The Man Who Played to Lose

Author: Laurence Mark Janifer

Illustrator: Douglas

Release Date: October 15, 2009 [EBook #30259]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE MAN WHO PLAYED TO LOSE ***

Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Greg Weeks, and the Online

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction October 1961.

Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright

on this publication was renewed.

THE

MAN WHO

PLAYED TO LOSE

By LARRY M. HARRIS

_Sometimes the very best thing you can do is to lose. The

cholera germ, for instance, asks nothing better than that it

be swallowed alive...._

Illustrated by Douglas

* * * * *

When I came into the control room the Captain looked up from a set of

charts at me. He stood up and gave me a salute and I returned it, not

making a ceremony out of it. "Half an hour to landing, sir," he said.

That irritated me. It always irritates me. "I'm not an officer," I

said. "I'm not even an enlisted man."

He nodded, too quickly. "Yes, Mr. Carboy," he said. "Sorry."

I sighed. "If you want to salute," I told him, "if it makes you

_happier_ to salute, you go right ahead. But don't call me 'Sir.' That

would make me an officer, and I wouldn't like being an officer. I've

met too many of them."

It didn't make him angry. He wasn't anything except subservient and

awed and anxious to please. "Yes, Mr. Carboy," he said.

I searched in my pockets for a cigarette and found a cup of them and

stuck one into my mouth. The Captain was right there with a light, so

I took it from him. Then I offered him a cigarette. He thanked me as

if it had been a full set of Crown Jewels.

What difference did it make whether or not he called me "Sir"? I was

still God to him, and there wasn't much I could do about it.

"Did you want something, Mr. Carboy?" he asked me, puffing on the

cigarette.

I nodded. "Now that we're getting close," I told him, "I want to know

as much about the place as possible. I've had a full hypno, but a

hypno's only as good as the facts in it, and the facts that reach

Earth may be exaggerated, modified, distorted or even out of date."

"Yes, Mr. Carboy," he said eagerly. I wondered if, when he was through

with the cigarette, he would keep the butt as a souvenir. He might

even frame it, I told myself. After all, I'd given it to him, hadn't

I? The magnificent Mr. Carboy, who almost acts like an ordinary human

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