guess the world -
entries 101-200

[ + links to:   Guess The World entries 1-100  -  Guess The World third series  - 
Guess The world fourth series  - 
Guess The World scene-counts ]

Unlike the original Guess The World, which was all my own work, this one is intended to be kept going by you, the readers - as regularly, or irregularly, as you like.  The point is, it's now open to all of you to set the quiz entries, though I may still contribute.

Email your mystery-snippets to me at and, either at the same time or later, the answer for each question, "Which world was this scene on?"  (If you want to include me in the test, naturally you'll withhold the answers for a day or two.)

Make it easy or hard - I don't mind!  Just don't make it completely obvious, as in, "I was ambling along the canal bank under the light of the two moons..." or "We camped beside the Great Red Spot and toasted our supper on the fringe of the lava..."  If a passage is almost right except for some tell-tale element, you can simply elide that part of it (...), as I did many times in the old Guess The World.  I hope you have as much fun as I did in selecting passages.  The field is open wide!

2022 May 16th:   

The (...) horizon was not so far away as the more familiar horizon of Earth, and it was a little difficult for Lamoureux to estimate distances. Still, the foothills of the mountains could not be more than twenty miles away. For the past day, little more than the rim of the Sun had been visible above the horizon, and while the peaks were ablaze with scarlet and golden colors, only the higher one was out of the shadow to any considerable extent. The saddlebacked ridge itself was a vague outline of dull black...

They were no more than a mile or two from the foothills of the larger mountain by now, and the saddlebacked ridge loomed several hundred feet into the air. Unfortunately, the snow was between it and them, and prevented them from gaining too clear a view. Lamoureux wondered if the snow would keep up even at the top of the mountain, and damned McCracken again for shooting (...). And then he discovered that McCracken's feats of arms were not yet ended. McCracken was at that very moment aiming at some target that Lamoureux could not see.

Lamoureux sprang to his feet. "Don't shoot, you fool!"

He was a little too late. The noise of the explosion rang out. McCracken said, "Sorry, sir, I didn't hear you until my finger had already squeezed the trigger. But I wasn't trying to hit anything that was alive. There was something that looked like a rock on that ridge—"

The words died away in his throat. Lamoureux lifted his eyes and saw something hovering in front of them, high in the air. It had eyes and a mouth and, from these features, he knew that it was a huge head, as large as a fair-sized house. There was a long, interminable stretch of neck behind it, and somewhere in the rear he felt sure was a monstrous body. But he wasted no time searching for that.

The eyes were staring at the men unblinkingly. These eyes alone were bigger than the men were. Then the neck stretched out and the head came poking down...

entry 200     [contributed by Lone Wolf]

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2022 May 11th:   

Now there was this uprising on…   A charming little world.  A pleasant Earth-like orb, spinning quietly about its gigantic parent.  Up to this time, its natives had never been troublesome.  Squat, muscular creatures, more or less anthropoid, except for the fact that their complexions had a pale, greenish cast and their eyes were double-lidded like those of snakes.  They had an intelligence of .63 on the Solar Constant scale.  Within a century or two the Control Board meant to award them autonomy; toward this end educators had been working ever since… 2221.

Trouble had sprung, both literally and figuratively, like a bolt from the blue…

entry 199     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 May 8th:   

…Her eyes blazed more brightly like evil jewels into his, piercing the closed lids with invisible beams of malignant and gloating resolve.  Her voice was very soft.

“You do not sleep well, do you, Owen Baarslag?  Every terrible thing you have done to my people here in the swamps – the torture, the slavery, the subjection and the terror – it haunts your dreams.  Your blighted conscience crawls, doesn’t it, Owen?”

The sleeping man didn’t answer.  He was deep, deep down in the dark fastnesses of his nightmare, trying to escape, trying to awake.

Outside the synthetic shell of the hut… a serpent hissed as it raised its pointed head from the slime and sank back again.  A gigantic flying Gruoon gurgled overhead as it fell on its prey and flapped upward into the thick mist.  Beyond these more abrupt sounds was the unceasing dreeing of millions of insects and the loud croaking of the bloated albino tree-toads that sagged heavily from the five-hundred foot crinoids…

entry 198     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 May 4th:   

The formation was an almost transparent wall of ice, lying at one end of a small frozen canyon.  The snow filtered down from the constantly dark purplish sky, and even though the heating unit in his suit buzzed faintly, generating warmth, Strickland felt a cold wave pass down his back.  He shined his torch at the wall and peered through the snow, vague expectation filling him.  Far back, behind perhaps ten feet of ice, he could see the outline of a figure, vaguely human. 

Milgrim? he wondered.  Clyde Starr Milgrim, the first explorer beyond Venus in the early days of the tin ships and the rickety chemical drives…? 

Now, nearly a century later, the Milgrim Scientific Foundation had raised enough money to send out search parties in an attempt to find some remains of the man or his ship and carry them home to Earth for fitting burial.  Strickland felt a peculiarly acute kinship with the cause.  His grandfather had ridden Milgrim’s first ship, The Black Star, out into the uncharted darkness beyond Venus.

But it could not be Milgrim locked within the ice, Strickland reasoned.  The figure outlined in frozen patterns of blue shadows was huge and grotesque and misshapen, nearly a dozen feet tall with a head that appeared bulbous and lopsided.  Strickland could not make out the face…

entry 197     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 30th:   

The climb was long and dangerous.  Ro’s skin glistened with sweat.  He had lived in the cliffs all his life, and had made many perilous climbs, but never one on so dark a night.  It seemed an eternity before he rested at the bottom. 

Feeling his way cautiously, he moved toward the camp.  He could sense the presence of many Oan close by.  The hair at the base of his neck prickled.  He prayed he wouldn’t be seen.  An alarm now would spoil his plan. 

Ahead of him, he saw a clearing.  That would be his destination.  On the far side he would find the white ones.  He took the stone from his armpit and moved on. 

Suddenly he halted.  A dim figure approached.  It was one of the Oan, a guard.  He was coming straight at Ro…

“The rat men have eyes to cut the night.”  It was a memory of his mother’s voice.  She had spoken those words when he was a child, to keep him from straying too far. 

The Oan was only a few feet away now, but his eyes were not cutting the night.  Ro could see his large ears, hear his twitching tail.  In a moment the beast would stumble over him...

entry 196     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 27th:   

…The brown swordsmen clanned together in castles, or degs, while the red swordsmen lived in walled cities and were more civilized though none the less skilled with their swordarms…  The red swordsmen, better organized and more law abiding, had cast their lot with the civilizations of colonized Mars and Venus.  The degmen, always lawless and at odds with the red swordsmen, were allies of the space pirates.

Lindquist remained watchful.  He wondered which deg Strower was visiting.  There was probably a plot afoot to enslave more red swordsmen…  Lindquist saw Strower and the group of degmen approach a castle.  Its towers and battlements rose in the distance.  With the keen scrutiny of a hawk, Lindquist watched it grow closer.  A broken tower loomed higher than the rest.  It drew a soft exclamation from the lone space pirate…

entry 195     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 23rd:  

“Softly!”  Uneasily the Lord of the Peaks glanced about him.  “Let us go to the Peak Chamber, where we may speak at ease.”  He led the way from the platform, halting only to allow Ross to relay an order for his six ships to land.  Through a winding subterranean corridor they hastened to the council room of the Peak, which marked the administrative center of one of Artana’s provinces.  Once inside the great room, Artana led them to low divans of stone, covered and made comfortable with soft cellulose-like stuff that rustled as they moved.  He gave them the news bluntly, without preamble. 

“Horta has seized power in two-thirds of the Kingdom,” he cried, his voice breaking with emotion.  “King Magnus was killed, perhaps not by Horta’s orders – but who else would have plotted it?  The assassination seemed to be the signal for an uprising – and Horta issued a proclamation as one of the three regents, declaring that he would act to preserve order in the Caverns and the land beyond where the Crater folk live.  Three of the Peaks were overrun, and the signal systems were all destroyed.  Here at Peak Four, my soldiers were ready, and all the rebels were slain.”

“Queen Boada – and the Princess Illaria?” asked Ross… 

entry 194     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 20th: 

…She stopped suddenly, and cold, clammy fingers of fear rippled along her spine.  The dark shadow before her… was something tall and thin.  Something that seemed alive, weaving back and forth…  It seemed about ten feet high and six inches through, and was made up of sections like a string of sausages.  Then over to the right she saw more of them – a regular forest. 

Like the snapping of a brittle icicle, the tension broke.  They were plants.  Some form of natural flora, swaying to and fro in the icy currents of that dark sea… 

entry 193     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 16th:   

…The mountains were cold.  Moisture collected on the peaks that were eternally buried in the cloud formations, trickled down the bare, rocky slopes to form rampaging torrents in the deep-cut gorges.  Eventually those swelling rivers poured out into the stinking swamps of the lowlands and finally into the huge, dark, sullen seas.

Rock slides were common.  Huge segments of the mountains, weakened by cold and the unending drip of the water, cut their way with unstoppable force into the valleys.  They formed lakes behind them until, eventually, they were washed away again.

The space ship lay half way up a peak, its nose crumpled against the side of the mountain.  On either side the ground sloped off and the attackers had difficulty in approaching the ship without being picked off.  They didn’t seem to mind the danger.  They tried a rush now and then, and when that failed against the spitting flame from the gun-ports of the wrecked ship they retired to a safer position to wait.  They were patient. 

They were huge, hairy men, six and a half to seven feet tall, with flat, lean bellies and flanks swelling to heavily muscled barrel chests and shoulders a yard across.  One had to hit them in the head or the heart to stop them…

entry 192     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 12th:  

...This time the rush of air was less violent when he opened the valve, the pressure in the tunnel having been halved.  He began to feel safer, knowing that the door to the terminal chamber now could not be opened until every Dorrinian beyond it had sealed his vacuum suit.  He opened the final door, crouched down and stepped through into a small cell which had been hewn into dark basalt.  In its roof was a ribbed panel of dull plastic which closely resembled the surrounding rock.  He put his hands on the panel and pushed upwards.  It lifted easily and slid away to one side, and he found himself looking into a black and star-seeded sky.

He climbed up out of the cell and stood up on a gently sloping crown of rock, the cuboidal cracking of which had effectively disguised the tunnel entrance hatch.  The scene before him was exactly what he had observed from the underground chamber, all its elements assembled on a natural stage.

Most distant was the complex boxy shape of the Quicksilver, and close to it was the mirrored metal of the decoy which the Dorrinians had assembled on the surface at such a great cost in human lives.  In the centre of the arena the two astronauts were kneeling by their fallen companion, and closest to Jerome - flanked by two skull-shaped boulders - was an insignificant-looking white pebble containing the soul of a beleaguered race.

The whole, with its background of scarps and crater walls, was starkly lit by the paring of the Sun's disc which blazed on the horizon, and low in the sky was a twinned speck of blue-white brilliance...

entry 191     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 9th:  

…Rurak dropped the sweat-sticky circle of his radiophone and peered down at the foul blueness of the swampland.  A range of low hills shouldered aside the oozy floor of liquid mud, and blue jungle crept high up along their rocky slopes almost to their barren upper tips.  Beyond the hills he could see where the outer limits of the coastal swamp ended and the level stretches of the Mossy Plains spread away endlessly…

entry 190      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 5th:  

…There was a base there for the heavily-shielded R-40’s that carried the uranium ore from the mines.   Behind it there were black mountains sheathed in ice, and all around it was a plain that glittered in the starlight, white with frozen air.  The base itself was one vast sunken dome, for the ships and for the men that served them.  But to one side was a second dome, and above it was a group of towers somewhat different from those of the base proper, squatter and more massive.  This place had been used once.  Since then it had lain quiet, its contents sheathed coccoon-like in protective webs.

