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´╗┐Title: Deadly City
Author: Fairman, Paul W., 1916-1977
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Deadly City" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                              DEADLY CITY

                           By Ivar Jorgenson

                         Illustrated by Ed Emsh

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science
Fiction March 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


[Sidenote: _You're all alone in a deserted city. You walk down an empty
street, yearning for the sight of one living face--one moving figure.
Then you see a man on a corner and you know your terror has only
begun._]


He awoke slowly, like a man plodding knee-deep through the thick stuff
of nightmares. There was no definite line between the dream-state and
wakefulness. Only a dawning knowledge that he was finally conscious and
would have to do something about it.

He opened his eyes, but this made no difference. The blackness remained.
The pain in his head brightened and he reached up and found the big lump
they'd evidently put on his head for good measure--a margin of safety.

They must have been prudent people, because the bang on the head had
hardly been necessary. The spiked drink which they had given him would
have felled an ox. He remembered going down into the darkness after
drinking it, and of knowing what it was. He remembered the helpless
feeling.

It did not worry him now. He was a philosophical person, and the fact he
was still alive cancelled out the drink and its result. He thought, with
savor, of the chestnut-haired girl who had watched him take the drink.
She had worn a very low bodice, and that was where his eyes had been at
the last moment--on the beautiful, tanned breasts--until they'd wavered
and puddled into a blur and then into nothing.

The chestnut-haired girl had been nice, but now she was gone and there
were more pressing problems.

He sat up, his hands behind him at the ends of stiff arms clawing into
long-undisturbed dust and filth. His movement stirred the dust and it
rose into his nostrils.

He straightened and banged his head against a low ceiling. The pain made
him sick for a minute and he sat down to regain his senses. He cursed
the ceiling, as a matter of course, in an agonized whisper.

Ready to move again, he got onto his hands and knees and crawled
cautiously forward, exploring as he went. His hand pushed through
cobwebs and found a rough, cement wall. He went around and around. It
was all cement--all solid.

Hell! They hadn't sealed him up in this place! There had been a way in
so there had to be a way out. He went around again.

Then he tried the ceiling and found the opening--a wooden trap covering
a four-by-four hole--covering it snugly. He pushed the trap away and
daylight streamed in. He raised himself up until he was eye-level with a
discarded shaving cream jar lying on the bricks of an alley. He could
read the trade mark on the jar, and the slogan: "For the Meticulous
Man".

He pulled himself up into the alley. As a result of an orderly
childhood, he replaced the wooden trap and kicked the shaving cream jar
against a garbage can. He rubbed his chin and looked up and down the
alley.

It was high noon. An uncovered sun blazed down to tell him this.

And there was no one in sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

He started walking toward the nearer mouth of the alley. He had been in
that hole a long time, he decided. This conviction came from his hunger
and the heavy growth of beard he'd sprouted. Twenty-four hours--maybe
longer. That mickey must have been a lulu.

He walked out into the cross street. It was empty. No people--no cars
parked at the curbs--only a cat washing its dirty face on a tenement
stoop across the street. He looked up at the tenement windows. They
stared back. There was an empty, deserted look about them.

The cat flowed down the front steps of the tenement and away toward the
rear and he was truly alone. He rubbed his harsh chin. Must be Sunday,
he thought. Then he knew it could not be Sunday. He'd gone into the
tavern on a Tuesday night. That would make it five days. Too long.

He had been walking and now he was at an intersection where he could
look up and down a new street. There were no cars--no people. Not even a
cat.

A sign overhanging the sidewalk said: Restaurant. He went in under the
sign and tried the door. It was locked. There were no lights inside. He
turned away--grinning to reassure himself. Everything was all right.
Just some kind of a holiday. In a big city like Chicago the people go
away on hot summer holidays. They go to the beaches and the parks and
sometimes you can't see a living soul on the streets. And of course you
can't find any cars because the people use them to drive to the beaches
and the parks and out into the country. He breathed a little easier and
started walking again.

Sure--that was it. Now what the hell holiday was it? He tried to
remember. He couldn't think of what holiday it could be. Maybe they'd
dreamed up a new one. He grinned at that, but the grin was a little
tight and he had to force it. He forced it carefully until his teeth
showed white.

Pretty soon he would come to a section where everybody hadn't gone to
the beaches and the parks and a restaurant would be open and he'd get a
good meal.

A meal? He fumbled toward his pockets. He dug into them and found a
handkerchief and a button from his cuff. He remembered that the button
had hung loose so he'd pulled it off to keep from losing it. He hadn't
lost the button, but everything else was gone. He scowled. The least
they could have done was to leave a man eating money.

He turned another corner--into another street--and it was like the one
before. No cars--no people--not even any cats.

Panic welled up. He stopped and whirled around to look behind him. No
one was there. He walked in a tight circle, looking in all directions.
Windows stared back at him--eyes that didn't care where everybody had
gone or when they would come back. The windows could wait. The windows
were not hungry. Their heads didn't ache. They weren't scared.

He began walking and his path veered outward from the sidewalk until he
was in the exact center of the silent street. He walked down the worn
white line. When he got to the next corner he noticed that the traffic
signals were not working. Black, empty eyes.

His pace quickened. He walked faster--ever faster until he was trotting
on the brittle pavement, his sharp steps echoing against the buildings.
Faster. Another corner. And he was running, filled with panic, down the
empty street.

       *       *       *       *       *

The girl opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. The ceiling was a
blur but it began to clear as her mind cleared. The ceiling became a
surface of dirty, cracked plaster and there was a feeling of dirt and
squalor in her mind.

It was always like that at these times of awakening, but doubly bitter
now, because she had never expected to awaken again. She reached down
and pulled the wadded sheet from beneath her legs and spread it over
them. She looked at the bottle on the shabby bed-table. There were three
sleeping pills left in it. The girl's eyes clouded with resentment.
You'd think seven pills would have done it. She reached down and took
the sheet in both hands and drew it taut over her stomach. This was a
gesture of frustration. Seven hadn't been enough, and here she was
again--awake in the world she'd wanted to leave. Awake with the
necessary edge of determination gone.

She pulled the sheet into a wad and threw it at the wall. She got up and
walked to the window and looked out. Bright daylight. She wondered how
long she had slept. A long time, no doubt.

Her naked thigh pressed against the windowsill and her bare stomach
touched the dirty pane. Naked in the window, but it didn't matter,
because it gave onto an airshaft and other windows so caked with grime
as to be of no value as windows.

But even aside from that, it didn't matter. It didn't matter in the
least.

She went to the washstand, her bare feet making no sound on the worn
rug. She turned on the faucets, but no water came. No water, and she had
a terrible thirst. She went to the door and had thrown the bolt before
she remembered again that she was naked. She turned back and saw the
half-empty Pepsi-Cola bottle on the floor beside the bed table. Someone
else had left it there--how many nights ago?--but she drank it anyhow,
and even though it was flat and warm it soothed her throat.

She bent over to pick up garments from the floor and dizziness came,
forcing her to the edge of the bed. After a while it passed and she got
her legs into one of the garments and pulled it on.

Taking cosmetics from her bag, she went again to the washstand and tried
the taps. Still no water. She combed her hair, jerking the comb through
the mats and gnarls with a satisfying viciousness. When the hair fell
into its natural, blond curls, she applied powder and lip-stick. She
went back to the bed, picked up her brassiere and began putting it on as
she walked to the cracked, full-length mirror in the closet door. With
the brassiere in place, she stood looking at her slim image. She assayed
herself with complete impersonality.

She shouldn't look as good as she did--not after the beating she'd
taken. Not after the long nights and the days and the years, even though
the years did not add up to very many.

I could be someone's wife, she thought, with wry humor. I could be
sending kids to school and going out to argue with the grocer about the
tomatoes being too soft. I don't look bad at all.

She raised her eyes until they were staring into their own images in the
glass and she spoke aloud in a low, wondering voice. She said, "Who the
hell am I, anyway? Who am I? A body named Linda--that's who I am.
No--that's _what_ I am. A body's not a _who_--it's a _what_. One hundred
and fourteen pounds of well-built blond body called Linda--model
1931--no fender dents--nice paint job. Come in and drive me away. Price
tag--"

She bit into the lower lip she'd just finished reddening and turned
quickly to walk to the bed and wriggle into her dress--a gray and green
cotton--the only one she had. She picked up her bag and went to the
door. There she stopped to turn and thumb her nose at the three sleeping
pills in the bottle before she went out and closed the door after
herself.

The desk clerk was away from the cubbyhole from which he presided over
the lobby, and there were no loungers to undress her as she walked
toward the door.

Nor was there anyone out in the street. The girl looked north and south.
No cars in sight either. No buses waddling up to the curb to spew out
passengers.

The girl went five doors north and tried to enter a place called Tim's
Hamburger House. As the lock held and the door refused to open, she saw
that there were no lights on inside--no one behind the counter. The
place was closed.

She walked on down the street followed only by the lonesome sound of her
own clicking heels. All the stores were closed. All the lights were out.

_All the people were gone._

       *       *       *       *       *

He was a huge man, and the place of concealment of the Chicago Avenue
police station was very small--merely an indentation low in the cement
wall behind two steam pipes. The big man had lain in this niche for
forty-eight hours. He had slugged a man over the turn of a card in a
poolroom pinochle game, had been arrested in due course, and was
awaiting the disposal of his case.

