The Project Gutenberg eBook of Another Earth

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Title: Another Earth

Author: David Evans

Al Landau

Release date: February 10, 2020 [eBook #61367]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at




Whatever it was that had happened in the
test, it badly needed a good explanation.

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Worlds of If Science Fiction, May 1963.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


Lieutenant Colonel Philip Snow, Flight Surgeon, USAF, and Test Director of the Aero-Medical Laboratory, was pacing the study floor in his quarters, asking himself for the dozenth time in the past half-hour: What had happened to Richardson during the test that afternoon?

He was no stranger to problems. He had been living with them for the past few years, and they had been problems the like of which had never before challenged the ingenuity of man. For he was the head of a small community of men, scientists like himself—medical specialists of all kinds, psychologists, electronic technicians, physicists, pressure engineers, mathematicians and so on, each one of them an acknowledged expert in his particular field—who had worked together with one end in view: to send a man into space and bring him back safely to Earth again. To put it more excitingly: to enable man to take his first step toward the conquest of the universe.

The result of their labors to date was the Capsule, a bottle-shaped contraption which occupied the center of the laboratory floor.

It wasn't very big; just big enough to contain a man enclosed in a spacesuit, lying on a couch surrounded by instruments. But there wasn't a square inch of the capsule itself, the spacesuit, and the instruments which hadn't presented innumerable problems, the solving of which had been the result of endless research and theorizing and testing.

And in the same way, and almost to the same extent, there wasn't a square inch of the man, too, which didn't present problems, all of which must be solved before he could be sent into space.

And so, in test after test, one of the chosen astronauts had lain on the couch in the capsule, wired through his spacesuit to the dozens of dials and graph recorders on the consoles at which sat the watching specialists. It seemed there was nothing that could happen inside his body that they could not know about. They could read every flexing of his muscles, every heartbeat, every tiny shifting of temperature, every reaction of his blood and of his complicated nervous system. On the encephalograph, they could even detect reactions in the mass of gray matter which was his brain, any sign of tension there, and above all, any symptom of that strange phenomenon of which so little was yet known, and which was called the "breakoff"—the eerie sensation of complete isolation from Earth, the trancelike apathy and indifference to survival that can attack not only high-flying pilots, but deep-sea divers, "the rapture of the depths," and sometimes it was accompanied by hallucinations in which strange forms and sounds were seen and heard.

In the case of Lieutenant Hamilton Richardson, USN, there had been no mysterious troubles of this kind—in fact, no troubles of any kind at all. Aged thirty-six, he had been one of the first of the astronauts to volunteer. He had passed with flying colors every one of the grueling preliminary tests, mental and physical, and as far as could be judged by science, he had seemed to be the perfect specimen, mentally and physically, for the job. In the many tests made with him inside the capsule, nothing had gone wrong with him. There had been no signs of fatigue or failure of any kind. Had Snow been asked who, in his opinion, would be the first man—or, at any rate, the first American—to go into deep space, he would unhesitatingly have nominated Richardson. That is to say, until that afternoon when the thing had happened.

It had been a long test, one made for the first time. The object of it was to find out how the spacesuit, which was sealed off from the rest of the capsule, would stand up if something happened to the capsule itself. If, for instance, in its headlong flight through space, something struck it, something, maybe, no bigger than a small pebble. The odds were that in collision with even so small a meteor, the shell of the capsule would be punctured, and within a minute or less, the atmospheric pressure inside it, fixed at about five thousand feet above sea level, would be reduced to zero. In other words, the capsule would become a vacuum in which nothing on Earth could live. The astronaut would then have to depend upon his spacesuit which, being pressurized, and being really a capsule within a capsule, with its own supply of oxygen, would be the one hope of survival.

That day, the test had consisted of the "puncturing" of the capsule. At a given signal, the pressure inside it had been reduced to that of fifty miles above the Earth's surface—in other words, to zero—by pumping out the air inside it. Richardson, the ace of the astronauts, had been chosen for this important test.

