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ASTOUNDING

STORIES

OF SUPER-SCIENCE

_On Sale the First Thursday of Each Month_


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VOL. II, No. 3 CONTENTS JUNE, 1930


COVER DESIGN H. W. WESSOLOWSKI

_Painted in Water-colors from a Scene in "The Moon Master."_


OUT OF THE DREADFUL DEPTHS C. D. WILLARD 293
_Robert Thorpe Seeks Out the Nameless Horror That Is Sucking All Human
Life Out of Ships in the South Pacific._


MURDER MADNESS MURRAY LEINSTER 310
_Bell, of the Secret "Trade," Strikes into the South American Jungle to
Find the Hidden Stronghold of the Master - the Unknown Monster Whose
Diabolical Poison Swiftly and Surely Is Enslaving the Whole
Continent._ (Part Two of a Continued Novel.)


THE CAVERN WORLD JAMES P. OLSEN 340

_A Great Oil Field Had Gone Dry - and Asher, Trapped Far under the Earth
Among the Revolting Petrolia, Learns Why._


BRIGANDS OF THE MOON RAY CUMMINGS 352

_The Besieged Earth-men Wage Grim, Ultra-scientific War with Martian
Bandits in a Last Great Struggle for Their Radium-ore - and Their
Lives._ (Conclusion.)


GIANTS OF THE RAY TOM CURRY 368

_Madly the Three Raced for their Lives up the Shaft of the Radium Mine,
for Behind Them Poured a Stream of Hideous Monsters - Giants of the
Ray!_


THE MOON MASTER CHARLES W. DIFFIN 384

_Through Infinite Deeps of Space Jerry Foster Hurtles to the Moon - Only
to be Trapped by a Barbaric Race and Offered as a Living Sacrifice to
Oong, their Loathsome, Hypnotic God._ (A Complete Novel.)


THE READERS' CORNER ALL OF US 421

_A Meeting Place for Readers of Astounding Stories._


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Issued monthly by Publishers' Fiscal Corporation, 80 Lafayette St.,
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Entered as second-class matter December 7, 1929, at the Post Office at
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Vanderbilt Ave., New York; or 225 North Michigan Ave., Chicago.




Out of the Dreadful Depths

_By C. D. Willard_

[Illustration: "_Help - help - the eyes - the eyes!_"]

[Sidenote: Robert Thorpe seeks out the nameless horror that is sucking
all human life out of ships in the South Pacific.]


Robert Thorpe reached languidly for a cigarette and, with lazy
fingers, extracted a lighter from his pocket.

"Be a sport," he repeated to the gray haired man across the table. "Be
a sport, Admiral, and send me across on a destroyer. Never been on a
destroyer except in port. It ... would be a new experience ... enjoy
it a lot...."

In the palm-shaded veranda of this club-house in Manila, Admiral
Struthers, U. S. N., regarded with undisguised disfavor the young man
in the wicker chair. He looked at the deep chest and the broad
shoulders which even a loose white coat could not conceal, at the
short, wavy brown hair and the slow, friendly smile on the face below.

A likable chap, this Thorpe, but lazy - just an idler - he had
concluded. Been playing around Manila for the last two months - resting
up, he had said. And from what? the Admiral had questioned
disdainfully. Admiral Struthers did not like indolent young men, but
it would have saved him money if he had really got an answer to his
question and had learned just why and how Robert Thorpe had earned a
vacation.

"You on a destroyer!" he said, and the lips beneath the close-cut gray
mustache twisted into a smile. "That would be too rough an experience
for you, I am afraid, Thorpe. Destroyers pitch about quite a bit, you
know."

He included in his smile the destroyer captain and the young lady who
completed their party. The young lady had a charming and saucy smile
and knew it; she used it in reply to the Admiral's remark.

"I have asked Mr. Thorpe to go on the _Adelaide_," she said. "We shall
be leaving in another month - but Robert tells me he has other plans."

"Worse and worse," was the Admiral's comment. "Your father's yacht is
not even as steady as a destroyer. Now I would suggest a nice
comfortable liner...."

