"Mister," he asked ominously, "what the hell happened to that cow?"
"I don't know," Zack spoke with sarcasm, "jest the way I found her."
The important-looking civilian bustled past the patrolman and confronted Zack.
"I'd like to use your phone," his hands moved nervously, "where is it?"
Zack showed him and the man rushed to it and hastily dialed a number.
"This is Professor Jonathon Sims, Nuclear Physicist at State University. Put me through immediately to the Governor. It's very important."
There was a slight pause as Sims drummed impatiently on the phone.
"Hello! Hello, Governor? Professor Sims. I'd like a contingent of National Guardsmen around the farm of Zack Stewart on the old Canal Road. A most astounding thing has happened out here. For the welfare of the Public, I urgently request this farm be placed under tight security check at once and the Federal Government notified immediately."
"Hey now, wait a minute, Mister--" Zack protested.
Sims motioned him into silence, his ear glued to the phone.
"Sir," he hesitated, glancing at the group sideways, "you won't believe this until you see it. But we have positive proof a saucer has landed here. Mr. Stewart's cow is radiating intense blue and white light, the kind that has been associated with the glow of flying saucers."
Sims paused, listening to the Governor. Zack saw him fidget and stick a forefinger in his collar.
"Honestly, Sir! I am not drunk! The cow is radiating light."
"See?" Zack grinned at him. "Now ya know how I felt."
Sims ignored him, concentrating on the phone.
"Yessir, there is a state trooper here." He turned to the one in charge. "He wants to speak to you." The trooper took the receiver.
"Hello, Governor. Sgt. Les Johnson of the Highway Patrol." Pause. "That's right, sir. There's a number of people here who can swear to it. Yessir." This time the trooper fidgeted. "I seen it too. Blue-white light, yessir. Nossir, we are not having a drinking party. The light was reported by the pilot of the Continental Airways early this morning and we investigated. Yessir." He held the receiver towards Sims. "He wants to talk to you again."
The Governor was finally convinced something indeed strange was happening at the Stewart place, but being a solid citizen and faithful servant of the people who elected him, he couldn't believe the fantastic story the professor and the trooper told him. He decided to see for himself and rang for his chauffeur after his telephone conversation with Professor Sims.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Stewart turned to Sims.
"Will you please tell us if Junius can be milked?"
"I really don't know yet, Mrs. Stewart. I'll have to investigate the area for harmful radio-activity first, then I'll have to check the cow, herself. Pardon me." He turned to the phone again.
Trying to keep his voice and emotion under control, Professor Sims called his laboratory at the University and ordered among other technical equipment, a Geiger counter, a gamma-ray detector, a portable lead shield, body and temperature thermometers, a portable X-ray machine, and a dozen pairs of smoked glasses.
The equipment arrived within the hour, and Professor Sims distributed it among his assistants with his instructions. It was understood that he alone would approach Junius, wearing his smoked glasses and carrying the protective lead shield, to make the initial test. If his tests proved that Junius could be safely approached, he would go back for the others.
"You look like one of them flying saucer fellas, yerself," Zack laughed, seeing Professor Sims donned in the lead shield and the dark glasses.
Sims waved at the crowd in the farmyard and walked awkwardly toward the glow in the north wood, less pronounced now in the daylight. They watched until his retreating figure disappeared into the woods, and they were still watching the spot for what seemed a long time afterward. One of the assistants fidgeted and looked at his watch.
"He's been in there twenty minutes. Wonder what he's doing?"
"I hope he's milking her," Mrs. Stewart said hopefully.
Zack chuckled as a thought struck him.
"What's so funny, Zack?" his wife asked.
"Junius," Zack's chuckle bubbled into laughter, "will be the first cow to give radiated milk."
Finally, after another fifteen minutes, they saw Professor Sims emerge from the woods. As he came across the pasture they could see that his smoked glasses were propped above his eyebrows and he was concentrating on a small notebook in his hand, shaking his head from time to time.
When he finally joined the waiting group, he was flooded with questions.
He gestured them into silence.
"Please, I cannot answer any questions as yet until I have consulted with my assistants. Sgt. Johnson, will you please have your men guard the clearing while we hold a conference?"
"Is it safe to get that close to her?" the trooper asked, unbelieving.
"I can assure you that it is. There is just a negligible amount of radio-activity present, and no more ultra-violet rays then there are in an average sun lamp. But you must wear your glasses." Turning to his aides he said, "Come gentlemen," and they followed him into the farmhouse.
"Can she be milked?" Mrs. Stewart wailed after them.
"What a gadawful situation," Zack muttered, grabbing a pitchfork and heading for the barn.
The scientists seated themselves around the big dining-room table and faced Professor Sims.
"Gentlemen, it's the most amazing thing that ever happened. That cow is glowing out there like a miniature atomic pile, and under the circumstances as we know them, should be deader than a door nail, but there she stands, shining like the morning sun, chewing her cud and just mooing away as if nothing happened."
"What is your theory, Professor?" one of the assistants asked.
"I have one, but it's utterly fantastic," Sims answered.
"So is that cow out there. Let's hear it!"
"Do you remember how much more frequent saucer sightings were reported in this area alone?" Sims asked. All the assistants nodded their heads.
"Well," Sims went on, "I am of the opinion that a saucer actually landed out there and they came across the cow by accident. They either shot her with some sort of radium ray gun, or some luminous substance unknown to us."
