1. The Marching Hordes The bulletin board outside lecture hall 1712-A of Patrick Henry High School showed a flashing red light. Rod Walker pushed his way into a knot of students and tried to see what the special notice had to say. He received an elbow in the stomach, accompanied by: "Hey! Quit shoving!" "Sorry. Take it easy, Jimmy." Rod locked the elbow in a bone breaker but put no pressure on, craned his neck to look over Jimmy Throxton's head. "What's on the board?" "No class today." "Why not?" A voice near the board answered him. "Because tomorrow it's 'Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die' " "So?" Rod felt his stomach tighten as it always did before an examination. Someone moved aside and he managed to read the notice: PATRICK HENRY HIGH SCHOOL Department of Social Studies SPECIAL NOTICE to all students Course 410 (elective senior seminar) Advanced Survival, instr. Dr. Matson, 1712-A MWF 1. There will be no class Friday the 14th. 2. Twenty-Four Hour Notice is hereby given of final examination in Solo Survival. Students will present themselves for physical check at 0900 Saturday in the dispensary of Templeton Gate and will start passing through the gate at 1000, using three-minute intervals by lot. 3. TEST CONDITIONS: (a) any planet, any climate, any terrain; (b) no rules, all weapons, any equipment; (c) teaming is permitted but teams will not be allowed to pass through the gate in company; (d) test duration is not less than forty-eight hours, not more than ten days. 4. Dr. Matson will be available for advice and consultation until 1700 Friday. 5. Test may be postponed only on recommendation of examining physician, but any student may withdraw from the course without administrative penalty up until 1000 Saturday. 6. Good luck and long life to you all! (s) B. P. Matson, Sc.D. Approved: j. r. roerich, for the Board Rod Walker reread the notice slowly, while trying to quiet the quiver in his nerves. He checked off the test conditionswhy, those were not "conditions" but a total lack of conditions, no limits of any sort! They could dump you through the gate and the next instant you might be facing a polar bear at forty belowor wrestling an octopus deep in warm salt water. Or, he added, faced up to some three-headed horror on a planet you had never heard of. He heard a soprano voice complaining, " 'Twenty-four hour notice!' Why, it's less than twenty hours now. That's not fair." Another girl answered, "What's the difference? I wish we were starting this minute. I won't get a wink of sleep tonight." "If we are supposed to have twenty-four hours to get ready, then we ought to have them. Fair is fair." Another student, a tall, husky Zulu girl, chuckled softly. "Go on in. Tell the Deacon that." Rod backed out of the press, taking Jimmy Throxton with him. He felt that he knew what "Deacon" Matson would say . . . something about the irrelevancy of fairness to survival. He chewed over the bait in paragraph five; nobody would say boo if he dropped the course. After all, "Advanced Survival" was properly a college course; he would graduate without it. But he knew down deep that if he lost his nerve now, he would never take the course later. Jimmy said nervously,Heinlein, Robert A. is the author of 'Tunnel in the Sky', published 1995 under ISBN 9780345353733 and ISBN 0345353730.