Classic Horror Stories: No more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone leaves Life endurable, I will bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below. Morphine that I’m a weakling or a degenerate. Hastily scrawled pages that you may guess, though never fully comprehend why it is that I Must have forgetfulness or death. It had been clearly one of the most open and least frequented parts of the wide Pacific the package of which I was supercargo fell a prey to the German sea-raider.
The Wonderful war was then at its very beginning, and the ocean forces of this Hun Hadn’t completely sunk to their later degradation; so that our vessel was made a valid decoration, whilst we of her crew were treated with the fairness and consideration due us as naval prisoners. Hence liberal, indeed, was the discipline of our captors that five days after we were taken I was able to escape alone in a small boat with provisions and water at a good length of time.
When I finally found myself adrift totally free, I had but little notion of my own environment. Never a competent navigator, I can only guess vaguely by the sun and stars that I was slightly south of the equator. Of the longitude I understood nothing, and no island coast-line was sight. The weather kept fair, and for uncounted days I drifted aimlessly beneath the scorching sun; waiting for some passing boat, or to be cast on the beaches of some habitable property.
But neither Vastnesses of unbroken blue. The change happened whilst I moved. The details I shall never know; because of my slumber, though troubled and dream-infested, had been constant. When at last I awaked, it was to discover myself half sucked into a slimy expanse of hellish black mire which extended about me in monotonous undulations so much as I could view, and in which my boat lay grounded some distance apart.
Though one might well imagine that my first sensation would be of wonder at so prodigious and unexpected a transformation of scenery, I was actually more horrified than amazed; for instance was in the air and in the rotting soil a sinister caliber which chilled me to the core. The region was putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish, and of other less describable things that I watched protruding from the nasty mud of this unending plain. Maybe I shouldn’t expect to convey in mere words that the unutterable hideousness that can live in complete silent and barren immensity.
Sight save a huge reach of black slime; nonetheless the most completeness of the stillness and the homogeneity of the landscape amazes me with a nauseating anxiety. The sun was blazing down from a sky which seemed to me nearly black in its own cloudless cruelty; as though reflecting the inky marsh beneath my feet. As I crawled into the stranded boat I realized that only 1 theory could explain my position.
Throughout several unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a portion of the sea floor should have been thrown to the surface, exposing areas that for countless millions of years had lain hidden beneath unfathomable watery depths. So good was the extent of the new land which had risen beneath me, that I could not detect the faintest noise of the surging ocean, pressure my ears as I might. Nor were there some sea-fowl to prey upon the dead things.
For Many hours I sat thinking or brooding at the ship, which lay upon its negative and afforded a slight color as the sun moved round the skies. As the day progressed, the ground lost some of its stickiness, and seemed likely to dry satisfactorily for traveling functions in a brief while. And the following day I made for myself a pack containing food and water, preparatory to an overland journey in search of the vanished sea and potential rescue.
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