He glimmered momentarily, then vanished.
Weird are the conditions of the
interdimensional struggle faced
by Dr. White's ninety-nine men.
Hellhounds of the Cosmos
By Clifford D. Simak
The paper had gone to press,
graphically describing the
latest of the many horrible
events which had been enacted
upon the Earth in the last six
months. The headlines
that Six Corners,
a little hamlet in
been wiped out by the Horror. Another
front-page story told of a
Terror in the Amazon Valley which
had sent the natives down the river
in babbling fear. Other stories told
of deaths here
and there, all attributable
as it was called.
The telephone rang.
"Hello," said the editor.
"London calling," came the voice
of the operator.
"All right," replied the editor.
He recognized the voice of Terry
Masters, special correspondent. His
voice came clearly over the transatlantic
"The Horror is attacking London
in force," he said. "There are
thousands of them and they have
completely surrounded the city. All
roads are blocked. The government
declared the city under martial rule
a quarter of an hour ago and efforts
are being made to prepare for resistance
against the enemy."
"Just a second," the editor
shouted into the transmitter.
He touched a button on his desk
and in a moment an answering buzz
told him he was in communication
with the press-room.
"Stop the presses!" he yelled into
the speaking tube. "Get ready for
a new front make-up!"
"O.K.," came faintly through the
tube, and the editor turned back to
"Now let's have it," he said, and
the voice at the London end of the
wire droned on, telling the story
that in another half hour was read
by a world which shuddered in cold
fear even as it scanned the glaring
"Woods," said the editor of
the Press to a reporter,
"run over and talk to Dr. Silas
White. He phoned me to send someone.
Something about this Horror
Henry Woods rose from his chair
without a word and walked from
the office. As he passed the wire
machine it was tapping out, with
a maddeningly methodical slowness,
the story of the fall of London.
Only half an hour before it had
rapped forth the flashes concerning
the attack on Paris and Berlin.
He passed out of the building
into a street that was swarming
with terrified humanity. Six months
of terror, of numerous mysterious
deaths, of villages blotted out, had
set the world on edge. Now with
London in possession of the Horror
and Paris and Berlin fighting hopelessly
for their lives, the entire
population of the world was half
insane with fright.
Exhorters on street corners enlarged
upon the end of the world,
asking that the people prepare for
eternity, attributing the Horror to
the act of a Supreme Being enraged
with the wickedness of the
Expecting every moment an attack
by the Horror, people left
their work and gathered in the
streets. Traffic, in places, had been
blocked for hours and law and order
were practically paralyzed. Commerce
and transportation were disrupted
as fright-ridden people fled
from the larger cities, seeking
doubtful hiding places in rural districts
from the death that stalked
A loudspeaker in front of a music
store blared forth the latest news
"It has been learned," came the
measured tones of the announcer,
"that all communication with Berlin
ceased about ten minutes ago.
At Paris all efforts to hold the
Horror at bay have been futile. Explosives
blow it apart, but have the
same effect upon it as explosion
has on gas. It flies apart and then
reforms again, not always in the
same shape as it was before. A new
gas, one of the most deadly ever
conceived by man, has failed to
have any effect on the things. Electric
guns and heat guns have absolutely
no effect upon them.
"A news flash which has just
come in from Rome says that a
large number of the Horrors has
been sighted north of that city by
airmen. It seems they are attacking
the capitals of the world first.
Word comes from Washington that
every known form of defense is
being amassed at that city. New
York is also preparing...."
Henry Woods fought his way
through the crowd which milled in
front of the loudspeaker. The hum
of excitement was giving away to
a silence, the silence of a stunned
people, the fearful silence of a
populace facing a presence it is
unable to understand, an embattled
world standing with useless weapons
before an incomprehensible
In despair the reporter looked
about for a taxi, but realized, with
a groan of resignation, that no taxi
could possibly operate in that
crowded street. A street car, blocked
by the stream of humanity which
jostled and elbowed about it, stood
still, a defeated thing.
Seemingly the only man with a
definite purpose in that whirlpool
of terror-stricken men and women,
the newspaperman settled down to
the serious business of battling his
way through the swarming street.
"Before I go to the crux of
the matter," said Dr. Silas
White, about half an hour later,
"let us first review what we know
of this so-called Horror. Suppose
you tell me exactly what you know
Henry Woods shifted uneasily in
his chair. Why didn't the old fool
get down to business? The chief
would raise hell if this story didn't
make the regular edition. He stole
a glance at his wrist-watch. There
was still almost an hour left. Maybe
he could manage it. If the old chap
would only snap into it!
"I know no more," he said, "than
is common knowledge."
The gimlet eyes of the old white-haired
scientist regarded the newspaperman
"And that is?" he questioned.
There was no way out of it,
thought Henry. He'd have to humor
the old fellow.
"The Horror," he replied, "appeared
on Earth, so far as the
knowledge of man is concerned,
about six months ago."
Dr. White nodded approvingly.
"You state the facts very aptly,"
"When you say 'so far as the
knowledge of man is concerned.'"
"Why is that?"
"You will understand in due
time. Please proceed."
Vaguely the newspaperman wondered
whether he was interviewing
the scientist or the scientist interviewing
"They were first reported,"
Woods said, "early this spring.
At that time they wiped out a small
village in the province of Quebec.
All the inhabitants, except a few
fugitives, were found dead, killed
mysteriously and half eaten, as if
by wild beasts. The fugitives were
demented, babbling of black shapes
that swept down out of the dark
forest upon the little town in the
small hours of the morning.
"The next that was heard of
them was about a week later, when
they struck in an isolated rural
district in Poland, killing and feeding
on the population of several
farms. In the next week more villages
were wiped out, in practically
every country on the face of the
Earth. From the hinterlands came
tales of murder done at midnight,
of men and women horribly mangled,
of livestock slaughtered, of
buildings crushed as if by some
"At first they worked only at
night and then, seeming to become
bolder and more numerous, attacked
in broad daylight."
The newspaperman paused.
"Is that what you want?" he
"That's part of it," replied Dr.
