Page:Weird Tales volume 36 number 01.djvu/15

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blues. As far as I'm concerned, I'd just as soon not see it coming as to watch it grow larger and larger in the perilens—"

Well, he was right there. So since Hanson was fresh out of questions, Biggs hoisted hips back to his quarters. My guess is that he went back to billy-dooing with Diane's picture. What's yours?

I could build this up if I wanted to, and offer you a blow-by-blow account of what happened in the next quartet of days. But why bother? The truth is—nothing did. The V-I unit continued to chug along like a dream; our old crate went flashing through space like a quantum with a hot date; tempus squirmed; and me—I was in seventh heaven. I don't mean fifth or sixth, either. This was the easiest shuttle I had ever made. We were traveling so fast, and the V-I unit surrounded the Saturn with such a force-field, that my radio was utterly useless.

So I got a vacation with pay. I ate and slept with what you might call 'monotonous regularity', and I spent all of my waking hours curled up with a good (i.e. torrid) book.

And at the end of four days, Mr. Biggs disconnected his V-I unit, as called for on his plot-chart, and just like he said, there was Uranus gleaming beneath us! So we landed and spent a night swapping yarns and drinks with the S.S.P. officers garrisoned at New Oslo, then we took on a hold-full of gallium, and tootle-oo to the refrigerated seventh planet.

"And (this gets tiresome, doesn't it?) we accelerated for a day and a half, then Biggs plotted a course, pushed a button, and once again we were free-wheeling through colorful and star-spangled space.

Life was swell, and life was wonderful, and if there was any fly in my celestial ointment it was the fact that after the first week Lieutenant Romeo "Lovesick" Biggs got tired of staring at his fiancée's image and insisted on strolling up to my turret to tell me (1) what a wonderful girl she was, (2) how much he missed her, and (3) how he was simply going to die if he didn't see her again soon.

Which boring details I had (1) known for years, once having had a heart-throb for Diane myself, (2) figured from his conversation, and (3) high hope that he would. Quietly!

So somehow it was the afternoon, ship's time, of the fourth day of the return shuttle and Biggs was in my turret, not to mention my hair, and I was hearing for the thousandth time about he wasn't worthy of a gal like Diane, when all of a sudden bells jangled all over the ship, lights flashed the DANGER! signal, and my turret-audio broke into frantic voice, and the voice was that of the pilot on duty, our Third Mate, Bud Wilson.

"Sparks, is Biggs there! Yes? Get him here quick! And find the Old Man! Hurry! For God's sake—"

We were out of there like a flash—make that two flashes—and pounding through the corridors, up the ramp to the bridge. We met Cap Hanson on the way. The three of us burst into the control-room to find Wilson tearing his hair, and Dick Todd, sweating, white-faced, poring over diagrams on the chart-board.

Somebody yelled, "What's the matter?" and I can't tell you who, because it was probably all of us. And Dick's eyes were haggard pockets in his face.

"Jupiter!" he said.

"What about it?" yelled the skipper. "Talk, man!"

Todd shoved the chart at Biggs, pointed with a finger that wobbled.

"It's on our trajectory! Right before us now! We can see it—Look!"

And he threw back the shield, and my heart gave an awful lurch. For no longer was the scene before us one of changing iridescent beauty—the entire pane was cov-