In the rarified atmosphere "Winter" spoke in several volumns. Snow rode the winds, a chorus line of blue lightning danced the tops of distant mountains, pellets of hail bounced off the spacesuits of the two human inspectors who stood on a mountain slope.

High above them a huge figure ghosted on the winds. As they watched, his mouth opened and thunder spilled out.

"Amazing," J'amorra said, his words riding out on a puff of steam from his breath. Both had their faceplates open. Focused irradiated heat prevented their skin from freezing.

"Absolutely!" L'mott responded. "Why do the scientists ignore that?"

J'amorra shrugged. "They say with all the thunder, it's coincidental the thunder comes when his mouth is open."

"Their explanation of the figure being seen is all due to an unusual conglomeration of ice reflections is too simplistic," L'mott injected.

"Yet this planet's natives, the Wurffians, say their people have been worshipping the Great God Galu forever. How could an unusual set of reflections last so long? The Wurffians say their people have always brought the bodies of their deceased up here for Galu."

"How could they do that?" L'mott asked. "They are tall, wear no clothes and are covered with thin hair. They would die!"

"One of them told me Galu had made their bodies warm as they near him."

"I'd rather believe that than those scientists!" L'mott snapped.

"That's one of the reasons the Loyolla University sent us to inspect the situation. There's a feeling these scientists are atheist whose only purpose is to deny belief in ANY god."

"Besides," he continued, "those Roullian scientists report their instruments recorded life."

J'amorra nodded. "Our Human scientists scoffed their results. They claimed the Roullians for having all instruments connected to their brains, swearing that affected their results."

"I have something else I want to bring up to the scientists. If the Wurffians bring their dead up here, there must be remains! Let's go."

They went to the flying sleds on a convenient ledge below them. As they flew away, J'amorra looked back. "L'mott! " he said over the radio. "Some Wurffians are bringing a corpse! According to tradition, they'll leave it around where we were. It should get a scientist hot to get out here. Speed it up!"

"A corpse?" the scientist asked with a tinge of disbelief in his voice. "If you weren't from Layolla, I'd not let you in."

"Loyolla," L'mott corrected.

With a dismissive swipe of his hand, the scientist said. "Whatever! Anyway, they have a lot of powerful friends. But why should I be interested?"

"If you find a corpse, it would prove Galu doesn't take it," L'mott pointed out. Wouldn't that be good to know?"

"We've searched for years and never found one," the scientist muttered. "They must be buried deep in the snow."

"If you hurry, this one won't be," J'morra told him.

They returned in three sleds.

"Follow me," L'morra said when they landed.

"This is idiotic," the scientist snarled. "If I don't find a corpse, you are dead -- Layolla or not!" He tailed L'mott.

When they reached the selected spot, the scientist snapped, "I see no corpse!"

J'morra pointed ahead. "Snow would have covered him. Go up there and use your instruments."

"I shall!" the scientist said, and headed away.

On a weird impulse, J'morra shouted, "Here's a scientist, Galu!" He immediately felt ridiculous and silly.

That all changed when Galu's huge hand swept down, picked up the scientist and threw him into his giant mouth. With a blaze of red, the scientist was transformed into whatever fed Galu.

Both inspectors' faceshield automatically snapped into place as the two men fainted and collapsed into the swirling snow.

All was electronically recorded, so the inspectors' job was complete



View My Stats