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The rocketing ship had appeared over one observation station near Lake
Ontario. It had been spotted by a CD worker near Auburn, N.Y., then it
was gone. The last observation of the craft showed it flying an erratic
track toward the mountain country of Pennsylvania.
At CQ operations office, in Washington D.C., Lt. Colonel Martin Griswold
tossed the last report on his desk and pinched his lower lip
thoughtfully. Colonel Delbert, sitting across from him, looked serious.
"It's out of control," he mused. "And it isn't one of ours. Russian?"
"Might be." He looked at the rugged country along the Pennsylvania, New
York map for a moment, then he picked up the phone on his desk. "This is
Colonel Griswold. Get me the Pentagon."
At 0930 a special plane left Washington, bound for the town in northern
Pennsylvania that had been chosen as a base of operations. On board the
plane were the Secret Service men who were to track down the crashed
They were several hours too late...
He awakened to flame and smoke and it was as though he had been born
again. About him lay thick, summer cloaked forests and heavy carpets of
laurel and brush. Obviously, it was some sort of plane that was burning
nearby and he had probably been in it. In his mind, he remembered only
the blinding flash of white light, then a sea of darkness that had
enveloped him. Whether he had been thrown clear of the wreck, or whether
he had crawled, he didn't know. But the torn flying suit he wore
convinced him that he had once been airborne in that battered craft.
The heavy, canvas-like material of the flying suit had protected the
blue serge business suit underneath, so that besides a ripped pocket it
was presentable. He grinned wryly in the pre-dawn darkness. Presentable
to whom? The squirrels? He peeled off the flying suit and added it to
the flaming wreckage, then staggered off through the night toward the
valley below. There was usually, he recalled, water in ravines.
He used small saplings for handholds while his head thumped and
thundered wildly. Probing fingers found a lump beneath blood matted hair
that was sensitive to the touch. There was a scratch on his cheek,
sealed with dried blood, and his hands were skinned as though he had
broken a fall in cinders with them. It was, he decided, amazing that he
had survived a plane crash with so little injury; but then, stranger
things had happened.
There was a run at the bottom of the hill, one of those leaf choked,
meandering little creeks that become stagnant pools in July and August,
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