of the Light
by Sophie Wenzel Ellis
In a night club of many lights
and much high-pitched laughter,
where he had come for an hour
of forgetfulness and an execrable
dinner, John Northwood was suddenly
conscious that Fate had begun shuffling
the cards of his
destiny for a dramatic
First, he was
aware that the
man at the next table was gazing at
him with an intense, almost excited
scrutiny. But, more disturbing than
this, was the scowl of hate on the face
of another man, as handsome as this
other was hideous, who sat in a far
corner hidden behind
a broad column,
elbows on the
first at Northwood
at the deformed, almost hideous man.
The projector, belching forth
its stinking breath of corruption,
swung in a mad arc
over the ceiling, over the
Northwood's blood chilled over the
expression on the handsome, fair-haired
stranger's perfectly carved face. If a
figure in marble could display a fierce,
unnatural passion, it would seem no
more eldritch than the hate in the icy
It was not a new experience for
Northwood to be stared at: he was not
merely a good-looking young fellow
of twenty-five, he was scenery, magnificent
and compelling. Furthermore,
he had been in the public eye for years,
first as a precocious child and, later,
as a brilliant young scientist. Yet, for
all his experience with hero worshippers
to put an adamantine crust on his
sensibilities, he grew warm-eared under
the gaze of these two strangers—this
hunchback with a face like a
grotesque mask in a Greek play, this
other who, even handsomer than himself,
chilled the blood queerly with the
cold perfection of his godlike masculine
Northwood sensed something
familiar about the hunchback.
Somewhere he had seen that huge,
round, intelligent face splattered with
startling features. The very breadth
of the man's massive brow was not altogether
unknown to him, nor could
Northwood look into the mournful,
near-sighted black eyes without trying
to recall when and where he had last
But this other of the marble-perfect
nose and jaw, the blond, thick-waved
hair, was totally a stranger, whom
Northwood fervently hoped he would
never know too well.
Trying to analyze the queer repugnance
that he felt for this handsome,
boldly staring fellow, Northwood decided:
"He's like a newly-made wax
figure endowed with life."
Shivering over his own fantastic
thought, he again glanced swiftly at
the hunchback, who he noticed was
playing with his coffee, evidently to
prolong the meal.
One year of calm-headed scientific
teaching in a famous old eastern university
had not made him callous to
mysteries. Thus, with a feeling of high
adventure, he finished his supper and
prepared to go. From the corner of his
eye, he saw the hunchback leave his
seat, while the handsome man behind
the column rose furtively, as though
he, too, intended to follow.
Northwood was out in the dusky
street about thirty seconds, when the
hunchback came from the foyer. Without
apparently noticing Northwood,
he hailed a taxi. For a moment, he
stood still, waiting for the taxi to pull
up at the curb. Standing thus, with the
street light limning every unnatural
angle of his twisted body and every
queer abnormality of his huge features,
he looked almost repulsive.
On his way to the taxi, his thick
shoulder jostled the younger man.
Northwood felt something strike his
foot, and, stooping in the crowded
street, picked up a black leather wallet.
"Wait!" he shouted as the hunchback
stepped into the waiting taxi.
But the man did not falter. In a
moment, Northwood lost sight of him
as the taxi moved away.
He debated with himself whether
or not he should attempt to
follow. And while he stood thus in
indecision, the handsome stranger approached
"Good evening to you," he said curtly.
His rich, musical voice, for all its
deepness, held a faint hint of the
tremulous, birdlike notes heard in the
voice of a young child who has not
used his vocal chords long enough for
them to have lost their exquisite newness.
"Good evening," echoed Northwood,
somewhat uncertainly. A sudden aura
of repulsion swept coldly over him.
Seen close, with the brilliant light of
the street directly on his too perfect
face, the man was more sinister than in
the café. Yet Northwood, struggling
desperately for a reason to explain his
violent dislike, could not discover why
he shrank from this splendid creature,
whose eyes and flesh had a new, fresh
appearance rarely seen except in very
"I want what you picked up," went
on the stranger.
"It isn't yours!" Northwood flashed
back. Ah! that effluvium of hatred
which seemed to weave a tangible net
"Nor is it yours. Give it to me!"
"You're insolent, aren't you?"
"If you don't give it to me, you will
be sorry." The man did not raise his
voice in anger, yet the words whipped
Northwood with almost physical violence.
"If he knew that I saw everything
that happened in there—that I
am talking to you at this moment—he
would tremble with fear."
"But you can't intimidate me."
"No?" For a long moment, the cold
blue eyes held his contemptuously.
"No? I can't frighten you—you worm
of the Black Age?"
Before Northwood's horrified sight,
he vanished; vanished as though he
had turned suddenly to air and floated
The street was not crowded at that
time, and there was no pressing
group of bodies to hide the splendid
creature. Northwood gawked stupidly,
mouth half open, eyes searching wildly
everywhere. The man was gone. He
had simply disappeared, in this sane,
Suddenly, close to Northwood's ear,
grated a derisive laugh. "I can't
frighten you?" From nowhere came
that singularly young-old voice.
As Northwood jerked his head
around to meet blank space, a blow
struck the corner of his mouth. He felt
the warm blood run over his chin.
"I could take that wallet from you,
worm, but you may keep it, and see
me later. But remember this—the thing
inside never will be yours."
The words fell from empty air.
For several minutes, Northwood
waited at the spot, expecting another
demonstration of the abnormal, but
nothing else occurred. At last, trembling
violently, he wiped the thick
moisture from his forehead and dabbed
at the blood which he still felt on his
But when he looked at his handkerchief,
"Well, I'll be jiggered!"
The handkerchief bore not the
slightest trace of blood.
Under the light in his bedroom,
Northwood examined the wallet.
It was made of alligator skin, clasped
with a gold signet that bore the initial
M. The first pocket was empty; the
second yielded an object that sent a
warm flush to his face.
It was the photograph of a gloriously
beautiful girl, so seductively lovely
that the picture seemed almost to be
alive. The short, curved upper lip, the
full, delicately voluptuous lower,
parted slightly in a smile that seemed
to linger in every exquisite line of her
face. She looked as though she had
just spoken passionately, and the
spirit of her words had inspired her
sweet flesh and eyes.
Northwood turned his head abruptly
and groaned, "Good Heavens!"
He had no right to palpitate over
the picture of an unknown beauty.
Only a month ago, he had become engaged
to a young woman whose mind
was as brilliant as her face was plain.
Always he had vowed that he would
never marry a pretty girl, for he detested
his own masculine beauty sincerely.
He tried to grasp a mental picture of
Mary Burns, who had never stirred in
him the emotion that this smiling picture
invoked. But, gazing at the picture,
he could not remember how his
Suddenly the picture fell from his
fingers and dropped to the floor on its
face, revealing an inscription on the
back. In a bold, masculine hand, he
read: "Your future wife."
"Some lucky fellow is headed for a
life of bliss," was his jealous thought.
He frowned at the beautiful face.
What was this girl to that hideous
hunchback? Why did the handsome
stranger warn him, "The thing inside
never will be yours?"
Again he turned eagerly to the
In the last flap he found something
that gave him another surprise: a plain
white card on which a name and address
were written by the same hand
that had penned the inscription on the
Emil Mundson, Ph. D.,
44-1/2 Indian Court
Emil Mundson, the electrical wizard
and distinguished scientific writer,
friend of the professor of science at
the university where Northwood was
an assistant professor; Emil Mundson,
whom, a week ago, Northwood had
yearned mightily to meet.
Now Northwood knew why the
hunchback's intelligent, ugly face was
to him. He had seen it pictured
as often as enterprising news
photographers could steal a likeness
from the over-sensitive scientist, who
would never sit for a formal portrait.
Even before Northwood had graduated
from the university where
he now taught, he had been avidly interested
in Emil Mundson's fantastic
articles in scientific journals. Only a
week ago, Professor Michael had come
to him with the current issue of New
Science, shouting excitedly:
"Did you read this, John, this article
by Emil Mundson?" His shaking,
gnarled old fingers tapped the open
Northwood seized the magazine and
looked avidly at the title of the article,
"Creatures of the Light."
"No, I haven't read it," he admitted.
"My magazine hasn't come yet."
"Run through it now briefly, will
you? And note with especial care the
passages I have marked. In fact, you
needn't bother with anything else just
now. Read this—and this—and this."
He pointed out penciled paragraphs.
Man always has been, always will
be a creature of the light. He is
forever reaching for some future
point of perfected evolution which,
even when his most remote ancestor
was a fish creature composed
of a few cells, was the guiding
power that brought him up
from the first stinking sea and
caused him to create gods in his
It is this yearning for perfection
which sets man apart from all
other life, which made him man
even in the rudimentary stages of
his development. He was man when
he wallowed in the slime of the
new world and yearned for the air
above. He will still be man when
he has evolved into that glorious
creature of the future whose body
is deathless and whose mind rules
Professor Michael, looking over
Northwood's shoulder, interrupted the
"Man always has been man," he
droned emphatically. "That's not original
with friend Mundson, of course;
yet it is a theory that has not received
sufficient investigation." He indicated
another marked paragraph. "Read this
thoughtfully, John. It's the crux of
Since the human body is chemical
and electrical, increased
knowledge of its powers and limitations
will enable us to work with
Nature in her sublime but infinitely
slow processes of human evolution.
