TO: ............ World Secretary of Interplanetary Affairs

FROM: ...... Donnerwetter Jones

SUBJECT: . Purple Polka-Dots of the Emerald BEMs on Io and Ganymede.

Acting upon strict orders from the combined Earth-Mars government -- the former Michigan Science-Fantasy Society, which rose to rule the System by mailing home-made bombs to all opponents -- I borrowed Sam Merwin IV's Little Atomic Chug-Chug space cruiser (2087 model, no time travel accessory included), and set forth in the general direction of Jupiter. Other than acute boredom brought on by reading stacks and stacks of STARTLING STORIES, there was no difficulty in the trip, and finally the crimson-amber globe of Jupiter occupied the whole of my telescreen.

Although the BEMs are native to both Io and Ganymede, I decided to try the former first, because its atmosphere is breathable by human beings. If I failed to discover what I sought there, I would go next to Ganymede.

A figure approached my ship, after I had landed, of course. It was a girl, but at first I didn't recognize the fact. I'd read so many STARTLINGs I was taking Bergey seriously.

I told her, "I've been sent to investigate more thoroughly these polka-dotted BEMs you have here. Especially I'd like to see Dictator Sneary VI's pet BEM -- the one without the purple polka-dot!"

"The one with I.Q. 50?" she questioned? "Very well, I'll direct you to the Dictator's palace. I was going there anyway; I'm his secretary."

As we ascended the palace steps she added: "Don't mention in front of him that he has an Intelligence Quotient of only 50; he's awfully sensitive about that."

"I think I can understand his point of view," I said sympathetically.

"Oh, then you're a stf fan too!" she squealed. I did not answer, but entered the palace in dignified silence.

The Dictator exhibited his pet to me; I saw that the reports were in no way exaggerated: his purple polka-dot was non-existent; in fact, there was no slightest sign of a scar or anything that could have marked an accidental removal.

These purple polka-dots, as you know, are small lump-like protrusions on the head of every emerald BEM which has been captured; because they are extremely shy, not many BEMs have been examined. The structures differ from the surrounding skin in that they are of a violet shade rather than emerald-green. They have no apparent organic function, and when the BEMs are killed, they soon wither and fall off as a very hard shell-like substance which is impervious to force up to a certain limit, after which it shatters into a pile of flaky pieces.

Earth scientists were tremendously excited over the report that the one BEM lacking the purple polka-dot had an intelligence raised from a possible third level (that of rabbits) to about the seventeenth level (that of a human being or Martian with a 50 I.Q.). Of course, one BEM's reaction did not by any means do aught but lay a foundation for further experimentation. Once hundreds had been examined and experimented upon, a definite conclusion could be reached.

In order to perform these examinations and experiments I required subjects; there being no promag editors present I was compelled to venture into unexplored territory to procure some specimens. Also, I wanted to observe the creatures in their natural habitat, so that I could write an informative article for SPACEWARP, and perhaps learn why BEMs died unless kept in the refrigerator all night.

I chose a companion, a stupid-looking person named Allan Leverentz, and set forth toward an island-continent which had thus far remained unexplored, save by aerial photographs taken by a Survey Corps plane.

Three weeks passed; and though we sighted several bands of BEMs, we were unable to obtain specimens. One day while I was perusing a copy of MUTANT I detected a sound behind me. I turned. There was a blinding flash. When I regained partial use of my eyes, the intruder had disappeared, leaving no tracks in the mud; there was a note however ... now how did he know I was reading a competing mag? I guess Rapp has his spies everywhere. Maybe that beaver that kept tagging along .....

But finally, ninety-six back issues of SPACEWARP later, came the inevitable consummation of our efforts. The sky that day was a horrible yellow-green like a (you should pardon the expression) Bergy cover, and good weather was assured. Rain is to be feared on Io, for it does not precipitate water, but nitric acid, against whose horrible hunger only 196-page copies of AMAZING are any protection.

We had advanced about five hundred miles inland, and had arrived at a fairly level field, full of gopher holes. Then we had ventured about half a mile further on, until we came to a small stream. Killing the malevolent microorganisms by subjecting them to the virulent emanations from a picture of Paul Payne, we drank of it and then continued onward for about three hundred yards. Suddenly, motioning for silence, I pushed Allan to the ground, and dropped quickly myself.

Then I signaled for him to follow me; ahead of us was a cliff, broken sharply off at the level at which we stood. Cautiously I peered over the edge; gave an involuntary gasp at what I saw. Green BEMs. Methodically and intelligently they were binding other BEMs, making them prisoners. All at once I noticed a difference between victor and vanquished. Those who were being bound possessed no purple polka-dot.

Suddenly I heard a sound, far off but swiftly approaching. Allan heard it also. And then we saw it.

It was a small silvery object flying through the air at a dizzy pace toward the ground, and came in for a pretty landing. A spaceship. A spaceship only three yards in length.

Creatures poured out of it -- and when I saw what they were, and realization came to me, I shuddered from sheer horror; even the immunization acquired from dozens of Bergey covers did not shield me.

"Ghu!" ejaculated Allan; it was synonymous with my "Foo!" I glanced askance at him, realizing he was a heretic; but even that fact -- that he was a member of one of the opposite sex -- whoops, sects -- did not deter me from clutching his arm in horror and loathing.

For although neither of us had spoken loudly, our voices had carried to them. The things turned toward us. Somehow they communicated with the other BEMs and then the whole horde poured forth from their grotto.

Tiny rays lanced toward us; as they brushed the ground in front of us, the rocky surface fused and steamed beneath their power. I knew then, their weapons were almost as powerful as a Michigan Science Fantasy Society bomb. Drawing my own weapon, I shouted, "Let them have it!"

Fluid spurted forth from the barrels of our hand-weapons; a mixture of mimeo ink and pulp paper once used to publish Payne's PLANET STORIES. At once the rock of their hollow melted, and lava poured over them, engulfing them. The BEMs were immediately destroyed. But the other things, those horrors that had arrived in the miniature ship, did not die; not until the pulp-ejector in my hand grew too hot to hold did the first one cease to move. Then the others fell. As the last one went, I dropped the weapon onto the ground where it seared the rock for it was very hot; my hand, callused from constant reading of fanzines, was not burned as badly as it could have been.

The little spaceship, however, was not harmed. And that is my proof of this report; that and the eyewitness testimony of myself and Allan Leverentz.

But there are others of the things the ship had borne. They must be wiped out forever, they who would overpower the human race and had already retarded the development of the Emerald BEMs. And they shall be, even if it takes our last resort; SPACEWARP confetti in the pulp-ejectors.

But you, too, would feel as I do -- nauseated with horror and fear -- if you had watched the small, purple, disk-like entities leave the vessel that had carried them to the solar system, and crawl over to the helpless, bound Emerald BEMs, and fasten themselves by tentacles to their heads -- purple polka-dots.

Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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