Our Children's Children

Our Children's Children

by Clifford D. Simak

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Overview

Fleeing a carnivorous race of alien monsters, the entire surviving human population from five hundred years in the future escapes into the present in this thrilling science fiction adventure from one of the Golden Age greats

Our human descendants from five centuries in the future are coming to visit—all one billion of them—arriving via tunnels through time. Even though the present is merely a stopover and their ultimate destination is the age of the dinosaurs, their arrival has caused a worldwide uproar. Some folks want them gone and some want to go with them, as governments and powerful corporations alike scheme to get their hands on remarkable, potentially profitable time travel technology. There is a dark and terrifying reason, however, for the visitors’ abrupt arrival. Our frightened descendants are seeking sanctuary from carnivorous aliens who have descended upon the future Earth, a threat that could mean the rapid destruction of the entire human race. And the end could come sooner than anyone imagined—for some of the intelligent, rapidly breeding extraterrestrial monsters who have been devouring our children’s children may well have followed their prey back to the now.
 
A speculative fiction master who stands alongside Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein in the pantheon of Golden Age science fiction gods, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Clifford D. Simak delivers an alien invasion tale that is at once wildly imaginative, seriously thought-provoking, and just plain fun.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504024099
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/01/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 266,635
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

During his fifty-five-year career, Clifford D. Simak produced some of the most iconic science fiction stories ever written. Born in 1904 on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin, Simak got a job at a small-town newspaper in 1929 and eventually became news editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writing fiction in his spare time.

Simak was best known for the book City, a reaction to the horrors of World War II, and for his novel Way Station. In 1953 City was awarded the International Fantasy Award, and in following years, Simak won three Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award. In 1977 he became the third Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and before his death in 1988, he was named one of three inaugural winners of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
During his fifty-five-year career, CLIFFORD D. SIMAK produced some of the most iconic science fiction stories ever written. Born in 1904 on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin, Simak got a job at a small-town newspaper in 1929 and eventually became news editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writing fiction in his spare time.
Simak was best known for the book City, a reaction to the horrors of World War II, and for his novel Way Station. In 1953 City was awarded the International Fantasy Award, and in following years, Simak won three Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award. In 1977 he became the third Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and before his death in 1988, he was named one of three inaugural winners of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Read an Excerpt

Our Children's Children


By Clifford D. Simak

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1974 UPD
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-2409-9


CHAPTER 1

Bentley Price, photographer for Global News Service, had put a steak on the broiler and settled down in a lawn chair, with a can of beer in hand, to watch it, when the door opened underneath an ancient white oak tree and people started walking out of it.

It had been many years since Bentley Price had been astounded. He had come, through bitter experience, to expect the unusual and to think but little of it. He took pictures of the unusual, the bizarre, the violent, then turned around and left, sometimes most hurriedly, for there was competition such as the AP and the UPI, and an up-and-coming news photographer could allow no grass to grow beneath his feet, and while picture editors certainly were not individuals to be feared, it was often wise to keep them mollified.

But now Bentley was astounded, for what was happening was not something that could easily be imagined, or ever reconciled to any previous experience. He sat stiff in his chair, with the beer can rigid in his hand and with a glassy look about his eyes, watching the people walking from the door. Although now he saw it wasn't any door, but just a ragged hole of darkness which quivered at the edges and was somewhat larger than any ordinary door, for people were marching out of it four and five abreast.

They seemed quite ordinary people, although they were dressed a bit outlandishly, as if they might be coming home from a masquerade, although they weren't masked. If they all had been young, he would have thought they were from a university or a youth center or something of the sort, dressed up in the crazy kind of clothes that college students wore, but while some of them were young, there were a lot of them who weren't.

One of the first who had walked out of the door onto the lawn was a rather tall and thin man, but graceful in his thinness when he might have gangled. He had a great unruly mop of iron-gray hair and his neck looked like a turkey's. He wore a short gray skirt that ended just above his knobby knees and a red shawl draped across one shoulder and fastened at his waist by a belt that also held the skirt in place and he looked, Bentley told himself, like a Scot in kilts, but without the plaid.

