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HADES was hot. Philip Thorpe looked hopelessly at the figure by his side, clad as he was in a bulky, heat-resistant suit of Insulite. He swore softly, under his breath, looked out over vast wastes of white-hot, barren nothingness to the blazing sun that hung on the horizon. He wondered as he had wondered ever since they had come to Hades why he had ever brought her into this mess. Virginia was his wife; she stood bravely at his side, her slight form looking bulky and shapeless under the triple- thick insulation.

There Was a Rare Black Treasure on the Planet, But It Was Buried in Inferno!

Phil Thorpe glanced nervously around him at the peak-caped moutains that rose at the edge of the perpetually heated sunward side of the planet. There was no telling when one of the volcanic peaks would erupt, and eject terrible, pressures of fluid rock from below the molten world. Thorpe shuddered; it wouldn't do much good to look. If one ever erupted nearby—well, it would just be too bad.

Through the tiny pinhole goggles he looked at Virginia. He felt sorry for her. Hades was hell. But she had pleaded, insisted, that he take her with him, and here they were. Here they had been for over a month, searching fruitlessly every day. There were no days on Hades really; one side was always night, bitter cold, the other was always day, unendurably hot.

It was Tyler who had first given them the idea. Tyler who had returned from Hades with one of the rare Black Gems, a very dense, slightly radioactive jewel which was formed under the conditions of extreme heat and pressure of Hades' sunward surface. Tyler had made a moderate fortune from the sale of the mysterious black egg.

Everyone remembers the revolution of the planetary colonies and the great economic depression that followed—the collapse that shattered Earth and her colonies. Tyler's story had presented a ray of hope, a long chance to the financially embarrassed Thorpes. It was better than going to the Satellite mines, anyway. No man ever survived those grim radioactive pits that pocked the cold moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

The Thorpes had spent their last money for equipment and for their passage on the Explorer. It was a lucky thing that Professor Brighton and his research ship were leaving for Hades—over twenty light-years away from Earth—twenty light years in six months by transdimensional drive.

For a month they had searched the molten rim of the sunward side of the dense little planet, as near to the location where Tyler had found the first Gem as possible. Every day—although there were no days on Hades—they had plodded across the night side from their little hemisphere of metal, from black night and bitter cold, into glaring heat and the light of a white dwarf sun half a million miles away.

Due to the elliptic shape of the planet's orbit, there were times when the rim was in night, and while it was it cooled; then slowly it same back under the burning rays of the sun—and melted.

That continual melting and cooling, and the effect of heat and pressure forcing molten minerals toward the night side to meet super-cooled layers and cause surface eruptions, made a chaotic mass of giant red and white-hot hills of the rim. Hills that occasionally belched forth flame and liquid fire in a belt that would have been a twilight belt had there been any atmosphere more than a high-grade vacuum. And from its peaks and through its valleys ran rivers—terrible rivers of fire.

THORPE and his young wife walked slowly down the hill on which they had been standing, down to a river of flaming, molten minerals. It was in one of these that Tyler had found the Gem. There were more, Tyler had said. But Tyler had been half-crazed, almost dead from the heat. Phil looked at the white-hot stuff that slowly flowed by. Somewhere there were more Gems, he hoped desperately. There had to be. Tyler had said the river flowed from near the heart of the sunward side.

The Gems, small, dense eggs, formed there in a planetary laboratory of white-hot incandescence, where no one could hope to penetrate, and then were carried by sluggish currents of molten metal to the comparative coolness of the rim.

The thermometer on Thorpe's wrist registered 2,500° Centigrade. But much of Hades was tungsten, whose melting point is close to 3,400°. Phil's eyes watched the river of white flame wearily as again and again he dropped the specimen bucket on its thin, strong cable of Insulite into the fluid. And always he would empty it disappointingly.

Hours passed as they walked wearily by the molten stream and dipped the buckets. Interminable long hours. There would be few more. Professor Brighton was returning to Earth in two days. Thorpe laughed mirthlessly. It would be the mines for him after all—the mines or—He didn't realize he had laughed out loud; he cursed himself for it. Virginia, who had been so loyal and brave, had heard through her tiny headphones.

"What's the matter, Phil? Giving up?" Her voice was faintly metallic through his own phones.

"It's been a month, Gin; only two days—one day really—left. You know what that means. There's nothing now." He threw a bucketful of flame savagely back into the molten river.

"Then—it's just about the end for us, isn't it?" Her voice was quiet.

