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No one else could make love like her, nor could anyone else pilot the first manned satellite

"Girl From...?"

by Glenn Llewellyn



Vol. 3, No. 2,  1959

    LARRY FORBES had wandered into the film palace that drizzling, miserable March afternoon merely to get his mind off the seemingly insurmountable frustrations of the vital, top-top-top secret project on which he had been working himself almost bald for the past two years. With success mere minutes and millimeters away, the launching of Earth's first manned artificial satellite had suddenly bogged down in the face of an utterly unforeseen obstacle. After six days of fruitless final tests and conferences, a weary and discouraged Larry Forbes had slipped away from a stalemated session in the hope of retaining some shred of sanity.
    He settled himself in a seat just too narrow for his broad-boned frame, getting his damp raincoat folded across his lap and endeavoring vainly to fit his long legs into the circumscribed space allotted to them. It was while he was engaged in this struggle, even before his eyesight had fully adjusted itself to the darkness of the house, that his right foot met the obstruction.
    Believing it to be an empty popcorn container, or perhaps a candy wrapper, discarded by a previous ticket-buyer, Larry pressed down on it and gave it a quick lateral nudge to push it under the seat alongside.
    "Crxstfillpxt!" said the occupant of the seat in a definitely feminine voice, rising perhaps four inches and returning to the imitation leather with a row-shaking thump. The object beneath, with which his foot had made contact, was removed with an almost convulsive suddenness.
    "Huh ?" said Larry, his already fatigued wits operating at oxcart speed.
    "You stepped on my tail !" accused the dimly seen woman on his right.
    "Sorry," said Larry politely, as three persons in the row ahead turned featureless faces toward them and made loud shushing sounds.
    Larry prepared once more to watch the drama unfolding on the extra-wide screen and then jumped convulsively himself as the import of his neighbor's accusations sank home. "Did you say I stepped on your tail?" he asked, peering at what appeared to be a perfectly normal young woman. "Exactly!" she retorted indignantly.
    "And it hurt!"
    "You're joking!" he exclaimed softly, but not softly enough, for again faces turned toward him and a renewed shushing chorus rose with greater vehemence.
    "I am not!" the girl replied, lifting for his inspection what appeared to be a length of flexible tubing.
    "Impossible!" said Larry, just as an usher tapped him on the shoulder.
    "I'm sorry," whispered the flashlighted attendant. "You'll either have to keep quiet or leave the theater."
    The girl had already risen, and a suddenly curious Larry Forbes gathered his raincoat and rose with her. She swept past him and marched up the aisle, forcing him to extend his stride to keep up with her.
    He caught her elbow in the outer lobby and said, "Please, Miss--I'm dreadfully sorry. Won't you let me make it up to you somehow?"
    Anger and indignation had fled from the exotic flower of a face she turned toward him--to be replaced by a look of resignation that matched his own mood. She said quietly, in a voice whose accent he could not place, "It's really my own fault. I should never have released it in a public place. But it does get so cramped, coiled up all the time."
    "I still don't believe it," he told her. Again, indignation flashed in slanting, pale-brown eyes flecked with gold. She was standing at one side of the lobby, her back to the wall, with Larry's tall, ranginess shielding her from casual viewers. Suddenly, full pink-camellia lips twitched with humor, and there was a stirring beneath her garments as a six-inch tail-tip wriggled its way from beneath the skirt of her chalk-white trench-coat. It wagged, thumping gently against the parquet floor, and was neatly encased in material that matched the girl's dress.
    "I still don't believe it!" he said, his horde of cares, troubles and frustrations forgotten in view of this new wonder. "Could I--may I--buy you a drink somewhere, Miss ?"
    He gave her his name and told her he was a Government scientist, repeated the invitation for a drink. She listened, regarding his speculatively with her gold-fleckd, light-brown eyes. Then she smiled slowly, delightfully, and said, "You look very nice," in her unplaceable accents. "I'd like to very much. My name is Nina--Nina Tarrant."
    They sat in one of those leather-up holstered semicircular banquettes with which Los Angeles bar-restaurants abound, and she leaned a little toward him and said, while the waiter was getting their drinks, "Tell me something about yourself, about your work, Larry Forbes."
    He made a dismissive gesture. "It's Sputnik stuff--very dull just now. What I want to hear about is you--who you are, how you got the way you are?"
