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Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. Preface by Eric Flint. My reaction when I first read this story, somewhere around the age of fifteen, was perhaps bizarre. "A Pail of Air"is a story about survival in. A Pail of Air. by Fritz Leiber. illustrated by Ed Emsh · Project Gutenberg Release # Select author names above for additional information and titles.

A Pail Of Air Pdf

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"A Pail of Air" is a science fiction short story by American writer Fritz Leiber. It originally "A Pail of Air". Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version . Ebook `A Pail of Air`: ebooks list of Fritz Leiber. read online. Cover of the book A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber Another cover of the book A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber. X Minus One: A Pail Of Air based on the short story by Fritz Leiber A Pail Of Air by illustrated by Ed Alexander SFFaudio's PDF Page.

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Menu Skip to content. About Books Blog Free stories Qazyfiction. The Last Question by Isaac Asimov Several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story… Perhaps a little less immediately accessible, but a really interesting take on the creation of the universe. What did you think of these stories? Spread the love: Like this: So we knew that if there was something groping around out there, it couldn't be anything human or friendly.

Besides that, there's a feeling that comes with it always being night, cold night. Pa says there used to be some of that feeling even in the old days, but then every morning the Sun would come and chase it away.

I have to take his word for that, not ever remembering the Sun as being anything more than a big star. You see, I hadn't been born when the dark star snatched us away from the Sun, and by now it's dragged us out beyond the orbit of the planet Pluto, Pa says, and taking us farther out all the time.

I found myself wondering whether there mightn't be something on the dark star that wanted us, and if that was why it had captured the Earth. Just then we came to the end of the corridor and I followed Pa out on the balcony. I don't know what the city looked like in the old days, but now it's beautiful.

Pa says the stars used to twinkle once, but that was because there was air.

We are on a hill and the shimmery plain drops away from us and then flattens out, cut up into neat squares by the troughs that used to be streets. I sometimes make my mashed potatoes look like it, before I pour on the gravy. Some taller buildings push up out of the feathery plain, topped by rounded caps of air crystals, like the fur hood Ma wears, only whiter.

On those buildings you can see the darker squares of windows, underlined by white dashes of air crystals.

Some of them are on a slant, for many of the buildings are pretty badly twisted by the quakes and all the rest that happened when the dark star captured the Earth. Here and there a few icicles hang, water icicles from the first days of the cold, other icicles of frozen air that melted on the roofs and dripped and froze again.

Sometimes one of those icicles will catch the light of a star and send it to you so brightly you think the star has swooped into the city. That was one of the things Pa had been thinking of when I told him about the light, but I had thought of it myself first and known it wasn't so.

He touched his helmet to mine so we could talk easier and he asked me to point out the windows to him. But there wasn't any light moving around inside them now, or anywhere else.

To my surprise, Pa didn't bawl me out and tell me I'd been seeing things. He looked all around quite a while after filling his pail, and just as we were going inside he whipped around without warning, as if to take some peeping thing off guard. I could feel it, too. The old peace was gone. There was something lurking out there, watching, waiting, getting ready.

Inside, he said to me, touching helmets, "If you see something like that again, son, don't tell the others. Your Ma's sort of nervous these days and we owe her all the feeling of safety we can give her.

Another time she kept the fire going a whole week all by herself when I was sick. Nursed me and took care of the two of you, too. Courage is like a ball, son.

A person can hold it only so long, and then he's got to toss it to someone else. When we got back in the Nest and took off our outside clothes, Pa laughed about it all and told them it was nothing and kidded me for having such an imagination, but his words fell flat.

He didn't convince Ma and Sis any more than he did me. It looked for a minute like we were all fumbling the courage-ball. Something had to be done, and almost before I knew what I was going to say, I heard myself asking Pa to tell us about the old days, and how it all happened.

He sometimes doesn't mind telling that story, and Sis and I sure like to listen to it, and he got my idea. So we were all settled around the fire in a wink, and Ma pushed up some cans to thaw for supper, and Pa began. Before he did, though, I noticed him casually get a hammer from the shelf and lay it down beside him.

He told us how the Earth had been swinging around the Sun ever so steady and warm, and the people on it fixing to make money and wars and have a good time and get power and treat each other right or wrong, when without warning there comes charging out of space this dead star, this burned out sun, and upsets everything.

A Pail of Air

You know, I find it hard to believe in the way those people felt, any more than I can believe in the swarming number of them. Imagine people getting ready for the horrible sort of war they were cooking up. Wanting it even, or at least wishing it were over so as to end their nervousness. As if all folks didn't have to hang together and pool every bit of warmth just to keep alive. And how can they have hoped to end danger, any more than we can hope to end the cold? Sometimes I think Pa exaggerates and makes things out too black.

