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By Don Thompson

If it took reduction or torch hair, the Cirissins wanted a bump. Hokum, thistle, gluck.

A young and very beautiful girl with golden blond hair and smooth skin the color of creamed sweet potatoes floated in the middle of the windowless metal room into which Wayne Brighton drifted. The girl was not exactly naked, but her few filmy clothes concealed nothing.

Wayne cleared his throat, his apprehension changing rapidly to confusion.

"You are going to reduce me?" he asked.

"The word is seduce, mister," the girl said. "They told me reduce, too, but they don't talk real good, and I think I'm supposed to seduce you so you'll tell 'em something, and then they'll let me go. I guess. I hope. What is it they wantcha to tell 'em?"

Wayne cleared his throat again, striving merely to keep a firm grip on his sanity. Things had been happening much too fast for him to have retained anything like his customary composure.

He said, "Well, they want me to get them a, uh--well, a high dragon bump." He pronounced the words carefully.

"So why dontcha?" the girl asked.

Wayne's voice rose. "I don't even know what it is. I told them and they don't believe me. Now you're here! I suppose if I can't be reduced--seduced--into getting them one, it will wind up with torch hair. Believe me, I never heard of a high dragon bump."

"Now, don't get panicky!" the girl pleaded. "After all, I'm scared too."

"I am not scared!" Wayne replied indignantly. But he realized that he was.

So far, in the hour or so he'd been a captive of the Cirissins, he'd managed to keep his fright pretty well subdued. He'd understood almost at once what had happened, and his first reaction had not been terror or even any great degree of surprise.

He was a scientist and he had a scientist's curiosity.

And at first the Cirissins--or the one that had done all the talking--had been cooperative in answering his questions. But then, when he wasn't able to comprehend what they meant by high dragon bump, they'd started getting impatient.

"What's your name?" he asked the girl. She was making gentle swimming motions with her hands and feet, moving gradually closer to him.

"Sheilah," she said. "Sheilah Ralue. I'm a model. I pose for pitchers. You know--for sexy magazines and calendars and stuff like that."

"I see. You were posing when--?"

"When they snatched me, yeah. Couple hours ago, I guess. The flash bulb went off and blinded me for a second like it always does, and I seemed to be falling. Then I was here. Only I still don't even know where here is. Do you? How come we don't weigh nothing? It's ghastly!"

"We're in a space ship," Wayne told her. "In free fall, circling earth a thousand miles or so out. I thought you at least knew we were in a space ship."

The girl said, "Oh, bull. We can't be in no space ship. How'd we get here so fast?"

"They have a matter transmitter, but I haven't the slightest idea of how it works. Obviously it's limited to living creatures or they could just as well have taken whatever it is they want instead of ... You don't happen to know what a high dragon bump is, do you?"

"Don't be dumb. Of course I ... well, unless it's a dance or something. I use to be a dancer, ya know. Sort of."

"With bubbles, I imagine," Wayne said.

"Tassels. They was my specialty. But there's more money in posing for pitchers, and the work ain't quite so--"

"I doubt that a high dragon bump is a dance," Wayne said.

Then he rubbed his chin. High dragon bump? Bumps and grinds? Highland fling? Chinese dragon dances? Hell, why not?

The idea of space travelers visiting earth to learn a new dance was no more fantastic than the idea of them being here at all.

Wayne turned his face to the door and shouted, "Hey, is that it? A dance? You want us to teach you a dance called the high dragon bump?"

A muffled metallic voice from the other side said, "Nod danz. Bump. Huguff quig."

Wayne shrugged and grinned weakly at Sheilah. "Well, we're making headway. We know one thing that it isn't."

The girl had drifted so close to him now that he could feel the warmth of her body and smell the overwhelming fragrance of her perfume.

She put one hand on his arm, and Wayne found that he had neither the strength nor the inclination to jerk away.

But he protested weakly, "Now, listen, there's no point in you--I mean--even if we did, I couldn't produce a high dragon bump."

"What kind of work do you do, mister?" Sheilah asked softly, drawing herself even closer. "You know, you ain't even told me your name yet."

"It's Wayne," he said, fumbling in an effort to loosen his tie so he could breath more easily. "I'm an instructor. I teach physics at Kyler College, and I've got a weekly science show on TV. In fact I'd just finished my show when they got me. I was leaving the studio, starting down the stairs. Thought at first I'd missed a step and was falling, but I just kept falling. And I landed here, and ... Now, don't do that!"

"Why, I wasn't doing nothing. Whaddya do on your TV show?"

"I talk. About science. Physics. Like today, I was discussing the H-bomb. How it works, you know, and why the fallout is dangerous, and ... Oh, good Gawd! Seduce, reduce! High dragon bump!"

He shoved her away from him abruptly and violently and he went hurtling in the opposite direction.

"Well, hey!" Sheilah protested. "You don't need to get so rough. I wasn't going to--"

"Shut up," Wayne said. "I think I've figured out what the Cirissins want!

"Hey! Hey, open the door," he shouted. "I've got to talk to you."

The door opened and a Cirissin floated in.

Sheilah turned her head away, shuddering, and Wayne found it wise to close his eyes and open them little by little to grow re-accustomed to the sight gradually.

The only thing he could think of with which to compare the Cirissins was the intestinal complex of an anemic elephant.

It was not an entirely satisfactory comparison; but then, from his point of view, the Cirissins were entirely unsatisfactory creatures.

Each of the four he had seen was nearly twice his size. They had no recognizable features such as eyes, ears, nose, head, arms or legs.