We need not wait another
fifty thousand years to be godlike
creatures. Perhaps even now
we may be standing at the beginning
of the splendid bridge that
will take us to that state of perfected
evolution when we shall be
Creatures who have reached the
Northwood looked questioningly at
the professor. "Queer, fantastic
thing, isn't it?"
Professor Michael smoothed
his thin, gray hair with his
dried-out hand. "Fantastic?" His
intellectual eyes behind the thick
glasses sought the ceiling. "Who can
say? Haven't you ever wondered why
all parents expect their children to be
nearer perfection than themselves, and
why is it a natural impulse for them
to be willing to sacrifice themselves to
better their offspring?" He paused and
moistened his pale, wrinkled lips. "Instinct,
Northwood. We Creatures of
the Light know that our race shall
reach that point in evolution when, as
perfect creatures, we shall rule all matter
and live forever." He punctuated
the last words with blows on the table.
Northwood laughed dryly. "How
many thousands of years are you looking
The professor made an obscure noise
that sounded like a smothered sniff.
"You and I shall never agree on the
point that mental advancement may
wipe out physical limitations in the
human race, perhaps in a few hundred
years. It seems as though your profound
admiration for Dr. Mundson
would win you over to this pet theory."
"But what sane man can believe that
even perfectly developed beings,
through mental control, could overcome
Nature's fixed laws?"
"We don't know! We don't know!"
The professor slapped the magazine
with an emphatic hand. "Emil Mundson
hasn't written this article for nothing.
He's paving the way for some announcement
that will startle the scientific
world. I know him. In the same
manner he gave out veiled hints of his
various brilliant discoveries and inventions
long before he offered them to
"But Dr. Mundson is an electrical
wizard. He would not be delving seriously
into the mysteries of evolution,
"Why not?" The professor's wizened
face screwed up wisely. "A year
ago, when he was back from one of
those mysterious long excursions he
takes in that weirdly different aircraft
of his, about which he is so secretive,
he told me that he was conducting experiments
to prove his belief that the
human brain generates electric current,
and that the electrical impulses in the
brain set up radioactive waves that
some day, among other miracles, will
make thought communication possible.
Perfect man, he says, will perform
mental feats which will give him complete
mental domination over the physical."
Northwood finished reading
and turned thoughtfully to the
window. His profile in repose had the
straight-nosed, full-lipped perfection
of a Greek coin. Old, wizened Professor
Michael, gazing at him covertly,
smothered a sigh.
"I wish you knew Dr. Mundson," he
said. "He, the ugliest man in the
world, delights in physical perfection.
He would revel in your splendid body
and brilliant mind."
Northwood blushed hotly. "You'll
have to arrange a meeting between us."
"I have." The professor's thin, dry
lips pursed comically. "He'll drop in
to see you within a few days."
And now John Northwood sat holding
Dr. Mundson's card and the wallet
which the scientist had so mysteriously
dropped at his feet.
Here was high adventure, perhaps,
for which he had been singled
out by the famous electrical
wizard. While excitement mounted in
his blood, Northwood again examined
the photograph. The girl's strange
eyes, odd in expression rather than in
size or shape, seemed to hold him. The
young man's breath came quicker.
"It's a challenge," he said softly. "It
won't hurt to see what it's all about."
His watch showed eleven o'clock. He
would return the wallet that night.
Into his coat pocket he slipped a revolver.
One sometimes needed weapons
in Indian Court.
He took a taxi, which soon turned
from the well-lighted streets into a section
where squalid houses crowded
against each other, and dirty children
swarmed in the streets in their last
games of the day.
Indian Court was little more than an
alley, dark and evil smelling.
The chauffeur stopped at the entrance
"If I drive in, I'll have to back out,
sir. Number forty-four and a half is
the end house, facing the entrance."
"You've been here before?" asked
"Last week I drove the queerest bird
here—a fellow as good-looking as you,
who had me follow the taxi occupied
by a hunchback with a face like Old
Nick." The man hesitated and went on
haltingly: "It might sound goofy,
mister, but there was something funny
about my fare. He jumped out, asked
me the charge, and, in the moment I
glanced at my taxi-meter, he disappeared.
Yes, sir. Vanished, owing me
four dollars, six bits. It was almost
Northwood laughed nervously and
dismissed him. He found his number
and knocked at the dilapidated door.
He heard a sudden movement in the
lighted room beyond, and the door
Dr. Mundson faced him.
"I knew you'd come!" he said with
a slight Teutonic accent. "Often I'm
not wrong in sizing up my man. Come
Northwood cleared his throat awkwardly.
"You dropped your wallet at
my feet, Dr. Mundson. I tried to stop
you before you got away, but I guess
you did not hear me."
He offered the wallet, but the hunchback
waved it aside.
"A ruse, of course," he confessed. "It
just was my way of testing what your
Professor Michael told about you—that
you are extraordinarily intelligent,
virile, and imaginative. Had you sent
the wallet to me, I should have sought
elsewhere for my man. Come in."
Northwood followed him into
a living room evidently recently
furnished in a somewhat hurried manner.
The furniture, although rich, was
not placed to best advantage. The new
rug was a trifle crooked on the floor,
and the lamp shades clashed in color
with the other furnishings.
Dr. Mundson's intense eyes swept
over Northwood's tall, slim body.
"Ah, you're a man!" he said softly.
"You are what all men would be if we
followed Nature's plan that only the fit
shall survive. But modern science is
permitting the unfit to live and to mix
their defective beings with the developing
race!" His huge fist gesticulated
madly. "Fools! Fools! They
need me and perfect men like you."
"Because you can help me in my plan
to populate the earth with a new race
of godlike people. But don't question
me too closely now. Even if I should
explain, you would call me insane. But
watch; gradually I shall unfold the
mystery before you, so that you will
He reached for the wallet that
Northwood still held, opened it with a
monstrous hand, and reached for the
photograph. "She shall bring you love.
She's more beautiful than a poet's
A warm flush crept over the young
"I can easily understand," he said,
"how a man could love her, but for me
she comes too late."
"Pooh! Fiddlesticks!" The scientist
snapped his fingers. "This girl was
created for you. That other—you will
forget her the moment you set eyes on
the sweet flesh of this Athalia. She is
an houri from Paradise—a maiden of
musk and incense." He held the girl's
photograph toward the young man.
"Keep it. She is yours, if you are
strong enough to hold her."
Northwood opened his card case and
placed the picture inside, facing
Mary's photograph. Again the warning
words of the mysterious stranger
rang in his memory: "The thing inside
never will be yours."
"Where to," he said eagerly; "and
when do we start?"
"To the new Garden of Eden," said
the scientist, with such a beatific
smile that his face was less hideous.
"We start immediately. I have arranged
with Professor Michael for you
Northwood followed Dr.
Mundson to the street and walked
with him a few blocks to a garage
where the scientist's motor car
"The apartment in Indian Court is
just a little eccentricity of mine," explained
Dr. Mundson. "I need people
in my work, people whom I must select
through swift, sure tests. The apartment
comes in handy, as to-night."
Northwood scarcely noted where
they were going, or how long they had
been on the way. He was vaguely aware
that they had left the city behind, and
were now passing through farms
bathed in moonlight.
At last they entered a path that led
through a bit of woodland. For half a
mile the path continued, and then
ended at a small, enclosed field. In the
middle of this rested a queer aircraft.
Northwood knew it was a flying machine
only by the propellers mounted
on the top of the huge ball-shaped
body. There were no wings, no birdlike
hull, no tail.
"It looks almost like a little world
ready to fly off into space," he commented.
"It is just about that." The scientist's
squat, bunched-out body, settled
squarely on long, thin, straddled legs,
looked gnomelike in the moonlight.
"One cannot copy flesh with steel and
wood, but one can make metal perform
magic of which flesh is not capable. My
sun-ship is not a mechanical reproduction
of a bird. It is—but, climb in,
Northwood followed Dr.
Mundson into the aircraft. The
moment the scientist closed the metal
door behind them, Northwood was instantly
aware of some concealed horror
that vibrated through his nerves. For
one dreadful moment, he expected
some terrific agent of the shadows that
escaped the electric lights to leap upon
him. And this was odd, for nothing
could be saner than the globular interior
of the aircraft, divided into four
Dr. Mundson also paused at the door,
"Someone has been here!" he exclaimed.
"Look, Northwood! The
bunk has been occupied—the one in
this cabin I had set aside for you."
He pointed to the disarranged bunk,
where the impression of a head could
still be seen on a pillow.
"A tramp, perhaps."
