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By Pat Frank

The vintage apocalyptic novel that surprised the area.

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If I think the balloon is about to go up I'm going to send Helen and the kids down here. " "Do you think they'd be safer here than in Omaha? After all, we've got the Jax Naval Air complex to the north of us, and Homestead and Miami to the south, and Eglin to the northwest, and MacDill and Tampa to the southwest, and the Missile Test Center on Canaveral to the east, and McCoy and Orlando right at the front door, only forty miles off. " "There isn't any place that'll be absolutely safe. With fallout and radiation, it'll be luck-the size of configuration of the weapons, altitude of the fireball, direction of the wind.

To tell you the truth, Mister Randy, it's Mrs. McGovern. " Missouri worked two hours each morning for Randy, and the rest of the day for the McGoverns, who lived half a mile closer to town. The McGoverns were the W. Foxworth McGoverns, the Central Tool and Plate McGoverns, formerly of Cleveland, and the parents of Lib McGovern, whose proper name was Elizabeth. " Randy asked, fascinated. "After I dust, she follow me around with white gloves to see has I dusted. " Missouri plugged in the vacuum cleaner, started it, and then shut it off She had more on her mind.

Randy watched Florence's ten-year-old Chevy diminish and disappear down the tunnel of live oaks that arched River Road. He liked Florence. She might be a gossipy old maid but she was probably one of the few people on River Road who had voted for him. Now she was acting as if he were a stranger trying to cash a money order without credentials. He wondered why. Maybe she disapproved of Lib McGovern, who had been in and out of the house a good deal in the last few weeks. What Florence needed, he guessed, was the one thing she was unlikely to get, a man.

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