The Mathematicians

by Arthur Feldman

Public Domain

Science Fiction Story: We gave this story to competent, and pretty gal artist. We said, "Read this carefully, dream on it, and come up with an illustration." A week later, she returned with the finished drawing. "The hero," she said. We did a double take. "Hey! That's not the hero." She looked us straight in the eye. "Can you prove it?" She had us. We couldn't, and she left hurriedly to go home and cook dinner for her family. And what were they having? Frog legs, what else?

Tags: Science Fiction   Novel-Classic  

They were in the garden. “Now, Zoe,” said Zenia Hawkins to her nine-year-old daughter, “quit fluttering around, and papa will tell you a story.”

Zoe settled down in the hammock. “A true story, papa?”

“It all happened exactly like I’m going to tell you,” said Drake Hawkins, pinching Zoe’s rosy cheek. “Now: two thousand and eleven years ago in 1985, figuring by the earthly calendar of that time, a tribe of beings from the Dog-star Sirius invaded the earth.”

“And what did these beings look like, father?”

“Like humans in many, many respects. They each had two arms, two legs and all the other organs that humans are endowed with.”

“Wasn’t there any difference at all between the Star-beings and the humans, papa?”

“There was. The newcomers, each and all, had a pair of wings covered with green feathers growing from their shoulders, and long, purple tails.”

“How many of these beings were there, father?”

“Exactly three million and forty-one male adults and three female adults. These creatures first appeared on Earth on the island of Sardinia. In five weeks’ time they were the masters of the entire globe.”

“Didn’t the Earth-lings fight back, papa?”

“The humans warred against the invaders, using bullets, ordinary bombs, super-atom bombs and gases.”

[Illustration: Illustrator: A. Lake]

“What were those things like, father?”

“Oh, they’ve passed out of existence long ago. ‘Ammunition’ they were called. The humans fought each other with such things.”

“And not with ideas, like we do now, father?”

“No, with guns, just like I told you. But the invaders were immune to the ammunition.”

“What does ‘immune’ mean?”

“Proof against harm. Then the humans tried germs and bacteria against the star-beings.”

“What were those things?”

“Tiny, tiny bugs that the humans tried to inject into the bodies of the invaders to make them sicken and die. But the bugs had no effect at all on the star-beings.”

“Go on, papa. These beings over-ran all Earth. Go on from there.”

“You must know, these newcomers were vastly more intelligent than the Earth-lings. In fact, the invaders were the greatest mathematicians in the System.”

“What’s the System? And what does mathematician mean?”

“The Milky Way. A mathematician is one who is good at figuring, weighing, measuring, clever with numbers.”

“Then, father, the invaders killed off all the Earth-lings?”

“Not all. They killed many, but many others were enslaved. Just as the humans had used horses and cattle, the newcomers so used the humans. They made workers out of some, others they slaughtered for food.”

“Papa, what sort of language did these Star-beings talk?”

“A very simple language, but the humans were never able to master it. So, the invaders, being so much smarter, mastered all the languages of the globe.”

“What did the Earth-lings call the invaders, father?”

“‘An-vils’. Half angels, half devils.”

“Then, papa, everything was peaceful on Earth after the An-vils enslaved the humans?”

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