#1
The Weapon

by Frederic Brown (1906 - 1972)


The room was quiet in the dimness of early evening. Dr. James Graham, key scientist of a very important project, sat in his favorite chair, thinking. It was so still that he could hear the turning of pages in the next room as his son leafed through a picture book.

Often Graham did his best work, his most creative thinking, under these circumstances, sitting alone in an unlighted room in his own apartment after the day's regular work. But tonight his mind would not work constructively. Mostly he thought about his mentally arrested son--his only son--in the next room. The thoughts were loving thoughts, not the bitter anguish he had felt years ago when he had first learned of the boy's condition. The boy was happy; wasn't that the main thing? And to how many men is given a child who will always be a child, who will not grow up to leave him? Certainly that was rationalization, but what is wrong with rationalization when-- The doorbell rang.

Graham rose and turned on lights in the almost-dark room before he went through the hallway to the door. He was not annoyed; tonight, at this moment, almost any Interruption to his thoughts was welcome.

He opened the door. A stranger stood there; he said, "Dr. Graham? My name is Niemand; I'd like to talk to you. May I come in a moment?"

Graham looked at him. He was a small man, nondescript, obviously harmless--possibly a reporter or an insurance agent.

But it didn't matter what he was. Graham found himself saying, "Of course. Come in, Mr. Niemand." A few minutes of conversation, he justified himself by thinking, might divert his thoughts and clear his mind.

"Sit down," he said, in the living room. "Care for a drink?"

Niemand said, "No, thank you." He sat in the chair; Graham sat on the sofa.

The small man interlocked his fingers; he leaned forward. He said, "Dr. Graham, you are the man whose scientific work is more likely than that of any other man to end the human race's chance for survival."

A crackpot, Graham thought. Too late now he realized that he should have asked the man's business before admitting him. It would be an embarrassing interview--he disliked being rude, yet only rudeness was effective.

"Dr. Graham, the weapon on which you are working--"

The visitor stopped and turned his head as the door that led to a bedroom opened and a boy of fifteen came in. The boy didn't notice Niemand; he ran to Graham.

"Daddy, will you read to me now?" The boy of fifteen laughed the sweet laughter of a child of four.

Graham put an arm around the boy. He looked at his visitor, wondering whether he had known about the boy. From the lack of surprise on Niemand's face, Graham felt sure he had known.

"Harry"--Grab am's voice was warm with affection"Daddy's busy. Just for a little while. Go back to your room; I'll come and read to you soon."

"Chicken Little? You'll read me Chicken Little?"

"If you wish. Now run along. Wait. Harry, this is Mr. Niemand."

The boy smiled bashfully at the visitor. Niemand said, "Hi, Harry," and smiled back at him, holding out his hand. Graham, watching, was sure now that Niemand had known: the smile and the gesture were for the boy's mental age, not his physical one.

The boy took Niemand's hand. For a moment it seemed that he was going to climb into Niemand's lap, and Graham pulled him back gently. He said, "Go to your room now, Harry."

The boy skipped back into his bedroom, not closing the door.

Niemand's eyes met Graham's and he said, "I like him," with obvious sincerity. He added, "I hope that what you're going to read to him will always be true."

Graham didn't understand. Niemand said, "Chicken Little, I mean. It's a fine story--but may Chicken Little always be wrong about the sky falling down."

Graham suddenly had liked Niemand when Niemand had shown liking for the boy. Now he remembered that he must close the interview quickly. He rose, in dismissal.

He said, "I fear you're wasting your time and mine, Mr. Niemand. I know all the arguments, everything you can say I've heard a thousand times. Possibly there is truth in what you believe, but it does not concern me. I'm a scientist, and only a scientist. Yes, it is public knowledge that I am working on a weapon, a rather ultimate one. But, for me personally, that is only a by-product of the fact that I am advancing science. I have thought it through, and I have found that that is my only concern."

"But, Dr. Graham, is humanity ready for an ultimate weapon?"

