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Spawn of the Comet   By: (1893-1974)

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This etext was produced from “Astounding Stories” November 1931. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

[Illustration: Professor Wentworth swung his cannon ray upon that advancing horde.]

A swarm of huge, fiery ants, brood of a mystery comet, burst from their shells to threaten the unsuspecting world.

Spawn of the Comet

By H. Thompson Rich

Tokyo, June 10 (AP). A number of the meteors that pelted Japan last night, as the earth passed through the tail of the Mystery Comet have been found and are puzzling astronomers everywhere.

About the size of baseballs, orange in color, they appear to be of some unknown metal. So far, due to their extreme hardness, all attempts to analyze them have failed.

Their uniformity of size and marking gives rise to the popular belief that they are seeds, and, fantastic though this conception is, it finds support in certain scientific quarters here.

Jim Carter read the news dispatch thoughtfully and handed it back to his chief without comment.

"Well, what do you make of it?"

Miles Overton, city editor of The New York Press , shoved his green eye shade far back on his bald head and glanced up irritably from his littered desk.

"I don't know," said Jim.

"You don't know!" Overton snorted, biting his dead cigar impatiently. "And I suppose you don't know they're finding the damn things right here in New York, not to mention Chicago, London, Rio and a few other places," he added.

"Yes, I know about New York. It's a regular egg hunt."

"Egg hunt is right! But why tell me all this now? I didn't see any mention of 'em in your report of last night's proceedings. Did you see any?"

"No, but I saw a lot of shooting stars!" said Jim, recalling that weird experience he and the rest of humanity had passed through so recently.

"Yeah, I'll say!" Overton lit his wrecked cigar and dragged on it soothingly. "Now then, getting back to cases what are these damn things, anyway? That's what I'd like to know."

"So would I," said Jim. "Maybe they are seeds?"

Overton frowned. He was a solid man, not given to fancies. He had a paper to get out every day and that taxed his imagination to the limit. There was no gray matter left for any such idle musings as Jim suggested. What he wanted was facts, and he wanted them right away.

"Eggs will do!" he said. "Go out and get one and find out what's inside it."

"Okay, Chief," said Jim, but he knew it was a large order. "I'll have one on your desk for breakfast!"

Then, with a grave face that denied his light words, he stepped from the city room on that fantastic assignment.

It was the television broadcast hour and crowds thronged the upper level of Radio Plaza, gazing, intently at the bulletin screen, as Jim Carter emerged from the Press tower.

News from the ends of the earth, in audio picture form, flashed before their view; but only the reports on the strange meteors from the tail of 1947, IV so designated by astronomers because it was the fourth comet discovered that year held their interest. Nothing since the great Antarctic gold rush of '33 had so gripped the public as the dramatic arrival and startling behavior of this mysterious visitant from outer space.

Jim paused a moment, halfway across the Plaza, to take a look at the screen himself.

The substance of the Tokyo dispatch, supplemented by pictures of Japanese scientists working over the baffling orange spheres, had just gone off. Now came a flash from Berlin, in which a celebrated German chemist was seen directing an effort to cut into one of them with an acid drill. It failed and the scientist turned to declare to the world that the substance seemed more like crystal than metal and was harder than diamond.

Jim tarried no longer. He knew where he was going... Continue reading book >>

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