Thorpe's eyes looked away unconsciously; he was thinking. Ginny was right. It was the end either way; the mines or—

"Ginny," he pegan slowly, looking away toward the dazzling, blinding brilliance of the white sun, "you remember what they said about the Gem?"

She shook her grossly built helmet.

"They said a lot of things."

"I know, but this was about where it came from. You know Tyler found it somewhere near the rim; it was comparatively cool where he found it-under 3,000 degrees. But it had been carried in from the interior, from the heart of the sunward side. And scientists said that conditions of extreme heat were probably necessary for its formation."

Virginia's tiny, transparent goggles looked at him uncomprehendingly.

With a splash of flame his specimen bucket dipped below the surface.

"Well," he paused, looked down at her helmet, six inches below his, "perhaps—farther inward there might be more chance. We haven't found anything here in a month. It won't hurt to try." He swung the full, glowing bucket absently to and fro. "I'm going on into the interior."

Virginia's head turned sharply. "You can't, Phil; it's suicide. The Insulite won't stand it." She pleaded with him, but she knew then it was no use.

"Let me go with you," she burst out suddenly. "No matter what happens, it's the end now."

Phil Thorpe shook his head. He had brought her into this, but she wasn't going any further.

"You've got to let me!" she pleaded. There were tears in her voice. "Please, Phil—"

He turned quickly as he felt the rumbling of the surface. For a moment he watched, fascinated, as the opposite valley bank, a sheer cliff, red-hot, slowly sank and melted in on itself like butter. For a moment he was spellbound at the sight; then, swiftly, he seized Virginia's arm, and together they scrambled up the hill.

They reached the top just in time. The tremendous bulk of the cliff fell with a low, muted rumble into the river of fire, and sent huge waves crawling up the slope and viscous drops of dazzling white splashing high onto the surrounding hills of red.

IN Thorpe's arms, Virginia was thankful for the protection of the thick, bulky suit, for she was trembling.

"You see what I mean, Phil," she breathed heavily.

"No," he said stubbornly. "Look, Ginny, I'll go back to the edge of the rim with you; you can get back from there. Go back to the hut, watch the direction beam. I'll need it. Nothing must go wrong with that. Brighton's been swell to see that it's working right all the time we've been here; he must be tired now. It's hours since we left. With you, there'll be two of you to watch it, and I'll be twice as safe." He was trying to make excuses, but they weren't very convincing and he knew it.

"But Phil—"

"Come on." He took her arm and began to walk toward the next valley, away from the sun that hung ever on the horizon. "Besides, I can stand the heat better than you can. Something might happen, and I'd have to drag you out as well as myself. You—" he faltered, "you'd be a burden." Every. word hurt. But he couldn't let his wife go into that glaring wasteland.

"All right," she spoke Softly, a tremble in her voice that she couldn't hide. "But you don't have to go any farther. I can get back from here."

Phil Thorpe looked at her, undecided, for a moment. She didn't have too much distance to retreat, and they had come over the way many times. But it took a long time. Time that he could save for his trek into the inferno. They were standing just over the crest of a glowing hill, where shadows were long and huge, lying across the valley floor to the west.

"It's all right, Phil. I can get back just as well alone."

"All right," he agreed finally.

They stopped where she must descend into the valley, then go on through a great underground cavern, under a towering mountain at the very rim, then through a long, twisting passage and finally into night. Night—lighted with the pale, ghost-light of Styx, the other planet, a tiny, airless fragment whose orbit was outside that of Hades, but which revolved at a greater speed around the sun, so that it shone perpetually in the night.

Thorpe glanced toward the valley, then back at Virginia. He drew her to him, held her in his arms against his suit. He would have liked to have been able to kiss her once, just in case—

"Good-by, Ginny; don't get lost on the way home."

Her head lifted suddenly toward his her eyes were misty behind the tiny pin-point goggles.

"You can't go," she sobbed. "You mustn't."

He held her at arm's length, pushed up the helmet where her chin should have been. "Chin up, Ginny, and I'll bring back one of those Gems or something as good, so help me. You know we didn't come all the way out to this forsaken place for nothing. Now, smile."

He couldn't see her face, but he knew she was smiling, in spite of everything.

"I'll be home in a few hours," he said lightly, more lightly than he felt.

THE terrific glare of the white sun was a little higher above the horizon; the planet's floor was more molten. Streams and rivers of cadent fluid—melted, viscous, stuff—flowed into steaming lakes of liquid fire. Gases swirled above the lakes; acrid vapors, clouds of steam that blew across the planet of hell.

