A scientist rises, p.1
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       A Scientist Rises, p.1

           Desmond Winter Hall
 
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A Scientist Rises


  Produced by Greg Weeks, Stephen Blundell and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  A Scientist Rises

  By D. W. Hall

  "The face of the giant was indeed that of a god...."

  On that summer day the sky over New York was unflecked by clouds, andthe air hung motionless, the waves of heat undisturbed. The city was avast oven where even the sounds of the coiling traffic in its streetsseemed heavy and weary under the press of heat that poured down fromabove. In Washington Square, the urchins of the neighborhood splashed inthe fountain, and the usual midday assortment of mothers, tramps andout-of-works lounged listlessly on the hot park benches.

  _All gazed, transfixed, at the vast form that toweredabove them._]

  As a bowl, the Square was filled by the torrid sun, and the trees andgrass drooped like the people on its walks. In the surrounding city, menworked in sweltering offices and the streets rumbled with thenever-ceasing tide of business--but Washington Square rested.

  And then a man walked out of one of the houses lining the square, andall this was changed.

  He came with a calm, steady stride down the steps of a house on thenorth side, and those who happened to see him gazed with surprisedinterest. For he was a giant in size. He measured at least eleven feetin height, and his body was well-formed and in perfect proportion. Hecrossed the street and stepped over the railing into the nearest patchof grass, and there stood with arms folded and legs a little apart. Theexpression on his face was preoccupied and strangely apart, nor did itchange when, almost immediately from the park bench nearest him, awoman's excited voice cried:

  "Look! Look! Oh, look!"

  The people around her craned their necks and stared, and from them grewa startled murmur. Others from farther away came to see who had criedout, and remained to gaze fascinated at the man on the grass. Quicklythe murmur spread across the Square, and from its every part men andwomen and children streamed towards the center of interest--and then,when they saw, backed away slowly and fearfully, with staring eyes, fromwhere the lone figure stood.

  * * * * *

  There was about that figure something uncanny and terrible. There, inthe hot midday hush, something was happening to it which men would saycould not happen; and men, seeing it, backed away in alarm. Quickly theydispersed. Soon there were only white, frightened faces peering frombehind buildings and trees.

  Before their very eyes the giant was growing.

  When he had first emerged, he had been around eleven feet tall, and now,within three minutes, he had risen close to sixteen feet.

  His great body maintained its perfect proportions. It was that of anelderly man clad simply in a gray business suit. The face was kind, itsclear-chiselled features indicating fine spiritual strength; on thewhite forehead beneath the sparse gray hair were deep-sunken lines whichspoke of years of concentrated work.

  No thought of malevolence could come from that head with its gentle blueeyes that showed the peace within, but fear struck ever stronger intothose who watched him, and in one place a woman fainted; for the greatbody continued to grow, and grow ever faster, until it was twenty feethigh, then swiftly twenty-five, and the feet, still separated, were aslong as the body of a normal boy. Clothes and body grew effortlessly,the latter apparently without pain, as if the terrifying process werewholly natural.

  The cars coming into Washington Square had stopped as their driverssighted what was rising there, and by now the bordering streets weretangled with traffic. A distant crowd of milling people heightened theturmoil. The northern edge was deserted, but in a large semicircle wasspread a fear-struck, panicky mob. A single policeman, his face whiteand his eyes wide, tried to straighten out the tangle of vehicles, butit was infinitely beyond him and he sent in a riot call; and as thegiant with the kind, dignified face loomed silently higher than thetrees in the Square, and ever higher, a dozen blue-coated figuresappeared, and saw, and knew fear too, and hung back awe-stricken, at aloss what to do. For by now the rapidly mounting body had risen to theheight of forty feet.

  * * * * *

  An excited voice raised itself above the general hubbub.

  "Why, I know him! I know him! It's Edgar Wesley! Doctor Edgar Wesley!"

  A police sergeant turned to the man who had spoken.

  "And it--he knows you? Then go closer to him, and--and--ask him what itmeans."

  But the man looked fearfully at the giant and hung back. Even as theytalked, his gigantic body had grown as high as the four-storiedbuildings lining the Square, and his feet were becoming too large forthe place where they had first been put. And now a faint smile could beseen on the giant's face, an enigmatic smile, with something ironic andbitter in it.

  "Then shout to him from here," pressed the sergeant nervously. "We'vegot to find out something! This is crazy--impossible! My God! Higheryet--and faster!"

  Summoning his courage, the other man cupped his hands about his mouthand shouted:

  "Dr. Wesley! Can you speak and tell us? Can we help you stop it?"

  The ring of people looked up breathless at the towering figure, and awave of fear passed over them and several hysterical shrieks rose up as,very slowly, the huge head shook from side to side. But the smile on itslips became stronger, and kinder, and the bitterness seemed to leave it.

  There was fear at that motion of the enormous head, but a roar of panicsounded from the watchers when, with marked caution, the growing giantmoved one foot from the grass into the street behind and the other intothe nearby base of Fifth Avenue, just above the Arch. Fearing harm,they were gripped by terror, and they fought back while the tremblingpolicemen tried vainly to control them; but the panic soon ended whenthey saw that the leviathan's arms remained crossed and his smile kinderyet. By now he dwarfed the houses, his body looming a hundred and fiftyfeet into the sky. At this moment a woman back of the semicircle slumpedto her knees and prayed hysterically.

  "Someone's coming out of his house!" shouted one of the closestonlookers.

  * * * * *

  The door of the house from which the giant had first appeared hadopened, and the figure of a middle-aged, normal-sized man emerged. For asecond he crouched on the steps, gaping up at the monstrous shape in thesky, and then he scurried down and made at a desperate run for thenearest group of policemen.

  He gripped the sergeant and cried frantically:

  "That's Dr. Wesley! Why don't you do something? Why don't--"

  "Who are you?" the officer asked, with some return of an authoritativemanner.

  "I work for him. I'm his janitor. But--can't you do anything? Look athim! Look!"

  The crowd pressed closer. "What do you know about this?" went on thesergeant.

  The man gulped and stared around wildly. "He's been working onsomething--many years--I don't know what, for he kept it a close secret.All I knew is that an hour ago I was in my room upstairs, when I heardsome disturbance in his laboratory, on the ground floor. I came down andknocked on the door, and he answered from inside and said thateverything was all right--"

  "You didn't go in?"

  "No. I went back up, and everything was quiet for a long time. Then Iheard a lot of noise down below--a smashing--as if things were beingbroken. But I thought he was just destroying something he didn't need,and I didn't investigate: he hated to be disturbed. And then, a littlelater, I heard them shouting out here in the Square, and I looked outand saw. I saw him--just as I knew him--but a giant! Look at his face!Why, he has the face of--of a god! He's--as if he were looking down onus--and--pitying us...."

  For a moment all were silent as they gazed, transfixed, at the vast formthat towered two hundred feet above them. Al
most as awe-inspiring as theastounding growth was the fine, dignified calmness of the face. Thesergeant broke in:

  "The explanation of this must be in his laboratory. We've got to have alook. You lead us there."

  * * * * *

  The other man nodded; but just then the giant moved again, and theywaited and watched.

  With the utmost caution the titanic shape changed position. Gradually,one great foot, over thirty feet in length, soared up from the streetand lowered farther away, and then the other distant foot changed itsposition; and the leviathan came gently to rest against the tallestbuilding bordering the Square, and once more folded his arms and stoodquiet. The enormous body appeared to waver slightly as a breath of windwashed against it: obviously it was not gaining weight as it grew.Almost, now, it appeared to float in the air. Swiftly it grew anothertwenty-five feet, and the gray expanse of its clothes
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