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Complete Story taken from The Wizard issue 1790 June 4th 1960.

A storm was raging over Northern Britain when the one-man space-ship came down from the direction of the Milky Way and hovered above the black clouds. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled and crashed around the hills, but Slev, the man from space, was glad of the disturbance. The heavy rain would keep the Earthmen under cover, and the noise of the storm would help to hide the sound of his descent. He hovered high above the clouds and scanned the countryside below through his infra-rayscope. In spite of the clouds, in spite of the darkness of late evening, he could see everything clearly. He was over a stretch of countryside dotted with villages, but further to the east he could see the lights of a good-sized town. Slev touched a switch and the space-ship moved at half speed for only three seconds, and was over the centre of the town. Again he peered through his lenses. The streets were almost deserted, the shops were closed, but there were a few buildings bright with lights. One of these a big domed building with a car park alongside, seemed to be attracting people in spite of the rain. Slev watched the people going in and out. “Something of importance goes on in there,” decided the man from space. “That should be worth investigating.” Then he spied a large open space at the edge of the town, not two hundred yards from the building which had attracted his interest. It was surrounded by banking and by fencing. There was also a covered grandstand, but Slev was interested only in the smooth expanse of grass. No lights showed there. It looked ideal for his purpose. With his retarders full on, he glided down out of the storm clouds, and landed as lightning sizzled over the town. For a few moments he looked through his ship’s plastic dome, but he had this enclosed ground to himself. He made sure that his atmos-helmet was firmly in place, for he knew that he could not live by breathing what the Earthmen called air, then he opened the sealed door. He stood there in the entrance for some seconds, a tall gaunt figure, seven feet high and thin even in his space-suit, then he jumped for the soft turf two feet below him. The next moment he was sailing through the air and fetched up against a post to which he clung, thirty yards from his space-ship. He had forgotten that he came from a planet vastly bigger than Earth, and that the force of gravity was such that he weighed only one tenth of his normal weight when on the smaller planet. He would have to control his efforts. He released his hold on the post, noting as he did so that there was another similar post not far away, and that they were joined by a cross-piece. “What use do the Earthmen make of these?” he wondered. But he had a much more important mission. For centuries his people had studied the Earth with all the scientific aids at their disposal, and eventually the Grand Council had come to the conclusion that it might be a good investment to invade the Earth and retain it for colonizing when their own planet became too overcrowded. The only cause for hesitation was a slight doubt whether the Earthmen had any means of offering resistance. Slev’s people did not want a long war, or to suffer big losses. So Slev had been sent on a one-man spying expedition, to find out the temper of the Earthmen and to discover if they had any weapons which could be taken seriously. He was well prepared, having studied several of the Earthmen’s languages. He walked very carefully across the grassy field towards what looked like a gate. The gate was closed and locked, also there was a turnstile. Slev gave the slightest jump, cleared the gate and the turnstile, as if he had spring heels, and came down in the centre of the wet road just as a bus came along. The driver saw the weird figure in his headlights, slammed on the brakes, and the bus skidded to a standstill, throwing some of the passengers on the floor. Slev, seared into making another jump, went over a hedge, a ditch and half a field before he came to rest. Angry passengers shouted to ask the driver what he thought he was doing. He pushed open the sliding panel of his compartment, put his head through, and rubbed his chin in perplexity. “I could’ve sworn I saw someone come sailing out of the football ground into the middle of the road!” he exclaimed. “A tall, lanky chap with a helmet on his head, an’-” A hoot of derision came from the conductor and the passengers. Meantime, Slev had gained the side of the road and was making his cautious way into the town. The rain streamed down, and he had the road to himself, but he kept as much as possible in the shadows.

As he got to the edge of the town the lamp-posts worried him. He had the means of altering that. A small cylinder, not unlike a pocket-torch, appeared in his hand, and when directed at the lights blacked them out in less time than it takes to tell. Now and then he jumped cautiously into a front garden and peered round curtains into some cosy room where a family was spending the evening at the fireside, reading, watching the TV or listening to the radio. It all looked so peaceful that Slev decided to report that Earthmen were unlikely to put up any fight if they were invaded. But he wanted to find out the reason for the meeting of many people in the big building which had first attracted his attention. He crossed behind the car-park and approached the rear of the hall. It was a blank wall without windows or doors, but that did not worry Slev. He did not need to see what was going on inside, only to hear what these Earthmen were discussing. From his pocket he took something not unlike a stethoscope, fitted two small earphones to his ears, and held a metal pad tightly to the wall. The voices inside were clearly heard by him. He heard the murmur and movement of a great crowd, then, above all else, a voice rang out – “So, friends, I say to you let them come! Let them come from Mars, Saturn, Jupiter or Outer Space! “let them bring their death-rays, their blast-guns, their atomic-guns and any other fantastic weapons that they may have, but we down here on Earth will smash them!” There was a great roar of cheering. As the cheering died down, the speaker went on – “Ten years ago we should have been an easy prey to any invaders from another planet, but not now! “Since Professor Harkon invented the D-ray, which disintegrates anything which it is turned against, the Earth is safe! “That is why I say to you, do not let the Government give in if an ultimatum is received. “The invaders will have no chance – none! Let us march to Parliament and tell the Government that we will fight and win!” The cheering nearly wrecked the instrument which Slev was using. He winced as he stepped back from the wall and replaced the listening-set in his pocket. His long face was paler than usual, and very grim. He had learned enough. There was no need for him to continue his travels through this country called Britain. The only thing to do was to return home as quickly as possible and tell the Grand Council of his findings. The Earth could not be invaded. It must not be attempted. Bitterly disappointed, but satisfied that he was doing his duty, the spring-heeled spy took a short-cut back to the football field through a building estate, jumping over some half finished houses on the way. He took of five minutes before the audience poured out from the Palace Cinema after the final performance of the big science thriller, “The Earth at Bay.” The film told how the Earth, threatened with invasion from Mars, was saved by the discovery of a wonderful D-ray by young Professor Harkon, played by that famous and popular film star, Stewart Rexton!




© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2003