The Dying World

: After London

"And now tell us of yourself," said 25X-987, "and about your world."

Professor Jameson, noted in college as a lecturer of no mean ability and

perfectly capable of relating intelligently to them the story of the

earth's history, evolution and march of events following the birth of

civilization up until the time when he died, began his story. The mental

speech hampered him for a time, but he soon became accustomed to it

as to use it easily, and he found it preferable to vocal speech after a

while. The Zoromes listened interestedly to the long account until

Professor Jameson had finished.

"My nephew," concluded the professor, "evidently obeyed my instructions

and placed my body in the rocket I had built, shooting it out into space

where I became the satellite of the earth for these many millions of


"Do you really want to know how long you were dead before we found you?"

asked 25X-987. "It would be interesting to find out."

"Yes, I should like very much to know," replied the professor.

"Our greatest mathematician, 459C-79, will tell it to you." The

mathematician stepped forward. Upon one side of his cube were many

buttons arranged in long columns and squares.

"What is your unit of measuring?" he asked.

"A mile."

"How many times more is a mile than is the length of your rocket


"My rocket is fifteen feet long. A mile is five thousand two hundred and

eighty feet."

The mathematician depressed a few buttons.

"How far, or how many miles from the sun was your planet at that time?"

"Ninety-three million miles," was the reply.

"And your world's satellite--which you call moon from your


"Two hundred and forty thousand miles."

"And your rocket?"

"I figured it to go about sixty-five thousand miles from the earth."

"It was only twenty thousand miles from the earth when we picked it up,"

said the mathematician, depressing a few more buttons. "The moon and

sun are also much nearer your planet now."

* * * * *

Professor Jameson gave way to a mental ejaculation of amazement.

"Do you know how long you have cruised around the planet in your own

satellite?" said the mathematician. "Since you began that journey, the

planet which you call the earth has revolved around the sun over forty

million times."

"Forty--million--years!" exclaimed Professor Jameson haltingly.

"Humanity must then have all perished from the earth long ago! I'm the

last man on earth!"

"It is a dead world now," interjected 25X-987.

"Of course," elucidated the mathematician, "those last few million years

are much shorter than the ones in which you lived. The earth's orbit is

of less diameter and its speed of revolution is greatly increased, due

to its proximity to the cooling sun. I should say that your year was

some four times as long as the time in which it now takes your old

planet to circumnavigate the sun.

"How many days were there in your year?"

"Three hundred and sixty-five."

"The planet has now ceased rotating entirely."

"Seems queer that your rocket satellite should avoid the meteors so

long," observed 459C-79, the mathematician.

"Automatic radium repulsion rays," explained the professor.

"The very rays which kept us from approaching your rocket," stated

25X-987, "until we neutralized them."

"You died and were shot out into space long before any life occurred on

Zor," soliloquized one of the machine men. "Our people had not yet even

been born when yours had probably disappeared entirely from the face of

the earth."

"Hearken to 72N-4783," said 25X-987, "he is our philosopher, and he just

loves to dwell on the past life of Zor when we were flesh and blood

creatures with the threat of death hanging always over our heads. At

that time, like the life you knew, we were born, we lived and died, all

within a very short time, comparatively."

"Of course, time has come to mean nothing to us, especially when we are

out in space," observed 72N-4783. "We never keep track of it on our

expeditions, though back in Zor such accounts are accurately kept. By

the way, do you know how long we stood here while you recounted to us

the history of your planet? Our machine bodies never get tired, you


* * * * *

"Well," ruminated Professor Jameson, giving a generous allowance of

time. "I should say about a half a day, although it seemed scarcely as

long as that."

"We listened to you for four days," replied 72N-4783.

Professor Jameson was really aghast.

"Really, I hadn't meant to be such a bore," he apologized.

"That is nothing," replied the other. "Your story was interesting, and

if it had been twice as long, it would not have mattered, nor would it

have seemed any longer. Time is merely relative, and in space actual

time does not exist at all, any more than your forty million years'

cessation of life seemed more than a few moments to you. We saw that it

was so when your first thought impressions reached us following your


"Let us continue on to your planet earth," then said 25X-987. "Perhaps

we shall find more startling disclosures there."