White, "but that's not all. What do
these Horrors look like?"
"That's more difficult," said Henry.
"They have been reported as
every conceivable sort of monstrosity.
Some are large and others
are small. Some take the form of
animals, others of birds and reptiles,
and some are cast in appalling
shapes such as might be snatched
out of the horrid imagery of a
thing which resided in a world entirely
alien to our own."
Dr. White rose from his chair
and strode across the room
to confront the other.
"Young man," he asked, "do you
think it possible the Horror might
have come out of a world entirely
alien to our own?"
"I don't know," replied Henry.
"I know that some of the scientists
believe they came from some other
planet, perhaps even from some
other solar system. I know they
are like nothing ever known before
on Earth. They are always inky
black, something like black tar, you
know, sort of sticky-looking, a disgusting
sight. The weapons of mankind
can't affect them. Explosives
are useless and so are projectiles.
They wade through poison gas and
fiery chemicals and seem to enjoy
them. Elaborate electrical barriers
have failed. Heat doesn't make them
turn a hair."
"And you think they came from
some other planet, perhaps some
other solar system?"
"I don't know what to think,"
said Henry. "If they came out of
space they must have come in some
conveyance, and that would certainly
have been sighted, picked up
long before it arrived, by our
astronomers. If they came in small
conveyances, there must have been
many of them. If they came in a
single conveyance, it would be too
large to escape detection. That is,
"Unless what?" snapped the
"Unless it traveled at the speed
of light. Then it would have been
"Not only invisible," snorted the
old man, "but non-existent."
A question was on the tip of the
newspaperman's tongue, but before
it could be asked the old man was
speaking again, asking a question:
"Can you imagine a fourth dimension?"
"No, I can't," said Henry.
"Can you imagine a thing of only
The scientist smote his palms together.
"Now we're coming to it!" he exclaimed.
Henry Woods regarded the other
narrowly. The old man must be
turned. What did fourth and second
dimensions have to do with the
"Do you know anything about
evolution?" questioned the old man.
"I have a slight understanding of
it. It is the process of upward
growth, the stairs by which simple
organisms climb to become more
Dr. White grunted and asked still
"Do you know anything about
the theory of the exploding universe?
Have you ever noted the
tendency of the perfectly balanced
to run amuck?"
The reporter rose slowly to his
"Dr. White," he said, "you phoned
my paper you had a story for us.
I came here to get it, but all you
have done is ask me questions. If
you can't tell me what you want us
to publish, I will say good-day."
The doctor put forth a hand that
"Sit down, young man," he said.
"I don't blame you for being impatient,
but I will now come to my
The newspaperman sat down
"I have developed a hypothesis,"
said Dr. White, "and have
conducted several experiments
which seem to bear it out. I am
staking my reputation upon the
supposition that it is correct. Not
only that, but I am also staking
the lives of several brave men who
believe implicitly in me and my
theory. After all, I suppose it makes
little difference, for if I fail the
world is doomed, if I succeed it is
saved from complete destruction.
"Have you ever thought that our
evolutionists might be wrong, that
evolution might be downward instead
of upward? The theory of the
exploding universe, the belief that
all of creation is running down,
being thrown off balance by the
loss of energy, spurred onward by
cosmic accidents which tend to disturb
its equilibrium, to a time when
it will run wild and space will be
filled with swirling dust of disintegrated
worlds, would bear out
"This does not apply to the
human race. There is no question
that our evolution is upward, that
we have arisen from one-celled
creatures wallowing in the slime of
primal seas. Our case is probably
paralleled by thousands of other intelligences
on far-flung planets and
island universes. These instances,
however, running at cross purposes
to the general evolutional trend of
the entire cosmos, are mere flashes
in the eventual course of cosmic
evolution, comparing no more to
eternity than a split second does to
a million years.
"Taking these instances, then, as
inconsequential, let us say that the
trend of cosmic evolution is downward
rather than upward, from
complex units to simpler units
rather than from simple units to
more complex ones.
"Let us say that life and intelligence
have degenerated. How
would you say such a degeneration
would take place? In just what way
would it be manifested? What sort
of transition would life pass through
in passing from one stage to a
lower one? Just what would be the
nature of these stages?"
The scientist's eyes glowed
brightly as he bent forward in his
chair. The newspaperman said
simply: "I have no idea."
"Man," cried the old man, "can't
you see that it would be a matter of
dimensions? From the fourth dimension
to the third, from the
third to the second, from the second
to the first, from the first to a
questionable existence or plane
which is beyond our understanding
or perhaps to oblivion and the end
of life. Might not the fourth have
evolved from a fifth, the fifth from
a sixth, the sixth from a seventh,
and so on to no one knows what
Dr. White paused to allow
the other man to grasp the
importance of his statements. Woods
failed lamentably to do so.
"But what has this to do with the
Horror?" he asked.
"Have you absolutely no imagination?"
shouted the old man.
"Why, I suppose I have, but I
seem to fail to understand."
"We are facing an invasion of
fourth-dimensional creatures," the
old man whispered, almost as if
fearful to speak the words aloud.
"We are being attacked by life
which is one dimension above us in
evolution. We are fighting, I tell
you, a tribe of hellhounds out of
the cosmos. They are unthinkably
above us in the matter of intelligence.
There is a chasm of knowledge
between us so wide and so
deep that it staggers the imagination.
They regard us as mere animals,
perhaps not even that. So far
as they are concerned we are just
fodder, something to be eaten as
we eat vegetables and cereals or
the flesh of domesticated animals.
Perhaps they have watched us for
years, watching life on the world
increase, lapping their monstrous
jowls over the fattening of the
Earth. They have awaited the proper
setting of the banquet table and
now they are dining.
"Their thoughts are not our
thoughts, their ideals not our ideals.
Perhaps they have nothing in common
with us except the primal
basis of all life, self-preservation,
the necessity of feeding.