He was sorry he had slugged the man. He had not had any deep hatred for
him, but rather a rage of the moment that demanded violence as its
outlet. Although he did not consider it a matter of any great
importance, he did not look forward to the six month's jail sentence he
would doubtless be given.

His opportunity to hide in the niche had come as accidentally and as
suddenly as his opportunity to slug his card partner. It had come after
the prisoners had been advised of the crisis and were being herded into
vans for transportation elsewhere. He had snatched the opportunity
without giving any consideration whatever to the crisis. Probably
because he did not have enough imagination to fear anything--however
terrible--which might occur in the future. And because he treasured his
freedom above all else. Freedom for today, tomorrow could take care of
itself.

Now, after forty-eight hours, he writhed and twisted his huge body out
of the niche and onto the floor of the furnace room. His legs were numb
and he found that he could not stand. He managed to sit up and was able
to bend his back enough so his great hands could reach his legs and
begin to massage life back into them.

So elementally brutal was this man that he pounded his legs until they
were black and blue, before feeling returned to them. In a few minutes
he was walking out of the furnace room through a jail house which should
now be utterly deserted. But was it? He went slowly, gliding along close
to the walls to reach the front door unchallenged.

He walked out into the street. It was daylight and the street was
completely deserted. The man took a deep breath and grinned. "I'll be
damned," he muttered. "I'll be double and triple damned. They're all
gone. Every damn one of them run off like rats and I'm the only one
left. I'll be damned!"

A tremendous sense of exultation seized him. He clenched his fists and
laughed loud, his laugh echoing up the street. He was happier than he
had ever been in his quick, violent life. And his joy was that of a
child locked in a pantry with a huge chocolate cake.

He rubbed a hand across his mouth, looked up the street, began walking.
"I wonder if they took all the whisky with them," he said. Then he
grinned; he was sure they had not.

He began walking in long strides toward Clark Street. In toward the
still heart of the empty city.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was a slim, pale-skinned little man, and very dangerous. He was also
very clever. Eventually they would have found out, but he had been
clever enough to deceive them and now they would never know. There was
great wealth in his family, and with the rest of them occupied with
leaving the city and taking what valuables they could on such short
notice, he had been put in charge of one of the chauffeurs.

The chauffeur had been given the responsibility of getting the
pale-skinned young man out of the city. But the young man had caused
several delays until all the rest were gone. Then, meekly enough, he had
accompanied the chauffeur to the garage. The chauffeur got behind the
wheel of the last remaining car--a Cadillac sedan--and the young man had
gotten into the rear seat.

But before the chauffeur could start the motor, the young man hit him on
the head with a tire bar he had taken from a shelf as they had entered
the garage.

The bar went deep into the chauffeur's skull with a solid sound, and
thus the chauffeur found the death he was in the very act of fleeing.

The young man pulled the dead chauffeur from the car and laid him on the
cement floor. He laid him down very carefully, so that he was in the
exact center of a large square of outlined cement with his feet pointing
straight north and his outstretched arms pointing south.

The young man placed the chauffeur's cap very carefully upon his chest,
because neatness pleased him. Then he got into the car, started it, and
headed east toward Lake Michigan and the downtown section.

After traveling three or four miles, he turned the car off the road and
drove it into a telephone post. Then he walked until he came to some
high weeds. He lay down in the weeds and waited.

He knew there would probably be a last vanguard of militia hunting for
stragglers. If they saw a moving car they would investigate. They would
take him into custody and force him to leave the city.

This, he felt, they had no right to do. All his life he had been ordered
about--told to do this and that and the other thing. Stupid orders from
stupid people. Idiots who went so far as to claim the whole city would
be destroyed, just to make people do as they said. God! The ends to
which stupid people would go in order to assert their wills over
brilliant people.

The young man lay in the weeds and dozed off, his mind occupied with the
pleasant memory of the tire iron settling into the skull of the
chauffeur.

After a while he awoke and heard the cars of the last vanguard passing
down the road. They stopped, inspected the Cadillac and found it
serviceable. They took it with them, but they did not search the weeds
along the road.

When they had disappeared toward the west, the young man came back to
the road and began walking east, in toward the city.

Complete destruction in two days?

Preposterous.

The young man smiled.

       *       *       *       *       *

The girl was afraid. For hours she had walked the streets of the empty
city and the fear, strengthened by weariness, was now mounting toward
terror. "One face," she whispered. "Just one person coming out of a
house or walking across the street. That's all I ask. Somebody to tell
me what this is all about. If I can find one person, I won't be afraid
any more."

And the irony of it struck her. A few hours previously she had attempted
suicide. Sick of herself and of all people, she had tried to end her own
life. Therefore, by acknowledging death as the answer, she should now
have no fear whatever of anything. Reconciled to crossing the bridge
into death, no facet of life should have held terror for her.

But the empty city did hold terror. One face--one moving form was all
she asked for.

Then, a second irony. When she saw the man at the corner of Washington
and Wells, her terror increased. They saw each other at almost the same
moment. Both stopped and stared. Fingers of panic ran up the girl's
spine. The man raised a hand and the spell was broken. The girl turned
and ran, and there was more terror in her than there had been before.

[Illustration]

She knew how absurd this was, but still she ran blindly. What had she to
fear? She knew all about men; all the things men could do they had
already done to her. Murder was the ultimate, but she was fresh from a
suicide attempt. Death should hold no terrors for her.

She thought of these things as the man's footsteps sounded behind her
and she turned into a narrow alley seeking a hiding place. She found
none and the man turned in after her.

She found a passageway, entered with the same blindness which had
brought her into the alley. There was a steel door at the end and a
brick lying by the sill. The door was locked. She picked up the brick
and turned. The man skidded on the filthy alley surface as he turned
into the areaway.

The girl raised the brick over her head. "Keep away! Stay away from me!"

"Wait a minute! Take it easy. I'm not going to hurt you!"

"Get away!"

Her arm moved downward. The man rushed in and caught her wrist. The
brick went over his shoulder and the nails of her other hand raked his
face. He seized her without regard for niceties and they went to the
ground. She fought with everything she had and he methodically
neutralized all her weapons--her hands, her legs, her teeth--until she
could not move.

"Leave me alone. Please!"

"What's wrong with you? I'm not going to hurt you. But I'm not going to
let you hit me with a brick, either!"

"What do you want? Why did you chase me?"

"Look--I'm a peaceful guy, but I'm not going to let you get away. I
spent all afternoon looking for somebody. I found you and you ran away.
I came after you."

"I haven't done anything to you."

"That's silly talk. Come on--grow up! I said I'm not going to hurt you."

"Let me up."

"So you can run away again? Not for a while. I want to talk to you."

"I--I won't run. I was scared. I don't know why. You're hurting me."

He got up--gingerly--and lifted her to her feet. He smiled, still
holding both her hands. "I'm sorry. I guess it's natural for you to be
scared. My name's Frank Brooks. I just want to find out what the hell
happened to this town."

He let her withdraw her hands, but he still blocked her escape. She
moved a pace backward and straightened her clothing. "I don't know what
happened. I was looking for someone too."

He smiled again. "And then you ran."

"I don't know why. I guess--"

"What's your name."

"Nora--Nora Spade."

"You slept through it too?"

"Yes ... yes. I slept through it and came out and they were all gone."

"Let's get out of this alley." He preceded her out, but he waited for
her when there was room for them to walk side by side, and she did not
try to run away. That phase was evidently over.

"I got slipped a mickey in a tavern," Frank Brooks said. "Then they
slugged me and put me in a hole."

His eyes questioned. She felt their demand and said, "I was--asleep in
my hotel room."

"They overlooked you?"

"I guess so."

"Then you don't know anything about it?"

"Nothing. Something terrible must have happened."

"Let's go down this way," Frank said, and they moved toward Madison
Street. He had taken her arm and she did not pull away. Rather, she
walked invitingly close to him.

She said, "It's so spooky. So ... empty. I guess that's what scared me."

"It would scare anybody. There must have been an evacuation of some
kind."

"Maybe the Russians are going to drop a bomb."

Frank shook his head. "That wouldn't explain it. I mean, the Russians
wouldn't let us know ahead of time. Besides, the army would be here.
Everybody wouldn't be gone."

"There's been a lot of talk about germ warfare. Do you suppose the
water, maybe, has been poisoned?"

He shook his head. "The same thing holds true. Even if they moved the
people out, the army would be here."

"I don't know. It just doesn't make sense."

"It happened, so it has to make sense. It was something that came up all
of a sudden. They didn't have much more than twenty-four hours." He
stopped suddenly and looked at her. "We've got to get out of here!"

Nora Spade smiled for the first time, but without humor. "How? I haven't
seen one car. The buses aren't running."

His mind was elsewhere. They had started walking again. "Funny I didn't
think of that before."

"Think of what?"

"That anybody left in this town is a dead pigeon. The only reason they'd
clear out a city would be to get away from certain death. That would
mean death is here for anybody that stays. Funny. I was so busy looking
for somebody to talk to that I never thought of that."

"I did."

"Is that what you were scared of?"

"Not particularly. I'm not afraid to die. It was something else that
scared me. The aloneness, I guess."

"We'd better start walking west--out of the city. Maybe we'll find a car
or something."

"I don't think we'll find any cars."

He drew her to a halt and looked into her face. "You aren't afraid at
all, are you?"

She thought for a moment. "No, I guess I'm not. Not of dying, that is.
Dying is a normal thing. But I was afraid of the empty streets--nobody
around. That was weird."

