vegetable—would die, and the other would become independent, have "babies" of its own.
Thona said, "If it can read our minds, why does it have to talk to us—audibly?" She spoke directly to Kenworth, oddly averse to addressing the plant directly. But the thing bellowed an answer.
"No—your minds already—getting thoughts. Not from me. Cannot—me—cannot break in."
Thona turned a white face to Kenworth. "Did you hear that? It says our minds are already——"
Kenworth nodded, remembered the strange feeling he had had directly after the escape from the Raider. "I don't get any thoughts, though," he said slowly.
"Not—thoughts," the plant bellowed. "Command—urge—pull. Drags you to—to—thought-giver." A branch bent, pointing. "Light—yes, blue light—you go there."
"Then it isn't the daylight after all," Kenworth said.
Thona's lips were trembling. "We'll keep away from there, Dal. If——"
The shouting broke in. "No keep away—cannot. Drags you there. Dragged everything on—on—Night Side there—long ago. Only me—plants like me—rooted——"
The branches growing from the plant-thing's center twitched, stirred. They writhed apart, oddly like tentacles. One of the plant's bulbous eyes flickered open momentarily.
And without warning the monster struck!
5. Power of Thought
The branches—no longer stiffly erect, but pliant, writhing—came racing down to Thona and Kenworth. They curled about the two, lifting them from their feet. Kenworth felt his ribs crack as the plant-tentacles tightened about him. Dimly he heard Thona scream.
He struck out at the binding branches as he was lifted, realized that he still gripped the light-tube in one hand. A sharp pain darted through his leg. He saw the tip of a tentacle boring into the flesh—saw the pallor of the plant change, become roseate, crimson. The thing was sucking blood from his veins.
Once Kenworth had seen a mouse caught by one of the giant pitcher-plants of earth. Now he realized what the mouse must have felt, helpless, drained dry of blood by the vampire plant. He struggled frantically—uselessly. Held high above the dome-shaped body of the creature, he was powerless to harm it—and the tentacles were tough as steel.
Light! The thing feared light! As the thought flashed into his brain he knew that the plant read his mind. A tentacle loosened, made a swift dart for the light-tube. But already Kenworth had made the adjustment that sent a flood of blinding brilliance glaring out from the cylinder.
Creature of the dark—to which light was a blinding agony! The thin membrane over the plant's eyes was little protection, and as the glaring radiance streamed out Kenworth felt the tentacles about him contract, twist in midair, and loosen. He slipped through them, fell, gripping the light-tube desperately. Rubbery flesh gave beneath his feet; for a moment he felt the pulsing body of the monster beneath him, and then he leaped aside.
"Thona!" he called.
A faint cry brought him to her side. She lay on the gray soil, where she had been thrown by the agonized plant. Kenworth picked her up and sprinted to safely.
But the plant was no longer a menace. Its tentacles lay like a mat of white vines