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It was a big, coffin-shaped plywood box that looked like it weighed a ton. This brawny type just dumped it through the door of the police station and started away. I looked up from the blotter and shouted at the trucker's vanishing back. "What the hell is that?" "How should I know?" he said as he swung up into the cab. "I just deliver, I don't X-ray 'em. It came on the morning rocket from earth is all I know." He gunned the truck more than he... more...

The young man with the brown paper bag said, "Is Mrs. Coty in?" "I'm afraid she isn't. Is there anything I can do?" "You're Mr. Coty? I came about the soap." He held up the paper bag. "Soap?" Mr. Coty said blankly. He was the epitome of mid-aged husband complete to pipe, carpet slippers and office-slump posture. "That's right. I'm sure she told you about it. My name's Dickens. Warren Dickens. I sold her—" "Look here, you mean to tell... more...

ON THE RIVER ISS In the shadows of the forest that flanks the crimson plain by the side of the Lost Sea of Korus in the Valley Dor, beneath the hurtling moons of Mars, speeding their meteoric way close above the bosom of the dying planet, I crept stealthily along the trail of a shadowy form that hugged the darker places with a persistency that proclaimed the sinister nature of its errand. For six long Martian months I had haunted the vicinity... more...

The star ship came out of space drive for the last time, and made its final landing on a scrubby little planet that circled a small and lonely sun. It came to ground gently, with the cushion of a retarder field, on the side of the world where it was night. In the room that would have been known as the bridge on ships of other days, instrument lights glowed softly on Captain Renner's cropped white hair, and upon the planes of his lean, strong... more...

An Empty Room The house where the long trail started was one of gray walls, gray rooms and gray corridors, with carpets that muffled the feet which at intervals passed along them. It was a house of silence, brooding within the high fence that shut it and the grounds from a landscape torpid under the hot sun of summer, and across which occasionally drifted the lonely, mournful whistle of a train on a nearby railroad. Inside the house there was... more...


It was a very different thing, Algernon Weaver decided, actually to travel in space. When you read about it, or thought about it in terms of what you read, it was more a business of going from one name to another. Algol to Sirius. Aldebaran to Epsilon Ceti. You read the names, and the descriptions that went with them, and the whole thing—although breathtaking in concept, of course, when you really stopped to meditate on it—became... more...

HEN it comes to picking locks and cracking safes I admit to no master. The door to Inskipp's private quarters had an old-fashioned tumbler drum that was easier to pick than my teeth. I must have gone through that door without breaking step. Quiet as I was though, Inskipp still heard me. The light came on and there he was sitting up in bed pointing a .75 caliber recoilless at my sternum. "You should have more brains than that, diGriz," he... more...

"As soon as I'm well we'll go to Mars for a vacation again," Alice would say. But now she was dead, and the surgeons said she was not even human. In his misery, Hastings knew two things: he loved his wife; but they had never been off Earth! A reporter should be objective even about a hospital. It's his business to stir others' emotions and not let his own be stirred. But that was no good, Mel Hastings told himself. No good at all when it was... more...

A note about this story This story is from my collection, "A Place So Foreign and Eight More," published by Four Walls Eight Windows Press in September, 2003, ISBN 1568582862. I've released this story, along with five others, under the terms of a Creative Commons license that gives you, the reader, a bunch of rights that copyright normally reserves for me, the creator. I recently did the same thing with the entire text of my novel, "Down and... more...

I A man said to the universe:"Sir, I exist!""However" replied the universe,"The fact has not created in meA sense of obligation." STEPHEN CRANE Sweat covered Brion's body, trickling into the tight loincloth that was the only garment he wore. The light fencing foil in his hand felt as heavy as a bar of lead to his exhausted muscles, worn out by a month of continual exercise. These things were of no importance. The cut on his chest, still... more...