酷兔英语



TABBY

By Winston Marks

Illustrated by Rudolph Palais

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science

Fiction March 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that

the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: _Tabby was peculiar, of course, but seemed harmless: just a

little green fly that couldn't even protect itself from ordinary

spiders. So the spiders fed, and grew, and fed, and grew...._]

* * * * *

April 18, 1956

Dear Ben: It breaks my heart you didn't sign on for this trip. Your

replacement, who _calls_ himself an ichthyologist, has only one talent

that pertains to fish--he drinks like one. There are nine of us in the

expedition, and every one of us is fed up with this joker, Cleveland,

already. We've only been on the island a week, and he's gone native,

complete with beard, bare feet and bone laziness. He slops around the

lagoon like a beachcomber and hasn't brought in a decentspecimen yet.

The island is a bit of paradise, though. Wouldn't be hard to let

yourself relax under the palms all day instead of collecting blisters

and coral gashes out in the bright sun of the atoll. No complaints,

however. We aren't killing ourselves, and our little camp is very

comfortable. The portable lab is working out fine, and the screened

sleeping tent-houses have solved the one big nuisance we've suffered

before: _Insects_. I think an entomologist would find more to keep him

busy here than we will.

Your ankle should be useable by the time our next supply plane from

Hawaii takes off. If you apply again at the Foundation right now I'm

sure Sellers and the others will help me get rid of Cleveland, and

there'll be an open berth here.

Got to close now. Our amphib jets off in an hour for the return trip.

Hope this note is properly seductive. Come to the isles, boy, and

live!--Cordially, Fred

* * * * *

May 26, 1956

Dear Ben: Now, aren't you sorry you didn't take my advice?!!!! I'm

assuming you read the papers, and also, that too tight a censorship

hasn't clamped down on this thing yet. Maybe I'm assuming too much on

the latter. Anyhow, here's a detailed version from an actual eyewitness.

That's right! I was right there on the beach when the "saucer" landed.

Only it looked more like a king-size pokerchip. About six feet across

and eight inches thick with a little hemispherical dome dead center on

top. It hit offshore about seventy-five yards with a splash that sounded

like a whale's tail. Jenner and I dropped our seine, waded to shore and

started running along the beach to get opposite it. Cleveland came out

of the shade and helped us launch a small boat.

We got within twenty feet of the thing when it started moving out,

slowly, just fast enough to keep ahead of us. I was in the bow looking

right at it when the lid popped open with a sound like a cork coming out

of a wine bottle. The little dome had split. Sellers quit rowing and we

all hit the bottom of the boat. I peeked over the gunwale right away,

and it's a good thing. All that came out of the dome was a little cloud

of flies, maybe a hundred or so, and the breeze picked them up and blew

them over us inshore so fast that Cleveland and Sellers never did see

them.

I yelled at them to look, but by then the flies were in mingling with

the local varieties of sudden itch, and they figured I was seeing

things. Cleveland, though, listened with the most interest. It develops

that his specialty _is_ entomology. He took this job because he was out

of work. Don't know how he bluffed his way past the Foundation, but here

he is, and it looks like he might be useful after all.

He was all for going ashore, but Sellers and I rowed after the white

disk for awhile until it became apparent we couldn't catch it. It's a

good thing we didn't. A half hour later, Olafsen caught up to it in the

power launch. We were watching from shore. It was about a half mile out

when Ole cut his speed. Luckily he was alone. We had yelled at him to

pick us up and take us along, but he was too excited to stop. He passed

us up, went out there and boom!

It wasn't exactly an A-bomb, but the spray hit us a half mile away, and

the surface wave swamped us.

Sellers radioed the whole incident to Honolulu right away, and they are

sending out a plane with a diver, but we don't think he'll find

anything. Things really blew! So far we haven't even found any

identifiable driftwood from the launch, let alone Ole's body or traces

of the disk.

Meanwhile, Cleveland has come to believe my story, and he's out prowling

around with an insect net. Most energy he's shown in weeks.