"It isn't weird now?"

"Not--not as much."

"I wonder how much time we've got?"

Nora shrugged. "I don't know, but I'm hungry."

"We can fix that. I broke into a restaurant a few blocks back and got
myself a sandwich. I think there's still food around. They couldn't take
it all with them."

They were on Madison Street and they turned east on the south side of
the street. Nora said, "I wonder if there are any other people still
here--like us?"

"I think there must be. Not very many, but a few. They would have had to
clean four million people out overnight. It stands to reason they must
have missed a few. Did you ever try to empty a sack of sugar? Really
empty it? It's impossible. Some of the grains always stick to the sack."

A few minutes later the wisdom of this observation was proven when they
came to a restaurant with the front window broken out and saw a man and
a woman sitting at one of the tables.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was a huge man with a shock of black hair and a mouth slightly open
showing a set of incredibly white teeth. He waved an arm and shouted,
"Come on in! Come on in for crissake and sit down! We got beer and roast
beef and the beer's still cold. Come on in and meet Minna."

This was different, Nora thought. Not eerie. Not weird, like seeing a
man standing on a deserted street corner with no one else around. This
seemed normal, natural, and even the smashed window didn't detract too
much from the naturalness.

They went inside. There were chairs at the table and they sat down. The
big man did not get up. He waved a hand toward his companion and said,
"This is Minna. Ain't she something? I found her sitting at an empty bar
scared to death. We came to an understanding and I brought her along."
He grinned at the woman and winked. "We came to a real understanding,
didn't we, Minna?"

Minna was a completely colorless woman of perhaps thirty-five. Her skin
was smooth and pale and she wore no makeup of any kind. Her hair was
drawn straight back into a bun. The hair had no predominating color. It
was somewhere between light brown and blond.

She smiled a little sadly, but the laugh did not cover her worn, tired
look. It seemed more like a gesture of obedience than anything else.
"Yes. We came to an understanding."

"I'm Jim Wilson," the big man boomed. "I was in the Chicago Avenue jug
for slugging a guy in a card game. They kind of overlooked me when they
cleaned the joint out." He winked again. "I kind of helped them overlook
me. Then I found Minna." There was tremendous relish in his words.

Frank started introductions which Nora Spade cut in on. "Maybe you know
what happened?" she asked.

Wilson shook his head. "I was in the jug and they didn't tell us. They
just started cleaning out the joint. There was talk in the
bullpen--invasion or something. Nobody knew for sure. Have some beer and
meat."

Nora turned to the quiet Minna. "Did you hear anything?"

"Naw," Wilson said with a kind of affectionate contempt. "She don't know
anything about it. She lived in some attic dump and was down with a sore
throat. She took some pills or something and when she woke up they were
gone."

"I went to work and--" Minna began, but Wilson cut her off.

"She swabs out some joints on Chicago Avenue for a living and that was
how she happened to be sitting in that tavern. It's payday, and Minna
was waiting for her dough!" He exploded into laughter and slapped the
table with a huge hand. "Can you beat that? Waiting for her pay at a
time like this."

Frank Brooks set down his beer bottle. The beer was cold and it tasted
good. "Have you met anybody else? There must be some other people
around."

"Uh-uh. Haven't met anybody but Minna." He turned his eyes on the woman
again, then got to his feet. "Come on, Minna. You and I got to have a
little conference. We got things to talk about." Grinning, he walked
toward the rear of the restaurant. Minna got up more slowly. She
followed him behind the counter and into the rear of the place.

Alone with Nora, Frank said, "You aren't eating. Want me to look for
something else?"

"No--I'm not very hungry. I was just wondering--"

"Wondering about what?"

"When it will happen. When whatever is going to happen--you know what I
mean."

"I'd rather know _what's_ going to happen. I hate puzzles. It's hell to
have to get killed and not know what killed you."

"We aren't being very sensible, are we?"

"How do you mean?"

"We should at least act normal."

"I don't get it."

Nora frowned in slight annoyance. "Normal people would be trying to
reach safety. They wouldn't be sitting in a restaurant drinking beer. We
should be trying to get away. Even if it does mean walking. Normal
people would be trying to get away."

Frank stared at his bottle for a moment. "We should be scared stiff,
shouldn't we?"

It was Nora's turn to ponder. "I'm not sure. Maybe not. I know I'm not
fighting anything inside--fear, I mean. I just don't seem to care one
way or another."

"I care," Frank replied. "I care. I don't want to die. But we're faced
with a situation, and either way it's a gamble. We might be dead before
I finish this bottle of beer. If that's true, why not sit here and be
comfortable? Or we might have time to walk far enough to get out of
range of whatever it is that chased everybody."

"Which way do you think it is?"

"I don't think we have time to get out of town. They cleaned it out too
fast. We'd need at least four or five hours to get away. If we had that
much time the army, or whoever did it, would still be around."

"Maybe they didn't know themselves when it's going to happen."

He made an impatient gesture. "What difference does it make? We're in a
situation we didn't ask to get in. Our luck put us here and I'm damned
if I'm going to kick a hole in the ceiling and yell for help."

Nora was going to reply, but at that moment Jim Wilson came striding out
front. He wore his big grin and he carried another half-dozen bottles of
beer. "Minna'll be out in a minute," he said. "Women are always slower
than hell."

He dropped into a chair and snapped the cap off a beer bottle with his
thumb. He held the bottle up and squinted through it, sighing gustily.
"Man! I ain't never had it so good." He tilted the bottle in salute, and
drank.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun was lowering in the west now, and when Minna reappeared it
seemed that she materialized from the shadows, so quietly did she move.
Jim Wilson opened another bottle and put it before her. "Here--have a
drink, baby."

Obediently, she tilted the bottle and drank.

"What do you plan to do?" Frank asked.

"It'll be dark soon," Wilson said. "We ought to go out and try to
scrounge some flashlights. I bet the power plants are dead. Probably
aren't any flashlights either."

"Are you going to stay here?" Nora asked. "Here in the Loop?"

He seemed surprised. "Why not? A man'd be a fool to walk out on all
this. All he wants to eat and drink. No goddam cops around. The life of
Reilly and I should walk out?"

"Aren't you afraid of what's going to happen?"

"I don't give a good goddam what's going to happen. What the hell!
Something's always going to happen."

"They didn't evacuate the city for nothing," Frank said.

"You mean we can all get killed?" Jim Wilson laughed. "Sure we can. We
could have got killed last week too. We could of got batted in the can
by a truck anytime we crossed the street." He emptied his bottle, threw
it accurately at a mirror over the cash register. The crash was
thunderous. "Trouble with you people, you're worry warts," he said with
an expansive grin. "Let's go get us some flashlights so we can find our
way to bed in one of those fancy hotels."

He got to his feet and Minna arose also, a little tired, a little
apprehensive, but entirely submissive. Jim Wilson said, "Come on, baby.
I sure won't want to lose _you_." He grinned at the others. "You guys
coming?"

Frank's eyes met Nora's. He shrugged. "Why not?" he said. "Unless you
want to start walking."

"I'm too tired," Nora said.

As they stepped out through the smashed window, both Nora and Frank
half-expected to see other forms moving up and down Madison Street. But
there was no one. Only the unreal desolation of the lonely pavement and
the dark-windowed buildings.

"The biggest ghost town on earth," Frank muttered.

Nora's hand had slipped into Frank's. He squeezed it and neither of them
seemed conscious of the contact.

"I wonder," Nora said. "Maybe this is only one of them. Maybe all the
other big cities are evacuated too."

Jim Wilson and Minna were walking ahead. He turned. "If you two can't
sleep without finding out what's up, it's plenty easy to do."

"You think we could find a battery radio in some store?" Frank asked.

"Hell no! They'll all be gone. But all you'd have to do is snoop around
in some newspaper office. If you can read you can find out what
happened."

It seemed strange to Frank that he had not thought of this. Then he
realized he hadn't tried very hard to think of anything at all. He was
surprised, also, at his lack of fear. He's gone through life pretty much
taking things as they came--as big a sucker as the next man--making more
than his quota of mistakes and blunders. Finding himself completely
alone in a deserted city for the first time in his life, he had
naturally fallen prey to sudden fright. But that had gradually passed,
and now he was able to accept the new reality fairly passively. He
wondered if that wasn't pretty much the way of all people. New
situations brought a surge of whatever emotion fitted the picture. Then
the emotion subsided and the new thing became the ordinary.

This, he decided, was the manner in which humanity survived. Humanity
took things as they came. Pile on enough of anything and it becomes the
ordinary.

Jim Wilson had picked up a garbage box and hurled it through the window
of an electric shop. The glass came down with a crash that shuddered up
the empty darkening street and grumbled off into silence. Jim Wilson
went inside. "I'll see what I can find. You stay out here and watch for
cops." His laughter echoed out as he disappeared.

Minna stood waiting silently, unmoving, and somehow she reminded Frank
of a dumb animal; an unreasoning creature with no mind of her own,
waiting for a signal from her master. Strangely, he resented this, but
at the same time could find no reason for his resentment, except the
feeling that no one should appear as much a slave as Minna.

Jim Wilson reappeared in the window. He motioned to Minna. "Come on in,
baby. You and me's got to have a little conference." His exaggerated
wink was barely perceptible in the gloom as Minna stepped over the low
sill into the store. "Won't be long, folks," Wilson said in high good
humor, and the two of them vanished into the darkness beyond.

