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"I took the Minnesota multiphasic profile test once, and I tested out as paranoid, cyclothymic, neurotic, and schizophrenic. But I also tested out as an incorrigible liar!"
- Philip K. Dick

Zeta-Ray  
  Makes and maintains vast holes - even in ocean water!  

Now was my first chance to look about, to discover what sort of place this was. It was an oval plain, roughly a mile wide by five miles long. Buildings, squat structures of corrugated iron, were scattered here and there. In the distance, to my left, what seemed a great hole in the ground glowed; a huge disk of light.

Dry land, here, where there should tie nothing but a waste of waters!..

The translucent green wall in whose depths I had seen the blind fish rushing toward me. Impossible! There were scientific miracle-workers in the enemy’s ranks, but they couldn’t have hollowed out a pit such as this in mid-ocean; forced back the very ocean to create this amphitheatre, this dry plain on the Atlantic's very bottom; held back the unthinkable weight of Earth's waters by a nothingness. Incredible!..

The great plain had been cleared by the ray. The dim shapes floating high in that far-circling ellipse were pouring down the dreadful vibrations, thus holding back the sea in a marvelous green wall. I remembered the sea-monster that had dashed at me and vanished. That proved it. The dome of cloud was camouflage, or the product of the processes of destruction going on underneath: it didn’t matter. What mattered was that it was interlaced by a network of ray beams. It was an impenetrable wall, a perfect defense...


(The Zeta-Ray installation from'The Death-Cloud' by Schachner and Zagat)

A long row of giant electrode bulbs, as tall as a man, stretched before me — the source of the Zeta-ray. From here came the power that held back the waters, that bored the tunnel. A thunderous knocking shook the door. Someone at a huge switch-board turned toward me. Instantly my hand was out of my pocket, and the ray-tube leveled at the nearest bulb. I pressed the trigger. The bulb crashed. I swept down the line. Crash, crash, crash — they were all gone.

THEN came a sound of crashing thunder that split my eardrums with its unbearable clamor. Then a mightier roar, as the mountain-high sea, held back so long by the invisible ray, poured its countless millions of tons of deep green water down into the man-made hole.

From The Death Cloud, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat).
Published by Astounding Stories in 1931
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  More Ideas and Technology from The Death Cloud
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)
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  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)

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