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The Luminous Speck







From: The House On The Borderland

I awake suddenly. It is still dark. I turn over, once or twice, in my
endeavors to sleep again; but I cannot sleep. My head is aching,
slightly; and, by turns I am hot and cold. In a little, I give up the
attempt, and stretch out my hand, for the matches. I will light my
candle, and read, awhile; perhaps, I shall be able to sleep, after a
time. For a few moments, I grope; then my hand touches the box; but, as
I open it, I am startled, to see a phosphorescent speck of fire, shining
amid the darkness. I put out my other hand, and touch it. It is on my
wrist. With a feeling of vague alarm, I strike a light, hurriedly, and
look; but can see nothing, save a tiny scratch.

'Fancy!' I mutter, with a half sigh of relief. Then the match burns my
finger, and I drop it, quickly. As I fumble for another, the thing
shines out again. I know, now, that it is no fancy. This time, I light
the candle, and examine the place, more closely. There is a slight,
greenish discoloration 'round the scratch. I am puzzled and worried.
Then a thought comes to me. I remember the morning after the Thing
appeared. I remember that the dog licked my hand. It was this one, with
the scratch on it; though I have not been even conscious of the
abasement, until now. A horrible fear has come to me. It creeps into my
brain--the dog's wound, shines at night. With a dazed feeling, I sit
down on the side of the bed, and try to think; but cannot. My brain
seems numbed with the sheer horror of this new fear.

Time moves on, unheeded. Once, I rouse up, and try to persuade myself
that I am mistaken; but it is no use. In my heart, I have no doubt.

Hour after hour, I sit in the darkness and silence, and shiver,
hopelessly....

The day has come and gone, and it is night again.

This morning, early, I shot the dog, and buried it, away among the
bushes. My sister is startled and frightened; but I am desperate.
Besides, it is better so. The foul growth had almost hidden its left
side. And I--the place on my wrist has enlarged, perceptibly. Several
times, I have caught myself muttering prayers--little things learnt as a
child. God, Almighty God, help me! I shall go mad.

Six days, and I have eaten nothing. It is night. I am sitting in my
chair. Ah, God! I wonder have any ever felt the horror of life that I
have come to know? I am swathed in terror. I feel ever the burning of
this dread growth. It has covered all my right arm and side, and is
beginning to creep up my neck. Tomorrow, it will eat into my face. I
shall become a terrible mass of living corruption. There is no escape.
Yet, a thought has come to me, born of a sight of the gun-rack, on the
other side of the room. I have looked again--with the strangest of
feelings. The thought grows upon me. God, Thou knowest, Thou must know,
that death is better, aye, better a thousand times than This. This!
Jesus, forgive me, but I cannot live, cannot, cannot! I dare not! I am
beyond all help--there is nothing else left. It will, at least, spare
me that final horror....

I think I must have been dozing. I am very weak, and oh! so miserable,
so miserable and tired--tired. The rustle of the paper, tries my brain.
My hearing seems preternaturally sharp. I will sit awhile and think....

"Hush! I hear something, down--down in the cellars. It is a creaking
sound. My God, it is the opening of the great, oak trap. What can be
doing that? The scratching of my pen deafens me ... I must listen....
There are steps on the stairs; strange padding steps, that come up and
nearer.... Jesus, be merciful to me, an old man. There is something
fumbling at the door-handle. O God, help me now! Jesus--The door is
opening--slowly. Somethi--"

That is all





Next: Conclusion

Previous: The Thing From The Arena



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