Page:Avon Fantasy Reader 10.djvu/127
Mortimer interrupted: "Describe the fifth day."
After the customary interval, the voice replied. There was a sticky quality about it that reminded me of the sucking of mud at some object struggling in it.
"The reptiles are gone," it said. "I alone live upon this expiring world. Even the plant life has turned yellow and withered. The volcanoes are in terrific action. The mountains are becoming level, and soon all will be one vast plain. A thick, green slime is gathering upon the face of the water; so that it is difficult to tell where the land with its rotting vegetation ends and the sea begins. The sky is saffron in color, like a plate of hot brass. At night a blood red moon swims drunkenly in a black sky.
"Something is happening to gravitation. For a long time I had suspected it. Today I tested it by throwing a stone into the air. I was carried several feet above the ground by the force of my action. It took the stone nearly twenty minutes to return to earth. It fell slowly, and at an angle!"
"An angle!" cried Mortimer.
"Yes. It was barely perceptible, but it was there. The earth's movement is slowing: Days and nights have more than doubled in length."
"What is the condition of the atmosphere?"
"A trifle rarefied, but not sufficiently so to make breathing difficult. This seems strange to me."
"That," said Mortimer to me, "is because his body is here in the twentieth century, where there is plenty of air. The air at the stage of the earth's career where his mind is would be too rare to support organic life. Even now the mental influence is so strong that he believes the density of the atmosphere to be decreasing."
"Recently," Williams' voice went on, "the star Vega has taken Polaris' place as centre of the universe. Many of the old stars have disappeared, while new ones have taken their places. I have a suspicion that our solar system is either falling or traveling in a new direction through space."
"Listen to me, Williams." Mortimer's voice sounded dry and cracked, and his forehead was besprinkled with great gouts of sweat. "It is the sixth, the last day. What do you see?"
"I see a barren plain of grey rock. The world is in perpetual twilight because the mists that rise from the sea obscure the sun. Heaps of brown bones dot the plain near the mounds that once were cities. The dykes around Manhattan long ago crumbled away; but there is no longer any need for them even were men here, for the sea is rapidly drying up. The atmosphere is becoming exceedingly rarefied. I can hardly breathe. . . .
"Gravitation is giving out more rapidly. When I stand erect I sway as though drunk. Last night the curtains of mist parted for a time, and I saw the moon fly off into space."Great lightnings play about the earth, but there is no thunder. The silence all around is plummetless. I keep speaking aloud and striking one object against another to relieve the strain on my eardrums. . . .