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´╗┐Title: Judas Ram
Author: Merwin, Samuel
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 "Judas Ram" ***

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

                               JUDAS RAM

                          BY SAM MERWIN, Jr.

                     Illustrated by JAMES VINCENT

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                 Galaxy Science Fiction December 1950.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

                   The house was furnished with all
                 luxuries, including women. If it only
                  had a lease that could be broken--

Roger Tennant, crossing the lawn, could see two of the three wings
of the house, which radiated spoke-like from its heptagonal central
portion. The wing on the left was white, with slim square pillars,
reminiscent of scores of movie sets of the Deep South. That on the
right was sundeck solar-house living-machine modern, something like a
montage of shoeboxes. The wing hidden by the rest of the house was, he
knew, spired, gabled and multicolored, like an ancient building in
pre-Hitler Cracow.

Dana was lying under a tree near the door, stretched out on a sort
of deck chair with her eyes closed. She wore a golden gown, long and
close-fitting and slit up the leg like the gown of a Chinese woman.
Above it her comely face was sullen beneath its sleek cocoon of auburn

She opened her eyes at his approach and regarded him with nothing like
favor. Involuntarily he glanced down at the tartan shorts that were his
only garment to make sure that they were on properly. They were. He had
thought them up in a moment of utter boredom and they were extremely
comfortable. However, the near-Buchanan tartan did not crease or even
wrinkle when he moved. Their captors had no idea of how a woven design
should behave.

"Waiting for me?" Tennant asked the girl.

She said, "I'd rather be dead. Maybe I am. Maybe we're all dead and
this is Hell."

He stood over her and looked down until she turned away her reddening
face. He said, "So it's going to be you again, Dana. You'll be the
first to come back for a second run."

"Don't flatter yourself," she replied angrily. She sat up, pushed
back her hair, got to her feet a trifle awkwardly because of the
tight-fitting tubular gown. "If I could do anything about it...."

"But you can't," he told her. "They're too clever."

"Is this crop rotation or did you send for me?" she asked cynically.
"If you did, I wish you hadn't. You haven't asked about your son."

"I don't even want to think about him," said Tennant. "Let's get
on with it." He could sense the restless stirring of the woman
within Dana, just as he could feel the stirring toward her within
himself--desire that both of them loathed because it was implanted
within them by their captors.

They walked toward the house.

       *       *       *       *       *

It didn't look like a prison--or a cage. Within the dome of the
barrier, it looked more like a well-kept if bizarre little country
estate. There was clipped lawn, a scattering of trees, even a clear
little brook that chattered unending annoyance at the small stones
which impeded its flow.

But the lawn was not of grass--it was of a bright green substance that
might have been cellophane but wasn't, and it sprouted from a fabric
that might have been canvas but was something else. The trees looked
like trees, only their trunks were bark all the way through--except
that it was not bark. The brook was practically water, but the small
stones over which it flowed were of no earthly mineral.

They entered the house, which had no roof, continued to move beneath a
sky that glowed with light which did not come from a sun or moon. It
might have been a well-kept if bizarre little country estate, but it
wasn't. It was a prison, a cage.

The other two women were sitting in the heptagonal central hall.
Eudalia, who had borne twin girls recently, was lying back, newly thin
and dark of skin and hair, smoking a scentless cigarette. A tall woman,
thirtyish, she wore a sort of shimmering green strapless evening gown.
Tennant wondered how she maintained it in place, for despite her recent
double motherhood, she was almost flat of bosom. He asked her how she
was feeling.

"Okay, I guess," she said. "The way they manage it, there's nothing
to it." She had a flat, potentially raucous voice. Eudalia had been
a female foreman in a garment-cutting shop before being captured and
brought through.

"Good," he said. "Glad to hear it." He felt oddly embarrassed. He
turned to Olga, broad, blonde and curiously vital, who sat perfectly
still, regarding him over the pregnant swell of her dirndl-clad waist.
Olga had been a waitress in a mining town hash-house near Scranton.

Tennant wanted to put an encouraging hand on her shoulder, to say
something that might cheer her up, for she was by far the youngest of
the three female captives, barely nineteen. But with the eyes of the
other two, especially Dana, upon him, he could not.

"I guess I wasn't cut out to be a Turk," he said. "I don't feel at ease
in a harem, even when it's supposedly my own."

