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Pet Farm   By: (1914-2004)

Pet Farm by Roger D. Aycock

First Page:

Pet Farm


Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction February 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: The next worst thing to hell is being shanghaied into the Paradise of an alien planet! ]

They had fled almost to the sheer ambient face of the crater wall when the Falakian girl touched Farrell's arm and pointed back through the scented, pearly mists.

"Someone," she said. Her voice stumbled over the almost forgotten Terran word, but its sound was music.

"No matter," Farrell answered. "They're too late now."

He pushed on, happily certain in his warm euphoric glow of mounting expectancy that what he had done to the ship made him and his new found paradise with him secure.

He had almost forgotten who they were; the pale half memories that drifted through his mind touched his consciousness lightly and without urgency, arousing neither alarm nor interest.

The dusk grew steadily deeper, but the dimming of vision did not matter.

Nothing mattered but the fulfillment to come.

Far above him, the lacy network of bridging, at one time so baffling, arched and vanished in airy grace into the colored mists. To right and left, other arms of the aerial maze reached out, throwing vague traceries from cliff to cliff across the valley floor. Behind him on the plain he could hear the eternally young people playing about their little blue lake, flitting like gay shadows through the tamarisks and calling to each other in clear elfin voices while they frolicked after the fluttering swarms of great, bright hued moths.

The crater wall halted him and he stood with the Falakian girl beside him, looking back through the mists and savoring the sweet, quiet mystery of the valley. Motion stirred there; the pair of them laughed like anticipant children when two wide winged moths swam into sight and floated toward them, eyes glowing like veiled emeralds.

Footsteps followed, disembodied in the dusk.

"It is only Xavier," a voice said. Its mellow uninflection evoked a briefly disturbing memory of a slight gray figure, jointed yet curiously flexible, and a featureless oval of face.

It came out of the mists and halted a dozen yards away, and he saw that it spoke into a metallic box slung over one shoulder.

"He is unharmed," it said. "Directions?"

Xavier? Directions? From whom?

Another voice answered from the shoulder box, bringing a second mental picture of a face square and brown, black browed and taciturnly humorless that he had known and forgotten.

Whose, and where?

"Hold him there, Xav," it said. "Stryker and I are going to try to reach the ship now."

The moths floated nearer, humming gently.

"You're too late," Farrell called. "Go away. Let me wait in peace."

"If you knew what you're waiting for," a third voice said, "you'd go screaming mad." It was familiar, recalling vaguely a fat, good natured face and ponderous, laughter shaken paunch. "If you could see the place as you saw it when we first landed...."

The disturbing implications of the words forced him reluctantly to remember a little of that first sight of Falak.

... The memory was sacrilege, soiling and cheapening the ecstasy of his anticipation.

But it had been different.

His first day on Falak had left Farrell sick with disgust.

He had known from the beginning that the planet was small and arid, non rotating, with a period of revolution about its primary roughly equal to ten Earth years. The Marco Four 's initial sweep of reconnaissance, spiraling from pole to pole, had supplied further information without preparing him at all for what the three man Reclamations team was to find later.

The weed choked fields and crumbled desolation of Terran slave barracks had been depressing enough. The inevitable scattering of empty domes abandoned a hundred years before by the Hymenop conquerors had completed a familiar and unpromising pattern, a workaday blueprint that differed from previous experience only in one significant detail: There was no shaggy, disoriented remnant of descendants from the original colonists... Continue reading book >>

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