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The Ultroom Error by Gerald Allan Sohl




Smith admitted he had made an error involving a few murders--and a few thousand years. He was entitled to a sense of humor, though, even in the Ultroom!

* * * * *

_HB73782. Ultroom error. Tendal 13. Arvid 6. Kanad transfer out of 1609 complete, intact, but too near limit of 1,000 days. Next Kanad transfer ready. 1951. Reginald, son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Laughton, 3495 Orland Drive, Marionville, Illinois, U. S. A. Arrive his 378th day. TB73782._

Nancy Laughton sat on the blanket she had spread on the lawn in her front yard, knitting a pair of booties for the PTA bazaar. Occasionally she glanced at her son in the play pen, who was getting his daily dose of sunshine. He was gurgling happily, examining a ball, a cheese grater and a linen baby book, all with perfunctory interest.

When she looked up again she noticed a man walking by--except he turned up the walk and crossed the lawn to her.

He was a little taller than her husband, had piercing blue eyes and a rather amused set to his lips.

"Hello, Nancy," he said.

"Hello, Joe," she answered. It was her brother who lived in Kankakee.

"I'm going to take the baby for a while," he said.

"All right, Joe."

He reached into the pen, picked up the baby. As he did so the baby's knees hit the side of the play pen and young Laughton let out a scream--half from hurt and half from sudden lack of confidence in his new handler. But this did not deter Joe. He started off with the child.

Around the corner and after the man came a snarling mongrel dog, eyes bright, teeth glinting in the sunlight. The man did not turn as the dog threw himself at him, burying his teeth in his leg. Surprised, the man dropped the screaming child on the lawn and turned to the dog. Joe seemed off balance and he backed up confusedly in the face of the snapping jaws. Then he suddenly turned and walked away, the dog at his heels.

"I tell you, the man said he was my brother and he made me think he was," Nancy told her husband for the tenth time. "I don't even have a brother."

Martin Laughton sighed. "I can't understand why you believed him. It's just--just plain nuts, Nancy!"

"Don't you think I know it?" Nancy said tearfully. "I feel like I'm going crazy. I can't say I dreamt it because there was Reggie with his bleeding knees, squalling for all he was worth on the grass--Oh, I don't even want to think about it."

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