"You're not doing so badly," Dana replied acidly.

"Lay off--he can't help it," said Eudalia unexpectedly. "He doesn't
like it any better than we do."

"But he doesn't have to--have them," objected Olga. She had a trace of
Polish accent that was not unpleasant. In fact, Tennant thought, only
her laughter was unpleasant, a shrill, uncontrolled burst of staccato
sound that jarred him to his heels. Olga had not laughed of late,
however. She was too frightened.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Let's get the meal ordered," said Dana and they were all silent,
thinking of what they wanted to eat but would not enjoy when it came.
Tennant finished with his order, then got busy with his surprise.

It arrived before the meal, materializing against one of the seven
walls of the roofless chamber. It was a large cabinet on slender
straight legs that resembled dark polished wood. Tennant went to it,
opened a hingeless door and pushed a knob on the inner surface. At once
the air was hideous with the acerate harmony of a singing commercial....

    ... so go soak your head,
    be it gold, brown or red,
    in Any-tone Shampoo!

A disc jockey's buoyant tones cut in quickly as the final _ooooo_
faded. "This is Grady Martin, your old night-owl, coming to you with
your requests over Station WZZX, Manhattan. Here's a wire from Theresa
McManus and the girls in the family entrance of Conaghan's Bar and
Grill on West...."

Tennant watched the girls as a sweet-voiced crooner began to ply
an unfamiliar love lyric to a melody whose similarity to a thousand
predecessors doomed it to instant success.

Olga sat up straight, her pale blue eyes round with utter disbelief.
She looked at the radio, at Tennant, at the other two women, then back
at the machine. She murmured something in Polish that was inaudible,
but her expression showed that it must have been wistful.

Eudalia grinned at Tennant and, rising, did a sort of tap dance to the
music, then whirled back into her chair, green dress ashimmer, and sank
into it just to listen.

Dana stood almost in the center of the room, carmine-tipped fingers
clasped beneath the swell of her breasts. She might have been listening
to Brahms or Debussy. Her eyes glowed with the salty brilliance of
emotion and she was almost beautiful.

"_Rog!_" she cried softly when the music stopped. "A radio and WZZX! Is
it--are they--real?"

"As real as you or I," he told her. "It took quite a bit of doing,
getting them to put a set together. And I wasn't sure that radio would
get through. TV doesn't seem to. Somehow it brings things closer...."

Olga got up quite suddenly, went to the machine and, after frowning at
it for a moment, tuned in another station from which a Polish-speaking
announcer was followed by polka music. She leaned against the wall,
resting one smooth forearm on the top of the machine. Her eyes closed
and she swayed a little in time to the polka beat.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tennant caught Dana looking at him and there was near approval in her
expression--approval that faded quickly as soon as she caught his gaze
upon her. The food arrived then and they sat down at the round table to
eat it.

Tennant's meat looked like steak, it felt like steak, but, lacking the
aroma of steak, it was almost tasteless. This was so with all of their
foods, with their cigarettes, with everything in their prison--or their
cage. Their captors were utterly without a human conception of smell,
living, apparently, in a world without odor at all.

Dana said suddenly, "I named the boy Tom, after somebody I hate almost
as much as I hate you."

Eudalia laid down her fork with a clatter and regarded Dana
disapprovingly. "Why take it out on Rog?" she asked bluntly. "He didn't
ask to come here any more than we did. He's got a wife back home. Maybe
you want him to fall in love with you? Maybe you're jealous because
he doesn't? Well, maybe he can't! And maybe it wouldn't work, the way
things are arranged here."

"Thanks, Eudalia," said Tennant. "I think I can defend myself. But
she's right, Dana. We're as helpless as--laboratory animals. They have
the means to make us do whatever they want."

"Rog," said Dana, looking suddenly scared, "I'm sorry I snapped at you.
I know it's not your fault. I'm--_changing_."

He shook his head. "No, Dana, you're not changing. You're adapting. We
all are. We seem to be in a universe of different properties as well as
different dimensions. We're adjusting. I can do a thing or two myself
that seem absolutely impossible."

"Are we really in the fourth dimension?" Dana asked. Of the three of
them, she alone had more than a high-school education.