As the space ship of the Zoromes approached the sphere from which

Professor Jameson had been hurled in his rocket forty million years

before, the professor was wondering how the earth would appear, and what

radical changes he would find. Already he knew that the geographical

conditions of the various continents were changed. He had seen as much

from the space ship.

A short time later the earth was reached. The space travelers from Zor,

as well as Professor Jameson, emerged from the cosmic flyer to walk upon

the surface of the planet. The earth had ceased rotating, leaving

one-half its surface always toward the sun. This side of the earth was

heated to a considerable degree, while its antipodes, turned always away

from the solar luminary, was a cold, frigid, desolate waste. The space

travelers from Zor did not dare to advance very far into either

hemisphere, but landed on the narrow, thousand-mile strip of territory

separating the earth's frozen half from its sun-baked antipodes.

As Professor Jameson emerged from the space ship with 25X-987, he stared

in awe at the great transformation four hundred thousand centuries had

wrought. The earth's surface, its sky and the sun were all so changed

and unearthly appearing. Off to the east the blood red ball of the

slowly cooling sun rested upon the horizon, lighting up the eternal day.

The earth's rotation had ceased entirely, and it hung motionless in the

sky as it revolved around its solar parent, its orbit slowly but surely

cutting in toward the great body of the sun. The two inner planets,

Mercury and Venus, were now very close to the blood red orb whose

scintillating, dazzling brilliance had been lost in its cooling process.

Soon, the two nearer planets would succumb to the great pull of the

solar luminary and return to the flaming folds, from which they had been

hurled out as gaseous bodies in the dim, age-old past, when their

careers had just begun.

The atmosphere was nearly gone, so rarefied had it become, and through

it Professor Jameson could view with amazing clarity without discomfort

to his eyes the bloated body of the dying sun. It appeared many times

the size he had seen it at the time of his death, on account of its

relative nearness. The earth had advanced a great deal closer to the

great star around which it swung.

The sky towards the west was pitch black except for the iridescent

twinkle of the fiery stars which studded that section of the heavens. As

he watched, a faint glow suffused the western sky, gradually growing

brighter, the full moon majestically lifted itself above the horizon,

casting its pale, ethereal radiance upon the dying world beneath. It was

increased to many times the size Professor Jameson had ever seen it

during his natural lifetime. The earth's greater attraction was drawing

upon the moon just as the sun was pulling the earth ever nearer itself.

This cheerless landscape confronting the professor represented the state

of existence to which the earth had come. It was a magnificent spread of

loneliness which bore no witness to the fact that it had seen the

teeming of life in better ages long ago. The weird, yet beautiful scene,

spread in a melancholy panorama before his eyes, drove his thoughts into

gloomy abstraction with its dismal, depressing influence. Its funereal,

oppressive aspect smote him suddenly with the chill of a terrible


25X-987 aroused Professor Jameson from his lethargic reverie. "Let us

walk around and see what we can find. I can understand how you feel in

regard to the past. It is quite a shock--but it must happen to all

worlds sooner or later--even to Zor. When that time comes, the Zoromes

will find a new planet on which to live. If you travel with us, you will

become accustomed to the sight of seeing dead, lifeless worlds as well

as new and beautiful ones pulsating with life and energy. Of course,

this world being your own, holds a peculiar sentimental value to you,

but it is really one planet among billions."

Professor Jameson was silent.

"I wonder whether or not there are any ruins here to be found?" queried


"I don't believe so," replied the professor. "I remember hearing an

eminent scientist of my day state that, given fifty thousand years,

every structure and other creation of man would be obliterated entirely

from off the earth's surface."

"And he was right," endorsed the machine man of Zor. "Time is a great


For a long time the machine men wandered over the dreary surface of the

earth, and then 25X-987 suggested a change of territory to explore. In

the space ship, they moved around the earth to the other side, still

keeping to the belt of shadowland which completely encircled the globe

like some gigantic ring. Where they now landed arose a series of cones

with hollow peaks.

"Volcanoes!" exclaimed the professor.

"Extinct ones," added the machine man.

Leaving the space ship, the fifty or more machine men, including also

Professor Jameson, were soon exploring the curiously shaped peaks. The

professor, in his wanderings had strayed away from the rest, and now

advanced into one of the cup-like depressions of the peak, out of sight

of his companions, the Zoromes.