Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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A VERY few years ago television was definitely spoken of as "impossible." Yet now even the most skeptical know that it has been achieved and that it holds many possibilities—and these skeptics must add—some of which will not be realized for many hundreds of years. Be that as it may. Certainly there is no doubt that, although radio has made great strides, only its surface has been skimmed. Now that a start has been made in transmitting and receiving picture visions of people and objects, how can it be said that it will be forever impossible to learn the secret by which man will be enabled to transmit the actual object or person to be received at its destination? But this is only one theme dealt with in this story, which so adequately concludes the series of "Paradox?" stories by this author.
THREE men have penetrated the future. I have had the good fortune to retell through these pages as much of their stories as I knew. This is the third and last story there is to be told. The road to the future has been closed, not forever, perhaps, but for many years. Raymond Cannes was the first who traveled through time-space, the four-dimensional universe, to the year 2930 and returned to tell the tale. He was killed by a truck, near the City Hall, in the city of Philadelphia, on the 7th of October, 1928.
It was Dr. Endicott Hawkinson who made the time-journey possible. He was killed by a fire in his laboratory before Cannes returned to the present era. His records and much of his scientific apparatus were destroyed, but the machine that had sent Cannes into the future remained undamaged.
Among the group that listened to Cannes' story, from his own lips a short while before his death, were Crandell Sherman, a brother-in-law of Dr. Hawkinson, and Eugene Preston. Because of Sherman's relationship to the Doctor, he obtained access to the burned laboratory and ventured into the future with Preston.
Only Sherman returned this time. He and Preston had become involved in the third Martio-Tellurian War, late in 2930, and Preston had been killed near the South Pole while heroically trying to defend Greta Bonn, a lovely earth-girl of the thirtieth century, from the Martians.
Sherman was mixed up in this war, too, but eventually he had been able to return to the present.
One evening late in July, Sherman was telling his experience to a little group in the lounge-room of a Philadelphia club. That group, of which I was one, was the same that had heard Cannes' story, almost a year previously, in the same luxurious room. During the course of Sherman's story he was interrupted twice by phone calls, and the second time he had rushed out in a hurry, leaving his narrative disappointingly unfinished.
In my first manuscript I retold Cannes' story, and added the facts about his death. In the second I told as much of Sherman's story as he had told before rushing away. The present narrative concerns itself with the finish of Sherman's story, and the exciting, horrible events that followed. Few people know of the secret reign of terror in Philadelphia during the month of August, 1929, but among those few is the (then) coroner of the City of Philadelphia, for that quiet, efficient man was among the heterogeneous group of eight that heard Sherman tell of the end of that third Martian war.
Crandell Sherman was unusually grim and serious when the group again assembled, a week later. He apologized briefly for his sudden departure the week before and went ahead with the interrupted story, which follows:
"TO recapitulate slightly, gentlemen, the Martians had met with some success in the war of 2930. They had established an immense, well-organized spying system; they had destroyed many lives and much property with their first explosion of brarron; they had annihilated the air forces of the earth that had tried to reach their polar headquarters; they had killed Dwar Bonn, conceded to be the greatest scientific man of the earth at that time.
"But that Martian explosive, brarron, had proved to be a two- edged sword. Due mainly to Jac Vanon, an assistant chemist at Dwar Bonn's laboratories, our scientists had learned how to explode the stuff by means of a wave at long distance. Two interplanetary ships, coming from Mars with re-enforcements, and carrying additional supplies of brarron, had been located by astronomers and destroyed by the great beam of radio waves from Dwar Bonn's great establishment at Sydney, Australia.
"There is no use repeating details I told you last week. Ben Yun, the Japanese scientist who had taken charge of Dwar Bonn's affairs at the latter's death, together with the young Jac Vanon, myself, and one pilot, had reached the Martian south polar headquarters in a totally invisible rocket plane, the only vehicle that passed the Martian's automatic anti-aircraft barrier without being shot to pieces. We had found only three Martians at the station, one of them Commander in Chief. They were in human bodies, as were all Martians that came to the earth. The frail Martian bodies did not stand the terrestrial gravity well, and by marvelous surgery the scientists of the red planet killed men of our earth, emptied their skulls, and transferred Martian brains and eyes to the human bodies. The entire process was done with incredible rapidity, and the bodies were revived by a process involving adrenalin. Thus the Martians could be distinguished from earthmen only by their eyes, which were pupilless and purple."
"AT the pole we also found the missing girl we were in search of, Greta Bonn, daughter of the scientist who had been killed, and sweetheart of Jac Vanon. She had been cold with death for an hour, and Jac had given way to grief. But we had surprised the three aliens at the Martian headquarters. One of them was very unconscious, and the other two were being covered by the two wicked thirtieth century slug-guns in my hands.
"Ben Yun, the Japanese, had shown the Martian commander, through the commander's astronomical telescope, the destruction by the radio-beam of the two spaceships coming from Mars. Then Yun had told him of the earth's plan to send an even more powerful beam all the way to Mars. This would cause disaster at all the factories where the explosive was being manufactured, and would greatly hinder the Martian plans. Ben Yun then offered to call a halt in the projection of the radio-beam for twenty-four hours. This would give the Martian chief time to warn his own planet by radio in the Martian code, and they could insulate the dangerous explosive from the radio waves. In return for this, Ben Yun demanded that the Martian furnish immediately the adrenalin necessary to revive Greta Bonn, and also the necessary blood-pump and a supply of rannvor, a substance known to Martian chemists, which, when injected into the veins, purified the blood, dissolving all coagulations. He also demanded that the Martian permit us all to return safely to Sydney.
"The Martian agreed to these terms. Ben Yun used his pocket radiophone and directed his assistants to halt the preparations for the projection of the beam. The Martian disclosed the secret subterranean vault where the chemical and surgical supplies were kept. Ben Yun descended into the vault with a light, while I kept the two conscious Martians covered. Jac Vanon was preparing the cold, lifeless body of the girl he loved for the attempt at revivification.