Frank Brooks glanced at Nora, but her face was turned away. He cursed
softy under his breath. He said, "Wait a minute," and went into the
store through the huge, jagged opening.

Inside, he could barely make out the counters. The place was larger than
it had appeared from the outside. Wilson and Minna were nowhere about.

Frank found the counter he was looking for and pawed out several
flashlights. They were only empty tubes, but he found a case of
batteries in a panel compartment against the wall.

"Who's there?"

"Me. I came in for some flashlights."

"Couldn't you wait?"

"It's getting dark."

"You don't have to be so damn impatient." Jim Wilson's voice was hostile
and surly.

Frank stifled his quick anger. "We'll be outside," he said. He found
Nora waiting where he'd left her. He loaded batteries into four
flashlights before Jim Wilson and Minna reappeared.

Wilson's good humor was back. "How about the Morrison or the Sherman,"
he said. "Or do you want to get real ritzy and walk up to the Drake?"

"My feet hurt," Minna said. The woman spoke so rarely, Frank Brooks was
startled by her words.

"Morrison's the closest," Jim Wilson said. "Let's go." He took Minna by
the arm and swung off up the street. Frank and Nora fell in behind.

Nora shivered. Frank, holding her arm, asked, "Cold?"

"No. It's just all--unreal again."

"I see what you mean."

"I never expected to see the Loop dark. I can't get used to it."

A vagrant, whispering wind picked up a scrap of paper and whirled it
along the street. It caught against Nora's ankle. She jerked perceptibly
and kicked the scrap away. The wind caught it again and spiralled it
away into the darkness.

"I want to tell you something," she said.

"Tell away."

"I told you before that I slept through the--the evacuation, or whatever
it was. That wasn't exactly true. I did sleep through it, but it was my
fault. I put myself to sleep."

"I don't get it."

"I tried to kill myself. Sleeping tablets. Seven of them. They weren't
enough."

Frank said nothing while they paced off ten steps through the dark
canyon that was Madison Street. Nora wondered if he had heard.

"I tried to commit suicide."

"Why?"

"I was tired of life, I guess."

"What do you want--sympathy?"

The sudden harshness in his voice brought her eyes around, but his face
was a white blur.

"No--no, I don't think so."

"Well, you won't get it from me. Suicide is silly. You can have troubles
and all that--everybody has them--but suicide--why did you try it?"

A high, thin whine--a wordless vibration of eloquence--needled out of
the darkness into their ears. The shock was like a sudden shower of ice
water dashed over their bodies. Nora's fingers dug into Frank's arm, but
he did not feel the cutting nails. "We're--there's someone out there in
the street!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Twenty-five feet ahead of where Frank and Nora stood frozen there burst
the booming voice of Jim Wilson. "What the hell was that?" And the shock
was dispelled. The white circle from Wilson's flash bit out across the
blackness to outline movement on the far side of the street. Then Frank
Brook's light, and Nora's, went exploring.

"There's somebody over there," Wilson bellowed. "Hey, you! Show your
face! Quit sneaking around!"

Frank's light swept an arc that clearly outlined the buildings across
the street and then weakened as it swung westward. There was something
or someone back there, but obscured by the dimness. He was swept by a
sense of unreality again.

"Did you see them?"

Nora's light beam had dropped to her feet as though she feared to point
it out into the darkness. "I thought I saw something."

Jim Wilson was swearing industriously. "There was a guy over there. He
ducked around the corner. Some damn fool out scrounging. Wish I had a
gun."

Frank and Nora moved ahead and the four stood in a group. "Put out your
lights," Wilson said. "They make good targets if the jerk's got any
weapons."

They stood in the darkness, Nora holding tightly to Frank's arm. Frank
said, "That was the damndest noise I ever heard."

"Like a siren?" Frank thought Jim Wilson spoke hopefully, as though
wanting somebody to agree with him.

"Not like any I ever heard. Not like a whistle, either. More of a moan."

"Let's get into that goddam hotel and--"

Jim Wilson's words were cut off by a new welling-up of the melancholy
howling. It had a new pattern this time. It sounded from many places;
not nearer, Frank thought, than Lake Street on the north, but spreading
outward and backward and growing fainter until it died on the wind.

Nora was shivering, clinging to Frank without reserve.

Jim Wilson said, "I'll be damned if it doesn't sound like a signal of
some kind."

"Maybe it's a language--a way of communication."

"But who the hell's communicating?"

"How would I know?"

"We best get to that hotel and bar a few doors. A man can't fight in the
dark--and nothing to fight with."

They hurried up the street, but it was all different now. Gone was the
illusion of being alone; gone the sense of solitude. Around them the
ghost town had come suddenly alive. Sinister forces more frightening
than the previous solitude had now to be reckoned with.

"Something's happened--something in the last few minutes," Nora
whispered.

Frank leaned close as they crossed the street to the dark silent pile
that was the Morrison hotel. "I think I know what you mean."

"It's as though there was no one around and then, suddenly, they came."

"I think they came and went away again."

"Did you actually _see_ anyone when you flashed your light?"

"No--I can't say positively that I did. But I got the impression there
were figures out there--at least dozens of them--and that they moved
back away from the light. Always just on the edge of it."

"I'm scared, Frank."

"So am I."

"Do you think it could all be imagination?"

"Those moans? Maybe the first one--I've heard of people imagining
sounds. But not the last ones. And besides, we all heard them."

Jim Wilson, utterly oblivious of any subtle emanations in the air,
boomed out in satisfaction: "We don't have to bust the joint open. The
revolving door works."

"Then maybe we ought to be careful," Frank said. "Maybe somebody else is
around here."

"Could be. We'll find out."

"Why are we afraid?" Nora whispered.

"It's natural, isn't it?" Frank melted the beam of his light with that
of Jim Wilson. The white finger pierced the darkness inside. Nothing
moved.

"I don't see why it should be. If there are people in there they must be
as scared as we are."

Nora was very close to him as they entered.

The lobby seemed deserted. The flashlight beams scanned the empty chairs
and couches. The glass of the deserted cages threw back reflections.

"The keys are in there," Frank said. He vaulted the desk and scanned the
numbers under the pigeon holes.

"We'd better stay down low," Jim Wilson said. "Damned if I'm going to
climb to the penthouse."

"How about the fourth floor?"

"That's plenty high enough."

Frank came out with a handful of keys. "Odd numbers," he said. "Four in
a row."

"Well I'll be damned," Jim Wilson muttered. But he said no more and they
climbed the stairs in silence. They passed the quiet dining rooms and
banquet halls, and by the time they reached the fourth floor the doors
giving off the corridors had assumed a uniformity.

"Here they are." He handed a key to Wilson. "That's the end one." He
said nothing as he gave Minna her key, but Wilson grunted, "For
crissake!" in a disgusted voice, took Minna's key and threw it on the
floor.

Frank and Nora watched as Wilson unlocked his door. Wilson turned.
"Well, goodnight all. If you get goosed by any spooks, just yell."

Minna followed him without a word and the door closed.

Frank handed Nora her key. "Lock your door and you'll be safe. I'll
check the room first." He unlocked the door and flashed his light
inside. Nora was close behind him as he entered. He checked the
bathroom. "Everything clear. Lock your door and you'll be safe."

"Frank."

"Yes?"

"I'm afraid to stay alone."

"You mean you want me to--"

"There are two beds here."

His reply was slow in coming. Nora didn't wait for it. Her voice rose to
the edge of hysteria. "Quit being so damned righteous. Things have
changed! Can't you realize that? What does it matter how or where we
sleep? Does the world care? Will it make a damn bit of difference to the
world whether I strip stark naked in front of you?" A sob choked in her
throat. "Or would that outrage your morality."

He moved toward her, stopped six inches away. "It isn't that. For God's
sake! I'm no saint. It's just that I thought you--"

"I'm plain scared, and I don't want to be alone. To me that's all that's
important."

Her face was against his chest and his arms went around her. But her own
hands were fists held together against him until he could feel her
knuckles, hard, against his chest. She was crying.

"Sure," Frank said. "I'll stay with you. Now take it easy. Everything's
going to be all right."

Nora sniffled without bothering to reach for her handkerchief. "Stop
lying. You know it isn't going to be all right."

Frank was at somewhat of a loss. This flareup of Nora's was entirely
unexpected. He eased toward the place the flashlight had shown the bed
to be. Her legs hit its edge and she sat down.

"You--you want me to sleep in the other one?" he asked.

"Of course," Nora replied with marked bitterness. "I'm afraid you
wouldn't be very comfortable in with me."

There was a time of silence. Frank took off his jacket, shirt and
trousers. It was funny, he thought. He'd spent his money, been drugged,
beaten and robbed as a result of one objective--to get into a room alone
with a girl. And a girl not nearly as nice as Nora at that. Now, here he
was alone with a real dream, and he was tongue-tied. It didn't make
sense. He shrugged. Life was crazy sometimes.

He heard the rustle of garments and wondered how much Nora was taking
off. Then he dropped his trousers, forgotten, to the floor. "Did you
hear that?"

"Yes. It's that--"

Frank went to the window, raised the sash. The moaning sound came in
louder, but it was from far distance. "I think that's out around
Evanston."

Frank felt a warmth on his cheek and he realized Nora was by his side,
leaning forward. He put an arm around her and they stood unmoving in
complete silence. Although their ears were straining for the sound
coming down from the north, Frank could not be oblivious of the warm
flesh under his hand.