    She shrugged--as he grew accustomed to the exotic trim of her features, he was discovering Nina to be an extraordinarily beautiful girl, ivory-skinned, golden-eyed, built like a Balinese temple dancer, sensitive, sensuous as a sleek, large cat, altogether engaging. She said softly, "'Who am I? I'm just a woman, of course. I come from a long way off. How did I get this way? I suppose you mean my tail, Larry Forbes. I grew it, that's all."
    The waiter put their drinks in front of them and turned back toward the bar.
    Nina smiled, and Larry felt soft, warm little fingers creep into his own on the leather seat. "It's such fun to have someone to share it with," she said softly. "Otherwise, it's awfully lonesome. I have to be so very, very careful."
    "It's fantastic!" breathed Larry. "Biologically, it's impossible."
    "There is no such word," she said stoutly, her gold-flecked eyes regarding him over the rim of her raised glass, "and I am the living proof of it."
    "What about school?" he inquired. "Didn't you have trouble there ?"
    She shook her head, causing golden highlights to shimmer in her heavy, dark-brown shoulder-length hair. "I had private tutors," she informed him.
    "What on earth are you doing in Los Angeles?" he asked her. "Surely, the movies. . ."
    She shuddered. "Not the movies," she said firmly. "Never the movies! They would make a sideshow freak of me. Actually, I am merely waiting to be taken home." She suppressed a sigh, and her eyes were sad. Then, brightening and again lifting her glass, "I'm glad you stepped on my tail, Larry Forbes. It has be en very, very lonely in this city. You are the first young man I have been out with."
    "You shouldn't have trouble in that department," he told her, and went on to detail some of her move obvious charms.
    She interrupted him. "You are kind, Larry Forbes--but the more attractive I may be, the greater my problem. If my--difference were to be publicized, it would hurt my people deeply. If you hadn't told me you were a scientist..." She let it hang.
    "I see," he said, reaching for her hand and finding it a willing captive. "I'm afraid, while I've been looking at you as an extremely attractive girl, I've been considering your problem more in scientific terms."
    "They go together," she said simply. "Oh, what lovely canapés!"
    They had a drink, and then another, and then, somehow, they were sitting so close together that a thread could not have been passed between them. Looking deeply into the gold-flecked eyes so near to his own, Larry said softly, "Darling, I can't bear the thought of letting you go. Have dinner with me."
    "I can do better than that," she said, her eyes dancing. "Have dinner with me-- at my apartment."
    "Sold!" he said, and, for the first time, their lips met and clung together, and he felt the soft thrust of jutting, high young breasts against the cage of his own ribs...
    When they reached Nina's two-room, moderne-furnished snuggery in a terraced, white-washed Beverly Hills apartment hotel, and she removed the trenchcoat, Larry got his first real look at her costume. It was a two-piece, golden-brown knit-dress that emphasized the golden flecks in her eyes and the warm ivory tone of her skin. Against it, her covered tail, which she kept coiled about her waist, looked like a matching belt.
    She uncoiled it, flexed it gracefully with a sigh of relief, then dexterously used it to flick open a cigarette box on the coffee table in front of the beige sofa. Laughing a little, Larry drew her into his arms and kissed her. She responded, and her body, even through two layers of clothing, felt live and delightful against him, as did the magic, moist softness of her lips. Then, gently but firmly, she disengaged his embrace and murmured, "In just a moment, darling--after I've changed. You'll find whiskey on top of the bookcase."
    Reluctantly, he let her go, and poured himself a drink.
    When Nina came back from the bed room, his eyes widened, and he gasped involuntarily at the exotic perfection she was parading in front of him. She wore only the wispiest of brown-velvet play suits, embroidered in gold, and simple gold sandals. The lithe creaminess of her torso was exposed, as were her shoulders and upper bosom, her slender, well-rounded arms and beautifully long, straight legs.
    A smile in the gold-flecked eyes answering the open admiration in his, she lifted a hand to take the upheld glass from his fingers and make a loving cup out of it by raising it to her own camellia lips. Then she set it gently on the table and moved forward into his arms.
    "It's been so very, very, very lonely," she whispered softly as her pink mouth again sought and found is as her tongue darted delightfully from between her lips to meet his, as her hands clasped the back of his neck and head and seemed to try to draw him, through her soft, pliant, surprisingly strong young body.