* * * * *

May 28--Looks like this letter will be delayed a bit. We are under

quarantine. The government plane came this morning. They sent along a

diver, two reporters and a navy officer. The diver went down right away,

but it's several hundred feet deep out there and slants off fast. This

island is the tip of a sunken mountain, and the diver gave up after less

than an hour. Personally I think a couple of sharks scared him off, but

he claims there's so much vegetable ruck down there he couldn't expect

to find anything smaller than the launch's motor.

Cleveland hasn't found anything unusual in his bug net, but everyone is

excited here, and you can guess why.

When the "saucer" reports stopped cold about a year ago, you'll

remember, it made almost as much news for a while as when they were

first spotted. Now the people out here are speculating that maybe this

disc thing came from the same source as the _saucers_, after they had a

chance to look us over, study our ecology and return to their base.

Cleveland is the one who started this trend of thought with his

obsession that the flies I reported seeing are an attack on our planet

from someone out in space.

Commander Clawson, the navy officer, doesn't know what to think. He

won't believe Cleveland until he produces a specimen of the

"fly-from-Mars", but then he turns around and contradicts himself by

declaring a temporary quarantine until he gets further orders from

Honolulu.

The reporters are damned nuisances. They're turning out reams of Sunday

supplement type stuff and pestering the devil out of Sparks to let them

wire it back, but our radio is now under navy control, too.

Sure is crowded in the bunk-house with the six additional people, but no

one will sleep outside the screen.

* * * * *

May 29--Cleveland thinks he has his specimen. He went out at dawn this

morning and came in before breakfast. He's quit drinking but he hasn't

slept in three days now and looks like hell. I thought he was getting

his fancy imagination out of the bottle, but the soberer he got the more

worried he looked over this "invasion" idea of his.

Now he claims that his catch is definitely a sample of something new

under our particular sun. He hustled it under a glass and started

classifying it. It filled the bill for the arthropods, class Insecta. It

looked to me, in fact, just like a small, ordinary blowfly, except that

it has green wings. And I mean _green_, not just a little iridescent

color.

Cleve very gently pulled one wing off and we looked at it under low

power. There is more similarity to a leaf than to a wing. In the bug's

back is a tiny pocket, a sort of reservoir of the green stuff, and

Cleve's dissection shows tiny veins running up into the wings. It seems

to be a closed system with no connection with the rest of the body

except the restraining membrane.

Cleveland now rests his extraterrestrial origin theory on an idea that

the green stuff is chlorophyll. If it is chlorophyll, either Cleve is

right or else he's discovered a new class of arthropods. In other

respects the critter is an ordinary biting and sucking bug with the

potentials of about a deerfly for making life miserable. The high-power

lens showed no sign of unusual or malignantmicroscopic life inside or

out of the thing. Cleve can't say how bad a bite would be, because he

doesn't have his entomologist kit with him, and he can't analyze the

secretion from the poison gland.

The commander has let him radio for a botanist and some micro-analysis

equipment.

Everyone was so pitched up that Cleve's findings have been rather

anti-climactic. I guess we were giving more credence to the

space-invader theory than we thought. But even if Cleve has proved it,

this fly doesn't look like much to be frightened over. The reporters are

clamoring to be let loose, but the quarantine still holds.

* * * * *

June 1--By the time the plane with the botanist arrived we were able to

gather all the specimens of _Tabanidae viridis_ (Cleveland's

designation) that he wanted. Seems like every tenth flying creature you

meet is a green "Tabby" now.

The botanist helped Cleve and me set up the bio kit, and he confirmed

Cleve's guess. The green stuff is chlorophyll. Which makes Tabby quite a

bug.

Kyser, the youngest reporter, volunteered to let a Tabby bite him. It

did without too much coaxing. Now he has a little, itchy bump on his

wrist, and he's happily banging away at his typewriter on a story

titled, "I Was Bitten by the Bug from Space!" That was hours ago, and we

haven't learned anything sinister about the green fly except that it

does have a remarkablebreeding ability.

One thing the reporter accomplished: we can go outside the screened

quarters now without wondering about catching space-typhus.