Now men invaded it again, stripping away the sheathing, checking, testing, making delicate adjustments.  And underneath the dome the glass dynamos awoke, and the solid granite of the plain was shaken…

entry 189     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 April 2nd:

...there is a light burning in the low stone hut on the edge of the burned New New York, and in that hut, as the wind roars by and the dust sifts down and the cold stars burn, are four figures, a woman, two daughters and a son, tending a low fire for no reason and talking and laughing, and this goes on night after night for every year and every year, and some nights, for no reason, the wife comes out and looks at the sky, her hands up, for a long moment, looking at the green burning of Earth, not knowing why she looks, knowing nothing, and then she goes back in and throws a stick on the fire and the wind comes up and the dead sea goes on being dead.

entry 188     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 30th:  

…The pterodactyl landed lightly on a frond of the opposite fern.  Its absurd, leathery forehead wrinkled at him.  Graff noted that it was barely out of range of his electroblast.  Intelligent, sure enough, and an unusually fearless specimen to perch this close to man.

At any other time he would have been intrigued by the opportunity of making friends with one of the intelligent winged reptiles who had learned to speak man’s languages and, with good reason, shun his works.  Now, he had other things on his mind. 

Like dying painfully in a few hours.

Graff looked up sharply as enormous batlike wings ceased their rustle.

The lizard-bird’s long, sloping forehead wrinkled even further.  Its beak opened and closed several times.  It cleared its throat.


Then it was civilized too.  What had induced it to leave its communal eyrie in the San Mountains? 

entry 187     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 27th:  

…With infinite care I pushed open the closet door, stepped out, then slid the bolt again to make it appear that I was still a prisoner.  On tiptoe I approached a window, raised it.  Still no sound other than the hiss of the torch.  I swung down to the ground, closed the window behind me, and ran toward the sleek silvery little space-ship.

The ice-covered plain was bitterly cold; I had neglected to put on one of the asbestoid over-suits.  The deserted huts, the head of the mine shaft loomed like a row of dark specters in the wan starlight.  And since the cold light of the stars was cast from different angles, double, triple and even quadruple shadows fell across the barren wastes.  Bleak, desolate, to an earthman…  Great jagged pinnacles of rock stabbing like crooked daggers at the frosty sky; rounded meteor holes dug into the ground; occasional patches of pale ice-moss, dangling like white beards from the grotesque rocks; and beyond, the glistening plain, dropping away to a ridiculously close horizon.  I gasped in the cold air as I ran, felt it bite my lungs.  Without gravity shoes, I covered the distance to the ship in a dozen great bounding leaps…

entry 186      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 18th:   

…I lay in my dark bark-tent during the sleep-period later on, and a monstrous thought was growing in my head, entangling my soft brain in sinuous, intangible tentacles.  I could not evict it.  It stayed.  It drummed at me, this thought:  To the Rim, in the Sixth Brightness, you will now go.  Toward your destiny, toward where the Light Giants cavort, on the Edge of the Molten Land.

Go! In the Sixth Brightness!

On that insidious thought I was drugged to sleep – and wakened hours later with Will’s cry blasting in my ear.

“Sid!  Sid!  You have to get up – they’re leaving us!”

I was on my feet, my brain crystallizing into cold, calculating thought.  I dressed in my whipcords, pulled my heavy shirt on, then faced Will…

“I know,” I told him grimly.  “And by the Lord, they have to be stopped.  They’re on their way to – hell…”

The sky was a madhouse of light.  It was the Sixth Brightness.

I looked up Oro Tarkid, but already he was moving off, at the head of his tribespeople.  The village was folded up, gone as if it had never existed, and there were nothing but carts, and solemn-faced Baimers, moving with giant pace off toward the brightest, fieriest spot on the horizon.

“Oro Tarkid!” I yelled, panting beside his giant stride.

He looked down at me from his great height, and it seemed as if for a moment he had to puzzle out who I was…

“The Time has come,” he said gently.  “We must go now.  Thus it has been for seventeen years of our time.  Always we move – toward the Rim.”  He paused, looked at the Rim, and I thought I saw a deadly fear twist his flat face.  But it passed…

He did not look at me, but at the Rim.  The titanic glory of those Sun-gorged flames seemed to light his countenance with a spiritual, inner well-being.

He raised his massive arm, shook it like a crusader.

“We shall go,” his voice thundered out in a paean of triumph.  “We go – to our destiny!”

I could keep up with him no longer.  I dropped behind.  I fell to a sitting position, sobbing in great breaths of air, consumed with a rage that burned as fierce as the Hell toward which they were moving.  I sat there, and watched them move off, swiftly, diminishing toward a great spume of cascading light on the Rim…

entry 185     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 12th: 

…Their heads were roughly triangular, widening upward from a pointed chin and resting on thin, yet strong, necks above equally strong and spindly man-like bodies.  They were mainly composed of elements which became solid only at very low temperatures. 

Thus it was that one of these beings sat before a radio-like device and perspired in the extreme cold of the room.  His long pointed ears were depressed by the weight of a shiny metal cap and his too-large eyes held a look of worried consternation…

The wearer of the cap shot a series of rapid sounds at the other occupant of the room. 

He said, in effect, “I have received thought-emanations from the direction of the great plain, rather garbled.  The being is probably a giant from some other world, for his thoughts are alien and he evidently considers it within his power to crush the mountains which house us!”

The other made a negative gesture with a slender hand.  “Don’t you think it more likely that it is a  trick of the enemy, Gor?  They have tried such things before, you know.”

Gor was quiet while he peered into the eyepiece of an instrument; then he replied, “We will soon know…  You are radiating sorrow, Bakar.  What troubles you?”

Bakar sighed.  “I was thinking of the ancient pictures of Ahndee in the days when its orbit was much nearer the Sun, and we, the inhabitants of Ahndee, were happy in our beautiful cities.

“Now, the two remaining great nations hide, one from the other, beneath the mountains, and neither can break the defenses of the other, but we still try.  What is the use of it?”

“Careful, Bakar,” Gor looked sternly at the other.  “The Four may have you in the thought beam…”

entry 184     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 8th:  

Mallard looked at the almost impenetrable growth of tangled fern trees and undergrowth and swore wearily.  They had been here for three weeks, now, and it had been three weeks of pure, unadulterated hell.  The dank, steamy air made every breath a painful effort and, day and night, giant insects made their life miserable.  They could take the miniature Overton gun a little way into the swamp belt but at every step they had to be on the alert for the great reptiles that floundered through the dense undergrowth.  And even more, for the deadly plant life that lay in wait. 

And always they were under watch from the natives.  Scaly-hided men, not much past the anthropoid stage, but the crude wooden spears they used could be very dangerous.  The Overton ray gun was scaled down to near zero for use against the fungus stumps but it could be turned up to full power for its original use as a weapon.  And the gun had saved their lives on more than one occasion when those wooden spears began to fly past them.  It was a tense, miserable life.

But they did find the rhizoids...

entry 183     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 5th:  

The creator of the great park - the builder, some said, of Diaspar itself - sat with slightly downcast eyes, as if examining the plans spread across his knees.  His face wore that curiously elusive expression that had baffled the world for so many generations.  Some had dismissed it as no more than an idle whim of the artist's, but to others it seemed that Yarlan Zey was smiling at some secret jest.

The whole building was enigma, for nothing concerning it could be traced in the historical records of the city.  Alvin was not even sure what the word "Tomb" meant; Jeserac could probably tell him, as he was fond of collecting obsolete words and sprinkling his conversation with them, to the confusion of his students.

From this central vantage point, Alvin could look clear across the Park, above the screening trees, and out to the city itself.  The nearest buildings were almost two miles away, and formed a low belt completely surrounding the Park.  Beyond them, rank after rank in ascending height, were the towers and terraces that made up the main bulk of the city.  They stretched for mile upon mile, slowly climbing up the sky, becoming ever more complex and monumentally impressive.  Diaspar had been planned as an entity; it was a single mighty machine.  Yet though its outward appearance was almost overwhelming in its complexity, it merely hinted at the hidden marvels of technology without which all these great buildings would be lifeless sepulchres.

Alvin stared out towards the limits of his world.  Ten - twenty miles away, their details lost in distance, were the outer ramparts of the city, upon which seemed to rest the roof of the sky.  There was nothing beyond them - nothing at all except the aching emptiness of the desert in which a man would soon go mad...

entry 182     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 March 2nd:  

It grew dark quickly with the sand clouds masking the twilight.  Streamers of fire began to lace the mountain top.  A continuous purple corona gave it the aspect of luminescence.

The mountain rose slowly out of the desert and the sand gave way gradually to a trail of broken rocks that ground and protested against the runners of the sled.

“We’ll go from here on foot in the morning,” said Firebird.  As she brought the sled to a halt she leaped quickly out and started tugging at a huge boulder nearby.

Nathan stared in puzzlement.  The boulder slowly tipped on its side, exposing a small cavern.

“We’ll hide the sled in here.  I’ll show you why in the morning.”

They prepared a place to sleep for the night and alternated watches.  At dawn they gathered their packs of food and water and the weapons.  Firebird carefully closed the cavern over the sled.

She led the way along the trail that soon rose to increasing heights above the desert.  They came across the burned and blackened ruins of a sand sled, destroyed with all its equipment.

“That belonged to someone who came up here for the first time as well as the last,” said Firebird.  “There is no love lost between searchers for the Seven Jewels.  They burn each others’ sleds when found.”

The corona lightning increased with terrible streamers of blue and violet light that twisted about the peaks like living things…

entry 181     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 February 20th:  

...I recalled Poincaré's advice: "Always keep your guard up."  So I did.  And my mental arm began to weary.

When all the guests had gone at last, I beckoned Benny into his private office, locked the door and searched the room.  Thoroughly.  There couldn't have been a Vester there or I should have walked into him at least twice.

Benny watched, puzzled.  He was even more puzzled when I whispered: "Do you still keep up that do-it-yourself fad?"

He nodded.

"Then lend me your paint spray-gun - loaded."

"Why, for pete's sake?"

"There are Vesters at the bottom of my garden," I said.

We stalked them together, for nearly an hour.

Upon every shadow which seemed to move, every patch of room or passageway which didn't look quite right somehow, every object which Benny suspected may [sic] have shifted a trifle from its original position - we bestowed a squirt of bright red paint.  My idea.  If we hit a Vester, we should nullify an area of his working skin surface.  Then, when he moved, he would be detectable.

If we hit a Vester...

Benny suddenly reached the end of his tether.

"Stop it, Dave, this is ridiculous.  Hell, what a mess we've made!  It looks like a slaughterhouse.  How am I going to live with this?"

"It's preferable to having Vesters about the place."

"There aren't any Vesters.  There can't be.  Stat/Suda's making a fool of you and you're making a fool of me.  It's all part of their game.  It's how they drive all of our agents nuts in the end."

"Could be that the Vester who was here left with him," I said, stubbornly...

entry 180     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 February 15th:  

...The walls of the deeper caverns were covered with luminous fungi which emitted a dim but steady light.  When Magnus' eyes became adjusted to it, he could see, if but poorly.

Decapods, it seemed, had cats' eyes.  Like a cat, they couldn't see in total darkness, and had to feel their way.  But their eyes could make the most of only a little light.

Finally they carried him into an enormous cavern, and then suddenly released him and retreated some yards, so that they stood around him in a semi-circle.  He looked before him, away from them, and found he was standing on the edge of a very flat, glassily smooth area.  Then he noticed beneath that glassy floor small pallid lights moving.  He was puzzled by them until a suspicion struck him.

He knelt, reached forward, and touched the surface with his fingers.  It was water.  He was on the edge of a dead calm underground lake.  The shapes moving within it, he guessed, were luminous fish.

The decapods stood motionless, as if awaiting his reaction to the water...

entry 179    [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 January 16th:   

"Now, slow," whispered the captain.

"What'll happen when we pull it inside?  That extra heat now, at this time, Captain?"

"God knows."

"Auxiliary pump all repaired, sir."

"Start it!"

The pump leaped on.

"Close the lid of the Cup, and inside now, slow, slow."

