded through the door and into the kitchen of his home, caught up his wife with a great, lusty hug, and all the while said nothing, but just stood grinning, foolishly, like a happy bull.

"My goodness!" she said. "Put me down!"

He did but kept grinning. He wanted to say all the silly things; most of all he wanted to say "little mother" so that they could both laugh at the wonder of it. He wanted to hug her, too, but now he put her down, docilely, and sat at the kitchen table and began to eat lunch.

"Did you bring the check, Dave?" his wife asked.

"Yes," he said, although he thought such a question, well... inappropriate at a time like this. "But I didn't fill the name in," he said. "Are you sure you want another David?"

She nodded, her face turned away. It occurred to him for the first time that she did not look happy. On this day of all days, not happy! He was thunderstruck. He rose immediately and went to her, catching her shoulders in his hands.

"Look, honey," he said slowly, "Jean, if you don't like the name..."

"Oh no," she said quickly, over her shoulder. "The name is fine."

"I thought, well," he faltered, "I wanted to have him named after me, but—"

Jean turned, smiled up at him warmly.

"David's a good name. The best name." She perched on tiptoe to kiss him quickly. "Don't worry about me, darling, I'm just nervous." She walked past him to the table. "Eat your lunch," she said.

All worry flowed out of his mind. Dave sat down again, his eyes following the small, slim form of his wife as she moved in the kitchen. He grinned happily, absently ate his. lunch, spilled coffee all over the table.


At three forty-five, shortly before the baby was to be delivered, they were together in the waiting room. Dave by this time had commenced to twitch. There was of course nothing that could possibly go wrong. He was not bothered with that, what he was feeling now was a sensation of vast inadequacy. The stupendous prospect of being a father simply overwhelmed him. And so he smoked and twitched and stared at the waiting room door, while Jean beside him was... perfectly calm.

Had Dave been able to notice his wife, to see her clearly, he would have realized with alarm that she was not at all nervous. Or happy. Her face was set without lines, was cold. It was as if she was not feeling at all.

The baby, young Dave, was delivered promptly at four. He was not a beautiful baby. He was very red and noisy. The big Dave thought so but did not say so. He stood there quietly now, holding the boy, the grin long forgotten in staring at the living little thing he had created.

It was Jean who paid the check.

With a faint white hint of paleness in her cheeks, she watched as the government clerk recorded the delivery and gave her a receipt, stamped out a flowery new certificate of birth. At five after four they left the delivery room. In ten more minutes they were home, having been gone not quite an hour.


Except for a plain table which was sunken by the wall, the freeze compartment was completely empty. Mr. Cutter felt an expectant chill at the cold bareness of the place, walked in to the center of the room and idly fingered the table. There was a port, at least. He tested and found that he could see out of it from a sitting position on the table. He was glad of that. He wanted to see open space again, to look out upon Earth for one last time.

Some of the other passengers were freezing already. Mr. Cutter could hear the clink of sealing doors down the passageway. He left the door of his own room open, sat uncomfortably on the table and stared out through the port.

He felt the ship lift under him with a sharp lurch, swore quietly at the hardness of the table. There were no more sudden moves after that, just a Steady, gliding feeling of heaviness. He saw the maze that was Yorkport falling away below, fading in a cloud mist that closed in between. Gradually the white of the cloud was gone, until around him he could see only the speckled gleams of the upper atmosphere, and down below Earth waB become an immense and silvery plate, shining ever more brilliantly as he rose up into the black.

While Mr. Cutter was leaning forward into the port and staring, hands braced against the wall, a young lieutenant of the crew knocked quietly at his door. Mr. Cutter turned.

"You have an hour, sir," the lieutenant said respectfully. "Everyone must be frozen before acceleration begins."

"I know," said Cutter, and then, embarrassed: "I'd just like to... watch... for a while."

The lieutenant nodded. It was not a really unusual thing. There were still some people left who did not use the freeze fanatically, like a drug, to save for another time each possible moment of their lives. Some, but not many.

"Shall I inform you of the time?" the lieutenant asked.

"No, please," said Cutter, "don't bother. I'll go automatically with the ship. I'll make sure to strap myself in."

The lieutenant smiled amiably and left.

An hour, Cutter thought. He turned to look out of the port again. Now there was nothing there. Earth was a clear green light mixed in with the rest, mixed and lost among the billion ice chips of the stars.

After a while he left the port, ...

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