"No! The door was locked, and, as
you saw, the fence around this field was
protected with barbed wire. There's
something wrong. I felt it on my trip
here all the way, like someone watching
me in the dark. And don't laugh! I
have stopped laughing at all things
that seem unnatural. You don't know
what is natural."
Northwood shivered. "Maybe someone
is concealed about the ship."
"Impossible. Me, I thought so, too.
But I looked and looked, and there was
All evening Northwood had burned
to tell the scientist about the handsome
stranger in the Mad Hatter Club. But
even now he shrank from saying that a
man had vanished before his eyes.
Dr. Mundson was working with a
succession of buttons and levers. There
was a slight jerk, and then the strange
craft shot up, straight as a bullet from
a gun, with scarcely a sound other than
a continuous whistle.
"The vertical rising aircraft perfected,"
explained Dr. Mundson. "But
what would you think if I told you that
there is not an ounce of gasoline in my
"I shouldn't be surprised. An electrical
genius would seek for a less obsolete
source of power."
In the bright flare of the electric
lights, the scientist's ugly face
flushed. "The man who harnesses the
sun rules the world. He can make the
desert places bloom, the frozen poles
balmy and verdant. You, John Northwood,
are one of the very few to fly
in a machine operated solely by electrical
energy from the sun's rays."
"Are you telling me that this airship
is operated with power from the sun?"
"Yes. And I cannot take the credit
for its invention." He sighed. "The
dream was mine, but a greater brain
developed it—a brain that may be
greater than I suspect." His face grew
A little later Northwood said: "It
seems that we must be making fabulous
"Perhaps!" Dr. Mundson worked
with the controls. "Here, I've cut her
down to the average speed of the ordinary
airplane. Now you can see a
bit of the night scenery."
Northwood peeped out the thick
glass porthole. Far below, he saw two
tiny streaks of light, one smooth and
stationery, the other wavering as
though it were a reflection in water.
"That can't be a lighthouse!" he
The scientist glanced out. "It is.
We're approaching the Florida Keys."
"Impossible! We've been traveling
less than an hour."
"But, my young friend, do you realize
that my sun-ship has a speed of
over one thousand miles an hour, how
much over I dare not tell you?"
Throughout the night, Northwood
sat beside Dr. Mundson, watching his
deft fingers control the simple-looking
buttons and levers. So fast was their
flight now that, through the portholes,
sky and earth looked the same: dark
gray films of emptiness. The continuous
weird whistle from the hidden
mechanism of the sun-ship was like the
drone of a monster insect, monotonous
and soporific during the long intervals
when the scientist was too busy with
his controls to engage in conversation.
For some reason that he could not
explain, Northwood had an aversion to
going into the sleeping apartment behind
the control room. Then, towards
morning, when the suddenly falling
temperature struck a biting chill
throughout the , Northwood,
going into the cabin for fur coats, discovered
why his mind and body shrank
in horror from the cabin.
After he had procured the fur
coats from a closet, he paused a
moment, in the privacy of the cabin, to
look at Athalia's picture. Every nerve
in his body leaped to meet the magnetism
of her beautiful eyes. Never
had Mary Burns stirred emotion like
this in him. He hung over Mary's picture,
wistfully, hoping almost prayerfully
that he could react to her as he
did to Athalia; but her pale, over-intellectual
face left him cold.
"Cad!" he ground out between his
teeth. "Forgetting her so soon!"
The two pictures were lying side by
side on a little table. Suddenly an obscure
noise in the room caught his attention.
It was more vibration than
noise, for small sounds could scarcely
be heard above the whistle of the sun-ship.
A slight compression of the air
against his neck gave him the eery
feeling that someone was standing
close behind him. He wheeled and
looked over his shoulder. Half
ashamed of his startled gesture, he
again turned to his pictures. Then a
sharp cry broke from him.
picture was gone.
He searched for it everywhere in the
room, in his own pockets, under the
furniture. It was nowhere to be found.
In sudden, overpowering horror, he
seized the fur coats and returned to the
Dr. Mundson was changing the
"Look out the window!" he called to
The young man looked and started
violently. Day had come, and now that
the sun-ship was flying at a moderate
speed, the ocean beneath was plainly
visible; and its entire surface was covered
with broken floes of ice and small,
ragged icebergs. He seized a telescope
and it below. A typical polar
scene met his eyes: penguins strutted
about on cakes of ice, a whale blowing
in the icy water.
"A part of the Antarctic that has
never been explored," said Dr. Mundson;
"and there, just showing on the
horizon, is the Great Ice Barrier." His
characteristic smile lighted the morose
black eyes. "I am enough of the
dramatist to wish you to be impressed
with what I shall show you within less
than an hour. Accordingly, I shall
make a landing and let you feel polar
ice under your feet."
After less than a minute's search, Dr.
Mundson found a suitable place on the
ice for a landing, and, with a few deft
manipulations of the controls, brought
the sun-ship swooping down like an
eagle on its prey.
For a long moment after the scientist
had stepped out on the ice, Northwood
paused at the door. His feet were
chained by a strange reluctance to enter
this white, dead wilderness of ice.
But Dr. Mundson's impatient,
"Ready?" drew from him one last
glance at the cozy interior of the sun-ship
before he, too, went out into the
They left the sun-ship resting on the
ice like a fallen silver moon, while they
wandered to the edge of the Barrier
and looked at the gray, narrow stretch
of sea between the ice pack and the
high cliffs of the Barrier. The sun of
the commencing six-months' Antarctic
day was a low, cold ball whose slanted
rays struck the ice with blinding
whiteness. There were constant falls
of ice from the Barrier, which thundered
into the ocean amid great clouds
of ice smoke that lingered like wraiths
around the edge. It was a scene of
loneliness and waiting death.
"What's that?" exclaimed the scientist
Out of the white silence shrilled a
low whistle, a familiar whistle. Both
men wheeled toward the sun-ship.
Before their horrified eyes, the great
sphere jerked and glided up, and
swerved into the heavens.
Up it soared; then, gaining speed,
it swung into the blue distance
until, in a moment, it was a tiny star
that flickered out even as they watched.
Both men screamed and cursed and
flung up their arms despairingly. A
penguin, attracted by their cries, waddled
solemnly over to them and regarded
them with manlike curiosity.
"Stranded in the coldest spot on
earth!" groaned the scientist.
"Why did it start itself, Dr. Mundson!"
narrowed his eyes as
"It didn't!" The scientist's huge
face, red from cold, quivered with helpless
rage. "Human hands started it."
"What! Whose hands?"
"Ach! Do I know?" His Teutonic
accent grew more pronounced, as it always
did when he was under emotional
stress. "Somebody whose brain is better
than mine. Somebody who found a
way to hide away from our eyes. Ach,
Gott! Don't let me think!"
His great head sank between his
shoulders, giving him, in his fur suit,
the grotesque appearance of a friendly
"Doctor Mundson," said Northwood
suddenly, "did you have an enemy, a
man with the face and body of a pagan
god—a great, blond creature with eyes
as cold and cruel as the ice under our
"Wait!" The huge round head
jerked up. "How do you know about
Adam? You have not seen him, won't
see him until we arrive at our destination."
"But I have seen him. He was sitting
not thirty feet from you in the
Mad Hatter's Club last night. Didn't
you know? He followed me to the
street, spoke to me, and then—"
Northwood stopped. How could he let
the insane words pass his lips?
"Then, what? Speak up!"
Northwood laughed nervously.
"It sounds foolish, but I saw
him vanish like that." He snapped his
"Ach, Gott!" All the ruddy color
drained from the scientist's face. As
though talking to himself, he continued:
"Then it is true, as he said. He has
crossed the bridge. He has reached
the Light. And now he comes to see
the world he will conquer—came unseen
when I refused my permission."
He was silent for a long time, pondering.
Then he turned passionately
"John Northwood, kill me! I have
brought a new horror into the world.
From the unborn future, I have
snatched a creature who has reached
the Light too soon. Kill me!" He
bowed his great, shaggy head.
"What do you mean, Dr. Mundson:
that this Adam has arrived at a point
in evolution beyond this age?"
"Yes. Think of it! I visioned godlike
creatures with the souls of gods.
But, Heaven help us, man always will
be man: always will lust for conquest.
You and I, Northwood, and all others
are barbarians to Adam. He and his
kind will do what men always do to
barbarians—conquer and kill."
"Are there more like him?" Northwood
struggled with a smile of unbelief.
"I don't know. I did not know that
Adam had reached a point so near the
ultimate. But you have seen. Already
he is able to set aside what we call
Northwood looked at the scientist
closely. The man was surely mad—mad
in this desert of white death.
"Come!" he said cheerfully. "Let's
build an Eskimo snow house. We can
live on penguins for days. And who
knows what may rescue us?"
For three hours the two worked at
cutting ice blocks. With snow for
mortar, they built a crude shelter which
enabled them to rest out of the cold
breath of the spiral polar winds that
blew from the south.