The beautiful hand outside the ship trembled, a tremendous image of his own gesture, sank with oiled silence into the ship body.  The Cup, lid shut, dripped yellow flowers and white stars, slid deep.  The audio-thermometer screamed.  The refrigerator system kicked; ammoniated fluids banged the walls like blood in the head of a shrieking idiot.

He shut the outer air-lock door.


They waited.  The ship's pulse ran.  The heart of the ship rushed, beat, rushed, the Cup of gold in it.  The cold blood raced around about down through, around about down through.

The captain exhaled slowly.

The ice stopped dripping from the ceiling.  It froze again.

"Let's get out of here."

The ship turned and ran...

entry 178     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 January 11th:  

...a perfect sameness dwells throughout the extensive regions of this mighty luminary, consequently, it can only be inhabited by a single person; for it is impossible for two things, however nearly resembling each other, to exist without distinction.

The three supposed volcanoes, therefore, are but one great glare, the sole use of which is to keep up an uniformity of light and warmth during the absence of the sun; for here is no difference betwixt day and night, or betwixt heat and cold.  Upon further inquiry into the state of existence in a country where perfect uniformity prevailed, I found that there was neither pain, nor fear, nor sorrow; but while I was going to rejoice in being admitted to such a state of happiness, I was told by a look, that there was also neither pleasure, hope, nor joy...

entry 177 [contributed by Zendexor]

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2022 January 3rd:   

He was a nitrogenised metallic spore, clinging to the peak of a jagged, titanic range of mountains fifty miles high, composed of volcanic magma, and overhanging an acid sea.  He was the life primeval, from which in billions of years of later time would arise the deathless, indestructible, purely intellectual and mathematical metallic beings who would shape the destiny of the cosmos for the inheritance of still more complex life-firms of still later trillions of years of ultra-time.

The nitrogenised metallic spore shook with the force of thoughts that all at once surged through it.  And through it too, echoing all that vast distance down the remote corridors of time, beat a name, another name...

entry 176     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 December 21st:

Ten feet overhead was the fissure, like a petrified mouth, and the mist came out of it and smoked upward.  It formed almost a roof, a thin ceiling between us and the sky.  And the Sun was behind the upper wall, invisible to us.  The peaks reflected some of its beams down through the fog.

So we stood there in a cold, faintly golden-white radiance, a fog-glow - God! There's never been such light on Earth!  It seemed to pervade everything, drenching us, cold and white, like silence made luminous.  It was the light of Nirvana.

And I had seen it once before.

I couldn't remember where.  I stood there in that totally alien dream-light, with the mist swirling and breaking overhead, with the stillness of eternity humming in my earphones and my soul, and I forgot everything except the chill, calm, incredible loveliness of it -

But I had seen it somewhere, sometime, and I couldn't remember -

Hernandez yelled.

Baird and I jerked from our thoughts and lumbered to him.  He stood crouched a few feet away, staring and staring.

I looked at the ground and something went hollow in me.  There were footprints.

entry 175     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 December 19th:   

"Come out of it, Jones.  Snap it.  We got to move!"

"Yes," I say, hypnotized with the way the word forms like water on the tongue and falls with slow beauty out into the air.

I walk and it is good walking.  I stand high and it is a long way to the ground when I look down from my eyes and my head.  It is like living on a fine cliff and being happy there.

Regent stands by the stone wall, looking down.  The others have gone murmuring to the silver ship from which they came. 

I feel the fingers of my hand and the smile of my mouth.

"It is deep," I say.


"It is called a Soul Well."

Regent raises his head and looks at me.  "How do you know that?"

"Doesn't it look like one?"

"I never heard of a Soul Well."

"A place where waiting things, things that once had flesh, wait and wait," I say touching his arm...

entry 174     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 December 1st:   

....In my time I've done a little serious drinking.  I've seen pink elephants.  But this was the first time I ever saw green nightmares.

That's what the place was - a green nightmare.  Nothing but forest, as far as the eyes could see - a lush, tropical green forest.  Swamp-like growths rising out of mud that was not brown, but a verdant green.  And twining through mazes of twisted vegetable tentacles was the mist.  The livid mist of coiling, greenish steam.

Our own Amazon was nothing compared to this ripe and rotten blight.  A true green hell.  But we'd been weeks inside the ship.  As I say, anything looked good.  And if the air was right -

"Let's go," said Commander Sturm.  He was a tall, gruff-looking weather-beaten old space dog, but a big name in the annals of interspatial exploration.  He already had the flag out and unrolled...

entry 173      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 November 28th: 

...I lay in my cave, attending anxiously.  Then, abruptly, I was aware that something was descending from above.  The instinct of our race to block out thought-transference and seize food before anyone else can know of it, operated instantly.  I flowed out of my cave and swept to the space below the Object.  I raised my tentacles to snatch it.  The whole process was automatic - mind-block on, spatial sensation extended to the fullest, full focused reception of mental images turned upon the sinking Object to foresee its efforts to escape so that I could anticipate them - but every Shadi knows what one does by pure instinct when a moving thing comes within one's ken.

There were two caused for my behaviour after that automatic reaction, however.  One was that I had fed, and lately.  The other was that I received mental images from within the Object which were startlingly tuned to the subject of Morpt's lecture and my own thoughts at the moment.  As my first tentacle swooped upon the descending thing, instead of thoughts of fright or battle, I intercepted the message of an entity cogitating despairingly to another...

entry 172     [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 November 22nd: 

Greaves walked to the window in the chamber's far wall and looked down.  But it was dark below; nothing to mark the outlines of a city as cities had been in the time he remembered.  The temple apparently stood atop a high hill, with the city in a great valley at its foot, but again all Greaves could see were three glowing mountaintops across the way, and, beyond them, the night sky.

Then suddenly one of the volcanoes flared for an instant, and the few overhead clouds reflected redly down into the valley.

Greaves caught his breath.  The city had emerged black and immense, extending for miles, its lightless towers like the spine-bones of a beast half-eaten and rotting in a tidal pool.  Then the light was gone and once again there was nothing visible down there - if the undead beast had chosen to bestir itself and stealthily move on some errand of the night, no one standing here could have known until it was too late.

"So that's the city of the Shadows," Greaves said.

"The city that was once the First City of Man," Vigil said bitterly.  "That Mayron has made into an outpost of Hell..."

entry 171    [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 November 18th:   

...He got slowly to his feet, careful to make no sudden movements.  They were alert, wary, but not afraid.  They had eyes of a particularly clear sea-green, and behind these eyes was intelligence.  They paid no attention to the ship, having evidently inspected it to their satisfaction while he slept.  They watched Marcusson and discussed him between themselves in a musical language - a pleasant, bird-like warble that gave off most ably the nuances of mood, thought, and inflection for which anyone unfamiliar with a language always listens.

Marcusson tentatively extended a hand, thinking, with elation, that all was well.  People were the same everywhere.  These could be two Earthmen inspecting an interplanetary arrival on Terra.  Their reactions, their natural caution, their instincts, were of the same pattern exactly.

One of them was eyeing the gun on Marcusson's hip...  ...Marcusson made no motion towards it.  Rather, he smiled and raised his hand, palm outward.

"I am Charles Marcusson.  I come from Earth.  I come in peace and with a spirit of brotherhood."  He didn't expect them to understand, but he had invented that speech during the long hours in void and wanted to get it off his chest.

...They did not speak to Marcusson but discussed something between themselves, glancing now and again at the spires of the city beyond the rolling hills.

It was obvious to Marcusson that they were attempting to arrive at some decision...  The one with the weapon motined - a beckoning motion - after which he pointed across the hills toward a spot somewhat to the right of the city...

...They did not come close, but moved to a point on either side of him and well out of harm's way if he made a quick movement.  The armed one kept his weapon ever at ready, but his smile mirrored the friendliness in his mind.

Marcusson estimated they had travelled about four miles when they moved over a low hill and came to the house.  Obviously it was a house, but it was like nothing Marcusson had ever seen in the way of a dwelling.

It was a perfect square and no attempt had been made to achieve beauty.  Each side ran about twenty feet, and beside it was a smaller square, identical in every respect except size.  Grayish windowless walls about ten feet high.  Marcusson got the impression of a stockade with a roof, and a tool shed hard by.

The door was merely a section of the wall that pushed inward...

entry 170    [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 November 14th: 

"We've just come in sight of the flow.  It's about 500 yards ahead.  We'll get as close as seems safe, and I'll try to make sure whether it's really lava or just mud."

"Mud?  Is that possible?  I thought there wasn't - couldn't be - any water on this planet!"

"It is, and there probably isn't.  The liquid phase of mud doesn't have to be water, even though it usually is on Earth.  Here, for example, it might conceivably be sulphur."

"But if it's just mud, it wouldn't hurt the ship, would it?"

"Probably not."

"Then why all this fuss about getting the tractors back in a hurry?"

The voice which answered reminded him of another lady in his past, who had kept him after school for drawing pictures in math class.

"Because in my judgement the flow is far more likely to be lava than mud, and if I must be wrong I'd rather my error were one that left us alive..."

entry 169    [contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 November 6th: 

...Another bush rose in front of me - a curious soft thing, with a red stem and red slimy branches.  Beyond it, to the right, was a dark clump like a thicket.  I avoided this, not knowing what it might conceal.  I had noticed no sign of life, since I had heard the distant wailing, but life might be lurking all around me, watching me, perhaps lying in wait for me, ready to spring.

As I went on over the clinging ground in the dim light, I got a curious feeling that I was moving under water, that this was a tropical under-sea prairie.  Even the slight movement of the trailers of the thicket on my right was like the soft movement of seaweed rods in deep water.

Suddenly the silence was rent by a piercing scream from the lower ground, some distance in front of me.  It rang out high and shrill for a moment, then it stopped as abruptly as it had begun.  I listened, every nerve torn by the sudden shock.  I hadn't realised how much my nerves had been on edge.  I forced myself to relax.  Whatever was there, I had to face it.

It stopped, but a chattering noise broke out on my left, and was answered by a series of cacklings and chatterings.  I stood, staring round me, but nothing appeared, and gradually the sounds died away.

For several minutes I stood there, watching and listening.  There were living creatures all around me - perhaps very dangerous and powerful creatures.  At any moment one of them might appear in my path.  I began to move forward again - very slowly.  Whatever creatures produced the sounds were in front, but I had no choice but to go forward...

[entry 168; contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 September 25th:

It was the thirty-ninth day, Earth time, since the Lady Betty's
departure. Pelican sat straddle-legged on the apex of a sixty-foot tor, the
highest piece of ground he had encountered, and surveyed the scene before

Away to the brief, deeply curved horizon stretched a monotonous
landscape of dust, rocks and loam, molded into low hummocks and shallow
gullies, dotted here and there with tiny shrubs and berry-bearing bushes.

A heavy thump reached his ears, he turned his head, caught a
momentary glimpse of something falling, and heard a second thump. He
jumped to his feet, stared without avail, commenced running in the
direction from which the mysterious sounds had come.

Assisted by weak gravity, handicapped by thin atmosphere, he
bounded along in giant strides, his chest straining mightily. A gun whined in
a distant ravine; Pelican saw its thin, pale-golden beam angle to the sky.
Two figures—a woman and a uniformed man—sprang from the depression,
raced across his line of progress a quarter of a mile ahead. Four more
figures sprouted from the same spot and rushed after the fugitives.

"Pirates!" cried Pelican....

[entry 167      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 August 10th:  

Joan's captor sped over the desert with scarcely a sound save the scraping of its metal feet on the coarse sand and an occasional clink as they struct fragments of stone.  Only the faintest low-pitched hum told of the machinery at work within the casing; machinery which was acting with a flawless accuracy and judgement beyond the capacity of any animal creation.  Not once did it hesitate and not once did it err in placing the six hurrying legs.  The smooth, relentless perfection of its progress over the rough ground was uncanny; every climb and every descent was made without a suggestion of a slip or stumble.

