"In the Ruins" Actual Text
Introductory Text by Judith Merril
I mentioned earlier the prevalence of war-theme
stories: war-and-diplomacy-and-sovereignty stories, that is, as distinct
from calamity stories. There were four at least besides the several
included here that are worth special mention: Jesse Bier's "Father and
Son" from a book full of remarkable stories, A Hole in the Lead
Apron (Harcourt Brace & World); Joseph Green's "The Decision Makers"
(Galaxy); Mack Reynolds' "Time af War" (If); and William
Sambrot's "Substance of Martyrs" (Rogue).
Meanwhile, back in the laboratory, the world of science
has not forgotten about war problems either. One of the news items
emanating from the annual meeting of Ihe American Association for the
Advancement of Science in Berkeley last year concerned investigations into
"a strange drug" which might prevent the lethal effects of shock. What
made me notice the piece particularly was the headline: PRE-COMBAT
INJECTIONS MAY BAR FATAL SHOCK. Sort of made me wonder whether it was the
boys in the bock room at the newspaper, or at the lab, who forgot that
civilians die of shock too.
What makes me mention it now is Roald Dahl's story.
This one is a calamity story, and if you happen to have any
adrenochrome semicarbazone around, I suggest you take a pre-reading
IN THE RUINS
Somewhere among the bricks and stones, I came across a
man sitting on the ground in his underpants, sawing off his left leg.
There was a black bag beside him, and the bag was open, and I could see a
hypodermic needle lying there among all the rest of the stuff.
"Do you want some?" he asked, looking up.
"Yes, please," I said. I was going crazy with hunger.
"I don't mind giving you a bit so long as you will
promise to produce the next meal. I am quite uncontaminated."
"All right," I said. "Yes."
"Caudal injection," he said. "Base of the spine. You
don't feel a thing."
I found a few bits of wood, and I made a fire in the
ruins, and started roasting a piece of the meat. The doctor sat on the
ground doing things to the stump of his leg.
A child came up, a girl of about four years old. She
had probably seen the smoke from the fire or smelled the smell of
cooking, I don't know which. She was very unsteady on her feet.
"Do you want some, too?" the doctor asked.
"You'll have to pay it back later," the doctor said.
The child stood there looking at the piece of meat
that I was holding over the fire on the end of a bent curtain rod.
"You know something," the doctor said, "with all three
of us here, we ought to be able to survive for quite a long time."
"I want my mummy," the child said, starting to cry.
"Sit down," the doctor told her. "I'll take care of you."
Created and maintained by Kristine Howard with assistance from Michael Mander