Out of Time's Abyss

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 36

huddled mass that might have been almost
anything from a bundle of rags to a dead body.

Almost immediately after he had taken his bearings Bradley commenced
working with his bonds. He was a man of powerful physique, and as from
the first he had been imbued with a belief that the fiber ropes were
too weak to hold him, he worked on with a firm conviction that sooner
or later they would part to his strainings. After a matter of five
minutes he was positive that the strands about his wrists were
beginning to give; but he was compelled to rest then from exhaustion.

As he lay, his eyes rested upon the bundle in the corner, and presently
he could have sworn that the thing moved. With eyes straining through
the gloom the man lay watching the grim and sinister thing in the
corner. Perhaps his overwrought nerves were playing a sorry joke upon
him. He thought of this and also that his condition of utter
helplessness might still further have stimulated his imagination. He
closed his eyes and sought to relax his muscles and his nerves; but
when he looked again, he knew that he had not been mistaken--the thing
had moved; now it lay in a slightly altered form and farther from the
wall. It was nearer him.

With renewed strength Bradley strained at his bonds, his fascinated
gaze still glued upon the shapeless bundle. No longer was there any
doubt that it moved--he saw it rise in the center several inches and
then creep closer to him. It sank and arose again--a headless,
hideous, monstrous thing of menace. Its very silence rendered it the
more terrible.

Bradley was a brave man; ordinarily his nerves were of steel; but to be
at the mercy of some unknown and nameless horror, to be unable to
defend himself--it was these things that almost unstrung him, for at
best he was only human. To stand in the open, even with the odds all
against him; to be able to use his fists, to put up some sort of
defense, to inflict punishment upon his adversary--then he could face
death with a smile. It was not death that he feared now--it was that
horror of the unknown that is part of the fiber of every son of woman.

Closer and closer came the shapeless mass. Bradley lay motionless and
listened. What was that he heard! Breathing? He could not be
mistaken--and then from out of the bundle of rags issued

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