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STIRRING SCIENCE FICTION MARCH, 1942

BLIND FLIGHT

by Millard Verne Gordon

When the conquest of space is accomplished, do not suppose that it will be like navigating a celestial sea. Sailors see the sea but space-fliers may never see the stars!


EDWARD SEDGWICK took a last glimpse at the steel sphere he was to occupy for the next few days, glanced once again at the blue sky, shook hands with the head of the Commission on Space Flight, climbed up the metal ladder and crawled into the circular orifice just under the sphere's equator. As he progressed on hands and knees down the narrow tubular passage, the hissings and clicks of the thick metal plug being fastened hermetically behind him, brought to his attention that he was now entirely cut off from the world of man.

The huge ball, towards whose exact center he so laboriously crawled, was about one hundred feet in diameter and perfectly spherical. Though the outer surface was honeycombed with vents and sensitive cells, there was no window or viewing porte of any description. Sedgwick was being interred alive in the middle of this globe of metal, yet, as the clicks of other metal partitions fell into place behind him, he was not afraid in the slightest.

He had wondered whether he would feel fear when the day for the real test came. Sometimes he had awakened at night with a cold sweat and a ghastly dream of burial alive in an iron coffin. Yet now, as he. neared the little bubble in the core, he realized in a detached objective sort of way that he was quite calm and collected. He knew that was the factor which had made him desirable for this job, nonetheless each time he realized it, it came as a sort of surprise.

Now he climbed down into the control bubble and the last disc swung shut, sealing off the passage. He seated himself in the heavily cushioned arm-chair that swung so marvelously on universal pivots. He could swing this chair around by merely shifting his body so that it could face any conceivable part of the perfectly globoid interior of his chamber. No matter to the fact that if he tried it now he might be hanging upside down. Very soon things like up and down would cease to exist save as unfunctioning markings on two or three of the innumerable dials and meters that studded the control bubble's interior. He could reach out with a hand and touch anything in it, so small was it, yet he was not stifled or crowded. He had switched on the air and conditioning mechanism as soon as he entered and he knew that the living conditions in the tiny room would remain habitable and comfortable indefinitely.

Fool-proof automatic controls were in operation. The air was constantly being cleansed and replaced. The temperature of the chamber would never vary by more than two degrees no matter what the outs...

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