"Maybe they have come of their
own will. I prefer to believe that
they have. Perhaps they are merely
following the natural course of
events, obeying some immutable law
legislated by some higher being
who watches over the cosmos and
dictates what shall be and what
shall not be. If this is true it
means that there has been a flaw
in my reasoning, for I believed
that the life of each plane degenerated
in company with the degeneration
of its plane of existence,
which would obey the same evolutional
laws which govern the life
upon it. I am quite satisfied that
this invasion is a well-planned
campaign, that some fourth-dimensional
race has found a means of
breaking through the veil of force
which separates its plane from
"But," pointed out Henry Woods,
"you say they are fourth-dimensional
things. I can't see anything
about them to suggest an additional
dimension. They are plainly
"Of course they are three-dimensional.
They would have to be to
live in this world of three dimensions.
The only two-dimensional
objects which we know of in this
world are merely illusions, projections
of the third dimension, like
a shadow. It is impossible for more
than one dimension to live on any
"To attack us they would have to
lose one dimension. This they have
evidently done. You can see how
utterly ridiculous it would be for
you to try to attack a two-dimensional
thing. So far as you were
concerned it would have no mass.
The same is true of the other dimensions.
Similarly a being of a
lesser plane could not harm an inhabitant
of a higher plane. It is
apparent that while the Horror has
lost one material dimension, it has
retained certain fourth-dimensional
properties which make it invulnerable
to the forces at the command
of our plane."
The newspaperman was now sitting
on the edge of his chair.
"But," he asked breathlessly, "it
all sounds so hopeless. What can
be done about it?"
Dr. White hitched his chair closer
and his fingers closed with a fierce
grasp upon the other's knee. A
militant boom came into his voice.
"My boy," he said, "we are to
strike back. We are going to invade
the fourth-dimensional plane of
these hellhounds. We are going to
make them feel our strength. We
are going to strike back."
Henry Woods sprang to his feet.
"How?" he shouted. "Have
Dr. White nodded.
"I have found a way to send the
third-dimensional into the fourth.
Come and I will show you."
The machine was huge, but it
had an appearance of simple
construction. A large rectangular
block of what appeared to be a
strange black metal was set on end
and flanked on each side by two
smaller ones. On the top of the
large block was set a half-globe of
a strange substance, somewhat,
Henry thought, like frosted glass.
On one side of the large cube was
set a lever, a long glass panel, two
vertical tubes and three clock-face
indicators. The control board, it
appeared, was relatively simple.
Beside the mass of the five rectangles,
on the floor, was a large
plate of transparent substance,
ground to a concave surface,
through which one could see an
intricate tangle of wire mesh.
Hanging from the ceiling, directly
above the one on the floor,
was another concave disk, but this
one had a far more pronounced
Wires connected the two disks
and each in turn was connected to
the rectangular machine.
"It is a matter of the proper
utilization of two forces, electrical
and gravitational," proudly explained
Dr. White. "Those two
forces, properly used, warp the
third-dimensional into the fourth.
A reverse process is used to return
the object to the third. The principle
of the machine is—"
The old man was about to launch
into a lengthy discussion, but Henry
interrupted him. A glance at his
watch had shown him press time
was drawing perilously close.
"Just a second," he said. "You
propose to warp a third-dimensional
being into a fourth dimension. How
can a third-dimensional thing exist
there? You said a short time ago
that only a specified dimension
could exist on one single plane."
"You have missed my point,"
snapped Dr. White. "I am not sending
a third-dimensional thing to a
fourth dimension. I am changing
the third-dimensional being into a
fourth-dimensional being. I add a
dimension, and automatically the
being exists on a different plane.
I am reversing evolution. This
third dimension we now exist on
evolved, millions of eons ago, from
a fourth dimension. I am sending
a lesser entity back over those
millions of eons to a plane similar
to one upon which his ancestors
lived inconceivably long ago."
"But, man, how do you know you
can do it?"
The doctor's eyes gleamed and
his fingers reached out to press
A servant appeared almost at
"Bring me a dog," snapped the
old man. The servant disappeared.
"Young man," said Dr. White, "I
am going to show you how I know
I can do it. I have done it before,
now I am going to do it for you. I
have sent dogs and cats back to the
fourth dimension and returned
them safely to this room. I can do
the same with men."
The servant reappeared, carrying
in his arms a small dog. The doctor
stepped to the control board of his
"All right, George," he said.
The servant had evidently worked
with the old man enough to know
what was expected of him. He
stepped close to the floor disk and
waited. The dog whined softly,
sensing that all was not exactly
The old scientist slowly shoved
the lever toward the right, and as
he did so a faint hum filled the
room, rising to a stupendous roar
as he advanced the lever. From both
floor disk and upper disk leaped
strange cones of blue light, which
met midway to form an hour-glass
shape of brilliance.
The light did not waver or sparkle.
It did not glow. It seemed hard
and brittle, like straight bars of
force. The newspaperman, gazing
with awe upon it, felt that terrific
force was there. What had the old
man said? Warp a third-dimensional
being into another dimension!
That would take force!
As he watched, petrified by the
spectacle, the servant stepped forward
and, with a flip, tossed the
little dog into the blue light. The
animal could be discerned for a
moment through the light and then
"Look in the globe!" shouted the
old man; and Henry jerked his eyes
from the column of light to the
half-globe atop the machine.
He gasped. In the globe, deep
within its milky center, glowed a
picture that made his brain reel as
he looked upon it. It was a scene
such as no man could have imagined
unaided. It was a horribly distorted
projection of an eccentric
landscape, a landscape hardly
analogous to anything on Earth.
"That's the fourth dimension,
sir," said the servant.
"That's not the fourth dimension,"
the old man corrected him.
"That's a third-dimensional impression
of the fourth dimension.
It is no more the fourth dimension
than a shadow is three-dimensional.
It, like a shadow, is merely a projection.
It gives us a glimpse of
what the fourth plane is like. It is
a shadow of that plane."
Slowly a dark blotch began to
grow in the landscape. Slowly it
assumed definite form. It puzzled
the reporter. It looked familiar.
He could have sworn he had seen
it somewhere before. It was alive,
for it had moved.