"We may be in the eleventh for all I know," he told her. "But I'll
settle for the fourth--a fourth dimension in space, if that makes
scientific sense, because we don't seem to have moved in time. I wasn't
sure of that, though, till we got the radio."

"Why haven't they brought more of us through?" Eudalia asked, tamping
out ashes in a tray that might have been silver.

"I'm not sure," he said thoughtfully. "I think it's hard for them. They
have a hell of a time bringing anyone through alive, and lately they
haven't brought anyone through--not alive."

"Why do they do it--the other way, I mean?" asked Dana.

Tennant shrugged. "I don't know. I've been thinking about it. I suppose
it's because they're pretty human."

"_Human!_" Dana was outraged. "Do you call it human to--"

"Hold on," he said. "They pass through their gateway to Earth at
considerable danger and, probably, expense of some kind. Some of them
don't come back. They kill those of us who put up a fight. Those who
don't--or can't--they bring back with them. Live or dead, we're just
laboratory specimens."

"Maybe," Eudalia conceded doubtfully. Then her eyes blazed. "But the
things they do--stuffing people, mounting their heads, keeping them on
display in their--their whatever they live in. You call that human,

"Were you ever in a big-game hunter's trophy room?" Tennant asked
quietly. "Or in a Museum of Natural History? A zoo? A naturalist's lab?
Or even, maybe, photographed as a baby on a bear-skin rug?"

"I was," said Olga. "But that's not the same thing."

"Of course not," he agreed. "In the one instance, _we're_ the hunters,
the breeders, the trophy collectors. In the other"--he shrugged--"we're
the trophies."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a long silence. They finished eating and then Dana stood up
and said, "I'm going out on the lawn for a while." She unzipped her
golden gown, stepped out of it to reveal a pair of tartan shorts that
matched his, and a narrow halter.

"You thought those up while we ate," he said. It annoyed him to be
copied, though he did not know why. She laughed at him silently, tossed
her auburn hair back from her face and went out of the roofless house,
holding the gold dress casually over her bare arm.

Eudalia took him to the nursery. He was irritated now in another,
angrier way. The infants, protected by cellophane-like coverlets, were

"They never cry," the thin woman told him. "But they grow--God, how
they grow!"

"Good," said Tennant, fighting down his anger. He kissed her, held
her close, although neither of them felt desire at the moment. Their
captors had seen to that; it wasn't Eudalia's turn. Tennant said, "I
wish I could do something about this. I hate seeing Dana so bitter and
Olga so scared. It isn't their fault."

"And it's not yours," insisted Eudalia. "Don't let them make you think
it is."

"I'll try not to," he said and stopped, realizing the family party was
over. He had felt the inner tug of command, said good-by to the women
and returned to his smaller compound within its own barrier dome.

Then came the invisible aura of strain in the air, the shimmering
illusion of heat that was not heat, that was prelude to his
teleportation ... if that were the word. It was neither pleasant nor
unpleasant; it _was_, that was all.

He called it the training hall, not because it looked like a training
hall but because that was its function. It didn't actually look like
anything save some half-nourished dream a surrealist might have
discarded as too nightmarish for belief.

As in all of this strange universe, excepting the dome-cages in
which the captives were held, the training hall followed no rules of
three-dimensional space. One wall looked normal for perhaps a third of
its length, then it simply wasn't for a bit. It came back farther on
at an impossible angle. Yet, walking along it, touching it, it felt
perfectly smooth and continuously straight.

The opposite wall resembled a diagonal cross-section of an asymmetrical
dumbbell--that was the closest Tennant could come to it in words. And
it, too, felt straight. The floor looked like crystal smashed by some
cosmic impact, yet it had reason. He _knew_ this even though no reason
was apparent to his three-dimensional vision. The ceiling, where he
could see it, was beyond description.

The captor Tennant called _Opal_ came in through a far corner of
the ceiling. He--if it was a he--was not large, although this,
Tennant knew, meant nothing; Opal might extend thousands of yards in
some unseen direction. He had no regular shape and much of him was
iridescent and shot with constantly changing colors. Hence the name

Communication was telepathic. Tennant could have yodeled or yelled
or sung _Mississippi Mud_ and Opal would have shown no reaction. Yet
Tennant suspected that the captors could hear somewhere along the
auditory scale, just as perhaps they could smell, although not in any
human sense.