Dr. Mundson was sitting at the
door of their hut, moodily pulling
at his strong, black pipe. As though
a fit had seized him, he leaped up and
let his pipe fall to the ice.
"Look!" he shouted. "The sun-ship!"
It seemed but a moment before the
tiny speck on the horizon had swept
overhead, a silver comet on the grayish-blue
polar sky. In another moment
it had swooped down, eaglewise,
scarcely fifty feet from the ice hut.
Dr. Mundson and Northwood ran
forward. From the metal sphere
stepped the stranger of the Mad Hatter
Club. His tall, straight form, erect and
slim, swung toward them over the ice.
"Adam!" shouted Dr. Mundson.
"What does this mean? How dare
Adam's laugh was like the happy
demonstration of a boy. "So? You
think you still are master? You think
I returned because I reverenced you
yet?" Hate shot viciously through the
freezing blue eyes. "You worm of the
Northwood shuddered. He had heard
those strange words addressed to himself
scarcely more than twelve hours
Adam was still speaking: "With a
thought I could annihilate you where
you are standing. But I have use for
you. Get in." He swept his hand to
Both men hesitated. Then Northwood
strode forward until he was within
three feet of Adam. They stood thus,
eyeing each other, two splendid beings,
one blond as a Viking, the other dark
"Just what is your game?" demanded
The icy eyes shot forth a gleam like
lightning. "I needn't tell you, of
course, but I may as well let you suffer
over the knowledge." He curled his
lips with superb scorn. "I have one
human weakness. I want Athalia." The
icy eyes warmed for a fleeting second.
"She is anticipating her meeting with
you—bah! The taste of these women
of the Black Age! I could kill you, of
course; but that would only inflame
her. And so I take you to her, thrust
you down her throat. When she sees
you, she will fly to me." He spread his
"Adam!" Dr. Mundson's face was
dark with anger. "What of Eve?"
"Who are you to question my actions?
What a fool you were to let me,
whom you forced into life thousands of
years too soon, grow more powerful
than you! Before I am through with
all of you petty creatures of the Black
Age, you will call me more terrible
than your Jehovah! For see what you
have called forth from unborn time."
Before the startled men could
recover from the shock of it, the
vibrant, too-new voice went on:
"I am sorry for you, Mundson, because,
like you, I need specimens for
my experiments. What a splendid
specimen you will be!" His laugh was
ugly with significance. "Get in,
Unseen hands cuffed and pushed
them into the sun-ship.
Inside, Dr. Mundson stumbled to the
control room, white and drawn of face,
his great brain seemingly paralyzed by
"You needn't attempt tricks," went
on the voice. "I am watching you both.
You cannot even hide your thoughts
And thus began the strange continuation
of the journey. Not once, in
that wild half-hour's rush over the
polar ice clouds, did they see Adam.
They saw and heard only the weird
signs of his presence: a puffing cigar
hanging in midair, a glass of water
swinging to unseen lips, a ghostly
voice hurling threats and insults at
Once the scientist whispered: "Don't
cross him; it is useless. John Northwood,
you'll have to fight a demigod
for your woman!"
Because of the terrific speed of the
sun-ship, Northwood could distinguish
nothing of the topographical details below.
At the end of half-an-hour, the
scientist slowed enough to point out a
tall range of snow-covered mountains,
over which hovered a play of colored
lights like the aurora australis.
"Behind those mountains," he said,
"is our destination."
Almost in a moment, the sun-ship
had soared over the peaks.
Dr. Mundson kept the speed low
enough for Northwood to see the
splendid view below.
In the giant cup formed by the encircling
mountain range was a green
valley of tropical luxuriance. Stretches
of dense forest swept half up the mountains
and filled the valley cup with tangled
verdure. In the center, surrounded
by a broad field and a narrow
ring of woods, towered a group of
buildings. From the largest, which was
circular, came the auroralike radiance
that formed an umbrella of light over
the entire valley.
"Do I guess right," said
"that the light is responsible for this
oasis in the ice?"
"Yes," said Dr. . "In your
American slang, it is canned sunshine
containing an overabundance of certain
rays, especially the Life Ray, which I
have isolated." He smiled proudly.
"You needn't look startled, my friend.
Some of the most common things store
sunlight. On very dark nights, if you
have sharp eyes, you can see the radiance
given off by certain flowers, which
many naturalists say is trapped sunshine.
The familiar nasturtium and the
marigold opened for me the way to
hold sunshine against the long polar
night, for they taught me how to apply
the Einstein theory of bent light.
Stated simply, during the polar night,
when the sun is hidden over the rim of
the world, we steal some of his rays;
during the polar day we concentrate
"But could stored sunshine alone
give enough warmth for the luxuriant
growth of those jungles?"
"An overabundance of the Life Ray
is responsible for the miraculous
growth of all life in New Eden. The
Life Ray is Nature's most powerful
force. Yet Nature is often niggardly
and paradoxical in her use of her
powers. In New Eden, we have forced
the powers of creation to take ascendency
over the powers of destruction."
At Northwood's sudden start, the
scientist laughed and continued: "Is it
not a pity that Nature, left alone, requires
twenty years to make a man who
begins to die in another ten years?
Such waste is not tolerated in New
, where supermen are younger
than babes and—"
"Come, worms; let's land."
It was Adam's voice. Suddenly he
materialized, a blond god, whose eyes
and flesh were too new.
They were in a world of golden
skylight, warmth and tropical
vegetation. The field on which they
had landed was covered with a velvety
green growth of very soft, fine-bladed
grass, sprinkled with tiny, star-shaped
blue flowers. A balmy, sweet-scented
wind, downy as the breeze of a dream,
blew gently along the grass and tingled
against Northwood's skin refreshingly.
Almost instantly he had the
sensation of perfect well being, and
this feeling of physical perfection was
part of the ecstasy that seemed to pervade
the entire valley. Grass and
breeze and golden skylight were saturated
with a strange ether of joyousness.
At one end of the field was a dense
jungle, cut through by a road that led
to the towering building from which,
while above in the sun-ship, they had
seen the golden light issue.
From the jungle road came a man
and a woman, large, handsome people,
whose flesh and eyes had the sinister
newness of Adam's. Even before they
came close enough to speak, Northwood
was aware that while they seemed
of Adam's breed, they were yet unlike
him. The difference was psychical
rather than physical; they lacked the
aura of hate and horror that surrounded
Adam. The woman drew
Adam's head down and kissed him affectionately
on both cheeks.
Adam, from his towering height,
patted her shoulder impatiently and
said: "Run on back to the laboratory,
grandmother. We're following soon.
You have some new human embryos, I
believe you told me this morning."
"Four fine specimens, two of them
being your sister's twins."
"Splendid! I was sure that creation
had stopped with my generation. I
must see them." He turned to the
scientist and Northwood. "You needn't
try to leave this spot. Of course I
shall know instantly and deal with you
in my own way. Wait here."
He strode over the emerald grass on
the heels of the woman.
Northwood asked: "Why does he call
that girl grandmother?"
"Because she is his ancestress." He
stirred uneasily. "She is of the first
generation brought forth in the laboratory,
and is no different from you
or I, except that, at the age of five
years, she is the ancestress of twenty
"My God!" muttered Northwood.
"Don't start being horrified, my
friend. Forget about so-called natural
laws while you are in New Eden. Remember,
here we have isolated the Life
Ray. But look! Here comes your
Northwood gazed covertly at
the beautiful girl approaching
them with a rarely graceful walk. She
was tall, slender, round-bosomed, narrow-hipped,
and she held her lovely
body in the erect poise of splendid
health. Northwood had a confused
realization of uncovered bronzy hair,
drawn to the back of a white neck in
a bunch of short curls; of immense
soft black eyes; lips the color of
blood, and delicate, plump flesh on
which the golden skylight lingered
graciously. He was instantly glad to
see that while she possessed the freshness
of young her skin and
eyes did not have the horrible newness
When she was still twenty feet distant,
Northwood met her eyes and she
smiled shyly. The rich, red blood ran
through her face; and he, too, flushed.
She went to Dr. Mundson and, placing
her hands on his thick shoulders,
kissed him affectionately.
"I've been worried about you, Daddy
Mundson." Her rich contralto voice
matched her exotic beauty. "Since you
and Adam had that quarrel the day you
left, I did not see him until this morning,
when he landed the sun-ship
"And you pleaded with him to return
"Yes." Her eyes drooped and a hot
flush swept over her face.
Dr. Mundson smiled. "But I'm back
now, Athalia, and I've brought some
one whom I hope you will be glad to
Reaching for her hand, he placed it
simply in Northwood's.
"This is John, Athalia. Isn't he
handsomer than the pictures of him
which I televisioned to you? God
bless both of you."
He walked ahead and turned his
A magical half hour followed
for Northwood and Athalia. The
girl told him of her past life, how Dr.
Mundson had discovered her one year
ago working in a New York sweat
shop, half dead from consumption.