The sun was higher, but the planet hadn't moved. Hades rotated only once in its 130 Earth-day orbit, and so each point on its surface was always lighted the same. There was no change of sun-time on Hades. Each point had its own, never-changing time. The sun was always in the same position, except for the slight wobble that alternately baked and froze the rim.

The sun was a little higher now in the white-hot glare of vapor that was the planet's only sky; for Phil Thorpe had struggled laboriously across miles of inferno—toward the sun. Traveling had become easier as the temperature rose, because the surface was more level. Now, however, his back was turned toward the eternally gaseous day side.

There no man had ever been, where the sun rode high above the planet, forever blazing over a surface that was not solid nor liquid; There was a great cosmic laboratory, where unknown forms of elements were certain to exist. Because of the lack of centrifugal force caused by rotation, the dense gases were held by the small planet, and did not fly off into space. Too, Hades had a strong gravity even though it was almost the size of Earth's moon, for Hades was made of dense stuff.

Well, Thorpe sighed, the worst heat was behind him now. He glanced at his wrist thermometer; the indicator was still against the stop-pin. Yet, beneath the great helmet and the clumsy suit of Insulite, he was smiling as he thought of the two black Gems that lay within his sample bucket. He owned two of them now, both perfect and black as jet. Rare gems that he had snatched from the vast expanse of burning white heat, the wastes of liquid fire that lay behind. He could hardly wait to get back, to tell Virginia.

There was a tiny transmitter in his pocket for emergency use—it could last only a minute—but if it were taken from its protective insulation, the set would fuse instantly in the heat. So he had to wait.

Then, through the triple layers of Insulite, he began to feel the heat. Perspiration formed on his face, his arms, his legs. He felt a drop trickle down his nose. He walked faster—away from the heat, faster toward the perpetual night, and cold. Faster toward the towering hills of the rim, the treacherous volcanic mounds that melted, and shifted, and erupted furiously.

AND the heat grew.

Apprehensively, he looked at the needle of the radio compass on his wrist, operated by the directional beam from the shack. As closely as possible he followed the direction it indicated; And slowly the ground became rougher, and imperceptibly the heat lessened and the shadows grew a little longer. And the heat within his suit grew discomforting. He realized then, that there was a break somewhere in the insulating material—a break much smaller than a pinhole probably—but slowly, surely, terrific white heat was seeping in!

The river of molten fire that he was following ran sluggishly away from the heat of daylight, ran toward the mountains of the rim, down a narrow gorge that grew deeper. There was shadow in the gorge; Thorpe was thankful for that. It lessened the heat a little. He wondered as he followed the molten stream how he should get beyond the mountains that grew ahead. He was south of the shack—and the lower hills he and Virginia knew.

But the mountains looming larger and the heat seeping into his suit only slightly dampened the joy within him as he thought of the two priceless Gems lying under the cover of the specimen bucket. Two eggs, worth a small fortune back on Earth. Those eggs, black as the terrible black of space, lent strength and speed to his feet.

Abruptly, the valley broadened, and ahead reared an lawful lake of white fire fed by the stream he was following, and by another. The other stream fell a hundred feet from a sheer cliff, a flaming cascade of fierce, burning white fluid.

From somewhere near the heart of the sunward side the river flowed, a blazing white cataract of hell, into the lake of fire. Two streams fed the lake; none flowed from it. There was only a gaping hole at the far end. Through it the lake drained, into the very bowels of Hades.

Phil Thorpe. stood for a moment, awe-struck. In the distance were great, brooding hills and walls of red; nearby, hotter, whiter cliffs framed the picture of inferno.

Fondly he looked at the bucket as he skirted the shore of the lake. He couldn't resist the temptation to look once more at the precious Gems. Thorpe lifted the cover gently-and the bucket dropped from his numbed hands, splashed into the seething lake. He bent quickly to retrieve the bucket; but he was too late.

The two black eggs were already destroyed, fused with the molten stuff from the lake!

RUMBLING mountains of red and white fire, and sheer, dazzling cliffs suddenly, began to tumble. Thorpe staggered dazedly at the loss of the Gems; for a moment he stood dully as the mighty continental blocks of a molten planet shifted uneasily.

