The Moon Pool
Chapter 6. "The Shining Devil Took Them!"
MY COLLEAGUES of the Association, and you others who may read this my narrative,
for what I did and did not when full realization returned I must offer here, briefly as I can,
an explanation; a defense--if you will.
My first act was to spring to the open port. The coma had lasted hours, for the moon was
now low in the west! I ran to the door to sound the alarm. It resisted under my frantic
hands; would not open. Something fell tinkling to the floor. It was the key and I
remembered then that Throckmartin had turned it before we began our vigil. With
memory a hope died that I had not known was in me, the hope that he had escaped from
the cabin, found refuge elsewhere on the ship.
And as I stooped, fumbling with shaking fingers for the key, a thought came to me that
drove again the blood from my heart, held me rigid. I could sound no alarm on the
Southern Queen for Throckmartin!
Conviction of my appalling helplessness was complete. The ensemble of the vessel from
captain to cabin boy was, to put it conservatively, average. None, I knew, save
Throckmartin and myself had seen the first apparition of the Dweller. Had they witnessed
the second? I did not know, nor could I risk speaking, not knowing. And not seeing, how
could they believe? They would have thought me insane-or worse; even, it might be, his
I snapped off the electrics; waited and listened; opened the door with infinite caution and
slipped, unseen, into my own stateroom. The hours until the dawn were eternities of
waking nightmare. Reason, resuming sway at last, steadied me. Even had I spoken and
been believed where in these wastes after all the hours could we search for
Throckmartin? Certainly the captain would not turn back to Port Moresby. And even if he
did, of what use for me to set forth for the NanMatal without the equipment which
Throckmartin himself had decided was necessary if one hoped to cope with the mystery
that lurked there?
There was but one thing to do--follow his instructions; get the paraphernalia in
Melbourne or Sydney if it were possible; if not sail to America as swiftly as might be,
secure it there and as swiftly return to Ponape. And this I determined to do.
Calmness came back to me after I had made this decision. And when I went up on deck I
knew that I had been right. They had not seen the Dweller. They were still discussing the
darkening of the ship, talking of dynamos burned out, wires short circuited, a half dozen
explanations of the extinguishment. Not until noon was Throckmartin's absence
discovered. I told the captain that I had left him early in the evening; that, indeed, I knew
him but slightly, after all. It occurred to none to doubt me, or to question me minutely.
Why should it have? His strangeness had been noted, commented upon; all who had met
him had thought him half mad. I did little to discourage the impression. And so it came