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Black Eyes and the Daily Grind   By: (1928-2008)

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[Illustration: When Black Eyes needed a nap everybody slept! ]



The little house pet from Venus didn't like New York, so New York had to change.

He liked the flat cracking sound of the gun. He liked the way it slapped back against his shoulder when he fired. Somehow it did not seem a part of the dank, steaming Venusian jungle. Probably, he realized with a smile, it was the only old fashioned recoil rifle on the entire planet. As if anyone else would want to use one of those old bone cracking relics today! But they all failed to realize it made sport much more interesting.

"I haven't seen anything for a while," his wife said. She had a young, pretty face and a strong young body. If you have money these days, you could really keep a thirty five year old woman looking trim.

Not on Venus, of course. Venus was an outpost, a frontier, a hot, wet, evil smelling place that beckoned only the big game hunter. He said, "That's true. Yesterday we could bag them one after the other, as fast as I could fire this contraption. Today, if there's anything bigger than a mouse, it's hiding in a hole somewhere. You know what I think, Lindy?"


"I think there's a reason for it. A lot of the early Venusian hunters said there were days like this. An area filled with big lizards and cats and everything else the day before suddenly seems to clear out, for no reason. It doesn't make sense."

"Why not? Why couldn't they all just decide to make tracks for someplace else on the same day?"

He slapped at an insect that was buzzing around his right ear, then mopped his sweating brow with a handkerchief. His name was Judd Whitney, and people said he had a lot of money. Now he laughed, patting his wife's trim shoulder under the white tunic. "No, Lindy. It just doesn't work that way. Not on Earth and not on Venus, either. You think there's a pied piper or something which calls all the animals away?"

"Maybe. I don't know much about those things."

"No. I don't think they went anyplace. They're just quiet. They didn't come out of their holes or hovels or down from the trees. But why?"

"Well, let's forget it. Let's go back to camp. We can try again tomor look! Look, there's something!"

Judd followed her pointing finger with his eyes. Half hidden by the creepers and vines clinging to an old tree stump, something was watching them. It wasn't very big and it seemed in no hurry to get away.

"What is it?" Lindy wanted to know.

"Don't know. Never saw anything like it before. Venus is still an unknown frontier; the books only name a couple dozen of the biggest animals. But hell, Lindy, that's not game . I don't think it weighs five pounds."

"It's cute, and it has a lovely skin."

Judd couldn't argue with that. Squatting on its haunches, the creature was about twenty inches tall. It had a pointed snout and two thin, long ears. Its eyes were very big and very round and quite black. They looked something like the eyes of an Earthian tarsier, but the tarsier were bloody little beasts. The skin was short and stiff and was a kind of silvery white. Under the sheen, however, it seemed to glow. A diamond is colorless, Judd thought, but when you see it under light a whole rainbow of colors sparkle deep within it. This creature's skin was like that, Judd decided.

"If we could get enough of them," Lindy was saying, "I'd have the most unusual coat! Do you think we could find enough, Judd?"

"I doubt it. Never saw anything like it before, never heard of anything like it. You'd need fifty of 'em, anyway. Let's forget about it too small to shoot, anyway."

"No, Judd. I want it."

"Well, I'm not going to stalk a five pound hey, wait a minute! I taught you how to use this rifle, so why don't you bag it?"

Lindy grinned. "That's a fine idea. I was a little scared of some of those big lizards and cats and everything, but now I'm going to take you up on it... Continue reading book >>

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