The House on the Borderland
17. The Slowing Rotation
"IT MIGHT have been a million years later, that I perceived, beyond possibility of doubt,
that the fiery sheet that lit the world, was indeed darkening. "Another vast space went by,
and the whole enormous flame had sunk to a deep, copper colour. Gradually, it darkened,
from copper to copper-red, and from this, at times, to a deep, heavy, purplish tint, with, in
it, a strange loom of blood.
"Although the light was decreasing, I could perceive no diminishment in the apparent
speed of the sun. It still spread itself in that dazzling veil of speed.
"The world, so much of it as I could see, had assumed a dreadful shade of gloom, as
though, in very deed, the last day of the worlds approached.
"The sun was dying; of that there could be little doubt; and still the earth whirled onward,
through space and all the aeons. At this time, I remember, an extraordinary sense of
bewilderment took me. I found myself, later, wandering, mentally, amid an odd chaos of
fragmentary modern theories and the old Biblical story of the world's ending.
"Then, for the first time, there flashed across me, the memory that the sun, with its
system of planets, was, and had been, travelling through space at an incredible speed.
Abruptly, the question rose--Where? For a very great time, I pondered this matter; but,
finally, with a certain sense of the futility of my puzzlings, I let my thoughts wander to
other things. I grew to wondering, how much longer the house would stand. Also, I
queried, to myself, whether I should be doomed to stay, bodyless, upon the earth, through
the dark-time that I knew was coming. From these thoughts, I fell again to speculations
upon the possible direction of the sun's journey through space. . . . And so another great
"Gradually, as time fled, I began to feel the chill of a great winter. Then, I remembered
that, with the sun dying, the cold must be, necessarily, extraordinarily intense. Slowly,
slowly, as the aeons slipped into eternity, the earth sank into a heavier and redder gloom.
The dull flame in the firmament took on a deeper tint, very sombre and turbid.
"Then, at last, it was borne upon me that there was a change. The fiery, gloomy curtain of
flame that hung quaking overhead, and down away into the Southern sky, began to thin
and contract; and, in it, as one sees the fast vibrations of a jarred harp-string, I saw once
more the sun-stream quivering, giddily, North and South.
"Slowly, the likeness to a sheet of fire, disappeared, and I saw, plainly, the slowing beat
of the sun-stream. Yet, even then, the speed of its swing was inconceivably swift. And all
the time, the brightness of the fiery arc grew ever duller. Underneath, the world loomed
dimly--an indistinct, ghostly region.