After her first shock she had struggled desperately, but, held as she was, it was impossible for her to reach the pocket where her pistol lay.  In her panic she battered on the casing until her hands became sore even in their thick gloves, but upon the machine it had no effect whatever.  After that, she relapsed into a fatalistic acceptance of the situation.  At the rate they had travelled it would take her hours to find her way back over the desert.  As far as she could, she resigned herself to face whatever fate the machine intended for her.

Once in the journey she had caught sight of a group of machines to the west: and they had seen her captor, too.  They came scuttering awkwardly but speedily to investigate.  Her machine swerved and put on speed.  It left them behind easily...

[entry 166 - contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 June 25th:   

"...We ate breakfast, called out our location to you, and started over to have a look at the city.

"We sailed toward it from the east and it loomed up ahead of us like a range of mountains.  Lord, what a city!  Not that New York mightn't have higher buildings, or Chicago cover more ground, but for sheer mass, those structures were in a class by themselves.  Gargantuan!

"There was a queer look about the place, though.  You know how a terrestrial city sprawls out, a nimbus of suburbs, a ring of residential sections, factory districts, parks, highways.  There was none of that here; the city rose out of the desert as abruptly as a cliff.  Only a few little sand mounds marked the division, and then the walls of those gigantic structures.

"The architecture was strange too.  There were lots of devices that are impossible back home, such as set-backs in reverse, so that a building with a small base could spread out as it rose..."

[entry 165      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 June 17th:   

The creature was insectivorous.  During each of the periodical winds, it allowed itself to be swooped into the air, maintaining contact with the ground by spinning its lengthy filament.  One end of the threat was firmly attached to a rock by some organic adhesive manufactured within its glands.  In the teeth of a gale, it spread itself wide imitating a parachute net, to trap the millions of insects being dashed about by the wind.  At any time, the kite could descend by "reeling in" on the practically indestructible strand.

"I'm glad we managed to catch a couple of those things," Gerry remarked.  "I have an idea we might make a fortune from them."

"No kidding!  How?  Sell 'em to little boys every March?"

"No, silly.  Get a couple of those creatures to spin a few miles of that amazing filament, and you could weave a coat or any other garment that would never wear out.  Just think what the cotton and wool and silk tycoons would pay us to keep that off the market!"

[entry 164     contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 June 13th:

From the top of the cliffs we could see across the plain to the neighboring city of Clion, a place of some five thousand inhabitants...  Its roof tops glittered in the sun, but save for the fact that it had a curiously deserted appearance we could at first see nothing out of the ordinary.  Then what I had taken to be a shimmer in the air resolved itself into a wisp of smoke.  It thickened as we watched, seemed curiously thickened with tongues of flame.

But that could wait.  The Guards' quarters were our immediate concern.

We entered into the main room, where communication with the planets was maintained.

I was leading, but I stopped dead on the threshold with a stifled exclamation, and an odd feeling of horror constricting my throat.  A figure was seated at the receiving set, head-phones over its ears, and fingers straying over the bank of keys in front of it.

For the moment, so utterly unprepared was I for what I saw, I imagined it must have been a Guard.  It was not.  It was a thing so utterly grotesque and horrible that I can scarcely find words to describe it.  It was a biped of sorts, though it seemed to be covered with some kind of bark-like scales.  Its feet ended in claws; its fingers were hook-like.

One of the men exclaimed at the sight.  The creature must have had remarkably quick hearing, for it turned in a flash, baleful green eyes stabbing at us like heat-rays.  We recoiled in horror.  It was the gargoyle of the medieval world come to life, only a hundred times more horrible and more intelligent-looking than anything the mind of man had ever conceived.

I raised my pencil ray tube, and pressed the button.  The tiny ray stabbed out and impinged on the creature's breast.  There came a little puff of smoke and a queer fetid odor, but beyond that the thing seemed unharmed.  Its next move was made so quickly that it caught us almost unprepared.

Of a sudden it seemed to launch itself from the sitting position it occupied...

[entry 163     contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 June 10th:   

The mother-of-many had Thurlow carried up to the dais on which she sat.  Several of the little folk gathered round him and examined him, speaking to each other in high, lisping whispers.  Presently the matriarch herself joined the consultation, then spoke again, "Thy mother sleeps."

"It is a sickly sleep.  'Her' head was injured by a blow."  Oscar joined the group and showed them the lump on the back of Thurlow's head.  They compared it with Oscar's own head, running gentle, inquisitive little hands through his blond hair.  There was more lisping chatter; Matt found himself unable to follow even what he could hear; most of the words were strange.

"My learned sisters tell me that they dare not take thy mother's head apart for fear that they could not get it back together," announced the mother-of-many.

"Well, that's a relief!" Tex said out of the corner of his mouth.

"Old Oz wouldn't let them anyhow," Matt whispered.

The leader gave instructions and four of her "daughters" picked up the unconscious officer and started carrying him out of the room.  Tex called out, "Hey, Oz - do you think that's safe?"

"It's all right," Oscar called back, then explained to the matriarch, "My 'sister' feared for the safety of our 'mother'."

The creature made a gesture that reminded Matt suddenly of his great-aunt Dora - she positively sniffed.  "Tell her that her nose need not twitch!"

[entry 162     contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 June 4th:   

Thunder Moon!  One of the most awesome and dangerous of all the worlds in the System.  Curt Newton had good reason to remember it, for on this hazardous sphere had been staged one of the most dramatic episodes of his great struggle with the villainous Lords of Power.

Thunder Moon - a rugged wilderness of mountains, valleys and gorges, illuminated now by the ghostly green radiance of the huge planet that hung in the heavens overhead, and also by the ominous red flare of countless volcano craters that seethed and smoked at innumerable places.

Wild and forbidding indeed was this unearthly moon, whose core was a mass of molten lava that was forever bursting up through the craters in violent eruption.

"Only the lure of gravium would ever induce men to stay long on this moon," muttered the Brain, staring downward.

"There're the lights of the gravium mine - down in the valley beyond that big volcano!" Otho exclaimed.

Captain Future had seen.  In a long, narrow valley at whose head a huge black volcano smoked, were clustered lights.

[entry 161      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 June 1st:   

The nights were full of wind that blew down the empty moonlit sea-meadows past the little white chess cities lying for their twelve-thousandth year in the shallows.  In the Earthmen's settlement, the Bittering house shook with a feeling of change.

Lying abed, Mr Bittering felt his bones shifted, shaped, melted like gold.  His wife, lying beside him, was dark from many sunny afternoons.  Dark she was, and golden, burnt almost black by the sun, sleeping, and the children metallic in their beds, and the wind roaring forlorn and changing through the old peach trees, the violet grass, shaking out green rose petals.

The fear would not be stopped.  It had his throat and heart.  It dripped in a wetness of the arm and the temple and the trembling palm.

A green star rose in the east.

A strange word emerged from Mr Bittering's lips.

"Iorrt.  Iorrt." He repeated it.

[entry 160      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 May 27th:   

Schools of flame-fish, small fish that glowed with light because of their habit of feeding on radioactive sea-salts, swam just under the surface.  The triple head of hydra, a species of big sea-snake always found twined in curious partnerships of three, reared above the waves.  Far northward a "stunner", like an enormous flat white disc of flesh, shot up out of the moonlit sea and came down with a thunderous shock that would stun all fish immediately and make them easy prey.

The Comet drove on low above the silver-lit ocean teeming with strange life.  Under the three big, bright moons, the tear-drop ship cleaved the atmosphere like a meteor, hurrying toward the perilous rendezvous with mystery that Curt Newton was determined to keep.

"Lights ahead, master," boomed Grag, the robot's photoelectric eyes peered keenly...

[entry 159      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 May 23rd:   

"Lad, it's time we left," rasped Simon Wright's warning.  "The crystals are coming too near."

Curt whirled.  The cataract of brilliant crystals was now pouring steadily across the rocky plains toward them.  The gleaming, faceted crystalline things advanced inexorably, motivated by an electric force in their strange organic bodies that gave them the power of attraction and repulsion to each other.

With a clicking, murmuring, rustling sound, the brilliant flood moved at the rate of a few feet a moment, each separate gleaming crystal jerking a few inches forward by exerting repulsion upon those behind it.  They were but a hundred feet away.

"Grag, wreck the cyclotrons of this ship!" Captain Future ordered.  "Then we'll be off."

As the big robot sprang into the black craft to obey, Orris and Skeel voiced wild protest.

"You're not going to leave us here to be killed by those things!" they cried.

Curt bent over the two helpless men and touched their nerve-centres, lifting the paralysis that held them.  As they staggered up, Grag came out of the ship.

"It is wrecked, master," boomed the robot.  "That ship will not fly space again."

"You two men can run now, and you can easily keep away from the crystals here," Curt told Orris and Skeel.  "I'll notify the Planet Police at Jovopolis and they'll send a ship out to pick you up."

His eyes flamed.

"If I did what I'd like to, I'd let the crystals have you!  You've helped to spread a horror that's blacker than murder!"

The two criminals stared wildly at the clicking, advancing flood of crystals now only fifty feet away, and then broke into a crazy run in the opposite direction, stumbling frantically away across the drab gray desert.

[entry 158      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 May 16th:   

The speaker was announcing that the Flying Cube would soon be ready to start for the Water City, to make a survey and to follow the ball into the Cold Country.  A giant ray projector was being mounted on the Cube, and defensive electronic barrage armament.  Within a few hours it would be ready to start.

Guy and Toh departed at once, pushing through the gathering people on the lakeshore, they passed into the narrow city streets.  By the Light Country living cycle, this was the middle of the time of sleep.  None were sleeping in the Hill City this night.

Walking and running, Guy pulling Toh by the hand, they hastened through the city, ascending toward the distant heights beyond it.

As the clouds turned black the dim street lamps were lighted.  There were lights in most of the houses.  Toh and Guy threaded the crowds and attracted little attention.  Soon they came to wider, deserted streets: A steady upward ascent of the broad circular bowl, spread like a flat cauldron upon the inner slopes of which the city was built.

The street they followed was soon a wide ascending road, with spreading tree branches interlocking overhead; low stone houses at the sides, set in verdant gardens or patches of cultivated soil...

...The houses were soon farther apart.  Less soil was here; the metallic, barren desert land began showing.  The street dwindled and was lost at the summit.  Ahead was a tumbled region of pointed crags and strewn boulders - an upland desert plateau stretching away into the darkness with the black sullen clouds hanging low above the encircling hills.  This was the highland from which the Hill City took its name.

They reached the rim.  Behind them the bowl of the city lay with winking tiny lights like myriad eyes.  Ahead there was a small level space strewn with boulders...

[entry 157      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 May 6th:   

Don climbed aboard and settled himself just abaft the last pair of eyestalks; they turned around and surveyed him.  He found that Sir Isaac had thoughtfully had two rings riveted to his neck plates to let him hold on.  "All set?"

"Yes, indeed."

The dragon reared himself up again and they set out, with Don feeling like Toomai-of-the-Elephants.

They went up a crowded dragon path so old that it was impossible to tell whether it was an engineering feat or a natural conformation.  The path paralleled the shore for a mile or so; they passed dragons at work in their watery fields, then the path swung inland.  Shortly, in the dry uplands, his party turned out of the traffic into a tunnel.  This was definitely art, not nature; it was one of the sort the floor of which slides quietly and rapidly away in the direction one walks (provided the walker is a dragon or weighs as much as a dragon); their ambling gait was multiplied by a considerable factor.  Don could not judge the true speed nor the distance covered.

They came at last out into a great hall, large even for dragons; the flowing floor merged into the floor of the hall imperceptibly and stopped...

entry 156      contributed by Zendexor

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2021 April 22nd:   

"I was stooping down to pick a branch of a tree to bring back, when I suddenly saw them in the dawn.  They stampeded and I caught one, a magnificent tusker, and none of them bigger than mice.  This I knew must be absolute proof...  I put the elephant into that match-box and put an elastic band round it to keep it shut...

