By Ross Rocklynne
A science fiction
short story in the anthology Again, Dangerous Visions
edited by Harlan Ellison
, ca. 1972.
The story is about a mostly-human
military type who flees Earth
the day before the inhabitants blow it to smithereens
. His faster than light
ship takes him to planet Zephyrus
, a shunned but worshipful former colony
, where he plans
to live it up
for the few years before evidence
of Earth's demise
An interesting passage early on goes thus:
"Hi hi" she said. "Ips!"
"Ips!" said Chug.
"Rightly. What we want to know, we the teeming teenagers
of our worshipping planet,
what we want to know is, what does it
"What - uh - does
"Yah. Flickly. What's the WORD
"The word," said Chug. "Hah! The WORD
!?? Ah." Out of his intuition
, he desperately selected the answer. "Ching
- that's the word!"
"Ching!" she screamed on sudden tip-toe
, then clapping her hand over her mouth. "Halla-hoo! I'm sorry!" she said to the assembled
officials who nonetheless watched her and listened to her with what seemed a supreme indulgence
. She raised her voice again, however, and she had one of those healthy, tingly, musical female voices
that could knock over fences.
"Hah, all witches
," she shouted. "Ching's the WORD
! That's what does it!"
The bewinged television screens
flipped and sailed and a myriad thin screams
Rather a prophetic