* * * * *

June 2--The quarantine was probably a pretty good idea. Cleve has turned

up some dope on Tabby's life cycle that makes us glad all over that we

are surrounded by a thousand miles of salt water. Tabby's adult life is

only a couple of days, but she is viviparous, prolific (some thousand

young at a sitting), and her green little microscopic babies combine the

best survival features of spores and plankton, minus one: they don't

live in salt water. But they do very well almost anyplace else. We have

watched them grow on hot rocks, leaves, in the sand and best of all,

filtered down a little into the moist earth.

They grow incredibly fast with a little sun, so the chlorophyll is

biologically justified in the life-cycle. This puzzled us at first,

because the adult Tabby turns into a blood-sucking little brute.

Deprived of any organic matter, our bottled specimens die in a short

time, in or out of the sunlight, indicating the green stuff doesn't

provide them with much if any nourishment after they are full-grown.

Now we are waiting for a supply of assorted insecticides to find the

best controls over the pests. The few things we had on hand worked quite

well, but I guess they aren't forgetting our sad experience with DDT a

few years back.

The Tabbies now outnumber all the other insects here, and most outside

work has been halted. The little green devils make life miserable

outside the tent-houses. We have built another screened shelter to

accommodate the latest arrivals. We are getting quite a fleet of

amphibian aircraft floating around our lagoon. No one will be allowed to

return until we come up with all the answers to the question of

controlling our insect invasion.

Cleveland is trying to convince Sellers and the commander that we should

get out and send in atomic fire to blow the whole island into the sea.

They forwarded his suggestion to the U. N. committee which now has

jurisdiction, but they wired back that if the insect is from space, we

couldn't stop other discs from landing on the mainlands. Our orders are

to study the bug and learn all we can.

Opinion is mixed here. I can't explain the flying disc unless it's

extraterrestrial, but why would an invader choose an isolated spot like

this to attack? Cleve says this is just a "test patch" and probably

under surveillance. But why such an innocuous little fly if they mean

business?

The newsmen are really bored now. They see no doom in the bugs, and

since they can't file their stories they take a dim view of the

quarantine. They have gotten up an evening fishing derby with the crew

members of the planes. Have to fish after dusk. The Tabbies bite too

often as long as the sun is up.

Cleve has turned into a different man. He is soft-spoken and intense.

His hands tremble so much that he is conducting most of his work by

verbal directions with the botanist and me to carry them out. When his

suggestion about blowing up the atoll was turned down he quit talking

except to conduct his work. If things were half as ominous as he makes

out we'd be pretty worried.

* * * * *

June 4--The spray planes got here and none too soon. We were running out

of drinking water. The Tabbies got so thick that even at night a man

would get stung insane if he went outside the screen.

The various sprays all worked well. This evening the air is relatively

clear. Incidentally, the birds have been having a feast. Now the gulls

are congregating to help us out like they did the Mormons in the cricket

plague. The spiders are doing all right for themselves, too. In fact,

now that we have sprayed the place the spiders and their confounded webs

are the biggest nuisance we have to contend with. They are getting fat

and sassy. Spin their webs between your legs if you stand still a minute

too long. Remind me of real estate speculators in a land boom, the

little bastardly opportunists. As you might gather, I don't care for

brothers Arachnidae. They make everyone else nervous, too. Strangely,

Cleveland, the entomologist, gets the worst jolt out of them. He'll

stand for minutes at the screen watching them spin their nasty webs and

skipping out to de-juice a stray Tabby that the spray missed. And he'll

mutter to himself and scowl and curse them. It is hard to include them

as God's creatures.

Cleve still isn't giving out with the opinions. He works incessantly and

has filled two notebooks full of data. Looks to me like our work is

almost done.

* * * * *

August 7, Year of our Lord 1956--To whom it will never concern: I can no

longer make believe this is addressed to my friend, Ben Tobin. Cleveland

has convinced me of the implications of our tragedy here. But somehow it

gives me some crazy, necessary ray of hope to keep this journal until

the end.

