Cat’s Cradle — Kurt Vonnegut — Contents
Dr. Breed was mistaken about at least one thing: there was such a thing as ice-nine.
And ice-nine was on earth.
Ice-nine was the last gift Felix Hoenikker created for mankind before going to his just reward.
He did it without anyone’s realizing what he was doing. He did it without leaving records of what he’d done.
True, elaborate apparatus was necessary in the act of creation, but it already existed in the Research Laboratory. Dr. Hoenikker had only to go calling on Laboratory neighbors—borrowing this and that, making a winsome neighborhood nuisance of himself—until, so to speak, he had baked his last batch of brownies.
He had made a chip of ice-nine. It was blue-white. It had a melting point of one-hundred-fourteen-point-four-degrees Fahrenheit.
Felix Hoenikker had put the chip in a little bottle; and he put the bottle in his jacket. And he had gone to his cottage on Cape Cod with his three children, there intending to celebrate Christmas.
Angela had been thirty-four. Frank had been twenty-four. Little Newt had been eighteen.
The old man had died on Christmas Eve, having told only his children about ice-nine.
His children had divided the ice-nine among themselves.