_You will approach without use of your appendages._

The command was as clear as if it had been spoken aloud. Tennant took a
deep breath. He thought of the space beside Opal. It took about three
seconds and he was there, having spanned a distance of some ninety
feet. He was getting good at it.

Dog does trick, he thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

He went through the entire routine at Opal's bidding. When at last
he was allowed to relax, he wondered, not for the first time, if he
weren't mastering some of the alleged Guru arts. At once he felt
probing investigation. Opal, like the rest of the captors, was as
curious as a cat--or a human being.

Tennant sat against a wall, drenched with sweat. There would be endless
repetition before his workout was done. On Earth, dogs were said to be
intellectually two-dimensional creatures. He wondered if they felt this
helpless futility when their masters taught them to heel, to point, to

Some days later, the training routine was broken. He felt a sudden stir
of near-sick excitement as he received the thought:

_Now you are ready. We are going through at last._

Opal was nervous, so much so that he revealed more than he intended.
Or perhaps that was his intent; Tennant could never be sure. They were
going through to Tennant's own dimension. He wondered briefly just what
his role was to be.

He had little time to speculate before Opal seemed to envelop him.
There was the blurring wrench of forced teleportation and they were in
another room, a room which ended in a huge irregular passage that might
have been the interior of a giant concertina--or an old-fashioned kodak.

He stood before a kidney-shaped object over whose jagged surface
colors played constantly. From Opal's thoughts it appeared to be some
sort of ultradimensional television set, but to Tennant it was as
incomprehensible as an oil painting to an animal.

Opal was annoyed that Tennant could make nothing of it. Then came the

_What cover must your body have not to be conspicuous?_

Tennant wondered, cynically, what would happen if he were to demand
a costume of mediaeval motley, complete with Pied Piper's flute. He
received quick reproof that made his head ring as from a blow.

He asked Opal where and when they were going, was informed that
he would soon emerge on Earth where he had left it. That told him
everything but the date and season. Opal, like the rest of the captors,
seemed to have no understanding of time in a human sense.

Waiting, Tennant tried not to think of his wife, of the fact that he
hadn't seen her in--was it more than a year and a half on Earth? He
could have controlled his heartbeat with one of his new powers, but
that might have made Opal suspicious. He should be somewhat excited.
He allowed himself to be, though he obscured the reasons. He was going
to see his wife again ... and maybe he could trick his way into not

       *       *       *       *       *

The maid who opened the door for him was new, although her eyes were
old. But she recognized him and stood aside to let him enter. There
must, he thought, still be pictures of him around. He wondered how
Agatha could afford a servant.

"Is Mrs. Tennant in?" he asked.

She shook her head and fright made twin stoplights of the rouge on her
cheeks as she shut the door behind him. He went into the living room,
directly to the long silver cigarette box on the coffee table. It was
proof of homecoming to fill his lungs with smoke he could _smell_. He
took another drag, saw the maid still in the doorway, staring.

"There's no need for fright," he told her. "I believe I still own this
house." Then, "When do you expect Mrs. Tennant?"

"She just called. She's on her way home from the club."

Still looking frightened, she departed for the rear of the house.
Tennant stared after her puzzledly until the kitchen door swung shut
behind her. The club? What club?

He shrugged, returned to the feeling of comfort that came from being
back here, about to see Agatha again, hold her close in no more than a
few minutes. And stay, his mind began to add eagerly, but he pushed the
thought down where Opal could not detect it.

He took another deep, lung-filling drag on his cigarette, looked around
the room that was so important a part of his life. The three women back
there would be in a ghastly spot. He felt like a heel for wanting to
leave them there, then knew that he would try somehow to get them out.
Not, of course, anything that would endanger his remaining with Agatha;
the only way his captors would get him back would be as a taxidermist's

He realized, shocked and scared, that his thoughts of escape had
slipped past his mental censor, and he waited apprehensively for Opal
to strike. Nothing happened and he warily relaxed. Opal wasn't tapping
his thoughts. Because he felt sure of his captive ... or because he
couldn't on Earth?

It was like being let out of a cage. Tennant grinned at the bookcase;
the ebony-and-ivory elephants that Agatha had never liked were gone,
but he'd get them back or another pair. The credenza had been replaced
by a huge and ugly television console. That, he resolved, would go down
in the cellar rumpus room, where its bleached modernity wouldn't clash
with the casual antiquity of the living room.