It had gone well. With the other scientists at their dials, Snow, seated at the big console of literally dozens of dials, the only one to be connected with Richardson by sound and speech, had given the signal. In a minute, the capsule had become a vacuum fifty miles above the surface of the Earth, outside its envelope of atmosphere.

Richardson's voice, reading his instruments, acknowledging Snow's instructions, answering his questions, had come through as normal and as calm as ever. Snow had felt a rising excitement as the test proceeded.

And then, without warning, the thing had happened. Richardson's voice had stopped in the middle of an instrument reading, as if it had suddenly been cut off. A few seconds later, it had resumed. But when it did so, the voice was uttering a stream of unintelligible sounds in a low, lilting chant. Snow had listened incredulously for perhaps thirty seconds, at the end of which the sounds had suddenly ceased. Immediately, Snow had given instructions for the normal pressure inside the capsule to be restored. Almost as he had done so, Richardson's voice, once again normal, had resumed the reading of the instruments, taking up from where it had left off a minute before.

Acting on a sudden impulse. Snow had decided to say nothing over the wire to Richardson at the time. He had continued his conversation with the astronaut, telling him they were "bringing him down" and asking the usual questions until the test ended.

When, with the others, he had stood around watching while Richardson was helped out of his spacesuit, he had carefully watched their faces, looking for some sign of doubt or puzzlement. But he saw none. On the contrary, they all seemed triumphantly satisfied. Even Richardson had shown no sign that anything unusual had occurred. He had been his usual cheerful self, seeming not even slightly fatigued by the long test.

Being the only one who had been in contact with Richardson, Snow had suddenly found himself wondering if he really had heard those sounds, if, maybe, he had been the victim of a hallucination. This was why he had said nothing about it at the time. He had just asked, as casually as he could, if any of them had anything they wanted to bring up immediately. They had shaken their heads, beaming their satisfaction, and he had dismissed them all, saying that in view of the length of the test they might all call it a day, and postponing the usual interrogation until the morrow. Then he had hurried back to his quarters, bringing with him the recording machine on which, as was the practice, his conversation with Richardson during the test had been recorded. Controlling his impatience with difficulty, he had rewound the tape on the machine and played it back, the tension rising within him as he listened.

There had been no hallucination. He heard Richardson's voice reading the instrument, the sudden cut-off in the middle of it, the short silence, then the voice uttering the strange sounds in a low-pitched chant with a gentle rise and fall to it. Three times he had played it back, and now it seemed to him that these were not just disconnected sounds. They appeared to have a cadence, a phrasing which indicated that they belonged to a language of some sort.

Snow was no linguist. He had less than a fair conversational knowledge of French and German, and a scholar's acquaintance with Latin, but he had travelled very extensively in his time and had been accustomed to hear many languages spoken. He was quite sure he had never heard anything even remotely resembling these sounds. Certainly Richardson was no linguist either. He was third-generation American from British stock, and all he knew about languages was what he had learned in school.

Then where had those sounds come from? Were they a language, and if so, what did they mean? How could this happen to a man like Richardson without his knowing about it? Did it mean that here was, after all, something strange about him which the man himself might not even know about, and which might mean that he was not fit for the project? This last question worried Snow more than the others.

He went to the telephone on his desk and dialed the Richardson bungalow. The voice of Richardson's pretty wife answered him.

"Yes? Sandra Richardson here."

"Hello, Sandra. Phil Snow calling. Is Ham there?"

"He's in the shower singing his head off. Shall I get him?"

"No, it isn't important. I just wanted to ask him again if he feels all right after the test. It was rather a long one, and I wondered if he might feel tired, or...."

"Tired? He seems even more full of pep than usual. Was the test so very long, then?"

"Yes, it was. That's why I called and—just to tell him it was a success. I haven't checked all the reports yet, but it looks good. And you say he's as usual?"

