I have just ﬁnished reading what is written on it: a story
for the children of the future generations. I ﬁnd it a very
interesting story, and here it is, copied word for word:
Gamma, Alpha and Little Ch-777
Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived on
Level 7 a little called Ch-777 (Ch for Child). He was
a nice little boy and a good pupil, but he had one strange
weakness; he was curious to know what went on above
him, above our good Level 7.
“Tell me,” he used to say, “please tell me what goes
on up there.” And when his parents heard him ask that
they were frightened, for they did not want even to
speak of the hell up there. But the little boy kept on
asking: “Tell me, please tell me what goes on up there.”
So one day they told him.
The higher you went up from Level 7, they said, the
closer you came to Him whose name must not be mentioned. He could not be seen, and He could not be
heard, and He could not be touched, and He could not
be smelled, but up there His power was inﬁnite. If anybody went near His kingdom, said the parents, he would
be killed at once by His invisible servants.
At this Ch-777 became very frightened, and many days
went by without his asking a single silly question. But after a while his curiosity got the better of him again, and
this time he asked his teacher: “Tell me what goes on up
The teacher, who knew more about the world outside
Level 7 than little Ch-777’s parents did, told him that He
who ruled up there was called—and even she was afraid
to pronounce His name aloud—St 90. She called Him
‘Saint 90’, for she did not want to say His real name
which was (she said in a whisper) Strontium 90.
Saint 90 was the omnipotent master of death and destruction. He was the supreme ruler of the upper world,
and to carry out His evil designs He had servants who
obeyed His every command—wicked little devils whose
touch was deadly too.
Such were the two small devils called Alpha and Gamma. Their job was to wander around in the upper world,
trying to ﬁnd somebody to kill. They got very bored doing
this, because the upper world had long before been conquered by St 90 and his servants, and now there was no
living creature left to kill.
“Would they kill me too,” asked Ch-777, “if I went to
the upper world?”
“Of course they would, you silly boy,” the teacher said.
“And probably they would catch you before you even
After this Ch-777 did not ask any more questions. But
he could not forget the story about the upper world.
Every night he dreamt about little Alpha and Gamma,
who appeared as two lovely sisters of his own age who
wanted him to play with them. Before long he really believed that these two devils were just two friendly little girls.
Now he stopped paying attention to what was going on
around him on good Level 7. He became bored with all
the interesting things that were happening, he became a
bad pupil, and one day…he disappeared.
How he managed to get out, nobody knew. But he left
a letter saying that he was going up to join the little girls
Alpha and Gamma.
Nobody ever saw him again. No doubt he was killed by
Alpha or Gamma, or by some other devil, on his way up.
And this, children, is the moral of the story: Do not
think of the world above you. Be happy here. If you are
curious to know what happens above Level 7, think of
poor Ch-777 who paid for his curiosity with his life.
I think this story is quite good in its way, though it has
room for improvement. For instance, why blame Ch-777’s
sense of curiosity for his tragic end? It could be suggested
that the devils Alpha and Gamma, on the orders of St 90,
entered his head and made him mad enough to want to go
up where their master would be able to devour him.
I think this version is more frightening. I shall suggest it
to R-747. It could be used to make children obey adults’
commands: if they don’t, they can be warned, Alpha and
Gamma will enter their heads and make them go up to be
killed by St 90.
I gave R-747 her story back today and suggested my alternative version. She agreed that mine probably was more
frightening and better as a mythological story, but still preferred her original because it kept closer to the facts and so
was of greater educational value. P-867, Who was listening
(rather quietly, for a change), remarked maliciously: “I think
Alpha and Gamma have entered your heads already! The
whole idea’s insane.”
I could not deny that her remark was sharp, but I did not
let her see that I had enjoyed it.
An atomic energy officer, AE-327, had been listening to
our conversation too. He asked to see R-747’s manuscript,
and after glancing through it made a few technical com-
ments. First, he said, she was wrong about the chemical
symbol of Strontium, which was Sr and not St. “So there’s
nothing saintly about Strontium,” he said. Then he added that,
unfortunately for the nice story, Strontium 90’s half-life
(the time which elapsed before its radioactivity fell to half
of its original value) was only twenty-ﬁve years. “So your
saint would be a very short-lived one,” he said with a laugh.