"Well, I might have collected more things; but, as I said, I had absolute proof, and I had hanging over me all the while, and oppressing me with its weight, that feeling that I was on the wrong planet.  It is a feeling that no one who experiences it can shake off for a single moment...  It is no mere homesickness, it is an always-present overwhelming knowledge that you are in the wrong place, so strong that it amounts to a menacing warning that your very spirit repeats to you with every beat of the pulse.  It is a thing I cannot explain to anyone who has not been lost outside Earth..."

[entry 155      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 April 18th:    

"When I saw that mesh I got my revolver ready, for it seemed to me a pretty obvious protection against some powerful animal.  Otherwise, I thought, why not walk about in the open instead of that narrow enclosure?

"There were about thirty of them there, dressed simply and gracefully, though their dress was a bit oriental from our point of view.  Everything about them was graceful except that dingy-looking flat house.  I came up to the mesh and greeted them.  I knew that taking my hat off would probably have no meaning to them, but I took it off with a wide sweep and bowed.  It was the best I could do, and I hoped that it might convey my feelings.  And it did too.  They were sympathetic and quick, and every sign that I made to them, except when too utterly clumsy, they understood at once.  And when they didn't understand they seemed to laugh at themselves, not me.  They were like that.  Here was I utterly crude and uncouth, half savage, compared to them; and they treated me with every courtesy that they could get my poor wits to understand... Well, I stood there with my hands on the mesh, and found it was good stout metal though much less than half an inch wide: I could easily get my thumb through the round apertures, so that we could see each other quite clearly.  Well, I stood there talking to them, or whatever you call it, as well as I could, and remembering all the time that there must be something pretty bad in those forests for all that thick wire to be necessary.  I never guessed what.

"I pointed to the sky, in the direction in which they would have seen Earth shining at night; and they understood me..."

[entry 154      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 April 12th:   

Once he woke up to see something that looked like a bad attempt to squeeze a face out of putty stuck against the rocks.  It was a naturally ugly head, and the way the creature was wobbling something that might have been its lips made it even uglier.  He shuddered, before he saw that it was much too wide to squeeze through.  And the picture of the thing in his mind didn't help his next attempt at sleep.

The next time he snapped out of his nap was when one of them suddenly slapped a tail against the earth and charged angrily at the stones.  They stood up under the assult, by some miracle, even when it kept repeating it.  But the ground shook each time the tail slapped down.

The strange part of it was that any one of them could have come through by turning sideways and flowing through, as they had flowed across the ground behind the tractor.  But this seemed to be against the rules, for some reason.

Dick got up and moved around, working off the numbness.  At his first movement the creatures drew back out of the way.  He noticed that when he moved toward them, they started going around to the side.  When he stood still, they moved away.  But at any other movement, they tried to come through the rocks toward him.  It all fitted the legends he had heard, and it was no easier to believe in person than it had been when it was nothing but an idle story.

He saw Charlie watching him, and went back.  "I don't get it," he admitted.

"Why should you?" Charlie asked.  "You think of 'em as animals.  But they ain't - they're just a bunch of walking plants."

[entry 153      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 April 9th:   

Constantly buffeted by wind and water, we staggered on until at last we came to a comparatively open space which we felt would be far safer than the denser forest.  Here we huddled together with our backs toward the storm, waiting like dumb creatures for the battle of the elements to subside.

Great animals, which ordinarily would have threatened our very existence, passed close by us as they fled before the storm; but we had no fear of them for we knew that they were even more terrified than we, and that hunting and feeding were far from their thoughts.  Aside from the danger from flying branches, we felt comparatively safe; and so were not as alert as customarily, although, as a matter of course, we could have heard or seen little above the storm and the blinding rain.  The crashing thunder, following peal after peal, almost continuously, combined with the howling wind to drown out any other sound.

At the very height of the storm we were suddenly seized from behind by powerful fingers.  Our weapons were wrenched from us and our hands secured behind our backs; then, at last, we saw our captors.  There were fifteen or twenty of them, the largest men I have ever seen.  Even the smallest of them stood fully seven feet in height.  Their faces were extremely ugly, and a pair of great, tusk-like yellow teeth imparted no additional beauty to them...

[entry 152      contributed by Zendexor]

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2021 April 8th:   

There was nothing moving in sight on the fairly level plane, spawled off by Jupiter's fierce heat when the System was young, whose horizon was a scant mile away.  So they started walking.  Gravitation was surprisingly strong, indicating unusual density.  This fact, plus the intense cold which slows down the dance of the atoms, accounted for the fact that [.....] still retained remnants of an atmosphere.

The hikers even saw traces of water vapor, in form of frost.  Occasionally they passed clumps of mossy or lichenous growth.  Twice they observed colonies of slug-like creatures growing, reproducing, and dying with amazing rapidity...

[entry 151      contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2021 April 6th:   

He now saw that some of the larger rocks were strangely angular.  Pushing some around, he noticed more.  Calling Arpad, they explored the area thoroughly.  There were many such angular rocks, and now in several spots they noticed that one or two such were still perched on top of others.  Bruce found a little piece of reddish stuff, plastic of some sort, probably part of a machine, though he couldn't place it.  Arpad turned up some bits of broken material which looked like splinters of a smashed vase or pot.

When they came back to Garcia, and sat around and discussed their findings, they knew they had come across one of the most amazing discovering in interplanetary history.  Clearly there had once been a city standing in this plain...  A city that had crumbled into ruin and dust probably hundreds of thousands of years ago - and a city that defied all the logic of life.

Garcia explained this, "How could life survive here?  There could never have been enough air here, even when this satellite was new and still hot from its creation.  My guess is that this city was a colony planted from somewhere else.  But where and who could it have been that was here so many lost ages ago - back before there were even men on Earth...?"

[entry 150      contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2021 March 10th:   

He withdrew his knife from his pack and examined the nearest fungus. Of course, it wasn’t truly a fungus, that was an earthly form of life, but this... blurred the line between single organisms and colonies... resembled a mesh between the two... Should one be hurt or damaged, the others could pick up its slack until it was healed, as each possessed the necessary biological machinery.
This, incidentally, was what made the zuff so fearsome. As its unfortunate discoverer, Viron Zuff, had learned, a bullet would not stop it as long as enough of its “nodes” remained unharmed. Some of those nodes, particularly its thrasher-tentacles, were devastatingly dangerous.
Cutting into the fungus, he managed to remove a piece that seemed suitably dry for burning. Since he had no idea what growth would most easily light, he decided to hedge his bets and collect some of everything, the grass, the shrubs, a crawling vine and some others, and test each one with his magnesium lighter.
An hour later the sun was plunging below the horizon, and the ground was covered in a thin frost everywhere except a wide circle around Raker’s crackling fire. Sitting near it made him feel secure, and as he lay with his head resting on his pack he thought again of the situation the Patrol had left him in. I hope there’s open water somewhere out here; so far everything seems to get its water from the ground, or perhaps the air, neither of which do me any good. But I can’t waste time every day searching for springs, not when the sun’s only up for four hours. Or perhaps nobody survives this test and the Patrol is staffed by corpses. He grinned, remembering some of his colder, less animated instructors...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2021 March 9th:  

They had progressed not more than twenty paces into the dense undergrowth when the gleaming wall of the Tritu Anu was entirely hidden from view.  The artificial sunlight seeped through the mass of vegetation overhead, a ghostly green twilight that made death masks of their faces.  But of the lights themselves, of the great latticed columns, of the enormous sponge-like blossoms of the upper surface of the jungle sea, nothing could be seen.  They were deep in a tangled maze of translucent flora that was like nothing so much as a forest of giant seaweed transplanted from its natural element.  The moss-like carpet beneath their feet was slushy wet and condensed moisture rained steadily from the matted fronds and tendrils above.  The air they breathed was hot and stifling; laden with rank odors and curling mists that assailed throat and head passages with choking effect.

Weird whisperings there were from above and all about them.  It seemed almost that the uncanny, weaving green things were alive and voicing indignant protest over the intrusion of the three humans.

Ankle deep in the rain-soaked moss, their clothing drenched and steaming, they pressed ever deeper into the tangle.  All sense of direction was lost.

"Guess we'd better rest now," said Blaine, seeing that Ulana was gasping from her exertions.  "They'll never trail us here."

"How about this crystal thing - the searching ray?" Tommy ventured.

"It cannot follow us," the girl explained.  "Certain juices of the plants provide an insulator against the ray.  In fact, it was an extract of these that was used in protecting the underground laboratory we just left.  We are safe now and I am very tired."

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2021 March 8th:  

...there was a fleeting glimpse of sun-lit spires of mountains, shadowed valleys, and mysterious crevasses from which clouds of steam and yellow vapour curled.  Still it seemed they must crash against one of those slender pinnacles.  Nearer it came like a flash; a dizzying blur, now, that drove directly in their straining faces.

And then, abruptly, it was gone.  Already thousands of miles astern, the danger was past...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2021 February 9th:  

Without warning the darkness flickered into grey twilight.  He struggled to reach the observation window so that he could see the Citadel colony from the air, but it was already too late; the gyrojet was immersed in the impenetrable bacterial cloud mass - but only for a few minutes.  They emerged into intense blazing sunshine reflecting with almost incandescent violence from the cloud surface - an immense field of dazzling white snow receding on all sides to the horizon.

It was impossible to estimate speed, for there were no landmarks on which the eye could fix.  All he could see was the slender dart-shaped shadow of the plane apparently motionless on the clouds - now far below - like some hovering insect, or a black-ink stain.  The pilot was evidently navigating by instruments, or flying on a radar beam; indeed, Macklin could see no other way in which point-to-point air transport would be possible over terrain permanently obscured by dense living fog...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2021 January 9th:   

The first living thing they encountered was a bird, not much bigger than a skylark, but more like an owl in appearance; for it was grey in colour, its downy feathers like fur at a distance, and each eye was surrounded by a ruff, or several rows of stiff concentric feathers.  It differed from an owl, however, in having a straight beak; and differed from any bird on earth in the manner of its flight.  Pointing its beak vertically upwards, it rose as straight as a stone sinks, and when it had reached a point about two-thirds the height of the grotto, gyrated swiftly on its own axis.  It descended in a corkscrew motion and invariably took up its perch on a ledge about six feet from the ground.  Another peculiarity was that it showed not the slightest sign of fear at the approach of Olivero and the Green Child, and would, indeed, freely allow itself to be touched and fondled.  It was comparatively rare in distribution, and except during the mating season, solitary in its habits.

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 December 26th:   

...I was watching a strange, unearthly scene.  There was a whole crowd of men such as the one I had met.  They were gathered around what looked like a huge wheel, at least fifty feet in diameter.  This wheel was attached to a great mass of machinery by means of a large axle.

Hanging on the bottom of a wheel was a small egg-shaped vehicle.  Set in the side of this was a circular doorway whose thick metal door was open.  Before this was a being whom I instantly knew to be he whom I had met.  The other people were gathering around him talking in an utterly incomprehensible tongue.

This whole scene was set in a huge clearing before what looked to be a small city of curious hemispherical buildings.  The horizon of this strange world was very close.  The curvature could be distinctly made out.  The sky was a deep blue, and overhead, filling most of it, was a vast greenish sphere...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 December 2nd:   

...The day that it all happened, he and Terza were outside the dome.  They had been pushing loudies around.

Loudies were not dangerous unless you killed them.  You could knock them down, push them out of the way, or tie them up; after a while, they slipped away and went about their business.  It took a very special kind of ecologist to figure out what their business was.  They floated two meters high, ninety centimeters in diameter, gently just above the land...  eating microscopically.  For a long time, people thought there was radiation on which they subsisted.  They simply multiplied in tremendous numbers.  In a silly sort of way, it was fun to push them around, but that was about all there was to do.

They never responded with intelligence.

