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By Walter M. Miller Jr.

The tale is determined approximately years after the cave in of civilization as a result of a mysterious illness known as neuroderm. The "disease" is absolutely brought on by a symbiotic micro-organism despatched to Earth from one other inhabited planet, and is admittedly worthy, although visible as disfiguring as a result of the graying of dermis which ultimately spreads over the whole body.

The story's protagonist, Paul Harris Oberlin, starts the tale outdoors Houston. He has controlled to prevent an infection to this point, yet is tiring of a nutrition of small online game and ditchwater. Paul has determined to hazard exploring a urban, figuring that the massive, crowded towns are actually abandoned and, probably, supply higher possibilities for scavenging.

Paul discovers that Houston is now managed by way of a strongman named Georgelle, whose fans exterminate any "dermies" they arrive throughout. not able to abdominal the homicide of a dermie lady, Paul rescues her and flees Houston.

The woman, Willow or "Willie," was once heading for Galveston, everyday to her from visits sooner than the cave in. She has heard that nuns have set themselves up there. Paul takes her to Galveston, hoping to discover clinical aid for her crippling gunshot wound.

Paul reveals that Galveston Island is an all-dermie colony which had intentionally destroyed all bridges top from the mainland. There are nuns, and clergymen, and so they give you the management for the colony. there's additionally a scientist who has survived the chaos, and who confirms for Paul the rumors that neuroderm has an extraterrestrial origin.

Eventually Paul overcomes his fears approximately neuroderm for the sake of Willie, and plans to compliment her to a few small island till sanity returns to the realm. even if, the implied hazard of Georgelle's humans continues to be, the dermies of Galveston supplying a doubly-attractive aim for his or her deliberate enlargement: Extermination of the dermies, plus a treasure trove of loot, together with gas and dealing automobiles and trucks.

Much of the tale occurs at St. Mary's clinic in Galveston, a true medical institution which was once run via a true order of nuns. The health facility is now a part of the collage of Texas clinical department (UTMB)

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