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The Sloths of Kruvny   By:

The Sloths of Kruvny by Vern Fearing

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories Oct. Nov. 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.





Illustrator: Henry Sharp

This world we live in is a pretty grim place. It's tough to make a living. At any moment we may get blown up, down or sideways by the atom bomb. The day after tomorrow may never come, and on top of all this, TV commercials are getting worse and worse. It seems that our only salvation is a sense of humor, so we give you "The Sloths ..." a very unserious yarn.

Bradley Broadshoulders friends called him "Brad", or "Broad", or "Shoulders" stood grim lipped, as is the custom of spacemen, and waited for the Commander to speak fateful words. He was an obese youth, fully five feet tall, without a shred of muscle, but he wore the green tunic of the Galaxy Patrol proudly, and his handsome, bony head boasted a tidy crop of Venusian fungus. His gleaming eyes gleamed.

"Brad, We Are In A Tough Fix!" the Commander said suddenly. His name was Metternich, known also as Foxey Gran'pa; he had spoken in capitals all over Europe and continued the practice since. "We Are Up Against It!" he went on. "The Fate Of The World May Be At Stake!"

"What's wrong, chief?" asked Brad, jauntily.

"Plenty!" roared Metternich. "Nobody's Attacking The Earth That's What's Wrong! Nobody Is Out To Conquer The Universe! How Come, May I Ask?"

Brad gulped. Could he believe his ears? No one attacking good, kind, old Earth? Was there nothing in which a man could pin his faith, let alone his ears? Were they, indeed, his ears?

He turned to his best friend, Ugh, who stood beside him. Would he stand behind him? Did he realize they were on the verge of A Mission? Ugh was a pastiche , or intermezzo a cross between a Martian and a Texan as loathsome and stupid a combination as one could wish. Why he was Brad's best friend was a mystery. Squarely, he met Brad's gaze, which left him an eye to spare. It winked, and Brad shuddered.

It was an omen....

"I Want To Know Why!" the Commander shouted. "You Have Your Secret Orders! Off With You!"

A really fat omen.

The good ship, Lox Wing , was almost ready to go. She was a fine, spaceworthy craft, Brad knew; just the same, it was disconcerting to see rats deserting her by the thousands. Not that he missed them; some were sure to return as soon as Ugh appeared on the scene; he seemed to fascinate them.

Just then, the rats paused. Sure enough, Ugh was coming. He was reeling. He had apparently made the rounds, as is the custom of spacemen, swilling vast quantities of airplane dope, and he was high as a kite. Brad glommed him glumly in the gloaming, with more than a glimmer of gloomy foreboding. It was wrong, he thought, all wrong. If only it hadn't been too late to turn back. But it wasn't. They hadn't even started yet. If anything, it was too early. There was no way out. He entered the spaceship with a Si. Si, whose whole name was Silas Mariner, shook his hand weakly, muttered: "Remember the Albatross !" and tottered out.

It was an omen....

Presently, Brad and Ugh were blasting off. As the cigar shaped vessel rose to the starry void, spacemen, their visages lined and tanned like cigars, held their cigars aloft in silent salute and gently flicked their ashes, while softly, a cigar band played " Maracas, Why You No Love Me No More? "

Two days out, Brad summoned Ugh. "How fast are we going?"

"Oh, say ... 30,000 miles an hour?"

Brad calculated rapidly and put down his abacus. "At this rate it'll take us 14 years just to get out of our own lousy solar system!" he barked... Continue reading book >>

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