The Radio Planet
The Radio Planet
II TOO MUCH STATIC
MYLES CABOT HAD RETURNED TO the earth to study the latest developments of modern terrestrial science for the benefit of the Cupian nation. He was the regent of Cupia during the minority of his baby son, King Kew the Thirteenth. The loyal Prince Toron occupied the throne in his absence. The last of the ant-men and their ally, the renegade Cupian Prince Yuri, had presumably perished in an attempt to escape by flying through the steam-clouds which completely hem in continental Poros. What lay beyond the boiling seas no man knew.
During his stay on my farm, Cabot had built the matter-transmitting apparatus, with which he had shot himself off into space on that October night on which he had received the message from the skies: "S O S, Lilla." A thunderstorm had been brewing all that evening, and just as Myles had placed himself between the coordinate axes of his machine and had gathered up the strings which ran from his control levers to within the apparatus, there had come a blinding flash. Lightning had struck his aerial.
How long his unconsciousness lasted he knew not. He was some time in regaining his senses. But when he had finally and fully recovered, he found himself lying on a sandy beach beside a calm and placid lake beneath a silver sky.
He fell to wondering, vaguely and pleasantly, where he was and how he had got here.
Suddenly, however, his ears were jarred by a familiar sound. At once his senses cleared, and he listened intently to the distant purring of a motor. Yes, there could be no mistake; an airplane was approaching. Now he could see it, a speck in the sky, far down the beach.
Nearer and nearer it came.
Myles sprang to his feet. To his intense surprise, he found that the effort threw him quite a distance into the air. Instantly the idea flashed through his mind: "I must be on Mars! Or some other strange planet." This idea was vaguely reminiscent of something.
But while he was trying to catch this vaguely elusive train of thought, his attention was diverted by the fact that, for some unaccountable reason, his belt buckle and most of the buttons which had held his clothes together were missing, so that his clothing came to pieces as he rose, and that he had to shed it rapidly in order to avoid impeding his movements. He wondered at the cause of this.
But his speculations were cut short by the alighting of the plane a hundred yards down the beach.
What was his horror when out of it clambered, not men but ants! Ants, six-footed, and six feet high. Huge ants, four of them, running toward him over the glistening sands.
Gone was all his languor, as he seized a piece of driftwood and prepared to defend himself.
As he stood thus expectant, Myles realized that his present position and condition, the surrounding scenery, and the advance of the ant-men were exactly, item for item, like the opening events of his first arrival on the planet Poros. He even recognized one of the ant-men as old Doggo, who had befriended him on his previous visit.
Could it be that all his adventures in Cupia had been naught but a dream; a recurring dream, in fact? Were his dear wife Lilla and his little son Kew merely figments of his imagination? Horrible thought!
And then events began to differ from those of the past; for the three other Formians halted, and Doggo advanced alone. By the agitation of the beast's antennae the earth man could see that it was talking to him. But Myles no longer possessed the wonderful electrical headset which he had contrived and built during his previous visit to that planet, so as to talk with Cupians and Formians, both of which races are earless and converse by means of radiations from their antennae.
So he picked up two sticks from the beach, and held them projecting from his forehead; then threw them to the ground with a grimace of d