"Yes. Why? There wasn't anything...?"

"No, no, nothing at all. Just as I said. I'll be seeing you."

He rang off, hoping that nothing he had said was now making Sandra Richardson suspicious, and resumed his pacing up and down the floor. Now another question came into his mind. The same test would be run several times again before final conclusions could be made. Should he wait for them to see if this thing happened again before starting anything with Richardson and his colleagues? But even as he asked himself the question, he knew the answer. If this never again happened in any future test, the fact would remain that it had happened once and could not be forgotten or brushed aside. It must be cleared up. Something had happened to Richardson's mind.

He decided to take Abe Franstein, his head psychologist, into his confidence. As he dialed Franstein's bungalow, he recalled with a sense of comfort that the brilliant little man was not only a world authority in his particular subject, but that he was said to be able to read, write, and converse in a staggering number of languages, some of them obscure Oriental dialects.

When Franstein answered the call, Snow asked him to drop in for coffee after dinner.


"Well, I must say," said Franstein as they sipped their coffee, "yours is the first glum face I've seen around here since that test this afternoon. Here we are, within sight of our goal at last, and look at you! Weren't you satisfied?"

"Before I go into that," Snow replied, "there are a few things I want to ask you."

"About the test?"

"In a way, but principally about Richardson. Have you ever had any reason to suspect that there is anything unusual about him?"

"In what way?"

"In your line."

Franstein produced an enormous meerschaum pipe and proceeded to fill it from an untidy plastic pouch as he replied.

"Yes, there is. One very unusual thing."

"There is?"

"He's got a very rare type of mind. It's probably perfectly balanced." The little man lit his pipe and continued: "The vast majority of us have some sort of imbalance, mentally. He hasn't. When I say imbalance, I mean the sort of thing that makes for genius, a phenomenal memory, an outstanding, effortless talent, amnesia, any form of insanity, or even something like a violent temper. Anything, so to speak, overemphasized."

"Is it physical? I mean, does it have anything to do with the size or weight of the brain, or anything like that?"

"You can take the brain of a genius and that of an ordinary person of average intelligence, and find them exactly the same in measurements and tissue condition. The popular conception of the genius as a man with a bulging forehead is so much nonsense. Plenty of lunatics and retarded individuals have bulging foreheads."

"Then what does it have to do with?"

"Ah! That's the big question. Nobody knows. You can take two men, equal physically in every respect, equal in upbringing, education, health, and with the same sized brain. One of them might turn out to be a genius, the other an average individual, and nobody knows what makes the difference. Nobody knows what makes an infant prodigy, or what it is which enables a child of two to read easily, or a kid of five or six to play some instrument as if he'd been at it for years or compose symphonies, or master advanced mathematics. Same answer. Nobody knows. It's got nothing to do with heredity. So few geniuses have had genius offspring that they form exceptions to the rule. Again, why does an infant prodigy sometimes lose his gift or talent entirely as he grows older? We don't know. All we know is that the gift or talent is there, but where it comes from, or why it is in one brain and not in another, we don't know. But surely you don't have to have me to tell you all this, Phil? What's on your mind?"

"Listen to this," Snow said, and went to the tape recorder.

He rewound the tape to its beginning, depressed the switch marked Play, and presently they heard the two voices, Snow's and Richardson's.

"Now!" said Snow as the point on the tape approached.

There came the sudden stopping of Richardson's voice in the middle of an instrument reading, the short silence, then Richardson's voice chanting the strange sounds. Franstein took his pipe from between his teeth and his mouth fell open as he listened. The sounds ceased and Richardson's voice resumed the instrument reading at the point at which it had left off.

"That's all," said Snow, and switched off the machine.

Franstein put his pipe back into his mouth. "Is this the recording of this afternoon's test?"

"Yes. What d'you make of it?"

"Let's hear it again."

Snow played back the recording a second and a third time, and then said: "Well?"