Once, long before, a loudie taken into the laboratory for experimental purposes had typed a perfectly clear message on the typewriter.  The message had read, "Why don't you Earth people go back to Earth and leave us alone?  We are getting on all - "

And that was all the message that anybody had ever got out of them in three hundred years.  The best conclusion was that they had very high intelligence if they ever chose to use it, but that their volitional mechanism was so profoundly different from the psychology of human beings that it was impossible to force a loudie to respond to stress as people did on Earth.

The name loudie was some kind of word in the old Chinesian language.  It meant the "ancient ones"...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 September 13th:   

...Then the trees thinned out and they found themselves in a glade, an "island" of deep grass surrounded on all sides by the green walls of the jungle.  It was good to stand in clear sunlight again, after the green, perfumed twilight of the jungle paths.  The glade was empty, save for six strange plants, each standing about six feet tall, with barrel-shaped trunks of thick flesh rising to a wide opening lined with wet tissue from which eight long fronds hung down.  Karm Karvus had never seen their like.

"Shall we rest for a moment, Karm Karvus?" Sumia asked, leaning against one of the fungoid trunks.

Something deep within the Tsargolian cried silent warning.  His hair prickled at the nape of his neck and the muscles about his mouth twitched.  He felt a chill wind of uneasiness blowing across his nerves.  But, looking around, he could perceive no visible cause for this feeling of danger...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 July 9th:   

He made himself breathe slowly and evenly, counting.  One, two.  In, out.  The weed waved with gentle grace along the edges of the light.  His body waved too, giving itself to the massive rhythm of the sea.  One, two.  In, out.  And nothing came, nothing showed itself.

Then he saw them.

There were two of them.  There must have been a third one with the light, unless it was resting on a ledge of rock, but two were all that Kerrick saw.  They swam toward him through the brilliant water, their bodies all shining gold.  They were man-shaped except that their hands and feet were modified for swimming, and except that they must have been fully nine feet tall, slender, sleek, and terribly strong.  They were obviously air-breathers, and warm-blooded.  They looked at Kerrick with great black luminous eyes, full of a quick but quite alien intelligence, and Kerrick shuddered a little where he stood, as though something cold had brushed across him...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 June 25th:   

...Flying slowly at an altitude of two hundred feet, he passed over level areas covered with velvety stretches of gray vegetation that resembled mosses and lichens, and over hills and valleys clothed with forests of weird, grotesque growths.

There were fungi shaped like saucers, umbrellas, cones, spearheads, and even upraised hands, all rusty black in color.  There were black stalks, fully fifty feet in height, topped by five-pointed purple stars, huge gray pear-shaped growths from which there curled sinuous branches that resembled the tentacles of cuttle fish, and black trees, some of which were a hundred feet in height, with branches that unrolled like the leaves of sword-ferns.

Disposed to view some of these wonders at closer range, Ted lowered his craft to the ground.  A glance at his exterior thermometer showed the outside temperature to be 210° above zero, Fahrenheit, almost the boiling point of water at sea level on earth!  He accordingly closed his visor and turned on the valve of his insulated compressed air tank before opening the door of his turret.  Slamming this quickly behind him, he stepped down from his craft, sinking ankle deep in the soft, gray moss that coated the forest floor...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 June 11th:   

...In their favor, they had the low gravity and the loose, friable earth; against them was the same crumbly texture, with its tendency to collapse, and the incredible dryness.  Ordinary concrete wouldn't set decently, before it had dried the ravenous dust had sucked half the water from it and you got a flimsy stuff which the erosion of temperature extremes would soon ruin.  So you devised molds of plastic board which would act as a shield till the concrete was properly set.  One of the furtive, tiny animals chewed the insulation off power lines, so you had to bury them in concrete too.  Then you ran out of cement and had to scout round looking for some local substitute: a clay which mixed with water and baked into bricks.

But you couldn't spend water that lavishly, so you had to find it elsewhere, you had to extract it from the fluid-hoarding cells of certain trees.  Quickly growing rootlets with some unknown dowsing sense would split open any pipe or container with moisture in it, so you had to eradicate all plants for miles around and lay the pipes in open tunnels where they could be inspected.  And so on, and on, and on.

And slowly the base was growing...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 May 29th:   

...The whirling rotary clouds were at times close over us - green and red vapor masses, hurling rain and wind heavy with sulphur.

The clouds sometimes rifted into great vertical funnels through which the clear daylight of the sky was visible.  It brightened the scene, and the bleak, desolate landscape beneath us was at those moments clearly shown as great rippled sheets of metallic plateau, drenched with water - shining coppery, then cast with green - or blinding red when the lightning puffed - or again, a wild, broken area with spires and crags and boulders strewn as though some frenzied Titan had flung them.

And we swept over tiny valleys where soil had collected and trees and verdure had sprung up.  The trees bent low in the wind; the rain-sheet blurred our vision of them as we struggled past...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 May 7th:   

For a million years the bubble had been growing, like a vast abscess, below the root of the mountains... forcing itself along lines of weakness, accumulating in cavities...  

...the smooth plain puckered like a navel.  The Sea was alive and moving, stirred by the forces that had woken it from its age-long sleep.  The centre of the disturbance deepened into a funnel, as if a giant whirlpool was forming in the dust... the boat was sliding and skittering far down that impossible slope.  Its own momentum, and the accelerating flow of the dust beneath it, was carrying it headlong into the depths.  There was nothing he could do but attempt to keep on an even keel, and to hope that their speed would carry them up the far side...

The straining motors were making some headway, but not enough.  The falling dust was gathering speed - and, what was worse, it was rising outside the walls of the cruiser.  Now it had reached the lower edge of the windows; now it was creeping up the panes...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>> here's where this is

2020 March 30th:   

My route now carried me smoothly towards the incandescent area...  I approached the iridescent region and then was suddenly inside it.  The sensation was of being inside a glorious world of light and colour, and with this sensation came the certainty that someone was talking to me.  Although I was not conscious of hearing any known words, I knew that I could remove my headpiece.  I moved on closer, gliding through the sea of shimmering light.  Voices spoke at me now from every side.  It wasn't like ordinary speech.  It was more like the voices of music.  I felt I knew something both beautiful and profound was being said, but that I lacked a knowledge of the language.  The sounds became louder as I proceded.

There were shapes too, showing more clearly the forming and reforming process I'd seen from the outside.

The voices drew me on even further, and the further I travelled the clearer the shapes became and the more distinctive the sounds.  The language seemed not only accessible but immediately within my grasp.  Suddenly I knew the language would indeed become clear - but only if I were to proceed beyond the threshold of my own being...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 March 29th:   

The robot's metal hand pointed toward a ripple that was approaching them through the moonlit water - a ripple that was ominously deliberate and steady in its advance.

"It's a bibur - one of the greatest and most terrible sea-monsters of our world!" yelled Tharb.  "Paddle away!"

But their attempt at retreat was too slow to be of any avail.  That rippling came closer, and they could clearly see it was caused by an enormous body swimming beneath the surface.

Then out of the moonlit sea a huge living thing broke surface.  It was of brontosaurus bulk, its immense, sleek, wet, furry body urged forward by webbed paws, its snaky neck ending in a snarling head of great fangs and blazing red eyes...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 March 6th:   

"...If it is the glare that made them draw back it must be that they have some organs so sensitive to light that quite possibly they can see!  I must find out about this."

Thereupon he began questioning the lillies again to discover how much they could tell him of their sense of vision.  He shot his hand out and asked them if they knew what movement he had made.  Every time (though they had no idea of what he was trying to find out) they told him precisely what he had done.  Then going close to one large flower he passed his hand all round it; and the blossom turned its head and faced the moving hand all the way round the circle.

There was no doubt in our minds whatever, when we had finished our experiments, that the Vanity Lillies could in their own way see - though where the machinery called eyes was placed in their anatomy we could not as yet discover.

The Doctor spent hours and days trying to solve this problem.  But, he told me, he met with very little success.  For a while he was forced to the conclusion (since he could not find in the flowers any eyes such as we know) that what he had taken for a sense of vision was only some other sense, highly developed, which produced the same results as seeing...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 February 20th:   

They did not realize the full strangeness before they donned spacesuits and went outside.  Then, saying very little, they wandered about looking and feeling.  Their brains were slow to develop the gestalts which would allow them readily to see what surrounded them.  A confused mass of detail could not be held in the memory, the underlying form could not be abstracted from raw sense impressions.  A tree is a tree, anywhere and anywhen, no matter how intricate its branching or how oddly shaped its leaves and blossoms.  But what is a -

- thick shaft of gray metal, planted in the sand, central to a labyrinthine skeleton of straight and curved girders, between which run still more enigmatic structures embodying helices and toruses and Moebius strips and less familiar geometrical elements; the entire thing some fifty feet tall; flaunting at the top several hundred thin metal plates whose black sides are turned toward the sun?

When you have reached the point of being able to describe it even this crudely, then you have apprehended it.

Eventually Darkington saw that the basic structure was repeated, with infinite variation of size and shape, as far as he could see.  Some specimens tall and slender, some low and broad, they dominated the hillside.  The deeper reaches were made gloomy by their overhang, but sun speckles flew piercingly bright within those shadows as the wind shook the mirror faces of the plates.  That same wind made a noise of clanking and clashing and far-off deep booming, mile after metal mile.

There was no soil, only sand, rusty red and yellow.  But outside the circle which had been devastated by the boat's jets, Darkington found the earth carpeted with prismatic growths, a few inches high, seemingly rooted in the ground.  He broke one off for closer examination and saw tiny crystals, endlessly repeated, in some transparent siliceous material: like snowflakes and spiderwebs of glass.  It sparkled so brightly, making so many rainbows, that he couldn't well study the interior.  He could barely make out at the centre a dark clump of... wires, coils, transistors?  No, he told himself, don't be silly...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 February 19th:   

"Impossible," muttered Russ.  "Life can't exist here."

But they trudged on, across the barren flat to a ridge of rock.  Here they found what they had thought to be impossible.  Clustered along the side of the ridge, in the faint light of the distant and tiny Sun, was a series of thin, blue stalks, about half a foot in height.  On each stalk was a flat scalloped top like a little umbrella.  It was sometimes bright blue, and sometimes violet.  As they drew nearer, these little stalks began to sway, and turned their tops toward them.

"They look like plants," said Burl.  "Plants made of something glassy and plastic."

As Russ studied the strange growths, something moved across the dusty tract behind them.  It was long and thin and wiggly, with a ridge of tiny crystalline hairs along its back.  It was like a snake perhaps, but one made of some unbelievably delicate glasswork.

It slid among the plants and wrapped itself around one.  The growth stopped suddenly, and then was absorbed by the creature.

Russ shook his head in amazement.  "This is a great discovery...   life designed to exist among liquid gases and frozen air - life which can't have anything in common with protoplasm.  Apparently it couldn't exist even on Saturn's moons - they were too hot for it!"

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 February 18th:   

It had almost no atmosphere, just a thin layer of the heavier gases.  It was a belted world, without clearly defined continents or surface markings.  Its equatorial zone was one vast, featureless belt of darkish-gray.  Its temperate zones were white, with patches of yellow here and there.  But its poles were gray again.

"The satellite's like a huge ball of thin mud that's never hardened," said Burl as they studied the strange terrain.

"The equator's the softest - it seems to be a river of muddy water, hundreds of miles wide - only it can't be water.  Probably semisolidified gases holding dust and grains of matter in suspension," said Russ.  "The temperate zones are the same stuff, only colder, and therefore more stable.  A thin crust of frozen gases over a planet-wide ocean of semiliquid substance."

"The Sun-tap station's on the southern pole," said Burl.  "That must be solid."

It was.  The poles... were actually two continent-sized islands of shell.  Dry, mudlike stuff, hard as rock, floating on the endless seas of the semiliquid planet...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 19th:   

White lichens towered above them like a grotesque forest.  On the rock ledges above them he saw enormous bat-like creatures, their scaly white wings folded about them in sleep.

Following the guidance of the radite-compass needle, Captain Future entered the first tunnel that diverged north-eastward.  A larger underground stream ran through it, broiling downward.  The two intrepid adventurers pressed on.

