AE Van Vogt - The Weapons Shop of Isher

AE Van Vogt - The Weapons Shop of Isher - THE WEAPONS SHOP...

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THE WEAPONS SHOP by A. E. VAN VOGT THE VILLAGE at night made a curiously timeless picture. Fara walked contentedly beside his wife along the street. The air was like wine; and he was thinking dimly of the artist who had come up from Imperial City, and made what the telestats called—he remembered the phrase vividly—” a symbolic painting reminiscent of a scene in the electrical age of seven thousand years ago.” Fara believed that utterly. The street before him with its weedless, automatically tended gardens, its shops set well back among the flowers, its perpetual hard, grassy sidewalks, and its street lamps that glowed from every pore of their structure—this was a restful paradise where time had stood still. And it was like being a part of life that the great artist’s picture of this quiet, peaceful scene before him was now in the collection of the empress herself. She had praised it, and naturally the thrice-blest artist had immediately and humbly begged her to accept it. What a joy it must be to be able to offer personal homage to the glorious, the divine, the serenely gracious and lovely Innelda Isher, one thousand one hundred eightieth of her line. As they walked, Fara half turned to his wife, In the dim light of the nearest street lamp, her kindly, still youthful face was almost lost in shadow. He murmured softly, instinctively muting his voice to harmonize with the pastel shades of night: “She said—our empress said—that our little village of Clay seemed to her to have in it all the wholesomeness, the gentleness, that constitutes the finest qualities of her people. Wasn’t that a wonderful thought, Creel? She must be a marvelously understanding woman. I—,, He stopped. They had come to a side street, and there was something about a hundred and fifty feet along it that— “Look!” Fara said hoarsely. He pointed with rigid arm and finger at a sign that glowed in the night, a sign that read:
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FINE WEAPONS THE RIGHT TO BUY WEAPONS IS THE RIGHT TO BE FREE Fara had a strange, empty feeling as he stared at the blazing sign. He saw that other villagers were gathering. He said finally, huskily: “I’ve heard of these shops. They’re places of infamy, against which the government of the empress will act one of these days. They’re built in hidden factories, and then transported whole to towns like ours and set up in gross defiance of property rights. That one wasn’t there an hour ago.” Fara’s face hardened. His voice had a harsh edge in it, as he said: “Creel, go home.” Fara was surprised when Creel did not move off at once. All their married life, she had had a pleasing habit of obedience that had made cohabitation a wonderful thing. He saw that she was looking at him wide-eyed, and that it was a timid alarm that held her there. She said: “Fara, what do you intend to do? You’re not thinking of—” “Go home!” Her fear brought out all the grim determination in his nature. “We’re not going to let such a monstrous thing desecrate our village. Think of it”—his voice shivered before the appalling thought—”this
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