Read The Sheep Look Up Online

Authors: John Brunner

The Sheep Look Up

eVersion 2.0 - click for scan notes

THE SHEEP LOOK UP

John Brunner

To Isobel Grace Sauer (nee Rosamond) 1887-1970

In Memoriam

CONTENTS

DECEMBER

PROSPECTUS

CARNAGE

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

NOT IN OUR STARS

A ROOST FOR CHICKENS

ENTRAINED

ITS A GAS

THE OPPOSITE OF OVENS

THE BLEEDING HEART IS A RUNNING SORE

THE ROOT OF THE TROUBLE

DEFICIT

IN SPITE OF HAVING CHARITY A MAN LIKE SOUNDING

BRASS

SPACE FOR THIS INSERTION IS DONATED BY THE

PUBLISHERS AS A SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

HOUSE TO HOUSE

THE MORAL OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

BADMIXTURE

RELIEF

JANUARY

MARCHING ORDERS

ABOVE THE SOUND OF SPEED

SNOW JOB

CHARGE ACCOUNT

RATS

NO BIGGER THAN A MAN'S HAND

MEMENTO LAURAE

AHEAD OF THE NEWS

IT FIGURES

COME CLEAN

YOU DIG

THE TINIEST TRACE

AND IT GOES ON

EARTHMOVER

SHOWDOWN

FEBRUARY

IN PRAISE OF BIOCIDE

THIS HURTS ME MORE

THE CONTINUING DEBATE

FIRE WHEN READY

THE NATURAL LOOK

POSSESSION IS NINE POINTS

THE OFFER OF RESISTANCE

THE INDISPENSABLE ASSISTANTS

BROKENMINDED

EAT IT IN GOOD HEALTH

THE STRONG CAME FORTH

MY FINGERS ARE GREEN AND SOMETIMES DROP OFF

THE REARING OF THE UGLY HEAD

DISGRACE

NOT MAKING HEADLINES

A CALL TO ALMS

MARCH

LONG MULTIPLICATION

A SIFT OF INSECTS

A STRAW TO A DROWNING MAN

RIPOSTE

THE PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE

PICK YOURSELF UP AND START OVER

LAB REPORT

THE MARVELS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION

RAVELED SLEEVE

APRIL

HERO FIDDLING

A VICTIM OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR

DON'T TOUCH

REHEARSAL

BEFORE WE ARE SO RUDELY INTERRUPTED

BLEST ARE THE PURE IN BOWEL

THE TRIAL RUNS

MAY

GRAB WHILE THE GRABBING'S GOOD

BLANKET

THUS FAR: NO FATHER

THE ILL WIND

SIDE EFFECTS

OVERCAST

FROM THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH

THE DOG DAYS

A PLAN TO MAP THE PLANET

BURNING YOUR BRIDGES BEFORE YOU COME TO THEM

THE UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT

BY THE DEAD SEA

JUNE

A VIEW STILL EXTREMELY WIDELY ADHERED TO

STEAM ENGINE TIME

IF IT MOVES, SHOOT IT

A PLACE TO STAND

THE GO SIGNAL

RIGHT ABOUT NOW

COMPANIONS IN ADVERSITY

BUILDUP OF FORCES

CRITICAL

JULY

GALLOPING CONSUMPTION

FUSE

THE CRUNCH

BLOWBACK

OUT IN THE OPEN, SHUT UP

EARTHWAKE

THIS ISN'T THE END OF THE WORLD, IS IT?

SCRATCHED

PRIME TIME OVER TARGET

BACK IN FOCUS

AUGUST

FOLLOWED BY THE EXPLOSIVE HARPOON

THE GRASS IS ALWAYS BROWNER

WATERSHED

HAVE YOU SEEN ANY OF THESE INSECTS?