Franstein went to the table and helped himself to more coffee before replying. "It's a new one on me," he said presently. "I've got about a thousand recordings of languages and dialects from all over the world, and not one of them is anything like that."

"You think it is a language, not just sounds?"

"That we've got to find out, but I'd say, offhand, it's a primitive form of a language of some sort."

"Then how the devil does it come out of a man like Richardson who's never spoken anything but English—nor his forebears, for that matter?"

Franstein shrugged his shoulders. "How does great music come out of a child of six, and so on? Same question, same answer. Nobody knows. Have you spoken to Richardson about it?"

"No. I rang his bungalow just before dinner and spoke to Sandra. Richardson was in the shower, and she said he was feeling fine. I didn't tell her about this, of course."

"Then it couldn't have been some sort of mediumistic trance. They usually feel the effects of that sooner or later."

"You're not suggesting spiritualism, are you?" and in Snow's voice was a note of amusement.

"Don't laugh at it. If it's never been proved, neither has it been disproved."

And that touched off a discussion which went on for two hours. It covered many theories, many beliefs and faiths, all of which Franstein spoke learnedly and with great respect. He talked of reincarnation, spiritualism, the mystery of time, and in this last connection, he paused in the middle of what he was saying and asked: "If this—" and he waved a hand toward the machine—"is a language, and I'm pretty sure it is, how can we be sure that it is a language of the past? Why shouldn't it be one belonging to the future? All languages change with time. We'd probably find it very difficult to understand the English spoken ten centuries ago. What if this is the English that is going to be spoken a thousand years hence?"

To all of which Snow listened with the skepticism of the exact scientist, and Franstein, quick to notice this, went on: "You think yourselves clever, you exact scientists, and so you are. You can do a lot of things. You can split the atom, measure the stars, estimate the life expectancy of the sun; you have conquered distance, you have surrounded us with miracles like radio, television, invisible rays and all the rest of it. Presently, you will conquer space and colonize the planets, and so it will go until it will seem to you that you will know everything. And you will too, except for one thing—the one final mystery, the last secret of the universe—MAN. And that means you and me, and any human being from a bum of Skid Row to the President. Man is the eternal unknown quantity, and you've never had a more clear demonstration of this than what happened to Richardson this afternoon. Oh, I know what you've found out. You know all about man, his insides, his glands, muscles, nerves, brain, and so on. You can even display him on a table as a bucket of water and little piles of salts and minerals, and you can point to them and say: 'That is what man is made of.' Only the other day I was reading about some scientist who thinks he's on the verge of producing a cell of life in a test tube. You may even do that, and you may find out one day how to put the water and the salts and the minerals together again and make a man. I've always thought the Frankenstein story was a bit of inspired prophecy. But you still won't be able to explain why great music can come from a child of six, or what happened to Richardson this afternoon." He lit his big pipe, which had gone out, and through the puffs asked: "And what do you propose to do about Richardson?"

"Run the test again tomorrow with him and see if this happens again, and then decide," replied Snow.

"But even if nothing happens tomorrow, you can't ignore this."

"That's true. We've got to get to the bottom of it, and that's where you come in. You're the expert on this sort of thing."

Franstein looked at his watch. "Let's sleep on it and see what happens tomorrow, eh?"

He was on his way to the door when the telephone bell rang. Snow picked up the receiver, and he heard him say: "Sandra?... What?... I'll be right over. I've got Abe Franstein with me. I'll bring him with me. Don't worry dear."

Snow hung up. "Something's happened to Richardson," he said. "He's gone into a deep sleep and won't wake, and he's talking to himself in some funny language. Let's go."

Snow rummaged in a drawer of his desk and found a stethoscope.


Five minutes later, they were standing with pretty Sandra Richardson at the foot of the bed on which Richardson, clad in his pajamas, sprawled on his back. He was in a deep sleep and from his mouth came a low chanting. Franstein and Snow glanced at each other as they recognized the sounds.