"That, sir, is the dog," George
"That was the dog," Dr. White
again corrected him. "God knows
what it is now."
He turned to the newspaperman.
"Have you seen enough?" he demanded.
The other slowly began to return
the lever to its original position.
The roaring subsided, the light
faded, the projection in the half-globe
"How are you going to use it?"
asked the newspaperman.
"I have ninety-eight men who
have agreed to be projected into the
fourth dimension to seek out the
entities that are attacking us and
attack them in turn. I shall send
them out in an hour."
"Where is there a phone?" asked
"In the next room," replied Dr.
As the reporter dashed out of
the door, the light faded entirely
from between the two disks and on
the lower one a little dog crouched,
quivering, softly whimpering.
The old man stepped from the
controls and approached the
disk. He scooped the little animal
from where it lay into his arms and
patted the silky head.
"Good dog," he murmured; and
the creature snuggled close to him,
comforted, already forgetting that
horrible place from which it had
"Is everything ready, George?"
asked the old man.
"Yes, sir," replied the servant.
"The men are all ready, even anxious
to go. If you ask me, sir, they
are a tough lot."
"They are as brave a group of
men as ever graced the Earth," replied
the scientist gently. "They
are adventurers, every one of whom
has faced danger and will not
shrink from it. They are born
fighters. My one regret is that I
have not been able to secure more
like them. A thousand men such as
they should be able to conquer any
opponent. It was impossible. The
others were poor soft fools. They
laughed in my face. They thought
I was an old fool—I, the man who
alone stands between them and utter
His voice had risen to almost a
scream, but it again sank to a
"I may be sending ninety-eight
brave men to instant death. I hope
"You can always jerk them back,
sir," suggested George.
"Maybe I can, maybe not," murmured
the old man.
Henry Woods appeared in the
"When do we start?" he asked.
"We?" exclaimed the scientist.
"Certainly, you don't believe
you're going to leave me out of
this. Why, man, it's the greatest
story of all time. I'm going as
special war correspondent."
"They believed it? They are going
to publish it?" cried the old man,
clutching at the newspaperman's
"Well, the editor was skeptical
at first, but after I swore on all
sorts of oaths it was true, he ate
it up. Maybe you think that story
didn't stop the presses!"
"I didn't expect them to. I just
took a chance. I thought they,
too, would laugh at me."
"But when do we start?" persisted
"You are really in earnest? You
really want to go?" asked the old
"I am going. Try to stop me."
Dr. White glanced at his watch.
"We will start in exactly thirty-four
minutes," he said.
"Ten seconds to go." George,
standing with watch in hand,
spoke in a precise manner, the
very crispness of his words betraying
the excitement under which
The blue light, hissing, drove
from disk to disk; the room thundered
with the roar of the machine,
before which stood Dr. White, his
hand on the lever, his eyes glued
on the instruments before him.
In a line stood the men who
were to fling themselves into the
light to be warped into another
dimension, there to seek out and
fight an unknown enemy. The line
was headed by a tall man with
hands like hams, with a weather-beaten
face and a wild mop of hair.
Behind him stood a belligerent little
cockney. Henry Woods stood fifth
in line. They were a motley lot,
adventurers every one of them, and
some were obviously afraid as they
stood before that column of light,
with only a few seconds of the
third dimension left to them. They
had answered a weird advertisement,
and had but a limited idea
of what they were about to do.
Grimly, though, they accepted it as
a job, a bizarre job, but a job.
They faced it as they had faced
other equally dangerous, but less
"Five seconds," snapped George.
The lever was all the way over
now. The half-globe showed, within
its milky interior, a hideously distorted
landscape. The light had
taken on a hard, brittle appearance
and its hiss had risen to a scream.
The machine thundered steadily
with a suggestion of horrible power.
The tall man stepped forward.
His foot reached the disk; another
step and he was bathed in the light,
a third and he glimmered momentarily,
then vanished. Close on his
heels followed the little cockney.
With his nerves at almost a
snapping point, Henry moved on
behind the fourth man. He was
horribly afraid, he wanted to break
from the line and run, it didn't
matter where, any place to get away
from that steady, steely light in
front of him. He had seen three
men step into it, glow for a second,
and then disappear. A fourth man
had placed his foot on the disk.
Cold sweat stood out on his brow.
Like an automaton he placed one
foot on the disk. The fourth man
had already disappeared.
"Snap into it, pal," growled the
Henry lifted the other foot,
caught his toe on the edge of the
disk and stumbled headlong into
the column of light.
He was conscious of intense heat
which was instantly followed by
equally intense cold. For a moment
his body seemed to be under
enormous pressure, then it seemed
to be expanding, flying apart, bursting,
He felt solid ground under his
feet, and his eyes, snapping
open, saw an alien land. It was a
land of somber color, with great
gray moors, and beetling black
cliffs. There was something queer
about it, an intangible quality that
He looked about him, expecting
to see his companions. He saw no
one. He was absolutely alone in
that desolate brooding land. Something
dreadful had happened! Was
he the only one to be safely transported
from the third dimension?
Had some horrible accident occurred?
Was he alone?
Sudden panic seized him. If
something had happened, if the
others were not here, might it not
be possible that the machine would
not be able to bring him back to
his own dimension? Was he doomed
to remain marooned forever in this
He looked down at his body
and gasped in dismay. It was not
It was a grotesque caricature of
a body, a horrible profane mass of
flesh, like a phantasmagoric beast
snatched from the dreams of a
It was real, however. He felt it
with his hands, but they were not
hands. They were something like
hands; they served the same purpose
that hands served in the third
dimension. He was, he realized, a
being of the fourth dimension, but
in his fourth-dimensional brain still
clung hard-fighting remnants of
that faithful old third-dimensional
brain. He could not, as yet, see
with fourth-dimensional eyes, think
purely fourth-dimensional thoughts.
He had not oriented himself as yet
to this new plane of existence. He
was seeing the fourth dimension
through the blurred lenses of millions
of eons of third-dimensional
existence. He was seeing it much
more clearly than he had seen it
in the half-globe atop the machine
in Dr. White's laboratory, but he
would not see it clearly until every
vestige of the third dimension was
wiped from him. That, he knew,
would come in time.