"Ben Yun returned from the depths of the vault in about fifteen minutes. Before my astounded eyes he drew a gun and killed the three Martians. Then he took out his pocket radio and commanded his assistants to go ahead with the plans. A few minutes later a beam of radio waves swept over unwarned Mars and two hundred and nineteen explosions took place.
"'He tried to double-cross us,' explained Ben Yun, as we quickly loaded the supplies he had taken from the vault in the rocket plane. Jac Vanon entered, bearing the lifeless form of the girl, and the pilot shut the heavy airproof door, preparing to start our swift flight back to Australia. Yun continued: 'I treated that Martian as officer and gentleman of honor. He, thinking erroneously that I did not understand intricate Martian script, of which I have made intensive study in previous years, told me that adrenalin essential to us was in Martian bottles bearing numerical label R-37a. I found such bottles, but on them also was fine script. The bottles contain germs, bacilli imported from Mars, of terrible virulence, that were soon to be released in our air. Germs are in special culture medium. If I had taken Martian's word and not read script, I would have probably injected same into heart of this girl, in mistake for adrenalin! I obtained real adrenalin, in entirely different containers; then, since I could not trust the commander who lied so dishonorably, I killed him, as I knew he never intended to let us depart, as he said. We could be too valuable to him! By quick departure in lightning-rapid rocket air-car, we may hope to pass anti-air-barrier before it is put back in operation. You remember Martian told us it had been stopped for short period so delicate photoelectric and gravitational range-finders might be adjusted.'
"Ben Yun was right. In six minutes we were safe in Sydney, and Yun and several others had started the task of bringing the girl back to life, aided by adrenalin, a delicate blood-pump, and the miraculous substance of Mars, 'rannvor.' Other scientists started the task of analyzing rannvor and reproducing it in quantity for the future benefit of the world.
"Beautiful Greta Bonn came back. She hovered on the borderline for weeks, and then fought through to her second lease of life— and love. She and Jac Vanon were married very quietly.
"The Martian war was practically over. The terrific explosions had completely disorganized life on Mars. We had destroyed the two interplanetary flyers bringing reenforcements in mid-space. Finally we had killed the supreme commander and paved the way for the ultimate success of the earth-forces over the other Martian forces within the Antarctic Circle.
"The scattered remnants of their great espionage system were ferreted out, one by one, in all parts of the world. I remained in the year 2930 for two months after the war was over and I still heard of one or two being captured somewhere every day or so. The inhuman pupilless eyes of red-flecked purple were the absolute giveaway to the alien brain in the stolen human body. Few of them could keep their eyes hidden long, under any pretext.
"But I was tired of the far future. I wanted to return to civilization that I understood. I was miserably homesick, though I tried to work off the feeling by assisting in the pursuit of one of the most notorious of the Martians, who had not yet been captured. He got away, for the seventh time, through a careless oversight of mine. I quit the hunt, more discouraged and disheartened than ever.
"Ben Yun saw how I felt and guessed the cause. He searched through the records of Dwar Bonn, the earth-scientist who had been killed by a Martian spy, and found the data and instructions for constructing the machine that made possible travel through the fourth dimension into the past. He constructed such a machine, and after I had said good-bye to the newly-wedded pair, I came home again, without that heroic friend who had gone with me, across the gap of a thousand years." Crandell Sherman was silent, and I could have sworn that the expression on his countenance was one of anxiety, worry, and—fear.
THE note of fear was very evident when he spoke again, yet it was not fear for himself. Sherman is not a coward.
"You recall that I had gone into the future without in the least understanding time-space, relativity, the fourth dimension, or the confusing apparent paradoxes connected with the process. The man who understood those, Dr. Endicott Hawkinson, was burnt to death in that unfortunate fire. One of my first acts when I returned to 1929, more than a week ago, was to go out to Hawkinson's laboratory and satisfy myself that his machine, the one that had sent us into the future, was still intact. It was, for which I was glad, for I intended to have it investigated by the one scientist in America peculiarly fitted for such work. Mr. Cloukey, here, knows whom I mean. He's a personal acquaintance of yours."
"Bradley Bowman Blake," I stated.
"If anyone could recapture the secret that was lost when Hawkinson died, Bradley Blake is the man," went on Sherman. "When I was speaking to you a week ago, I fully intended to interview Blake the next morning. Then that phone call came and I rushed off. I'll explain why I left you so abruptly.
"That call was from my sister, Helen, the widow of Hawkinson. She had just returned home after an absence. The house, which has been repaired, is adjacent to the partially burned laboratory. She had seen a man jump out of a laboratory window and escape in the darkness. She had entered the laboratory to investigate and had found everything in it, including the complicated electric time-machine that Hawkinson had made, utterly demolished, and she said a sealed letter was left for me.
"As you know, I rushed over there very excitedly. Everything was smashed clear to glory, beyond the faintest hope of repair. So I read the letter. It was in good English. I have it yet. It was from that notorious Martian spy I had tried to capture, when I was existing in the far future.
"The military detectives of 2930 were slowly but surely closing in on him, and he had taken one desperate last chance, he told me in the letter. He had killed Ben Yun, destroyed all records of the machine that had sent me into the past, had planted a time-bomb near the actual machine, and then had used it to transport himself into our twentieth century world, allowing just enough time for the machine to function before the bomb destroyed it. The adjustments on the machine had not been changed since I had used it, so the spy arrived in modern Philadelphia just a few days after I did.
"Then because he knew what I had told Ben Yun about Endicott Hawkinson, he had searched out the latter's laboratory and destroyed everything there. He had irrevocably burned his bridges. No one in 2930 could follow him through the depths of time. He had escaped at last. And by destroying Hawkinson's machine he had cut off any possible return.
