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Tabby by Winston K. Marks

[Sidenote: _Tabby was peculiar, of course, but seemed harmless: just a little green fly that couldn't even protect itself from ordinary spiders. So the spiders fed, and grew, and fed, and grew...._]

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April 18, 1956

Dear Ben: It breaks my heart you didn't sign on for this trip. Your replacement, who _calls_ himself an ichthyologist, has only one talent that pertains to fish--he drinks like one. There are nine of us in the expedition, and every one of us is fed up with this joker, Cleveland, already. We've only been on the island a week, and he's gone native, complete with beard, bare feet and bone laziness. He slops around the lagoon like a beachcomber and hasn't brought in a decent specimen yet.

The island is a bit of paradise, though. Wouldn't be hard to let yourself relax under the palms all day instead of collecting blisters and coral gashes out in the bright sun of the atoll. No complaints, however. We aren't killing ourselves, and our little camp is very comfortable. The portable lab is working out fine, and the screened sleeping tent-houses have solved the one big nuisance we've suffered before: _Insects_. I think an entomologist would find more to keep him busy here than we will.

Your ankle should be useable by the time our next supply plane from Hawaii takes off. If you apply again at the Foundation right now I'm sure Sellers and the others will help me get rid of Cleveland, and there'll be an open berth here.

Got to close now. Our amphib jets off in an hour for the return trip. Hope this note is properly seductive. Come to the isles, boy, and live!--Cordially, Fred

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May 26, 1956

Dear Ben: Now, aren't you sorry you didn't take my advice?!!!! I'm assuming you read the papers, and also, that too tight a censorship hasn't clamped down on this thing yet. Maybe I'm assuming too much on the latter. Anyhow, here's a detailed version from an actual eyewitness.

That's right! I was right there on the beach when the "saucer" landed. Only it looked more like a king-size pokerchip. About six feet across and eight inches thick with a little hemispherical dome dead center on top. It hit offshore about seventy-five yards with a splash that sounded like a whale's tail. Jenner and I dropped our seine, waded to shore and started running along the beach to get opposite it. Cleveland came out of the shade and helped us launch a small boat.

We got within twenty feet of the thing when it started moving out, slowly, just fast enough to keep ahead of us. I was in the bow looking right at it when the lid popped open with a sound like a cork coming out of a wine bottle. The little dome had split. Sellers quit rowing and we all hit the bottom of the boat. I peeked over the gunwale right away, and it's a good thing. All that came out of the dome was a little cloud of flies, maybe a hundred or so, and the breeze picked them up and blew them over us inshore so fast that Cleveland and Sellers never did see them.

I yelled at them to look, but by then the flies were in mingling with the local varieties of sudden itch, and they figured I was seeing things. Cleveland, though, listened with the most interest. It develops that his specialty _is_ entomology. He took this job because he was out of work. Don't know how he bluffed his way past the Foundation, but here he is, and it looks like he might be useful after all.


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