* * * * *

Robert Thorpe did not miss the official glances of amusement, but his
calm complacence was unruffled. "No," he said, "I don't just fancy
liners. Fact is, I have been thinking of sailing across to the States
alone."

The Admiral's smile increased to a short laugh. "I would make a bet
you wouldn't get fifty miles from Manila harbor."

The younger man crushed his cigarette slowly into the tray. "How much
of a bet?" he asked. "What will you bet that I don't sail alone from
here to - where are you stationed? - San Diego? - from here to San
Diego?"

"Humph!" was the snorted reply. "I would bet a thousand dollars on
that and take your money for Miss Allaire's pet charity."

"Now that's an idea," said Thorpe. He reached for a check book in his
inner pocket and began to write.

"In case I lose," he explained, "I might be hard to find, so I will
just ask Miss Allaire to hold this check for me. You can do the same."
He handed the check to the girl.

"Winner gets his thousand back, Ruth; loser's money goes to any little
orphans you happen to fancy."

"You're not serious," protested the Admiral.

"Sure! The bank will take that check seriously, I promise you. And I
saw just the sloop I want for the trip ... had my eye on her for the
past month."

"But, Robert," began Ruth Allaire, "you don't mean to risk your life
on a foolish bet?"

Thorpe reached over to pat tenderly the hand that held his check. "I'm
glad if you care," he said, and there was an undertone of seriousness
beneath his raillery, "but save your sympathy for the Admiral. The U.
S. Navy can't bluff me." He rose more briskly from his chair.

"Thorpe...." said Admiral Struthers. He was thinking deeply, trying to
recollect. "Robert Thorpe.... I have a book by someone of that
name - travel and adventure and knocking about the world. Young man,
are you _the_ Robert Thorpe?"

"Why, yes, if you wish to put it that way," agreed the other. He waved
lightly to the girl as he moved away.

"I must be running along," he said, "and get that boat. See you all in
San Diego!"

* * * * *

The first rays of the sun touched with golden fingers the tops of the
lazy swells of the Pacific. Here and there a wave broke to spray under
the steady wind and became a shower of molten metal. And in the boat,
whose sails caught now and then the touch of morning, Robert Thorpe
stirred himself and rose sleepily to his feet.

Out of the snug cabin at this first hint of day, he looked first at
the compass and checked his course, then made sure of the lashing
about the helm. The steady trade-winds had borne him on through the
night, and he nodded with satisfaction as he prepared to lower his
lights. He was reaching for a line as the little craft hung for an
instant on the top of a wave. And in that instant his eyes caught a
marking of white on the dim waters ahead.

"Breakers!" he shouted aloud and leaped for the lashed wheel. He
swung off to leeward and eased a bit on the main-sheet, then lashed
the wheel again to hold on the new course.

Again from a wave-crest he stared from under a sheltering hand. The
breakers were there - the smooth swells were foaming - breaking in
mid-ocean where his chart, he knew, showed water a mile deep. Beyond
the white line was a three-master, her sails shivering in the breeze.

The big sailing ship swung off on a new tack as he watched. Was she
dodging those breakers? he wondered. Then he stared in amazement
through the growing light at the unbroken swells where the white line
had been.

* * * * *

He rubbed his sleepy eyes with a savage hand and stared again. There
were no breakers - the sea was an even expanse of heaving water.

"I could swear I saw them!" he told himself, but forgot this
perplexing occurrence in the still more perplexing maneuvers of the
sailing ship.

This steady wind - for smooth handling - was all that such a craft could
ask, yet here was this old-timer of the sea with a full spread of
canvas booming and cracking as the ship jibed. She rolled far over as
he watched, recovered, and tore off on a long, sweeping circle.

The one man crew of the little sloop should have been preparing
breakfast, as he had for many mornings past, but, instead he swung his
little craft into the wind and watched for near an hour the erratic
rushes and shivering haltings of the larger ship. But long before this
time had passed Thorpe knew he was observing the aimless maneuvers of
an unmanned vessel.

And he watched his chance for a closer inspection.