"I wondered why he was writing all this to me. The last part of his letter told me why. I can quote it: 'Revenge is not satisfying to the avenger unless his victim realizes that revenge is being done. Now I am safe and I shall take revenge, upon your world in general, and upon you in particular. When Philadelphians drop dead for no apparent reason, two every day, you will know that I am responsible, and you will be powerless to stop me. Eventually I shall attend to you. Now you may rejoice in the knowledge that your part in that war, and in the ceaseless pursuit of me after the war was over, will cause two innocent deaths a day, to commence the first of August.'
"Today is the twenty-eighth of July. What can I do? The police, the press, the people at large would laugh me to death if I published this letter. The average person would pay no attention. I know only too well that what I have gone through is contrary to all recognized science at this date. There is nothing I can do to avert the catastrophe."
The coroner of Philadelphia spoke quietly. "I investigate all mysterious deaths," he said. "Perhaps if you and some of this group will work with me and a few of my assistants, and we enlist the help of Bradley Blake, we can find this Martian and deal with him without publicity. The newspapers do not necessarily have to be on the inside. Publicity would expose us to ridicule, and would warn and aid the Martian to escape us."
As we rose to leave, Sherman spoke again.
"Somewhere in Philadelphia, this minute, is an incredible anachronism, an intelligence from the Mars, one that will exist a thousand years from now. And he is planning death."
The next morning Sherman and I laid the problem before Bradley Blake. The scientist was skeptical for a time, but soon became convinced that we were in earnest. He questioned Sherman minutely about many details of his story, the Martian war, the civilization and living conditions of the future, the scientific devices and discoveries of 2930, and various other subjects. He read copies of my two narratives and put them aside for future study. Then he took the letter Sherman had received and examined it closely under several microscopes. Seeing something that interested him, he at once proceeded to take several microphotographs, develop them, and then make enlargements. All this took time, and Blake said very little. When about three and a half hours had passed, Blake turned toward us with a photographic print, still damp, which showed one single letter "e" from the letter greatly enlarged.
"I can reassure you somewhat, Mr. Sherman," he said to my companion. "Your anachronism is not destined for a long life. As I understand you, we are dealing with a Martian brain in a human body. Now, in the first place, the human body in the case is not in good condition. Certain organic diseases of the heart will leave a microscopic tremor in the handwriting. The original of this 'e' looks firm and is well-formed, but when enlarged seventy diameters, it shows plainly the unsteadiness of the hand that wrote it. Of course, my diagnosis is open to question. Various other causes could be assigned for this microscopic wobbling. Perhaps it could be formed by some trivial nervous disorder. But I believe that there is at least an equal chance that whether or not the alien intelligence knows it, his stolen body is suffering from advanced heart-disease of one form or another. If the Martian incautiously puts his body under any violent strain, it is liable to surprise him and cease functioning.
"So much for the body. But consider the case of the individual, the personality, the brain or whatever you call it, that is now actually inhabiting that body. A being of superior intelligence, a highly civilized Martian of a far future era, he became a spy and submitted to the change in bodies in the belief that he was aiding his entire race in its desperate fight to conquer another planet, for Mars had very nearly reached the stage where it would become absolutely uninhabitable. Surviving the war, he finds that his sacrifice has been in vain, that he is hunted every second, and he realizes that the last hope of his entire race is gone. They have failed to conquer a planet to live on, and they are doomed to die out, their place in the universe to be taken by the younger human race. The spy realizes this, and he gives way to hate. In a desperate attempt to prolong his own individual life, he dodges through the depths of time, and plans a fiendish revenge on individuals who are not his enemies and who have never harmed him or any of his kind. Do you not see how hate has warped that intellect? He writes a childish threatening letter to make sure that you suffer. He is no longer a highly civilized being; he is insane, monomaniacal. He survived the change of bodies, he withstood the change in living conditions, climate, and so on, that came when he crossed the gap of fifty millions of miles of empty space. But add to them the bitterness of defeat and the shock of dropping a thousand years into the past, and even his powerful mind has been affected. I think it likely that he will soon be totally demented, and he may die of brain-fever. I do not believe he can survive long in this alien world. From that letter I believe that his mentality is already slipping. It is what one would expect from a normal, intelligent individual of a species possessing greatly superior civilization.
"I do not expect him to live long. But while he is alive he will be doubly dangerous. He undoubtedly possesses scientific knowledge far in advance of ours. Perhaps he has brought a death machine with him from 2930. He has demonstrated that he is daring. And he is utterly devoted to one idea—revenge on the human race.
"If you will keep me in touch with any developments, I will be glad to help in this case to the limit of my ability. What I have told you today is only guesswork, but I believe it will strike close to the truth.
"He hasn't given us much to go on," said Sherman, as we left the scientist's laboratory.
"We didn't bring him much to go on," I reminded him. "He may have been merely guessing, but his 'guessing' in the past has so often been correct that I have a remarkable confidence in it. I have known him to solve mysteries without ever leaving that place of his. He listens to all the details, thinks a few hours, and then announces the solution. You notice he didn't kick us out for bringing him something any other scientific man would have refused to consider."
"Yes," said Sherman as I left him to wait for his bus, "that's so. I wonder why he didn't. I can hardly believe it myself."
ON Thursday, August the first, I was enjoying my customary lunch at Linton's with my friend Bill Simons, and we were discussing the case of the Martian, when Oscar, our jovial head waiter, informed me that a Mr. Blake wanted me on the 'phone. Blake told me very little over the wire, so Simons and I went over to Blake's laboratory as fast as Bill's car would take us. Crandell Sherman and the Coroner arrived at the same time we did and with them was an excited grey-eyed girl whom Sherman introduced as another sister of his, Mary Sherman.
