after Ray Bradbury
The sign on the wall read:
TIME SAFARI(охотничья экспедиция), INC. SAFARIS TO ANY YEAR IN THE PAST.
YOU NAME THE ANIMAL
WE TAKE YOU THERE.
YOU SHOOT IT.
Eckels put his hand slowly out with a cheque for ten thousand dollars to the man behind the desk. ''Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?''
''We guarantee nothing,'' said the official, ''except the dinosaurs.'' He turned. ''This is Mr Travis, your Safari guide in the Past. He'll tell you what and where to shoot. If he says no shooting, no shooting. If you disobey instructions, there's a stiff penalty(жесткий штраф) of another ten thousand dollars, plus possible government actions on your return.'' Eckels glanced across(взглянул) the vast office, at a mass of wires(провода) and steel boxes, at an aurora, that flickered(мерцали) now orange, now silver, now blue. There was a sound like a gigantic bonfire(костер) burning all of the Time, all the years, and all the hours set aflame. A touch of the hand and this burning would reverse itself. Eckels remembered the words in the advertisement. A touch of a hand might do it, only one touch of a hand. Eckels breathed, the light of the Machine on his thin face, ''A real Time Machine.'' He shook his head. ''If the election(выборы) has gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results. Thank God Keith won. He'll make a fine President of the United States.'' ''Yes,'' said the man behind the desk. ''We're lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we'd have the worst kind of dictatorship. People called us up, you know, joking but not joking. Said if Deutscher became President they wanted to go live in 1492. Of course it's not our business to conduct Escapes, but to form Safaris. Anyway, Keith's President now. All you got to worry about is - '' ''Shooting my dinosaur,'' Eckels finished it for him.
''A Tyrannosaurs rex. The Thunder Lizard, the most horrible monster in history. Sign this paper. Anything happens to you, we're not responsible. Those dinosaurs are hungry.' Eckels flushed angrily(вспыхнул). ''Trying to scare me?'' ''Frankly, yes. We don't want anyone going who'll panic at the first shot. Six Safari leaders were killed last year, and a dozen(дюжина) hunters. We are here to give you the damnedest thrill a real hunter ever asked for. Travelling you back sixty million years to get the biggest game in all Time. Your personal cheque is still there. Tear it up(порвите его).'' Mr Eckels looked at the cheque for a long time. His fingers twitched(дергались). ''Good luck,'' said the man behind the desk. ''Mr Travis, he's all yours.'' They moved silently across the room, taking their guns with them, toward the Machine, towards the silver metal and the roaring light.
First a day and then a night and then a day and then a night, then it was day-night-day-night-day. A week, a month, a year, a decade! AD. 2055. AD. 2019.1999! 1957! Gone! The Machine roared(ревела). They put on their oxygen helmets and tested the intercoms. Eckels swayed(раскачивался) on the seat, his face pale(ПОБЛЕДНЕТЬ), his jaw stiff. He felt the trembling in his arms and he looked down and found his hands tight on the new rifle. There were four other men in the Machine. Travis, the Safari Leader, his assistant, Lesperance, and two other hunters, Billings and Kramer. They sat looking at each other, and the years blazed around them. The Machine howled. Time was a film run backward. Suns fled and ten million moons fled after them. ''Good God,'' said Eckels. ''Every hunter that ever lived would envy us today.'' The Machine slowed and then stopped. The sun stopped in the sky. The fog that had enveloped the Machine blew away and they were in an old time, three hunters and two Safari Heads with their blue metal guns across their knees. ''Christ isn't born yet,'' said Travis. ''The Pyramids are still in the earth, waiting to be cut out and put up. Remember that. Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler — none of them exists.''...
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