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A World Called Crimson   By:

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There was a boy and a girl and a strange new planet; the planet was alive with hideous dangers. But the boy and girl were very young and all Robin wanted to know was: "Who stole my doll?"



When the starship Star of Fire collided with a meteor swarm six parsecs stellar north of the galactic hub in the year A.D. 2278, it lost its atmosphere within forty five minutes. At first it was thought that every man, woman and child of the four thousand, one hundred and sixty six aboard were lost, in this the greatest of all interstellar disasters. But as was discovered twenty years later in the Purcell exploration, this was not quite the case. (See PURCELL)

from The ANNALS OF SPACE, Vol. 12

[Illustration: The Cyclops not hungry at the moment regarded Robin as a new toy.]

It was the nasty little boy from B Deck who had stolen her doll. She hated him. He was horrid. She slipped out of their stateroom while her Mom and Dad were dressing for dinner. She'd find that horrid little boy on B Deck. She'd scratch his eyes out.

Her name was Robin Sinclair and she was five years old and mad enough to throw the boy from B Deck out into space, only she didn't know how to go about that.

She went down the companionway to B Deck, where the people dressed differently. The colors weren't as bright, somehow, the cloth not so fine. It was a major distinction in the eyes of a five year old girl, especially one who loved to run her fingers over fine synthetics and who even had a favorite color. Her favorite color was crimson.

"'Scuse me, mister. Didja see a little boy with a doll with a crimson dress on?"

A smile. But she was deadly serious. "Not me, young lady."

She walked for a while aimlessly on B Deck. She saw two little boys, but they weren't the right ones. Pouting now, almost in tears, she was on the verge of giving up. Mom and Dad could buy her a new doll. Mom and Dad were richer than anybody, weren't they?

Then, all of a sudden, she saw him. He was just ducking out of sight up ahead. Under his arm was tucked the doll with the crimson dress, her favorite doll.

"Hey!" she cried. "Hey, wait for me!"

Her little feet pounding, she raced down the companionway. As she reached the irising door in the bulkhead, an electric eye opened it for her. She had never come this way before. It was not as bright and clean as the rest of the ship. She had not even seen the sign which said PASSENGERS NOT PERMITTED BEYOND THIS POINT. But then, she could barely read, anyway.

She caught a quick second glimpse of the boy, and started running as he rounded a turn in the corridor. Shouting for him to stop, she reached the turn and saw him up ahead. He looked back at her and stuck out his tongue and kept running.

It was then that the whole world shuddered, like it was trying to shake itself to pieces.

Alarm bells clanged everywhere. Whistles shrilled. Pretty soon uniformed men were running in all directions. Robin Sinclair was suddenly very frightened. She wanted to go back to A Deck, to her Mom and Dad, but she had followed the boy through so many twisting, turning corridors that she knew she would be lost if she tried. She looked ahead. The boy seemed confident as he made his way. She followed him. But she was really mad at him now. It was his fault she was so far from Mom and Dad when a thing like this happened.

Uniformed members of the crew continued rushing by. She heard snatches of conversation she didn't understand.

"Trying to patch it ..."

"The whole stern section of the ship. Losing air fast ..."

"The lifeboats. I was just down there. Every last one of 'em. Gone. The meteor took 'em right off into space... Continue reading book >>

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