Blake was waiting for us. When most of us had been seated, the coroner spoke. "The first mysterious death turned up today, Mr. Blake, and I believe an attempt was made on the life of Miss Sherman here. The killer must be trying to strike very close to Mr. Sherman. You know of William Wentworth, the broker?"
"He dropped dead today in his office. Miss Sherman is the only eye-witness, and there are some mighty queer details connected with the death. I'll ask her to tell you."
All eyes turned to the girl. She made an admirable and successful effort to control herself and told us in a low, even voice what she had seen.
"I was taking dictation from Mr. Wentworth. He has always seemed to be in the best of health, but today he suddenly stopped in the middle of a letter and complained of an intolerable fever. I glanced up at his face. It was terribly red, and I saw sweat suddenly burst out on his forehead. Then he groaned and fell forward with a gasp. It all happened in a minute. I was terrified, but I didn't think to call for help.
"Then something warned me instinctively. I jumped up out of my chair. Just as I did I saw a tiny bright light flickering just where my head had been. It grew larger and larger. It was too bright to keep looking at, but it sort of hypnotized me. I couldn't look away. There seemed to be a little ball the size of a marble in the center of the light. Then the light went out and the ball, red-hot, fell down on the chair, rolled off and down to the floor, and started burning into the carpet. Then I rushed to the outer office and called for help. None of the office force entered the private office until the police came."
The coroner spoke. "Luckily I arrived in a few minutes and heard Miss Sherman's story before any reporters got there. I got that ball. It had cooled off a little. There is a doctor across the street with X-ray apparatus. I got rid of the newspaper men by telling them it was nothing but heart failure, and then had the doctor X-ray the skull. He had the film developed immediately. There is a metal ball one inch in diameter inside his brain. If Miss Sherman hadn't changed her position, the other ball would have materialized inside of her brain too."
"You have the ball?" inquired Blake. The coroner took from his pocket a ball that looked like a large ball bearing that had lost its luster, and gave it to Blake, who rose abruptly and left us, entering the room I knew was his chemical laboratory. He returned eventually.
"What is it?" asked Sherman.
"Pure iron. Not any form of commercial iron or steel. They contain carbon and other impurities. This is pure iron, very slightly tarnished. Our Martian has mastered the process of sending solids through space, at least elements such as iron. Sending even a simple compound like table salt through space would be a more difficult matter. He has some system of taking this iron apart into its component protons and electrons, and putting it together again wherever he wants to. By materializing the ball in Wentworth's brain, he caused rapid death as the iron displaced the grey matter."
That was all that Blake had to tell us. It was hardly satisfying, and it gave no clue to the whereabouts of the Martian. Sherman was more worried than ever, and explained the predicament in detail to his sister, as all of us except Blake rode back to town. Bill Simons spoke for the first time.
"How about a radio-direction finder?" he suggested to the coroner. "This machine for transmitting solid iron through space must be something along the line of a radio transmitter. If our malignant anachronism intends to pull his little trick every day we may be able to get a line on him. He must have established some permanent or semi-permanent headquarters, for the apparatus that would perform a feat like that could hardly be portable. And he must use a tremendous lot of power, which would be liable to create radio interference, static. I'm going to get Ralph White and a couple of the ethers who know about this Martian to help me, and a couple of direction finders. We'll listen for unusual disturbances. If we establish two listening stations and get a fairly accurate reading from each we can find the Martian's station by triangulation."
Sherman seconded his suggestion with alacrity, for it provided a course of action. Sherman was not formed or adapted to play a waiting game, and inaction taxed his patience to the utmost. Besides, Sherman had very little confidence in Blake, being unacquainted with his methods of investigation. When I left them Simons and Sherman had already completed their plans for establishing stations to listen for any unusual disturbance in the ether. Simons was an electrical wizard, and he was fully capable of handling such a job.
I ATE that same evening I told Blake about the plan. He almost smiled, for once.
"Good," he said. "It will give Sherman an outlet for that pent-up nervous energy of his. But don't expect any satisfactory results. When I first heard of the threat I decided that any device for causing people to fall dead at a distance might create a disturbance, so I got a couple of my 'ham' friends to help me, using the latest thing in direction finders. They both reported an unusual disturbance, but neither was able to take a direction reading on it."
 [These were probably "DC" of W3QP and "KN" of W3ZF, although Blake did not definitely tell me so. They, and several others of the A.R.R.L. have often greatly helped the scientist in many ways, without thought of reward.]
"The needles vibrated, fluctuated, and otherwise acted uselessly. The answer is that the Martian has two stations, an appreciable distance apart, or maybe more than two. The interference emanates from both of these at the same instant, hopelessly confusing the direction-finder, as so far it has proved impossible to tune out any part of the interference without losing it all. But we've only tried once so far. If the Martian repeats tomorrow we'll get another chance. At least, I've checked the time of the disturbances, and they agree perfectly with the time of the tragedy."
"Why would the Martian have two stations?" I asked.
"He is astute. It may be for no other reason than to confuse us, or the two stations may be essential to his process. Do you remember that Raymond Cannes repeated to you some facts that Dwar Bonn told him in the year 2930? About Bonn's most recent discoveries in physics? You recorded the conversation in your first manuscript."
"About electrons, protons, and photons? Yes, I remember, but I haven't the slightest idea what it's all about. Please explain to me in non-technical language."
"I could talk hours on the subject and only scratch the surface. But very briefly, it's this:
"All of what we call matter, whether it's carbon or chlorophyll, cabbages or kings, consists, in the last ultimate analysis, of only two different things: the proton, and the electron. And they are considered to be positive and negative charges of electricity. They are the components of the atom, and the number of them in the individual atom determines whether it is an atom of hydrogen, or chlorine, or lead, or iron, and so on. No one has actually seen an electron or a proton, which raises the question, How do we know they exist? But I'm not going into that, not now at least.
