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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/26

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WEIRD TALES

hung there against the wall with the floodlights full on him. He could fairly feel slugs tearing into him from the watch towers. Of course he was visible. The guard who had flashed his light on him must have seen him after all and have passed on indifferently, thinking he was praying. He was going to die....

But no slugs came. He hung there for what seemed two full minutes, with the light strong on him, and no shots sounded out.

He dropped. It was fifteen feet to the yard pavement. Strong chance of a broken leg. But he had not dared to make a rope of bedding. That would show against the wall, even if he did not.

He stood blinking, with the darling lights on him. He couldn't seem to see fog wisps at all, now, though they had been apparent from his window. Those lights! Surely, surely he would be seen. Then fog shreds swirled once more.


He walked slowly across the courtyard toward the high outer wall. Perhaps if he walked like that, instead of making a dash for it, he would be hailed instead of shot at once.

But still no slugs came. And he began to thrill wildly with a sense of achievement. He was going to make it! Harley's drug was all he claimed it to be! There was no chance of a mistake now—no living thing could have crossed that yard as he was crossing it, unless it was hidden by the chameleon-like power of taking on the absolute tint of the paving-stone over which he moved!

He looked up at the nearest tower. Distinctly he could see the guard in there, gun slung across his arm. The guard wasn't looking right at him, but he was gazing in his direction, and he made no sign.

Littell got to the wall, keeping as much as possible in the thin fog swirls that danced slowly over the courtyard almost like slowly dancing wraiths.

The wall was made of rough stone. A glance could tell that a desperate man might ascend that wall, clinging fly-like to the slight roughnesses. That didn't matter. The warden didn't worry about the walls. Not with those towers spaced on them, and the vigilant machinegunners.

He'd worry about them from now on, Littell exulted, as he clung with grasping fingertips and bare toes for his first step up. There were going to be a lot of escapes over these walls. For he had it already worked out in his mind. He would pay Harley for the formula of this stuff, and then sell the drug to other prisoners who wanted to break out.

He had started his slow and painful ascent between two towers. But the roughnesses making ascent possible slanted toward the tower on the left. Littell began to know fear again as he drew near that tower and the top of the wall at the same time. He had come a long way, in powerful light, without being seen. But Harley had admitted that the drug was not perfect.

He searched over and over again for possible handholds away from the tower. But the only ones offering a chance were inevitably in that direction....

"Hey!"

The voice of the guard in the near tower rang out as Littell had his hands over the top of the wall. Littell froze there, heart hammering, sweat freezing on his body. He caught a ragged sob behind closed lips before the sound could betray him. To get so far, and then be caught....

He hung there, as motionless as—as a chameleon in the light. But no chattering shots followed the challenge. Only awful silence in which Littell could fairly feel the gaze of the guard on him. Then,