Alan E.Nourse

The Fifty-Fourth Of July

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The Fifty-Fourth of July by Alan E. Nourse - Matt had to destroy the rocket because it was a symbol of evil that had brought economic disaster. But must he also destroy—the future?
It was well after dark when Matt Matthews got back down to the headquarters camp, and saw the city stranger sitting there before the fire. He knew he was a city man after a single glance at the shiny, low-topped shoes and the reminiscence of a crease in the dusty trousers. Matt tossed the gophers and the two small coyotes off his broad shoulders to old Moe Arhelger, across the campfire, staring in suspicious silence from the stranger to Moe and back again. "Who's he?" he asked finally.
"He wants to go down to the Ship," said Moe, tossing another stick into the fire. He was a thin, wiry old man, with a white rim of beard scraggling over his lean jaw. A short-bit pipe was clenched between a set of very bad teeth. On his head was a torn, filthy old felt hat, but his clear blue eyes held the silent confidence of authority. The old man puffed quietly as he glanced up at the young giant who had just arrived. "His name's Loevy—he says. Flew over from El Paso this morning in a 'copter, just to see me. Even knew my name—"
"Everybody in New Mexico knows your name," Matthews growled.
The old man nodded, his eyes bright. "Mr. Loevy wants to go down to the Ship tonight."
Matt stared at the stranger's half-day stubble. Then he burst out laughing. "That's what we all want to do, buddy. Just go down to the Ship. That's all. Only trouble is, the Bulldog isn't ready to lay out the welcome mat for us just yet." He glanced over at Moe. "Did the doc say anything about Jack Abel?"
"Jack's dead. Three slugs in the head."
Scott Miller
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