Out of Time's Abyss HTML version
When bradley went on guard at midnight, September 14th, his thoughts were largely
occupied with rejoicing that the night was almost spent without serious mishap and that
the morrow would doubtless see them all safely returned to Fort Dinosaur. The
hopefulness of his mood was tinged with sorrow by recollection of the two members of
his party who lay back there in the savage wilderness and for whom there would never
again be a homecoming.
No premonition of impending ill cast gloom over his anticipations for the coming day, for
Bradley was a man who, while taking every precaution against possible danger, permitted
no gloomy forebodings to weigh down his spirit. When danger threatened, he was
prepared; but he was not forever courting disaster, and so it was that when about one
o'clock in the morning of the fifteenth, he heard the dismal flapping of giant wings
overhead, he was neither surprised nor frightened but idly prepared for an attack he had
known might reasonably be expected.
The sound seemed to come from the south, and presently, low above the trees in that
direction, the man made out a dim, shadowy form circling slowly about. Bradley was a
brave man, yet so keen was the feeling of revulsion engendered by the sight and sound of
that grim, uncanny shape that he distinctly felt the gooseflesh rise over the surface of his
body, and it was with difficulty that he refrained from following an instinctive urge to fire
upon the nocturnal intruder. Better, far better would it have been had he given in to the
insistent demand of his subconscious mentor; but his almost fanatical obsession to save
ammunition proved now his undoing, for while his attention was riveted upon the thing
circling before him and while his ears were filled with the beating of its wings, there
swooped silently out of the black night behind him another weird and ghostly shape.
With its huge wings partly closed for the dive and its white robe fluttering in its wake, the
apparition swooped down upon the Englishman.
So great was the force of the impact when the thing struck Bradley between the shoulders
that the man was half stunned. His rifle flew from his grasp; he felt clawlike talons of
great strength seize him beneath his arms and sweep him off his feet; and then the thing
rose swiftly with him, so swiftly that his cap was blown from his head by the rush of air
as he was borne rapidly upward into the inky sky and the cry of warning to his
companions was forced back into his lungs.
The creature wheeled immediately toward the east and was at once joined by its fellow,
who circled them once and then fell in behind them. Bradley now realized the strategy
that the pair had used to capture him and at once concluded that he was in the power of
reasoning beings closely related to the human race if not actually of it.
Past experience suggested that the great wings were a part of some ingenious mechanical
device, for the limitations of the human mind, which is always loath to accept aught
beyond its own little experience, would not permit him to entertain the idea that the