Nora's breathing was soft against his cheek. She said, "Listen to how it
rises and falls. It's almost as though they were using it to talk with.
The inflection changes."

"I think that's what it is. It's coming from a lot of different places.
It stops in some places and starts in others."

"It's so--weird."

"Spooky," Frank said, "but in a way it makes me feel better."

"I don't see how it could." Nora pressed closer to him.

"It does though, because of what I was afraid of. I had it figured out
that the city was going to blow up--that a bomb had been planted that
they couldn't find, or something like that. Now, I'm pretty sure it's
something else. I'm willing to bet we'll be alive in the morning."

Nora thought that over in silence. "If that's the way it is--if some
kind of invaders are coming down from the north--isn't it stupid to stay
here? Even if we are tired we ought to be trying to get away from them."

"I was thinking the same thing. I'll go and talk to Wilson."

They crossed the room together and he left her by the bed and went on to
the door. Then he remembered he was in his shorts and went back and got
his trousers. After he'd put them on, he wondered why he'd bothered. He
opened the door.

Something warned him--some instinct--or possibly his natural fear and
caution coincided with the presence of danger. He heard the footsteps on
the carpeting down the hall--soft, but unmistakably footsteps. He
called, "Wilson--Wilson--that you?"

The creature outside threw caution to the winds, Frank sensed rather
than heard a body hurtling toward the door. A shrill, mad laughter raked
his ears and the weight of a body hit the door.

Frank drew strength from pure panic as he threw his weight against the
panel, but perhaps an inch or two from the latch the door wavered from
opposing strength. Through the narrow opening he could feel the hoarse
breath of exertion in his face. Insane giggles and curses sounded
through the black stillness.

Frank had the wild conviction he was losing the battle, and added
strength came from somewhere. He heaved and there was a scream and he
knew he had at least one finger caught between the door and the jamb. He
threw his weight against the door with frenzied effort and heard the
squash of the finger. The voice kited up to a shriek of agony, like that
of a wounded animal.

Even with his life at stake, and the life of Nora, Frank could not
deliberately slice the man's fingers off. Even as he fought the urge,
and called himself a fool, he allowed the door to give slightly inward.
The hand was jerked to safety.

At that moment another door opened close by and Jim Wilson's voice
boomed: "What the hell's going on out here?"

Simultaneous with this, racing footsteps receded down the hall and from
the well of the stairway came a whining cry of pain.

"Jumping jees!" Wilson bellowed. "We got company. We ain't alone!"

"He tried to get into my room."

"You shouldn't have opened the door. Nora okay?"

"Yeah. She's all right."

"Tell her to stay in her room. And you do the same. We'd be crazy to go
after that coot in the dark. He'll keep 'til morning."

Frank closed the door, double-locked it and went back to Nora's bed. He
could hear a soft sobbing. He reached down and pulled back the covers
and the sobbing came louder. Then he was down on the bed and she was in
his arms.

She cried until the panic subsided, while he held her and said nothing.
After a while she got control of herself. "Don't leave me, Frank," she
begged. "Please don't leave me."

He stroked her shoulder. "I won't," he whispered.

They lay for a long time in utter silence, each seeking strength in the
other's closeness. The silence was finally broken by Nora.

"Frank?"

"Yes."

"Do you want me?"

He did not answer.

"If you want me you can have me, Frank."

Frank said nothing.

"I told you today that I tried to commit suicide. Remember?"

"I remember."

"That was the truth. I did it because I was tired of everything. Because
I've made a terrible mess of things. I didn't want to go on living."

He remained silent, holding her.

As she spoke again, her voice sharpened. "Can't you understand what I'm
telling you? I'm no good! I'm just a bum! Other men have had me! Why
shouldn't you? Why should you be cheated out of what other men have
had?"

He remained silent. After a few moments, Nora said, "For God's sake,
talk! Say something!"

"How do you feel about it now? Will you try again to kill yourself the
next chance you get?"

"No--no, I don't think I'll ever try it again."

"Then things must look better."

"I don't know anything about that. I just don't want to do it now."

She did not urge him this time and he was slow in speaking. "It's kind
of funny. It really is. Don't get the idea I've got morals. I haven't.
I've had my share of women. I was working on one the night they slipped
me the mickey--the night before I woke up to this tomb of a city. But
now--tonight--it's kind of different. I feel like I want to protect you.
Is that strange?"

"No," she said quietly. "I guess not."

They lay there silently, their thoughts going off into the blackness of
the sepulchral night. After a long while, Nora's even breathing told him
she was asleep. He got up quietly, covered her, and went to the other
bed.

But before he slept, the weird wailings from out Evanston way came
again--rose and fell in that strange conversational cadence--then died
away into nothing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Frank awoke to the first fingers of daylight. Nora still slept. He
dressed and stood for some moments with his hand on the door knob. Then
he threw the bolt and cautiously opened the door.

The hallway was deserted. At this point it came to him forcibly that he
was not a brave man. All his life, he realized, he had avoided physical
danger and had refused to recognize the true reason for so doing. He had
classified himself as a man who dodged trouble through good sense; that
the truly civilized person went out of his way to keep the peace.

He realized now that that attitude was merely salve for his ego. He
faced the empty corridor and did not wish to proceed further. But
stripped of the life-long alibi, he forced himself to walk through the
doorway, close the door softly, and move toward the stairs.

He paused in front of the door behind which Jim Wilson and Minna were no
doubt sleeping. He stared at it wistfully. It certainly would not be a
mark of cowardice to get Jim Wilson up under circumstances such as
these. In fact, he would be a fool not to do so.

Stubbornness forbade such a move, however. He walked softly toward the
place where the hallway dead-ended and became a cross-corridor. He made
the turn carefully, pressed against one wall. There was no one in sight.
He got to the stairway and started down.

His muscles and nerves tightened with each step. When he reached the
lobby he was ready to jump sky-high at the drop of a pin.

But no one dropped any pins, and he reached the modernistic glass
doorway to the drugstore with only silence screaming in his ears. The
door was unlocked. One hinge squeaked slightly as he pushed the door
inward.

It was in the drugstore that Frank found signs of the fourth-floor
intruder. An inside counter near the prescription department was red
with blood. Bandages and first-aid supplies had been unboxed and thrown
around with abandon. Here the man had no doubt administered to his
smashed hand.

But where had he gone? Asleep, probably, in one of the rooms upstairs.
Frank wished fervently for a weapon. Beyond doubt there was not a gun
left in the Loop.

A gun was not the only weapon ever created, though, and Frank searched
the store and found a line of pocket knives still in neat boxes near the
perfume counter.

He picked four of the largest and found, also, a wooden-handled,
lead-tipped bludgeon, used evidently for cracking ice.

Thus armed, he went out through the revolving door. He walked through
streets that were like death under the climbing sun. Through streets and
canyons of dead buildings upon which the new daylight had failed to shed
life or diminish the terror of the night past.

At Dearborn he found the door to the Tribune Public Service Building
locked. He used the ice breaker to smash a glass door panel. The crash
of the glass on the cement was an explosion in the screaming silence. He
went inside. Here the sense of desolation was complete; brought sharply
to focus, probably, by the pigeon holes filled with letters behind the
want-ad counter. Answers to a thousand and one queries, waiting
patiently for someone to come after them.

Before going to the basement and the back files of the Chicago Tribune,
Frank climbed to the second floor and found what he thought might be
there--a row of teletype machines with a file-board hooked to the side
of each machine.

Swiftly, he stripped the copy sheets off each board, made a bundle of
them and went back downstairs. He covered the block back to the hotel at
a dog-trot, filled with a sudden urge to get back to the fourth floor as
soon as possible.

[Illustration]

He stopped in the drugstore and filled his pockets with soap, a razor,
shaving cream and face lotion. As an afterthought, he picked up a lavish
cosmetic kit that retailed, according to the price tag, for thirty-eight
dollars plus tax.

He let himself back into the room and closed the door softly. Nora
rolled over, exposing a shoulder and one breast. The breast held his
gaze for a full minute. Then a feeling of guilt swept him and he went
into the bathroom and closed the door.

Luckily, a supply tank on the roof still contained water and Frank was
able to shower and shave. Dressed again, he felt like a new man. But he
regretted not hunting up a haberdashery shop and getting himself a clean
shirt.

Nora had still not awakened when he came out of the bathroom. He went to
the bed and stood looking down at her for some time. Then he touched her
shoulder.

"Wake up. It's morning."

Nora stirred. Her eyes opened, but Frank got the impression she did not
really awaken for several seconds. Her eyes went to his face, to the
window, back to his face.

"What time is it?"

"I don't know. I think it's around eight o'clock."

Nora stretched both arms luxuriously. As she sat up, her slip fell back
into place and Frank got the impression she hadn't even been aware of
her partial nudity.

She stared up at him, clarity dawning in her eyes, "You're all cleaned
up."

"I went downstairs and got some things."

"You went out--alone?"

"Why not. We can't stay in here all day. We've got to hit the road and
get out of here. We've overshot our luck already."

"But that--that man in the hall last night! You shouldn't have taken a
chance."

"I didn't bump into him. I found the place he fixed his hand, down in
the drugstore."

Frank went to the table and came back with the cosmetic set. He put it
in Nora's lap. "I brought this up for you."

Surprise and true pleasure were mixed in her expression. "That was very
nice. I think I'd better get dressed."

Frank turned toward the window where he had left the bundle of teletype
clips. "I've got a little reading to do."