Without friends, she was eager to follow
the scientist to New Eden, where
he promised she would recover her
"And he was right, John," she said
shyly. "The Life Ray, that marvelous
energy ray which penetrates to the utmost
depths of earth and ocean, giving
to the cells of all living bodies the
power to grow and remain animate, has
been concentrated by Dr. Mundson in
his stored sunshine. The Life Ray
healed me almost immediately."
Northwood looked down at the
glorious girl beside him, whose eyes
already fluttered away from his like
shy black butterflies. Suddenly he
squeezed the soft hand in his and said
"Athalia! Because Adam wants you
and will get you if he can, let us set
aside all the artificialities of civilization.
I have loved you madly ever since
I saw your picture. If you can say the
same to me, it will give me courage to
face what I know lies before me."
Athalia, her face suddenly tender,
came closer to him.
"John Northwood, I love you."
Her red lips came temptingly close;
but before he could touch them, Adam
suddenly pushed his body between him
and Athalia. Adam was pale, and all
the was gone from his blue
eyes, which were deep and dark and
very human. He looked down at
Athalia, and she looked up at him, two
handsome specimens of perfect manhood
"Fast work, Athalia!" The new vibrant
voice was strained. "I was hoping
you would be disappointed in
especially after having been wooed by
me this morning. I could take you if
I wished, of course; but I prefer to
win you in the ancient manner. Dismiss
him!" He jerked his thumb over
his shoulder in Northwood's direction.
Athalia flushed vividly and looked at
him almost compassionately. "I am not
great enough for you, Adam. I dare
not love you."
Adam laughed, and still oblivious
of Northwood and Dr. Mundson,
folded his arms over his breast. With
the golden skylight on his burnished
hair, he was a valiant, magnificent
"Since the beginning of time, gods
and archangels have looked upon the
daughters of men and found them fair.
Mate with me, Athalia, and I, fifty
thousand years beyond the creature
Mundson has selected for you, will
make you as I am, the deathless overlord
of life and all nature."
He drew her hand to his bosom.
For one dark moment, Northwood
felt himself seared by jealousy, for,
through the plump, sweet flesh of
Athalia's face, he saw the red blood
leap again. How could she withhold
herself from this splendid superman?
But her answer, given with faltering
voice, was the old, simple one: "I have
promised him, Adam. I love him."
Tears trembled on her thick lashes.
"So! I cannot get you in the ancient
manner. Now I'll use my own."
He seized her in his arms crushed
her against him, and, laughing over her
head at Northwood, bent his glistening
head and kissed her on the mouth.
There was a blinding flash of blue
electric sparks—and nothing else. Both
Adam and Athalia had vanished.
Adam's voice came in a last mocking
challenge: "I shall be what
no other gods before me have been—a
good sport. I'll leave you both to your
own devices, until I want you again."
White-lipped and trembling, Northwood
groaned: "What has he done
Dr. Mundson's great head drooped.
"I don't know. Our bodies are electric
and chemical machines; and a super intelligence
has discovered new laws of
which you and I are ignorant."
"She is safe; he loves her."
"Loves her!" Northwood shivered.
"I cannot believe that those freezing
eyes could ever look with love on a
"Adam is a man. At heart he is as
human as the first man-creature that
wallowed in the new earth's slime."
His voice dropped as though he were
musing aloud. "It might be well to let
him have Athalia. She will help to
keep vigor in the new race, which
would stop reproducing in another few
generations without the injection of
Black Age blood."
"Do you want to bring more creatures
like Adam into the world?"
Northwood flung at him. "You have
tampered with life enough, Dr. Mundson.
But, although Adam has my sympathy,
I'm not willing to turn Athalia
over to him."
"Well said! Now come to the laboratory
for chemical nourishment and rest
under the Life Ray."
They went to the great circular
building from whose highest tower issued
the golden radiance that shamed
the light of the sun, hanging low in the
"John Northwood," said Dr. Mundson,
"with that laboratory, which is the
center of all life in New Eden, we'll
have to whip Adam. He gave us what
he called a 'sporting chance' because he
knew that he is able to send us and all
mankind to a doom more terrible than
hell. Even now we might be entering
some hideous trap that he has set for
They entered by a side entrance
and went immediately to what Dr.
Mundson called the Rest Ward. Here,
in a large room, were ranged rows of
cots, on many of which lay men basking
in the deep orange flood of light
which poured from individual lamps
set above each cot.
"It is the Life Ray!" said Dr. Mundson
reverently. "The source of all
growth and restoration in Nature. It
is the power that bursts open the seed
and brings forth the shoot, that increases
the shoot into a giant tree. It
is the same power that enables the fertilized
ovum to develop into an animal.
It creates and recreates cells almost instantly;
accordingly, it is the perfect
substitute for sleep. Stretch out, enjoy
its power; and while you rest, eat these
Northwood lay on a cot, and Dr.
Mundson turned the Life Ray on him.
For a few minutes a delicious drowsiness
fell upon him, producing a spell of
perfect peace which the cells of his being
seemed to drink in. For another
delirious, fleeting space, every inch of
him vibrated with a thrilling sensation
of freshness. He took a deep, ecstatic
breath and opened his eyes.
"Enough," said Dr. Mundson, switching
off the Ray. "After three minutes
of rejuvenation, you are commencing
again with perfect cells. All ravages
from disease and wear have been corrected."
Northwood leaped up joyously. His
handsome eyes sparkled, his skin
glowed. "I feel great! Never felt so
good since I was a kid."
A pleased grin spread over the
scientist's homely face. "See what my
discovery will mean to the world! In
the future we shall all go to the laboratory
for recuperation and nourishment.
We'll have almost twenty-four hours a
day for work and play."
He stretched out on the bed contentedly.
"Some day, when my
work is nearly done, I shall permit the
Life Ray to cure my hump."
"Why not now?"
Dr. Mundson sighed. "If I were perfect,
I should cease to be so overwhelmingly
conscious of the importance
of perfection." He settled back
to enjoyment of the Life Ray.
A few minutes later, he jumped up,
alert as a boy. "Ach! That's fine.
Now I'll show you how the Life Ray
speeds up development and produces
four generations of humans a year."
With restored energy, Northwood
began thinking of Athalia. As he followed
Dr. Mundson down a long corridor,
he yearned to see her again, to be
certain that she was safe. Once he
imagined he felt a gentle, soft-fleshed
touch against his hand, and was disappointed
not to see her walking by his
side. Was she with him, unseen? The
thought was sweet.
Before Dr. Mundson opened the massive
bronze door at the end of the corridor,
"Don't be surprised or shocked over
anything you see here, John Northwood.
This is the Baby Laboratory."
They entered a room which seemed
no different from a hospital ward. On
little white beds lay naked children of
various sizes, perfect, solemn-eyed
youngsters and older children as
beautiful as animated statues. Above
each bed was a small Life Ray projector.
A white-capped nurse went
from bed to bed.
"They are recuperating from the
daily educational period," said the
scientist. "After a few minutes of this
they will go into the growing room,
which I shall have to show you through
a window. Should you and I enter, we
might be changed in a most extraordinary
manner." He laughed mischievously.
"But, look, Northwood!"
He slid back a panel in the wall,
and Northwood peered in
through a thick pane of clear glass.
The room was really an immense outdoor
arena, its only carpet the fine-bladed
grass, its roof the blue sky cut
in the middle by an enormous disc
from which shot the aurora of trapped
sunshine which made a golden umbrella
over the valley. Through openings
in the bottom of the disc poured
a fine rain of rays which fell constantly
upon groups of children, youths and
young girls, all clad in the merest
scraps of clothing. Some were dancing,
others were playing games, but all
seemed as supremely happy as the
birds and butterflies which fluttered
about the shrubs and flowers edging
"I don't expect you to believe," said
Dr. Mundson, "that the oldest young
man in there is three months old. You
cannot see visible changes in a body
which grows as slowly as the human
being, whose normal period of development
is twenty years or more. But I
can give you visible proof of how fast
growth takes place under the full
power of the Life Ray. Plant life,
which, even when left to nature, often
develops from seed to flower within a
few weeks or months, can be seen making
its miraculous changes under the
Life Ray. Watch those gorgeous purple
flowers over which the butterflies
Northwood followed his pointing
finger. Near the glass window through
which they looked grew an enormous
bank of resplendent violet colored
flowers, which literally enshrouded the
entire bush with their royal glory. At
first glance it seemed as though a violent
wind were snatching at flower and
bush, but closer inspection proved that
the agitation was part of the plant itself.
And then he saw that the movements
were the result of perpetual
composition and growth.
He fastened his eyes on one huge
bud. He saw it swell, burst,
spread out its passionate purple velvet,
lift the broad flower face to the light
for a joyous minute. A few seconds
later a butterfly lighted airily to
sample its nectar and to brush the
pollen from its yellow dusted wings.