    Her grip on him tightened spasmodically, and a soft little moan escaped the lips that had become part of his own. Inexorably, he found that Nina, her tail tight around his waist, was drawing him toward the bedroom.
    In the bedroom, her suddenly busy hands were removing his clothing, then her own scant garments, even while her lips continued to rain kisses upon his. Her eyes were all gold now, and aglow with passion, as she tripped him neatly to send him sprawling backward on the soft coverlet. She leapt up on him like a jaguar, murmuring love-noises as her pink-jade-tipped breasts again fused against him. Lips moist and parted, golden eyes glittering with unslaked passion, she had her way with him...
    When he awoke it was early dawn, and he was lying beside Nina, ravenously hungry, for they had completely forgotten dinner in the wild fulfillment of the night just past. Gently, he lifted her arm from his chest and only when he had sat up and was looking down at Nina's soft, gold-pink-and-ivory perfection did clear memory of the erotic, not to say biological, miracle of Nina return to him. He bent to kiss the perfect, camellia lips. The gold-flecked eyes opened, and she smiled at him sensually.
    "I'm hungry," he said.
    "So am I, darling," she replied, drawing him closer still to her perfections. "So very, very, very hungry!"
    It was another hour before they got to the modern apartment's trim kitchenette. There, naked as Adam, with Nina as nude as Eve, he looked on in amazement as she rustled up their long-deferred meal. The up-to-date kitchen might not have been conceived with a five-appendaged human in mind, but the girl with a tail as well as hands and feet manipulated its various devices with a multiple-efficiency that had Larry goggling incredulously.
    Even as she grilled the steak, she was able to flip bread into the toaster and set up the dishes, silverware, cups and saucers. And when they sat down at table to eat the smoking food and coffee, there was no rising, on her part, to make return trips to the kitchenette--everything necessary had been done with an ease that defied description.
    "How did you ever master it so beautifully?" he asked, awestruck.
    She laughed soundlessly, and her eyes sparkled with golden affection. "Oh," she replied, "if you have a tail, there's no sense in not using it, is there, darling ?"
    "I guess not," he told her, "though, frankly, I never considered the problem.
    Mopping her lips with a napkin, she said, "And you a scientist! You don't have much imagination, do you, Larry dear?"
    "Too much, usually," he said ruefully. "But I never thought of this one."
    When they had finished, she cleaned up with incredible speed and rejoined him in the living room for a cigarette. He took the perfections of that exotic body into his hands and pulled her lips against his. She moaned again, happily, and he wondered briefly, which of them was the more insatiable. He didn't get to his 10 o'clock conference until ten minutes of 11.
    "You look fit and rested, Forbes," the chairman told him. "Oversleep?"
    "Something like that," mumbled a drained and physically beaten Larry.
    "Can't really blame you," the chair man told him. "Not after the hours you've been putting in." Then, after a throat-clearing pause, "Well, Forbes, we seem no nearer a solution today. Has your oversleeping caused you to wake up with any fresh ideas?"
    Larry frowned. The problem remained the same as that of the day before, and of the days and weeks before that. The complex of scientists and manufacturers he served as project coordinator had solved, at least on paper, in the laboratory and in actual tests, every factor toward putting a manned artificial satellite into space except for one--the man.
    They had plenty of tough young Air Force volunteers for the job, men who had triumphantly flown Mach-9 rocket planes and survived week-long tests under simulated space conditions. But they had yet to find a pilot who could handle the manual part of the piloting under the emergency conditions that were, inevitably, bound to arise.
    There would be simply too much to do in a moment of crisis, too many buttons to push and knobs to turn and ratchets to tighten or relive simultaneously. At one, time, they had even considered letting a pair of midgets occupy the limited space the satellite would afford, but this had proved im practical--they couldn't put enough instruments close enough to the floor.
    So they had their satellite, ready to go on its launching pad at White Sands--but they had no one to man it. Every conceivable form of simplification had been essayed but the absolute minimum remained too much. They were stymied.
    As Larry sought to gather his thoughts for a coherent answer to the chairman's question, his mind kept wandering to Nina--to Nina in the brown-and-gold playsuit, to Nina nude as a winter tree but far warmer, to Nina clasped in his arms, to Nina asleep, to Nina gloriously, passionately awake, to Nina in her kitchenette. whipping together that man-saving breakfast.
