Out of Time's Abyss

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 13

they crossed them only after
an encounter with the tribe that inhabited the numerous caves which
pitted the face of the escarpment. That night they camped upon a rocky
plateau which was sparsely wooded with jarrah, and here once again they
were visited by the weird, nocturnal apparition that had already filled
them with a nameless terror.

As on the night of September ninth the first warning came from the
sentinel standing guard over his sleeping companions. A
terror-stricken cry punctuated by the crack of a rifle brought Bradley,
Sinclair and Brady to their feet in time to see James, with clubbed
rifle, battling with a white-robed figure that hovered on widespread
wings on a level with the Englishman's head. As they ran, shouting,
forward, it was obvious to them that the weird and terrible apparition
was attempting to seize James; but when it saw the others coming to his
rescue, it desisted, flapping rapidly upward and away, its long, ragged
wings giving forth the peculiarly dismal notes which always
characterized the sound of its flying.

Bradley fired at the vanishing menacer of their peace and safety; but
whether he scored a hit or not, none could tell, though, following the
shot, there was wafted back to them the same piercing wail that had on
other occasions frozen their marrow.

Then they turned toward James, who lay face downward upon the ground,
trembling as with ague. For a time he could not even speak, but at
last regained sufficient composure to tell them how the thing must have
swooped silently upon him from above and behind as the first
premonition of danger he had received was when the long, clawlike
fingers had clutched him beneath either arm. In the melee his rifle
had been discharged and he had broken away at the same instant and
turned to defend himself with the butt. The rest they had seen.

From that instant James was an absolutely broken man. He maintained
with shaking lips that his doom was sealed, that the thing had marked
him for its own, and that he was as good as dead, nor could any amount
of argument or raillery convince him to the contrary. He had seen
Tippet marked and claimed and now he had been marked. Nor were his
constant reiterations of this belief without effect upon the rest of
the party. Even Bradley felt depressed, though for the sake of the
others he managed to hide it beneath a show of confidence he was far
from feeling.

And on the following day William James

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