Then, instinctively, he ran. He made a mad scramble-up the hill away from the stream bed which had led him to the rim. Behind, billions of tons of molten stuff crumbled and caved into the lake. Vast chasms yawned for a moment and sucked in white fire, and then closed their jaws with a cataclysmic thunder that reverberated over the planet's surface. Madly, Phil Thorpe fled to the top of the ridge, down the far side.

And behind, sluggishly, crept a gigantic tidal wave.

Beyond the crest was another valley, three hundred feet deep, a quarter of a mile wide, the ancient bed of a stream that had melted everything around it, dissolved the surface and flowed its sluggish way onward, downward, under the mountains of the rim, and then had found a new course.

Thorpe ran recklessly along a ledge halfway down the side of the old stream bed. There was only one way to go—down into the yawning cavern mouth below the red hills. There was no time to cross the valley. And soon the liquid fire would creep over the ridge, and flow down, down, along that deserted course, into the cavern mouth.

He wondered vaguely as he ran why he was fleeing. Fleeing to night and Virginia—and failure. Fleeing from a quick death to a slower, more horrible one in the mines. Yet there was something terrifying in the thought of being buried alive under a sea of white-hot fury. He started to throw away the sample bucket-it was heavy with molten liquid from the lake—but there were vague patches of shadow within its white heart The couldn't be Gems, but perhaps they might be worth—something.

THE cavern was a vast mouth of glowing red. Thorpe looked behind. Tiny white rivulets were trickling down. There was only a faint chance; most of the caverns had vents, passages to the surface made by escaping gases when the rim was nearest the sun. Sometimes they were large enough for a man to-crawl through. Sometimes there were no vents upward, only gaping, dull-red chasms opening into blackness far below.

He was dizzy and weak and terribly hot—he had forgotten the leak in the suit for a while—when he reached the crevice. He could feel streams of perspiration dripping from his face, and he could smell the faint tinge of acrid fumes that were penetrating through the break in the suit.

And ahead—ahead was the end. A giant chasm that opened, dark and foreboding, across the entire cavern floor. It was not very wide, ten feet from where he stood, but nowhere narrow enough to jump. And the opposite floor was smooth, smooth with the red heat of ages. There was nowhere to throw the thin cable of the bucket, no projection on which it could catch.

Thorpe sank wearily to the glowing floor. Fascinatedly, his eyes watched the dim entrance as a river of white crept through. Slowly, inevitably, it came, flowing with a terrible deliberateness, sure of its prey. Inch by inch it spread across the redness of the cavern floor and painted it blinding white. Sluggishly it crept upward along dismal, towering walls of red.

Long minutes crawled by as Thorpe waited, breathless. And in those minutes he suddenly remembered something. A paragraph that was dim in his memory came back with startling clearness. He hadn't found the real Gems at all!

Tyler had warned about those others that looked so much like the real thing. These stones he had found were bits of dense, compressed matter. Formed under tremendous strains, deep under the surface, they were carried away by currents. At the surface, the pressure was released, and they soon puffed into nothingness-vanished into ordinary gases, Well, it didn't make much difference, even if they had been genuine, the fall in the lake would have ruined them. But he'd hold on to them—a grim souvenir. It was a bitter mockery, but now the planet was playing its last grim joke.

Phil Thorpe rose then, sought higher ground. Fascinated, as a bird is fascinated by a snake, he watched the white death creep upward, above his ankles. It was flowing into the crevice now, and there was no limit to the amount that vast, hungry maw could devour. Flaming and furious and white, the molten river fell in a sheet into that bottomless chasm until it was lost in black nothingness.

Thorpe could feel the rumble of the earth, the protesting tremors as substrata shifted and crumbled, as great rounded mountains disappeared in a molten sea, and giant waves of liquid fire clutched greedily at crumbling cliffs and tumbled downward. He watched the great wave as it came, a fiery sheet of tremendous brilliance that consumed everything before it. Below, the mutterings became greater, the earth began to tremble more violently as a vast river dropped into the crevice.

Soon the main wave would reach him. Already the molten stuff was up to his knees; soon it would eat through even the marvelous heat-resisting powers of Insulite. Soon—

THE whole cavern floor began to drop and crumble and melt on itself. With a terrible slowness it disintegrated and fell. The opposite wall was suddenly near; Thorpe grasped madly at its smooth surface. His hands clinging with a losing grip, he could feel the falling river from the other edge at his legs as it fell. With a superhuman strength born of final desperation, he scrambled to the opposite cavern floor—and ran. Behind, the narrow crevice was no more. Instead the whole floor was crumbling slowly—breaking, falling—a terrible jumble of cherry-red and blinding blue-white. Slowly the entire cavern floor was yielding.

