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Crash Beam


Dan Kearns, sick and shaking, could already hear
them talk: "Yeah, come in on the Kearns beam—
it's a new way to die

IT happened so fast that for a minute he just stood there absolutely incapable to taking it in. One instant the big Earth-Venus rocket freighter was sizzling through the fog to a perfect landing on the field below. Then suddenly she dipped, undershot the field and vanished in a flash and a thundering explosion that shook the observation tower.

In the dream-like quiet that followed, Dan Kearns heard the faint yells of the landing crew. He saw the big searchlights switch on, cutting wide swaths of light through the boiling fog. Tiny white-coated medics crossed the patches of light, running frantically. Dan sat down in the chair feeling sick and very tired. Then the door of the tower room opened and Rawlins, the supervisor, stepped in.

"All right, Kearns," he said curtly, "you're through. And if anyone asks me about your ability as an electronics engineer, I'll write out the blackest recommendation I can think of."

Dan got up slowly. "How many were killed?"

"Two!" Rawlins glared. "Two of my best pilots!"

Suddenly... a beam of purple light! Dan's shoul...

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