The creatures on the little planet were real bafflers. The first puzzler about them was that they died so easily. The second was that they didn't die at all.
the conditions tonight were identical to the conditions the previous night. What had swept away those bodies might be comparable to a flash flood. Something that occurred once a year, or once in a century.
And perhaps his presence outside was required in some subtle cause-and-effect relationship.
All this test would prove, if the bodies didn't disappear, was only that conditions were not identical to conditions under which they did disappear.
Ryan and Nogol were prepared to accept him, Ekstrohm, as the missing element, the one ingredient needed to vanish the corpses. But it could very well be something else.
Only Ekstrohm knew that it had to be something else that caused the disappearances.
Or did it?
He faced up to the question. How did he know he was sane? How could he be sure that he hadn't stolen and hid the bodies for some murky reason of his own? There was a large question as to how long a man could go without sleep, dreams and oblivio
(1961) Sci-fi (Alien Worlds/Customs) / Adventure
From 'If: Worlds of Science Fiction' July 1961.
An unconvincing mash-up of evolutionary theory (if that's what it's supposed to be,) insomnia, astronomical and biological improbability and plain old second-rate wheezing pulp, all in one story.
The mystery is explained with blather, and the characterization is superficial. Overall, a waste of time.
No one smokes cigarettes or even a pipe in this one, and the characters are three men, so women probably will find even less to like about the story than I did.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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