"Now about the photon. The generally accepted theory of light at the present time says that light consists of etheric waves, vibrations. But without going into details, physicists have found facts, phenomena, that the wave-theory of light does not explain. To account for these circumstances, a theory was proposed that light consists of tiny corpuscles, smaller than atoms. This theory also fell down when it came to explaining all observed facts. The latest theory, though it is not perfect, comes much closer to explaining all the phenomena of light than either of the others. It is sometimes called the wave-corpuscular theory, and it says that light does consist of these infinitesimal photons, or light-corpuscles, but that they move in waves. If this be true, the dual nature of that mysterious thing called light should explain all its properties.
"So, ultimately, our entire infinite universe consists of only three things, the electron, the proton, and the photon. But 1929 science stops right here. So far we have tried to penetrate the mystery of matter, but no farther."
 [Blake later took pains to retract the term "infinite universe." Einstein's theory, he said, supported by recent observations of nebulae many light-years distant, indicates that the universe may be finite, after all.]
"But we have word from the thirtieth century that a great scientist, Dwar Bonn, will go farther. His discovery, paradoxically reported to us a thousand years before it will be made, tells us that the proton, electron, and photon are different manifestations of one and the same thing: that is, they are only variant forms of the one thing of which everything is composed. Scientists today do not believe this, as they have no evidence to even hint at such a truth, but we have the word of a scientist of tomorrow."
 [For a more complete discussion of the apparently impossible situation, the reader is referred to my first narrative, the story of Ray Cannes, entitled "Paradox," recently published in this journal.]
"What has all this to do with this Martian?"
"Try to be patient, and soon you'll see where I'm leading you. Our Martian has given proof that he is a scientist, and he undoubtedly is aware of this 'unity of the universe.' Even the most abstract of scientific truths eventually find some practical application, and this inhuman, infernal anachronism is making use of his knowledge. He knows that the electrons and protons that compose an atom of iron are similar to, and according to Dwar Bonn, identical with the tiny corpuscles of light, the truly infinitesimal specks that scientists call photons. He also knows (and so do we) that it is a very simple matter to project a beam of light through space. The light, consisting of photons, passes readily through some substances, such as air, water and glass, for instance. It is my guess that the Martian has been able to break up atoms of iron, and project through space rays or beams similar to those of light, but invisible; rays consisting not of photons, but of either electrons or protons. The indication we have that there are two stations suggests that there are two different beams, one consisting of the dissociated protons, and the other consisting of the electrons. These beams apparently pass right through brick walls and such things as easily as a light-beam passes through glass."
"OF course, a lot of this explanation goes contrary to science as it is now known. If someone explained radio by saying offhand that voices go thousands of miles through the air, a person not understanding the complicated scientific process that makes this modern miracle possible would say that such a thing was impossible, going contrary to science as he knew it. The machine that sent that iron invisibly through space and materialized it inside the brain of a human being must be very complex. It is the product of a thousand more years of scientific research, and undoubtedly employs principles of which nothing is now known. But we have seen its work. Those balls are solid iron. They were not created out of thin air. I believe that the Martian crossed his rays: at the intersection the electrons and protons, coming together, and following some tendency of which we are ignorant, recombined to form iron atoms, making that almost perfectly spherical mass of red-hot iron that killed Wentworth this morning."
"How could he make his trick rays intersect inside of the man's brain?"
"That would be a minor problem, if he had suitable apparatus. He must have brought a lot with him from the future. If he was able to break into Dwar Bonn's laboratory and escape detection long enough to use that wonderful time-machine for penetrating the fourth dimension, he was probably able to steal whatever apparatus he wanted from that great laboratory and take it into the past, our present, with him. He must have some kind of range finder. Perhaps two rays that are invisible and harmless, but give some kind of indication to him when they are crossed inside of solid matter. Then he shuts them off and turns on the electronic and protonic beams. He was successful in the case of Wentworth, and he undoubtedly had the correct range on Mary Sherman, but she moved out of the way a second before the iron started to materialize. Something in her brain, some intuition, sixth sense, or semi-dormant protective instinct, warned her in time. Wentworth's masculine brain was not sensitive enough to save him."
"Where do you think the Martian is now?"
"If I knew, I'd tell you. He's some place in Philadelphia, and eventually I'll locate him. I hope it will be before he kills anyone else. When I got that iron ball this noon, I made inquiries among the various chemical supply houses in the city, and from Brenner's I learned that a man wearing very dark glasses had purchased a large amount of C. P. iron oxalate. That is the source of the pure iron that seems to be essential to our enemy's process. Terrestrial chemists occasionally prepare pure iron by reducing the oxalate in a stream of hydrogen; perhaps our Martian has some other method of obtaining the same result. The purchase was made Monday, and now on Thursday the first murder takes place. The Martian also purchased quite a lot of other chemicals and apparatus, paying for his purchases with the new small-sized twenties. What does that suggest to you?"
"The hold-up of John Henderson's private messenger late Sunday night," I replied, recalling the newspaper accounts of the robbery of the millionaire's trusted servant. "He was carrying three thousand dollars in new twenty-dollar notes."
"Yes. I've got two leads on him. A very good private detective that I occasionally employ has been set to work to try to trace the purchaser of the chemicals, and I have tipped off the police to watch for men wearing dark glasses, as they are very anxious to make an arrest in this robbery case. I assured the chief that I knew the culprit was afflicted with a disease that turned the eyes purple. He took my word for it. I've helped him before, so quite a percentage of the police in this city will be regarding every wearer of dark glasses with deep suspicion, and trying to detect purplish eyes. They may find him, and they may not; but I've done all I can just at present. Tomorrow will probably bring further complications. I pity the poor devil who gets in the range of those rays."