LOW SUMMER

UNABLE NOW TO SEE THE MOUNTAINS

FED UP

BACK

CHECK AND BALANCE

THE END OF A LONG DARK TUNNEL

DIRECT HIT

THE GENUINE ARTICLE

INSUSCEPTIBLE OF RIGOROUS ANALYSIS

SEPTEMBER

MOTHER-RAPERS

STANDSTILL

FRAUGHT

A SHIFT OF EMPHASIS

MINE ENEMIES ARE DELIVERED INTO MY HAND

TO NAME BUT A FEW

CONSPECTUS

MEMORANDUM

THE IMAGE

SPASM

FIT

THE DESCENT INTO HELL

THE REFERRED PAIN

OUT OF HAND

OCTOBER

THE TICK-TOCK MEN

STATEMENT OF EMERGENCY

THATS TELLING 'EM!

GETTING STRAIGHT

THE ROUGH DRAFT

ACID TRIP

WORK IN PROGRESS

HOMECOMING

MAKING A GOOD RECOVERY

EVEN KEEL

THE LATE NEWS

NOVEMBER

WHEREWITHAL SHALL IT BE SALTED?

ALIAS

THERE IS HOPE YET

ARMED

THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION

THE RATIONAL PROPOSAL

THE SMOKE OF THAT GREAT BURNING

NEXT YEAR

PL

EA

SE

HE

LP

KE

EP

PIE

R

CL

EA

N

TH

RO

W

RE

FU

SE

OV

ER

SID

E

-Sign pictured in
God's Own Junkyard,

edited by Peter Blake

DECEMBER

PROSPECTUS

The day shall dawn when never child but may
Go forth upon the sward secure to play.

No cruel wolves shall trespass in their nooks,
Their lore of lions shall come from picture-books.

No aging tree a falling branch shall shed

To strike an unsuspecting infant's head.

From forests shall be tidy copses born

And every desert shall become a lawn.

Lisping their stories with competing zest,

One shall declare, "I come from out the West,
Where Grandpa toiled the fearful sea to take
And pen it tamely to a harmless lake!"

Another shall reply, "My home's the East,
Where, Mama says, dwelt once a savage beast
Whose fangs he oft would bare in horrid rage-Indeed, I've seen one, safely in a cage!"

Likewise the North, where once was only snow,
The rule of halls and cottages shall know,

The lovely music of a baby's laugh,

The road, the railway and the telegraph,

And eke the South; the oceans round the Pole
Shall be domestic. What a noble goal!

Such dreams unfailingly the brain inspire

And to exploring Englishmen do fire…

-"Christmas in the New Rome," 1862

CARNAGE

Hunted?

By wild animals?

In broad daylight on the Santa Monica freeway? Mad! Mad!

It was the archetype of nightmare: trapped, incapable of moving, with monstrous menacing beasts edging closer. Backed up for better than a mile, three lanes trying to cram into an exit meant for two, reeking and stalking and roaring. For the time being, though, he was more afraid of running than of staying where he was.

Bright fangs repeating the gray gleam of the clouds, a cougar.

Claws innocent of any sheath, a jaguar.

Winding up to strike, a cobra.

Hovering, a falcon. Hungry, a barracuda.

However, when his nerve finally broke and he tried running, it wasn't any of these that got him, but a stingray.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

THI

S

BE

AC

H

NO

T

SA

FE

FO

R

SWI

MMI

NG

NO

T

Drin

king

Wat

er

UN

FIT

FO

R

HU

MA

N

CO

NS

UM

PTI

ON

No

w

Wa

sh

You

r

Han

ds

(Pe

nalt

y

for

non

com

plia

nce

$50

)

FIL

TE

RM

AS

K

DIS

PE

NS

ER

Use

pro

duct

onc

e

only

-ma

xim

um

1

hour

OX

YG

EN

25¢

NOT IN OUR STARS

The radio said, "You deserve security, Stronghold-style!"

Blocking access to the company parking lot on the left of the street was a bus, huge, German, articulated, electric, discharging passengers.

Waiting impatiently for it to move on, Philip Mason pricked up his ears.

A commercial for a rival corporation?

The unctuous voice went on, backed by non-music from cellos and violas. "You deserve to sleep undisturbed. To go on vacations as long as you can afford, free from worry about the home you've left behind.

