Cabal can be found in




ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



Super Science Stories VOL. 5 JANUARY 1949 NO. 1

CABAL

By Cleve Cartmill

SHALLON cursed as he realized that his rod was empty.

He wrenched it from the control socket of the public taxi and, with dark eyes on the gray-haired young woman who was taking off in another taxi, ran across the roof to the dispensing booth. The attendant eyed Shallon's uniform with cold insolence.

"What do you want, monte?"

"Refill!" Shallon snapped, and thrust his empty rod through the wicket. "Hurry!"

"Okay, okay," the man drawled. "Keep your shorts on. That'll be four dollars."

"I haven't any money with me. Take my name and rank. Colonel Robert Shallon, Unit Ten, Center City."

"Oh, no, monte. Cash on the plastic."

Shallon jerked his eyes briefly from the girl who was now some hundred feet above the roof. "Do you want to be arrested?" he snarled. "This is official business!"

The attendant whitened around the mouth at the word "arrested." With almost frantic haste he jotted down the information and pushed a roll of slugs through the wicket. Shallon snatched it up and ran back to the ranks of empty taxis.

He jumped into one of the little planes, jammed his rod into the control socket, and pressed the button which dropped a slug through the energizing slot. He pulled back his rod and the plane shot upward.

Still with his eyes fixed on his quarry, he pushed the rod forward at the proper level and relaxed as her taxi ceased to shrink into the distance.

He had a hunch about this girl. He felt sure that she would lead him to the Cabal, the underground group which was responsible for apparently haphazard sabotage. She must be connected with those rebels who harried General Wickenstein. At the end of their previous meeting, a few months ago, the cold, impersonal contempt with which she had spat into Shallon's face showed that she must be active in the growing revolt against the military which he symbolized.

Slowly her course changed. She crossed the river at an acute angle and swung over the rolling green acres of Center City's southeastern park.

They were the only two planes in this area of sky, and Shallon eased back on his rod, allowing the girl to increase the distance between them. She was a black dot on the horizon when he pushed forward again at full speed.

He remembered her "You beast!" when she had spat on him in the street, and the lines around his youthful mouth hardened. No man likes that, not even a man fresh from Psycho Center, fully adjusted and objective.

That was part of the reason he had dashed from his apartment when he had seen her pass on the street. The rest and most important part was treasonable and, as he well knew, he might, face the Hammonds of a firing squad for his pains.

White squares of playgrounds drifted beneath him as the dot of the girl's taxi settled on a distant plateau. Shallon marked the place and swung wide to approach it from the other side.

He caught the bright flash of her taxi and set down in a nearby clearing among thin oaks.

As he moved from cover to cover parallel with footprints in the crushed grass, he reflected that the Cabal had selected its meeting place intelligently. Within the sprawling borders orf Center City, no spot was less suspect than the public parks.

HE FOUND her sitting by a fern-banked stream, idly watching her coral-tipped fingers in the clear water. For an hour Shallon remained cramped behind a clump of laurel and watched her continue this aimless pastime.

She played in the water, apparently waiting for no one, wanting nothing but solitude. When Shallon had reached the limit of his patience, she flipped sun-jeweled drops from her fingers and pressed her wristwatch.

Shallon heard the time signal:

"When the tone sounds, the time will be exactly fourteen-o'-seven and one quarter, Center City."

Shallon got to his feet, and the sound of his rising brought her upright on tanned legs. Her silvered head was tipped back alertly, and her eyes were wide and blue. One slender hand was clenched; the other rested lightly on the butt of her Hammond, which swung from her belt against blue and yellow shorts.

"I'm a friend," Shallon said quietly.

"I can see you are by your uniform," she said bitterly. "It used to mean friendliness, all right. And warmth, and safety. But now—God knows what it means now."

"I'm proud of mine," Shallon said. "It still means those things, as far as I'm concerned. You can take your hand off your Hammond." He had a sudden thought. "Where did you get it? I suppose you know it's illega...

This is only a preview of this story. The site administrator is evaluating methods to bring it to you.