    To Nina in her kitchenette. . .That was it. He looked at the chairman, at the other members of the hush-hush-hush committee. He reached for a cigarette, lit it, exhaled blue smoke and said, "Gentlemen, I don't wish to raise your hopes prematurely, but it is just possible I have stumbled on the answer--or, at any rate, on an answer..."
    He knew, of course, that, come what might, he was sacrificing the most wonderful bedmate he had ever found--but, after all, he was both a scientist and a loyal American, so quite naturally science and America had to come first. Toning down the sex angle, of course, he told them about Nina.
    They didn't believe him, at first. He had to go and get her after a temporary adjournment. She looked adorable, with her heavy gold-brown tresses done up in a dust-cloth, wearing a checked red-and-white playsuit, a feather duster held lightly in her tail, a cloth in one hand, a brush in the other. She greeted him with a glad little cry of surprise, saying, "I didn't expect you so early, Larry darling." Again her lips found his, her arms embraced him.
    With a firmness he had not thought he possessed, Larry held her gently from him after one prolonged, fervent embrace. He said, "Nina darling, I want you to listen very carefully. And I want you to know that you are perfectly free to refuse the proposition I am going to put before you."
    "Yes, darling, of course," she said, sitting perched on his lap. "But you should be happy if you really love me, not so grim and serious." She leaned forward and kissed him again, revealing delightful cleavage beneath the red-and-white playsuit halter.
    "Unfortunately, it's damned serious," he said. "But first, what papers do you have, Nina ?"
    "Papers?" she looked bewildered. "I have the Gazette and the Register here somewhere. But I don't--"
    "Not newspapers," he said, smiling a little. "Identification papers--passport, family records, credit cards, stuff like that?"
    "Are you a policeman, Larry?" she asked searchingly. "You told me you were a scientist." Her eyes were the eyes of a wounded doe.
    He told her then, after seeing that her papers looked, surprisingly, all right, though they made no mention of her caudal appendage. According to her passport, she was of half-American parentage and had been brought up in the South Seas. She was a citizen and, he noted with approval, a licensed pilot of small planes.
    "I learned at home," she said when he asked about it. "I'm a--how you say?--natural-born flyer. You want me to fly?"
    He explained, careful to reveal no classified data. She listened quietly, without visible signs of disturbance. When he was through, she said, "You mean you'll help me get home?"
    "As soon as it's over--if that's what you want," he promised.
    "Yesterday, yes," she told him. "To day, no--but I must get home. My people are expecting me."
    "I should think you could have made it before this," he said, mildly puzzled. "Surely, there must be plane or boat passage to your island. If there isn't, how in hell am I going to get there after you?"
    "You're sweet!" she cried softly, hugging him close. Then, "But it is difficult this time of year. Sometimes, the way things are, it is easier to get out than to get in--other times, the reverse."
    "Well, what do you say?' he asked her. "Are you willing to talk to my people ?"
    "But of course," she said quietly. "I cannot turn down such a chance. When do they want to see me?"
    "Right now," he told her.
    She kissed him, and her eyes looked deep into his for a moment before she turned away to get her coat.
    It was afternoon when they reached the committee-room. The members were coolly courteous until Nina finally exposed her tail. The concerted deep breaths that followed sounded like a group sigh. Then the meeting, as if given a shot in the arm, got down to business.
    Nina insisted on having her weekends with Larry during the weeks of rigorous training that followed, but while their times together were wonderful, they were not the same as the magical first encounter. The imminence of parting lay over both of them heavily, and they were rigidly fenced in by wooden-faced security guards. As the time for takeoff drew closer, Larry kicked himself with increasing frequency for having opened his big mouth to destroy a love he could never hope to replace.
    "Don't be so sad, darling," she said on their final night in each other's arms. "We shall be together again--I'll see to that."
    "You've got an eighty-twenty chance of survival," he told her. "If anything goes wrong, if anyone goofs, if any thing happens to you up there, I'll kill myself."
    "Nonsense," she told him, laughing softly. "I'll come back for you--I promise, darling."
    The passionate, heaving embrace that followed left him without time or impulse to analyze this somewhat cryptic remark. All he could think of was that Nina--his darling Nina with her unique, adorable appendage-- was going to be the first human in space and might very well never come back. He thought of the Vanguards and other satellite failures, and his eyes filled with tears which she promptly kissed away.
