Isaac Asimov is probably the most prolific writer in history. His novels, short stories, notes, non fiction and otherwise encompasses the entire range of the dewey decimal system except philosophy. He is our most celebrated Science Fiction writer and has been responsible for some great movies over the years including, Irobot, Centennial Man and others. This is my favorite work of mine. Its called 'NightFall'. Its much too long to present in its entirety here but there is a link below where you may download it for free and at your leisure. Anyway, enjoy and keep reading!
Pic via: Here
You can download the ebook HERE
It was a dazzling four-sun afternoon. Great golden Onos was high in the west, and little red Dovim was rising fast on the horizon below it. When you looked the other way you saw the brilliant white points of Trey and Patru bright against the purplish eastern sky. The rolling plains of Kalgash's northernmost continent were flooded with wondrous light. The office of Kelaritan 99, director of the Jonglor Municipal Psychiatric Institute, had huge windows on every side to display the full magnificence of it all.
Sheerin 501 of Saro University, who had arrived in Jonglor a few hours before at Kelaritan's urgent request, wondered why he wasn't in a better mood. Sheerin was basically a cheerful person to begin with; and four-sun days usually gave his normally ebullient spirits an additional lift. But today, for some reason, he was edgy and apprehensive, although he was trying his best to keep that from becoming apparent. He had been summoned to Jonglor as an expert on mental health, after all.
"Would you like to start by talking with some of the victims?" Kelaritan asked. The director of the psychiatric hospital was a gaunt, angular little man, sallow and hollow-chested. Sheerin, who was ruddy and very far from gaunt, was innately suspicious of anyone of adult years who weighed less than half of what he did. Perhaps it's the way Kelaritan looks that's upsetting me, Sheerin thought. He's like a walking skeleton.
"Or do you think it's a better idea for you to get some personal experience of the Tunnel of Mystery first, Dr. Sheerin?"
Sheerin managed a laugh, hoping it didn't sound too forced.
"Maybe I ought to begin by interviewing a victim or three," he said. "That way I might be able to prepare myself a little better for the horrors of the Tunnel."
Kelaritan's dark beady eyes flickered unhappily. But it was Cubello 54, the sleek and polished lawyer for the Jonglor Centennial Exposition, who spoke out. "Oh, come now, Dr. Sheerin! 'The horrors of the Tunnel!' That's a little extreme, don't you think? After all, you've got nothing but newspaper accounts to go by, at this point. And calling the patients 'victims.' That's hardly what they are."
"The term was Dr. Kelaritan's," said Sheerin stiffly.
"I'm sure Dr. Kelaritan used that word only in the most general sense. But there's a presupposition in its use that I find unacceptable."
Sheerin said, giving the lawyer a look compounded equally of distaste and professional dispassion, "I understand that several people died as a result of their journey through the Tunnel of Mystery. Is that not so?"
"There were several deaths in the Tunnel, yes. But there's no necessary reason at this point to think that those people died as a result of having gone through the Tunnel, Doctor."
"I can see why you wouldn't want to think so, Counselor," said Sheerin crisply.
Cubello looked in outrage toward the hospital director. "Dr. Kelaritan! If this is the way this inquiry is going to be conducted, I want to register a protest right now. Your Dr. Sheerin is here as an impartial expert, not as a witness for the prosecution!"
Sheerin chuckled. "I was expressing my view of lawyers in general, Counselor, not offering any opinion about what may or may not have happened in the Tunnel of Mystery."
"Dr. Kelaritan!" Cubello exclaimed again, growing red-faced.
"Gentlemen, please," Kelaritan said, his eyes moving back and forth quickly from Cubello to Sheerin, from Sheerin to Cubello. "Let's not be adversaries, shall we? We all have the same objective in this inquiry, as I see it. Which is to discover the truth about what happened in the Tunnel of Mystery, so that a repetition of the-ah-unfortunate events can be avoided."
"Agreed," said Sheerin amiably. It was a waste of time to be sniping at the lawyer this way. There were more important things to be doing.