As he sat down, he saw, from the corner of his eye, a flash of slim
brown legs moving toward the bathroom. Just inside the door, Nora
turned. "Are Jim Wilson and Minna up yet?"

"I don't think so."

Nora's eyes remained on him. "I think you were very brave to go
downstairs alone. But it was a foolish thing to do. You should have
waited for Jim Wilson."

"You're right about it being foolish. But I had to go."

"Why?"

"Because I'm not brave at all. Maybe that was the reason."

Nora left the bathroom door open about six inches and Frank heard the
sound of the shower. He sat with the papers in his hand wondering about
the water. When he had gone to the bathroom the thought had never
occurred to him. It was natural that it should. Now he wondered about
it. Why was it still running? After a while he considered the
possibility of the supply tank on the roof.

Then he wondered about Nora. It was strange how he could think about her
personally and impersonally at the same time. He remembered her words of
the previous night. They made her--he shied from the term. What was the
old cliche? A woman of easy virtue.

What made a woman of that type, he wondered. Was it something inherent
in their makeup? That partially opened door was symbolic somehow. He was
sure that many wives closed the bathroom door upon their husbands; did
it without thinking, instinctively. He was sure Nora had left it
partially open without thinking. Could a behavior pattern be traced from
such an insignificant thing?

He wondered about his own attitude toward Nora. He had drawn away from
what she'd offered him during the night. And yet from no sense of
disgust. There was certainly far more about Nora to attract than to
repel.

Morals, he realized dimly, were imposed--or at least functioned--for the
protection of society. With society gone--vanished overnight--did the
moral code still hold?

If and when they got back among masses of people, would his feelings
toward Nora change? He thought not. He would marry her, he told himself
firmly, as quick as he'd marry any other girl. He would not hold what
she was against her. I guess I'm just fundamentally unmoral myself, he
thought, and began reading the news clips.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a knock on the door accompanied by the booming voice of Jim
Wilson. "You in there! Ready for breakfast?"

Frank got up and walked toward the door. As he did so, the door to the
bathroom closed.

Jim Wilson wore a two-day growth of beard and it didn't seem to bother
him at all. As he entered the room he rubbed his hands together in great
gusto. "Well, where'll we eat, folks? Let's pick the classiest
restaurant in town. Nothing but the best for Minna here."

He winked broadly as Minna, expressionless and silent, followed him in
exactly as a shadow would have followed him and sat primly down in a
straight-backed chair by the wall.

"We'd better start moving south," Frank said, "and not bother about
breakfast."

"Getting scared?" Jim Wilson asked.

"You're damn right I'm scared--now. We're right in the middle of a big
no-man's-land."

"I don't get you."

At that moment the bathroom door opened and Nora came out. Jim Wilson
forgot about the question he'd asked. He let forth a loud whistle of
appreciation. Then he turned his eyes on Frank and his thought was
crystal clear. He was envying Frank the night just passed.

A sudden irritation welled up in Frank Brooks, a distinct feeling of
disgust. "Let's start worrying about important things--our lives. Or
don't you consider your life very important?"

Jim Wilson seemed puzzled. "What the hell's got into you? Didn't you
sleep good?"

"I went down the block this morning and found some teletype machines.
I've just been reading the reports."

"What about that guy that tried to get into your room last night?"

"I didn't see him. I didn't see anybody. But I know why the city's been
cleaned out." Frank went back to the window and picked up the sheaf on
clips he had gone through. Jim Wilson sat down on the edge of the bed,
frowning. Nora followed Frank and perched on the edge of the chair he
dropped into.

"The city going to blow up?" Wilson asked.

"No. We've been invaded by some form of alien life."

"Is that what the papers said?"

"It was the biggest and fastest mass evacuation ever attempted. I pieced
the reports together. There was hell popping around here during the two
days we--we waited it out."

"Where did they all go?" Nora asked.

"South. They've evacuated a forty-mile strip from the lake west. The
first Terran defense line is set up in northern Indiana."

"What do you mean--Terra."

"It's a word that means Earth--this planet. The invaders came from some
other planet, they think--at least from no place on Earth."

"That's the silliest damn thing I ever heard of," Wilson said.

"A lot of people probably thought the same thing," Frank replied.
"Flying saucers were pretty common. Nobody thought they were anything
and nobody paid much attention. Then they hit--three days ago--and wiped
out every living soul in three little southern Michigan towns. From
there they began spreading out. They--"

Each of them heard the sound at the same time. A faint rumble,
increasing swiftly into high thunder. They moved as one to the window
and saw four jet planes, in formation, moving across the sky from the
south.

"There they come," Frank said. "The fight's started. Up to now the army
has been trying to get set, I suppose."

Nora said, "Is there any way we can hail them? Let them know--"

Her words were cut off by the horror of what happened. As they watched,
the plane skimmed low across the Loop. At a point, approximately over
Lake Street, Frank estimated, the planes were annihilated. There was a
flash of blue fire coming in like jagged lightning to form four balls of
fire around the planes. The fire balls turned, almost instantly, into
globes of white smoke that drifted lazily away.

And that was all. But the planes vanished completely.

"What happened?" Wilson muttered. "Where'd they go?"

"It was as if they hit a wall," Nora said, her voice hushed with awe.

"I think that _was_ what happened," Frank said. "The invaders have some
kind of a weapon that holds us helpless. Otherwise the army wouldn't
have established this no-man's-land and pulled out. The reports said we
have them surrounded on all sides with the help of the lake. We're
trying to keep them isolated."

Jim Wilson snorted. "It looks like we've got them right where they want
us."

"Anyhow, we're damn fools to stick around here. We'd better head south."

Wilson looked wistfully about the room. "I guess so, but it's a
shame--walking away from all this."

Nora was staring out the window, a small frown on her face. "I wonder
who they are and where they came from?"

"The teletype releases were pretty vague on that."

She turned quickly. "There's something peculiar about them. Something
really strange."

"What do you mean?"

"Last night when we were walking up the street. It must have been these
invaders we heard. They must have been across the street. But they
didn't act like invaders. They seemed--well, scared. I got the feeling
they ran from us in panic. And they haven't been back."

Wilson said, "They may not have been there at all. Probably our
imaginations."

"I don't think so," Frank cut in. "They were there and then they were
gone. I'm sure of it."

"Those wailing noises. They were certainly signalling to each other. Do
you suppose that's the only language they have?" Nora walked over and
offered the silent Minna a cigarette. Minna refused with a shake of her
head.

"I wish we knew what they looked like," Frank said. "But let's not sit
here talking. Let's get going."

Jim Wilson was scowling. There was a marked sullenness in his manner.
"Not Minna and me. I've changed my mind. I'm sticking here."

Frank blinked in surprise. "Are you crazy? We've run our luck out
already. Did you see what happened to those planes?"

"The hell with the planes. We've got it good here. This I like. I like
it a lot. We'll stay."

"Okay," Frank replied hotly, "but talk for yourself. You're not making
Minna stay!"

Wilson's eyes narrowed. "I'm not? Look, buster--how about minding your
own goddam business?"

The vague feelings of disgust Frank had had now crystallized into words.
"I won't let you get away with it! You think I'm blind? Hauling her into
the back room every ten minutes! Don't you think I know why? You're
nothing but a damn sex maniac! You've got her terrorized until she's
afraid to open her mouth. She goes with us!"

Jim Wilson was on his feet. His face blazed with rage. The urge to kill
was written in the crouch of his body and the twist of his mouth. "You
goddam nosey little squirt. I'll--"

Wilson charged across the short, intervening distance. His arms went out
in a clutching motion.

But Frank Brooks wasn't full of knockout drops this time, and with a
clear head he was no pushover. Blinded with rage, Jim Wilson _was_ a
pushover. Frank stepped in between his outstretched arms and slugged him
squarely on top of the head with the telephone. Wilson went down like a
felled steer.

The scream came from Minna as she sprang across the room. She had turned
from a colorless rag doll into a tigress. She hit Frank square in the
belly with small fists at the end of stiff, outstretched arms. The full
force of her charge was behind the fists, and Frank went backward over
the bed.

Minna did not follow up her attack. She dropped to the floor beside Jim
Wilson and took his huge head in her lap. "You killed him," she sobbed.
"You--you murderer! You killed him! You had no right!"

Frank sat wide-eyed. "Minna! For God's sake! I was helping you. I did it
for you!"

"Why don't you mind your business? I didn't ask you to protect me? I
don't need any protection--not from Jim."

"You mean you didn't mind the way he's treated you--"

"You've killed him--killed him--" Minna raised her head slowly. She
looked at Frank as though she saw him for the first time. "You're a
fool" she said dully. "A big fool. What right have you got to meddle
with other people's affairs? Are you God or something, to run people's
lives?"

"Minna--I--"

It was as though he hadn't spoken. "Do you know what it's like to have
nobody? All your life to go on and grow older without anybody? I didn't
have no one and then Jim came along and wanted me."

Frank walked close to her and bent down. She reacted like a tiger.
"Leave him alone! Leave him alone! You've done enough!"

Nonplused, Frank backed away.

"People with big noses--always sticking them in. That's you. Was that
any of your business what he wanted of me? Did I complain?"

"I'm sorry, Minna. I didn't know."

"I'd rather go into back rooms with him than stay in front rooms without
nobody."

