Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

22. Member of the Yellow Press

“There is such stuff?” I asked.

“No, no, no, no,” said Dr. Breed, losing patience with me again. “I only told you all this in order to give you some insight into the extraordinary novelty of the ways in which Felix was likely to approach an old problem. What I’ve just told you is what he told the Marine general who was hounding him about mud.

“Felix ate alone here in the cafeteria every day. It was a rule that no one was to sit with him, to interrupt his chain of thought. But the Marine general barged in, pulled up a chair, and started talking about mud. What I’ve told you was Felix’s offhand reply.”

“There—there really isn’t such a thing?”

“I just told you there wasn’t!” cried Dr. Breed hotly. “Felix died shortly after that! And, if you’d been listening to what I’ve been trying to tell you about pure research men, you wouldn’t ask such a question! Pure research men work on what fascinates them, not on what fascinates other people.”

“I keep thinking about that swamp . . .”

“You can stop thinking about it! I’ve made the only point I wanted to make with the swamp.”

“If the streams flowing through the swamp froze as ice-nine, what about the rivers and lakes the streams fed?”

“They’d freeze. But there is no such thing as ice-nine.”

“And the oceans the frozen rivers fed?”

“They’d freeze, of course,” he snapped. “I suppose you’re going to rush to market with a sensational story about ice-nine now. I tell you again, it does not exist!”

“And the springs feeding the frozen lakes and streams, and all the water underground feeding the springs?”

“They’d freeze, damn it!” he cried. “But if I had known that you were a member of the yellow press,” he said grandly, rising to his feet, “I wouldn’t have wasted a minute with you!”

“And the rain?”

“When it fell, it would freeze into hard little hobnails of ice-nine—and that would be the end of the world! And the end of the interview, too! Good-bye!”

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