He had seen the vent dimly from the other side, a black hole in the wall of red. He had never expected to reach it, but now Thorpe flung himself desperately into the shaft. He could feel the rumble below, as the whole cavern floor gave way. This was his only hope. It was a slim hope, but he must chance it.

It was a terrible climb, sometimes almost straight upward, clinging uncertainly to smooth walls that glowed faintly, sullenly. Above was blackness and a gradual cold. The vent became slowly smaller, smaller until he struggled to squeeze through the narrow passage. He realized then that his air would not last much longer; he had been gone for long hours, and the leak in his suit was letting the last precious oxygen seep away. . . .

Then—he realized it dazedly—he was outside. Outside in night—and cold. Under the hills of the rim he had gone, from terrific, seething white-heat of eternal day to the dim starlight and the pale ghostly light of Styx-and chill, bitter cold. But he was still unbearably hot, and his eyes hurt cruelly. Heat had seeped in slowly; it would leave slowly.

Thorpe looked at the wrist compass. The shack was almost due north, not much over a mile perhaps. He staggered slowly over the barren, eternally frozen surface-a mile that he never could make. The ground was rocking, swaying unsteadily, his lungs were gasping for oxygen in the stale air.

For a moment his head cleared-as he turned the emergency stopcock. He had air for half an hour at the most—without the leak. And slowly he was getting cold. His weary feet clumped softly on the rocky surface, the specimen bucket, still white-hot—there was, no heat loss by convection, only slow radiation—dangling forgotten from his belt.

Fifteen minutes later he dropped beside a lake of glimmering silver. A small lake it was, of liquid gases blown from the day side. There were always thin, chill winds blowing across the desolateness of Hades' night. Once in a while a high pressure area would condense and form a tiny lake—mostly of sulfur dioxide which will liquefy easily with little pressure—that lasted for a few hours, then evaporated rapidly in the terribly thin atmosphere.

The lake was thirty feet below in a natural cup formation. Thorpe sat in a jumble of rock which made a crude, open cave above the lake. Pale, unnatural ghost-light flitted across the frigid surface, glinted dimly from rock facets, beyond the far shore. A thin, bitter-cold wind whistled through the rocks and blew a fine powder of ice away into darkness beyond.

THORPE shivered. Hades was cold. He laughed to himself grimly. One side too hot, the other too cold, a hellish world of two extremes. No wonder Tyler had named it Hades. He dragged himself to the edge of the cave on his stomach; his eyes looked northward.

Northward, somewhere, was the shack, and Virginia, and safety—safety and the mines. He shuddered. His air was going. The valve was set at minimum now, and he was growing faint and dizzy.

Blackness began to creep from the dismal face of the planet—cold, unfriendly fingers of ice—cold and numbing. Blackness that forced away the light, fogged his brain; a hand that grasped, and squeezed, painfully. Almost subconsciously, he reached inside the Insulite suit. His hands found the square box—the tiny radio transmitter.

Desperately his mind fought to remain awake another minute. Numb fingers, cased in thick fabric, found the switch, started the flow of power from the tiny cell. Clumsily the box dropped from his hand, clattered across the rock floor. Thorpe dived for it crazily, stumbled across the specimen bucket still white-hot—and watched frozenly as the tiny box bounced from the side of the cliff and splashed noiselessly into the lake below.

Bitterly he seized the bucket, sent it spinning after the radio, unwinding the forty feet of thin cable on his belt. Then he dropped to the rocky cave floor, in dark shadow. For a moment his hand fumbled clumsily with the stopcock on his back-and then shadows crept in. Shadows and blackness from the world of eternal day and eternal night. . . .

LIGHT—yellow, artificial light—crept slowly into Phil Thorpe's consciousness. It seemed hours later when he saw Virginia's anxious face smile at him. He closed his eyes and winced a little, but not from physical pain. When he opened them again, Professor Brighton was bending over him.

"How—how did I get here?" Thorpe whispered.

"Take it easy, Phil—don't try to talk yet." Brighton's calm voice was reassuring. "We'll do the talking first; then when you feel better you can tell us what happened."

Virginia was sitting on the bed, her tiny hand holding his. Brighton's words rang through his brain. How was he going to tell them, tell Virginia? He wished they had left him out there on God-forsaken Hades. It would have been easier. But Brighton was speaking.

