Sunday, February 2, 2014

Robert Sheckley - Journey Of Joenes

At first light, the frenzied movements of the crowds began again, and people pushed and shoved each other in their haste to get somewhere and do something. Joenes wanted to learn the reason for all of this, so he picked a man out of the crowd and stopped him.

"Sir," Joenes said, "could you spare a moment of your valuable time and tell a stranger something about the great and purposeful vitality I see all around me?"

The man said, "Whattsamatter, you some kind of nut?" And he hurried off.

But the next man Joenes stopped gave the question careful thought, and said, "You call it vitality, huh?"

"So it appears," Joenes said, glancing at the restless crowds surging around them. "By the way, my name is Joenes."

"Mine's Watts," the man said, "as in Watts the matter?" In answer to your question, I'll tell you that what you see is not vitality. It's panic."

"But what are they in a panic about?" Joenes asked.

"To put it in a nutshell," Watts said, "they're afraid if they stop hurrying and pushing, somebody will find out they're dead. It's a very serious matter being found dead, because then they can fire you from your job, foreclose all your bills, raise your apartment rental, and carry you squirming to your grave."