He felt his weird body with those
things that served as hands, and he
found, beneath his groping, unearthly
fingers, great rolling muscles,
powerful tendons, and hard,
well-conditioned flesh. A sense of
well-being surged through him and
he growled like an animal, like an
animal of that horrible fourth plane.
But the terrible sounds that came
from between his slobbering lips
were not those of his own voice,
they were the voices of many men.
Then he knew. He was not
alone. Here, in this one body
were the bodies, the brains, the
power, the spirit, of those other
ninety-eight men. In the fourth dimension,
all the millions of third-dimensional
things were one. Perhaps
that particular portion of the
third dimension called the Earth
had sprung from, or degenerated
from, one single unit of a dissolving,
worn-out fourth dimension. The
third dimension, warped back to a
higher plane, was automatically
obeying the mystic laws of evolution
by reforming in the shape of
that old ancestor, unimaginably removed
in time from the race he had
begot. He was no longer Henry
Woods, newspaperman; he was an
entity that had given birth, in the
dim ages when the Earth was born,
to a third dimension. Nor was he
alone. This body of his was composed
of other sons of that ancient
He felt himself grow, felt his
body grow vaster, assume greater
proportions, felt new vitality flow
through him. It was the other men,
the men who were flinging themselves
into the column of light in
the laboratory to be warped back
to this plane, to be incorporated
in his body.
It was not his body, however.
His brain was not his alone. The
pronoun, he realized, represented
the sum total of those other men,
his fellow adventurers.
Suddenly a new feeling came, a
feeling of completeness, a feeling
of supreme fitness. He knew that
the last of the ninety-eight men
had stepped across the disk, that
all were here in this giant body.
Now he could see more clearly.
Things in the landscape, which had
escaped him before, became recognizable.
Awful thoughts ran through
his brain, heavy, ponderous, black
thoughts. He began to recognize
the landscape as something familiar,
something he had seen before, a
thing with which he was intimate.
Phenomena, which his third-dimensional
intelligence would have
gasped at, became commonplace.
He was finally seeing through
fourth-dimensional eyes, thinking
Memory seeped into his brain and
he had fleeting visions, visions of
dark caverns lit by hellish flames,
of huge seas that battered remorselessly
with mile-high waves against
towering headlands that reared titanic
toward a glowering sky. He
remembered a red desert scattered
with scarlet boulders, he remembered
silver cliffs of gleaming
metallic stone. Through all his
thoughts ran something else, a scarlet
thread of hate, an all-consuming
passion, a fierce lust after the life
of some other entity.
He was no longer a composite
thing built of third-dimensional beings.
He was a creature of another
plane, a creature with a consuming
hate, and suddenly he knew against
whom this hate was directed and
why. He knew also that this creature
was near and his great fists
closed and then spread wide as he
knew it. How did he know it? Perhaps
through some sense which he,
as a being of another plane, held,
but which was alien to the Earth.
Later, he asked himself this question.
At the time, however, there
was no questioning on his part. He
only knew that somewhere near
was a hated enemy and he did not
question the source of his knowledge....
Mumbling in an idiom incomprehensible
to a third-dimensional
being, filled with rage
that wove redly through his brain,
he lumbered down the hill onto the
moor, his great strides eating up
the distance, his footsteps shaking
At the foot of the hill he halted
and from his throat issued a challenging
roar that made the very
crags surrounding the moor tremble.
The rocks flung back the roar
as if in mockery.
Again he shouted and in the
shout he framed a lurid insult to
the enemy that lurked there in the
Again the crags flung back the
insult, but this time the echoes,
booming over the moor, were
drowned by another voice, the
voice of the enemy.
At the far end of the moor appeared
a gigantic form, a form that
shambled on grotesque, misshapen
feet, growling angrily as he came.
He came rapidly despite his
clumsy gait, and as he came he
mouthed terrific threats.
Close to the other he halted and
only then did recognition dawn in
"You, Mal Shaff?" he growled
in his guttural tongue, and surprise
and consternation were written
large upon his ugly face.
"Yes, it is I, Mal Shaff," boomed
the other. "Remember, Ouglat, the
day you destroyed me and my
plane. I have returned to wreak
my vengeance. I have solved a mystery
you have never guessed and
I have come back. You did not
imagine you were attacking me
again when you sent your minions
to that other plane to feed upon
the beings there. It was I you were
attacking, fool, and I am here to
Ouglat leaped and the thing that
had been Henry Woods, newspaperman,
and ninety-eight other
men, but was now Mal Shaff of the
fourth dimension, leaped to meet
Mal Shaff felt the force of
Ouglat, felt the sharp pain of a
hammering fist, and lashed out with
those horrible arms of his to smash
at the leering face of his antagonist.
He felt his fists strike solid
flesh, felt the bones creak and
tremble beneath his blow.
His nostrils were filled with the
terrible stench of the other's foul
breath and his filthy body. He
teetered on his gnarled legs and
side-stepped a vicious kick and
then stepped in to gouge with
straightened thumb at the other's
eye. The thumb went true and
Ouglat howled in pain.
Mal Shaff leaped back as his opponent
charged head down, and his
knotted fist beat a thunderous tattoo
as the misshapen beast closed
in. He felt clawing fingers seeking
his throat, felt ghastly nails ripping
at his shoulders. In desperation
he struck blindly, and Ouglat
reeled away. With a quick stride
he shortened the distance between
them and struck Ouglat a hard
blow squarely on his slavering
mouth. Pressing hard upon the
reeling figure, he swung his fists
like sledge-hammers, and Ouglat
stumbled, falling in a heap on the
Mal Shaff leaped upon the fallen
foe and kicked him with his taloned
feet, ripping him wickedly.
There was no thought of fair play,
no faintest glimmer of mercy. This
was a battle to the death: there
could be no quarter.
The fallen monster howled,
but his voice cut short as his
foul mouth, with its razor-edged
fangs, closed on the other's body.