Graham frowned. "I have told you my point of view, Mr. Niemand."

Niemand rose slowly from the chair. He said, "Very well, if you do not choose to discuss it, I'll say no more." He passed a hand across his forehead. "I'll leave, Dr. Graham. I wonder, though . . . may I change my mind about the drink you offered me?"

Graham's irritation faded. He said, "Certainly. Will whisky and water do?"

"Admirably."

Graham excused himself and went into the kitchen. He got the decanter of whisky, another of water, ice cubes, glasses.

When he returned to the living room, Niemand was just

leaving the boy's bedroom. He heard Niemand's "Good night, Harry," and Harry's happy " 'Night, Mr. Niemand."

Graham made drinks. A little later, Niemand declined a second one and started to leave.

Niemand said, "I took the liberty of bringing a small gift to your son, doctor. I gave it to him while you were getting the drinks for us. 1 hope you'll forgive me."

"Of course. Thank you. Good night."

Graham closed the door; he walked through the living room into Harry's room. He said, "All right, Harry. Now I'll read to--"

There was sudden sweat on his forehead, but he forced his face and his voice to be calm as he stepped to the side of the bed. "May I see that, Harry?" When he had it safely, his hands shook as he examined it.

He thought, only a madman would give a loaded revolver to an idiot.
Quote by IncubusMan999
donkey the wise, very good

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#2
that was definately worth the read, thanks for posting that
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#4
Lol his name is "no one" in dutch.

Odysseus!

EDIT: Having actually read the story:

Nice 'un.

EDITEDIT: sorry for my bad grammar just woke up
Military use of children?

Infantry.
Last edited by Kneusje at Aug 25, 2008,
#6
Quote by Kneusje
Lol his name is Noone in dutch.

Oddyseus!


Good find. That seems to add a bit to the mystique of him...
Quote by IncubusMan999
donkey the wise, very good

Quote by Metal_Rich
Living up to your name!


Currently searching for more ego padding quotes.

Me in pit = me being bored. Any help is much appreciated.
#7
What? I don't get it. Why the hell were they drinking whiskey and water? What!? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!
A U S S I E
#8
Quote by Jcore44
What? I don't get it. Why the hell were they drinking whiskey and water? What!? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!


Eh? I haven't read it but people mix water and whiskey to dilute it.
#9
It makes him more mystical, possibly. But it's an odd reference still.
Military use of children?

Infantry.
#10
Quote by Jcore44
What? I don't get it. Why the hell were they drinking whiskey and water? What!? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!

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#12
Quote by Jackolas
Eh? I haven't read it but people mix water and whiskey to dilute it.


I know, but what gets me is why anyone would dilute fine spirits!

I don't get the whole story either. Can someone explain!?
A U S S I E
#13
I assume it's a metaphor for the weapon he's working on, the "loaded revolver" being the weapon, "idiot" being the human race, and "madman" being himself, since he's developing it.
#14
Very nice, I enjoyed that.
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#15
Quote by Gmp
I assume it's a metaphor for the weapon he's working on, the "loaded revolver" being the weapon, "idiot" being the human race, and "madman" being himself, since he's developing it.


Ditto.

Niemand is noone/nobody in german too.
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#18
I kinda get it now.

...

Is TS trying to tell us something, by showing us this story?
A U S S I E
#19
Alright, ALRIGHT. I'll put the eradicationlaser5000 back in my basement.
Military use of children?

Infantry.
#20
Oh **** I really need to improve on my essay writing.
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He's a righteous man,
Baby, can you dig your man?

- Larry Underwood
#21
Quote by Shred Head
Interesting, although "idiot" is a bit harsh

No actually idiot is the lowest level on the IQ spectrum. The author died in the 70's so i'm assuming that he wrote this well before it came into use as an insult
#23
uhm.
i feel incredibly dumb for not completely understanding this.
i think i have an idea...
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#26
EXCELLENT! ty TS.

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#27
that was ****ing lethal!
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