Suddenly, he stopped and peered from a scatter of fallen rock. The man was standing at what must once have been a window, sending the glaring rays of his flashlight into the gloomy interior. The man, a heavy-set, powerful fellow, walked off with quick, alert steps. It presaged trouble; it meant lightning reaction to danger.
Coeurl waited till the human being had vanished around a corner, then he padded into the open. He was running now, tremendously faster than a man could walk, because his plan was clear in his brain. Like a wraith, he slipped down the next street, past a long block of buildings. He turned the first corner at top speed; and then, with dragging belly, crept into the hall-darkness between the building and a huge chunk of debris. The street ahead was barred by a solid line of loose rubble that made it like a valley, ending in a narrow, bottle-like neck. His ear tendrils caught the low-frequency waves of whistling. The sound throbbed through his being; and suddenly terror caught with icy fingers at his brain. Suppose he leveled one burst of atomic energy— one burst —before his own muscles could whip out in murder fury. Coeurl reached out and struck a single crushing blow at the shimmering transparent headpiece of the spacesuit.
There was a tearing sound of metal and a gushing of blood. The man doubled up as if part of him had been telescoped. For a moment, his bones and legs and muscles combined miraculously to keep him standing. Then he crumpled with a metallic clank of his space armor. Fear completely evaporated, Coeurl leaped out of hiding. With ravenous speed, he smashed the metal and the body within it to bits. Great chunks of metal, torn piecemeal from the suit, sprayed the ground. It was simple to tune in on the vibrations of the id, and to create the violent chemical disorganization that freed it from the crushed bone. Here was more food than he had had in the whole past year. Three minutes, and it was over, and Coeurl was off like a thing fleeing dire danger. Cautiously, he approached the glistening globe from the opposite side to that by which he had left. Gliding noiselessly, Coeurl slipped unnoticed up to a group of men. MORTON stared down at the horror of tattered flesh, metal and blood on the rock at his feet, and felt a tightening in his throat that prevented speech. He heard Kent say: "He would go alone, damn him!" The little chemist’s voice held a sob imprisoned; and Morton remembered that Kent and Jarvey had chummed together for years in the way only two men can. "The worst part of it is," shuddered one of the men, "it looks like a senseless murder. His body is spread out like little lumps of flattened jelly, but it seems to be all there. I’d almost wager that if we weighed everything there, there’d still be one hundred and seventy-five pounds by earth gravity. That’d be about one hundred and seventy pounds here." Smith broke in, his mournful face lined with gloom: "The killer attacked Jarvey, and then discovered his flesh was alien—uneatable. Wouldn’t eat anything we set before him—" His words died out in sudden, queer silence. Then he said slowly: "Say, what about that creature? He’s big enough and strong enough to have done this with his own little paws." Morton frowned. We can’t just execute him on suspicion, of course—" "Besides," said one of the men, "he was never out of my sight." Before Morton could speak, Siedel, the psychologist, snapped, "Positive about that?" The man hesitated. He was wandering around so much, looking at everything." "Exactly." said Siedel with satisfaction. "You see, commander, I, too, had the impression that he was always around; and yet, thinking back over it. There were moments—probably long minutes—when he was completely out of sight." Morton’s face was dark with thought, as Kent broke in fiercely: "I say, take no chances. Kill the brute on suspicion before he does any more damage." Morton said slowly: "Korita, you’ve been wandering around with Cranessy and Van Horne. Do you think pussy is a descendant of the ruling class of this planet?" The tall Japanese archeologist stared at the sky as if collecting his mind. "Commander Morton," he said finally, respectfully, "there is a mystery here.
Notice the almost Gothic outline of the architecture. In spite of the megalopolis that they created, these people were close to the soil. Here is the equivalent of the Doric column, the Egyptian pyramid, the Gothic cathedral, growing out of the ground, earnest, big with destiny. If this lonely, desolate world can be regarded as a mother earth, then the land had a warm, a spiritual place in the hearts of the race. Their machines prove they were mathematicians, but they were artists first; and so they did not create the geometrically designed cities of the ultra-sophisticated world metropolis. There is a genuine artistic abandon, a deep joyous emotion written in the curving and unmathematical arrangements of houses, buildings and avenues: a sense of intensity, of divine belief in an inner certainty. This is not a decadent, hoary-with-age civilization, but a young and vigorous culture, confident, strong with purpose. Abruptly, as if at this point culture had its Battle of Tours, and began to collapse like the ancient Mohammedan civilization. Or as if in one leap it spanned the centuries and entered the period of contending states. In the Chinese civilization that period occupied 480-230 B.
C., at the end of which the State of Tsin saw the beginning of the Chinese Empire. C., of which the last century was the ’Hyksos’—unmentionable—time.