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Spillthrough   By: (1920-1976)

Spillthrough by Daniel F. Galouye

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By Daniel F. Galouye

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy January 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Ships switching from hyper to normal space had to do it in a micro second if the crews were to live. But it would take Brad suicidal minutes!]

Like the sibilant, labored breathing of a dying monster, the tortured ship wailed its death sobs as it floundered in deep hyperstellar space.

Clank sss, clank sss , went the battered safety valve of the pile cooling system.

BOOM ... boom ... BOOM ... boom. A severed and dangling piston rod crashed in monotonous rhythm against a deck beam as the rest of the auxiliary compression unit strained to satisfy its function.

An off beat bass viol strum added its depressive note to the symphony of destruction's aftermath throom throom ... throom throom . It was the persistent expansion of plate metal reacting to heat from a ruptured tube jacket.

Forward, in the control compartment of the cargo craft, the sounds were muted. But the intervening bulkheads did not lessen their portent.

Brad Conally ran a hand over the stubbles on his cheek and swayed forward in the bucket type seat, his head falling to rest against the control column.

Somewhere aft the ship groaned and metal scraped against metal with a sickening rending sound.

There was a lurch and Brad was jerked to one side, his head ramming against the inclination control. The ventral jet came to life in unexpected protest and fired once.

His hand shot out instinctively to return the loose, displaced lever to neutral. But the force of the single burst had already taken effect and the lower part of his stomach tied itself in a knot.

Centrifugal force reeled him to the fringe of consciousness. He struggled to reach the dorsal ventral firing lever, praying that the linkage was not severed and the mechanism was still operative. His hand found the lever and jerked. The dorsal jet came to life with a roar. He jockeyed the control back and forth across neutral position. The two jets fired alternately. The sickening, end over end gyration became gentler.

The ship steadied itself again into immobility. But a snap sounded from back aft. It was followed by a grating noise that crescendoed and culminated in a terrific crash. His ears popped. A clang reverberated, evidence of an automatic airlock sealing off another punctured section of the vessel.

Shrugging fatigue from his body, he looked up at the panel. The massometer showed a decrease of six tons. The explanation was simple, Brad laughed dryly: A good one quarter of his load of crated inter calc audio retention banks had rammed through the hull and floated into space.

He glanced at the scope. The twenty odd crates, some of them taking up an orbital relationship with the vessel, were blips on the screen.

Twisting the massometer section selector, he read off the figures. Hold One showed full cargo of inter calc equipment. Hold Two, with its thirty bins of hematite, was intact. The third cargo compartment, containing more crated inter calc units, was the damaged one. The massometer reading for that hold accounted for the missing weight.

"How're you doing, Brad?" the receiver rasped feebly. He recoiled at the unexpected sound.

"She's still in one piece, Jim," he shouted to compensate for the strength the signal would lose in traveling the distance to the fleeing lifecraft. "Have you cleared through your second hyperjump yet?"

"Getting ready to go into the third. There won't be any more communicating after that ... not with this short range gear and your faulty transmitter. Find out the trouble yet?"

Brad ignored the question. "How long, Jim?" His voice was eager... Continue reading book >>

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