“Why not take Plutonium 239, an isotope with a half-life
of 24,100 years? Better still, choose Thorium 232: that has
a half-life of 13,900 million years!”
“That would be splendid,” remarked P-867 mischievously. “With the symbol ‘Th’ it’s really theological.”
AE-327 smiled and went on to object to R-747’s devils
too. “Gamma rays and alpha particles aren’t really as alike
as the sisters of the story,” he said. “What’s more, Strontium
90 emits beta
particles, not alpha. If you’ve got to have
alpha particles, you’ll have to make Plutonium 239 or
Thorium 232 the villain of the piece. As for gamma rays—”
Here I, rather impolitely, interrupted my learned colleague. I could not stand his pedantic objections, which
seemed to pour even colder water on the idea of a new
mythology than P-867’s cynical remarks. I said that stories
for children need not be scientiﬁcally accurate. If they were,
they would not be stories!
It was time for us to leave the lounge, but before we
parted I promised to give R-747 a story of my own next
time we met.
The Story of the Mushroom
Here is a story from the Sacred Tape which can be
heard by any child who pushes the ST button.
Once upon a time, many years ago, people did not live
on Level 7, but far above, on the crust of the earth.
They had no natural roof over their heads, and they used
to be made wet by water falling on them, or burned by
a huge ﬁery ball which was suspended over them for
about twelve hours each day. This made their life very
For a long time the people were very miserable because
of the falling water and the ﬁery ball, not to mention the
violent air currents which blew with the strength of a
million electric fans. Little by little, however, they learned
to erect roofs over their heads, and even to build small
boxes to live in.
They taught these skills to their children, and the children taught them to their children, and so on for many
generations. And as time went by the people grew better
and better at making their boxes. Before long the little
boxes gave place to huge, high ones—some as high as our
dining-room is long, and some even higher than that…
But this did not satisfy them. They no longer wanted
just to be protected from the wet and the burning ball and
the air currents: they wanted to go higher and higher. So
they invented gadgets which made them able to walk
around in the air, and they thought that the higher they
went the better they were. After some time they had
gadgets which went up so high in the air that people
standing on the earth could no longer see them.
But even this was not enough for them. They had
shown that they could build big things and could go high
in the air. Now they wanted to take a very small thing
and make it change itself into a giant, so that it would
grow high into the air all by itself.
So they found a small and fragile thing that grew out
of the earth, something called a mushroom. It was so
small and weak that a child’s foot was enough to crush it
to pieces. But unless they could transform this tiny mushroom into the biggest and strongest thing on earth, the
people would not consider themselves happy.
So the most learned ones put their heads together, and
thought and worked, and workedand thought, until one
day they succeeded. The mushroom began to grow!
There was a big celebration, and the people who had
discovered how to make the mushroom grow became very
And the mushroom grew and grew and grew. Before
long it was higher than the highest boxes. And still it went
on growing. Now it reached the ﬂying gadgets. And still it
But something was happening which the people had not
intended: as the mushroom grew it emitted a strong smell.
Few people noticed it to start with, but as the mushroom
got bigger the odour became stronger, and more and
more people began to smell it. Some could not endure it
and became ill and died. In spite of that the others put
up with the bad smell, happy that their mushroom was
growing so large.
As time went by, the mushroom grew so big, and its
smell grew so strong, that some people began to be afraid
of it. So they looked for a place to hide. There was no
place they could ﬁnd on earth where they could not smell
the mushroom, so they started to dig down.
Down they dug, down, down, down…until they arrived at Level 7. And when they got to Level 7 they could
not smell the mushroom any more.
But the thing they had escaped from was still growing
and growing, swelling and covering the whole earth with
shadow and stink, until one day—it burst!
In a split second the mushroom exploded into millions
of little pieces, and the air carried the particles into the
people’s boxes, into their ﬂying gadgets, everywhere. And
everyone who was touched by a particle, or who smelled
the bad odour, died. And it was not long before there
was not a single person left alive on the surface of the
earth. Only the few who had dug into the earth survived.
And you, children, are their offspring.
And this is the moral…
No, I do not feel like adding a moral. I wonder what
R-747 will think of my story.