Agatha would complain, naturally, but his being back would make up for
any amount of furniture shifting. He imagined her standing close to
him, her lovely face lifted to be kissed, and his heart lurched like an
adolescent's. This hunger was real, not implanted. Everything would be
real ... his love for her, the food he ate, the things he touched, his
house, his life....

_Your wife and a man are approaching the house._

The thought message from Opal crumbled his illusion of freedom. He sank
down in a chair, trying to refuse to listen to the rest of the command:

_You are to bring the man through the gateway with you. We want another
live male._

       *       *       *       *       *

Tennant shook his head, stiff and defiant in his chair. The punishment,
when it came, was more humiliating than a slap across a dog's snout.
Opal had been too interested in the next lab specimen to bother about
his thoughts--that was why he had been free to think of escape.

Tennant closed his eyes, willed himself to the front window. Now that
he had mastered teleportation, it was incredible how much easier it was
in his own world. He had covered the two miles from the gateway to the
house in a mere seven jumps, the distance to the window in an instant.
But there was no pleasure in it, only a confirmation of his captor's
power over him.

He was not free of them. He understood all too well what they wanted
him to do; he was to play the Judas goat ... or rather the Judas ram,
leading another victim to the fourth-dimensional pen.

Grim, he watched the swoop of headlights in the driveway and returned
to the coffee table, lit a fresh cigarette.

The front door was flung open and his diaphragm tightened at the
remembered sound of Agatha's throaty laugh ... and tightened further
when it was followed by a deeper rumbling laugh. Sudden fear made the
cigarette shake in his fingers.

"... Don't be such a stuffed-shirt, darling." Agatha's mocking
sweetness rang alarm-gongs in Tennant's memory. "Charley wasn't making
a grab for _me_. He'd had one too many and only wanted a little fun.
Really, darling, you seem to think that a girl...."

Her voice faded out as she saw Tennant standing there. She was wearing
a white strapless gown, had a blue-red-and-gold Mandarin jacket slung
hussar-fashion over her left shoulder. She looked even sleeker, better
groomed, more assured than his memory of her.

"I'm no stuffed-shirt and you know it." Cass' tone was peevish. "But
your idea of fun, Agatha, is pretty damn...."

It was his turn to freeze. Unbelieving, Tennant studied his successor.
Cass Gordon--the _man_, the ex-halfback whose bulk was beginning to get
out of hand, but whose inherent aggressive grace had not yet deserted
him. The _man_, that was all--unless one threw in the little black
mustache and the smooth salesman's manner.

"You know, Cass," Tennant said quietly, "I never for a moment dreamed
it would be you."

"_Roger!_" Agatha found her voice. "You're _alive_!"

"Roger," repeated Tennant viciously. He felt sick with disgust. Maybe
he should have expected a triangle, but somehow he hadn't. And here
it was, with all of them going through their paces like a trio of
tent-show actors. He said, "For God's sake, sit down."

Agatha did so hesitantly. Her huge dark eyes, invariably clear
and limpid no matter how much she had drunk, flickered toward him
furtively. She said defensively, "I had detectives looking for you for
six months. Where have you been, Rog? Smashing up the car like that
and--disappearing! I've been out of my mind."

"Sorry," said Tennant. "I've had my troubles, too." Agatha was scared
stiff--of him. Probably with reason. He looked again at Cass Gordon and
found that he suddenly didn't care. She couldn't say it was loneliness.
Women have waited longer than eighteen months. He would have if his
captors had let him.

"Where in hell _have_ you been, Rog?" Gordon's tone was almost
parental. "I don't suppose it's news to you, but there was a lot of
suspicion directed your way while that crazy killer was operating
around here. Agatha and I managed to clear you."

"Decent of you," said Tennant. He got up, crossed to the cabinet that
served as a bar. It was fully equipped--with more expensive liquor, he
noticed, than he had ever been able to afford. He poured a drink of
brandy, waited for the others to fill their glasses.

       *       *       *       *       *

Agatha looked at him over the rim of hers. "Tell us, Rog. We have a
right to know. I do, anyway."

"One question first," he said. "What about those killings? Have there
been any lately?"

"Not for over a year," Cass told him. "They never did get the devil who
skinned those bodies and removed the heads."

