When a young scientist discovers how to foreshorten space by using higher dimensions, it opens up the possibilities for almost instantaneous interstellar travel, initially using unmanned probes. The first probe returns with stellar gas samples from a double star system: a larger yellow star, with a dwarf star companion. Both samples are isolated from the outside world as a precaution, and stored together in a scientific laboratory pending detailed analysis. But when the sealed vault is opened, something uncanny happens. The container that contains gas from the dwarf star has burst apart. A viscid, crawling substance is flowing out of the smashed remains, appearing to multiply on itself as it moves. In some blind, terrifying way, it seems alive…and it's spreading! A classic SF tale drawn from the pages of the 1950s paperback pulps.
he strode into his bedroom and began to strip. Carefully he examined his massive, still immensely powerful body. Outwardly it was in perfect condition: what was happening inside to account for his queer sensations only instruments could show. So he redressed himself and in a grim mood left the apartment and returned to his laboratory in the administrative building. The staff, still working normally, since there was no danger as yet at this point of the town, glanced at him but asked no questions. When he was at his fiercest it was wisest to remain quiet. He locked the laboratory door on the inside and strode over to a cabinet with ground-glass screens. Within it were all the necessary X-ray devices for making a photographic and detailed analysis of his body. He stepped into the cabinet, switched on the current, and waited for perhaps three minutes. Then he stepped out again and studied the automatically developed plates and readings, which gave blood pressure, respiration, and every physical reaction. His brow darkened at what he read. Musing, he turned to the bench and began to figure rapidly. There was a bleak look in his eyes when he had finished. “At the most, forty-eight hours to live,” he muttered. “It is possible death may come even sooner than that—slow petrifying and then a sudden change of metabolic base. There is no other answer....” He still could not believe his conclusions, so he turned to them again, checking and rechecking. They showed that the gas of the Companion of Sirius, which had mutated into a semi-solid protoplasmic form under the catalytic effect of the neighbouring gas from Sirius itself, had an extremely high radioactive content, which easily penetrated the interstices of living flesh and impregnated the bloodstream. Here the radioactivity produced extraordinary effects. It created a quick calcification of the bloodstream, a thickening of its constitution, which sooner or later—within forty-eight hours at the most—must mean complete coagulation and the