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 I ll put up money to pay full insurance coverage on you and your ship.
 What good will that do us if we re not around to collect it? someone piped
from the back of the room.
 Let s look at facts, Sean said.  Either you men are pilots or you aren t.
This weather isn t going to let up; it s with us to stay. You have to fly in
it or get a job digging ditches. The money you have sunk in your planes is
going to be a total loss unless you use them no one else will want them. I m
giving you a chance to make some money to replace that loss.
 I d rather dig ditches in the ground than the ocean, one pilot said.
 Yeah, mister, another said.  If you wanted to go some place overland, I d
say  swell hop aboard. But this ocean stuff is suicide, now. Storms pop up
out of nowhere, even if you can get off the ground. You might just as well run
into a hurricane or typhoon as not. No, sir, not for me.
 Let me tell you this, then, Sean began.  I m on important business important
for all of us, important for the future of the world. I wouldn t risk my neck
for anything less.
 What do you mean important?
 I can t tell you everything, but it has to do with the moon and its present
condition. If I m successful, it may bring the moon back to normal.
 If it s so important, one of them said skeptically,  why don t you get the
navy to fly you.
 There are reasons I can t explain why that is impossible, Sean said, pulling
out his billfold.  I am, however, an agent of the government.
He pulled out the card Ed had given him. One of the pilots glanced at it.
 That don t mean a thing, he said.  We ve all got those.
 All right, Sean said.  Is anybody willing to risk it?
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The silence was sullen.
 Aren t there any men left around here? Sean said desperately.
One of the pilots, a big man in his flight jacket, stuck his nose close to
Sean s face.
 I don t take that from anybody, he said savagely.
 Why don t you do something about it? Sean said quietly.  Like flying me
where I want to go.
The man glared at him for a moment and spun on his heel.  I got a family,
mister, he said.  They come first.
THE REST GOT UP and slowly followed him. Finally the room was cleared except
for Sean and an average-size blond fellow in a shabby leather jacket. He was
grinning.
 Well, Sean said bitterly,  why don t you follow your buddies?
 Sorry, mister, he said, tossing his curly hair.  I didn t want to make the
other guys feel bad; I ll take that job.
 What s the matter, Sean asked,  no family?
 Nope, he said, grinning. He got up and stretched.  All I got is me and my
plane; I just like to fly.
 Amphibious?
 Yep, he said.  Range: ten-thousand miles, if we load her to the limit. I had
a service to the Islands before the storms blew up. She s a sweet ship.
 I ll pay you five thousand dollars for the trip, plus insurance for you and
your ship.
 Just the ship, mister, the pilot grinned.  I don t want anybody happy if I
don t come back.
 O.K., Sean said. The fellow s grin was infectious.  I m Sean Sean Casey.
 I m John Storm, the pilot said and cocked an ear to the sound of the hail
outside.  Well named, eh?
Sean grinned.  May the better storm win.
Storm lit a cigarette and drew in a deep puff of smoke. Releasing it slowly,
he spoke through the smoke.  When do we leave?
 As soon as the ship is ready.
 That s pretty damn quick, Storm said.  All we gotta do is put a little extra
gas in her. Let s go.
Sean hesitated for a moment. His scruples won out.  It s only fair that I tell
you this much, he said.
 We re heading for a spot I m not even sure exists. If it does, I don t know
what we may be getting into.
Our chances are probably pretty slim of getting through the whole mess alive.
You can back out if you want to.
 Thanks for telling me, Sean, Storm said.  But I ve always been crazy and
this is no time to change.
Sean s expression lightened.  Let s go, he said.
They spent a few minutes in a large office of the main terminal. Storm called
the hangar to have them
service the ship, and they signed a few papers. On their way out of the room,
Sean saw one of the typists look up from her work. Her expression was worried.
 Leaving again, Johnny?
 Keep a light in the window for me, he said gayly.
 You be careful now, she demanded fiercely.
He grinned broadly and threw her a kiss.  Sure will, Honey.
Another pretty girl stopped them in the hall.  Johnny! she said.  You aren t
flying today.
 Sure am, honey, he said.  Miss me? [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]