So, Tennant thought, they hadn't used the gateway. Not since they had
brought the four of them through, not since they had begun to train him
for his Judas ram duties.

Agatha was asking him if he had been abroad.

"In a way," he replied unemotionally. "Sorry if I've worried you,
Agatha, but my life has been rather--indefinite, since I--left."

He was standing no more than four inches from this woman he had desired
desperately for six years, and he no longer wanted her. He was acutely
conscious of her perfume. It wrapped them both like an exotic blanket,
and it repelled him. He studied the firm clear flesh of her cheek and
chin, the arch of nostril, the carmine fullness of lower lip, the
swell of bosom above low-cut gown. And he no longer wanted any of it or
of her. Cass Gordon--

It didn't have to be anybody at all. For it to be Cass Gordon was

"Rog," she said and her voice trembled, "what are we going to do? What
do you _want_ to do?"

Take her back? He smiled ironically; she wouldn't know what that meant.
It would serve her right, but maybe there was another way.

"I don't know about you," he said, "but I suspect we're in the same
boat. I also have other interests."

"You louse!" said Cass Gordon, arching rib cage and nostrils. "If you
try to make trouble for Agatha, I can promise...."

"_What_ can you promise?" demanded Tennant. When Gordon's onset
subsided in mumbles, he added, "Actually, I don't think I'm capable of
making more than a fraction of the trouble for either of you that you
both are qualified to make for yourselves."

He lit a cigarette, inhaled. "Relax. I'm not planning revenge. After
this evening, I plan to vanish for good. Of course, Agatha, that
offers you a minor nuisance. You will have to wait six years to marry
Cass--seven years if the maid who let me in tonight talks. That's the
law, isn't it, Cass? You probably had it all figured out."

"You bastard," said Cass. "You dirty bastard! You know what a wait like
that could do to us."

"Tristan and Isolde," said Tennant, grinning almost happily. "Well,
I've had my little say. Now I'm off again. Cass, would you give me a
lift? I have a conveyance of sorts a couple of miles down the road."

       *       *       *       *       *

He needed no telepathic powers to read the thoughts around him then. He
heard Agatha's quick intake of breath, saw the split-second look she
exchanged with Cass. He turned away, knowing that she was imploring her
lover to do something, _anything_, as long as it was safe.

Deliberately, Tennant poured himself a second drink. This might be
easier and pleasanter than he had expected. They deserved some of the
suffering he had had and there was a chance that they might get it.

Tennant knew now why he was the only male human the captors had been
able to take alive. Apparently, thanks to the rain-slick road, he had
run the sedan into a tree at the foot of the hill beyond the river. He
had been sitting there, unconscious, ripe fruit on their doorstep. They
had simply picked him up.

Otherwise, apparently, men were next to impossible for them to capture.
All they could do was kill them and bring back their heads and hides
as trophies. With women it was different--perhaps the captors' weapons,
whatever they were, worked more efficiently on females. A difference in
body chemistry or psychology, perhaps.

More than once, during his long training with Opal, Tennant had sent
questing thoughts toward his captor, asking why they didn't simply set
up the gateway in some town or city and take as many humans as they

Surprisingly there had been a definite fear reaction. As nearly as he
could understand, it had been like asking an African pygmy, armed with
a blowgun, to set up shop in the midst of a herd of wild elephants. It
simply wasn't feasible--and furthermore he derived an impression of the
tenuosity as well as the immovability of the gateway itself.

They could be hurt, even killed by humans in a three-dimensional world.
How? Tennant did not know. Perhaps as a man can cut finger or even
throat on the edge of a near-two-dimensional piece of paper. It took
valor for them to hunt men in the world of men. In that fact lay a key
to their character--if such utterly alien creatures could be said to
have character.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cass Gordon was smiling at him, saying something about one for the
road. Tennant accepted only because it was luxury to drink liquor that
smelled and tasted as liquor should. He raised his glass to Agatha,
said, "I may turn up again, but it's unlikely, so have yourself a time,

"Oh, Rog!" said Agatha and her eyes were fraudulently wet. Tennant felt
pure contempt. She knew that Cass intended to try to kill him--and she
couldn't play it straight. She had to ham it up with false emotion,
even though she had silently pleaded with her lover to do something,
anything. He put down his empty glass. The thought that he had spent
eighteen months yearning for this she-Smithfield like a half-damp puppy
made him almost physically ill.

