John Russell Fearn

Legacy from Sirius

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When a young scientist discovers how to foreshorten space by using higher dimensions, it opens up the possibilities for almost instantaneous interstellar travel, initially using unmanned probes. The first probe returns with stellar gas samples from a double star system: a larger yellow star, with a dwarf star companion. Both samples are isolated from the outside world as a precaution, and stored together in a scientific laboratory pending detailed analysis. But when the sealed vault is opened, something uncanny happens. The container that contains gas from the dwarf star has burst apart. A viscid, crawling substance is flowing out of the smashed remains, appearing to multiply on itself as it moves. In some blind, terrifying way, it seems alive…and it's spreading! A classic SF tale drawn from the pages of the 1950s paperback pulps.
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  • jthompsonhar citeretfor 9 år siden
    fury. The rumbling became a roar, drumming above the steady crack of fissuring walls. Mona reeled and stumbled her way along the main corridor of the medical department, surrounded now by nurses and medical students who had also nothing in mind save escaping the disaster.
    Panting for breath Mona reeled outside into the big open quadrangle of the building. Behind her, the big main edifice split and crumpled like grey tissue paper. Dazed she looked around her. The metal flooring of the quadrangle was splitting in all directions. In the distance buildings were visibly swinging out of the perpendicular and then avalanching downwards. Fire spurted reddishly in all directions; electric sparks flew as cables became entangled with metal. And the vast, overpowering din which gulped and rolled from the Earth’s interior—
    Then silence. So sudden it was startling. Steam hissed from somewhere. A chunk of metal dropped with a clang. Mona stood looking about her, disturbed air currents blowing a fast rising wind past her face. She began moving through the excitedly chattering medical staff, inwardly astonished at finding herself alive. Apparently the quake had been severe, but not of very long duration. Many light-standards were still standing, though some of them were drunkenly tilted.
    She gained the main airport field to find that nothing was much disturbed. Her own rocket-flyer was just as she had left it.
    “What’s the damage, Harry?” she asked one of the ground mechanics.
    “Pretty bad,” Mrs. Driscoll,” he answered grimly. “Just had word through. Quake destroyed all eastern Los Angeles. We got the tail end of it.”
    Mona sighed as she climbed through the doorway of the flyer’s control cabin.
    “Bang goes our happy home,” she commented. “It was in that part of the city. It’s getting these days that you don’t know where to settle.”
    “Sure is,” the mechanic agreed, and slammed the cabin door.
    At the same moment the door of the Mount Wilson Observatory opened, and Professor Leeman,
  • jthompsonhar citeretfor 9 år siden
    Gone were the days when a doctor had need to poke and probe. Mona simply stepped, fully clothed as she was, into a cabinet and the surgeon closed the door upon her. Beneath a battery of radiations, predominant amongst which were X-rays, every detail of her physique was reflected on to screens. Meters and gauges automatically showed respiration, heartbeats, and blood pressure.
    Finally the surgeon switched off, unlocked the cabinet and Mona stepped out to find him considering his notes.
    “I’ve seen a few healthy young women in my time, but few like you,” he commented, smiling. “You check up in every detail, Mona—and with a heart like yours, you ought to live to be a hundred and fifty.”
    “You’re not—just cheering me up, doc?” Mona asked, seriously.
    “Why on earth should I? I state facts as I find them....” The surgeon put down his notebook and frowned at her. “What are you worrying about, girl? This machine does not lie, and it says you are in perfect health. Your fainting spell was purely the attenuated air of that Observatory; I’m sure of it.”
    “Yes—I suppose so.” Mona reflected for a moment, and then she gave her sunny smile. “I’ve never been the worrying type, so I suppose I shouldn’t start now. It’s not the faint that has me worried, doc, but something else. The feeling of awful revulsion I had when I looked at Sirius in that reflector mirror. It was as though I’d looked at something indescribably obscene.”
    The surgeon shrugged. “Can’t help you there, Mona. It’s a mental reaction and a psychiatrist’s job: I only deal with the body....”
    He broke off, alert and listening. Mona, too, detected at the same moment a distant bass rolling sound. It only took her a second or two to interpret it—the same dreaded note she had heard in many a stricken city—
    “Earthquake!” she gasped. “No doubt of it....”
    She flung herself to the doorway with the doctor immediately behind her. The instant she reached the corridor the earthquake arrived in all its shattering
  • jthompsonhar citeretfor 9 år siden
    have something really baffling to defeat—and you want to run away!”
    The mathematician turned and met the challenge of his daughter’s blue eyes.
    “It can’t be anything else but fear!” she insisted. “And it’s such a—a revelation to me that I can’t credit it! You, so fierce and commanding, looking so much like a warrior, yet at the first sign of real danger you want to run! Why, father, it makes you recessive, and....”
    Onia broke off, her hand flying to her cheek as Linida struck her sharply across the face. His eyes bored at her.
    “How dare you?” he whispered, his voice quivering. “You are not here to express your immature opinions, Onia, but to do as you are told! I have decided on what we shall do, and we’ll do it!”
    Onia threw back her head. She could not know that in belonging to a later school of science than her father, her emotional makeup and his were utterly at variance. Where fear was to her practically unknown, it was a very real thing to her parent, having never had the advantage of scientific nervous control, which had been Onia’s from birth. They were parent and child, yet because of science as apart as strangers in their views.
    “If you wish to run, father, then run!” Onia said coldly. “Since the Highest and Cal are satisfied that with everybody helping they can defeat this plasma, that’s good enough for me. I’m not going with you: I prefer to help Cal.”
    “Onia, you listen to me...!”
    Linida strode forward angrily to seize her arm. but she swung away before he could do so. The door of the apartment slammed in his face and left him breathing hard, his lips tight. Slowly he forced down his temper.
    “Fool!” he snapped. “Ignorant little fool—like her mother. No understanding....” He reflected and then shrugged. “If she wants it that way, so be it. It can only mean death....”
    He rubbed his arms and shoulders vigorously as the tingling that had been troubling him seemed to be developing into something more in the nature of

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