"One thing I'd like to ask," I rejoined. "If the Martian has split the atom, wouldn't that release a tremendous amount of energy? The reason our scientists now want to split the atom is, that such a process, under control, would release a terrific amount of power. If the Martian has at his command atomic energy, what might he do with it?"
"I doubt if he has it at his command," was the reply. "If he did he could destroy the city all at once, instead of killing a few scattered inhabitants. He undoubtedly does release this power when the atoms 'split,' as you say. But remember, his electrons and protons combine again, which would probably require every bit of that energy, if the process were 100% efficient, which it isn't. The iron that he disintegrates is undoubtedly more than the amount that materializes, due to the loss in power. Perhaps a little of that excess energy is dissipated as heat. You remember that the ball was white-hot, while forming and red-hot afterward."
"Are you planning any scientific method of locating the culprit?" I asked.
THE scientist shook his head wearily. "No. So far I'm using straight detective methods. I have also asked the electric companies to cooperate with me by informing me if there is any unusually heavy consumption of current tomorrow, and recording the exact time of such a drain of power. I don't think the Martian is able to harness any of his hypothetical atomic energy to operate his machine or apparatus. If we discover an excessive current consumption and check the time accurately with the time of some death tomorrow, it will be comparatively easy to trace the user of the current. This may be our best bet, or we may draw a blank.
"What you fail to understand is this: my whole lengthy explanation to you is nothing but the flimsiest hypothesis. If you were technically trained, you could go over it and pick out flaw after flaw, from the point of view of a scientist of today. I can pick flaws in it, but it is the nearest I can come to finding an explanation that will fit the facts we have encountered. The weapon we're hunting is based upon scientific principles greatly in advance of what is called science today. The intelligence we're fighting is tens of centuries farther advanced than we are, though he is handicapped by the fact that he is not in his own surroundings. What will eventually defeat him is the literal fact that he is a living anachronism.
"To return to your question, I wish I did know some scientific way to locate the untimely menace. I have been trying to devise one all day, with a pathetic lack of success. My conscious mind has given up the problem as hopeless. I see no way in which it can be done. It's up to that mysterious thing called subconscious cerebration. Three-fifths of the problems I have ever solved have been done by my subconscious mind. Some psychologists say the subconscious possesses ten to a thousand times the ability of the conscious mind, but it's too uncertain. Sometimes it's a willing servant, but few people can harness it. I can't."
So ended Blake's discussion on Thursday evening.
The next ten days were days of horror and disappointment for those who knew of the Martian. There were no more failures. Two people dropped dead every day in the central part of the city. Their deaths were attributed to various causes, and I know of no case in which the ball in the brain was discovered by people not in the secret. Of course, the coroner did not have every skull X- rayed. There was no need for such confirmation. The times of the deaths all checked with the times that mysterious radio disturbance was detected.
The newspapers began to get a trifle suspicious about the seventh day. Some of the reporters began to think that too many people were falling dead, and gave guarded hints that the deaths might not be all as accidental as they appeared to be. But the press was never on the inside, and this is the first time the truth of the matter has been revealed.
Apparently the Martian was operating with definitely limited power, for all of the deaths occurred well within the rectangle formed by Market street on the north, Spruce on the south, Fifth street on the east, and Sixty-third on the west. It was Bill Simons who pointed this out to Bradley Blake, who made a note of it.
Simons' radio-direction finding plan was unsuccessful, and Blake's amateur friends had no better luck. Simons was aided by Ralph White, John Stevenson, and a number of the others, particularly Sherman; the best readings they could obtain indicated that both of the unknown sources of the disturbance were within the central part of the city, but we knew that already. The circumstances made it impossible to obtain accurate readings, so the plan of location by triangulation failed.
Significantly, all of the twenty who died in those ten days were men.
We obtained no help from the electric company, though they co- operated with Blake cheerfully. All unusually heavy current consumptions, when traced, proved to be entirely innocent, and none of them checked in time with the radio disturbances and deaths.
The private investigator was not able to trace the buyer of the chemical supplies, and no robber with purple eyes was apprehended by the police. We were baffled.
There is no reason to list the twenty victims here. Any interested person may find their names and learn of the details concerning their deaths by referring to the files of any one of the Philadelphia papers. Some of the men were important figures in the world of business and finance, such as Lee W. Craighead, the beet-sugar baron, and others were only commonplace citizens, as was Iskor Sardanateliapolos, a Russian-Greek fruit-store proprietor of high standing.
The last two deaths were on Sunday, the eleventh. On Monday evening the group met at Blake's house, in response to a request of his. He was not present himself at the time he had set, but his servant told us that he would soon arrive. Sherman was mysteriously absent, also.
While we were waiting for Blake, we commented upon the fact that there had been no deaths that day, and speculated upon the next move of the Martian. Ralph White suggested that perhaps he was dead from heart-failure. While we earnestly hoped that this was so, not one of us really believed it. We spent some time organizing ourselves and reaching a plan of action. Working in shifts, whenever we could afford the time, we determined to go over central Philadelphia with a fine-tooth comb. We assigned territories to various groups. After a score of deaths, we realized that the situation was truly serious. We were ready to try any plan, however small its chances of success seemed to be.
Bradley Bowman Blake walked in, something cheerful and confident in the way he strode to greet us. I glanced at his face and recognized the light in his eyes. He had the answer!
BEFORE he could speak, Sherman arrived, breathless. Fighting for control, he told us that his sister Mary had been missing since noon. I saw Bill Simons' face go very white. Blake took a paper from his pocket. We crowded around him to see it. On it were two downtown addresses.
"The Martian," said Blake, "is at one of these two places. I don't know which. There are two cars outside. Half of us will investigate one place, and half the other. There are firearms in that cabinet in the rear corner. I have just been talking to the Chief of Police. He promises that there will be no trouble for any member of my parties, even if we don't all have gun permits."
