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The Eyes Have It   By: (1923-)

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[Illustration]

Daylight sometimes hides secrets that darkness will reveal the Martian's glowing eyes, for instance. But darkness has other dangers....

THE EYES HAVE IT

By James McKimmey, Jr.

Illustrated by Paul Orban

Joseph Heidel looked slowly around the dinner table at the five men, hiding his examination by a thin screen of smoke from his cigar. He was a large man with thick blond gray hair cut close to his head. In three more months he would be fifty two, but his face and body had the vital look of a man fifteen years younger. He was the President of the Superior Council, and he had been in that post the highest post on the occupied planet of Mars four of the six years he had lived here. As his eyes flicked from one face to another his fingers unconsciously tapped the table, making a sound like a miniature drum roll.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Five top officials, selected, tested, screened on Earth to form the nucleus of governmental rule on Mars.

Heidel's bright narrow eyes flicked, his fingers drummed. Which one? Who was the imposter, the ringer? Who was the Martian?

Sadler's dry voice cut through the silence: "This is not just an ordinary meeting then, Mr. President?"

Heidel's cigar came up and was clamped between his teeth. He stared into Sadler's eyes. "No, Sadler, it isn't. This is a very special meeting." He grinned around the cigar. "This is where we take the clothes off the sheep and find the wolf."

Heidel watched the five faces. Sadler, Meehan, Locke, Forbes, Clarke. One of them. Which one?

"I'm a little thick tonight," said Harry Locke. "I didn't follow what you meant."

"No, no, of course not," Heidel said, still grinning. "I'll explain it." He could feel himself alive at that moment, every nerve singing, every muscle toned. His brain was quick and his tongue rolled the words out smoothly. This was the kind of situation Heidel handled best. A tense, dramatic situation, full of atmosphere and suspense.

"Here it is," Heidel continued, "simply and briefly." He touched the cigar against an ash tray, watching with slitted shining eyes while the ashes spilled away from the glowing tip. He bent forward suddenly. "We have an imposter among us, gentlemen. A spy."

He waited, holding himself tense against the table, letting the sting of his words have their effect. Then he leaned back, carefully. "And tonight I am going to expose this imposter. Right here, at this table." He searched the faces again, looking for a tell tale twitch of a muscle, a movement of a hand, a shading in the look of an eye.

There were only Sadler, Meehan, Locke, Forbes, Clarke, looking like themselves, quizzical, polite, respecting.

"One of us, you say," Clarke said noncommittally, his phrase neither a question nor a positive statement.

"That is true," said Heidel.

"Bit of a situation at that," said Forbes, letting a faint smile touch his lips.

"Understatement, Forbes," Heidel said. "Understatement."

"Didn't mean to sound capricious," Forbes said, his smile gone.

"Of course not," Heidel said.

Edward Clarke cleared his throat. "May I ask, sir, how this was discovered and how it was narrowed down to the Superior Council?"

"Surely," Heidel said crisply. "No need to go into the troubles we've been having. You know all about that. But how these troubles originated is the important thing. Do you remember the missionary affair?"

"When we were going to convert the Eastern industrial section?"

"That's right," Heidel said, remembering. "Horrible massacre."

"Bloody," agreed John Meehan.

"Sixty seven missionaries lost," Heidel said.

"I remember the Martian note of apology," Forbes said. "'We have worshipped our own God for two hundred thousand years. We would prefer to continue. Thank you.' Blinking nerve, eh?"

"Neither here nor there," Heidel said abruptly. "The point is that no one knew those sixty seven men were missionaries except myself and you five men."

Heidel watched the faces in front of him... Continue reading book >>




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