* * * * *

The three-master _Minnie R._, from the dingy painting of the stern,
hung quivering in the wind when he boarded her. There was a broken
log-line that swept down from the stern, and he caught this and made
his own boat fast. Then, watching his chance, he drew close and went
overboard, the line in his hand.

"Like a blooming native after cocoanuts," he told himself as he went
up the side. But he made it and pulled himself over the rail as the
ship drew off on another tack.

Thorpe looked quickly about the deserted deck. "Ahoy, there!" he
shouted, but the straining of rope and spars was his only answer.
Canvas was whipping to ribbons, sheets cracked their frayed ends like
lashes as the booms swung wildly, but a few sails still held and
caught the air.

He was on the after deck, and he leaped first for the wheel that was
kicking and whirling with the swing of the rudder. A glance at the
canvas that still drew, and he set her on a course with a few
steadying pulls. There was rope lying about, and he lashed the wheel
with a quick turn or two and watched the ship steady down to a smooth
slicing of the waves from the west.

And only then did the man take time to quiet his panting breath and
look about him in the unnatural quiet of this strangely deserted deck.
He shouted again and walked to a companionway to repeat the hail. Only
an echo, sounding hollowly from below, replied to break the vast
silence.

* * * * *

It was puzzling - inconceivable. Thorpe looked about him to note the
lifeboats snug and undisturbed in their places. No sign there of an
abandonment of the boat, but abandoned she was, as the silence told
only too plainly. And Thorpe, as he went below, had an uncanny feeling
of the crew's presence - as if they had been there, walked where he
walked, shouted and laughed a matter of a brief hour or two before.

The door of the captain's cabin was burst in, hanging drunkenly from
one hinge. The log-book was open; there were papers on a rude desk.
The bunk was empty where the blankets had been thrown hurriedly
aside. Thorpe could almost see the skipper of this mystery ship
leaping frantically from his bed at some sudden call or commotion. A
chair was smashed and broken, and the man who examined it curiously
wiped from his hands a disgusting slime that was smeared stickily on
the splintered fragments. There was a fetid stench within his
nostrils, and he passed up further examination of this room.

Forward in the fo'c'sle he felt again irresistibly the recent presence
of the crew. And again he found silence and emptiness and a disorder
that told of a fear-stricken flight. The odor that sickened and
nauseated the exploring man was everywhere. He was glad to gain the
freedom of the wind-swept deck and rid his lungs of the vile breath
within the vessel.

He stood silent and bewildered. There was not a living soul aboard the
ship - no sign of life. He started suddenly. A moaning, whimpering cry
came from forward on the deck!

Thorpe leaped across a disorder of tangled rope to race toward the
bow. He stopped short at sight of a battered cage. Again the moaning
came to him - there was something that still lived on board the
ill-fated ship.

* * * * *

He drew closer to see a great, huddled, furry mass that crouched and
cowered in a corner of the cage. A huge ape, Thorpe concluded, and it
moaned and whimpered absurdly like a human in abject fear.

Had this been the terror that drove the men into the sea? Had this ape
escaped and menaced the officers and crew? Thorpe dismissed the
thought he well knew was absurd. The stout wood bars of the cage were
broken. It had been partially crushed, and the chain that held it to
the deck was extended to its full length.

"Too much for me," the man said slowly, aloud; "entirely too much for
me! But I can't sail this old hooker alone; I'll have to get out and
let her drift."

He removed completely one of the splintered bars from the broken cage.
"I've got to leave you, old fellow," he told the cowering animal, "but
I'll give you the run of the ship."

He went below once more and came quickly back with the log-book and
papers from the captain's room. He tied these in a tight wrapping of
oilcloth from the galley and hung them at his belt. He took the wheel
again and brought the cumbersome craft slowly into the wind. The bare
mast of his own sloop was bobbing alongside as he went down the line
and swam over to her.

Fending off from the wallowing hulk, he cut the line, and his small
craft slipped slowly astern as the big vessel fell off in the wind and
drew lumberingly away on its unguided course.

She vanished into the clear-cut horizon before the watching man ceased
his staring and pricked a point upon his chart that he estimated was
his position.

And he watched vainly for some sign of life on the heaving waters as
he set his sloop back on her easterly course.

