Powdery snowflakes whispered down through the dusk. The wind drowsed. Out of a cavernous shed on a field in Belleville, Ill., a great grey shape slid out of lurking and moved off through the gathering night, purring a basso profundo that swelled to a dull roar as a white eye and a red in the creature's belly were seen to rise from the earth, twinkle slowly higher and disappear.

An hour later the shape returned to the field, gliding softly down through the twinkling myriads of snow. The creature's...

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