A. E. VAN VOGT
ON AND ON COEURL PROWLED! The black, moonless, almost
starless night yielded reluctantly before a grim reddish dawn that crept
up from his left. A vague, dull light it was, that gave no sense of
approaching warmth, no comfort, nothing but a cold, diffuse lightness,
slowly revealing a nightmare landscape.
Black, jagged rock and black, unliving plain took form around him,
as a pale-red sun peered at last above the grotesque horizon. It was
then Coeurl recognized suddenly that he was on familiar ground.
He stopped short. Tenseness flamed along his nerves. His muscles
pressed with sudden, unrelenting strength against his bones. His great
forelegs—twice as long as his hindlegs—twitched with a shuddering
movement that arched every razor-sharp claw. The thick tentacles that
sprouted from his shoulders ceased their weaving undulation, and
grew taut with anxious alertness.
Utterly appalled, he twisted his great cat head from side to side,
while the little hairlike tendrils that formed each ear vibrated fran-
tically, testing every vagrant breeze, every throb in the ether.
But there was .no response, no swift tingling along his intricate
nervous system, not the faintest suggestion anywhere of the presence
of the all-necessary Id. Hopelessly, Coeurl crouched, an enormous
catlike figure silhouetted against the dim reddish skyline, like a dis-
torted etching of a black tiger resting on a black rock in a shadow
He had known this day would come. Through all the centuries of
restless search, this day had loomed ever nearer, blacker, more fright-
ening—this inevitable hour when he must return to the point where he
began his systematic hunt in a world almost depleted of idcreatures.
The truth struck in waves like an endless, rhythmic ache at the seat
of his ego. When he had started, there had been a few idcreatures in