He offered Cubello a genial smile. "I'm never really much interested in the placing of blame, only in working out ways of heading off situations where people come to feel that blame has to be placed. Suppose you show me one of your patients now, Dr. Kelaritan. And then we can have lunch and discuss the events in the Tunnel as we understand them at this point, and perhaps after we've eaten I might be able to see another patient or two-"
"Lunch?" Kelaritan said vaguely, as though the concept was unfamiliar to him.
"Lunch, yes. The midday meal. An old habit of mine, Doctor. But I can wait just a little while longer. We can certainly visit one of the patients first."
Kelaritan nodded. To the lawyer he said, "Harrim's the one to start with, I think. He's in pretty good shape today. Good enough to withstand interrogation by a stranger, anyway."
"What about Gistin 190?" Cubello asked.
"She's another possibility, but she's not as strong as Harrim. Let him get the basic story from Harrim, and then he can talk to Gistin, and-oh, maybe Chimmilit. After lunch, that is."
"Thank you," said Sheerin.
"If you'll come this way, Dr. Sheerin-"
Kelaritan gestured toward a glassed-in passageway that led from the rear of his office to the hospital itself. It was an airy, open catwalk with a 360-degree view of the sky and the low gray-green hills that encircled the city of Jonglor. The light of the day's four suns came streaming in from all sides.
Pausing for a moment, the hospital director looked to his right, then to his left, taking in the complete panorama. The little man's dour pinched features seemed to glow with sudden youth and vitality as the warm rays of Onos and the tighter, sharply contrasting beams from Dovim, Patru, and Trey converged in a brilliant display.
"What an absolutely splendid day, eh, gentlemen!" Kelaritan cried, with an enthusiasm that Sheerin found startling, coming from someone as restrained and austere as he seemed to be. "How glorious it is to see four of the suns in the sky at the same time! How good it makes me feel when their light strikes my face! Ah, where would we be without our marvelous suns, I wonder?"
"Indeed," said Sheerin.
He was feeling a little better himself, as a matter of fact.
Half a world away, one of Sheerin 501's Saro University colleagues was staring at the sky also. But the only emotion she felt was horror.
She was Siferra 89, of the Department of Archaeology, who had been conducting excavations for the past year and a half at the ancient site of Beklimot on the remote Sagikan Peninsula. Now she stood rigid with apprehension, watching a catastrophe come rushing toward her. -
The sky offered no comfort. In this part of the world the only real light visible just then was that of Tano and Sitha, and their cold, harsh gleam had always seemed joyless, even depressing, to her. Against the deep somber blue of the two-sunday sky it was a baleful, oppressive illumination, casting jagged, ominous shadows. Dovim was in view also-barely, just rising now-right on the horizon, a short distance above the tips of the distant Horkkan Mountains. The dim glow of the little red sun, though, was hardly any more cheering.
But Siferra knew that the warm yellow light of Onos would come drifting up out of the east before long to cheer things up. What was troubling her was something far more serious than the temporary absence of the main sun.
A killer sandstorm was heading straight toward Beklimot. In another few minutes it would sweep over the site, and then anything might happen. Anything. The tents could be destroyed; the carefully sorted trays of artifacts might be overturned and their contents scattered; their cameras, their drafting equipment, their laboriously compiled stratigraphic drawings-everything that they had worked on for so long might be lost in a moment.
Worse. They could all be killed.
Worse yet. The ancient ruins of Beklimot itself-the cradle of civilization, the oldest known city on Kalgash-were in jeopardy.
The trial trenches that Siferra had sliced in the surrounding alluvial plain stood wide open. The onrushing wind, if it was strong enough, would lift even more sand than it was already carrying, and hurl it with terrible force against the fragile remains of Beklimot-scouring, eroding, reburying, perhaps even ripping whole foundations loose and hurling them across the parched plain. Beklimot was a historical treasure that belonged to the entire world. That Siferra had exposed it to possible harm by excavating in it had been a calculated risk. You could never do any sort of archaeological work without destroying something: it was the nature of the job. But to have laid the whole heart of the plain bare like this, and then to have the lousy luck of being hit by the worst sandstorm in a century- No. No, it was too much. Her name would be blackened for aeons to come if the Beklimot site was shattered by this storm as a result of what she had done here.