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By Philip K. Dick

Fourteen strangers got here to Delmak-O. 13 of them have been transferred by way of the standard professionals. One received there by way of praying. yet after they arrived on that planet whose very surroundings looked as if it would set off paranoia and psychosis, the novices chanced on that even prayer was once dead. For on Delmak-O, God is both absent or motive on destroying His creations.

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But you're satisfied," Belsnor said, also coming up; he stood with his arms folded, rocking back and forth on his heels. " Babble nodded vigorously. " "How? " "Oh Christ, Babble," Susie Smart said, "it's obvious. If someone or something deliberately killed him then we're in just as much danger as he was--possibly. But if an insect stung him--" "That's what it was," Babble said. " His ears had turned bright carmen with stubborn, irritable anger. "Do you think this is my first autopsy? " He glared at Susie Smart.

It's your lives, if you want to toss them away. But it seemed to him that Belsnor was a good choice; on his own very limited knowledge he had himself voted for the electronics maintenance man. He was satisfied, even if Frazer was not. And by their relieved stir he guessed that most of the others were, too. "While we're waiting for Dr. Babble's report," Maggie Walsh said, "perhaps we should join in a group prayer for Mr. " 36 "Read from Specktowsky's Book," Betty Jo Berm said. She dipped into her pocket and brought out her own copy, which she passed to Maggie Walsh.

It is certainly hard, he thought, to make out stars through the refractions of a planetary atmosphere. A great gray shape merged with the doorway, blotting out the stars. It held a tube and it pointed the tube at him. He saw a telescopic sight on it and a trigger mechanism. Who was it? What was it? He strained to see, and then he heard a faint pop. The gray shape receded and once more stars appeared. But now they had changed. He saw two stars collapse against one another and a nova form; it flared up and then, as he watched, it began to die out.

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