The ship hatch slid into the bulkhead and heat washed over me like I’d opened some massive oven door. It felt fantastic. I’d just gotten out of cryogenics. The chill would cling to me for days regardless of the infernal humidity that covered Corus. I did not enjoy being frozen to travel from place to place, but the ships were too fast not to. If you didn’t freeze your softer bits you’d arrive as a cracked skeleton with a puddle by your feet. One of my professors told me to think of space travel like shooting a chicken through a cannon; a feathery mess. But if the bird is frozen, well, then it became avian artillery. Thaw it out later and it’s no worse for wear. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t worse for wear, but I’d landed.

The widow Johnson was standing at the end of my ramp in a one-piece swimsuit. Her hair was short on the left, spiked out. The other side hung in a curtain that shadowed half her face. She glistened in the heat, the blue green reflections of the malachite sun painting her in muted color. She was middle aged, fit, and not my idea of a widow.

“You’re Saul Sawyer? I expected someone older.”

I stepped onto the plaster-amic landing pad, fog swirling around my boots. 

“I’m him. Alien studies is a young science. Not many people in it.”

Her only visible eyebrow arched. “Oh? Why is that?”

“There are a lot of factors. They add up to a high mortality rate.” 

There was a hydraulic hiss from across the strip and a bald man in skin-tight shorts, barefoot and bare-chested, headed toward us. A trio of similarly dressed men followed him. In his right hand he held a leash with a shaved Doberman on end of it. The dog was hairless and the strange light made its skin look putrid grey. It left a trail of drool, face pulled forward, straining against its collar. The man placed himself at the widow’s side and the other guys fanned out behind him. He looked me up and down. I had on full length pants, boots, and a pair of thick black sweaters. I had no doubt that I was wearing more clothes than anyone on the whole damn planet.


Strange aliens and dangerous plots swirl in the sweltering shadows of Corus. Can Saul solve a biological riddle in time to save them all? Become a patron and read all sixteen pages of sci-fi pulp action!