Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

come near after all, for it was gigantic beyond his worst

nightmaresits span as great as the entire length of his


The scene of the man on the skimmer confronting the

horrible aquatic killer lasted just long enough to burn

into his memory, before a sonic boom thundered across

the sky and the tableau, one second old, dissolved into a

chaos of spray and shrieking cries from the buzzards,

which had withdrawn to a safe height after vomiting

their half-digested stomach contents.

The skimmer vanished as suddenly as it had appeared,

in a whirlpool generated by the passage of the wolf-

shark, and a dozen fragments sailed into the air to land at

distances up to a hundred feet away. Of the man who

had been on it, Bracy saw nothing more for the moment.

Chiefly, this was because he was no longer wasting time

on looking. He had stopped his engines on solar power

and feverishly switched to stored reservesnot that that

would enable him to outrun the monster, but at least it

would give him a chance to dodge if he timed the ma-

noeuvre correctly.

He waited, wholly tense. Would the beast ignore him,

or? No, his luck was out. For, having turned in a lazy

circle, it was rising to the surface again and surveying

the upper side of the sea.

This was an old rogue, clearly, as well as a monster.

No sooner had it sighted the trawler than it buried itself


Bracy was yelling at the top of his voicehe had no

idea what words he was uttering, but they might have

been curses. By crazy guesswork he aligned the trawler

on the wolfshark’s course, slopped water over the firing

mechanism of both rockets, and buried himself into the

well of the deck, hoping the blast would be deflected

from him.

Onetwothree heartbeats, as widely spaced as

measured footfalls, intolerably slow.

And the universe exploded.

Dazed, he picked up his bruised body, feeling as if it

belonged to someone else, and put his head over the

well’s edge to look at the deck. Two of his solar sails

were ripped, and the plastic awning which had given

him shade had blown clear out of sight; there were

char-marks on the planking and the window of the

stemhouse was smashed.

Bat there had been a very satisfactory- calamity twenty

yards from his bows. He could tell, even before looldng

over the side, because the buzzardsnot choosy about

what carrion they atehad descended already to replace

the food wasted in panicky vomiting.

The writhing corpse of the wolfshark, torn almost in

two, was pumping its life’s blood in great oozing gouts

into the ocean.

Limp, Bracy had to cling to the railand instantly

snatched his hand away. It was still hot from the blaze of

the rockets’ exhaust. A miracle I didn’t set the ship afire,

he thought wanly.

He looked apatherically at the water. Now he’d lost

two solar sails, and his pilot to an oilfish school, for


He stiffened abruptly. What was that in the water

yonder? Something writhingas though beating at the


The man from the skimmer! Still alive, floating on

some buoyant section of his crafteven having the

strength to utter faint cries, now that Bracy’s ears were

attuned to the sound half-masked by the whinnying of

the buzzards.

With infinite effort he put the trawler about and drew

alongside the floating man. He was by then too weak to

help himself; Bracy had to gaff him through a pair of

cross-belts on his back. And small wonder he was weak.

When he was dragged from the water, he proved to

have lost one leg from the knee down to the fangs of the


“Don’tworry,” the man whispered, seeing Bracy

stare aghast at the injury. “Suitwill stopthe bleeding.”

What suit? Bracy peered closer. The man’s skin was

covered with a transparent film of some kind, that must

be it, and it was contracting now of its own accord,

forming an automatic tourniquet around the amputated

leg so that the flesh turned death-white and the bleeding

reduced to a capillary leakage.

Well, that fettles it, Bracy thought glumly, and went

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