BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 7: HOW I REACHED HOME
For my own part, I remember nothing of my flight
except the stress of blundering against trees and stumbling
through the heather. All about me gathered the invisible
terrors of the Martians; that pitiless sword of heat seemed
whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead before it descended
and smote me out of life. I came into the road between the
crossroads and Horsell, and ran along this to the crossroads.
At last I could go no further; I was exhausted with the
violence of my emotion and of my flight, and I staggered and
fell by the wayside. That was near the bridge that crosses
the canal by the gasworks. I fell and lay still.
I must have remained there some time.
I sat up, strangely perplexed. For a moment, perhaps, I
could not clearly understand how I came there. My terror
had fallen from me like a garment. My hat had gone, and
my collar had burst away from its fastener. A few minutes
before, there had only been three real things before me--the
immensity of the night and space and nature, my own feebleness and anguish, and the near approach of death. Now it
was as if something turned over, and the point of view altered
abruptly. There was no sensible transition from one state of
mind to the other. I was immediately the self of every day
again--a decent, ordinary citizen. The silent common, the
impulse of my flight, the starting flames, were as if they had
been in a dream. I asked myself had these latter things indeed
happened? I could not credit it.
I rose and walked unsteadily up the steep incline of the
bridge. My mind was blank wonder. My muscles and nerves
seemed drained of their strength. I dare say I staggered
drunkenly. A head rose over the arch, and the figure of a
workman carrying a basket appeared. Beside him ran a little
boy. He passed me, wishing me good night. I was minded to
speak to him, but did not. I answered his greeting with a
meaningless mumble and went on over the bridge.