The motor raced away. And Lockley got out on the highway only in time to see the rear of a brown-painted, military-marked car some three hundred yards away. It swept around a curve of the highway and was gone. It was going through the space where the road was blocked by a terror beam, headed obviously for Boulder Lake.
What had happened was self-evident. From her place beside the huge stump she’d seen a military car approaching. And she and Lockley had been trying to reach the cordon of troops around Boulder Lake. There was no reason to distrust men in uniform or in a military car. She’d run to flag it down. She had. By a coincidence, it was undoubtedly where a carload of collaborating humans would have stopped to have the road-blocking beam cut off by their monster allies. She’d approached the stopped car. And something frightened her. She screamed.
But she’d been pulled into the car, which went on before the beam could come on again to stop it.
It was very likely that at that moment Lockley despised himself more bitterly than any other man alive. He blamed himself absolutely for Jill’s capture. If there were humans acting with the alien invaders, her fate would unquestionably be more horrible than at the hands of the monsters alone. After all, there was one nation most likely to deal with extra-terrestrial creatures to help them in the conquest of earth, and its troops were not notorious for their kindly behavior to civilians.
And Jill was their captive. He’d been carried past the place where a terror beam blocked the road. The military markings might mean the car was stolen, or that its markings and paint were counterfeit. It seemed certain that Jill had gone up to it in confidence that there could only be American soldiers in such a car, and when near it found out her mistake too late.
These were not things that Lockley thought out in detail at the beginning. He ran after the car like a mad man, unable to feel anything but horror and so terrible a fury that it should have killed its objects by sheer intensity.
Presently he heard hoarse, gasping sounds. He realized that the sounds were the breath going in and out of his own throat, while Jill was carried farther and farther away from him in a car which traveled ten yards to his one. He sobbed then, and suddenly he was strangely and unnaturally calm. He was able to think quite coolly. The only difference between this and normal thinking was that now he could only think about one thing—full and complete and terrible revenge for the crimes committed and to be committed against Jill. She would be taken to Boulder Lake. So he would go to Boulder Lake, and somehow, in some manner, he would destroy utterly all living beings there and every trace of their coming.
Which, of course, was both natural and unreasonable. But reason would have been unnatural at such a time as this.