Tentacle-like protrusions of various size and length seemed to serve as the sensory and prehensile organs. Wayne had identified one waving, restless flexible stalk as the eye. He suspected another of being the mouth, except that it apparently wasn't used for talking. The voice came from somewhere deep inside the convoluted mass of pastel-streaked tissue.

"Wand tog?" the Cirissin rumbled.

Wayne said, "Yes. Do you mind telling me what you want a high dragon bump for?"

"Blast away hearth," the Cirissin replied unhesitatingly.

Wayne swallowed and found it unnaturally difficult to do so.

"To blast away earth?" he said. "You can do that with just one high dragon bump?"

"Certificate. Alteration energy maguntoot. Compilated, though. Want splain?"

Wayne said, "Never mind. I believe you. Just tell me this: Why? Who do you feel it's necessary to do it?"

"Cause is necessary," the Cirissin explained. "Hearth no good. Whee dun lake. Godda gut red oft."

Sheilah gasped, "Why the inhuman beasts!"

Wayne expended one sidelong silencing glance on her and then said, "I see. And just suppose now that I don't give you a high dragon bump? What do you do then?"

"Use hot tummy ache your arnium fishing bumps. Got them us elves. Tooking longthier, more hurtful, but can. Few don't gives high dragon bump tweddy far whores, thin godda."

Wayne was silent for a while, staring at the alien creature, aware of Sheilah staring at him.

"Twenty-four hours," he muttered. "Then they use uranium fission bombs. Oh, hell!"

Finally he shrugged. "All right, I'll do it. Anyway, I'll try. I'll do what I can."

Sheilah said, "Hey, listen mister, you can't ..."

"Shut up!" Wayne snapped. "How do you know what I can do? You just let me handle this."

"No sea juicing?" the Cirissin asked, waving his eye stem at Sheilah.

"No. No sea juicing, and no torch hair either, please. I just didn't understand what you wanted at first. Now, if I could talk to your captain--or, are you the captain?"

The Cirissin replied, "I spoke man. Name Orealgrailbliqu. Capitate nod sparking merry can languish. I only earning languish. Gut, hah? Tree whacks."

"Uh, yeah, very good indeed," Wayne said. "And in only three weeks! Now, Mr.--you don't mind if I call you O'Reilly, do you? Well, then, O'Reilly, do you have any suggestions as to how I should go about getting you a high dragon bump? You want me to make you one? Or--"

"Yukon mike?" O'Reilly asked.

Wayne shrugged modestly. "Of course. With proper materials and equipment--and enough time." He wondered if there was any chance at all of convincing O'Reilly of that.

"Nod mush timeless," O'Reilly said doubtfully. "God gut lab tarry, few wand lug."

Wayne hesitated, partly to translate O'Reilly's rumblings and partly to marvel at an audacious idea taking shape in his mind.

He said, "Uh, yes, by all means. I do want to look at your laboratory. Let's go."

The Cirissin offered no objections to Sheilah accompanying them, so they followed him, pulling themselves along the tubular corridor by means of metal rings set in the walls, apparently for that specific purpose.

It was the same means of propulsion employed by their guide, except that he used tentacles instead of hands.

They were more awkward than he, and so they fell behind.

"Listen, mister," Sheilah said. "You're not really gonna help these creeps, are ya? Cause, I mean, if you are I'm gonna stop you--one way or another."

Wayne looked at her, feeling a deep sadness that anything so gorgeous could be so stupid. Stirred to self-consciousness by her near-nudity, he glanced quickly away.

"Why don't you quit trying to think?" he advised her. "I may not be able to make a high dragon bump, but so help me I'm going to do my damnedest to see that they get one. And don't you get any stupid patriotic ideas. You just keep out of it. Understand?"

O'Reilly had thrown open a door and was waiting for them.

Wayne looked inside.

"Smatter? Dun lake lab tarry?" the Cirissin asked after waiting nearly a minute for some comment.

The laboratory probably wasn't adequate to produce a hydrogen bomb, Wayne realized; but he wasn't at all sure. It was the most complex, complete and compact laboratory he had ever seen. Its sheer size forced him to revise upward his estimate of the overall size of the ship.

Much of the equipment was totally alien to him, but there was also a great deal that he could at least guess the purpose of. Including a fabulous array of electronic equipment.

When Wayne still didn't say anything, the Cirissin closed the door. "Batter blan," he announced. "Wheeze india buck terth. Cup girlish ear. Torch herf youdon brink high dragon bump."

Wayne said, "Huh?"

"Flow me." O'Reilly led Wayne and Sheilah through a maze of corridors, tunnels and hatchways, stopping at last to throw open a door and let Wayne peer into the control cabin of a miniature space ship.

O'Reilly jumblingly explained that it was a reconnaissance ship, used for visiting the surface of a planet when it was impractical to land the mother ship.

The control board was simple: a few dials, one or two buttons, several switches and a view plate. It looked too simple.

Wayne said, "Now, wait. Let's see if I have this straight. You want me to take this ship to earth and swipe you a high dragon bump. And you're going to keep Sheilah here and torture her if I don't deliver the goods, huh?"

The Cirissin said that was right. "Kwiger butter. Jus bush piggest putton. Token ley tours gutther."

"I see. And what about communications?" Wayne asked. "Is the boat equipped with radio? How can I let you know when I have your high dragon bump?"

O'Reilly said, "Can't. Combundlecations Cirissin only."

From his further explanation Wayne gathered that communications between the two ships was on the basis of some sort of amplified brain waves, and could carry only the brain waves of Cirissins.

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