"You'll make out," he told her with savage sincerity. In her way, in
accord with her desires, Agatha would. At bottom she was, he realized,
as primitive, as realistic, as the three who waited beyond the gateway.
An ex-waitress, an ex-forewoman, an ex-model of mediocre success--and
Agatha. He tried to visualize his wife as a member of his involuntary
harem and realized that she would adapt as readily as the other women.
But he didn't want her.

He turned away and said, "Ready, Cass?"

"Right with you," the ex-halfback replied, hurrying toward the hall.
Tennant considered, took another drink for his own road. The signals
had been given, the game was being readied. He had no wish to upset the
planning. He had some plans also, and theirs gave his enough moral
justification to satisfy his usually troublesome conscience.

Agatha put her arms around his neck. She was warm and soft and moist
of lip and playing her part with obvious enjoyment of its bathos. She
murmured, "I'm so sorry, Rog, darling--"

"Cut!" he said almost in a snarl and wrenched free. He brought out a
handkerchief--he had remembered to have one created, praise Allah--and
rubbed lipstick from his face. He tossed the handkerchief to Agatha.

"You might have this analyzed," he told her lightly. "It could be
interesting. The handkerchief, not the lipstick."

"I'm glad you're going!" she blazed, although her voice was low. "I'm
_glad_ you're going. I hope you _never_ come back."

"That," he told her, "makes exactly two of us. Have fun."

He went out into the hall, where Cass was waiting, wearing what was
intended to be a smile. They went out to the car together--it was a big
convertible--and Cass got behind the wheel. He said, "Where to, old

"The Upham Road," said Tennant, feeling nothing at all.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cass got the car under way and Tennant sensed them coming through. They
warned him that his chauffeur was carrying a weapon concealed in an
inside pocket.

_As if I didn't know!_ Tennant snapped back at them.

Cass tried to drive him past the spot beyond the bridge where the
gateway lay hidden in its armor of invisibility. He evidently planned
to go miles from the house before doing whatever he had decided to do.

Tennant thought he knew. It would involve riding the back roads like
this one for fifteen or twenty miles, perhaps farther. He suspected
that the quarry pond in South Upham was his intended destination. There
would be plenty of loose rock handy with which to weigh down his body
before dumping it into the water.

If it were recovered, Cass and Agatha could alibi one another. In view
of his earlier disappearance, this would be simple. Of course there
was the maid, but Cass had enough money and smooth talk to manage that
angle. They could undoubtedly get away with killing him.

"Stop," said Tennant, just across the bridge.

"What for?" Cass countered and Tennant knew it was time to act. He
wrenched the key from the ignition switch, tossed it out of the car.
Cass braked, demanded, "What in hell did you do _that_ for?"

"I get out here," Tennant said. "You didn't stop."

"Okay, if that's the way you want it." Cass' heavy right hand, the
little black hairs on its back clearly visible in the dashboard light,
moved toward his inside pocket.

Tennant teleported to the side of the road, became a half-visible shade
against the darkness of the trees. He felt Opal's excitement surge
through his brain, knew that from then on his timing would have to be
split-second perfect.

It seemed to him as if all the inchoate thoughts, all the vague
theories, all the half-formed plans of more than a year had
crystalized. For the first time since his capture, he not only knew
what he wanted to do--but saw the faint glimmer of a chance of doing it

He was going to try to lead Cass to the gateway, maneuver him
inside--and then escape. They wouldn't get Tennant; the power of
teleportation they themselves had given him would keep him from being
captured again. It would work. He was sure of it. They'd have their
male specimen and he'd be free ... not to go back to Agatha, because he
wouldn't, but to help the three women to get back, too.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cass was plunging after him now, pistol in hand, shouting. Tennant
could have him killed now, have him flayed and decapitated as other
male victims had been. Opal might even give him the hide as a reward
after it was treated. Some Oriental potentate, Tennant reflected, might
relish having his wife's lover as a rug on his living room floor.
Tennant preferred the less operatic revenge of leaving Cass and Agatha
alive to suffer.

He teleported farther into the trees, closer to the gateway, plotting
carefully his next moves. Cass was crashing along, cursing in

"Stand still, damn you! You shift around like a ghost!"