Snow tried to wake the astronaut, gently at first, then less so, but it had no effect. He used his stethoscope on heart and lungs, drew back an eyelid and examined the eye beneath, felt the brow.

"When did this happen?" he asked the anxious Sandra.

"About fifteen, maybe twenty minutes ago," she replied. "We came in here and undressed and I used the bathroom first. When I came out, I found him like this."

"How's he been all the evening?"

"Fine, just as I told you when you rang. Tom and Betty Moreland came for dinner and we played canasta. Is he all right?"

"As far as I can see, yes. Heart, lungs, eyes all right, no fever. I guess we'll just have to wait till he wakes."

They went into the sitting room and Sandra left them to make coffee.

"He's living through something," Franstein said. "Pity you haven't got the recorder here."

"I thought the same. I'll get it."

Snow left and Franstein wandered back into the bedroom and leaned over Richardson. Now he was sure this was a language and that the sleeper was conversing with someone in his sleep. The expressions changed on Richardson's face rapidly as they do on the face of anyone during a conversation. At one moment he laughed as he said something, then became serious as he said something else.

Sandra came into the bedroom and joined Franstein at the bedside. "He's never been like this before," she said worriedly.

"Doesn't he ever talk in his sleep?"

"He never even snores. When we were first married, he slept so quietly that I thought he'd stopped breathing, but I'd only have to touch him or whisper to him and he'd wake in an instant. What does this mean?"

"We'll find out, never fear."

They went back into the sitting room as they heard Snow return. He was carrying the recording machine, and seeing the question in Sandra's eyes as she saw it, he said reassuringly: "We're going to make a recording of what Ham's saying. We'll soon find out what this is all about."

He busied himself changing the tapes on the machine, taking the new one from his pocket, and fumbled the job in his haste. He had plugged in the microphone and was unwinding the long chord when they heard Richardson's voice call out from the next room: "Sandra!" and a moment later, Richardson appeared in the open doorway, staring at them in astonishment.

"Abe! Phil! When did you come here?"

"About half an hour ago," Snow replied.

Richardson passed a hand over his eyes. "I must have fallen asleep," he said.

"You did, darling, and I couldn't wake you," Sandra said. "So I called Phil."

"You couldn't wake me?"

"No, and you were talking away in your sleep. You had me worried."


Sandra, at a loss, looked at Franstein and he answered for her. "You were dreaming, Ham," he said.

Richardson thought for a moment before replying. "Now that you mention it, I was. But what's so extraordinary about that? Why are you all looking at me as if I'd suddenly grown horns?

"D'you remember what the dream was about?" Franstein asked.

"Vaguely. Yes, I do. It was just a dream. Why is it so important?" He sat down in a deep chair and looked around at them. "What is all this?" he said. "I fall asleep for half an hour, have a silly dream, and wake up to find you here looking as if something big has happened."

"Something has happened, Ham," said Franstein. "Something we don't understand." Richardson started up in his seat. "Take it easy, there's nothing to worry about. We'll get to the bottom of it." He turned to Snow. "I think I know the way out of this. Play the recording for Ham to hear."

Snow hesitated for a moment. "All right, if you think so," he said, and busied himself with the recorder, replacing the used tape on the spool.

Sandra perched herself on the arm of her husband's chair and put an arm about his shoulders. They waited while Snow linked up the end of the tape to the other spool. He pressed the Play switch, and presently there came the voices of Snow and Richardson.

"That's this afternoon's test," Richardson said.

Franstein nodded, and they continued to listen. Then came the chanting sounds, and when he heard them, Richardson's expression changed to one of amazement. Snow switched off the machine.

"What was that?" Richardson asked.

"We hoped you'd be able to tell us," Franstein replied.

"I? What should I know about it?"

"That was your voice, Ham. Nobody's touched the tape, and I heard it during the test."