We hurried out to the cars. Blake, Bill Simons, White, Penderton, and I were in one party, and our heavy car was soon racing down Marshall road toward the nearer address. Blake's countenance was grim. He spoke to me.
"A few minutes are liable to be precious, if that monster has captured Mary Sherman," he said. "I am considered an expert upon abnormal psychology and the psychology of hate and fear, and I'll stake my reputation that I've analyzed that Martian correctly. Nothing in the world would delight him as much as a chance to torture her."
The accelerator pedal went down, and the car responded with more speed, as it threaded its way through the comparatively light traffic of the late evening.
I had not expected that our destination would prove to be an apartment house, but it did. Blake located the janitor and inquired if any of the apartments had been rented to a man who wore dark glasses. Our suppressed excitement reached its height when the man replied in the affirmative, and volunteered that the renter had been away the last two days. Blake showed his special police badge and credentials, produced a search-warrant, and we entered, using the janitor's key. The warrant only authorized us to search for the stolen money, which we incidentally found and identified, as the new twenties had been consecutively numbered and the numbers had been recorded. But the real purpose of swearing out the warrant was not to recover the money. Blake could not have obtained the warrant, if he had stated that he was hunting for a Martian anachronism.
On the oak table in the center of the living room was a small but solid metal tripod which supported a brilliantly polished metal tube, three inches in diameter and four feet long. It was mounted so that it could be turned to point in any direction, but it was locked in its present position by a small gear-like arrangement. At one end was a smooth round hole. On the other end was a thick and wide flange, upon which were many small binding posts. From these a network of fine copper wires, each insulated by a covering of varicolored silk, led to a cabinet at the side of the room. A two-way plug had been inserted in the lamp socket and one cord led to the cabinet, while another connected with the flanged end of the tube on the tables.
The cabinet at the side of the room was undoubtedly a radio receiver. Above it was a ludicrously small aerial shaped somewhat like a gridiron.
"Radio control," muttered Blake.
We left without disturbing anything and started for the other address.
"Would you mind telling me," I asked Blake as the car wound in and out of the traffic of Walnut street toward the heart of the city, "how you located these places?"
"You remember that Simons pointed out that all the deaths occurred within the long narrow rectangle formed by Market and Spruce streets, Fifth, and Sixty-third?"
"That put me on the trail. I got an accurate map of Philadelphia and carefully marked the locations of all the deaths with red ink. By the time I had located five of them I was excited, and when they were all plotted on the map I knew that we were near the end of this terrible business. Those twenty-one points determined a perfect ellipse. Through them, using precision instruments, I could trace an elongated ellipse."
"You presumed that the Martian's two stations were at its foci?"
"Yes. It was merely a problem in plane geometry. I made the construction on the map and located the sources of those rays." He glanced at me and half smiled. "You might figure out the construction some day, when you feel the need of some mild intellectual exercise. It's quite a neat geometrical problem." He saw some of the doubt and questions in my eyes, and his manner became serious again as we waited for a traffic light to change.
"About the first thing we learned in this case was that the mysterious killer was operating with definitely limited power. But he had two stations. No matter how he divided his power between them he had only so much. If you know what an ellipse is you know that the sum of the distances from any point in the curve to the two foci is a constant."
This wasn't quite plain to me, but I was beginning to see vaguely what he meant. He elucidated further.
"If he used most of his power for one ray and made it penetrate to a comparatively great distance, the other would receive less power and be correspondingly shortened. But it was necessary for the two rays or beams to co-operate, to intersect. As the sum of their effective distances was a constant, and the points of their origin were fixed, all of the deaths would have to take place on the circumference of the ellipse or within it. Also—"
Blake stopped talking and applied the brakes as the car approached the corner where Walnut and Thirty-fourth streets both intersect with Woodland Avenue.
Directly across the right of way, completely blocking traffic, was an ambulance. From its rear were emerging two white-coated interns with a stretcher. Another ambulance was leaving, the commanding note of its bell growing fainter and fainter. Up on the sidewalk on the north side of Walnut was a Mack truck bearing a "Z" license plate, which denotes the heaviest vehicles permitted on Pennsylvania highways. The driver of the thirteen- ton monster had apparently tried to avoid the crash he had seen impending. Near the truck, but in the street, was a sedan, on its side. The way its hood and front fenders were crumpled showed how hard it had hit the truck. Broken glass was all around. The interns were lifting a man from the street. They had bandaged some of his larger cuts. His condition did not appear to be critical.
Blake recognized him the same second I did, and we hurried over to him, disregarding the bawled command of the policeman who was near by to keep away from the interns. The other members of our party were close behind.
The man on the stretcher was John Stevenson, one of those who had gone in the other party with Sherman. I glanced again at the wrecked sedan, and recognized it.
"What happened, Steve?" asked Blake gently.
Stevenson saw us for the first time, and we saw that one of his legs was broken. Otherwise, his injuries were minor, and he answered us readily enough.
"Sherman took a chance. He was in a hurry, and he was worried about his sister. It wasn't the truck driver's fault. We smashed into the truck and turned turtle. Sherman was caught under the wheel. He's dead; the broken glass got him. They've just taken him away. I was in the front seat with him, but I'll be all right. The others weren't hurt much." He motioned with his arm toward the drug store on the corner. "They're in there getting fixed up."
By the time he had said this much, the interns had placed the stretcher in the ambulance and were closing the doors. The hospital truck moved away, clearing a path through the traffic with its gong.
THE blank reality of the tragedy stunned me. Indirectly, at least, the Martian had been the cause of Sherman's death. The last of the three who had taken the incredible time- journey was gone, and the astounding machines based on advanced electro-physics and the non-Euclidean theory of hyperspace were destroyed. The road to the future was closed, as were the lips of all those who traveled that road, or who had possessed the knowledge that made such travel possible.
