The House on the Borderland HTML version

7. The Attack
"I SPENT some time, puzzling how to strengthen the study door. Finally, I went down to
the kitchen, and with some trouble, brought up several heavy pieces of timber. These, I
wedged up, slantwise, against it, from the floor, nailing them top and bottom. For half-an-
hour, I worked hard, and, at last, got it shored to my mind. "Then, feeling easier, I
resumed my coat, which I had laid aside, and proceeded to attend to one or two matters
before returning to the tower. It was whilst thus employed, that I heard a fumbling at the
door, and the latch was tried. Keeping silence, I waited. Soon, I heard several of the
creatures outside. They were grunting to one another, softly. Then, for a minute, there
was quietness. Suddenly, there sounded a quick, low grunt, and the door creaked under a
tremendous pressure. It would have burst inwards; but for the supports I had placed. The
strain ceased, as quickly as it had begun, and there was more talk.
"Presently, one of the Things squealed, softly, and I heard the sound of others
approaching. There was a short confabulation; then again, silence; and I realised that they
had called several more to assist. Feeling that now was the supreme moment, I stood
ready, with my rifle presented. If the door gave, I would, at least, slay as many as
"Again came the low signal; and, once more, the door cracked, under a huge force. For, a
minute perhaps, the pressure was kept up; and I waited, nervously; expecting each
moment to see the door come down with a crash. But no; the struts held, and the attempt
proved abortive. Then followed more of their horrible, grunting talk, and, whilst it lasted,
I thought I distinguished the noise of fresh arrivals.
"After a long discussion, during which the door was several times shaken, they became
quiet once more, and I knew that they were going to make a third attempt to break it
down. I was almost in despair. The props had been severely tried in the two previous
attacks, and I was sorely afraid that this would prove too much for them.
"At that moment, like an inspiration, a thought flashed into my troubled brain. Instantly,
for it was no time to hesitate, I ran from the room, and up stair after stair. This time, it
was not to one of the towers, that I went; but out on to the flat, leaded roof itself. Once
there, I raced across to the parapet, that walls it round, and looked down. As I did so, I
heard the short, grunted signal, and, even up there, caught the crying of the door under
the assault.
"There was not a moment to lose, and, leaning over, I aimed, quickly, and fired. The
report rang sharply, and, almost blending with it, came the loud splud of the bullet
striking its mark. From below, rose a shrill wail; and the door ceased its groaning. Then,
as I took my weight from off the parapet, a huge piece of the stone coping slid from
under me, and fell with a crash among the disorganised throng beneath. Several horrible
shrieks quavered through the night air, and then I heard a sound of scampering feet.
Cautiously, I looked over. In the moonlight, I could see the great coping stone, lying right