"But this is crazy. How could I make a noise like that without knowing anything about it? Why, I remember every second of that test, and I know I didn't do anything like that." He jumped to his feet and began to walk up and down the room, his hands pressed to his head.

"I said take it easy, Ham," Franstein said.

Richardson pulled up short in his pacing and turned to the little man. "How can I take it easy? I spend six hours in the capsule in a difficult test, remember every bit of it, come out of it feeling not even tired, and now you tell me that in the middle of it I had some sort of a blackout and made funny noises. That can only mean that there's something wrong with me, and you don't have to tell me what that means. I don't qualify, after all. Is that what you came here to tell me?"

Franstein's voice was as quiet as before. "It doesn't mean anything of the sort. If there'd been a blackout or if something else had happened to your brain, it would have shown up on the encephalograph, and nothing showed. I didn't know about this until I heard the recording, and we weren't going to say anything about it until we'd run the test a second time. Then Sandra called us to say she couldn't wake you and that you were talking in your sleep, and we came over to find you in a sleep as deep as a coma and obviously dreaming."

"And what's that got to do with the test?"

"You were making the same sort of sounds in your sleep as you did in the test, and I'm sure they add up to a language of some sort."

"What? You mean to say that was a language? For Pete's sake, I've never spoken anything but English all my life. I can't."

"We know that."

Richardson turned to his wife. "Is this true?" he asked her tensely. "Was I making noises like that in my sleep?"

She nodded miserably.

He threw up his hands. "Okay," he said, "you're three to one. The ace astronaut turns out to be some sort of nut who talks monkey language in his sleep, and when he's awake too, without knowing it." He went to the deep chair and slumped down into it. "What do we do now? Go into analysis again? Start all over?" He laughed shortly and bitterly, and added: "Or do I resign from the project?"

"Listen, Ham," Franstein said. "We're up against something new, something I don't understand, and whatever happens, we've got to try and find out what it is, for your sake as well as for the project's. Let's relax and start with the dream. Tell us what you remember of it."

Richardson took time to calm down before he spoke. "It was just a dream," he began presently. "There was a big spaceship and a lot of people standing about."

"Where was this?"

"Where? I don't know. On Earth, I suppose. Open place, you know, only...." He paused before going on. "Only it wasn't standing up on end like a rocket. It was lying on its side, and we were loading it."

"Who were 'we'?"

"My father and my two brothers. And that shows how silly the dream was because I haven't got any brothers or father. My father in the dream wasn't anything like my own. He was just an old man, and he told us where to stow the crates."

"What was in the crates?"

"In the crates?" Richardson looked up. "Let me see now. Oh, yes, they were full of the seeds of plants and eggs and sperm of animals—sort of the beginnings of things."

"And where was the ship going to?"

Again, Richardson concentrated before replying. "To another Earth," he said. "That's right. The old guy, our father, said that this one was going to be destroyed by some disaster, and the people standing about were laughing and jeering and saying the old man was crazy."

"Do you know what sort of disaster was going to happen?" asked Franstein.

Richardson looked at him and suddenly a smile formed on his face. "Now I know where that dream came from," he said. "Remember that book On The Beach? The story about how everyone on Earth was wiped out by nuclear fallout? That's it! I remember wondering when I read it if some of us would be able to go to another planet before anything like that happened here, and I remember thinking, too, that we'd probably take things like seeds and so on with us, and even the ova of animals, and that by then we'd probably know how to preserve them—freeze them or something of the sort."

"We can do that now," Snow said.

"Well, there it is, then," said Richardson, smiling again. "There's the explanation."

"It explains the dream all right," agreed Snow, "but what about the sounds? Particularly those you made in the capsule?"

"Lord, yes!" said Richardson, and the smile left his face. "I'd forgotten about those. That puts us back to where we came in, doesn't it?"

