Task of Kayin
Task of Kayin by William Morrison - From out beyond the second sun he came; a fugitive from a dead and sterile world ... seeking solace, friends, a home, on Earth—a planet of even greater terrors.
The sensation of which he was most conscious was that of loneliness. He was no longer very much afraid, and sometimes he even thought that his enemies back home were no longer hunting for him. But in the midst of these strange creatures he learned that there was one thing worse than open hostility, and that was indifference. They had no more interest in him than they had in each other, and even though their indifference increased his own chances for safety, it was a chilling thing none the less.
He knew that though they were like him superficially, they were intensely different within. He stood at a street corner trying to fathom the difference, while the crowds surged about him, buffeting him from side to side. They seemed to have no idea of personal dignity. He still understood their language only imperfectly, and spoke it with difficulty, but he had learned, in a primitive way, to read their faces, and during this time of day, at least, their faces told of a strain and fear all their own, of an uncertainty even greater than his. They were going home from work, and they were afraid of countless trifles—that something unpleasant might happen, that they might not get seats on their conveyances, that bad news might greet them when they arrived.
He stared with fascination at a heap of newspapers spread out on the corner stand. He could guess the purpose of these layers of white sheets covered with black or red symbols, but he could not yet interpret them, and he had no idea whether any one had seen or reported his ship. It was almost certain that some one had observed a shooting star, but the chances were very much against any observation having been made of the star’s slow, dark drift to earth.