Read CHAPTER X of Beyond the Vanishing Point , free online book, by Raymond King Cummings, on ReadCentral.com.

To Babs and me the ride in the golden cage strapped to Polter’s chest as he made his escape outward into largeness was an experience awesome and frightening almost beyond description.  We heard the alarm in the palace on the island.  Polter rushed to Dr. Kent’s laboratory door, looked in, and in a moment banged it shut.  Babs and I saw very little.  We knew only that something terrible had happened; we could see only a blur with formless things in the void beneath our bars; and there were the choking fumes of chemicals surging at us.

Polter rushed through the castle corridor.  We heard rumbling distant shouts.

“The drug is loose!  The drug is loose!  Monsters!  Death for everyone!”

The room swayed with horrible dizzying lurches as Polter ran.  We clung to the lattice bars, our legs and arms entwined.  There were moments when Polter leaped, or suddenly stooped, and our reeling senses all but faded.

“Babs!  Don’t let go!  Don’t lose consciousness!”

If she should be limp, here in this lurching room, her body to be flung back and forth across its confines-that would be death in a moment.  I didn’t think I could hold her, but I managed to get an arm about her waist.

“Babs, are you all right?”

“I’m-all right, George.  I can stand it.  We’re-he is enlarging.”

“Yes.”

I saw water far beneath us, lashed into a turmoil of foam with Polter’s wading steps.  There was a brief swaying vista of a toy city; starlight overhead; a lurching swaying miniature of landscape as Polter ran for the towering cliffs.  Then he climbed and scrambled into the tunnel-mouth.  Had he turned at that instant doubtless he would have seen the rising distant figures of Glora, Alan and Dr. Kent.  But evidently he didn’t see them.  Nor did we.

Polter spoke only very occasionally to Babs.  “Hold tightly!” It was a rumbling voice from above us.  He made no move to touch the cage, except that a few times the great blur of his hand came up to adjust its angle.

The lurching and jolting was less violent in the tunnel.  Polter’s frenzy to escape was subsiding into calmness.  He traversed the tunnel with a methodical stride.  We were aware of him climbing over the noisome litter of the dead giant’s body which blocked the tunnel’s further end.  We heard his astonished exclamations.  But evidently he did not suspect what had happened, thinking only that the stupid messenger had miscalculated his growth and had been crushed.

We emerged into a less dim area.  Polter did not stop at the fallen giant.  Nothing mattered now to him, quite evidently, save his own exit with Babs from this atomic realm.  His movements seemed calm, yet hurried.

We realized now how different an outward journey was from the trip coming in.  This was all only an inch of golden quartz!  The stages upward were frequently only a matter of growth in size; the distances in this vast desert realm of golden rock always were shrinking.  Polter many times stood almost motionless until the closing, dwindling walls made him scramble upward into the greater space above.

It may have been an hour, or less.  Babs and I, from our smaller viewpoint, with the landscape so frequently blurred by distance and Polter’s movements, seldom recognized where we were.  But I realized going out was far easier in every way than coming in.  Easier to determine the route, since usually the diminishing caverns and gullies made the upward step obvious....  We knew when Polter scrambled up the incline ramp.

It seemed impossible for us to plan anything.  Would Polter make the entire trip without a stop?  It seemed so.  We had no drugs, and our cage was barred beyond possibility of our getting out.  But even if we had had the drugs, or had our door been open, there was no escape.  An abyss of distance was always yawning beyond our lattice-the sheer precipice of Polter’s body from his chest to the ground.

“Babs, we must make him stop.  It he sits down to rest you might get him to take you out.  I must reach his drugs.”

“Yes.  I’ll try it, George.”

Polter was momentarily standing motionless as though gazing around him, judging what to do next.  His size seemed stationary.  Beyond our bars we could see the distant circular walls as though this were some giant crater-pit in which Polter was standing.  Then I thought I recognized it-the round, nearly vertical pit into which Alan had plunged his hand and arm.  Above us then was a gully, blind at one end.  And above that, the outer surface, the summit of the fragment of golden quartz.

“Babs, I know where we are!  If he takes you out, keep his attention.  I’ll try and get one of his black vials.  Make him hold you near the ground.  If I see you there, in position where you can jump, I’ll startle him.  Babs it’s desperately dangerous but I can’t think of anything else.  Jump.  Get away from him.  I’ll keep his attention on me.  Then I’ll join you if I can-with the drug.”

Polter was moving.  We had no time to say more.

“I’ll try it, George.”  For just an instant she clung to me with her soft arms about my neck.  Our love was sweeping us in this desperate moment, and it seemed that above us was a remote Earth world holding the promise of all our dreams.  Or were we cross-starred, doomed like the realm of the atom?  Was this swift embrace now marking the end of everything for us?

Babs called, “Dr. Polter?”

We could feel his movements stopping.

“Yes?  You are all right, Babs?”