"I'm not so sure," said Franstein. He got to his feet and, in his turn, prowled up and down the room, deep in thought. The others waited for him to go on, and presently he turned to them, a glint of excitement in his eyes. "I think we're onto something," he said. "Those sounds are obviously a part of your dream, Ham, including the ones you made in the capsule, and only you know what they mean."

"But I don't even remember making them!"

"No, but your mind does. If we can unlock your mind, we can find the secret, and there's a way in which it can be done. Hypnosis."

"Hypnosis?" The others spoke at once.

Franstein nodded. "I've got to put you into a hypnotic trance, Ham, and we'll play that recording back to you and I think—only think, remember—that you're going to be able to tell us what they mean. Any objection, Phil?"

"You're the expert."

"How about you, Ham?"

"I'll do anything to clear up this business." He jumped to his feet. "Let's get on with it now. What do I do? Shall I lie down on the sofa?"

"I didn't know you are a hypnotist too, Abe," said Snow. "I'm not surprised, though. I might have known."

Franstein took no notice of this. He stepped up to Richardson and looked up at him, holding out one hand which the other, wonderingly, took. "The big thing is confidence, Ham," he said, looking up earnestly. "Complete confidence. You have that in me?"

Richardson looked down on the little man and nodded his head. "Sure," he said. "I've always had that in you, Abe."

Franstein continued to hold the other's hand. "That's fine," he said. "All you have to do is to relax and trust in me. Just relax completely. Just let yourself go—eh?"

Richardson's head nodded again, and for a moment Franstein, still holding the hand continued to look up into Richardson's face above him. Then he released the hand and said: "Now you can lie down on the couch if you like."

Richardson went to the couch and stretched himself out on it.

"I've heard a lot about this," Sandra said, "but I've never seen it done."

Franstein smiled at her. "You've just seen it done, my dear," he said, and as she stared back at him in astonishment, added: "He's a very good subject. Now, when that machine is ready...."

"If I'm right in what I think," Franstein said a few minutes later to Snow, who stood by the table on which now rested the recorder, and to Sandra who was at the head of the couch looking down on her husband who lay there, his eyes half-closed, "you're going to hear something very surprising. Please don't make a sound."

They nodded their heads, and Franstein seated himself on the edge of the couch, leaned over Richardson, and spoke softly: "You hear me, Ham?"

"Yes, I hear you."

"Then listen." Franstein turned and nodded to Snow. The machine was switched on and there came, clearly, the chanted sounds of the test. They finished and the machine was switched off. "You heard, Ham?"

"Yes, I heard."

"You made those sounds that we just heard."


"Can you repeat them?"


"Then do so."

And now the strange low chanting sounds streamed from Richardson's lips. Sandra put her hands to her mouth to stifle a gasp. Snow stepped to her side, his face tense.

The sounds ceased and Franstein, his eyes alight with excitement, said softly: "Tell us, to whom are you speaking?"

"To my sons."

"Tell us in English what you are saying to them."

There was a silence. Franstein repeated his command, and Richardson spoke again, this time in his normal voice.

"And God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark ... and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you, they shall be male and female.... Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten and store it up.... And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him...."

The voice tapered off into silence, and Sandra, her eyes wide with fear and amazement whispered: "That's the story of the Flood and he told it as if he was there. What does it mean?"

Franstein silenced her with a gesture and bent over Richardson whose eyes were closed. "Ham," he said, a note of insistence in his voice, "you hear me? Answer!"

The eyes half opened. "Yes, I hear you."

"Tell me, where did you go in the ark?"

"To a place of many waters ... many waters, and we rested on them until they went down." Now the voice was fading.

"Where was it? Tell me, where was it?"

The reply came in almost a whisper. "I don't know. It was another earth ... another earth...."

The eyes closed again, the breathing became deeper, but the lips still moved, and through them, barely heard in the tense silence, came again the low, chanting sounds. Then they, too, died away to silence, the lips ceased to move, and Richardson slept.