"Virginia was watching the directional beam, and she had the receiver tuned to your wavelength in case you sent a message. Frankly, we were both worried; you had been gone such a long time. Well, suddenly she heard the hum of your carrier wave over the set. I grabbed the directional aerial and we got a line of your approximate direction from here. We waited for your message, but nothing came. There was a crackle of static after a few seconds—then everything stopped. No carrier wave, no message, nothing.

"According to the direction of your transmitter you were almost due south. So we set out after you. We didn't know how far you were, but the strength of the signals indicated that you were fairly near. Though if it hadn't been for Virginia seeing the light shining from the cable of your specimen bucket Where it had dropped into the lake, we probably would never have found you. just in time, too—your air was about gone."

An hour later, Thorpe had told them everything that had happened. He wondered why they were smiling-happily—as he spoke. Didn't they realize—And when he finished they stared at him blankly. God, what was wrong?

"But," Virginia asked. puzzledly, "what about the diamonds?"

It was Phil's turn to stare. Diamonds! "Diamonds?" He sat upright. "What the—"

Brighton had already stepped excitedly to the table across the room. Thorpe jumped up and stumbled-over to the table. Brighton pointed silently.

"That was what we found in your specimen bucket."

Thorpe stared incredulously at the cylindrical-shaped mass of grayish slag, broken in half. Where it had been broken were crystals. Unpolished, uncut, but diamonds. Several were larger than peas, and there were many much smaller ones. Thorpe shook his head uncomprehendingly.

"What did you have in the bucket?" the professor asked.

When Thorpe had told him, the old man was silent. He paced up and down the dingy room, while, their arms about each other, Phil and Virginia stared at the diamonds in puzzled silence.

"Phil!" Brighton burst out suddenly after a while, "I think I've got it. Look at the size of that mass of slag. It's much smaller than the size of the bucket."

VIRGINIA'S forehead wrinkled. Thorpe frowned.

"Did you ever hear of Moissan?" He Went on without waiting for an answer. "He was a French chemist who, back in the last part of the nineteenth century, made microscopic artificial diamonds. And essentially what he did was to heat pure carbon and iron in an electric arc to four thousand degrees Centigrade. Then when the carbon had dissolved in the molten iron, he plunged the crucible into cold water. The cooling iron contracted, the carbon came out of solution and was subjected to great pressure by the contracting iron. Microscopic diamonds were formed.

"That's what happened here. The molten stuff in your bucket was at a temperature of well over four thousand degrees, and it was a good solvent for carbon. Besides which, it was an alloy formed accidentally on Hades' day side which had the property of almost incredible contraction on cooling. When the bucket dropped into the lake, the temperature inside must have still been over four thousand degrees. Then suddenly it was in a medium that was at a temperature of almost seventy degrees below zero Centigrade. Now you see—"

Thorpe nodded silently, hobbled to the window. There were painful burns on his legs.

"Well, I said I'd bring back the Gems or something as good. And the biggest diamond is yours, Ginny."

Brighton was chuckling.

"I forgot to-tell you. The Ceres 19 passed some time ago, and broadcast a 'canned' newscast from Earth. It took almost ten hours for the message to reach us. We just received it while you were gone. The diamonds are considerably more valuable than the Gems would have been. You know Tyler's Gem was composed of a compound of a heavy, radioactive isotope. That isotope disintegrated rapidly into a much more unstable form—and suddenly—poof. All that they got was a small explosion, a little helium and some gamma rays."

Virginia looked up at Phil and smiled.

"Well," Brighton said, I guess I'll start packing. We're leaving soon." But they didn't hear. They were otherwise occupied.

Phil Thorpe looked out at the black sky. Halfway up in the east was an orange star. Some twenty years away at the speed of light, some six months by transdimensional passage. In the east, too, above the horizon, was a faint yellow glow from the hemisphere of eternal day.

"Hades," Phil Thorpe said, "just plain hell." He grinned at Virginia's happy, upturned face. "But it was worth it!"

Meet the Author of This Story

CHARLES F. KSANDA is eighteen years old. and a resident of Washington, D. C. He started reading science fiction in 1931, and has been following it consistently for the past five years. He is now a junior at the University of Maryland, where he is majoring in Chemistry.

Most of his spare time is spent as Feature Editor of his school's humor magazine, THE OLD LINE. other activities include trying to write science fiction, reading it. and loafing. Besides the above. he likes all kinds of fantasy, collies, travel, Guy Lombardo, hiking and Strauss waltzes.