Sunday, November 23, 2008

Moon Monster

Another of the pulp fiction stories from Planet Comics, transcribed from the original JPEG fiche scans to make them easier to read and reformat. The two pages that this came from are included at the bottom.

Moon Monster
by Jack Anthony from Planet Comics #9, November 1940.

The Hungry Primordial Beast Takes the First Human Life on the Moon.

July 7, 1960.

This is the last day of my life. I will be the first man to die on the Moon. So I will tell the story briefly and seal the paper in this aluminum capsule -- there will be other Moon explorers -- maybe they are on there way here now -- they will find this capsule and perhaps turn back before it is too late. I am in good health and, on Earth, would still have many years ahead -- but here; on the Moon -- there are only a few hours left.

There is life on this barren waste. Hideous, primordial life. It is this primordial form of animal matter that is slowly moving toward me at the maddening rate of about six feet an hour that will soon crush out the last breath in my body -- the last living thought. And there is nothing I can do.

I landed on the Moon three days ago. The trip here was exciting because of the adventuresome spirit of the thing, but otherwise uneventful. It took exactly a week and ten hours from the new rocket chute in the North Field Airport to the plain at the foot of the giant crater -- I believe the location was somewhat due west of the dark area that scientists have always called Mare Nostrum.

No words can express the exultation that surged through my veins when I actually felt the terrain of the Moon skimming below the surface of my ship as I brought her down. I shouted like a wild-man and tears streamed down my face. My hands were shaking so with excitement that I could hardly adjust my space-helmet and the winches of the air-lock seemed to take hours to unfasten.

At last I had lowered myself to the ground and there I was. The first man to set foot on the Moon!

I stood perfectly still for several minutes, glaring over the vast gray stretch of rocky plain before me. A dust cloud made it hard to see for awhile, but I found that my magnesium lamp easily penetrated that. That dancing film of dust made me realize that my first step on satellite would be a new and momentous experience The gravitational pull of the Moon is much less than ours -- there is no air pressure to hold the fine grains of earth to the surface -- no rainfall to moisten it down -- hence the perpetual cloud that had probably formed when the sphere itself was still in its early stages of formation -- but that was not what concerned me then.

I walked away from my ship. But I was not walking -- I was almost flying -- and it was the most exhilarating sensation I have felt since the days when I used to go swimming in the cold mountain spring on our farm on Earth. I must have looked a strange sight -- bouncing around, doing a sort of slap-happy Spring dance in my cumbersome space-suit with its grotesque helmet. All alone, I cavorted in the mist, leaping distances that would have put our champion Olympic stars in the class of toddling infants.

Soon I tired of the abandon and gaiety and soberly went over the supplies I would carry on my first Moon hike. I carried a pack not very differently stocked than those I had used on my camping trips in the Adirondacks, and set out to explore -- making sure that my compass was in perfect working condition.

But, I forgot -- you, who are reading this have already experienced this "lighter than air" sensation.

The Moon's night is much colder than Earth's. But my sleeping tube was well-equipped with an electrical heating coil and I lay snug and warm on my back -- staring at my home planet that had changed places with the Moon. But if the Moon had ever looked so magnificently impressive -- so radiantly dazzling, lovers would not only have filled books of verses about it, but whole operas -- Hollywood spectacles would have been composed about that single orb. I am an explorer, not a poet, so I cannot begin to describe the breath-taking beauty of that giant circle of light.

I continued in a northeasterly direction for another day. The terrain was monotonously uninterrupted by any sort of vegetation or variation in the flat rock formation. But I was nearing the foot of the crater and hoped for something more interesting when I had mounted the summit. I slept that night half-way up the crater's but when I awoke the next morning something prompted me to look back over the distance I had just traveled through my telescopic lenses and see if my ship was all right.

I gasped in downright terror at what I saw. Nothing. That was it -- the ship was not there! Perhaps, I thought, it's the dust cloud that is hiding it -- but my lenses should penetrate that. I looked at my compass. Yes, I was turned in the right direction. Maybe I was misjudging my distance. I adjusted the focus for a longer range.

Something -- a mammoth shapeless form, was retreating into the distance over the rim of a very small crater. And in its slimy folds I recognized the bulge of my rocket ship.

It took me another day to retrace my steps, horror gripping me all the way. It was not till this afternoon that I neared the rim of the "thing" that had captured my ship. But I dared not approach within a hundred yards of the oozing creature. A nauseous sickness overcame me just to look at it -- or perhaps it was a gas that emanated from the colorless form that penetrated through the canvas of my space-suit.

The best description I can give the "thing" is that it was a protoplasmic glacier that stretched for at least a mile in all directions. It had the substance of a jellyfish and was about a foot thick. But the strength of that base organic matter was enormous. My ship was already crushed beyond repair. Pieces of metal jutted through the slime but with no harmful effect.

Suddenly, I realized that my presence had attracted the Moon monster. It had begun to move toward me and oozed out encircling tentacles -- but I backed up the side of a small crater and almost fell down into its center. For several minutes I rested, trying to overcome the nervous shock that the nausea seemed to produce, Perhaps I lay there longer than I knew. I may have even fallen unconscious -- but when I again climbed to the rim I discovered that the entire crater was surrounded by the plasmic slime that was ebbing ever nearer.

It has taken me some time to control my shaking nerves. I am now in the center of the crater and there are only a few feet between me and death. I am glad I remembered to take a notebook in my space suit. It has helped steady me for the final moment.

Something very interesting has just occurred.

In my ship I carried a case of chemical vials. I had hoped to do some experimenting here. Apparently the beast has broken the case and some of the vials have rolled beneath its weight down the side of the crater. I just caught a glimpse of one containing nitric acid and as I watched the gelatinous folds closed around it, and it burst. The effect was instantaneous. The ameobic substance was decomposed and went up in a cloud of smoke, leaving a hole about ten feet square.

If only I had a large supply of the Acid! But I haven't and the hole is already filling in as the monster closes around me. Still, it makes me almost happy to think that some one may read this note in time to prepare himself against the Moon beast. Arm yourselves, explorers of the future, not with guns or ray machines, but with a goodly supply of nitric acid to eat away the treacherous slime that is about to devour me.

The end is near -- Good-bye!


From the original fiche scans of Planet Comics #9 at Golden Age Comics, uploaded there by Rolster.

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