His talons, seeking a hold, clawed
Mal Shaff, his brain a screaming
maelstrom of weird emotions, aimed
pile-driver blows at the enemy,
clawed and ripped. Together the
two rolled, locked tight in titanic
battle, on the sandy plain and a
great cloud of heavy dust marked
where they struggled.
In desperation Ouglat put every
ounce of his strength into a heave
that broke the other's grip and
flung him away.
The two monstrosities surged to
their feet, their eyes red with hate,
glaring through the dust cloud at
Slowly Ouglat's hand stole to a
black, wicked cylinder that hung
on a belt at his waist. His fingers
closed upon it and he drew the
weapon. As he leveled it at Mal
Shaff, his lips curled back and his
features distorted into something
that was not pleasant to see.
Mal Shaff, with doubled fists,
saw the great thumb of his enemy
slowly depressing a button on the
cylinder, and a great fear held him
rooted in his tracks. In the back
of his brain something was vainly
trying to explain to him the horror
of this thing which the other held.
Then a multicolored spiral, like
a corkscrew column of vapor,
sprang from the cylinder and
flashed toward him. It struck him
full on the chest and even as it did
so he caught the ugly fire of triumph
in the red eyes of his enemy.
He felt a stinging sensation
where the spiral struck, but that
was all. He was astounded. He had
feared this weapon, had been sure
it portended some form of horrible
death. But all it did was to produce
a slight sting.
For a split second he stood stock-still,
then he surged forward and
advanced upon Ouglat, his hands
outspread like claws. From his
throat came those horrible sounds,
the speech of the fourth dimension.
"Did I not tell you, foul son of
Sargouthe, that I had solved a mystery
you have never guessed at?
Although you destroyed me long
ago, I have returned. Throw away
your puny weapon. I am of the
lower dimension and am invulnerable
to your engines of destruction.
You bloated...." His words trailed
off into a stream of vileness that
could never have occurred to a
Ouglat, with every line of his
face distorted with fear, flung the
weapon from him, and turning, fled
clumsily down the moor, with Mal
Shaff at his heels.
Steadily Mal Shaff gained
and with only a few feet separating
him from Ouglat, he dived
with outspread arms at the other's
The two came down together,
but Mal Shaff's grip was broken
by the fall and the two regained
their feet at almost the same instant.
The wild moor resounded to their
throaty roaring and the high cliffs
flung back the echoes of the bellowing
of the two gladiators below.
It was sheer strength now and flesh
and bone were bruised and broken
under the life-shaking blows that
they dealt. Great furrows were
plowed in the sand by the sliding
of heavy feet as the two fighters
shifted to or away from attack.
Blood, blood of fourth-dimensional
creatures, covered the bodies of the
two and stained the sand with its
horrible hue. Perspiration streamed
from them and their breath came
in gulping gasps.
The lurid sun slid across the purple
sky and still the two fought
on. Ouglat, one of the ancients,
and Mal Shaff, reincarnated. It was
a battle of giants, a battle that
must have beggared even the titanic
tilting of forgotten gods and
entities in the ages when the third-dimensional
Earth was young.
Mal Shaff had no conception of
time. He may have fought seconds
or hours. It seemed an eternity.
He had attempted to fight scientifically,
but had failed to do so.
While one part of him had cried
out to elude his opponent, to wait
for openings, to conserve his
strength, another part had shouted
at him to step in and smash, smash,
smash at the hated monstrosity pitted
It seemed Ouglat was growing in
size, had become more agile, that
his strength was greater. His
punches hurt more; it was harder
to hit him.
Still Mal Shaff drilled in determinedly,
head down, fists working
like pistons. As the other seemed
to grow stronger and larger, he
seemed to become smaller and
It was queer. Ouglat should be
tired, too. His punches should be
weaker. He should move more slowly,
be heavier on his feet.
There was no doubt of it. Ouglat
was growing larger, was drawing
on some mysterious reserve of
strength. From somewhere new
force and life were flowing into
his body. But from where was this
A huge fist smashed against Mal
Shaff's jaw. He felt himself lifted,
and the next moment he skidded
across the sand.
Lying there, gasping for breath,
almost too fagged to rise, with the
black bulk of the enemy looming
through the dust cloud before him,
he suddenly realized the source of
the other's renewed strength.
Ouglat was recalling his minions
from the third dimension! They
were incorporating in his body, returning
to their parent body!
They were coming back from the
third dimension to the fourth dimension
to fight a third-dimensional
thing reincarnated in the fourth-dimensional
form it had lost
millions of eons ago!
This was the end, thought Mal
Shaff. But he staggered to his feet
to meet the charge of the ancient
enemy and a grim song, a death
chant immeasurably old, suddenly
and dimly remembered from out
of the mists of countless millenniums,
was on his lips as he swung
a pile-driver blow into the suddenly
astonished face of the rushing
The milky globe atop the machine
in Dr. White's laboratory
glowed softly, and within that
glow two figures seemed to struggle.
Before the machine, his hands
still on the controls, stood Dr.
Silas White. Behind him the room
was crowded with newspapermen
Hours had passed since the ninety-eight
Henry Woods—had stepped into
the brittle column of light to be
shunted back through unguessed
time to a different plane of existence.
The old scientist, during all
those hours, had stood like a graven
image before his machine, eyes staring
fixedly at the globe.
Through the open windows he
had heard the cry of the newsboy
as the Press put the greatest scoop
of all time on the street. The phone
had rung like mad and George answered
it. The doorbell buzzed repeatedly
and George ushered in
newspapermen who had asked innumerable
questions, to which he
had replied briefly, almost mechanically.
The reporters had fought for
the use of the one phone in the
house and had finally drawn lots
for it. A few had raced out to use
Photographers came and flashes
popped and cameras clicked. The
room was in an uproar. On the rare
occasions when the reporters were
not using the phone the instrument
buzzed shrilly. Authoritative
voices demanded Dr. Silas White.
George, his eyes on the old man,
stated that Dr. Silas White could
not be disturbed, that he was busy.