Scarcely had the winged visitor flown
away than the purple petals began to
wither and fall away, leaving the seed
pod on the stem. The visible change
went on in this seed pod. It turned
rapidly brown, dried out, and then sent
the released seeds in a shower to the
rich black earth below. Scarcely had
the seeds touched the ground than they
sent up tiny green shoots that grew
larger each moment. Within ten minutes
there was a new plant a foot high.
Within half an hour, the plant budded,
blossomed, and cast forth its own seed.
"You understand?" asked the scientist.
"Development is going on as rapidly
among the children. Before the first
year has passed, the youngest baby will
have grandchildren; that is, if the baby
tests out fit to pass its seed down to
the new generation. I know it sounds
absurd. Yet you saw the plant."
"But Doctor," Northwood rubbed his
jaw thoughtfully, "Nature's forces of
destruction, of tearing down, are as
powerful as her creative powers. You
have discovered the ultimate in creation
and upbuilding. But perhaps—oh,
Lord, it is too awful to think!"
"Speak, Northwood!" The scientist's
voice was impatient.
"It is nothing!" The pale young man
attempted a smile. "I was only imagining
some of the horror that could be
thrust on the world if a supermind like
Adam's should discover Nature's secret
of death and destruction and speed it
up as you have sped the life force."
"Ach Gott!" Dr. Mundson's face was
white. "He has his own laboratory,
where he works every day. Don't talk
so loud. He might be listening. And I
believe he can do anything he sets out
Close to Northwood's ear fell a faint,
triumphant whisper: "Yes, he can do
anything. How did you guess, worm?"
It was Adam's voice.
"Now come and see the Leyden
jar mothers," said Dr. Mundson.
"We do not wait for the child to be
born to start our work."
He took Northwood to a laboratory
crowded with strange apparatus, where
young men and women worked. Northwood
knew instantly that these people,
although unusually handsome and
strong, were not of Adam's generation.
None of them had the look of newness
which marked those who had grown up
under the Life Ray.
"They are the perfect couples whom
I combed the world to find," said the
scientist. "From their eugenic marriages
sprang the first children that
passed through the laboratory. I had
hoped," he hesitated and looked sideways
at Northwood, "I had dreamed of
having the children of you and Athalia
to help strengthen the New Race."
A wave of sudden disgust passed
"Thanks," he said tartly. "When I
marry Athalia, I intend to have an old-fashioned
home and a Black Age family.
I don't relish having my children
"But wait until you see all the wonders
of the laboratory! That is why
I am showing you all this."
Northwood drew his handkerchief
and mopped his brow. "It sickens me,
Doctor! The more I see, the more pity
I have for Adam—and the less I blame
him for his rebellion and his desire to
kill and to rule. Heavens! What a
terrible thing you have done, experimenting
with human life."
"Nonsense! Can you say that all life—all
matter—is not the result of scientific
experiment? Can you?" His black
gaze made Northwood uncomfortable.
"Buck up, young friend, for now I am
going to show you a marvelous improvement
on Nature's bungling ways—the
Leyden jar mother." He raised
his voice and called, "Lilith!"
The woman whom they had met on
the field came forward.
"May we take a peep at Lona's
twins?" asked the scientist. "They are
about ready to go to the growing dome,
are they not?"
"In five more minutes," said the
woman. "Come see."
She lifted one of the black velvet
curtains that lined an entire side
of the laboratory and thereby disclosed
a globular jar of glass and metal, connected
by wires to a dynamo. Above
the jar was a Life Ray projector.
Lilith slid aside a metal portion of the
jar, disclosing through the glass underneath
the squirming, kicking body of a
baby, resting on a bed of soft, spongy
substance, to which it was connected
by the navel cord.
"The Leyden jar mother," said Dr.
Mundson. "It is the dream of us scientists
realized. The human mother's
body does nothing but nourish and protect
her unborn child, a job which
science can do better. And so, in New
Eden, we take the young embryo and
place it in the Leyden jar mother,
where the Life Ray, electricity, and
chemical food shortens the period of
gestation to a few days."
At that moment a bell under the
Leyden jar began to ring. Dr. Mundson
uncovered the jar and lifted out the
child, a beautiful, perfectly formed
boy, who began to cry lustily.
"Here is one baby who'll never be
kissed," he said. "He'll be nourished
chemically, and, at the end of the week,
will no longer be a baby. If you are
patient, you can actually see the processes
of development taking place under
the Life Ray, for babies develop
Northwood buried his face in his
hands. "Lord! This is awful. No childhood;
no mother to mould his mind!
No parents to watch over him, to give
him their tender care!"
"Awful, fiddlesticks! Come see how
children get their education, how they
learn to use their hands and feet so
they need not pass through the awkwardness
He led Northwood to a magnificent
building whose façade of white
marble was as simply beautiful as a
Greek temple. The side walls, built almost
entirely of glass, permitted the
synthetic sunshine to sweep from end
to end. They first entered a library,
where youths and young girls poured
over books of all kinds. Their manner
of reading mystified Northwood. With
a single sweep of the eye, they seemed
to devour a page, and then turned to
the next. He stepped closer to peer over
the shoulder of a beautiful girl. She
was reading "Euclid's Elements of
Geometry," in Latin, and she turned
the pages as swiftly as the other girl
occupying her table, who was devouring
Dr. Mundson whispered to him: "If
you do not believe that Ruth here is
getting her Euclid, which she probably
never saw before , examine her
from the book; that is, if you are a
good enough Latin scholar."
Ruth stopped her reading to talk to
him, and, in a few minutes, had completely
dumbfounded him with her pedantic
replies, which fell from lips as
luscious and unformed as an infant's.
"Now," said Dr. Mundson, "test
Rachael on her Milton. As far as she
has read, she should not misquote a
line, and her comments will probably
prove her scholarly appreciation of
Word for word, Rachael was able to
give him "Paradise Lost" from memory,
except the last four pages, which she
had not read. Then, taking the book
from him, she swept her eyes over
these pages, returned the book to him,
and quoted copiously and correctly.
Dr. Mundson gloated triumphantly
over his astonishment.
"There, my friend. Could you now be
satisfied with old-fashioned children
who spend long, expensive years in
getting an education? Of course, your
children will not have the perfect
brains of these, yet, developed under
the Life Ray, they should have splendid
"These children, through selective
breeding, have brains that make everlasting
records instantly. A page in a
book, once seen, is indelibly retained
by them, and understood. The same is
true of a lecture, of an explanation
given by a teacher, of even idle conversation.
Any man or woman in this
room should be able to repeat the most
trivial conversation days old."
"But what of the arts, Dr. Mundson?
Surely even your supermen and women
cannot instantly learn to paint a masterpiece
or to guide their fingers and
their brains through the intricacies of
a difficult musical composition."
"No?" His dark eyes glowed. "Come
Before they entered another wing of
the building, they heard a violin being
Dr. Mundson paused at the door.
"So that you may understand what
you shall see, let me remind you that
the nerve impulses and the coordinating
means in the human body are purely
electrical. The world has not yet
accepted my theory, but it will. Under
superman's system of education, the
instantaneous records made on the
brain give immediate skill to the acting
parts of the body. Accordingly, musicians
are made over night."
He threw open the door. Under a
Life Ray projector, a beautiful, Juno-esque
woman was playing a violin.
Facing her, and with eyes fastened to
hers, stood a young man, whose arms
and slender fingers mimicked every
motion she made. Presently she stopped
playing and handed the violin to him.
In her own masterly manner, he repeated
the score she had played.
"That is Eve," whispered Dr. Mundson.
"I had selected her as Adam's
wife. But he does not want her, the
most brilliant woman of the New Race."
Northwood gave the woman an appraising
look. "Who wants a perfect
woman? I don't blame Adam for
Athalia. But how is she teaching
"Through thought vibration, which
these perfect people have developed
until they can record permanently the
radioactive waves of the brains of
Eve turned, caught Northwood's eyes
in her magnetic blue gaze, and smiled
as only a goddess can smile upon a
mortal she has marked as her own. She
came toward him with outflung hands.
"So you have come!" Her vibrant
contralto voice, like Adam's, held the
birdlike, broken tremulo of a young
child's. "I have been waiting for you,
Her eyes, as blue and icy as
Adam's, lingered long on him,
until he flinched from their steely
magnetism. She slipped her arm
through his and drew him gently but
firmly from the room, while Dr. Mundson
stood gaping after them.
They were on a flagged terrace
arched with roses of gigantic size,
which sent forth billows of sensuous
fragrance. Eve led him to a white
marble seat piled with silk cushions,
on which she reclined her superb body,
while she regarded him from narrowed
"I saw your picture that he televisioned
to Athalia," she said. "What a
botch Dr. Mundson has made of his
mating." Her laugh rippled like falling
water. "I want you, John Northwood!"
Northwood started and blushed furiously.
Smile dimples broke around her
red, humid lips.
"Ah, you're old-fashioned!"
Her large, beautiful hand, fleshed
more tenderly than any woman's hand
he had ever seen, went out to him appealingly.
"I can bring you amorous
delight that your Athalia never could
offer in her few years of youth. And
I'll never grow old, John Northwood."