Beside him walked a young woman dressed in a white and flowing robe that came down to her sandaled feet. The robe was belted and her intense black hair, worn in a ponytail, hung down to her waist. She had a pretty face, thought Bentley — the kind of prettiness that one very seldom saw, and her skin, what little could be seen of it, was as white and clear as the robe she wore.

The two walked toward Bentley and stopped in front of him.

"I presume," said the man, "that you are the proprietor."

There was something wrong with the way he talked. He slurred his words around, but was entirely understandable.

"I suppose," said Bentley, "you mean do I own the joint."

"Perhaps I do," the other said. "My speech may not be of this day, but you seem to hear me rightly."

"Sure I do," said Bentley, "but what about this day? You mean to tell me you speak different every day?"

"I do not mean that at all," said the man. "You must pardon our intrusion. It must appear unseemly. We'll endeavor not to harm your property."

"Well, I tell you, friend," said Bentley, "I don't own the place. I'm just holding down the homestead for an absent owner. Will you ask those people not to go tramping over flower beds? Joe's missus will be awful sore if she comes home and finds those flowers messed up. She sets store by them."

All the time that they'd been talking, people had been coming through the door and now they were all over the place and spilling over into the yards next door and the neighbors were coming out to see what was going on.

The girl smiled brightly at Bentley. "I think you can be easy about the flowers," she said. "These are good people, well-intentioned folks, and on their best behavior."

"They count upon your sufferance," said the man. "They are refugees."

Bentley took a good look at them. They didn't look like refugees. In his time, in many different parts of the world, he had photographed a lot of refugees. Refugees were grubby people and they usually packed a lot of plunder, but these people were neat and clean and they carried very little, a small piece of luggage, perhaps, or a sort of attaché case, like the one the man who was speaking with him had tucked underneath one arm.

"They don't look like refugees to me," he said. "Where are they refugeeing from?"

"From the future," said the man. "We beg utmost indulgence of you. What we are doing, I assure you, is a matter of life and death."

That shook Bentley up. He went to take a drink of beer and then decided not to and, reaching down, set the beer can on the lawn. He rose slowly from his chair.

"I tell you, mister," he said, "if this is some sort of publicity stunt I won't lift a camera. I wouldn't take no shot of no publicity stunt, no matter what it was."

"Publicity stunt?" asked the man, and there could be no doubt that he was plainly puzzled. "I am sorry, sir. What you say eludes me."

Bentley took a close look at the door. People still were coming out of it, still four and five abreast, and there seemed no end to them. The door still hung there, as he first had seen it, a slightly ragged blob of darkness that quivered at the edges, blotting out a small section of the lawn, but behind and beyond it he could see the trees and shrubs and the play set in the back yard of the house next door.

If it was a publicity stunt, he decided, it was a top-notch job. A lot of PR jerks must have beat their brains out to dream up one like this. How had they rigged that ragged hole and where did all the people come from?

"We come," said the man, "from five hundred years into the future. We are fleeing from the end of the human race. We ask your help and understanding."

Bentley stared at him. "Mister," he asked, "you wouldn't kid me, would you? If I fell for this, I would lose my job."

"We expected, naturally," said the man, "to encounter disbelief. I realize there is no way we can prove our origin. We ask you, please, to accept us as what we say we are."

"I tell you what," said Bentley. "I will go with the gag. I will take some shots, but if I find it's publicity...."

"You are speaking, I presume, of taking photographs."

"Of course I am," said Bentley. "The camera is my business."

"We didn't come to have photographs taken of us. If you have some compunctions about this matter, please feel free to follow them. We will not mind at all."

"So you don't want your pictures taken," Bentley said fiercely. "You're like a lot of other people. You get into a jam and then you scream because someone snaps a picture of you."

"We have no objections," said the man. "Take as many pictures as you wish."

"You don't mind?" Bentley asked, somewhat confused.

"Not at all."