I think the real horror of this thing started to penetrate to me about

June 6. Our big spray job lasted less than 24 hours, and on that morning

I was watching for the planes to come in for a second try at it when I

noticed the heavy spider webbing in the upper tree foliage. As I looked

a gull dove through the trees, mouth open, eating Tabbies. Damned if the

webs didn't foul his wings. At first he tore at them bravely and it

looked like he was trying to swim in thin mud--sort of slow motion. Then

he headed into a thick patch, slewed around at right angles and did a

complete flip. Instantly three mammoth spiders the size of my fist

pounced out on him and trussed him up before he could tear loose with

his feet.

His pitiful squawking was what made me feel that horror for the first

time. And the scene was repeated more and more often. The planes dusted

us with everything they had, and it cut down the Tabbies pretty well

again, but it didn't touch the spiders, of course.

And then our return radio messages started getting very vague. We were


生词表:
  • extensive [ik´stensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广阔的;大量的   (初中英语单词)
  • research [ri´sə:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.调查;探究;研究   (初中英语单词)
  • peculiar [pi´kju:liə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.特有的;奇异的   (初中英语单词)
  • paradise [´pærədais] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天堂;乐园   (初中英语单词)
  • working [´wə:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工人的;劳动的   (初中英语单词)
  • foundation [faun´deiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.建立;基金;地基   (初中英语单词)
  • properly [´prɔpəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.适当地;严格地   (初中英语单词)
  • actual [´æktʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.现实的;实际的   (初中英语单词)
  • splash [splæʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.溅水声;涉水而进   (初中英语单词)
  • running [´rʌniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奔跑的;流动的   (初中英语单词)
  • breeze [bri:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.微风;不费力的事   (初中英语单词)
  • ashore [ə´ʃɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向岸上   (初中英语单词)
  • awhile [ə´wail] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.少顷;片刻   (初中英语单词)
  • apparent [ə´pærənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.显然的;表面上的   (初中英语单词)
  • incident [´insidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.小事件;事变   (初中英语单词)
  • insect [´insekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.昆虫   (初中英语单词)
  • energy [´enədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活力,精力;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • vegetable [´vedʒtəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.蔬菜(的);植物   (初中英语单词)
  • unusual [ʌn´ju:ʒuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不平常的;异常的   (初中英语单词)
  • everyone [´evriwʌn] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.=everybody 每人   (初中英语单词)
  • additional [ə´diʃənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.附加的,额外的   (初中英语单词)
  • screen [skri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银幕 vt.遮蔽   (初中英语单词)
  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • definitely [´definitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明确地;绝对   (初中英语单词)
  • sample [´sæmpl, ´sɑ:mpəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.样品;试样 vt.尝试   (初中英语单词)
  • gently [´dʒentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温和地;静静地   (初中英语单词)
  • system [´sistəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.系统,体系,制度   (初中英语单词)
  • connection [kə´nekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.联系;关系;联运   (初中英语单词)
  • origin [´ɔridʒin] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.起源;由来;出身   (初中英语单词)
  • miserable [´mizərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.悲惨的;可怜的   (初中英语单词)
  • poison [´pɔizən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.毒物 v.毒害 a.有毒的   (初中英语单词)
  • commander [kə´mɑ:ndə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.指挥员,司令员   (初中英语单词)
  • remarkable [ri´mɑ:kəbl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.值得注意的;显著的   (初中英语单词)
  • combine [kəm´bain] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)结合;联合企业   (初中英语单词)
  • sunlight [´sʌnlait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • convince [kən´vins] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.使确信;使认识错误   (初中英语单词)
  • atomic [ə´tɔmik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.原子的;原子能的   (初中英语单词)
  • suggestion [sə´dʒestʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.建议,提议;暗示   (初中英语单词)
  • invader [in´veidə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.入侵者;侵袭物   (初中英语单词)
  • remind [ri´maind] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.提醒;使记(想)起   (初中英语单词)
  • estate [i´steit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.财产;庄园;等级   (初中英语单词)
  • nervous [´nə:vəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神经的;神经过敏的   (初中英语单词)