All except the Martian!
Sober and shaken by Sherman's death, and anxious for the safety of his sister, we proceeded to our destination. It proved to be one of the large metropolitan hotels. The thought crossed my mind that whatever electricity the Martian had used had passed unnoticed in the great consumption of the entire hotel. One more fact was explained. We were all tense, confident that we were near the end of our tragic trail.
Blake interviewed the clerk. We learned that a man answering the Martian's description had taken an expensive suite on the second floor, paying for weeks in advance, and requesting that under no circumstances was he to be disturbed. He had explained that he was a scientist, the clerk told us, and was performing delicate work with complicated apparatus. Therefore he did not want even a scrubwoman to clean his rooms. The suite had been let strictly alone.
After a conference with the resident manager, and the production by Blake of his credentials and warrant, we obtained a pass-key and proceeded to the second floor, followed by the manager. The door to the suite was locked. We obtained no answer by knocking or calling, but all of us were certain that we heard a noise within.
Blake used the pass-key and swung the heavy door inward, his Ortgies automatic in his right hand.
In the center of the room we saw a table. On it was a small tripod, such as we had seen at the apartment house, but of heavier, sturdier construction. It supported a metal tube not quite so long as the other, but much heavier and thicker. Many more wires led to it, some from a transformer of some kind attached to the light circuit, some from what was obviously a radio transmitter, and which I assume was used to manipulate the other unit at the apartment house by radio-control, and the rest of the wires connected to the tube led to several cabinets on the shelf under the table, each of the units below looking precisely like the other ones. There was a dial and an indicator of some sort on the panel of each.
It was a truly imposing array, and I have given it only a sketchy description in this account. I tried to get Blake to write a technical account of the apparatus and as much as he knows about its operation. Such a description would greatly enhance the value of this story, but Blake is much too busy these days and I am not qualified for the job.
We spent not a second gazing at the machine, however, for we heard a noise in the adjoining room. Two well-placed bullets from Blake's gun demolished the lock. We pushed the door open and entered, five of us, and five guns were ready to start spitting lead.
We didn't shoot, however.
Blake's fantastic fear had been justified. His uncanny ability at psychoanalysis was again demonstrated. The Martian had been torturing the girl.
On the telephone stand to the left of the door was an almost empty chemical bottle and letters of raised glass on it read "CONC ACID SULFURIC H2SO4."
Mary Sherman was tied to a table so that she could not move her head. Her face and dress showed evidence of a struggle. One tanned shoulder was bare.
The human body that contained the alien brain and the purple eyes flashing with hate was standing at the head of the table. The hand held a beaker full to the brim with a colorless oily liquid that I recognized as the concentrated acid. It was directly above her eyes. If the Martian moved, or if we shot him, she would be blinded for life, if not killed, to say nothing of the hideous way it would scar that beautiful face. She could not move her eyes, and the acid was two feet above them. Exquisite torture!
WHAT had happened was this: By chance Mary Sherman had happened to see a man on the street with dark glasses. She had watched him closely. When he passed her on the sidewalk, she had watched him sidewise and had caught a glimpse of the purplish eyes. As Sherman had explained the whole situation to her, and as she knew of the score of deaths that had taken place since her former employer had been killed, she followed him, thinking herself unobserved. She did not have time to get in touch with her brother. If she had taken time to phone she would have lost the trail. She had shadowed him to the second floor of the big hotel and had seen him enter his suite. She intended to come to Blake immediately with the information that we had wanted so badly, but the Martian had suddenly emerged from his door, attacked her with some piece of metal apparatus that made an excellent blackjack, had rendered her unconscious before she could call out. He had dragged her quickly into the suite and had tied her to the table, waiting calmly until she regained consciousness to question her.
He had also gagged her, but he had not tied her strongly enough. She had almost escaped soon after she came to, but after a short fight had been secured to the table again. Then the torturer had removed the gag, holding acid above her face and threatened to pour it over her if she screamed.
He had asked her over and over again to disclose her brother's address. Though he had located Hawkinson's laboratory with ease and had destroyed the machine there, he had never been able to find Crandell Sherman's residence. It happened that Sherman had just bought a new house, and though the phone was connected, he had not yet been listed in the telephone directory, which seems to have been the chief guide of the Martian.
She had bravely and steadfastly refused to say a word, knowing instinctively that as soon as she gave, or seemed to give, the desired information her questioner would kill her.
So it was that we found them.
Five guns were leveled at the Martian, point-blank range, and we dared not shoot.
But the insane brain behind those purple eyes knew that the game was up for him, whether he killed or did not kill. He had reached the end. So he decided to kill. He tilted the beaker to pour out the liquid fire. Yet Mary Sherman lives today and her face is not scarred. It was not a miracle that saved her, but a scientific fact.
Have you ever tried to pour the cream off a full milk-bottle slowly and had the cream run down the outside of the bottle instead of pouring the way you wanted it to? Then you understand. The Martian tilted the full beaker slowly, and instead of flowing through the air and falling in the girl's terrified eyes, the heavy oil of vitriol flowed down the outside of the beaker, burning the Martian's fingers. What saved Mary was the property of adhesion, as contradistinguished from cohesion.
When a child puts his fingers into a flame and they are burnt, he immediately and involuntarily withdraws them by reflex action. The Martian brain was highly developed and very sensitive to pain. The same reflex took place when the acid touched the fingers of his stolen body. His arm jerked involuntarily backward, as if it were being withdrawn from a flame, and the beaker of acid fell harmlessly on the rug. The Martian stood for a few seconds as if petrified, and I saw a full realization come to his eyes. Then he fell forward and crumpled in a heap on the floor.
Bill Simons cut the girl loose as Bradley Bowman Blake bent over the prone figure of our enemy. The scientist straightened up triumphantly.
"Heart failure," he said.
Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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