Don't they say a man's home is his castle-and shouldn't that be true for you?"

No. Not insurance. Some dirty property developer. What the hell was this bus stopped here for, anyhow? It belonged to the City of Los Angeles okay-right color, name painted on the side-but in place of a destination board it just had a stock sign, ON HIRE, and he couldn't see details of its occupants through its grimy windows. But that was hardly surprising since his own windshield was grimy, too. He had been going to hit the horn; instead, he hit the wash-and-wipe stud, and a moment later was glad of the choice he'd made. Now he could discern half a dozen dull-faced kids, three black, two yellow, one white, and the head of a crutch. Oh.

The speech from the radio continued. "What we've done for you is build that castle. Nightly, armed men stand guard at all our gates, the only points of access through our spike-topped walls. Stronghold Estates employ the best-trained staff. Our watchmen are drawn from the police, our sharpshooters are all ex-Marines."

Of whom there's no shortage since they kicked us out of Asia. Ah, the bus signaling a move. Easing forward past its tail and noting from the corner of his eye a placard in its rear window which identified the hiring organization as Earth Community Chest Inc., he flashed his lights at the car next behind, asking permission to cut in front. It was granted, he accelerated-and an instant later had to jam the brakes on again. A cripple was crossing the entrance to the lot, an Asiatic boy in his early teens, most likely Vietnamese, one leg shrunk and doubled up under the hip, his arms widespread to help him keep his balance on a sort of open aluminum cage with numerous straps.

Harold, thank God, isn't
that
bad.

All the armed gate-guards black. A prickling of sweat at the idea he might have run the boy down under the muzzles of their guns. Yellow means honorary black. It is sweet to have companions in adversity.

And, thinking of companions-Oh,
shut up
!

"There's never any need to fear for your children,'" mused the radio.

"Daily, armored buses collect them at your door, take them to the school of your choice. Never for a second are they out of sight of responsible, affectionate adults."

The boy completed his hopping* journey to where the sidewalk resumed, and Philip was finally able to ease his car forward. A guard recognized the company sticker on his windshield and hit the lift for the red-and-white pole that closed the lot. Sweating worse than ever, because he was horribly late and even though that wasn't his fault he was perfused with abstract guilt which made him feel vaguely that
everything
today was his fault, from the Baltimore bombings to the communist takeover in Bali, he stared around. Oh, shit. Packed solid.

There wasn't one gap he could squeeze into without guidance unless he wasted more precious time in sawing back and forth with inches to spare.

"They will play in air-conditioned recreation halls," the radio promised. "And whatever medical attention they may need is on hand twenty-four hours per day-at low, low contract rates!"

All right for someone earning a hundred thousand a year. For most of us even contract rates are crippling; I should know. Aren't any of those guards going to help me park? Hell, no, all going back to their posts.

Furious, he wound down his window and made violent beckoning gestures. At once the air made him cough and his eyes started to water.

He simply wasn't used to these conditions.

"And now a police flash," said the radio.

Maskless, his expression revealing a trace of-what? Surprise?

Contempt?-something, anyway, which was a comment on this charley who couldn't even breathe straight air without choking, the nearest guard moved toward him, sighing.

"Rumors that the sun is out at Santa Ynez are without foundation,"

the radio said. "I'll repeat that." And did, barely audible against the drone of an aircraft invisible over cloud. Philip piled out, clawing a five-dollar bill from his pocket

"Take care of this thing for me, will you? I'm Mason, Denver area manager. I'm late for a conference with Mr. Chalmers."

He got that much said before he doubled over in another fit of coughing. The acrid air ate at the back of his throat; he could imagine the tissues becoming horny, dense, impermeable. If this job's likely to involve me in frequent trips to LA I'm going to have to buy a filter-mask. And the hell with looking sissy. Saw on the way here it isn't only girls who wear them any more.

Other books
Midnight Dolphin by James Carmody
The Virgins by Pamela Erens
The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie
Red Angel by Helen Harper
War Orphans by Lizzie Lane
Art & Lies by Jeanette Winterson
Ring Roads by Patrick Modiano