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SONG OF DEATH

By ED EARL REPP

An amazing death came to the rats when Vance turned the supersonic cannon on them. But the real test came when he used the vibrations on a greater scale—to torture and murder a man

CHAPTER I
Time for Murder

IT never occurred to Vance, until the morning when Dyson's car rolled up before the house, that there might be a practical use of the thing he had discovered. But as he stood there in the second story window looking down onto the graveled horseshoe drive, the plan hit him with such force that he trembled visibly. His face became alive with an intensity that made his sallow skin grow tight over his cheek-bones.

A practical use—there was the test of every laboratory achievement, to determine whether or not it was a worthwhile one. He had thought this one just a freak of acoustical science. He had toyed with it in the laboratory until he knew it had great possibilities as a show-trick, but such a use as the one that now occurred to him had been undreamed of. But there is always a useful purpose for any new discovery, he had found, however impractical it may seem.

And the purpose to which Vance was going to put his discovery was murder.

He turned, now, and left his bedroom. His face was still sleep-wrinkled and his hair tousled, though it was ten o'clock. He hurried down the hall, descended the stairs, and went to open the front door. Dyson stood there, framed blockily in the portal, when he opened it. His face was sullen and contemptuous, and his clipped gray moustache seemed to bristle with distaste. Dyson's skin was healthy-looking and firm, and his eyes, though he was over sixty, were as clear and sharp as those of a much younger man.

Vance put a smile on his lips as he invited, "Come on in. It's good to see you, Father."

"Don't 'Father' me," Dyson clipped. "Just remember Ellen's dead, now. I'm no longer any kin of yours, in-law or otherwise."

Vance moistened his lips. Within one second of their meeting for the first time in a year, the old trouble had risen again and left them both standing tense and angry. They stood for a second glaring at each other. Then Vance raised his shoulders and let them fall. "As you like," he said. "But don't forget that I've suffered too. I loved Ellen. Her death was as much a shock to me as it was to you."

Dyson's fine lips lifted in a sneer. "I'd smash your yellow face in for that," he breathed. "But I don't even want to soil my hands with you. You loved Ellen, did you? You loved her so much you' broke her heart and sent her back to me after two hellish years with you! Two years! I wonder how any woman could stand two days!"

A cold rage built up in Vance's thin body. His skinny fists clenched as he faced the older man, and then he turned and muttered, "Let's sit down, anyway. No use digging up old grievances."

But as he led the way to the library he would have liked to have turned on Dyson and beaten the life out of him. Only he knew he couldn't. His father-in-law was an ex-military man, and certain life-long habits, such as physical fitness-he had carried into private life when he retired. He knew that Dyson, with all his sixty-three years, could whale the daylights out oi him, though he was scarcely thirty. But then he remembered the way those rats had died up in his laboratory—without a sign on their bodies—and he smiled thinly.

He knew that his father-in-law had never liked him, any more than he had cared for him. He remembered, too, the ill grace with which he had given his daughter to him in marriage four years ago. Well, maybe it had been a mistake at that.

Though, for the first few months after they were married, Vance and his wife had got along very happily. But after that a hundred little things had arisen between them that gradually turned Vance's love to hate, though Ellen still followed him around with a dog-like devotion that disgusted the scientist. She was one of those persons who are disgustingly cheerful in the morning, whereas Vance was never ready to wipe the scowl off his face before ten o'clock. Then, too, she carried the "married-lover" business to an extreme; every time he had to go down town for a. few hours, she had to kiss him good-bye as though he were leaving for a. year. God knows, there were many times when he wished he were!

In the first place, Vance reminded himself, he had only married her as a matter of convenience anyway. He needed money to carry on his laboratory work in physics, and the idea of teaching in a university to get money for his experiments was distasteful to him. So, when he met the pretty young daughter of wealthy Henry Dyson, he got the idea of marrying her and letting her allowance support him in luxury.

A pang of regret gripped him as he offered Dyson a seat in the library. For the first time he wished he had put up with Ellen and not made life such a. hell for her that she went back to her father. Because now, with her dead from an automobile accident, her father was going to throw him out....

Only the girl's intervention, for a love that she still had not lost, had made Dyson allow him to stay on here, with an allowance of a hundred e month. With Ellen dead, that intervention no longer mattered.

Dyson's low voice brought him out of his remorseful ...

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