"Why didn't Junius die?" one of the assistants asked.
Sims shook his head. "They wished to examine her. You see, gentlemen, whatever it was, it served a threefold purpose. It made her luminous, immobile and--" Sims placed both hands on the table and leaned forward for emphasis, "transparent."
There was a gasp and exclamations.
"I was within a foot of the cow, felt her hide, and through the glasses I could see the skeletal frame, the chest cavity, the heart beating within, the entire intestinal tract, much, much more clearly than could be seen by the best X-ray."
As if on command, the assistants all rose simultaneously.
"Sit down, gentlemen, the cow isn't going anywhere. We shall have to face this situation with sound scientific reasoning. There will be a closed van here soon to pick up Junius and haul her to the laboratory where we can examine her more thoroughly. Now my belief is that the saucer took off in haste, such great haste that they forgot to extinguish poor Junius. I believe they will be back looking for her, therefore we shall have to return her tonight and conceal ourselves around the area and watch."
"Splendid idea, Professor Sims!" one of the assistants exclaimed.
Yelling voices in the farmyard caught their attention. They saw Sgt. Johnson through the dining-room window, coming across the yard, yelling and pointing to the sky. Sims rushed from the house, met Johnson, grasped him by the shoulders, shaking him.
"What happened, man, what happened?" Sims asked.
"Black light, black light!" Johnson shouted, pointing skyward. Sims looked up. Nothing but the serene blue of the summer sky and an occasional bird caught his eye.
Sims shook him again, more roughly.
"Speak, man, what happened?"
"Black light flashed down on the cow! Blackest light you ever saw!"
The group gathered around him in the yard, trying to make sense out of what he said. So engrossed were they with his babblings, that none but Mrs. Stewart was aware of the fact that Junius had entered the farmyard and was eyeing them curiously.
"Junius!" she exclaimed.
The crowd looked up to see the ordinary, unlit Junius standing calmly by the gate.
"Hurry and get the milk pail, Zack, Junius is all right now!" Mrs. Stewart yelled happily to her husband, as Professor Sims and his assistants led the hysterical trooper into the house.
High over the horizon, a faint, silvery disc was disappearing at fantastic speed into outer space.
By Jean M. Janis
Don't be ashamed if you can't blikkel any more. It's because you couldn't help framishing.
"Shurgub," said the tape recorder. "Just like I told you before, Dr. Blair, it's krandoor, so don't expect to vrillipax, because they just won't stand for any. They'd sooner framish."
"Framish?" Jonathan heard his own voice played back by the recorder, tinny and slightly nasal. "What is that, Mr. Easton?"
"You know. Like when you guttip. Carooms get awfully bevvergrit. Why, I saw one actually--"
"Let's go back a little, shall we?" Jonathan suggested. "What does shurgub mean?"
There was a pause while the machine hummed and the recorder tape whirred. Jonathan remembered the look on Easton's face when he had asked him that. Easton had pulled away slightly, mouth open, eyes hurt.
"Why--why, I told you!" he had shouted. "Weeks ago! What's the matter? Don't you blikkel English?"
Jonathan Blair reached out and snapped the switch on the machine. Putting his head in his hands, he stared down at the top of his desk.
You learned Navajo in six months, he reminded himself fiercely.
You are a highly skilled linguist. What's the matter? Don't you blikkel English?
He groaned and started searching through his briefcase for the reports from Psych. Easton must be insane. He must! Ramirez says it's no language. Stoughton says it's no language. And I, Jonathan thought savagely, say it's no language.
But-- Margery tiptoed into the study with a tray.
"But Psych," he continued aloud to her, "Psych says it must be a language because, they say, Easton is not insane!"
"Oh, dear," sighed Margery, blinking her pale blue eyes. "That again?" She set his coffee on the desk in front of him. "Poor Jonathan. Why doesn't the Institute give up?"
"Because they can't." He reached for the cup and sat glaring at the steaming coffee.
"Well," said his wife, settling into the leather chair beside him, "I certainly would. My goodness, it's been over a month now since he came back, and you haven't learned a thing from him!"
"Oh, we've learned some. And this morning, for the first time, Easton himself began to seem puzzled by a few of the things he was saying. He's beginning to use terms we can understand. He's coming around. And if I could only find some clue--some sort of--"
Margery snorted. "It's just plain foolish! I knew the Institute was asking for trouble when they sent the Rhinestead off. How do they know Easton ever got to Mars, anyway? Maybe he did away with those other men, cruised around, and then came back to Earth with this made-up story just so he could seem to be a hero and--"
"Why?" she demanded stubbornly. "Why is it?"
"Because the Rhinestead was tracked, for one thing, on both flights, to and from Mars. Moonbase has an indisputable record of it. And besides, the instruments on the ship itself show--" He found the report he had been searching for. "Oh, never mind."
"All right," she said defiantly. "Maybe he did get to Mars. Maybe he did away with the crew after he got there. He knew the ship was built so that one man could handle it in an emergency. Maybe he--"
"Look," said Jonathan patiently. "He didn't do anything of the sort. Easton has been checked so thoroughly that it's impossible to assume anything except, (a) he is sane, (b) he reached Mars and made contact with the Martians, (c) this linguistic barrier is a result of that contact."