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ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



Regeneration

by Charles Dye

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Not because man failed to understand his fellow man, but because he failed to understand himself.

There wasn't much left afterwards—after the golden showers of deadly dust and the blinding flashes that blotted out the light from the sun.

And all because man continued to confuse emotion with reason.

But somehow, as before, man survived... .

 

"Don't touch!" Sinzor's command shot through the chill morning air like an arrow.

The ragged little group of men stopped dead in their tracks and looked questioningly at their leader. He was pointing down to an object lying half-buried in the soil at his feet.

"Another death-thing, maybe," Sinzor said. "Another 'thing our ancestors made with which to destroy themselves." He peered around the semi-circle of men until he spotted the aged one with a leg missing. "Morge! See that this place is marked forbidden." The hunting party moved on and Morge stayed behind. He hobbled about, collecting sticks and stones, arranging them in the "forbidden-symbol" way to form a barrier around the 'thing. It was because of such a 'thing that he'd lost a leg in his youth. He both hated and feared the death-things his ancestors had so carelessly left lying about before they vanished. But that wasn't right. Morge scratched his grizzly old head and thought hard. According to Builder, wisest of their tribe, their ancestors hadn't all vanished; some of them had become the tribe—Sinzor, Builder, and even old Morge. Very puzzling. But it was all because of the death-things!

Puffing, Morge completed the barrier, then turned for a last look at the 'thing gleaming dully in the pale winter sunlight. How strange it looked. In no way did it resemble the usual death-things, most of which were long and round with little wings attached. This one was different, like nothing he'd ever seen before. It was boxlike with strange arms sticking up; and under the arms, half-buried, was a shelf or platform resembling vaguely the upper portion of two legs. The 'thing terrified Morge for a moment; then, in order to prove his courage to himself, he stepped forward and spat on it. Nothing happened. Sneering, he spat on it again and watched his spittle slowly run down its side over a strange marking like a thunderbolt—

Thunderbolt!

Suddenly Morge fell grovelling to his one good knee. It was Thor, god of thunder and lightning and god of the tribe!

And he had spat on Thor!

 

For nearly an hour he knelt there praying forgiveness for his sacrilege. Then, trembling, he tore off a piece of his goatskin and wiped the spittle off Thor's side, carefully began to uncover the remainder of Thor.

Finally he lifted Thor out of the hole and onto level ground. Kneeling once more, he took a small drink-scoop from his belt and placed it before Thor. Then he pulled out his knife and folded his single leg under him; bending over, he cut a gash in his wrist and let the blood flow into the scoop ...

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