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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/25

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23
JAIL-BREAK

"You keep overlooking the main point, rat. That is, the aftermath of taking this hormone."

"You'd love to see me lose my nerve and stay in here for the rest of my life—with a way out in my hand, wouldn't you?" flared Littell. "To hell with your aftermath!" He didn't have to take Harley's lip any longer. He'd got what he wanted out of him. "And to hell with you—no, no. I don't mean that."

For it had suddenly occurred to him that Harley could still spoil the thing. All he had to do was speak to the warden.

But Harley hadn't spoken to anyone. And this unnerved him, too. The man actually wanted him to do it. Escape—this way—must be horrible indeed....


Horrible or not, he was going through with it. So now he stood in his cell, by the window with the bar sawn out, shivering in the cold night breeze, naked and ready to go. He had swallowed the contents of the little vial. Rather awful pain. Convulsions. Then clear-headedness and a sense of giddy lightness. He looked eagerly down at his naked arm. Had the stuff really worked?

The arm stood out white in the dimness, perfectly apparent. He knew an awful moment when he was convinced that the whole thing was only an elaborate, cruel hoax after all. Quite in line with Harley's hatred of him.

But wait. His body was supposed to take on the coloring of his background, and he was holding it out in empty air. He had got up from his bunk, walked to the wall, and laid his arm against it.

And cold sweat broke out all over his naked body. He could still see it, white and distinct against the stone.

He had fallen to the cold floor on his knees, with his face in his hands and his breath whistling out of distended nostrils. A grim jest of Harley's after all....

The guard for this cell block had walked past, light flashing carelessly in. The rays had fallen squarely on Littell. He had waited dully for the guard to order him back to his bunk, for the rays to flash higher and reveal the bar he had sawn before swallowing the blood-red fluid. And the guard had passed on without saying a word.

It was all right, then. God in heaven, it was all right. He could see himself, but somehow others couldn't see him. The effect of the drug must have included the pigmentation of his eyes in some odd way that let him see that which others could not....

What had Harley said? "You see things——"

He shoved that out of his mind as he stood naked before the window. First get out of here. Then worry about the consequences brought in the train of the draft. The fog outside whirled more thickly. It was thin at best; only wisps here and there. But Littell hadn't had the patience to wait for a foggier night. He drew himself with difficulty through the all-too-narrow aperture opened by the removed bar.

It wasn't till he was hanging outside the cell window that the most fearful thought of all occurred to him.

What if that stuff was only colored water? What if the man who hated him had gone to these lengths to build up in his mind a baseless dependence on its powers? What if he really hung here as a human body in full view of any guard who cared to see, instead of as a chameleon-like mass melting into the background of stone?

That would be a sardonic joke to Harley. To stuff him full of scientific poppycock, placing him here as a helpless target for machine-gun bullets.

The nerves of his back crawled as he