Wilbur Murphy sought romance, excitement, and an impossible Horseman of Space. With polite smiles, the planet frustrated him at every turn—until he found them all the hard way!
Catlin shook his head. "That's what it looks like--but those consonants are all aspirated gutturals. It's more like 'Hrrghameshgrrh'."
"Where did Murphy get this tip?"
"I didn't bother to ask."
"Well," mused Frayberg, "we could always do a show on strange superstitions. Is Murphy around?"
"He's explaining his expense account to Shifkin."
"Get him in here; let's talk to him."
* * * * *
Wilbur Murphy had a blond crew-cut, a broad freckled nose, and a serious sidelong squint. He looked from his crumpled sequence idea to Catlin and Frayberg. "Didn't like it, eh?"
"We thought the emphasis should be a little different," explained Catlin. "Instead of 'The Space Horseman,' we'd give it the working title, 'Odd Superstitions of Hrrghameshgrrh'."
"Oh, hell!" said Frayberg. "Call it Sirgamesk."
A reporter for a weekly sound-sight-smell-taste broadcast program goes to a planet settled by Muslim colonists, ostensibly to do a promotion piece, but really to investigate reports of a flying horseback rider who greets space ships as they are about to land on the planet.
The planet is watchful and claustrophobic under its domes, with strange brigands called sjambaks. The story is well-plotted, and the ending creative.