    "Why couldn't you have joined a Commie fellow-traveler group or anything, so that they'd have turned you down, Nina?" he moaned in his misery.
    "Silly!" she laughed, talking between kisses. "I've never been around people enough to join anything here."
    He flew with her to White Sands the next day, and watched them fuel up the huge solid-fuel, atomic-powered rocket that was to take his beloved above the atmosphere.
    "You won't think harshly of me, will you, darling Larry?" she asked softly as they stood on the concrete hardstand, looking up at the towering rocket, and its gantry of light structural metals painted bright, rust-red.
    "How could I?' he countered. "I'm much too busy hating myself for getting you into it."
    "You mustn't be," she assured him. "You have been truly noble."
    "Too damned noble," he replied. He felt the reassuring warmth of her hand slipped into his, and squeezed it affectionately. It was very sweet--and very, very, very sad..
    Even the weather conspired against the lovers by being perfect the next day. Larry lingered forlornly in the subterranean concrete observation chamber while a weirdly space-suited figure, made tiny by altitude, crossed the cat walk from gantry top to satellite cabin. Her voice sounded calm, despite its exotic accent, as she ran through the checkoff list with Ground Control as the countdown went unhurriedly, inexorably, on. As it went into the final thirty seconds, she murmured a gentle, "So long, Larry," through the communications system, causing him to weep like a baby. The chairman, who was also present, put a comforting arm around Larry's shoulders, and his eyes, too, were full.
    "A strange and wonderful creature," he said softly to the distraught, heart broken younger man.
    "... three...two...one...zero!" came the mechanical voice of the counter, as thought he were listing items in a department store inventory.
    A lancet of flame appeared beneath the huge multiple-rocket, a lancet that broadened blindingly and gave forth billowing clouds of dust and pulverized concrete. Slowly, as if hesitating to ask permission, the gigantic craft rose own flame, then with rapid, steady acceleration until it was a darting streak in the cobalt sky, and then was nothing at all.
    "One hundred percent!" exclaimed technical chief, breaking into a happy grin. "She'll be in orbit right on the nose."
    "What about Nina?" Larry asked anxiously. "Why doesn't she say something?"
    "That acceleration's brutal," was the reply. "Even the way we've got it toned down, it's a gut-buster."
    Larry felt sick but he couldn't bring himself to leave the chamber even momentarily, not with Nina up there, going through God only knew what torment.
    "Xrsplltvtio . . . xrsplltvtio!" came Nina's voice, followed by another series of unintelligible, almost vowel-less syllables.
    "What the hell?" said the committee chairman. "Are we being scrambled?"
    After a quick check, the technician in charge of communications shook his head. "We're okay at this end," he insisted.
    "Zfftpllgspitch, ghdmttlik fetzxschmdt..." the unintelligible gibberish in Nina's voice went on.
    "Maybe something up there has scrambled her powers of speech, a four-star general suggested. Larry moaned, unable to bear the thought of what might be happening upstairs. Nina insane, talking gibberish--it was unbearable.
    "Ssshhh!" said the chairman testily.
    A deep, masculine voice had cut in with what sounded like, "Tlspticrst, far flcktipul?"
    There was a moment of uneasy silence while the conversation continued, then a sudden rush as the radar screen operator gave a taut little cry.
    He had Nina's satellite perfectly tracked, a small blip of light moving slowly across the screen. But another blip had appeared, one that grew larger with incredible speed and became a round disc, then a flat, almost line-like image as it turned. For several heart beats, it paralleled the satellite, and then suddenly they merged and the alien object was growing smaller, all alone.
    "Hijacked, by God!" exclaimed the chairman. "And by a bloody flying saucer."
    All at once, Larry was recalling the strange sounds Nina had uttered there in the movie theater, when he had stepped on her tail. They had sounded remarkably like the gibberish that had just come through the loudspeaker there in the control chamber. Her vagueness about her home, her statement, "I've never been around people enough to join anything here." All at once, such lightly noticed anachronisms and oddities fell into a different and far more sinister focus.
    And what had she meant when she said, "I'll come back for you--I promise, darling." All at once, he was not at all sure whether he wanted Nina to come back for him or not...

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