From the street below came the
heavy-throated hum of thousands
of voices. The street was packed
with a jostling crowd of awed humanity,
every eye fastened on the
house of Dr. Silas White. Lines of
police held them back.
"What makes them move so slowly?"
asked a reporter, staring at
the globe. "They hardly seem to be
moving. It looks like a slow motion
"They are not moving slowly,"
replied Dr. White. "There must be
a difference in time in the fourth
dimension. Maybe what is hours to
us is only seconds to them. Time
must flow more slowly there. Perhaps
it is a bigger place than this
third plane. That may account for
it. They aren't moving slowly, they
are fighting savagely. It's a fight
to the death! Watch!"
The grotesque arm of one of
the figures in the milky globe
was moving out slowly, loafing
along, aimed at the head of the
other. Slowly the other twisted his
body aside, but too slowly. The fist
finally touched the head, still moving
slowly forward, the body following
as slowly. The head of the
creature twisted, bent backward,
and the body toppled back in a
"What does White say?...
Can't you get a statement of some
sort from him? Won't he talk at
all? A hell of a fine reporter you
are—can't even get a man to open
his mouth. Ask him about Henry
Woods. Get a human-interest slant
on Woods walking into the light.
Ask him how long this is going to
last. Damn it all, man, do something,
and don't bother me again
until you have a real story—yes, I
said a real story—are you hard of
hearing? For God's sake, do something!"
The editor slammed the receiver
on the hook.
"Brooks," he snapped, "get the
War Department at Washington.
Ask them if they're going to back
up White. Go on, go on. Get busy....
How will you get them? I
don't know. Just get them, that's
all. Get them!"
Typewriters gibbered like chuckling
morons through the roaring
tumult of the editorial rooms. Copy
boys rushed about, white sheets
clutched in their grimy hands. Telephones
jangled and strident voices
blared through the haze that arose
from the pipes and cigarettes of
perspiring writers who feverishly
transferred to paper the startling
events that were rocking the world.
The editor, his necktie off, his
shirt open, his sleeves rolled to the
elbow, drummed his fingers on the
desk. It had been a hectic twenty-four
hours and he had stayed at
the desk every minute of the time.
He was dead tired. When the moment
of relaxation came, when the
tension snapped, he knew he would
fall into an exhausted stupor of
sleep, but the excitement was keeping
him on his feet. There was
work to do. There was news such
as the world had never known before.
Each new story meant a new
front make-up, another extra. Even
now the presses were thundering,
even now papers with the ink hardly
dry upon them were being
snatched by the avid public from
the hands of screaming newsboys.
A man raced toward the city
desk, waving a sheet of paper
in his hand. Sensing something
unusual the others in the room
crowded about as he laid the sheet
before the editor.
"Just came in," the man gasped.
The paper was a wire dispatch.
"Rome—The Black Horror is
in full retreat. Although still
apparently immune to the
weapons being used against it,
it is lifting the siege of this
city. The cause is unknown."
The editor ran his eye down the
sheet. There was another dateline:
"Madrid—The Black Horror,
which has enclosed this city in
a ring of dark terror for the
last two days, is fleeing, rapidly
The editor pressed a button.
There was an answering buzz.
"Composing room," he shouted,
"get ready for a new front! Yes,
another extra. This will knock
their eyes out!"
A telephone jangled furiously.
The editor seized it.
"Yes. What was that?... White
says he must have help. I see.
Woods and the others are weakening.
Being badly beaten, eh?...
More men needed to go out to the
other plane. Wants reinforcements.
Yes. I see. Well, tell him that he'll
have them. If he can wait half an
hour we'll have them walking by
thousands into that light. I'll be
damned if we won't! Just tell
White to hang on! We'll have the
whole nation coming to the rescue!"
He jabbed up the receiver.
"Richards," he said, "write a
streamer, 'Help Needed,' 'Reinforcements
Called'—something of that
sort, you know. Make it scream.
Tell the foreman to dig out the
biggest type he has. A foot high.
If we ever needed big type, we
need it now!"
He turned to the telephone.
"Operator," he said, "get me the
Secretary of War at Washington.
The secretary in person, you understand.
No one else will do."
He turned again to the reporters
who stood about the desk.
"In two hours," he explained,
banging the desk top for emphasis,
"we'll have the United States Army
marching into that light Woods
The bloody sun was touching
the edge of the weird world,
seeming to hesitate before taking
the final plunge behind the towering
black crags that hung above
the ink-pot shadows at their base.
The purple sky had darkened until
it was almost the color of soft,
black velvet. Great stars were blazing
Ouglat loomed large in the gathering
twilight, a horrible misshapen
ogre of an outer world. He had
grown taller, broader, greater. Mal
Shaff's head now was on a level
with the other's chest; his huge
arms seemed toylike in comparison
with those of Ouglat, his legs mere
Time and time again he had barely
escaped as the clutching hands
of Ouglat reached out to grasp him.
Once within those hands he would
be torn apart.
The battle had become a game of
hide and seek, a game of cat and
mouse, with Mal Shaff the mouse.
Slowly the sun sank and the
world became darker. His brain
working feverishly, Mal Shaff waited
for the darkness. Adroitly he
worked the battle nearer and
nearer to the Stygian darkness that
lay at the foot of the mighty crags.
In the darkness he might escape.
He could no longer continue this
unequal fight. Only escape was left.
The sun was gone now. Blackness
was dropping swiftly over the land,
like a great blanket, creating the
illusion of the glowering sky descending
to the ground. Only a few
feet away lay the total blackness
under the cliffs.
Like a flash Mal Shaff darted
into the blackness, was completely
swallowed in it. Roaring, Ouglat
His shoulders almost touching
the great rock wall that shot
straight up hundreds of feet above
him, Mal Shaff ran swiftly, fear
lending speed to his shivering legs.
Behind him he heard the bellowing
of his enemy. Ouglat was searching
for him, a hopeless search in
that total darkness. He would never
find him. Mal Shaff felt sure.