She came closer until he could feel
the fragrant warmth of her tawny,
ribbon bound hair pulse against his
face. In sudden panic he drew back.
"But I am pledged to Athalia!"
tumbled from him. "It is all a dreadful
mistake, Eve. You and Adam were
created for each other."
"Hush!" The lightning that flashed
from her blue eyes changed her from
seductress to angry goddess. "Created
for each other! Who wants a made-to-measure
The luscious lips trembled slightly,
and into the vivid eyes crept
a suspicion of moisture. Eternal Eve's
weapons! Northwood's handsome face
relaxed with pity.
"I want you, John Northwood," she
continued shamelessly. "Our love will
be sublime." She leaned heavily against
him, and her lips were like a blood red
flower pressed against white satin.
"Come, beloved, kiss me!"
Northwood gasped and turned his
head. "Don't, Eve!"
"But a kiss from me will set you
apart from all your generation, John
Northwood, and you shall understand
what no man of the Black Age could
Her hair had partly fallen from its
ribbon bandage and poured its fragrant
gold against his shoulder.
"For God's sake, don't tempt me!" he
groaned. "What do you mean?"
"That mental and physical and spiritual
contact with me will temporarily
give you, a three-dimension creature,
the power of the new sense, which
your race will not have for fifty thousand
White-lipped and trembling, he demanded:
Eve smiled. "Have you not guessed
that Adam has developed an additional
sense? You've seen him vanish. He and
I have the sixth sense of Time Perception—the
new sense which enables us
to penetrate what you of the Black Age
call the Fourth Dimension. Even you
whose mentalities are framed by three
dimensions have this sixth sense instinct.
Your very religion is based on
it, for you believe that in another life
you shall step into Time, or, as you
call it, eternity." She leaned closer so
that her hair brushed his cheek. "What
is eternity, John Northwood? Is it not
keeping forever ahead of the Destroyer?
The future is eternal, for it is
never reached. Adam and I, through
our new sense which comprehends
Time and Space, can vanish by stepping
a few seconds into the future, the
Fourth Dimension of Space. Death can
never reach us, not even accidental
death, unless that which causes death
could also slip into the future, which
is not yet possible."
"But if the Fourth Dimension is
future Time, why can one in the third
dimension feel the touch of an unseen
presence in the Fourth Dimension—hear
his voice, even?"
"Thought vibration. The touch is not
really felt nor the voice heard: they
are only imagined. The radioactive
waves of the brain of even you Black
Age people are swift enough to bridge
Space and Time. And it is the mind
that carries us beyond the third dimension."
Her red mouth reached closer to
him, her blue eyes touched hidden
forces that slept in remote cells
of his being. "You are going into
Eternal Time, John Northwood, Eternity
without beginning or end. You
understand? You feel it? Comprehend
it? Now for the contact—kiss me!"
Northwood had seen Athalia vanish
under Adam's kiss. Suddenly, in one
mad burst of understanding, he leaned
over to his magnificent temptress.
For a split second he felt the sweet
pressure of baby-soft lips, and then
the atoms of his body seemed to fly
. Black chaos held him for
a frightful moment before he felt
He was back on the terrace again,
with Eve by his side. They were standing
now. The world about him looked
the same, yet there was a subtle change
Eve laughed softly. "It is puzzling,
isn't it? You're seeing everything as
in a mirror. What was left before is
now right. Only you and I are real.
All else is but a vision, a dream. For
now you and I are existing one minute
in future time, or, more simply, we are
in the Fourth Dimension. To everything
in the third dimension, we are
invisible. Let me show you that Dr.
Mundson cannot see you."
They went back to the room beyond
the terrace. Dr. Mundson was not
"There he goes down the jungle
path," said Eve, looking out a window.
She laughed. "Poor old fellow. The
children of his genius are worrying
They were standing in the recess
formed by a bay window. Eve
picked up his hand and laid it against
her face, giving him the full, blasting
glory of her smiling blue eyes.
Northwood, looking away miserably,
uttered a low cry. Coming over the
field beyond were Adam and Athalia.
By the trimming on the blue dress she
wore, he could see that she was still
in the Fourth Dimension, for he did
not see her as a mirror image.
A look of fear leaped to Eve's face.
She clutched Northwood's arm, trembling.
"I don't want Adam to see that I have
passed you beyond," she gasped. "We
are existing but one minute in the
future. Always Adam and I have feared
to pass too far beyond the sweetness of
reality. But now, so that Adam may
not see us, we shall step five minutes
into what-is-yet-to-be. And even he,
with all his power, cannot see into a
future that is more distant than that
in which he exists."
She raised her humid lips to his.
Northwood kissed her. Again came
the moment of confusion, of the awful
vacancy that was like death, and then
he found himself and Eve in the laboratory,
following Adam and Athalia
down a long corridor. Athalia was crying
and pleading frantically with
Adam. Once she stopped and threw
herself at his feet in a gesture of
dramatic supplication, arms outflung,
streaming eyes wide open with fear.
Adam stooped and lifted her gently
and continued on his way, supporting
her against his side.
Eve dug her fingers into Northwood's
arm. Horror contorted
her face, horror mixed with rage.
"My mind hears what he is saying,
understands the vile plan he has made,
John Northwood. He is on his way to
his laboratory to destroy not only you
and most of these in New Eden, but
me as well. He wants only Athalia."
Striding forward like an avenging
goddess, she pulled Northwood after
"Hurry!" she whispered. "Remember,
you and I are five minutes in the future,
and Adam is only one. We are witnessing
what will occur four minutes from
now. We yet have time to reach the
laboratory before him and be ready for
him when he enters. And because he
will have to go back to Present Time
to do his work of destruction, I will
be able to destroy him. Ah!"
Fierce joy burned in her flashing
blue eyes, and her slender nostrils
quivered delicately. Northwood, peeping
at her in horror, knew that no
mercy could be expected of her. And
when she stopped at a certain door and
inserted a key, he remembered Athalia.
What if she should enter with Adam
in Present Time?
They were inside Adam's laboratory,
a huge apartment filled with
queer apparatus and cages of live animals.
The room was a strange paradox.
Part of the equipment, the walls, and
the floor was glistening with newness,
and part was moulding with extreme
age. The powers of disintegration that
haunt a tropical forest seemed to be
devouring certain spots of the room.
Here, in the midst of bright marble,
was a section of wall that seemed as
old as the pyramids. The surface of the
stone had an appalling mouldiness, as
though it had been lifted from an ancient
graveyard where it had lain in the
festering ground for unwholesome centuries.
Between cracks in this stained and
decayed section of stone grew fetid
moss that quivered with the microscopic
organisms that infest age-rotten
places. Sections of the flooring and
woodwork also reeked with mustiness.
In one dark, webby corner of the room
lay a pile of bleached bones, still tinted
with the ghastly grays and pinks of
putrefaction. Northwood, overwhelmingly
nauseated, withdrew his eyes
from the bones, only to see, in another
corner, a pile of worm-eaten clothing
that lay on the floor in the outline of
Faint with the reek of ancient mustiness,
Northwood retreated to the door,
dizzy and staggering.
"It sickens you," said Eve, "and it
sickens me also, for death and decay
are not pleasant. Yet Nature, left to
herself, reduces all to this. Every grave
that has yawned to receive its
hides corruption no less shocking.
Nature's forces of creation and destruction
forever work in partnership.
Never satisfied with her composition,
she destroys and starts again, building,
building towards the ultimate of perfection.
Thus, it is natural that if Dr.
Mundson isolated the Life Ray, Nature's
supreme force of compensation,
isolation of the Death Ray should
closely follow. Adam, thirsting for
power, has succeeded. A few sweeps
of his unholy ray of decomposition
will undo all Dr. Mundson's work in
this valley and reduce it to a stinking
holocaust of destruction. And the time
for his striking has come!"
She seized his face and drew it toward
her. "Quick!" she said. "We'll
have to go back to the third dimension.
I could leave you safe in the fourth,
but if anything should happen to me,
you would be stranded forever in future
She kissed his lips. In a moment, he
was back in the old familiar world,
where right is right and left is left.
Again the subtle change wrought by
Eve's magic lips had taken place.
Eve went to a machine standing in
a corner of the room.
"Come here and get behind me, John
Northwood. I want to test it before he
Northwood stood behind her shoulder.
"Now watch!" she ordered. "I shall
turn it on one of those cages of guinea
pigs over there."
She swung the projector around,
pointed it at the cage of small, squealing
animals, and threw a lever. Instantly
a cone of black mephitis shot forth,
a loathsome, bituminous stream of
putrefaction that reeked of the grave
and the cesspool, of the utmost reaches
of decay before the dust accepts the
disintegrated atoms. The first touch of
seething, pitchy destruction brought
screams of sudden agony from the
guinea pigs, but the screams were cut
short as the little animals fell in shocking,
instant decay. The very cage which
imprisoned them shriveled and retreated
from the hellish, devouring
breath that struck its noisome rot into
the heart of the wood and the metal,
reducing both to revolting ruin.
