Minor Detail, John Michael Sharkey, Amazing Science Fiction Stories, November 1959. Note: The copyright for this magazine short fiction has expired in the United States and was not renewed, thus, Minor Detail now resides in the public domain.

Whitlow, the Secretary of Defense, was worried as they clambered up into the stands. There seemed to be no one about but the two of them.

"Who else is coming?" he asked.

"Just us," said General Webb. "I'm the only one with a clearance high enough to watch this. You're only here because you're my guest."

"But—" said Whitlow, observing the heat-baked wide-open spaces extending on all sides of the reviewing stand and bull's-eye, "the men on this base can surely watch from almost anywhere not beyond the horizon."

"They'd better not!" was the general's only comment.

"Well," said Whitlow, "what happens now?"

"The men that were in that Whirligig have—since you and I went to my office to chat—been transported to the airfield, from which point they were taken aloft—" he consulted his watch, "five minutes, and fifty-five-point-six seconds ago."

"And?" asked Whitlow, casually unbuckling the straps of his brief case and slipping out his sandwich.

"The plane will be within bomb vector of this target in just ten seconds!" said Webb, confidently.

Whitlow listened, for the next nine seconds, then, right on schedule, he heard the muted droning of a plane, high up. Webb joggled him with an elbow. "They'll fall faster than any known enemy weapon can track them," he said, smugly.

"That's fortunate," said Whitlow, munching desultorily at his sandwich. "Bud dere's wud thig budduhs bee."

"Hmmf?" asked the general.

Whitlow swallowed hastily. "I say, there's one thing bothers me."

"What's that?" asked the general.

"Well, it's just that gravity is centripetal, you know, and the Whirligig is centrifugal. I wondered if it might not make some sort of difference?"

"Bah!" said General Webb. "Just a minor detail."

"If you say so," Whitlow shrugged.

"There they come!" shouted the general, jumping to his feet.

Whitlow, despite his misgivings, found that he, too, was on his feet, staring skyward at the tiny dots that were detaching themselves from the shining bulk of the carrier plane. As he watched, his heart beating madly, the dots grew bigger, and soon, awfully soon, they could be distinguished as man-shaped, too.

"There's— There's something wrong!" said the general. "What's that they're all shouting? It should be 'Geronimo' ..."

Whitlow listened. "It sounds more like 'Eeeeeyaaaaa'," he said.

And it was.

The sound grew from a distant mumble to a shrieking roar, and the next thing, each man had landed upon the concrete-and-paint bull's-eye before the reviewing stand.

Whitlow sighed and re-buckled his brief case.

The general moaned and fainted.

And the men of the Whirligig, all of whom had landed on the target head-first, did nothing, their magnificently muscled legs waving idly in a sudden gentle gust of desert breeze.