The Scourge Below and Other Stories by Sam Merwin Jr.
The Scourge Below and Other Stories – From microscopic people to giant ants, the universe is a strange place.
The Scourge Below and Other Stories – four science fiction stories by Samuel Merwin Jr. (1910-1996). From microscopic people to giant ants, the universe is a strange place.
Distortion Pattern (1953) – She was only the boss’s secretary, but she was sitting in the lap of the gods…
Arbiter (1953) – Out in space, out in the silence and the darkness between worlds, where the hours drag so slowly, there’s always time for murder!
No Greater Worlds (1945) – Agonto Tenodin’s rocket ship soars into outer space!
The Scourge Below (1939) – The Ruler of an Invisible Domain Strikes—and a Vast Metropolis Disappears! Henry Allen Descends Into Smallness to Crush a Mighty Insect Race!
CHAPTER I – A City Vanishes
CHAPTER II – Into Smallness
CHAPTER III – Insect Menace
CHAPTER IV – The Mighty Brain
CHAPTER V – Inside the Crystal
The Scourge Below and Other Stories has 11 illustrations.
Excerpt: Distortion Pattern
THEY met just beyond the erratic orbit of Pluto, where the warm rays of the Sun are reduced by distance to the mere chill twinkle of another star. But the fearsome cold of deep space meant no more to them than the heat of the photosphere itself—for they were to men as men are to the lowliest cephelapod.
They needed no armored atomically-powered vessels to travel from planet to planet, from star to star—for they were free to roam the spaceways at will. Nor did they need to plumb the murky greyness of sub-space to travel faster than light.
Yet they were not gods, though they were possessed of powers surpassing the powers of the legendary gods of Earth. And because they were not gods they were capable, on occasion, of error.
Their rendezvous beyond Pluto was such an occasion.
Herlin—for such was his name though actually he had neither name nor sex-floated outward from Earth, relaxed and invisible, at a slow rate of about one hundred thousand miles per second, until he sensed the nearness of Pleuvet, awaiting him.
Said Pleuvet, although she didn’t really speak, “You are late, Herlin. We have many parsecs to travel before the next sidereal swing of the Milky Way. Why must you always be so curious?”
“It is my nature and I cannot change,” replied Herlin, his somber mood affecting that of his cosmic mate.
“I suppose not, “said Pleuvet. “Well, did you enjoy your trip to the Third Planet? What’s it like?”
“A nice place to visit, but I’d hate to stay there,” was the reply. “The dominant species is still bound to its bodies.”
“How vulgar!” came the reply. “Will they never learn?”
“They are learning with amazing speed,” said Herlin. “Yet I am frightened, for they seem bent on achieving self-destruction. They have begun, to master the atom, yet they use it only for weapons.”
“They’re not really a very important” planet,” Pleuvet put in.
“Don’t be a snob” replied Herlin. “To them, they are important. And they’re such lively creatures.”
Pleuvet sighed, said, “I know what this means—you’re going to do something to help them. At times I think it is you who will never learn. Remember the last time you tried—with those chitinous creatures who lived near the great star in Andromeda?”
“How did I know they’d go nova?” retorted Herlin crossly. “Besides, this is totally different. If I could give just one of them some keys to a few easy material comforts it might relieve the pressures that are driving all of them toward self-ruin.”
“I’ll lay odds you’re thinking of a female creature,” said Pleuvet with a trace of acid. “Well, if you’re going to do something I can’t stop you—but for the sake of the galaxy, do it quickly. We can’t loll around out here forever!”
“There are problems,” mused Herlin seriously. “First there, is the matter of reaching the right brain—one that is not too clogged with their limited lines of thought, yet has sufficient ability at least to put suggestions in articulate form. Then there is the problem of ensuring that our suggestions reach an authority sufficiently powerful to see they are put to use.”
Pleuvet said peevishly, “I wish you wouldn’t say our suggestions. These are all yours. I want nothing to do with, them. What are they?”
With the tact of a veteran mate Herlin discreetly hid his amusement at the similarity amongst female, creatures in all levels of the universe. He said, “They need more food, more clothing, greater shelter….”
“Just like a male,” said Pleuvet, showing more interest in the problem. “Always thinking of material comforts.. I think I shall add a little gift of my own….”
JEANNETTE COREY was parked with Bill Tanner in his 1947 topless convertible, in the starlit semi-seclusion of the Elite Drive-in Theater outside of Gordon City when the gifts of the non-gods descended upon her. At the moment they reached her Jeannette was in the act of imprinting the somewhat gooey pattern of her lips upon Bill’s.
She jumped without warning in the circle of his arms, causing Bill to bang a knee on the steering shaft, cried, “Bill Tanner, what are you trying to do?”
“Are you kidding, honey?” asked Bill, who was possessed of a remarkably pragmatic single-purpose where women were concerned.
“Puzzled, Jeannette paused and frowned as she put her mental processes into gear. She noted that Bill’s hands were in no more than the usual places, wondered what he could have done. Then, because after the first moment of involuntary panic had passed, the sensation was not unpleasant, she murmured, “Do it again.”
“A pleasure, honey,” said Bill gathering her close.
But a moment later Jeannette wriggled free, regarded him with reproach, said, “That isn’t it, Bill!”
“What isn’t what?” countered Bill, himself bewildered. He was, with considerable reason, sure of his amatory technique.
“You know!”. said Jeannette accusingly.”
Excerpt From: Sam Merwin Jr. “The Scourge Below and Other Stories.”
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