Out of Time's Abyss HTML version
Half-stunned, Bradley lay for a minute as he had fallen and then slowly and painfully
wriggled into a less uncomfortable position. He could see nothing of his surroundings in
the gloom about him until after a few minutes his eyes became accustomed to the dark
interior when he rolled them from side to side in survey of his prison.
He discovered himself to be in a bare room which was windowless, nor could he see any
other opening than that through which he had been lowered. In one corner was a huddled
mass that might have been almost anything from a bundle of rags to a dead body.
Almost immediately after he had taken his bearings Bradley commenced working with
his bonds. He was a man of powerful physique, and as from the first he had been imbued
with a belief that the fiber ropes were too weak to hold him, he worked on with a firm
conviction that sooner or later they would part to his strainings. After a matter of five
minutes he was positive that the strands about his wrists were beginning to give; but he
was compelled to rest then from exhaustion.
As he lay, his eyes rested upon the bundle in the corner, and presently he could have
sworn that the thing moved. With eyes straining through the gloom the man lay watching
the grim and sinister thing in the corner. Perhaps his overwrought nerves were playing a
sorry joke upon him. He thought of this and also that his condition of utter helplessness
might still further have stimulated his imagination. He closed his eyes and sought to relax
his muscles and his nerves; but when he looked again, he knew that he had not been
mistaken--the thing had moved; now it lay in a slightly altered form and farther from the
wall. It was nearer him.
With renewed strength Bradley strained at his bonds, his fascinated gaze still glued upon
the shapeless bundle. No longer was there any doubt that it moved--he saw it rise in the
center several inches and then creep closer to him. It sank and arose again--a headless,
hideous, monstrous thing of menace. Its very silence rendered it the more terrible.
Bradley was a brave man; ordinarily his nerves were of steel; but to be at the mercy of
some unknown and nameless horror, to be unable to defend himself--it was these things
that almost unstrung him, for at best he was only human. To stand in the open, even with
the odds all against him; to be able to use his fists, to put up some sort of defense, to
inflict punishment upon his adversary--then he could face death with a smile. It was not
death that he feared now--it was that horror of the unknown that is part of the fiber of
every son of woman.
Closer and closer came the shapeless mass. Bradley lay motionless and listened. What
was that he heard! Breathing? He could not be mistaken--and then from out of the bundle
of rags issued a hollow groan. Bradley felt his hair rise upon his head. He struggled with
the slowly parting strands that held him. The thing beside him rose up higher than before
and the Englishman could have sworn that he saw a single eye peering at him from