She laughed-a ripple of silvery laughter-but there was tragic fear in her eyes as she gazed at me.  “Yes, Dr. Polter, but breathless.  Almost dead, but not quite.  What happened?  I want to come out and talk to you.”

“Not now, little bird.”

“But I want to.”  To me it was a miracle that she could call so lightly and hold that note of lugubrious laughter in her voice.  “I’m hungry.  Didn’t you think of that?  And frightened.  Take me out.”

He was sitting down!  “You remind me that I am tired, Babs.  And hungry, also.  I haf a little food.  You shall come out for just a short time.”

“Thank you.  Take me carefully.”

Our tilted cage was near the ground as he seated himself.  But it was still too far for me to jump.

I murmured, “Babs it’s not close enough to the ground.”

“Wait, George, I’ll fix that.  You hide!  If he looks in he’ll see you.”

I scrambled back to my hiding place.  Polter’s huge fingers were fumbling at our bars.  The little door sprang open.

“Come, Babs.”

He held the cupped bowl of his hand to the doorway.  “Come out.”

“No!” she called.  “It is too far down!”

“Come.  That iss foolish.”

“No!  I’m afraid.  Put the cage on the ground.”

“Babs!” His finger and thumb came reaching in to seize her, but she avoided them.

“Dr. Polter!  Don’t!  You’ll crush me!”

“Then come out on my hand.”

He seemed annoyed.  I had scrambled back to the doorway; I knew he couldn’t see me so long as the cage remained strapped to his shirt front.

I whispered, “I can make it, Babs!”

Polter was apparently on one elbow now, half turned to one side.  From our cage, the sloping gleaming white surface of his stiff glossy shirt bosom went down a steep incline.  His belt was down there, and the outward bulging curve of his lap-a spreading surface where I could land like a scuttling insect, unobserved, if only Babs could hold his attention.

I whispered vehemently, “Try it!  Go out!  Leave me-keep talking to him!”

She called instantly, “All right, then.  Bring your hand!  Closer! 
Carefully!  It seems so high up here!”

She swung herself into his palm, and flung her arms about the great pillar of his crooked finger.  The bowl of his hand moved slowly away.  I heard her faint voice, and his overhead rumble.

I chanced it!  I didn’t know his exact position or which way he was looking.

Again I heard Bab’s voice.  “Careful, Dr. Polter.  Don’t let me fall!”

“Yes, little bird.”

I let myself down from the tilted doorway, hung by my hand and dropped.  I struck the ramp-like yielding surface of his shirt bosom.  I slid, tumbling, scrambling, and landed softly in the huge folds of his trouser fabric.  I was unhurt.  The width of his belt, high as my body, was near me.  I shrank against it.  I found I could cling to its upper edge.

My hold came just in time.  He shifted and sat up.  I was lifted with a swoop of movement.  When it steadied I saw above me the top of his knee.  His left leg was crooked, the foot drawn close to him.  Babs was perched up there on the knee summit.  His right leg was outstretched.  I was at the right side of his belt.  I could dart off along that curving expanse of his leg and leap to the ground.  If he would hold this position!  One of the pouches of his belt was near me.  The vial in it was black.  The enlarging drug!  I moved toward it.

But Babs was too high to jump from that summit of his crooked knee!  I think she saw me at his belt.  I heard her voice.

“I cannot eat up here.  It is too high.  Oh, please be careful how you move!  I am so dizzy, so frightened!  You move with such great jerks!”

He had what seemed a huge surface of bread and meat.  He was breaking off crumbs to put before her.  I reached the pouch of his belt.  The vial was as long as my body.  I tugged to try and lift it out.

All the giant contours of Polter’s body shifted as he cautiously moved.  I clung.  I saw that Babs was being held gently between his thumb and forefinger.  He lowered her to the ground, and she stood beside the bread and the meat he had placed there.

And she had the courage to laugh!  “Why this-this is an enormous sandwich!  You will have to break it.”

He was leaning over her, half turned on his side.  The vial came free.  I shoved it; but I could not control its weight.  I pushed desperately.  It slid over the round brink of his right hip, and fell behind him.  I heard the tinkling thud of it down on the rocks.

There was no alarm.  I could not chance leaping from his hip.  I scurried along the convex top of his outstretched leg, and beyond his knee I jumped.

I landed safely.  I could see the black vial back across the broken rock surface, with the bulge of Polter’s hip above it.  I ran back and reached the vial, tugged at its huge stopper.  The cork began to yield under my panting, desperate efforts.  In a moment I would have a pellet of the enlarging drug; make away with it and startle Polter so that Babs might dart off and escape.

The huge stopper of the vial was larger than my head.  It came suddenly out.  I flung it away, plunged in my hand, and seized an enormous round pellet.

Then abruptly the alarm came, and I had not caused it!  Polter ripped out a startled, rumbling curse and sat upright.  Under the curve of his leg I saw Babs had been momentarily neglected.  She was running.

Across the boulder-strewn plain, two tiny men had appeared.  Polter had seen them.

They were the enlarging figures of Dr. Kent and Alan!