Wolff did not move or reply. He could only think, Now I have gone crazy! Not just auditory hallucinations, but visual! What next? Should I run screaming, or just calmly walk away and tell Brenda that I have to see a doctor now? Now! No waiting, no explanations. Shut up, Brenda, I’m going.
He stepped back. The opening was beginning to close, the white walls were reasserting their solidity. Or rather, he was beginning to get a fresh hold on reality.
“Here!” the youth on top of the boulder shouted. “Catch!”
He threw the horn. Turning over and over, bouncing sunlight off the silver as the light fell through the leaves, it flew straight toward the opening. Just before the walls closed in on themselves, the horn passed through the opening and struck Wolff on his knees.
He exclaimed in pain, for there was nothing ectoplasmic about the sharp impact. Through the narrow opening he could see the red-haired man holding up one hand, his thumb and index forming an O. The youth grinned and cried out, “Good luck! Hope I see you soon! I am Kickaha!”
Like an eye slowly closing in sleep, the opening in the wall contracted. The light dimmed, and the objects began to blur. But he could see well enough to get a final glimpse, and it was then that the girl stuck her head around the trunk of a tree.
She had unhumanly large eyes, as big in proportion to her face as those of a cat. Her lips were full and crimson, her skin golden-brown. The thick wavy hair hanging loose along the side of her face was tigerstriped: slightly zigzag bands of black almost touched the ground as she leaned around the tree.
Then the walls became white as the rolled-up eye of a corpse. All was as before except for the pain in his knees and the hardness of the horn lying against his ankle.
He picked it up and turned to look at it in the light from the recreation room. Although stunned, he no longer believed that he was insane. He had seen through into another universe and something from it had been delivered to him-why or how, he did not know.
The horn was a little less than two and a half feet long and weighed less than a quarter of a pound. It was shaped like an African buffalo’s horn except at the mouth, where it flared out broadly. The tip was fitted with a mouthpiece of some soft golden material; the horn itself was of silver or silver-plated metal. There were no valves, but on turning it over he saw seven little buttons in a row. A half-inch inside the mouth was a web of silvery threads. When the horn was held at an angle to the light from the bulbs overhead, the web looked as if it went deep into the horn.
It was then the light also struck the body of the horn so that he saw what he had missed during his first examination: a hieroglyph was lightly inscribed halfway down the length. It looked like nothing he had seen before, and he was an expert on all types of alphabetic writing, ideographs, and pictographs.
“Robert!” his wife said.
“Be right up, dear!” He placed the horn in the right-hand front corner of the closet and closed the door. There was nothing else he could do except to run out of the house with the horn. If he appeared with it, he would be questioned by both his wife and Bresson. Since he had not come into the house with the horn, he could not claim it was his. Bresson would want to take the instrument into his custody, since it would have been discovered on property of his agency.
Wolff was in an agony of uncertainty. How could he get the horn out of the house? What was to prevent Bresson from bringing around other clients, perhaps today, who would see the horn as soon as they opened the closet door? A client might call it to Bresson’s attention.
He walked up the steps and into the large living room. Brenda was still glaring. Bresson, a chubby, spectacled man of about thirty-five, looked uncomfortable, although he was smiling.