BOOK TWO: THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 5: THE STILLNESS
My first act before I went into the pantry was to fasten
the door between the kitchen and the scullery. But the
pantry was empty; every scrap of food had gone. Apparently, the Martian had taken it all on the previous day. At
that discovery I despaired for the first time. I took no food,
or no drink either, on the eleventh or the twelfth day.
At first my mouth and throat were parched, and my
strength ebbed sensibly. I sat about in the darkness of the
scullery, in a state of despondent wretchedness. My mind
ran on eating. I thought I had become deaf, for the noises
of movement I had been accustomed to hear from the pit
had ceased absolutely. I did not feel strong enough to crawl
noiselessly to the peephole, or I would have gone there.
On the twelfth day my throat was so painful that, taking
the chance of alarming the Martians, I attacked the creaking
rain-water pump that stood by the sink, and got a couple
of glassfuls of blackened and tainted rain water. I was
greatly refreshed by this, and emboldened by the fact that
no enquiring tentacle followed the noise of my pumping.
During these days, in a rambling, inconclusive way, I
thought much of the curate and of the manner of his death.
On the thirteenth day I drank some more water, and
dozed and thought disjointedly of eating and of vague impossible plans of escape. Whenever I dozed I dreamt of
horrible phantasms, of the death of the curate, or of sumptuous dinners; but, asleep or awake, I felt a keen pain that
urged me to drink again and again. The light that came into
the scullery was no longer grey, but red. To my disordered
imagination it seemed the colour of blood.
On the fourteenth day I went into the kitchen, and I was
surprised to find that the fronds of the red weed had grown
right across the hole in the wall, turning the half-light of the
place into a crimson-coloured obscurity.