Fagged and out of breath, he
dropped panting at the foot of the
wall. Blood pounded through his
head and his strength seemed to
be gone. He lay still and stared
out into the less dark moor that
stretched before him.
For some time he lay there, resting.
Aimlessly he looked out over
the moor, and then he suddenly
noted, some distance to his right,
a hill rising from the moor. The
hill was vaguely familiar. He remembered
it dimly as being of
A sudden inexplicable restlessness
filled him. Far behind him he
heard the enraged bellowing of
Ouglat, but that he scarcely noticed.
So long as darkness lay upon
the land he knew he was safe from
The hill had made him restless.
He must reach the top. He could
think of no logical reason for doing
so. Obviously he was safer here
at the base of the cliff, but a voice
seemed to be calling, a friendly
voice from the hilltop.
He rose on aching legs and
forged ahead. Every fiber of
his being cried out in protest, but
resolutely he placed one foot ahead
of the other, walking mechanically.
Opposite the hill he disregarded
the strange call that pulsed down
upon him, long enough to rest his
tortured body. He must build up
his strength for the climb.
He realized that danger lay
ahead. Once he quitted the blackness
of the cliff's base, Ouglat, even
in the darkness that lay over the
land, might see him. That would
be disastrous. Once over the top
of the hill he would be safe.
Suddenly the landscape was
bathed in light, a soft green radiance.
One moment it had been
pitch dark, the next it was light,
as if a giant search-light had been
In terror, Mal Shaff looked for
the source of the light. Just above
the horizon hung a great green orb,
which moved up the ladder of the
sky even as he watched.
A moon! A huge green satellite
hurtling swiftly around this cursed
A great, overwhelming fear sat
upon Mal Shaff and with a high,
shrill scream of anger he raced forward,
forgetful of aching body and
His scream was answered from
far off, and out of the shadows of
the cliffs toward the far end of the
moor a black figure hurled itself.
Ouglat was on the trail!
Mal Shaff tore madly up the
slope, topped the crest, and threw
himself flat on the ground, almost
A queer feeling stole over
him, a queer feeling of well-being.
New strength was flowing
into him, the old thrill of battle
was pounding through his blood
Not only were queer things happening
to his body, but also to his
brain. The world about him looked
queer, held a sort of an intangible
mystery he could not understand.
A half question formed in the back
of his brain. Who and what was
he? Queer thoughts to be thinking!
He was Mal Shaff, but had he
always been Mal Shaff?
He remembered a brittle column
of light, creatures with bodies unlike
his body, walking into it. He
had been one of those creatures.
There was something about dimensions,
about different planes, a
plan for one plane to attack another!
He scrambled to his bowed legs
and beat his great chest with
mighty, long-nailed hands. He flung
back his head and from his throat
broke a sound to curdle the blood
of even the bravest.
On the moor below Ouglat heard
the cry and answered it with one
Mal Shaff took a step forward,
then stopped stock-still. Through
his brain went a sharp command
to return to the spot where he had
stood, to wait there until attacked.
He stepped back, shifting his feet
He was growing larger; every
second fresh vitality was pouring
into him. Before his eyes danced a
red curtain of hate and his tongue
roared forth a series of insulting
challenges to the figure that was
even now approaching the foot of
As Ouglat climbed the hill, the
night became an insane bedlam.
The challenging roars beat like
surf against the black cliffs.
Ouglat's lips were flecked with
foam, his red eyes were mere slits,
his mouth worked convulsively.
They were only a few feet apart
when Ouglat charged.
Mal Shaff was ready for
him. There was no longer any
difference in their size and they
met like the two forward walls of
contending football teams.
Mal Shaff felt the soft throat of
the other under his fingers and his
grip tightened. Maddened, Ouglat
shot terrific blow after terrific
blow into Mal Shaff's body.
Try as he might, however, he
could not shake the other's grip.
It was silent now. The night
seemed brooding, watching the
struggle on the hilltop.
Larger and larger grew Mal
Shaff, until he overtopped Ouglat
like a giant.
Then he loosened his grip and,
as Ouglat tried to scuttle away,
reached down to grasp him by the
nape of his neck.
High above his head he lifted
his enemy and dashed him to the
ground. With a leap he was on the
prostrate figure, trampling it apart,
smashing it into the ground. With
wild cries he stamped the earth,
treading out the last of Ouglat, the
When no trace of the thing that
had been Ouglat remained, he
moved away and viewed the trampled
Then, for the first time he noticed
that the crest of the hill was
crowded with other monstrous figures.
He glared at them, half in
surprise, half in anger. He had not
noticed their silent approach.
"It is Mal Shaff!" cried one.
"Yes, I am Mal Shaff. What do
"But, Mal Shaff, Ouglat destroyed
you once long ago!"
"And I, just now," replied Mal
Shaff, "have destroyed Ouglat."
The figures were silent, shifting
uneasily. Then one stepped forward.
"Mal Shaff," it said, "we thought
you were dead. Apparently it was
not so. We welcome you to our
land again. Ouglat, who once tried
to kill you and apparently failed,
you have killed, which is right and
proper. Come and live with us
again in peace. We welcome you."
Mal Shaff bowed.
Gone was all thought of the
third dimension. Through Mal
Shaff's mind raced strange, haunting
memories of a red desert scattered
with scarlet boulders, of silver
cliffs of gleaming metallic
stone, of huge seas battering
against towering headlands. There
were other things, too. Great palaces
of shining jewels, and weird
nights of inhuman joy where hellish
flames lit deep, black caverns.
He bowed again.
"I thank you, Bathazar," he said.
Without a backward look he
shambled down the hill with the
"Yes?" said the editor. "What's
that you say? Doctor White
is dead! A suicide! Yeah, I understand.
Worry, hey! Here, Roberts,
take this story."
He handed over the phone.
"When you write it," he said,
"play up the fact he was worried
about not being able to bring the
men back to the third dimension.
Give him plenty of praise for ending
the Black Horror. It's a big
"Sure," said Roberts, then spoke
into the phone: "All right, Bill,
shoot the works."
This etext was produced from Astounding Stories June 1932. Extensive
research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.