The First Men in the Moon – Day 59 of 82

Not a sign of Cavor, not a sound in all the stillness, only the stir and waving of the scrub and of the shadows increased. And suddenly and violently I shivered. “Cav–” I began, and realised once more the uselessness of the human voice in that thin air. Silence. The silence of death.

Then it was my eye caught something–a little thing lying, perhaps fifty yards away down the slope, amidst a litter of bent and broken branches. What was it? I knew, and yet for some reason I would not know. I went nearer to it. It was the little cricket-cap Cavor had worn. I did not touch it, I stood looking at it.

I saw then that the scattered branches about it had been forcibly smashed and trampled. I hesitated, stepped forward, and picked it up.

I stood with Cavor’s cap in my hand, staring at the trampled reeds and thorns about me. On some, of them were little smears of something dark, something that I dared not touch. A dozen yards away, perhaps, the rising breeze dragged something into view, something small and vividly white.

It was a little piece of paper crumpled tightly, as though it had been clutched tightly. I picked it up, and on it were smears of red. My eye caught faint pencil marks. I smoothed it out, and saw uneven and broken writing ending at last in a crooked streak up on the paper.

I set myself to decipher this.

“I have been injured about the knee, I think my kneecap is hurt, and I cannot run or crawl,” it began–pretty distinctly written.

Then less legibly: “They have been chasing me for some time, and it is only a question of”–the word “time” seemed to have been written here and erased in favour of something illegible–“before they get me. They are beating all about me.”

Then the writing became convulsive. “I can hear them,” I guessed the tracing meant, and then it was quite unreadable for a space. Then came a little string of words that were quite distinct: “a different sort of Selenite altogether, who appears to be directing the–” The writing became a mere hasty confusion again.

“They have larger brain cases–much larger, and slenderer bodies, and very short legs. They make gentle noises, and move with organized deliberation…

“And though I am wounded and helpless here, their appearance still gives me hope.” That was like Cavor. “They have not shot at me or attempted… injury. I intend–“

Then came the sudden streak of the pencil across the paper, and on the back and edges–blood!

And as I stood there stupid, and perplexed, with this dumbfounding relic in my hand, something very soft and light and chill touched my hand for a moment and ceased to be, and then a thing, a little white speck, drifted athwart a shadow. It was a tiny snowflake, the first snowflake, the herald of the night.

I looked up with a start, and the sky had darkened almost to blackness, and was thick with a gathering multitude of coldly watchful stars. I looked eastward, and the light of that shrivelled world was touched with sombre bronze; westward, and the sun robbed now by a thickening white mist of half its heat and splendour, was touching the crater rim, was sinking out of sight, and all the shrubs and jagged and tumbled rocks stood out against it in a bristling disorder of black shapes. Into the great lake of darkness westward, a vast wreath of mist was sinking. A cold wind set all the crater shivering. Suddenly, for a moment, I was in a puff of falling snow, and all the world about me gray and dim.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)