Tennant realized with sudden terror that Cass might give up, unable
to solve his prey's abrupt appearances and disappearances. He needed
encouragement to keep him going.

Jeeringly, Tennant paused, simultaneously thumbed his nose and stuck
out his tongue at Cass. The scornful childishness of the gesture
enraged Cass more than the worst verbal insult could have. He yelled
his anger and fired at Tennant. There was no way to miss, but Tennant
was five yards farther on before the explosion ended.

"Calm down," he advised quietly. "Getting mad always spoils your aim."

That, naturally, made Cass even angrier. He fired viciously twice more
before Tennant reached the gateway, both times without a chance of
hitting his elusive target.

Opal, Tennant discovered, was almost as frantic as Cass. He was deep
inside the passage, jittering visibly in his excitement, in his
anticipation of the most important bag his species had yet made on
Earth. And there was something else in his thoughts....

Anxiety. Fear. The gateway was vulnerable to third-dimensional weapons.
Where the concertina-like passage came into contact with Earth, there
was a belt, perhaps a foot in width, which was spanned by some sort of
force-webbing. Opal was afraid that a bullet might strike the webbing
and destroy the gateway.

Cass was getting closer. It would be so easy ... keep teleporting,
bewilder him, let him make a grab ... and then skip a hundred yards
away just as the gateway shut. He would be outside, Cass inside.

And the three women? Leave them with Cass? Leave the gateway open for
more live or mounted specimens?

Tennant concentrated on the zone of strain at the point of dimensional
contact, was there directly in front of it. Cass, cursing, lunged clear
of the underbrush outside, saw Tennant there. Tennant was crouching
low, not moving, staring mockingly at him. He lifted the automatic and

       *       *       *       *       *

Tennant teleported by inches instead of yards, and so blood oozed from
a graze on his left ear when he rejoined a shaken Opal in the world
that knew no night. For a long time--how long, of course, he could not
know--they stood and watched the gateway burn to globular ash in a dark
brown fire that radiated searing cold.

Opal was in trouble. An aura of anger, of grief, of accusation,
surrounded him. Others of them came and for a while Tennant was
forgotten. Then, abruptly, he was back in his own compound, walking
toward the house.

In place of his country Napoleonic roll-bed, which he had visualized
for manufacture with special care, Dana had substituted an immense
modern sleeping device that looked like a low hassock with a ten-foot
diameter. She was on her knees, her back toward the door, fiddling with
a radio.

She heard him enter, said without turning, "It won't work. Just a
little while ago it stopped."

"I think we're cut off now, perhaps for good," he told her. He sat
down on the edge of the absurd bed and began to take off the clothes
they had given him for the hunt. He was too tired to protest against
the massacre of his bedroom decor. He was not even sure he wanted to
protest. For all its anachronism, the big round bed was comfortable.

She watched him, her hands on her thighs, and there was worry written
on her broad forehead. "You know something, Rog."

"I don't _know_ anything," he replied. "I only think and have
theories." Unexpectedly he found himself telling her all about it,
about himself, where he had been, what he had done.

She listened quietly, saying nothing, letting him go on. His head was
in her lap and he talked up to her while she ran gentle fingers through
his hair. When he had finished, she smiled down at him thoughtfully,
affectionately, then said, "You know, you're a funny kind of man,


She cuffed him gently. "You know what I mean. So now we're really cut
off in this place--you and me and little Tom and Olga and Eudalia and
the twins. What are we going to do, Roger?"

He shrugged. He was very tired. "Whatever they'll let us do," he said
through a yawn. "Maybe we can make this a two-way study. They are
almost human, you know. Almost." He pulled her down and kissed her and
felt unexpected contentment decant through his veins. He knew now that
things had worked out the right way, the only way. He added aloud, "I
think we'll find ways to keep ourselves amused."

"You really enjoy playing the heel, don't you, Rog?" Her lips moved
against his as she spoke. "You had a chance to get out of here. You
could have changed places with Cass. Maybe you could have destroyed the
gateway and stayed on the other side and still saved other victims. But
no, you had to come back to--us. I think I'm going to be in love with
you for that."

He sat up on one elbow and looked down at her half angrily. "Are you
trying to make a goddam hero out of me?" he asked.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Judas Ram" ***

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