* * * * *

It was a sun-tanned young man who walked with brisk strides into the
office of Admiral Struthers. The gold-striped arm of the uniformed man
was extended in quick greeting.

"Made it, did you?" he exclaimed. "Congratulations!"

"All O.K.," Thorpe agreed. "Ship and log are ready for your
verification."

"Talk sense," said the officer. "Have any trouble or excitement? Or
perhaps you are more interested in collecting a certain bet than you
are in discussing the trip."

"Damn the bet!" said the young man fervently. "And that's just what I
am here for - to talk about the trip. There were some little incidents
that may interest you."

He painted for the Admiral in brief, terse sentences the picture of
that daybreak on the Pacific, the line of breakers, white in the
vanishing night, the abandoned ship beyond, cracking her canvas to
tatters in the freshening breeze. And he told of his boarding her and
of what he had found.

"Where was this?" asked the officer, and Thorpe gave his position as
he had checked it.

"I reported the derelict to a passing steamer that same day," he
added, but the Admiral was calling for a chart. He spread it on the
desk before him and placed the tip of a pencil in the center of an
unbroken expanse.

"Breakers, you said?" he questioned. "Why, there are hundreds of
fathoms here, Mr. Thorpe."

* * * * *

"I know it," Thorpe agreed, "but I saw them - a stretch of white water
for an eighth of a mile. I know it's impossible, but true. But forget
that item for a time, Admiral. Look at this." He opened a brief case
and took out a log-book and some other papers.

"The log of the _Minnie R._," he explained briefly. "Nothing in it but
routine entries up to that morning and then nothing at all."

"Abandoned," mused the Admiral, "and they did not take to the boats.
There have been other instances - never explained."

"See if this helps any," suggested Thorpe and handed the other two
sheets of paper. "They were in the captain's cabin," he added.

Admiral Struthers glanced at them, then settled back in his chair.

"Dated September fourth," he said. "That would have been the day
previous to the time you found her." The writing was plain, in a
careful, well-formed hand. He cleared his throat and read aloud:

"Written by Jeremiah Wilkens of Salem, Mass., master of the _Minnie
R._, bound from Shanghai to San Pedro. I have sailed the seas for
forty years, and for the first time I am afraid. I hope I may destroy
this paper when the lights of San Pedro are safe in sight, but I am
writing here what it would shame me to set down in the ship's log,
though I know there are stranger happenings on the face of the waters
than man has ever seen - or has lived to tell.

* * * * *

"All this day I have been filled with fear. I have been watched - I
have felt it as surely as if a devil out of hell stood beside me with
his eyes fastened on mine. The men have felt it, too. They have been
frightened at nothing and have tried to conceal it as I have
done. - And the animals....

"A shark has followed us for days - it is gone to-day. The cats - we
have three on board - have howled horribly and have hidden themselves
in the cargo down below. The mate is bringing a big monkey to be sold
in Los Angeles. An orang-outang, he calls it. It has been an ugly
brute, shaking at the bars of its cage and showing its ugly teeth ever
since we left port. But to-day it is crouched in a corner of its cage
and will not stir even for food. The poor beast is in mortal terror.

"All this is more like the wandering talk of an old woman muttering in
a corner by the fireside of witches and the like than it is like a
truthful account set down by Jeremiah Wilkins. And now that I have
written it I see there is nothing to tell. Nothing but the shameful
account of my fear of some horror beyond my knowing. And now that it
is written I am tempted to destroy - No, I will wait - "

"And now what is this?" Admiral Struthers interrupted his reading to
ask. He turned the paper to read a coarse, slanting scrawl at the
bottom of the page.

"The eyes - the eyes - they are everywhere above us - God help - " The
writing trailed off in a straggling line.

* * * * *

The lips beneath the trim gray mustache drew themselves into a hard
line. It was a moment before Admiral Struthers raised his eyes to
meet those of Robert Thorpe.

"You found this in the captain's cabin?" he asked.

"Yes."

"And the captain was - "

"Gone."

"Blood stains?"

"No, but the door had been burst off its hinges. There had been a
struggle without a doubt."

The officer mused for a minute or two.

