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IT IS ONLY an alien who can really enjoy the exotic, but the alien who has no connection with the scene, who has not even the vaguest idea what will come next, he truly experiences an unusual and wonderful thing for he smells strange smells, touches strange textures, hears strange sounds and the very air he breathes is somehow different. And so it was with me, lying on the ground, unfamiliar ground with an odd, soft feel, powdery to the touch yet not clinging as earth dust would. Suddenly remembering where I was, I sat up and looked about me.

When I had left the earth, I hadn't known where to go first as there were so many places to visit, so many exciting and unusual sights to see and an infinite variety to choose from; but I had finally selected Venus, partly because it would be a short hop but mostly because exploration had revealed so little about it. Those who had gone there had found only a waterless dust bowl with unending dust storms which made any extensive investigation next to impossible.

Yesterday, very tired and in need of sleep, I had landed and had climbed out of my ship to find not a dust storm but a curious crowd watching me. I stood there dumbly, wondering what to do, until one who seemed to have authority took me with him into their city. He seemed to know I was tired for he left me in a compartment barren of furniture yet seemingly possessed with all the comforts. Assuredly I had slept well for this soft, springy ground had been my bed.

As I gazed about me, I wondered if it had been wise to leave my ship, but so strange and foreign were my surroundings, I soon forgot about it. I walked through an archway which led outside and discovered that most of the dwellings about me were much the same. There were neither doors nor windows and there seemed to be no streets. The houses could have been made of earth for the walls were the same color as the ground and they were round, hexagonal and octagonal, generally.

Beyond the houses in what appeared to be approximately the city's center rose towers, high into the air. They seemed somewhat triangular to me and tended to come to a point although the distance made seeing difficult. Then I heard the bell as its sound rolled out across the city in a great, ringing crash. I jumped and looked in the direction of the towers. Again that strange, rumbling clang struck me like a physical blow. As yet I saw not a soul in the spaces between the domiciles and I thought it incredible that anyone could sleep through such a racket.

For the final time, the voice in that mighty bell rolled out, leaving a pregnant silence in its wake, a silence t...

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