Tama of the Light Country by Ray Cummings

Tama of the Light Country


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subjects: Science Fiction

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Are all the artificial satellites circling the earth ours? How can we be sure that these little metal globes, these observational devices with their top-secret interiors, were all made on earth? Perhaps there is one up there that was not? When such a space satellite was located, it caused a furore. But that was nothing to what happened when it was accompanied by a mysterious rash of kidnappings–young girls were being taken away, carried off to some strange destiny in outer space! Tama of the Light Country is the startling novel of the conflict with Mercury–the smallest world of the solar system–which harbored an unsuspected secret.

134 pages, with a reading time of ~2.25 hours (33,514 words), and first published in 1930. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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The First of the midnight raids was made upon a girls’ school on Moose Head Lake, in Maine. It was a summer camp, with something like eighty girls, almost all between the ages of fifteen and twenty. The affair–which occurred during the nights of August tenth and eleventh–was kept as secret as possible. It did not get into the newspapers, nor did the newscasters announce it until about a week later.

But it terrorized the immediate neighborhood at once, and little wonder. There were ten of the girls missing when, despite the confusion and terror, the others could be counted. Two more were dead. The principal, a Professor White, was wounded. Two of the other men teachers were killed, and one of the matrons.

I heard of the affair about noon of August eleventh. I was twenty-five years of age the summer when the mysterious attack upon the White Summer Camp in Maine started a chain of events which brought a menace to two worlds and utter chaos to one.

*    *    *    *    *

I am Jack Dean, a newsgatherer for the Broadcasters’ Press Association, and occasionally I do some actual newscasting. I was in the New York studios of the B.P.A., and had just been on the air with a routine news account, when the aviator Jimmy Turk called me long distance from Boston.

“Take your plane and come up,” he told me. His voice was vibrant with excitement. “Drop your work. Tell ‘em it’s business, the biggest piece of news this year–if you can get a release on it!”

Jimmy Turk was an operative of the newly established Interstate Flying Patrol, and a friend from my University days, though of recent years we had not seen much of each other. A short, stocky, red-headed little daredevil, this Turk–one of the most skillful wildest flyers in the service.

“Trouble up at Moose Head Lake, in Maine,” he went on. “Meet you at Bangor–the Lanset Field. We’ll go in my Dragon, so leave your tub-boat there. What time will you be up? Four o’clock? The devil! If you leave now you can be there by three, or earlier.”

“For how long, Jimmy? An overnight job?”

“Tell ‘em you don’t know. A day or two. A week. Just tell ‘em it’s the biggest thing ever–if you get it for the air. It’s been suppressed so far. I’m in it from the police end. Damn it, Jack, don’t make me talk. There’s no time.”

*    *    *    *    *

I flew up the coast and met him at the Lanset Field in mid afternoon. He was wild-eyed, his fiery red hair tousled, his entire little body shaking with excitement. It was the strain of waiting for me, I thought. With action I knew Jimmy Turk to be cool and calculatingly deliberate.

He hustled me into his powerful little Dragon–the smallest, swiftest thing that flies.

“I’ve been over there and back. It isn’t far: half an hour or so.”

We settled down in the tiny oval cockpit. He lifted us and we sped away over the forest reaches toward the famous lake. It was a surprisingly wild country for this day and age–a playground for summer vacationists, yet there were deserted lakes and unbroken stretches of primeval forest.

“Well, Jimmy, now that we’re here, what’s the trouble?” I said lightly. “Something drastic?”

“No trouble–nothing at all except about ten young girls abducted, a few killed, and a couple of other miscellaneous murders.”

He told me all he had learned about it, which was little enough. It was wholly confused–a muddle of conflicting accounts, none of which dovetailed to make a rational explanation.

The White Summer Camp for Girls consisted of a group of log-cabin type bungalows set on a promontory of the lake, with a larger cabin as mess-hall. A boathouse with canoes, a dock, float and diving board were at the end of the point. There was a small stable with saddle horses, and a taxi runway leading from the lake to a hangar-garage which housed several small sport hydroplanes for those pupils whose parents would allow and could afford them.

The camp was one of the wildest portions of the lake. Unbroken forest lay about it, with only a few houses in the neighborhood and a dirt road leading to the nearest village three miles away.

The place was in a turmoil when we arrived. Planes lay thick on the water about the runway. The road was jammed with automobiles. A police cordon about the camp managed to keep the crowd back, but within the lines there was a group of excited officials, investigators, and curiosity-seekers who had the connections to get inside.

The pupils–those who had not been killed, or abducted–had fled to their homes. Professor White lay unconscious in a Bangor hospital. What he had to tell, if there were anything rational, as yet remained undisclosed.