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Sinister Barrier

SinisterBarrier800 500x750 Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell
Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell

Sinister Barrier – Charles Fort said, “I think we’re property.” And that is the plot of ‘Sinister Barrier.

Book Details

Book Details

Sinister Barrier – Charles Fort said, “I think we’re property.” And that is the plot of ‘Sinister Barrier.

We are cattle, a source of psychic energy for beings that exist as pure energy. They feed off of our emotions and our strongest emotions are lust, hate, and fear. And so they manipulate us to display our strongest emotions for their psychic vampirism.

Ghastly crimes are the everyday meal for these beings; wars are banquets for their delectations.

One scientist discovers these invisible beings of energy and is able to warn others before he dies. And then, many die. One dogged investigator is pursued cross-country and back as he puts together a meeting of minds to free humanity from these invisible tyrants.

Sinister Barrier was published in 1939 in the initial issue of Unknown. It was the cover story.

Eric Frank Russell (1905-1978) was a British writer who mainly wrote science fiction and horror for the American pulps.

Unknown1939 03 Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell
Unknown 1939-03


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Excerpt: Sinister Barrier


“QUICK death awaits the first cow that leads a revolt against milking,” mused Professor Peder Bjornsen. He passed long, slender fingers through prematurely white hair. His eyes, strangely protruding, filled with uncanny light, stared out of his office window, which gaped on the third level above traffic swirling through Stockholm’s busy Hötorget. He wasn’t looking at the traffic.

“And there’s a swat ready for the first bee that blats about pilfered honey,” he added. Stockholm hummed and roared. The professor continued to stare in silent, fearful contemplation. Then he drew back from the window, slowly, reluctantly, moving as if forcing himself by sheer will power to retreat from a horror that enticed him toward it.

He raised his lands, pushed, pushed at thin air. His eyes, cold, hard but bright, followed with dreadful fascination an invisible point that crept from window to ceiling. He turned and ran, his eyes staring, his mouth open and expelling breath soundlessly.

Halfway to the door he emitted a brief gasp, stumbled, fell. Clutching the calendar from his desk, he dragged it down with him. Then he sobbed, hugged hands to his heart, and lay still. The calendar’s top leaf fluttered in a cold breeze from nowhere. The date was May the seventeenth, 2015.

Bjornsen had been five hours dead when they found him. The medical examiner diagnosed heart disease. Police Lieutenant Backer found on the professor’s desk a scratch pad bearing a message from the grave.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is humanly impossible to order my thoughts every minute of the day; to control my dreams every hour of the night. It is inevitable that sooner or later I shall be found dead, in which case you must—”

“Must what?” asked Baeker. There was no reply. The voice that could have answered was stilled forever. Baeker heard the medical officer’s report, then burned the note. Heart disease it was, actually and officially.

ON May the thirtieth, Dr. Guthrie Sheridan walked with the deliberate, jerky step of an automaton along Charing Cross Road, London. His frozen-looking eyes were on the sky. while his feet found their own way. He had the vague appearance of a blind man treading a familiar route.

Jim Leacock saw him wending his mechanical way, and yelled. “Hey, Sherry!” He dashed up, boisterous as usual, all set to administer a hearty slap on the back. He stopped, appalled.

Turning upon him pale, strained features framing eyes that gleamed like icicles seen in twilight, Guthrie seized an arm, and said: “Jim! By heavens! I’m glad to see you.” His breath came fast, his voice grew urgent. “Jim, I’ve got to talk to somebody or go crazy. I have discovered the most incredible fact in the history of mankind. It is almost beyond belief. Yet it explains a thousand things that we have merely guessed at, or completely ignored.”

“What is it?” demanded Leacock, studying Sheridan’s distorted face.

“Jim, let me tell you that man is not the master of his fate, nor the captain of his soul. The very beasts of the field—” He broke off, grabbed at his listener, and screamed: “I’ve thought It! I’ve thought it, I tell you!” His legs bent at the knees. “I’m done for!” He slumped to the sidewalk.

Hastily, Leacock stooped over the doctor, tore open his shirt, slid a hand down his chest. No beat was discernible. Sheridan was dead. Heart disease, apparently.

At exactly the same hour of the same day, Dr. Hans Luther did a very similar thing. He carried his deceptively plump body at top speed across his laboratory, raced down the stairs, along the hall. He fled with many frightened glances over one shoulder, and the glances came from eyes like polished agate.

Reaching the telephone in the hall, he dialed with shaking finger, got the Dortmund Zeitung, shouted for the editor. With his eyes still upon the stairs, while the telephone receiver trembled against his ear, he bawled into the mouthpiece: “Vogel, I have for you the most astonishing news since the dawn of time. Earth is belted with a warning streamer that says: KEEP OFF THE GRASS!”

“Ha-ha!” responded Vogel dutifully. His heavy face moved in the tiny vision screen above the telephone, and took on the patient expression of one who is accustomed to tolerate the eccentricities of scientists.

“Listen!” screamed Dr. Luther. “You know me. I do not joke. I tell you nothing which I cannot prove. So I tell you that now, and perhaps for thousands of years past, this world of ours . . . a-ah! . . . a-a-ah!”

The receiver swung at the end of its cord, and gave forth a reedy shout of: “Luther’ Luther! What’s happened?” Dr. Hans Luther made no response. He sank to his knees, rolled his eyes upward, then fell on his side. His tongue licked his lips slowly, very slowly, once, twice.

Vogel’s face bobbed in the vision screen. The dangling receiver made noises for ears that could no longer hear.

BILL GRAHAM knew nothing of these earlier tragedies, but he knew about Mayo. He was on the spot when it happened.

He was walking along West Fourteenth, New York, when for no particular reason he flung a casual glance up the sheer side of the Martin Building, and saw a human figure falling past the twelfth floor.

Down came the body, twisting, whirling, spread-eagling. It smacked the sidewalk and bounced nine feet. The sound was halfway between a squelch and a crunch. The sidewalk looked as if it had been slapped with a giant crimson sponge.

Twenty yards ahead of Graham, a fat woman stopped in mid-step, lay carefully on the concrete, closed her eyes, and mumbled nonsense. A hundred pedestrians made themselves into a rapidly shrinking circle with the thing on the sidewalk as its center.

The dead had no face. Sodden clothes were surmounted only by a mask like scrambled berries and custard. Graham felt no qualms as he bent over the body. He had seen worse in war.

His strong, brown fingers plucked at the pocket of a sticky vest, drew out a messy pasteboard. He looked at the card, permitted himself a whistle of surprise.

“Professor Walter Mayo! Good heavens!”

Excerpt From: Eric Frank Russell. “Sinister Barrier.”

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