The Misplaced Battleship

The Misplaced Battleship

Harry Harrison

Language: English

Publisher: IndyPublish

Published: Nov 12, 2008

Words: 14310
Pages: 58

Description:

EDITORIAL REVIEW: from the introductory: "It might seem a little careless to lose track of something as big as a battleship ... but interstellar space is on a different scale of magnitude. But a misplaced battleship -in the wrong hands! -can be most dangerous." WHEN it comes to picking locks and cracking safes I admit to no master. The door to Inskipp's private quarters had an old-fashioned tumbler drum that was easier to pick than my teeth. I must have gone through that door without breaking step. Quiet as I was though, Inskipp still heard me. The light came on and there he was sitting up in bed pointing a .75 caliber recoilless at my sternum. "You should have more brains than that, diGriz," he snarled. "Creeping into my room at night! You could have been shot." "No I couldn't," I told him, as he stowed the cannon back under his pillow. "A man with a curiosity bump as big as yours will always talk first and shoot later. And besides-none of this pussyfooting around in the dark would be necessary if your screen was open and I could have got a call through." Inskipp yawned and poured himself a glass of water from the dispenser unit above the bed. "Just because I head the Special Corps, doesn't mean that I *am* the Special Corps," he said moistly while he drained the glass. "I have to sleep sometime. My screen is open only for emergency calls, not for every agent who needs his hand held." "Meaning I am in the hand-holding category?" I asked with as much sweetness as I could. "Put yourself in any category you please," he grumbled as he slumped down in the bed. "And also put yourself out into the hall and see me tomorrow during working hours." He was at my mercy, really. He wanted sleep so much. And he was going to be wide awake so very soon. "Do you know what this is?" I asked him, poking a large glossy pic under his long broken nose. One eye opened slowly. "Big warship of some kind, looks like Empire lines. Now for the last time-go away!" he said. "A very good guess for this late at night," I told him cheerily. "It is a late Empire battleship of the Warlord class. Undoubtedly one of the most truly efficient engines of destruction ever manufactured. Over a half mile of defensive screens and armament, that could probably turn any fleet existent today into fine radioactive ash-" "Except for the fact that the last one was broken up for scrap over a thousand years ago," he mumbled. I leaned over and put my lips close to his ear. So there would be no chance of misunderstanding. Speaking softly, but clearly. "True, true," I said. "But wouldn't you be just a *little* bit interested if I was to tell you that one is being built today?" Oh, it was beautiful to watch. The covers went one way and Inskipp went the other. In a single unfolding, in concerted motion he left the horizontal and recumbent and stood tensely vertical against the wall. Examining the pic of the battleship under the light. He apparently did not believe in pajama bottoms and it hurt me to see the goose-bumps rising on those thin shanks. But if the legs were thin, the voice was more than full enough to make up for the difference.