[FPSPACE] Good Reason to Have a Space Program

wayneday wayneday@gwu.edu
Tue, 10 Jun 2003 18:19:10 -0400

>Meteorite crash site found in Siberia
>IRKUTSK. June 6 (Interfax) - The crash site of a gigantic meteorite, Vitim,
>that hit Earth in September has been discovered in the Irkutsk region.
>An expedition from the Kosmopoisk scientific organization found an area of
>about 100 square kilometers covered with burnt trees and pieces of the
>meteorite 60 kilometers from the village of Mama, Alexander Bogun, deputy
>head of the district administration, told Interfax on Friday.

..Upon reaching the crash site, the search team discovered a giant glowing
pit with a large cylinder inside...

The crowd about the pit had increased, and stood out black against 
the lemon yellow of the sky--a couple of hundred people, perhaps. 
There were raised voices, and some sort of struggle appeared to 
be going on about the pit. Strange imaginings passed through my mind. 
As I drew nearer I heard Stent's voice: "Keep back! Keep back!"

A boy came running towards me.

"It's a-movin'," he said to me as he passed; "a-screwin' and a-screwin' 
out. I don't like it. I'm a-goin' 'ome, I am."

I went on to the crowd. There were really, I should think, two or 
three hundred people elbowing and jostling one another, the one or 
two ladies there being by no means the least active.

"He's fallen in the pit!" cried some one.

"Keep back!" said several.

The crowd swayed a little, and I elbowed my way through. Every one 
seemed greatly excited. I heard a peculiar humming sound from the 

"I say!" said Ogilvy; "help keep these idiots back. We don't know 
what's in the confounded thing, you know!"

I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe he was, 
standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out of the hole again. 
The crowd had pushed him in.

The end of the cylinder was being screwed out from within. Nearly 
two feet of shining screw projected. Somebody blundered against me, 
and I narrowly missed being pitched onto the top of the screw. I 
turned, and as I did so the screw must have come out, for the lid 
of the cylinder fell upon the gravel with a ringing concussion. 
I stuck my elbow into the person behind me, and turned my head 
towards the Thing again. For a moment that circular cavity seemed 
perfectly black. I had the sunset in my eyes.

I think everyone expected to see a man emerge--possibly something 
a little unlike us terrestrial men, but in all essentials a man. I 
know I did. But, looking, I presently saw something stirring within 
the shadow: greyish billowy movements, one above another, and then 
two luminous disks--like eyes. Then something resembling a little 
grey snake, about the thickness of a walking stick, coiled up out 
of the writhing middle, and wriggled in the air towards me--and 
then another.

A sudden chill came over me. There was a loud shriek from a woman 
behind. I half turned, keeping my eyes fixed upon the cylinder 
still, from which other tentacles were now projecting, and began 
pushing my way back from the edge of the pit. I saw astonishment 
giving place to horror on the faces of the people about me. I heard
inarticulate exclamations on all sides. There was a general movement 
backwards. I saw the shopman struggling still on the edge of the pit. 
I found myself alone, and saw the people on the other side of the 
pit running off, Stent among them. I looked again at the cylinder, 
and ungovernable terror gripped me. I stood petrified and staring.

A big greyish rounded bulk, the size, perhaps, of a bear, was rising 
slowly and painfully out of the cylinder. As it bulged up and caught 
the light, it glistened like wet leather.

Two large dark-coloured eyes were regarding me steadfastly. The 
mass that framed them, the head of the thing, was rounded, and had, 
one might say, a face. There was a mouth under the eyes, the lipless 
brim of which quivered and panted, and dropped saliva. The whole 
creature heaved and pulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage 
gripped the edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air.

Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine 
the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiar V-shaped mouth 
with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence 
of a chin beneath the wedgelike lower lip, the incessant quivering 
of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing 
of the lungs in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and 
painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of 
the earth--above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense 
eyes--were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous. 
There was something fungoid in the oily brown skin, something in 
the clumsy deliberation of the tedious movements unspeakably nasty. 
Even at this first encounter, this first glimpse, I was overcome 
with disgust and dread.

Suddenly the monster vanished. It had toppled over the brim of the 
cylinder and fallen into the pit, with a thud like the fall of a 
great mass of leather. I heard it give a peculiar thick cry, and 
forthwith another of these creatures appeared darkly in the deep 
shadow of the aperture.

I turned and, running madly, made for the first group of trees, 
perhaps a hundred yards away; but I ran slantingly and stumbling, 
for I could not avert my face from these things.