Derring-do on a world of primitive monsters! When Robert Grandon swapped bodies with a prince of the planet Venus, he was concerned only with the thrill and interest of living on a different world. But the situation he found himself in was hardly that of a leisurely sightseer. Instead, he found himself smack in the center of a whirlwind of intrigue, danger, and desperation. Planet of Peril is a science-fiction adventure on a world of semi-barbaric nations, ferocious beasts, gigantic reptiles, and maidens in distress!
205 pages, with a reading time of ~3.25 hours (51,377 words), and first published in 1929. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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Robert Ellsmore Grandon stifled a yawn with difficulty as the curtain went down on the first act of Don Giovanni and wondered what was the matter. It wasn’t that opera bored him, or that tonight’s performance was inferior; in fact, what he had been able to give his attention to struck him as being among the best performances he had seen. But something was distracting him, something he could not put his finger on; and the effort to keep his attention on the music and the performers was tiring him. Perhaps it was just one of those days, he thought.
He was tired of life at twenty-four, he decided–tired and disillusioned and somehow trapped. After his spell of military service, he’d broken away from family obligations and expectations to join revolutionaries in Cuba. The struggle there had seemed important, worth risking his neck for; but he’d seen, much earlier than some others, that the new regime was just a change of masters. He’d gotten out while getting out was easy and returned to take up the career in insurance administration that his uncle wanted him to take–the uncle who had paid his college expenses. Now, Robert and Vincent Grandon would prepare for the position that. Uncle Arthur would be leaving in a few years. It would be a good career for both young men; for while only one could step into Arthur Grandon’s shoes, the second spot would be no less desirable.
Very likely, with full effort, he could make the top–but his cousin had the extra measure of devotion to the business that Robert Grandon simply couldn’t bring. Robert Ellsmore Grandon yearned for action, adventure, romance–something that seemed to be gone in this world of the Twentieth Century.
He made his way to the bar thinking that he’d chuck it all in a moment for a chance to think and act for himself, for a chance to accomplish something worthwhile according to his own lights. Yes–insurance was worthwhile, he thought as he sat at the bar and beckoned to Louis, but not worth his while.
Louis looked his way, nodded, and started to mix a gibson for him. The bartender had a curious grin on his face as he set the glass down. “Did you get the message, Mr. Grandon?”
Robert Grandon blinked. “What message?”
“Didn’t you see the papers today?”
Grandon shook his head. “Just glanced at them. What’s up?”
Louis went back and bent down, to return with the Times, folded to a certain page, and placed it on the bar before him. To Grandon’s astonishment, he saw a sketch of himself staring him in the face.
“Had you planned in advance to come tonight, Mr. Grandon?”
Grandon looked up with a puzzled expression on his face. “No–now that you mention it, I hadn’t. I was going to ask a friend to come with me next Friday night. Came down this morning to see about tickets, and decided that I’d come tonight alone, when I found that there was a good seat available…Don’t know why, now that I think of it.”
Louis’ face wore a strange smile. “Read that ad, Mr. Grandon. Maybe you are the one.”
Grandon picked up the paper. The heading read, “I Want You!” There was no caption under the sketch; beneath it, the text said: “I do not know your name, or anything about you, except that you are in the city. I want to perform an experiment, and you may be the man I need. If you are, you will know by these tokens.
“You will feel an urge to go to a certain place tonight which you may or may not have been planning to go to, and you will want to get there around 8 p.m. Starting at 8:30 p.m., every half hour, I will send you a message. You may not hear it the first or second time, but you may feel distracted. If you are the man I want, it will seem as if a voice is speaking to you. It will be a voice in your mind; it will say Doctor Morgan’ and direct you to go to a particular spot. There a man will be waiting for you; he will ask you a question which I shall also tell you of when I communicate with you. Please give him a hearing before you decide.”
“Looks as if you’ve gotten the first part of it, Mr. Grandon. You hadn’t expected to come tonight, but here you are.”
Grandon put the newspaper down. It had been just about half an hour after the performance started that he’d begun to feel distracted and a little irritated.
Louis said, “It’s two minutes of nine, Mr. Grandon. Maybe you’ll get the message this time.”
Grandon sipped the gibson, with his eyes on the clock. He tried to relax, to let himself open to whatever thoughts might come into his head. He’d heard of experiments in telepathy, and while he didn’t find parapsychology too convincing, he had no strong bias against it. In fact, he’d thought that it might be fascinating if this sort of thing could be so. Here would be a new frontier if…