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ISFDB.org Magazine Entry




EXPLORERS have often been amazed to find all sorts of life in deep caverns, which evidently have little or no relation to the outer world. It is well-known, for instance, that bats, birds and other forms of life, exist sometimes thousands of feet below the surface of the earth in such subterranean caverns.

How they got there and what their mode of, evolution was, no one seems to know. The present story of Mr. Repp has this scientific fact for a basis, and it certainly makes most interesting reading.

That intelligent beings could only evolve on the surface of a planet, is of course absurd. The chances are that on other heavenly bodies where surface conditions are poor, evolution probably took place from within the planet in most instances, rather than on the outside.

For example, in the case of the Moon, where surface conditions are so poor, it would certainly seem that if the intelligent beings were to be found anywhere, they certainly would be found inside or in the caverns beneath the surface of the Moon.


THE METAL WORLD

by Ed Earl Repp

IT is hardly possible that anyone in the world is ignorant of the tragedy of fear. From the first day that the invaders popped out of the earth and made their appearance in the heart of every city of consequence on the Pacific Coast, humanity in Western America lived in constant fear. Not since the great earthquake had San Francisco received such a scare and while cities along the eastern seaboard were inclined to consider the invasion as a hoax, the entire Pacific Coast was frantic in its endeavors to find a way to protect its lives and property and retaliate.

There are always those who will not pause long enough to obtain even the slightest knowledge of events as they occur in the world. It is for this class of people that a full * explanation of the Pacific Coast tragedy will have to be expounded again.

To begin with let us dwell on the sudden appearance of the machine in the center of the intersection at Market and Powell streets in San Francisco. Bay City traffic was at its noon height when the thing came suddenly into its midst, its whirling, boring apparatus crashing through a trolley car, spinning it around at a high velocity and finally resting it aside like the flying of a governor from its shaft. Instantly that section of San Francisco was in an uproar and the news soon spread around the entire city that it was being attacked by swarms of giant creatures bent on destroying humanity in its entirety.

Even above the roar and crash of the machine's boring screws that twisted the hard, steel under-structure of the crowded trolley, the screams of the injured could be heard crying horribly for aid. When the giant trolley car was finally hurled into the side of the Emporium Building, the painful, terrified screams came to an abrupt stop and the stupefied pedestrians, who at that hour of the day were strolling peacefully along the walks in the area, were suddenly and completely paralyzed beyond the power of physical movement. They stood, mouths agape, staring at the tragedy before them.

Gradually the threatening machine, protruding from the center of the intersection like a great steel tank, with jagged blocks of asphalt which it lifted in its upward progress leaning against its dull sides, slowed down the whirling, cutting edges on its nose, and stood ominously silent as though its operators were studying its surroundings before exposing themselves.

I am one of those unfortunate mortals who seem to be on the spot when any great trouble, accident or catastrophe occurs and I had just emerged from the doors of the United States Bank at Market and Powell Streets when the machine poked its spinning nose through the asphalt.

I was stunned by the suddenness of the thing when my eyes beheld the trolley car spinning like a top on the whirling blades of the machine my mind went berserk. Like one mad, I dashed down the steps, completely bowling over two statue-like men and a woman standing on the pavement. The collision seemed to restore my mad thoughts. Then I remembered that as a reporter for the Outstander it was my duty to remain and cover the story.

With an effort I halted my mad flight and faced the machine whose boring blades were slowing down. The area in which it had appeared had suddenly become silent except for the ominous whirring of the strange machine's mechanism. It appeared that the unfortunate humans who were viewing the awesome sight of mangled flesh and massed wreckage, notwithstanding the awe-inspiring machine, were hypnotized into immobility. Except for the occasional clicking of teeth of horrified onlookers standing near me, there were no other indications to prove that they were not inanimate objects or clothed statuary.

Market street traffic was at a standstill. Looking up Powell street as far as I could see was a solid mass of heads, strangely immobile, jammed together with eyes concentrated on the catastrophe. Powell street, rising gently from Market toward the hill, offered an unobstructed view of the horrible scene below.

Presently the whirling nose of the machine stopped entirely. From the machine came the sound of weird, mechanical voices, like steel grating upon steel. I stared, terror stricken, at the foreboding tank with its glistening, cutting blades which no doubt had bored its way through the stratas of the earth to its position in the center of the intersection. About midway between the nose of the boring apparatus, and the center of the machine, I noticed a slight movement as a sliding door was silently being drawn open. It was then that I had my first view of the inhuman features of the Demetrians1.

1: Demeter-an ancient Greek name meaning "Sprang from the Earth" and used by the author to convey that meaning.

To describe the terrifying features that bobbed before the opening in the machine, one must be almost on the verge of insanity. I shuddered as I beheld them, wondering with alarm, what strange world might boast of such a race. I tore my eyes away with an effort to glance at the circle of terrified faces surrounding the silent, powerful machine that seemed to threaten the onlookers with dire disaster. Women in the gay colors of a San Francisco spring day, working men in greasy overalls, and business men nattily dressed, stood shoulder to shoulder, making no move to run or interfere with the machine which had killed and maimed in its course upward.

After my first mad dash down the steps of the Bank, I felt no further desire to get away. And while I had observed the machine and the features of its operators, I should have dashed away to my editorial rooms to pound out the story for the press, but like all the rest, something held me there until escape through the solid mass of humanity would) have been impossible. I am not the type of man to run amuck at the sight of anything so terrifying as the scene in the intersection of Market and Powell. The sight of the dead and dying, mangled and decapitated, was nothing new to me for reportorial experiences offered those scenes—and worse' But no engine of war such as this had ever made its appearance before. Had an enemy of America possessed such an implement of destruction, there would have been a vastly different Atlas of the World than we have today and the United States would have been the subject of some foreign power.

The Demetrians

SAN FRANCISCO was beginning to awaken to the fact that its fair city was being invaded by grotesque strangers from another world. As I stood regarding the features in the opening of the tank, I heard the scream of sirens wafting up Market street from the direction of the waterfront. Louder and louder, like the scream of a tornado, the sirens shrieked as police cars sped on a belated* errand toward the intersection. Someone, I thought, must have had presence of mind to turn in the alarm to the police.

During the few moments that followed, before the arrival of the police, I had a chance to observe the strange creatures. Almost at the first sound of the sirens another sliding door opened along the side of the boring machine and out of it poured creatures that caused pandemonium. The frightened screams of women suddenly awakened to the fact that their lives were in danger, and the hoarse shouting of men broke the spell of immobility that seemed to have gripped the onlookers as the Demetrians made their appearance in the street. I glanced around the half mile deep circle of pedestrians surrounding the invading machine. Women fainted and were trampled. Men, made beasts by terror, plunged madly into the...

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