The hammer blow of sudden death

disposable latex glove stuffed with kitchen scraps in the dark; jerked photo

Somewhere in this outer space, a gruesome death awaited, death and horror of a kind which Man had never encountered until he reached out for inter-stellar space itself. Apparently the light of the suns kept the Dragons away.

Dragons. That was what people called them. To ordinary people, there was nothing, nothing except the shiver of planoforming and the hammer blow of sudden death or the dark spastic note of lunacy descending into their minds.

But to the telepaths, they were a hostile something out in the black, hollow nothingness of space and the impact of a ferocious, ruinous psychic blow against all living things within the ship, hungry vortices of aliveness and hate compounded by unknown means out of the thin tenuous matter between the stars.

The Game of Rat and Dragon, by Cordwainer Smith [abridged]