She began to cry now. Wordlessly--soundlessly, rocking back and forth
with the huge man's bloody head in her lap. "Anytime," she crooned.
"Anytime I would--"

The body in her arms stirred. She looked down through her tears and saw
the small black eyes open. They were slightly crossed, unfocused as they
were by the force of the blow. They straightened and Jim mumbled, "What
the hell--what the hell--"

Minna's time for talking seemed over. She smiled--a smile hardly
perceptible, as though it was for herself alone. "You're all right," she
said. "That's good. You're all right."

Jim pushed her roughly away and staggered to his feet. He stood swaying
for a moment, his head turning; for all the world like a bull blinded
and tormented. Then his eyes focused on Frank.

"You hit me with the goddam phone."

"Yeah--I hit you."

"I'm gonna kill you."

"Look--I made a mistake." Frank picked up the phone and backed against
the wall. "I hit you, but you were coming at me. I made a mistake and
I'm sorry."

"I'll smash your goddam skull."

"Maybe you will," Frank said grimly. "But you'll work for it. It won't
come easy."

A new voice bit across the room. "Cut it out. I'll do the killing.
That's what I like best. Everybody quiet down."

They turned and saw a slim, pale-skinned young man in the open doorway.
The door had opened quietly and no one had heard it. Now the pale young
man was standing in the room with a small, nickle-plated revolver in his
right hand.

The left hand was close down at his side. It was swathed generously in
white bandage.

The young man chuckled. "The last four people in the world were in a
room," he said, "and there was a knock on the door."

His chuckle deepened to one of pure merriment. "Only there wasn't a
knock. A man just walked in with a gun that made him boss."

No one moved. No one spoke. The man waited, then went on: "My name is
Leroy Davis. I lived out west and I always had a keeper because they
said I wasn't quite right. They wanted me to pull out with the rest of
them, but I slugged my keeper and here I am."

"Put down the gun and we'll talk it over," Frank said. "We're all in
this together."

"No, we aren't. I've got a gun, so that makes me top man. You're all in
it together, but I'm not. I'm the boss, and which one of you tried to
cut my hand off last night."

"You tried to break in here yelling and screaming like a madman. I held
the door. What else could I do?"

"It's all right. I'm not mad. My type--we may be nuts, but we never hold
a grudge. I can't remember much about last night. I found some whisky in
a place down the street and whisky drives me nuts. I don't know what I'm
doing when I drink whisky. They say once about five years ago I got
drunk and killed a little kid, but I don't remember."

Nobody spoke.

"I got out of it. They got me out some way. High priced lawyers got me
out. Cost my dad a pile."

Hysteria had been piling up inside of Nora. She had held it back, but
now a little of it spurted out from between her set teeth. "Do
something, somebody. _Isn't anybody going to do anything?_"

Leroy Davis blinked at her. "There's nothing they can do, honey," he
said in a kindly voice. "I've got the gun. They'd be crazy to try
anything."

Nora's laugh was like the rattle of dry peas. She sat down on the bed
and looked up at the ceiling and laughed. "It's crazy. It's all so
crazy! We're sitting here in a doomed city with some kind of alien
invaders all around us and we don't know what they look like. They
haven't hurt us at all. We don't even know what they look like. We don't
worry a bit about them because we're too busy trying to kill each
other."

Frank Brooks took Nora by the arm. "Stop it! Quit laughing like that!"

Nora shook him off. "Maybe we need someone to take us over. It's all
pretty crazy!"

"Stop it."

Nora's eyes dulled down as she looked at Frank. She dropped her head and
seemed a little ashamed of herself. "I'm sorry. I'll be quiet."

Jim Wilson had been standing by the wall looking first at the newcomer,
then back at Frank Brooks. Wilson seemed confused as to who his true
enemy really was. Finally he took a step toward Leroy Davis.

Frank Brooks stopped him with a motion, but kept his eyes on Davis.
"Have you seen anybody else?"

Davis regarded Frank with long, careful consideration. His eyes were
bright and birdlike. They reminded Frank of a squirrel's eyes. Davis
said, "I bumped into an old man out on Halstead Street. He wanted to
know where everybody had gone. He asked me, but I didn't know."

"What happened to the old man?" Nora asked. She asked the question as
though dreading to do it; but as though some compulsion forced her to
speak.

"I shot him," Davis said cheerfully. "It was a favor, really. Here was
this old man staggering down the street with nothing but a lot of wasted
years to show for his efforts. He was no good alive, and he didn't have
the courage to die." Davis stopped and cocked his head brightly. "You
know--I think that's what's been wrong with the world. Too many people
without the guts to die, and a law against killing them."

It had now dawned upon Jim Wilson that they were faced by a maniac. His
eyes met those of Frank Brooks and they were--on this point at least--in
complete agreement. A working procedure sprang up, unworded, between
them. Jim Wilson took a slow, casual step toward the homicidal maniac.

"You didn't see anyone else?" Frank asked.

Davis ignored the question. "Look at it this way," he said. "In the old
days they had Texas long horns. Thin stringy cattle that gave up meat as
tough as leather. Do we have cattle like that today? No. Because we bred
out the weak line."

Frank said, "There are some cigarettes on that table if you want one."

Jim Wilson took another slow step toward Davis.

Davis said, "We bred with intelligence, with a thought to what a steer
was for and we produced a walking chunk of meat as wide as it is long."

"Uh-huh," Frank said.

"Get the point? See what I'm driving at? Humans are more important than
cattle, but can we make them breed intelligently? Oh, no! That
interferes with damn silly human liberties. You can't tell a man he can
only have two kids. It's his God-given right to have twelve when the
damn moron can't support three. Get what I mean?"

"Sure--sure, I get it."

"You better think it over, mister--and tell that fat bastard to quit
sneaking up on me or I'll blow his brains all over the carpet!"

If the situation hadn't been so grim it would have appeared ludicrous.
Jim Wilson, feeling success almost in his grasp, was balanced on tiptoe
for a lunge. He teetered, almost lost his balance and fell back against
the wall.

"Take it easy," Frank said.

"I'll take it easy," Davis replied. "I'll kill every goddam one of
you--" he pointed the gun at Jim Wilson "--starting with him."

"Now wait a minute," Frank said. "You're unreasonable. What right have
you got to do that? What about the law of survival? You're standing
there with a gun on us. You're going to kill us. Isn't it natural to try
anything we can to save our own lives?"

A look of admiration brightened Davis' eyes. "Say! I like you. You're
all right. You're logical. A man can talk to you. If there's anything I
like it's talking to a logical man."

"Thanks."

"Too bad I'm going to have to kill you. We could sit down and have some
nice long talks together."

"Why do you want to kill us?" Minna asked. She had not spoken before. In
fact, she had spoken so seldom during the entire time they'd been
together that her voice was a novelty to Frank. He was inclined to
discount her tirade on the floor with Wilson's head in her lap. She had
been a different person then. Now she had lapsed back into her old
shell.

Davis regarded thoughtfully. "Must you have a reason?"

"You should have a reason to kill people."

Davis said, "All right, if it will make you any happier. I told you
about killing my keeper when they tried to make me leave town. He got in
the car, behind the wheel. I got into the back seat and split his skull
with a tire iron."

"What's that got to do with us?"

"Just this. Tommy was a better person than anyone of you or all of you
put together. If he had to die, what right have you got to live? Is that
enough of a reason for you?"

"This is all too damn crazy," Jim Wilson roared. He was on the point of
leaping at Davis and his gun.

At that moment, from the north, came a sudden crescendo of the weird
invader wailings. It was louder than it had previously been but did not
seem nearer.

The group froze, all ears trained upon the sound. "They're talking
again," Nora whispered.

"Uh-huh," Frank replied. "But it's different this time. As if--"

"--as if they were getting ready for something," Nora said. "Do you
suppose they're going to move south?"

Davis said, "I'm not going to kill you here. We're going down stairs."

The pivotal moment, hinged in Jim Wilson's mind, that could have changed
the situation, had come and gone. The fine edge of additional madness
that would make a man hurl himself at a loaded gun, was dulled. Leroy
Davis motioned pre-emptorily toward Minna.

"You first--then the other babe. You walk side by side down the hall
with the men behind you. Straight down to the lobby."

They complied without resistance. There was only Jim Wilson's scowl,
Frank Brooks' clouded eyes, and the white, taut look of Nora.

Nora's mind was not on the gun. It was filled with thoughts of the pale
maniac who held it. He was in command. Instinctively, she felt that
maniacs in command have one of but two motivations--sex and murder. Her
reaction to possible murder was secondary. But what if this man insisted
upon laying his hands upon her. What if he forced her into the age old
thing she had done so often? Nora shuddered. But it was also in her mind
to question, and be surprised at the reason for her revulsion. She
visualized the hands upon her body--the old familiar things, and the
taste in her mouth was one of horror.

She had never experienced such shrinkings before. Why now. Had she
herself changed? Had something happened during the night that made the
past a time of shame? Or was it the madman himself? She did not know.

Nora returned from her musings to find herself standing in the empty
lobby. Leroy Davis, speaking to Frank, was saying, "You look kind of
tricky to me. Put your hands on your head. Lock your fingers together
over your head and keep your hands there."

Jim Wilson was standing close to the mute Minna. She had followed all
the orders without any show of anger, with no outward expression. Always
she had kept her eyes on Jim Wilson. Obviously, whatever Jim ordered,
she would have done without question.

Wilson leaned his head down toward her. He said, "Listen, baby, there's
something I keep meaning to ask but I always forget it. What's your last
name?"

"Trumble--Minna Trumble. I thought I told you."

