The Strange Animal in the Ruins


THE TRAVELLER (NARRATION):

By the fourth day, my explorations were taking Weena and I further afield. Towards the south-west, in the direction of nineteenth-century Banstead, I observed far off, a vast structure. It was much larger than the largest ruins I knew, and had a pale-green lustre like Chinese porcelain. This difference in aspect that suggested a difference in use, and curiosity compelled me to make a closer examination. With a strange sense of freedom and adventure I pushed on.

The sun beat down relentlessly as we picked our way across the desolate landscape. We sought shade from the heat glare against the ruins to discover a massive heap of granite and twisted metal — a dark labyrinth of precipitous walls and broken masonry amidst which flowers were growing. As Weena knelt down to pick a few of them a flow of sadness came over me.

Civilisation had long since passed its zenith. Man had been great, but it seemed his too perfect triumph over nature had odd consequences. With no poverty, disease or challenges to overcome, the weak were as well equipped to survive as the strong. Indeed, better equipped it seemed for Humanity had degenerated — strength and intelligence were gone.

We came to the entrance of a narrow gallery, whose end and side windows were blocked by stone. By contrast with the brilliancy outside it seemed at first impenetrably dark to me. Then I halted spellbound. A pair of eyes, luminous by reflection against the daylight, was watching me out of the darkness…

Suddenly something rushed past me. I turned to see a stooping white figure running across the sunlit space behind me. I pursued the strange animal. For a moment I thought I had lost it, but then came upon one of the wells. I lit a match and peered down the shaft to see the creatures’ large eyes regarding me steadfastly as it retreated into the blackness like a human spider!

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