He's cross with us once in a while and was probably cross with all those folks. Still, some of the things I read in the old magazines sound pretty wild. He may be right. First off they thought it would hit the Sun, and then they thought it would hit the Earth. There was even the start of a rush to get to a place called China, because people thought the star would hit on the other side.

But then they found it wasn't going to hit either side, but was going to come very close to the Earth. Most of the other planets were on the other side of the Sun and didn't get involved. The Sun got a consolation prize, though. At the last minute he managed to hold on to the Moon. That was the time of the monster earthquakes and floods, twenty times worse than anything before. It was also the time of the Big Jerk, as Pa calls it, when all Earth got yanked suddenly, just as Pa has done to me once or twice, grabbing me by the collar to do it, when I've been sitting too far from the fire.

You see, the dark star was going through space faster than the Sun, and in the opposite direction, and it had to wrench the world considerably in order to take it away. The Big Jerk didn't last long.

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It was over as soon as the Earth was settled down in its new orbit around the dark star. But it was pretty terrible while it lasted. Pa says that all sorts of cliffs and buildings toppled, oceans slopped over, swamps and sandy deserts gave great sliding surges that buried nearby lands. We've often asked Pa how people acted during that time, whether they were scared or brave or crazy or stunned, or all four, but he's sort of leery of the subject, and he was again tonight.

He says he was mostly too busy to notice.

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But the place got smashed in the last earthquakes and all Pa's friends were killed then and in the Big Jerk. So he had to start over and throw the Nest together quick without any advantages, just using any stuff he could lay his hands on.

Still, I've got an idea of some of the things that happened from the frozen folk I've seen, a few of them in other rooms in our building, others clustered around the furnaces in the basements where we go for coal.

In one of the rooms, an old man sits stiff in a chair, with an arm and a leg in splints. In another, a man and a woman are huddled together in a bed with heaps of covers over them. You can just see their heads peeking out, close together.

And in another a beautiful young lady is sitting with a pile of wraps huddled around her, looking hopefully toward the door, as if waiting for someone who never came back with warmth and food.

They're all still and stiff as statues, of course, but just like life. Pa showed them to me once in quick winks of his flashlight, when he still had a fair supply of batteries and could afford to waste a little light. They scared me pretty bad and made my heart pound, especially the young lady. All of a sudden I got an idea that scared me worse than anything yet. You see, I'd just remembered the face I'd thought I'd seen in the window.

I'd forgotten about that on account of trying to hide it from the others. What, I asked myself, if the frozen folk were coming to life? What if they were like the liquid helium that got a new lease on life and started crawling toward the heat just when you thought its molecules ought to freeze solid forever? Or like the electricity that moves endlessly when it's just about as cold as that? That was a worse idea than the one about something coming down from the dark star to get us.

Or maybe, I thought, both ideas might be true. Something coming down from the dark star and making the frozen folk move, using them to do its work. The frozen folk with minds from the dark star behind their unwinking eyes, creeping, crawling, snuffing their way, following the heat to the Nest.

I tell you, that thought gave me a very bad turn and I wanted very badly to tell the others my fears, but I remembered what Pa had said and clenched my teeth and didn't speak. We were all sitting very still. Even the fire was burning silently. There was just the sound of Pa's voice and the clocks. The loss of solar heating has caused the Earth's atmosphere to freeze into thick layers of " snow ". The boy's father had worked with a group of other scientists to construct a large shelter, but the earthquakes accompanying the disaster had destroyed it and killed the others.

He managed to construct a smaller, makeshift shelter called the "Nest" for his family, where they maintain a breathable atmosphere by periodically retrieving pails of frozen oxygen to thaw over a fire. They have survived in this way for a number of years. At the end, they are found by a search party from a large group of survivors at Los Alamos , where they are using nuclear power to provide heat and have begun using rockets to search for other survivors radio being ineffective at long range without an ionosphere.

They reveal that other groups of humans have survived at Argonne , Brookhaven , and Harwell nuclear research facilities as well as in Tannu Tuva , and that plans are being made to establish uranium-mining colonies at Great Slave Lake or in the Congo region. Selected Stories From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.They reveal that other groups of humans have survived at Argonne , Brookhaven , and Harwell nuclear research facilities as well as in Tannu Tuva , and that plans are being made to establish uranium-mining colonies at Great Slave Lake or in the Congo region.

At the last minute he managed to hold on to the Moon.

A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber

The fourth wall has blankets all over except around the fireplace, in which there is a fire that must never go out. Like this: I found myself wondering whether there mightn't be something on the dark star that wanted us, and if that was why it had captured the Earth.

Ma started moaning again, "I've always known there was something outside there, waiting to get us. Pa had sent me out to get an extra pail of air.