"Maybe you did. Maybe I didn't get it."

Nora felt the hysteria welling again. "How long are you going to keep
doing this?" she asked.

Leroy Davis cocked his head as he looked at her. "Doing what?"

"Play cat and mouse like this. Holding us on a pin like flies in an
exhibit."

Leroy Davis smiled brightly. "Like a butterfly in your case, honey. A
big, beautiful butterfly."

"What are you going to do," Frank Brooks snapped. "Whatever it is, let's
get it over with?"

"Can't you see what I'm doing?" Davis asked with genuine wonder. "Are
you that stupid? I'm being the boss. I'm in command and I like it. I
hold life and death over four people and I'm savoring the thrill of it.
You're pretty stupid, mister, and if you use that 'can't get away with
it' line, I'll put a bullet into your left ear and watch it come out
your right one."

Jim Wilson's fists were doubled. He was again approaching the reckless
point. And again it was dulled by the gradually increasing sound of a
motor--not in the air, but from the street level to the south.

It was a sane, cheerful sound and was resented instantly by the insane
mind of Leroy Davis.

He tightened even to the point that his face grew more pale from the
tension. He backed to a window, looked out quickly, and turned back.
"It's a jeep," he said. "They're going by the hotel. If anybody makes a
move, or yells, they'll find four bodies in here and me gone. That's
what I'm telling you and you know I'll do it."

They knew he _would_ do it and they stood silent, trying to dredge up
the nerve to make a move. The jeep's motor backfired a couple of times
as it approached Madison Street. Each time, Leroy Davis' nerves reacted
sharply and the four people kept their eyes trained on the gun in his
hand.

The jeep came to the intersection and slowed down. There was a
conference between its two occupants--helmeted soldiers in dark brown
battle dress. Then the jeep moved on up Clark Street toward Lake.

A choked sigh escaped from Nora's throat. Frank Brooks turned toward
her. "Take it easy," he said. "We're not dead yet. I don't think he
wants to kill us."

The reply came from Minna. She spoke quietly. "I don't care. I can't
stand any more of this. After all, we aren't animals. We're human beings
and we have a right to live and die as we please."

Minna walked toward Leroy Davis. "I'm not afraid of your gun any more.
All you can do with it is kill me. Go ahead and do it."

Minna walked up to Leroy Davis. He gaped at her and said, "You're crazy!
Get back there. You're a crazy dame!"

He fired the gun twice and Minna died appreciating the incongruity of
his words. She went out on a note of laughter and as she fell, Jim
Wilson, with an echoing animal roar, lunged at Leroy Davis. His great
hand closed completely over that of Davis, hiding the gun. There was a
muffled explosion and the bullet cut unnoticed through Wilson's palm.
Wilson jerked the gun from Davis' weak grasp and hurled it away. Then he
killed Davis.

He did it slowly, a surprising thing for Wilson. He lifted Davis by his
neck and held him with his feet off the floor. He squeezed Davis' neck,
seeming to do it with great leisure as Davis made horrible noises and
kicked his legs.

Nora turned her eyes away, buried them in Frank Brooks' shoulder, but
she could not keep the sounds from reaching her ears. Frank held her
close. "Take it easy," he said. "Take it easy." And he was probably not
conscious of saying it.

"Tell him to hurry," Nora whispered. "Tell him to get it over with. It's
like killing--killing an animal."

"That's what he is--an animal."

Frank Brooks stared in fascination at Leroy Davis' distorted, darkening
face. It was beyond semblance of anything human now. The eyes bulged and
the tongue came from his mouth as though frantically seeking relief.

The animal sounds quieted and died away. Nora heard the sound of the
body falling to the floor--a limp, soft sound of finality. She turned
and saw Jim Wilson with his hands still extended and cupped. The
terrible hands from which the stench of a terrible life was drifting
away into empty air.

Wilson looked down at his handiwork. "He's dead," Wilson said slowly. He
turned to face Frank and Nora. There was a great disappointment in his
face. "That's all there is to it," he said, dully. "He's just--dead."
Without knowing it for what it was, Jim Wilson was full of the futile
aftertaste of revenge.

He bent down to pick up Minna's body. There was a small blue hole in the
right cheek and another one over the left eye. With a glance at Frank
and Nora, Jim Wilson covered the wounds with his hand as though they
were not decent. He picked her up in his arms and walked across the
lobby and up the stairs with the slow, quiet tread of a weary man.

The sound of the jeep welled up again, but it was further away now.
Frank Brooks took Nora's hand and they hurried out into the street. As
they crossed the sidewalk, the sound of the jeep was drowned by a sudden
swelling of the wailings to the northward.

On still a new note, they rose and fell on the still air. A note of
panic, of new knowledge, it seemed, but Frank and Nora were not paying
close attention. The sounds of the jeep motor had come from the west and
they got within sight of the Madison-Well intersection in time to see
the jeep hurtle southward at its maximum speed.

Frank yelled and waved his arms, but he knew he had been neither seen
nor heard. They were given little time for disappointment however,
because a new center of interest appeared to the northward. From around
the corner of Washington Street, into Clark, moved three strange
figures.

There was a mixture of belligerence and distress in their actions. They
carried odd looking weapons and seemed interested in using them upon
something or someone, but they apparently lacked the energy to raise
them although they appeared to be rather light.

The creatures themselves were humanoid, Frank thought. He tightened his
grip on Nora's hand. "They've seen us."

"Let's not run," Nora said. "I'm tired of running. All it's gotten us is
trouble. Let's just stand here."

"Don't be foolish."

"I'm not running. You can if you want to."

Frank turned his attention back to the three strange creatures. He
allowed natural curiosity full reign. Thoughts of flight vanished from
his mind.

"They're so thin--so fragile," Nora said.

"But their weapons aren't."

"It's hard to believe, even seeing them, that they're from another
planet."

"How so? They certainly don't look much like us."

"I mean with the talk, for so long, about flying saucers and space
flight and things like that. Here they are, but it doesn't seem
possible."

"There's something wrong with them."

This was true. Two of the strange beings had fallen to the sidewalk. The
third came doggedly on, dragging one foot after the other until he went
to his hands and knees. He remained motionless for a long time, his head
hanging limply. Then he too, sank to the cement and lay still.

The wailings from the north now took on a tone of intense agony--great
desperation. After that came a yawning silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

"They defeated themselves," the military man said. "Or rather, natural
forces defeated them. We certainly had little to do with it."

Nora, Frank, and Jim Wilson stood at the curb beside a motorcycle. The
man on the cycle supported it with a leg propped against the curb as he
talked.

"We saw three of them die up the street," Frank said.

"Our scouting party saw the same thing happen. That's why we moved in.
It's about over now. We'll know a lot more about them and where they
came from in twenty-four hours."

They had nothing further to say. The military man regarded them
thoughtfully. "I don't know about you three. If you ignored the
evacuation through no fault of your own and can prove it--"

"There were four of us," Jim Wilson said. "Then we met another man. He's
inside on the floor. I killed him."

"Murder?" the military man said sharply.

"He killed a woman who was with us," Frank said. "He was a maniac. When
he's identified I'm pretty sure he'll have a past record."

"Where is the woman's body?"

"On a bed upstairs," Wilson said.

"I'll have to hold all of you. Martial law exists in this area. You're
in the hands of the army."

       *       *       *       *       *

The streets were full of people now, going about their business, pushing
and jostling, eating in the restaurants, making electricity for the
lights, generating power for the telephones.

Nora, Frank, and Jim Wilson sat in a restaurant on Clark Street. "We're
all different people now," Nora said. "No one could go through what
we've been through and be the same."

Jim Wilson took her statement listlessly. "Did they find out what it was
about our atmosphere that killed them?"

"They're still working on that, I think." Frank Brooks stirred his
coffee, raised a spoonful and let it drip back into the cup.

"I'm going up to the Chicago Avenue police station," Wilson said.

Frank and Nora looked up in surprise. Frank asked, "Why? The military
court missed it--the fact you escaped from jail."

"They didn't miss it I don't think. I don't think they cared much. I'm
going back anyway."

"It won't be much of a rap."

"No, a pretty small one. I want to get it over with."

He got up from his chair. "So long. Maybe I'll see you around."

"So long."

"Goodbye."

Frank said, "I think I'll beat it too. I've got a job in a factory up
north. Maybe they're operating again." He got to his feet and stood
awkwardly by the table. "Besides--I've got some pay coming."

Nora didn't say anything.

Frank said, "Well--so long. Maybe I'll see you around."

"Maybe. Goodbye."

       *       *       *       *       *

Frank Brooks walked north on Clark Street. He was glad to get away from
the restaurant. Nora was a good kid but hell--you didn't take up with a
hooker. A guy played around, but you didn't stick with them.

But it made a guy think. He was past the kid stage. It was time for him
to find a girl and settle down. A guy didn't want to knock around all
his life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nora walked west on Madison Street. Then she remembered the Halstead
Street slums were in that direction and turned south on Wells. She had
nine dollars in her bag and that worried her. You couldn't get along on
nine dollars in Chicago very long.

There was a tavern on Jackson near Wells. Nora went inside. The barkeep
didn't frown at her. That was good. She went to the bar and ordered a
beer and was served.

After a while a man came in. A middle aged man who might have just come
into Chicago--whose bags might still be at the LaSalle Street Station
down the block. The man looked at Nora, then away. After a while looked
at her again.

Nora smiled.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Deadly City" ***

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