Out of the flow of time there appears to Commander John Hanson a man of mystery from the forgotten past.
Perhaps this story does not belong with my other tales of the Special Patrol Service. And yet, there is, or should be, a report somewhere in the musty archives of the Service, covering the incident.
Not accurately, and not in detail. Among a great mass of old records which I was browsing through the other day, I happened across that report; it occupied exactly three lines in the log-book of the Ertak:
"Just before departure, discovered stowaway, apparently demented, and ejected him."
For the hard-headed higher-ups of the Service, that was report enough. Had I given the facts, they would have called me to the Base for a long-winded investigation. It would have taken weeks and weeks, filled with fussy questioning. Dozens of stoop-shouldered laboratory men would have prodded and snooped and asked for long, written accounts. In those days, keeping the log-book was writing enough for me and being grounded at Base for weeks would have been punishment.
Nothing would have been gained by a detailed report. The Service needed action rather than reports, anyway. But now that I am an old man, on the retired list, I have time to write; and it will be a particular pleasure to write this account, for it will go to prove that these much-honored scientists of ours, with all their tremendous appropriations and long-winded discussions, are not nearly so wonderful as they think they are. They are, and always have been, too much interested in abstract formulas, and not enough in their practical application. I have never had a great deal of use for them.