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The End Of The Solar System







From: The House On The Borderland

From the abutment, where once had been the windows, through which I had
watched that first, fatal dawn, I could see that the sun was hugely
greater, than it had been, when first the Star lit the world. So great
was it, that its lower edge seemed almost to touch the far horizon. Even
as I watched, I imagined that it drew closer. The radiance of green that
lit the frozen earth, grew steadily brighter.

Thus, for a long space, things were. Then, on a sudden, I saw that the
sun was changing shape, and growing smaller, just as the moon would have
done in past time. In a while, only a third of the illuminated part was
turned toward the earth. The Star bore away on the left.

Gradually, as the world moved on, the Star shone upon the front of the
house, once more; while the sun showed, only as a great bow of green
fire. An instant, it seemed, and the sun had vanished. The Star was
still fully visible. Then the earth moved into the black shadow of the
sun, and all was night--Night, black, starless, and intolerable.

Filled with tumultuous thoughts, I watched across the night--waiting.
Years, it may have been, and then, in the dark house behind me, the
clotted stillness of the world was broken. I seemed to hear a soft
padding of many feet, and a faint, inarticulate whisper of sound, grew
on my sense. I looked 'round into the blackness, and saw a multitude of
eyes. As I stared, they increased, and appeared to come toward me. For
an instant, I stood, unable to move. Then a hideous swine-noise rose
up into the night; and, at that, I leapt from the window, out on to the
frozen world. I have a confused notion of having run awhile; and, after
that, I just waited--waited. Several times, I heard shrieks; but always
as though from a distance. Except for these sounds, I had no idea of the
whereabouts of the house. Time moved onward. I was conscious of little,
save a sensation of cold and hopelessness and fear.

An age, it seemed, and there came a glow, that told of the coming
light. It grew, tardily. Then--with a loom of unearthly glory--the first
ray from the Green Star, struck over the edge of the dark sun, and lit
the world. It fell upon a great, ruined structure, some two hundred
yards away. It was the house. Staring, I saw a fearsome sight--over its
walls crawled a legion of unholy things, almost covering the old
building, from tottering towers to base. I could see them, plainly; they
were the Swine-creatures.

The world moved out into the light of the Star, and I saw that, now, it
seemed to stretch across a quarter of the heavens. The glory of its
livid light was so tremendous, that it appeared to fill the sky with
quivering flames. Then, I saw the sun. It was so close that half of its
diameter lay below the horizon; and, as the world circled across its
face, it seemed to tower right up into the sky, a stupendous dome of
emerald colored fire. From time to time, I glanced toward the house; but
the Swine-things seemed unaware of my proximity.

Years appeared to pass, slowly. The earth had almost reached the center
of the sun's disk. The light from the Green Sun--as now it must be
called--shone through the interstices, that gapped the mouldered walls
of the old house, giving them the appearance of being wrapped in green
flames. The Swine-creatures still crawled about the walls.

Suddenly, there rose a loud roar of swine-voices, and, up from the
center of the roofless house, shot a vast column of blood-red flame. I
saw the little, twisted towers and turrets flash into fire; yet still
preserving their twisted crookedness. The beams of the Green Sun, beat
upon the house, and intermingled with its lurid glows; so that it
appeared a blazing furnace of red and green fire.

Fascinated, I watched, until an overwhelming sense of coming danger,
drew my attention. I glanced up, and, at once, it was borne upon me,
that the sun was closer; so close, in fact, that it seemed to overhang
the world. Then--I know not how--I was caught up into strange
heights--floating like a bubble in the awful effulgence.

Far below me, I saw the earth, with the burning house leaping into an
ever growing mountain of flame, 'round about it, the ground appeared to
be glowing; and, in places, heavy wreaths of yellow smoke ascended from
the earth. It seemed as though the world were becoming ignited from that
one plague-spot of fire. Faintly, I could see the Swine-things. They
appeared quite unharmed. Then the ground seemed to cave in, suddenly,
and the house, with its load of foul creatures, disappeared into the
depths of the earth, sending a strange, blood colored cloud into the
heights. I remembered the hell Pit under the house.

In a while, I looked 'round. The huge bulk of the sun, rose high above
me. The distance between it and the earth, grew rapidly less. Suddenly,
the earth appeared to shoot forward. In a moment, it had traversed the
space between it and the sun. I heard no sound; but, out from the sun's
face, gushed an ever-growing tongue of dazzling flame. It seemed to
leap, almost to the distant Green Sun--shearing through the emerald
light, a very cataract of blinding fire. It reached its limit, and sank;
and, on the sun, glowed a vast splash of burning white--the grave of
the earth.

The sun was very close to me, now. Presently, I found that I was rising
higher; until, at last, I rode above it, in the emptiness. The Green Sun
was now so huge that its breadth seemed to fill up all the sky, ahead. I
looked down, and noted that the sun was passing directly beneath me.

A year may have gone by--or a century--and I was left, suspended,
alone. The sun showed far in front--a black, circular mass, against the
molten splendor of the great, Green Orb. Near one edge, I observed that
a lurid glow had appeared, marking the place where the earth had fallen.
By this, I knew that the long-dead sun was still revolving, though with
great slowness.

Afar to my right, I seemed to catch, at times, a faint glow of whitish
light. For a great time, I was uncertain whether to put this down to
fancy or not. Thus, for a while, I stared, with fresh wonderings; until,
at last, I knew that it was no imaginary thing; but a reality. It grew
brighter; and, presently, there slid out of the green, a pale globe of
softest white. It came nearer, and I saw that it was apparently
surrounded by a robe of gently glowing clouds. Time passed....

I glanced toward the diminishing sun. It showed, only as a dark blot on
the face of the Green Sun. As I watched, I saw it grow smaller,
steadily, as though rushing toward the superior orb, at an immense
speed. Intently, I stared. What would happen? I was conscious of
extraordinary emotions, as I realized that it would strike the Green
Sun. It grew no bigger than a pea, and I looked, with my whole soul, to
witness the final end of our System--that system which had borne the
world through so many aeons, with its multitudinous sorrows and
joys; and now--

Suddenly, something crossed my vision, cutting from sight all vestige
of the spectacle I watched with such soul-interest. What happened to the
dead sun, I did not see; but I have no reason--in the light of that
which I saw afterward--to disbelieve that it fell into the strange fire
of the Green Sun, and so perished.

And then, suddenly, an extraordinary question rose in my mind, whether
this stupendous globe of green fire might not be the vast Central
Sun--the great sun, 'round which our universe and countless others
revolve. I felt confused. I thought of the probable end of the dead sun,
and another suggestion came, dumbly--Do the dead stars make the Green
Sun their grave? The idea appealed to me with no sense of grotesqueness;
but rather as something both possible and probable.





Next: The Celestial Globes

Previous: The Green Star



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