Eve cut off the frightful power, and
the black cone disappeared, leaving the
room putrid with its defilement.
"And Adam would do that to the
world," she said, her blue eyes like
electric-shot icicles. "He would do it
to you, John Northwood—and to me!"
Her full bosom strained under the
"Listen!" She raised her hand warningly.
"He comes! The destroyer
A hand was at the door. Eve
reached for the lever, and, the
same moment, Northwood leaned over
"If Athalia is with him!" he gasped.
"You will not harm her?"
A wild shriek at the door, a slight
scuffle, and then the doorknob was
wrenched as though two were fighting
"For God's sake, Eve!" implored
Northwood. "Wait! Wait!"
"No! She shall die, too. You love
Icy, cruel eyes cut into him, and a
new-fleshed hand tried to push him
aside. The door was straining open. A
beloved voice shrieked. "John!"
Eve and Northwood both leaped for
the lever. Under her tender white flesh
she was as strong as a man. In the
midst of the struggle, her red, humid
lips approached his—closer. Closer.
Their merest pressure would thrust
him into Future Time, where the
and all it contained would be
but a shadow, and where he would be
helpless to interfere with her terrible
He saw the door open and Adam
stride into the room. Behind him, lying
prone in the hall where she had
probably fainted, was Athalia. In a
mad burst of strength he touched the
lever together with Eve.
The projector, belching forth its
stinking breath of corruption swung in
a mad arc over the ceiling, over the
walls—and then straight at Adam.
Then, quicker than thought, came the
accident. Eve, attempting to throw
Northwood off, tripped, fell half over
the machine, and, with a short scream
of despair, dropped into the black
path of destruction.
Northwood paused, horrified.
The Death Ray was pointed at
an inner wall of the room, which, even
as he looked, crumbled and disappeared,
bringing down upon him dust
more foul than any obscenity the
bowels of the earth might yield. In an
instant the black cone ate through the
outer parts of the building, where
crashing stone and screams that were
more horrible because of their shortness
followed the ruin that swept far
into the fair reaches of the valley.
The paralyzing odor of decay took
his breath, numbed his muscles, until,
of all that huge building, the wall behind
him and one small section of the
room by the doorway alone remained
whole. He was trying to nerve himself
to reach for the lever close to that
quiet formless thing still partly draped
over the machine, when a faint sound
in the door electrified him. At first, he
dared not look, but his own name,
spoken almost in a gasp, gave him
Athalia lay on the floor, apparently
He jerked the lever violently before
running to her, exultant with the
knowledge that his own efforts to keep
the ray from the door had saved her.
"And you're not hurt!" He gathered
"John! I saw it get Adam." She
pointed to a new mound of mouldy
clothes on the floor. "Oh, it is hideous
for me to be so glad, but he was going
to destroy everything and everyone except
me. He made the ray projector
for that one purpose."
Northwood looked over the pile of
putrid ruins which a few minutes ago
had been a building. There was not a
wall left intact.
"His intention is accomplished, Athalia,"
he said sadly. "Let's get out before
more stones fall."
In a moment they were in the open.
An ominous stillness seemed to
grip the very air—the awful silence of
the polar wastes which lay not far
beyond the mountains.
"How dark it is, John!" cried Athalia.
"Dark and cold!"
"The sunshine projector!" gasped
Northwood. "It must have been destroyed.
Look, dearest! The golden
light has disappeared."
"And the warm air of the valley will
lift immediately. That means a polar
blizzard." She shuddered and clung
closer to him. "I've seen Antarctic
storms, John. They're death."
Northwood avoided her eyes. "There's
the sun-ship. We'll give the ruins the
once over in case there are any survivors;
then we'll save ourselves."
Even a cursory examination of the
mouldy piles of stone and dust convinced
them that there could be no
. The ruins looked as though
they had lain in those crumbling piles
for centuries. Northwood, smothering
his repugnance, stepped among them—among
the green, slimy stones and the
unspeakable revolting débris, staggering
back and faint and shocked when
he came upon dust that was once
"God!" he groaned, hands over eyes.
"We're alone, Athalia! Alone in a
charnal house. The laboratory housed
the entire population, didn't it?"
"Yes. Needing no sleep nor food,
we did not need houses. We all worked
here, under Dr. Mundson's generalship,
and, lately under Adam's, like a
little band of soldiers fighting for a
"Let's go to the sun-ship, dearest."
"But Daddy Mundson was in the
library," sobbed Athalia. "Let's look
for him a little longer."
Sudden remembrance came to
Northwood. "No, Athalia! He left
the library. I saw him go down the
jungle path several minutes before I
and Eve went to Adam's laboratory."
"Then he might be safe!" Her eyes
danced. "He might have gone to the
Shivering, she slumped against him.
"Oh, John! I'm cold."
Her face was blue. Northwood jerked
off his coat and wrapped it around her,
taking the intense cold against his unprotected
shoulders. The low, gray sky
was rapidly darkening, and the feeble
light of the sun could scarcely pierce
the clouds. It was disturbing to know
that even the summer temperature in
the Antarctic was far below zero.
"Come, girl," said Northwood gravely.
"Hurry! It's snowing."
They started to run down the road
through the narrow strip of jungle.
The Death Ray had cut huge swathes
in the tangle of trees and vines, and
now areas of heaped débris, livid with
the colors of recent decay, exhaled a
mephitic humidity altogether alien to
the snow that fell in soft, slow flakes.
Each hesitated to voice the new fear:
had the sun-ship been destroyed?
By the time they reached the open
field, the snow stung their flesh like
sharp needles, but it was not yet thick
enough to hide from them a hideous
The sun-ship was gone.
It might have occupied one of several
black, foul areas on the green
grass, where the searching Death Ray
had made the very soil putrefy, and
the rocks crumble into shocking dust.
Northwood snatched Athalia to him,
too full of despair to speak. A sudden
terrific flurry of snow whirled around
them, and they were almost blown from
their feet by the icy wind that tore
over the unprotected field.
"It won't be long," said Athalia
faintly. "Freezing doesn't hurt, John,
"It isn't fair, Athalia! There never
would have been such a marriage as
ours. Dr. Mundson searched the world
to bring us together."
"For scientific experiment!" she
sobbed. "I'd rather die, John. I want
an old-fashioned home, a Black Age
family. I want to grow old with you
and leave the earth to my children.
Or else I want to die here now under
the kind, white blanket the snow is
already spreading over us." She
drooped in his arms.
Clinging together, they stood in the
howling wind, looking at each other
hungrily, as though they would snatch
from death this one last picture of the
Northwood's freezing lips translated
some of the futile words that crowded
against them. "I love you because you
are not perfect. I hate perfection!"
"Yes. Perfection is the only hopeless
state, John. That is why Adam
wanted to destroy, so that he might
They were sitting in the snow now,
for they were very tired. The storm
began whistling louder, as though it
were only a few feet above their heads.
"That sounds almost like the sun-ship,"
said Athalia drowsily.
"It's only the wind. Hold your face
down so it won't strike your flesh so
"I'm not suffering. I'm getting warm
again." She smiled at him sleepily.
Little icicles began to form on
their clothing, and the powdery
snow frosted their uncovered hair.
Suddenly came a familiar voice:
Dr. Mundson stood before them,
covered with snow until he looked like
a polar bear.
"Get up!" he shouted. "Quick! To
He seized Athalia and jerked her to
her feet. She looked at him sleepily
for a moment, and then threw herself
at him and hugged him frantically.
"You're not dead?"
Taking each by the arm, he half
dragged them to the sun-ship, which
had landed only a few feet away. In
a few minutes he had hot brandy for
While they sipped greedily, he
talked, between working the sun-ship's
"No, I wouldn't say it was a lucky
moment that drew me to the sun-ship.
When I saw Eve trying to charm John,
I had what you American slangists
call a hunch, which sent me to the
sun-ship to get it off the ground so
that Adam couldn't commandeer it.
And what is a hunch but a mental
penetration into the Fourth Dimension?"
For a long moment, he brooded,
absent-minded. "I was in the air when
the black ray, which I suppose is
Adam's deviltry, began to destroy
everything it touched. From a safe
elevation I saw it wreck all my work."
A sudden spasm crossed his face. "I've
flown over the entire valley. We're the
only survivors—thank God!"
"And so at last you confess that it is
not well to tamper with human life?"
Northwood, warmed with hot brandy,
was his old self again.
"Oh, I have not altogether wasted
my efforts. I went to elaborate pains
to bring together a perfect man and a
perfect woman of what Adam called
our Black Age." He smiled at them
"And who can say to what extent
you have thus furthered natural evolution?"
Northwood slipped his arm
around Athalia. "Our children might
be more than geniuses, Doctor!"
Dr. Mundson nodded his huge,
shaggy head gravely.
"The true instinct of a Creature of
the Light," he declared.