  • tragedy [´trædʒidi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.悲剧;惨案;灾难   (初中英语单词)
  • journal [´dʒə:nəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日记;日报;杂志   (初中英语单词)
  • horror [´hɔrə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;战栗   (初中英语单词)
  • spider [´spaidə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蜘蛛;三角架   (初中英语单词)
  • instantly [´instəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.立即,立刻   (初中英语单词)
  • uncover [ʌn´kʌvə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.揭开(盖子);揭露   (高中英语单词)
  • publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发表;公布;发行   (高中英语单词)
  • harmless [´hɑ:mləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无害的,无恶意的   (高中英语单词)
  • decent [´di:sənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.体面的,正派的   (高中英语单词)
  • specimen [´spesimən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.标本,样品;抽样   (高中英语单词)
  • nuisance [´nju:səns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.损害;讨厌的人(事)   (高中英语单词)
  • launch [lɔ:ntʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.发动 n.发射;汽艇   (高中英语单词)
  • sunken [´sʌŋkən] 移动到这儿单词发声  sink的过去分词   (高中英语单词)
  • personally [´pə:sənəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.亲自;就个人来说   (高中英语单词)
  • seeing [si:iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  see的现在分词 n.视觉   (高中英语单词)
  • temporary [´tempərəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.暂时的 n.临时工   (高中英语单词)
  • damned [dæmd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.该死的 ad.非常,极   (高中英语单词)
  • crowded [´kraudid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.充(拥)满了的   (高中英语单词)
  • reporter [ri´pɔ:tə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.报告人;记者;广播员   (高中英语单词)
  • typewriter [´taip,raitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.打字机   (高中英语单词)
  • learned [´lə:nid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有学问的,博学的   (高中英语单词)
  • insane [in´sein] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.患神经病的;疯狂的   (高中英语单词)
  • contend [kən´tend] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.竞争;斗争;争论   (高中英语单词)
  • penetrate [´penitreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.贯穿;穿透;渗透   (高中英语单词)
  • foliage [´fəuli-idʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.叶子,簇叶   (高中英语单词)
  • bravely [´breivli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.勇敢地;毅然   (高中英语单词)
  • motion [´məuʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.手势 vt.打手势   (高中英语单词)
  • pitiful [´pitifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可怜的;慈悲的   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • copyright [´kɔpirait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.版权;著作权   (英语四级单词)
  • version [´və:ʃən, ´və:rʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.翻译;说明;译本   (英语四级单词)
  • reservoir [´rezəvwɑ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.水库;蓄水池   (英语四级单词)
  • bitten [´bitn] 移动到这儿单词发声  bite的过去分词   (英语四级单词)
  • sinister [´sinistə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.阴险的;不吉的   (英语四级单词)
  • breeding [´bri:diŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.饲养,教养   (英语四级单词)
  • accomplished [ə´kʌmpliʃt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.完成了的;熟练的   (英语四级单词)
  • organic [ɔ:´gænik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有机体的;器官的   (英语四级单词)
  • nourishment [´nʌriʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.食物;营养品(情况)   (英语四级单词)
  • trying [´traiiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难堪的;费劲的   (英语四级单词)
  • gotten [´gɔtn] 移动到这儿单词发声  get的过去分词   (英语四级单词)
  • fishing [´fiʃiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.钓鱼;捕鱼;渔业   (英语四级单词)
  • ominous [´ɔminəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不祥的;预示的   (英语四级单词)
  • incidentally [,insi´dentəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.顺便一提;偶然地   (英语四级单词)
  • portable [´pɔ:təbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.轻便的 n.手提打字机   (英语六级单词)
  • biting [´baitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.刺痛的;尖利的   (英语六级单词)
  • malignant [mə´lignənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.恶意的;有害的   (英语六级单词)
  • microscopic [,maikrə´skɔpik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(象)显微镜的   (英语六级单词)
  • incredibly [in´kredəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.难以置信地   (英语六级单词)
  • lagoon [lə´gu:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.濒海湖,泻湖   (英语六级单词)
  • landing [´lændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.登陆;降落;楼梯平台   (英语六级单词)
  • incessantly [in´sesntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不断地,不停地   (英语六级单词)
  • august [ɔ:´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尊严的;威严的   (英语六级单词)
  • mammoth [´mæməθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.庞大的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:31:46
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