Bentley swung about, heading for the back door. As he turned, his foot caught the can of beer and sent it flying, spraying beer out of the hole.

Three cameras lay on the kitchen table, where he had been working with them before he'd gone out to broil the steak. He grabbed up one of them and was turning back toward the door when he thought of Molly. Maybe he better let Molly know about this, he told himself. The guy had said all these people were coming from the future and if that were true, it would be nice for Molly to be in on it from the start. Not that he believed a word of it, of course, but it was mighty funny, no matter what was going on.

He picked up the kitchen phone and dialed. He grumbled at himself. He was wasting time when he should be taking pictures. Molly might not be home. It was Sunday and a nice day and there was no reason to expect to find her home.

Molly answered.

"Molly, this is Bentley. You know where I live?"

"You're over in Virginia. Mooching free rent off Joe while he is gone."

"It ain't like that at all. I'm taking care of the place for him. Edna, she has all these flowers...."

"Ha!" said Molly.

"What I called about," said Bentley, "is would you come over here?"

"I will not," said Molly. "If you have in mind making passes at me, you have to take me out."

"I ain't making passes at no one," Bentley protested. "I got people walking out of a door all over the back yard. They say they're from the future, from five hundred years ahead."

"That's impossible," said Molly.

"That's what I think, too. But where are they coming from? There must be a thousand of them out there. Even if they're not from the future, it ought to be a story. You better haul your tail out here and talk with some of them. Have your byline in all the morning papers."

"Bentley, this is on the level?"

"On the level," Bentley said. "I ain't drunk and I'm not trying to trick you out here and...."

"All right," she said. "I'll be right out. You better call the office. Manning had to take the Sunday trick himself this week and he's not too happy with it, so be careful how you greet him. But he'll want to get some other people out there. If this isn't just a joke...."

"It's not any joke," said Bentley. "I ain't crazy enough to joke myself out of any job."

"I'll be seeing you," said Molly.

She hung up.

Bentley had started to dial the office number when the screen door slammed. He looked around and the tall, thin man stood just inside the kitchen.

"You'll pardon me," the tall man said, "but there seems to be a matter of some urgency. Some of the little folks need to use a bathroom. I wonder if you'd mind...."

"Help yourself," said Bentley, making a thumb in the direction of the bath. "If you need it, there's another one upstairs."

Manning answered after a half a dozen rings.

"I got a story out here," Bentley told him.

"Out where?"

"Joe's place. Out where I am living."

"O.K. Let's have it."

"I ain't no reporter," said Bentley. "I ain't supposed to get you stories. All I do is take the pictures. This is a big story and I might make mistakes and I ain't paid to take the heat...."

"All right," said Manning wearily. "I'll dig up someone to send out. But Sunday and overtime and all, it better be a good one."

"I got a thousand people out in the backyard, coming through a funny door. They say they're from the future...."

"They say they're from the what!" howled Manning.

"From the future. From five hundred years ahead."

"Bentley, you are drunk...."

"It don't make no never mind to me," said Bentley. "It's no skin off me. I told you. You do what you want."

He hung up and picked up a camera.

A steady stream of children, accompanied by some adults, were coming through the kitchen door.

"Lady," he said to one of the women, "there's another one upstairs. You better form two lines."

CHAPTER 2

Steve Wilson, White House press secretary, was heading for the door of his apartment and an afternoon with Judy Gray, his office secretary, when the phone rang. He retraced his steps to pick it up.

"This is Manning," said the voice at the other end.

"What can I do for you, Tom?"

"You got your radio turned on?"

"Hell, no. Why should I have a radio turned on?"

"There's something screwy going on," said Manning. "You should maybe know about it. Sounds like we're being invaded."

"Invaded!"

"Not that kind of invasion. People walking out of nothing. Say they're from the future."

"Look here — if this is a gag...."

"I thought so, too," said Manning. "When Bentley first called in...."

"You mean Bentley Price, your drunken photographer?"

"That's the one," said Manning, "but Bentley isn't drunk. Not this time. Too early in the day. Molly's out there now and I have sent out others. AP is on it now and...."