"How much farther do we have to go, chief?" Grag demanded.

"Plenty far," was Curt's unpromising answer.  "The intensity gauge on the radite-compass shows the deposit is still a long way off.  And moderate that bellowing voice of yours, will you?" he added warningly.  "The People of Darkness range through all these caverns."

"The cave-people they warned us about?" Grag said.  "Who's afraid of them?  They might have scared other explorers, but not me."

The connecting caverns seemed endless as Curt and the robot penetrated ever deeper...

He and Grag were moving down a dim chasm beside the waters of a racing little river, when Curt glimpsed something rushing towards them.

"Cave-spider!" he yelled, and grabbed for his proton pistol.

"Holy sun-imps!" gasped Grag...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 17th:   

One of the Three held in his supple, nine-fingered hand a glittering thing.  A hoop of pure crystal, struck across with crystal bars from which hung tiny rings of glassy stuff.  A crossbar and a handle, also of crystal, completed the curious instrument.  It reminded me of the mystic crux ansata, the Looped Cross, which the ancient Egyptians called the ankh, the Cross of Life.  It reminded me also of the sistrum used by the priests of the Nile in certain ceremonies...

We said nothing to each other.

We knew who the three gaunt mummies frozen in the misted amber expanse of crystal were - or who they had been aeons before.

The Timeless Ones...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 16th:   

Dentro al cristallo che 'l vocabol porta           [Within the crystal which bears the
    cerchiando il mondo, del suo chiaro duce       circling the world, of its famous
    sotto cui giacque ogni malizia morta,             under whom all wickedness lay
di color d'oro in che raggio traluce                  of the colour of gold in which rays
    vid' io uno scaleo eretto in suso                     I saw a ladder reaching up

    tanto, che nol seguiva la mia luce.                  so far, that my sight could not
                                                                          follow it.
Vidi anche per li gradi scender giuso               I also saw, descending by the
    tanti splendor, ch' io pensai ch'ogni lume        so many splendours that I
                                                                         thought every light
    che par nel ciel quindi fosse diffuso.               that appears in heaven had
                                                                         been poured out there.]

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 15th:   

Captain Future uttered a relieved exclamation.

"Ah, there's what we're looking for - Skal Kar's stockade."

Ahead yawned a thousand-foot clearing that had been hacked from the jungle.  It was surrounded by a wire stockade, to which were connected cables from a squat atomic electric-generator.  The generator kept the wire stockade charged, and the gliding white gas-beasts that swarmed outside dared not approach it.

At the center of the clearing looked the mysterious laboratory of the murdered scientist.  It was a black cement tower, windowless, cylindrical in shape.  Curt brought the Comet down to an expert landing inside the stockade.  He cut the cycs, then rose to his feet.

"Looks like the place is deserted," he told the Futuremen, "but we'll take no chances.  Be ready for a scrap in there..."

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 14th:   

A level space, nearly circular, a mile wide.  Surrounded with a curving ridge, it was scattered with heaps of crumbled stone.  The piles, Ellis thought, were too regular to be anything save remains of buildings, but buildings that had been ruins five hundred thousand years, or a million.  Where had the survivors gone - if there had been survivors?

The question was answered without words.

The silent music swept them on... across the dead mounds, towards the cyanic-shining, vertical wall of the pit.  It carried them out of the ruins, upon a worn and ancient road.  And the road sloped downward, curved into a vast crevice whose jagged walls glowed with light of sapphires.

From the crevice they passed into lofty and interminable vaulted caverns, whose smoothed walls yet bore the mark of tools.  Dust of eons lay thick upon the floor, swirled up chokingly about them.

The compelling, noiseless chords led them downward once more, and into a lower system of artificial caverns.  Here the rock was brighter still, glowing with radiance softly electric-blue, shadowless and unearthly.  The air was heavier here, and warmer, and the floor was clear of dust.

They were drawn into a colossal space, blue-walled, domed and circular, and far out across its floor.  The mad music abruptly ceased its throbbing in their brains.  The journey was ended.

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 13th:   

Ul Quorn's column trudged into its own cellhouse, down a bleak cement corridor lighted by krypton bulbs.  The hard-eyed guards watched as each prisoner entered his own little cell.

"Lock up!" barked the captain of guards.

The guards came along the corridor, flashing the tiny ray of their vibration-keys on each door-lock, thus sealing it electrically.

"Aura on!" came the final order of the officer.

A soft glow filled the corridor, emanating from flat plates in the ceiling...

Quorn heard the guards depart...  There was soon no sound except the soft beat-beat of the ventilation system.

Ul Quorn finally rose softly and went to the ventilator-shaft of his cell.  It was a six-inch opening covered by a barred grating.  Deftly, he removed the grating and drew up four objects suspended in the shaft by cords...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 12th:   

He visited the laboratories and the power receiving and transforming stations.  He went through the crowded levels of the dwellers.  He saw a slow dance performed before a packed theater crowd by a serpentine... woman, utterly ugly to his human standards, yet with an unearthly beauty of her own.  He listened to sad, cold music, like the complaint of proud demons.

Avidly he drank it all in, absorbing the strange life of these strange beings.  But behind every other feeling was the desperate seeking for a way of escape.  Even when he was undergoing some psychological test for Lu Tzo, who was his attentive and coldly interested shadow at all times, the deeper levels of his mind were fermenting and seething with plans for flight...

Together they went to the top level of Li-Kar where the space ships had their berths.  The sun should have been shining... but Li-Kar was in twilight, a queer, dark twilight with faint stars showing in a blue patch directly above.  Outside this patch there seemed to be a somber sky, deeply purple, without a relieving glimmer of light.  He would have been mystified if he had not known that he was looking on the towering sides of the abyss which contained Li-Kar, and not on the sky at all...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2020 January 11th:   

It was Mari who first noticed the disturbing instability of the terrain beneath them.  Curiously soft and flexible, it cushioned their footsteps, giving them the illusion that they were traversing an air-inflated rubber mattress...

But the illusion was tinged with horror, so alien was the experience and so far were they from the security of the known.

Mari's feet tingled as the soil heaved and pulsated with a startling life of its own.  Frantically her grasp tightened on Bregge's arm.

"Jac, the ground is moving!  Do you feel it?  It is moving beneath us, Jac!"

Bregge stopped abruptly in his tracks.  He sucked in his breath sharply.  For an instant he remained unstably poised...  His feet twisted about despite the frantic commands of his brain.

Beneath them the ground was unmistakably heaving.  Surging up yeastily about them...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>> here's where this is

2019 December 4th:   

"I was born in Nefertem, a small town not far from Trismegistus in the Tropic of Gemini, the temperate zone...  My parents raised dragons.  Most everyone in Nefertem did..."

...She told us what they looked like...  Komodo dragons crossed with zebras crossed with otters, with the personality of a drunken grand-dad set in his ways...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2019 October 7th:   

Jaro stared about him in amazement.  The narrow dimlit way was jammed with revelers.  The women wore the historic costume, a short skirt low on bare hips and a diminutive jacket with squared sleeves.  Their black hair was done up on top of their heads with blossoms of the red egalet that only blooms during the Rains.  Wooden clogs were fastened to their feet.  The men wore gaudy, loose trousers and cummerbunds of green.  Their chests were bare, and many bands of hammered silver ornamented their arms...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2019 August 18th:  

Even before the storm set in, Ivan had no destination in sight. He picked his way carefully along an endless stretch of cracked road, climbing over the debris of broken-down speeders and fighters left over from the war. The alien metal shimmered a strange green-black even without light. Ivan raised the collar on his duster as if thin fabric would add protection that his chromium shell could not. He couldn't perceive anything beyond a few feet through the curtain of sand and wind that whipped around him, but there was a chirping signal in his quantum processors, clear and immediate over anything else. The satellites had been the first casualties of the invasion, though; there should be no signals.

Further on, Ivan crested a hill. The wind died down and he found himself overlooking the twisted metal carcass that had been Damascus, the first city...

[contributed by Troy Jones III]

>>  here's where this is

2019 August 9th:   

We stepped down onto the island ground, wet and squishy with tiny writhing vermipods.

"I can see why they call it mud."

The goggles were hard to get used to, the freeze-framed images constantly appearing with every lightning flash, lingering and then fading into gaudy shapes of the superimposed temperature patterns. Around us, even protected from the main wind, secondary currents sent sheets of water droplets across the roots, mud, and our suits. In the high atmospheric pressure it felt sluggish to move, not heavy, just thick.

We found tentacle marks on the ground and capillaries rubbed off the vantaroot stems where the tentacles had grasped. The Orska inflate hydrogen sacs along their thorax to move slowly up and down through the three-dimensional landscape like Venusian gorbors or Earthling sloths. But for us to go up,  we'd have to climb...

[contributed by Troy Jones III]

>>  here's where this is

2019 July 27th:   

Beyond the sea was land; such land as none of them had ever seen before. It was a vegetable inferno. It boiled with forests; it seethed with jungle.

Jagged blue treetops beckoned.

Crackling with wild fire, the Alice Liddell plunged into the forest.

Trees, if trees they were, went down in swathes before her. Long tracts of woody sponge she gouged. Writhing groves of luminous spaghetti she sheared. Behind her, foul smoke went up, thickening the soupy air. 

Branches crazed the viewport, ripped scanners from the hull. Tabitha couldn't see anything any more. She screamed something, screamed along with her ship, which screamed as she hit.

She skidded and turned in the pulpy undergrowth, churning everything beneath her. Sap and ichor rained down on the dented hull. All around were outraged hoots and squeals of panic.

And then it was over.

[contributed by Troy Jones III]

>>  here's where this is

2019 January 29th:   

A half-dozen of the bulks stirred uneasily... moving clumsily.  Then, broadside on, they started rolling toward the two men on the most direct line - through the lake of liquid hydrogen.

"They'll drown in that..."

The first one had rolled into the liquid, sending it splashing in rainbow showers of ultra-cold.  It rolled smoothly on into the lake, going deeper and deeper, until it was fully twenty feet deep in the stuff.  Then...  the huge, blunt end of the vast cylinder of apparently brainless flesh split.  As though hinged, an immense, thick flap of leathery hide rolled down, and instead of the leathery, featureless cylinder-end, a whole assortment of organs appeared.

First was a tube, fully two feet in diameter, that shot out like an elephant's trunk, to dip into that inconceivably frigid lake.  The mobile liquid swirled and bubbled, twisting in vortices.  With a tremendous smack, audible even in that thin, chill air, the tube broke contact with the surface of the liquid.


[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2019 January 28th:   

Behind the battlements and bastions atop the city’s walls crouched the Golden Amazons of the garrison, loosing their storms of arrows at the swarming besiegers below them.  Other tawny-skinned crews worked the alta-ray tubes that belched blasts of blue flame at regular intervals.  Wherever the blue beams struck, the ground was blackened while the twisted and charred shapes of Scaly Ones writhed in brief agony.  The myriad brazen trumpets of Larr sounded hasty rallying calls, or else tossed staccato signals from one part of the defences to another.

The hordes of Lansa had invested the city on three sides, the marsh-land on the far border of the city protecting that side from direct assault.  Groups of Scaly Ones took shelter behind tree trunks and mounds of earth and any other possible cover, firing their gas-guns up at the battlements in an effort to lessen the arrow fire.  Others crept forward behind movable metal shields.  Heavy-caliber gas-guns inched slowly forward behind wooden mantlets that bristled with arrows, and hurled their larger explosive bullets up at the walls.  Wherever they struck there was a puff of yellow dust and a scarred place on the stones.  Reptilian trumpets beat with a staccato thunder as Lansa kept in touch with his various divisions.  Not all the advantage was with the besiegers, however.  Even as Gerry watched, a blue heat-ray struck full on one of the big gas-guns and blew it up with a shattering crash.

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2019 January 22nd:   

Ciaran felt good. The heat of the sunballs that floated always, lazy in a reddish sky, made him pleasantly sleepy. And after the clamor and crush of the market squares in the border towns, the huge high silence of the place was wonderful.

