At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 64

creatures whose
fossilized remains are found within the outer crust as far back as the
Triassic formation, a gigantic labyrinthodon. And there I was,
unarmed, and, with the exception of a loin cloth, as naked as I had
come into the world. I could imagine how my first ancestor felt that
distant, prehistoric morn that he encountered for the first time the
terrifying progenitor of the thing that had me cornered now beside the
restless, mysterious sea.

Unquestionably he had escaped, or I should not have been within
Pellucidar or elsewhere, and I wished at that moment that he had handed
down to me with the various attributes that I presumed I have inherited
from him, the specific application of the instinct of self-preservation
which saved him from the fate which loomed so close before me today.

To seek escape in the swamp or in the ocean would have been similar to
jumping into a den of lions to escape one upon the outside. The sea
and swamp both were doubtless alive with these mighty, carnivorous
amphibians, and if not, the individual that menaced me would pursue me
into either the sea or the swamp with equal facility.

There seemed nothing to do but stand supinely and await my end. I
thought of Perry--how he would wonder what had become of me. I thought
of my friends of the outer world, and of how they all would go on
living their lives in total ignorance of the strange and terrible fate
that had overtaken me, or unguessing the weird surroundings which had
witnessed the last frightful agony of my extinction. And with these
thoughts came a realization of how unimportant to the life and
happiness of the world is the existence of any one of us. We may be
snuffed out without an instant's warning, and for a brief day our
friends speak of us with subdued voices. The following morning, while
the first worm is busily engaged in testing the construction of our
coffin, they are teeing up for the first hole to suffer more acute
sorrow over a sliced ball than they did over our, to us, untimely
demise. The labyrinthodon was coming more slowly now. He seemed to
realize that escape for me was impossible, and I could have sworn that
his huge, fanged jaws grinned in pleasurable appreciation of my
predicament, or was it in anticipation of the juicy morsel which would
so soon be pulp between those formidable teeth?

He was about fifty feet from me when I heard a voice

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