"Did they go aboard another vessel?" he pondered. "Abandon ship - open
the sea-cocks - sink it for the insurance?" He was trying vainly to
find some answer to the problem, some explanation that would not
impose too great a strain upon his own reason.

"I have reported to the owners," said Thorpe. "The _Minnie R._ was not
heavily insured."

The Admiral ruffled some papers on his desk to find a report.

"There has been another," he told Thorpe. "A tramp freighter is listed
as missing. She was last reported due east of the position you give.
She was coming this way - must have come through about the same
water - " He caught himself up abruptly. Thorpe sensed that an Admiral
of the Navy must not lend too credulous an ear to impossible stories.

"You've had an interesting experience, Mr. Thorpe," he said. "Most
interesting. Probably a derelict is the answer, some hull just afloat.
We will send out a general warning."

He handed the loose papers and the log book to the younger man. "This
stuff is rubbish," he stated with emphasis. "Captain Wilkins held his
command a year or so too long."

"You will do nothing about it?" Thorpe asked in astonishment.

"I said I would warn all shipping; there is nothing more to be done."

"I think there is." Thorpe's gray eye were steady as he regarded the
man at the desk. "I intend to run it down. There have been other such
instances, as you said - never explained. I mean to find the answer."

* * * * *

Admiral Struthers smiled indulgently. "Always after excitement," he
said. "You'll be writing another book, I expect. I shall look forward
to reading it ... but just what are you going to do?"

"I am going to the Islands," said Thorpe quietly. "I am going to
charter a small ship of some sort, and I am going out there and camp
on that spot in the hope of seeing those eyes and what is behind them.
I am leaving to-night."

Admiral Struthers leaned back to indulge in a hearty laugh. "I refused
you a passage on a destroyer once," he said, "and it was an expensive
mistake. I don't make the same mistake twice. Now I am going to offer
you a trip....

"The _Bennington_ is leaving to-day on a cruise to Manila. I'll hold
her an extra hour or two if you would like to go. She can drop you at
Honolulu or wherever you say. Lieutenant Commander Brent is in
command - you remember him in Manila, of course."

"Fine," Thorpe responded. "I'll be there."

"And," he added, as he took the Admiral's hand, "if I didn't object to
betting on a sure thing I would make you a little proposition. I would
bet any money that you would give your shirt to go along."

"I never bet, either," said Admiral Struthers, "on a sure loss. Now
get out of here, you young trouble-shooter, and let the Navy get to
work." His eyes were twinkling as he waved the young man out.

* * * * *

Thorpe found himself comfortably fixed on the _Bennington_. Brent, her
commander, was a fine example of the aggressive young chaps that the
destroyer fleet breeds. And he liked to play cribbage, Thorpe found.
They were pegging away industriously the sixth night out when the
first S.O.S. reached them. A message was placed before the commander.
He read it and tossed it to Thorpe as he rose from his chair.

"S.O.S.," said the radio sheet, "_Nagasaki Maru_, twenty-four
thirty-five N., one five eight West. Struck something unknown. Down at
the bow. May need help. Please stand by."

Captain Brent had left the room. A moment later, and the quiver and
tremble of the _Bennington_ told Thorpe they were running full speed
for the position of the stricken ship.

But: "Twenty-four thirty-five North," he mused, "and less than two
degrees west of where the poor old _Minnie R._ got hers. I wonder ...
I wonder...."

"We will be there in four hours," said Captain Brent on his return.
"Hope she lasts. But what have they struck out there? Derelict
probably, though she should have had Admiral Struthers' warning."

Robert Thorpe made no reply other than: "Wait here a minute, Brent. I
have something to show you."

* * * * *

He had not told the officer of his mission nor of his experience, but
he did so now. And he placed before him the wildly improbable
statement of the late Captain Wilkins.

"Something is there," surmised Captain Brent, "just awash,
probably - no superstructure visible. Your _Minnie R._ hit the same
thing."

"Something is there," Thorpe agreed. "I wish I knew what."

"This stuff has got to you, has it?" asked Brent as he returned the
papers of Captain Wilkins. He was quite evidently amused at the


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