He and Mouse were camped on a tongue of land that licked out from the Phrygian hills down into the coastal plains of Atlantea. A short cut, but only gypsies like themselves ever took it. To Ciaran's left, far below, the sea spread sullen and burning, cloaked in a reddish fog. To his right, also far below, were the Forbidden Plains...

[contributed by Troy Jones]

>>  here's where this is

2018 December 21st:   

...The radiant walls lighted their way, and they came to a large room.  In the exact center of this room reared a limpidly transparent cube about twenty feet in diameter.  Big Oaf motioned to it, and Pendrake walked over, aware of the creature puffing along behind him.

"Look down!" said the other, and his voice was almost gentle.

Pendrake had already seen.

At some depth below, a blue-white flame glowed with an intense brightness.  After one glance Pendrake had to look away.  But he kept looking at it with quick additional glances.

"It's been shiny like that," said Big Oaf, "since I came here.  What do you make of it, feller?"

Pendrake said silently, agonizingly, into the cube, "Please rescue me.  I need help!"

From some vast distance in the cube a voice answered into his brain, "Friend, your ability to sense our presence gains you nothing, for it will be long indeed before men can use what we have and know."

"Have mercy," Pendrake said shakily.  "I am about to be murdered..."

"Very well, you may choose.  Join us in here forever."

"You mean - "

"Forever absorbed into the unity, free of all passion and pain forever."

Pendrake shrank.  His instantaneous reaction was total revulsion.  He had no feeling at all that he was being offered freedom...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2018 December 16th:   

…The desert valley floor behind them seemed suddenly to have sprouted some tall bushes.  There were possibly a dozen of them standing at intervals of twenty yards.  They were too far away – perhaps one eighth of a mile – for Dynamon to see them very well, but they appeared to consist of a score of leafless branches radiating outward in all directions from a small core.  It was as if a basket ball was bristling with ten-foot javelins. 

“Where did they come from?” Dynamon gasped.  “I didn’t see them when we walked over that ground a few minutes ago.”

“Nor I,” agreed Thamon.  “I can’t imagine where they came from.”

Just then one of the bushes apparently moved a few feet as if blown by the wind.

“Good lord!” exclaimed Thamon.  “Did you see that?  One of those things rolled forward!”

Then another of the fantastic bushes started to roll, and another, and another.  In a moment all twelve of the extraordinary apparitions were rolling rapidly down the wind toward the humans.  Dynamon felt the hair on the back of his neck stiffen…   

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2018 December 13th:   

..."That bag of stuff, Bill... Who puts it beside the track?"

I'd been wondering if he would show any curiosity.  "A race of small, furry creatures," I answered.  "They're very shy.  They live underground, and dig ore for us."  I grinned at his puzzled expression.  "We don't want the ore, because it's usually only rock.  We're interested in the material of the bags.  It's as thin as paper, completely transparent, and yet it can withstand the weight of tons of rock.  They manufacture it from their own bodies, much the way spiders produce webs.  We can't seem to make them understand that we want only the bags..."

[contributed by Zendexor]

>> here's where this is

2018 March 5th:    

...This particular crater was a small one, and the level floor was only some thirty yards below the rim.  Larry stared in amazement at the creatures who were coming to sit in long rows around a small mound in the center of the crater.  He hardly knew whether to call them men or animals.  They had the hard shell and articulated legs of an insect, but their faces had a semi-human appearance in spite of the pair of long antennae that grew out of their foreheads.  Their feet made a dry rustling sound as they clambered down over the rock, and they carried metal clubs with spiked heads.  Larry saw that they walked with four of their six limbs while the upper pair were equipped with three curved fingers each.  On the top of each antenna was a round ball that glowed with a phosphorescent light...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2018 March 4th:    

...The men jokingly called them Barber's Delights because of the thick, shaggy coat of hair that covered their log-like bodies.  The B.D.'s either didn't understand, or just didn't care, for they made no objection to their nickname.

There were twenty of the creatures in this group, and more joined them along the way.  They imitated the brisk step of the soldiers with amazing exactness, though they possessed no resemblance whatsoever of feet.  They moved on dense mats of stubby, resilient bristles that grew from the flat bottoms of their column-like bodies, sweeping forward like a horde of self-propelling brooms.  Not wishing to be outdone by the visitors, they had their own sergeant, who moved along importantly at the side of his command, glaring threateningly from the corner of his single, huge eye...

[contributed by Robert Gibson]

>>  here's where this is

2018 February 16th:   

"Well, here we are...  The first Earthmen to set foot alive on the Enchanted World!  I guess I got part of what I wanted anyway, didn't I?  But with what equipment we've got to keep alive with, we might just as well be buried with the RQ257!  Funny I'm not scared.  I guess I don't realize..."

His bitterly humorous tone faded away in vague awe.

Still lying prone the two men looked around them, at the hellish, utterly desolate scene.  The hills brooded there under the blue-black sky and tenuous, heatless sunshine.  A rock loomed up from a heap of sand.  It was a weathered monolith with weird carvings on it...  A curious pulpy shrub, ugly and weird, grew beside the monolith.  A scanty breath of breeze stirred up a little ripple of dust.

That and the stillness.  The stillness of a tomb.  Harwich could hear the muted rustle of the pulses in his head.  Everything here seemed to emphasize the plain facts.  The Forbidden Moon was a trap to them now.  A pit from which they could expect no rescue...

[contributed by Robert Gibson]

>>  here's where this is

2018 February 11th:   

..."What can we do?" I said hopelessly.  "They watch our every move by day, and at night cage us in that prison-pen that nothing could escape from."

"Just the same, I'm not going to die here toiling like a beast," said Kurdley, taut, and was silent thenceforward.

When the feeble little sun sank from sight, and the green sky began to darken, work was halted.  Our tools were checked in and then we exhausted prisoners were marched by the armed guards toward the metal buildings of the colony's heart.  We trudged wearily on the load-soled shoes that held us down against _______'s lesser gravity.

A few officers off duty watched idly as we were marched through the colony.  And as usual there were a few _______s, come as friendly visitors from the surrounding jungles.  Big, green, rotund creatures with bulbous heads, watching us with their huge, faintly glowing eyes, their flipper-hands holding the short spears they used for hunting...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 31st:   

...she told me about the weird, dog-like creatures.  The male, exuding a scent - if you could call it that - a vapor which in the air bursts into spontaneous combustion as it combines with the atmospheric oxygen.

How long we ran through what proved to be a maze of passages in the honey-combed ground, I have no idea.  Several Earth miles, doubtless.  Several times we stopped to rest, with the breezes tossing about us as I listened, tense, to be sure the Orgs were not coming.  Then at last we emerged; and at the rocky exit I stood staring, amazed.

...From where we stood the ground sloped down so that we were looking out over the top of a wide spread of lush, tangled forest.  Weird jungle, rank and wild with spindly trees of of fantastic shapes, heavy with pods and exotic flowers and tangled with masses of vines.  Beyond it, far ahead of us there seemed a line of little metal mountains at the horizon; and to the left an Earth-mile or so away, the forest was broken to disclose a winding thread of little river.  It shone phosphorescent green in the half light.  The storm was over now, but still the colors lingered in the cloud sky - a glorious palette of rainbow hues up there that tinted the forest-top...

[contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 28th:   

Fraser began to walk again. He walked a lot at night. The days were ugly and depressing and he spent them inside, working. But the nights were glorious. Not even the driest desert of Earth could produce a sky like this, where the thin air hardly dimmed the luster of the stars. It was the one thing he would miss when he went home.

He walked, dressed warmly against the bitter chill. He brooded, and he watched the stars. He thought about his diminishing whisky supply and the one hundred and forty six centuries of written history gone into the dust that blew and tortured his sinuses, and after a while he saw the shadow, the dark shape that moved against the wind, silent, purposeful, swift.

Out of the northern desert someone was riding…

[contributed by Dylan Jeninga]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 27th:   

“Oh, ‘tanstaafl.’ Means ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ And isn’t,” I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across the room, “or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in the long run, or turns out worthless.”

“An interesting philosophy.”

"Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.” I fanned air. “Was Earthside once and heard expression ‘Free as air.’ This air ain’t free, you pay for every breath.”

“Really? No one has asked me to pay to breathe.” He smiled. “Perhaps I should stop.”

“Can happen, you almost breathed vacuum tonight. But nobody asks you because you’ve paid. For you, is part of round-trip ticket, for me it's a quarterly charge. I started to tell how my family buys and sells air to community co-op, decided it was too complicated. But we both pay.”

[contributed by Dylan Jeninga]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 26th:   

It was a house, of course!

He shouted wildly and no one answered, but it was a house, a spark of reality blinking at him through the horrible, nameless wilderness of the last hours. He turned off the road and went plunging cross-country, across ditches, around trees, through the underbrush, and over a creek.

Queer thing! Even the creek glowed faintly - phosphorescently! But it was only the tiniest fragment of his mind that noted it.

Then he was there, with his hands reaching out to touch the hard white structure. It was neither brick nor stone nor wood, but he never paid that the least mind. It looked like a dull, strong porcelain, but he didn’t give a hoot. He was just looking for a door, and when he came to it and saw no bell, he kicked and yelled like a demon.  

He heard the stirring inside and the blessed, lovely sound of a human voice other than his own. He yelled again.

There was a faint, oiled whir, and the door opened. A woman emerged, a spark of alarm in her eyes. She was tall and wiry, and behind her was the gaunt figure of a hard-faced man in work clothes… No, not work clothes. Actually they were like nothing Schwartz had ever seen, but, in some indefinable way, they looked like the kind of clothes men worked in.

But Schwartz was not analytical. To him they, and their clothes, were beautiful; beautiful only as the sight of friends to a man alone can be beautiful.

[contributed by Dylan Jeninga]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 25th:   

...It was raining when they set out the next day, warm rain that came down in sudden, smothering deluges that lasted a few minutes before easing off, only to deliver another barrage ten or fifteen minutes later. Within a few hours, they were in the swamp proper, and finding a way with ground solid enough and water not too deep for the lizard became a full-time task for Vinnie, even with the tall bronze way markers that had been hammered deep into the ground to show the path to the Lepers’ territory.

    Only a few kilometers into the Swamp, the treelike green caps gave way to a profusion of clusters of smaller fungi, in many different colors, some of them mobile. There were also rabbit-sized lizard-things, and insectoid critters that swam and jumped and chattered, and early on the afternoon of the first day, something shadowy and huge loomed ahead in the fog. Vinnie backed the lizard off and all three of them readied their heat-beams before it continued on its way…

[contributed by Dylan Jeninga]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 24th:   

Lucky ran forward eagerly in the steady stride which he could maintain for hours without feeling unduly tired. Under the circumstances, he felt he could have maintained such a stride even under Earth’s gravity.

And then, with no warning, no premonitory glow in the sky, no hint of any atmosphere, there was the Sun!

Rather, there was a hairline that was the Sun. It was an unbearable line of light edging a notch of broken rock on the horizon, as though some celestial painter had outlined the gray stone in brilliant white...

[contributed by Dylan Jeninga]

>>  here's where this is

2018 January 23rd:   

When Colin Sherrard opened his eyes after the crash, he could not imagine where he was. He seemed to be lying, trapped, in some sort of vehicle, on the summit of a rounded hill, which sloped steeply away in all directions. Its surface was seared and blackened, as if a great fire had swept over it. Above him was a jet-black sky, crowded with stars; one of them hung like a tiny, brilliant sun low down on the horizon.

Could it be the sun? Was he so far from Earth? No - that was impossible. Some nagging memory told him that the sun was very close - hideously close - not so distant so distant that it had shrunk to a star. And with that thought, full consciousness returned. Sherrard knew exactly where he was, and the knowledge was so terrible that he almost fainted again...

[contributed by Dylan Jeninga]

>>  here's where this is

>>  Guess The World - Third Series