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The Very Black by Dean Evans

[_Anders was pretty sure he was going to die. No one had yet flown the new-style jet job and lived to tell the tale. A story both chilling and heart-warming that shows us how bravely the human equation can operate when the chips are stacked against it._]

the very black

_by ... Dean Evans_

Jet test-pilots and love do not mix too happily as a rule--especially with a ninth-dimensional alter ego messing the whole act.

* * * * *

There was nothing peculiar about that certain night I suppose--except to me personally. A little earlier in the evening I'd walked out on the Doll, Margie Hayman--and a man doesn't do that and cheer over it. Not if he's in love with the Doll he doesn't--not _this_ doll. If you've ever seen her you'll give the nod on that.

The trouble had been Air Force's new triangular ship--the new saucer. Not radio controlled, this one--this one was to carry a real live pilot. At least that's what the doll's father, who was Chief Engineer at Airtech, Inc., had in mind when he designed it.

The doll had said to me sort of casually, "Got something, Baby." She called me baby. Me, one eighty-five in goose pimples.

"Toss it over, Doll," I said.

"No strings on you, Baby." She'd grinned that little one-sided grin of hers. "No strings on you. Not even one. You're a flyboy, you are, and you can take off or land any time any place you feel like it."

"Stake your mom's Charleston cup on that," I said.

She nodded. Her one-sided grin seemed to fade slightly but she hooked it up again fast. A doll--like I said. This was the original model, they've never gone into production on girls like her full-time.

She said, "Therefore, I've got no right to go stalking with a salt shaker in one hand and a pair of shears for your tailfeathers in the other."

"You're cute, Doll," I said, still going along with her one hundred percent.

"Nice--we get along nice."

"Somebody oughta set 'em up on that."

"So far."

"Huh?" I blinked. I hate sour notes. That's why I'm not a musician. You never get a sour note in a jet job--or if you do you don't get annoyed. That's the sour note to end all sour notes.

"Brace yourself, Baby," she said.

I took a hitch on the highball glass I was holding and let one eye get a serious look in it. "Shoot," I told her.

"This new job--this new saucer the TV newscasts are blatting about. You boys in the Air Force heard about it yet?"

"There's been a rumor," I said. I frowned. Top secret--in a pig's eyelash!

"Uh-huh. Is it true this particular ship is supposed to carry a pilot this time?"

"Where do they dig up all this old stuff?" I growled. "Hell, I knew all about that way way back this afternoon already."

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