When the Last two men on earth face each other across a battlefield, will they be willing to admit that was is for fools?
On the morning that contact with N sector was broken, Captain Manning was resting in his lead-walled cubicle about a mile beneath what was once Butte, Montana. He didn't know then that N was out of contact, of course. He knew that K and L were gone--they'd been out of touch two months now--but he didn't know about N.
Captain Manning had been ten years old when the war started. Now he was thirty-six, a lean, graying man with tired eyes and unhealthy looking skin. The vitamins and sun lamps never seemed to help him much. He hadn't been above ground, except for a few short plane trips, in more than twenty years and he sometimes felt that one breath of real air and a touch of sunlight would do more for him than all the artificial stimulants in the world.
That was silly, of course. It was demonstrable by scientific tables that human beings thrived in an under-ground existence. Yet Captain Manning still yearned occasionally for a look at the sky and the smell of leaves. A psychiatrist once had told him that his feeling was natural and normal, and to stop worrying about it. Living underground was an adjustment to the facts of the war, and while adjustments were necessary and practical, one didn't have to like them in toto. That was the way the psychiatrist had put it. Captain Manning had liked the psychiatrist, a bluff, capable man with the odd name of Blackapple. Dr. Blackapple had left several years ago, now, but his replacement had never arrived.