Ragle Gumm lives in a small town. He is a champion of newspaper puzzle competition. He always wins. For a while the life goes smoothly. One day hallucinations occupied his mind. He sees ghastly strange things. He also wonders why exactly it is he who always wins in the puzzle contest.
His sister’s family established a radio set. He listens several hours a day. His background military career, in which he believes he served in WW2, helps him. What he gathers in radio listening enriches his suspicions. He desperately seeks the truth. Definitely something is wrong with the town, he thinks.
In the meantime, all his attempts to leave the town encounter with problems which, he believes, are set up not to allow him to leave the place. He learns that a lot of his problems are connected with the puzzle contest.
As it turned out they play the contest not for money and gamble. There’s a deep standing reason. He’s got a gift of predicting missile attacks. He does it good, psychologically only by way of solving puzzles. He is the only one who can so far do that.
That accounts for why he is so wanted and isolated. The town per se is situated underground, encircled with military installations. The war is on. First he thinks it’s the Soviet missile attacks, but no it’s a civil war between the two groups of Americans.