"Where is this all going on?"

"One place is over across the river. Not far from Falls Church."

"One place, you say...."

"There are others. We have it from Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis. AP just came in with a report from Denver."

"Thanks, Tom. I owe you."

He hung up, strode across the room and snapped on a radio.

"... so far known," said the radio. "Only that people are marching out of what one observer called a hole in the landscape. Coming out five and six abreast. Like a marching army, one behind the other, a solid stream of them. This is happening in Virginia, just across the river. We have similar reports from Boston, the New York area, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, Los Angeles. As a rule, not in the cities themselves, but in the country just beyond the cities. And here is another one — Atlanta, this time."

There was a quiver in the deadpan voice, betraying momentary unprofessional excitement.

"No one knows who they are or where they come from or by what means they are coming. They are simply here, walking into this world of ours. Thousands of them and more coming every minute. An invasion, you might call it, but not a warlike invasion. They are coming emptyhanded. They are quiet and peaceable. They're not bothering anyone. One unconfirmed report is that they are from the future, but that, on the face of it, is impossible...."

Wilson turned the radio to a whisper, went back to the phone and dialed.

The White House switchboard answered.

"That you, Delia? This is Steve. Where is the President?"

"He's taking a nap."

"Could you get someone to wake him? Tell him to turn on the radio. I am coming in."

"But, Steve, what is going on? What is...."

He broke the connection, dialed another number. After a time, Judy came on the line.

"Is there something wrong, Steve? I was just finishing packing the picnic basket. Don't tell me...."

"No picnic today, sweetheart. We're going back to work."

"On Sunday!"

"Why not on Sunday? We have problems. I'll be right along. Be outside, waiting for me."

"Damn," she said. "There goes my plan. I had planned to make you, right out in the open, on the grass, underneath the trees."

"I shall torture myself all day," said Wilson, "thinking what I missed."

"All right, Steve," she said. "I'll be outside waiting on the curb."

He turned up the radio. "... fleeing from the future. From something that happened in their future. Fleeing back to us, to this particular moment. There is, of course, no such thing as time travel, but there are all these people and they must have come from somewhere...."

CHAPTER 3

Samuel J. Henderson stood at the window, looking out across the rose garden, bright in the summer sun.

Why the hell, he wondered, did everything have to happen on Sunday, when everyone was scattered and it took no end of trouble to get hold of them? It had been on another Sunday that China had exploded and on still another that Chile had gone down the drain and here it was again — whatever this might be.

The intercom purred at him and, turning from the window, he went back to the desk and flipped up the key.

"The Secretary of Defense," said his secretary, "is on the line."

"Thank you, Kim," he said.

He picked up the phone. "Jim, this is Sam. You've heard?"

"Yes, Mr. President. Just a moment ago. On the radio. Just a snatch of it."

"That's all I have, too. But there seems no doubt. We have to do something, do it fast. Get the situation under control."

"I know. We'll have to take care of them. Housing. Food."

"Jim, the armed forces have to do the job. There is no one else who can move fast enough. We have to get them under shelter and keep them together. We can't let them scatter. We have to keep some sort of control over them, for a time at least. Until we know what is going on."

"We may have to call out the guard."

"I think," said the President, "perhaps we should. Use every resource at your command. You have inflatable shelters. How about transportation and food?"

"We can handle things for a few days. A week, maybe. Depends upon how many there are of them. In a very short time, we'll need help. Welfare. Agriculture. Whoever can lend a hand. We'll need a lot of manpower and supplies."

"You have to buy us some time," said the President. "Until we have a chance to look at what we have. You'll have to handle it on an emergency basis until we can settle on some plan. Don't worry too much about procedures. If you have to bend a few of them, we'll take care of that. I'll be talking to some of the others. Maybe we can all get together sometime late this afternoon or early evening. You are the first to call in. I've heard from none of the others."

"The CIA? The FBI?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Our Children's Children by Clifford D. Simak. Copyright © 1974 UPD. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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