Michael D. Winkle
[Editor's note: This is, of course, not the first "missing chapter" of The Time Machine to be located. Forrest J. Ackerman found and printed another in his Perry Rhodan "bookazine" in the early seventies. This document, however, is interesting in its depiction of Zothique, the Last Continent. Professor Sidney Travison of Miskatonic University tells me that "Zothique" is mentioned in several occult texts in the Armitage Memorial Library.
[Time Machine was a best seller upon its first printing in 1895, despite the fact that it was only half the length of an ordinary novel. Now we know why the original was so brief -- the editors cut so much out!]
Though I dared not faint on the beach of the Unmoving Sun, I felt relatively safe in the seat of the Machine. I lost consciousness at last some myriads of years prior to the Crab-Things [Chapter Eleven, Time Machine].
Here, moving against the flow of time, I suffered a curious nightmare -- if nightmare it was. I seemingly woke again. I had not been out long, for the sun still burned red, and the ocean still washed up to what is now Richmond.
I slowed the Machine until the world around me crept by at a normal pace, only in reverse order. Foam coalesced on the shore and jumped up onto curling waves, which receded from the beach and vanished out to sea.
Viewing the living ocean heartened me after the sight of its oil-thick counterpart at the end of time. Even the red sun seemed cheery, like smoldering coals on the hearth. Possibilities formed in my mind. I must pass through eras I had already seen to reach what we call the Present; therefore I must pass into the time of the Morlocks -- and through the very moment when I last saw poor Weena, lying in the forest like one already dead. Perhaps she was not utterly lost. . .
Far down the beach shadows, upright like men, passed between black out croppings of rock. I forgot my half-gestated ideas as an even more amazing sight met my eyes. A young man in swirling citron robes rode by atop a camel -- the camel trotting backwards to my anti-chronistic point of view, like a kinematoscope spun in reverse.
I pushed the lever of the Time Machine upright. The noise of the surf enveloped me. The waves washed forward now and crashed onto the beach.
The man I saw was neither fragile Eloi nor pale Morlock, but a tall, wiry fellow like Hillyer, there. As to his camel: There had been no lower animals at all in the garden world of A.D. 802,701 except birds and butterflies.
I checked my dials and realized that I had been watching the wrong needle. I sat on the Richmond beach over one thousand million years beyond the Morlocks and Eloi. Where had the camel come from?
I unscrewed the control levers and slipped them into my pockets before I stepped from the machine.
My old boots lay in the forest near the Palace of Green Porcelain in the year 802,701. I tore strips from my pants leg and shirt and wrapped them around my swollen feet.
The thought that humans like ourselves might rise again after the nightmare reign of the Morlocks made me foolhardy. I trudged across the sand toward the outcroppings. I kept an eye out for unpleasant creatures like the Crabs and the Bouncing Thing. I snapped a fathom-long chunk of driftwood free from a scum-shrouded log to serve as a staff and perhaps a weapon.
I had re-entered Forward Duration a few minutes before the passing of the camel. When I reached the volcanic upthrusts I concealed myself, wanting to observe the man closely.
Distant animal howls, like the baying of hunting hounds, made me feel vulnerable, hidden though I was. Now calls arose like cackling hyena laughter. Fortunately the porous rock around me afforded many hand- and footholds. With the driftwood's help I clambered up.
I eventually reached the top of a domelike outcropping. I slipped between loose grey boulders and peered down upon the beach. The man -- a black-haired youth of no more than twenty summers -- rode his camel wildly along the nether side of the hillock. They passed below me at a dead gallop, and several hundred yards behind them loped the howling and cackling creatures.
I had glimpsed these figures in reverse-time, but, though they ran upright, they were not human. Imagine hyenas warped into semblances of men: tawny brown beasts with black manes, paws, and blurred rosettes. They panted through short, heavy canine jaws. Rope-like tails hung behind them, and hand-like forepaws clutched at the air.
I counted five. In size and swiftness, these Beast Men were more formidable than the Morlocks, and I did not care to face them with only a driftwood staff. I stepped back as they drew even with me, and my foot shifted a fist-sized stone.
The black stone rattled down the cliff and bounced on the hunched shoulders of the first hyena-thing. It stopped and spun so abruptly that its furry brethren collided with it. The sight might have been comical -- if five pairs of sulphur-yellow eyes did not focus on me.
The Hyena-Men sprang at the wall of pumice and clung like flies to its pitted surface. Startled, I bumped a boulder as large as a wheelbarrow. It tilted as easily as a rocking chair.
I stabbed the grey branch beneath the boulder and levered it up. With a crunch of grit, it rolled down the northern face of the outcropping, carrying a truckload of smaller stones with it. The Hyena-Men scattered like duckpins, and one yelped as the black stone crushed him.
I dropped the staff and scrambled down to the beach. The Hyena-Men cackled and growled behind.
I skidded to a stop in the coarse sand. I had not eluded the Crab-Things, after all. A dozen or more lumbered over the shore in the vicinity of the Time Machine, attracted, perhaps, by the device's arrival.
The calls of the Hyena-Men made me jump. Their dark forms topped the rocky dome. Never before had I encountered a more literal rendering of the phrase "between the Devil and the deep blue sea!" I jogged brokenly across the beach towards the Time Machine.
Eyes the size of cricket balls shifted on yard-long stalks. The Crab-Things altered course toward me like so many yachts. I passed within a few feet of one bronze-plated monster in order to reach the Machine; I ducked as a vast claw snapped at my head with the sound of a slamming door. I trotted up to my invention and crawled into the seat as more sea-borne monstrosities loomed.
Before I could reattach the levers of the Time Machine, a gigantic copper pincer seized me about the torso. I yelled, expecting to be snapped in two. Instead, the Crab-Thing hauled me out onto the beach. The creature lurched sideways in its fashion, and my legs left furrows in the sand as I slid away from my only means of escaping the world of the crimson sun.
The Titan crab hauled me up with creaks and clatters as of the ropes and spars on a ship. I hung before the thing's hideous palps. I wondered why it did not rend me to bits straight away. Its forelimb, thicker than a telegraph pole and hard as concrete, swung out. I dangled like a posy handed from one lover to another. I gasped as the saw-toothed edges of its pincers bit into my flesh.
The Hyena-Men stopped and glanced around like prairie dogs. The bronze and copper decapods shambled towards them, and they fled.
A golden yellow crustacean loomed ahead. What it carried on its shell astonished me even through the fog of mortal fear.
Atop the burnished carapace of the Crab-Thing sat a beige, shallow, trapezohedral construction, strapped into place with ropes and leather belts. Perched on this seat, like a Maharajah on an elephant's houdah, was an ordinary looking man. He wore a flowing white robe like that of a Bedouin and a curious red silk hat, with a single ramlike horn coiling over the crown. He held reins tied to the bases of the crab's antennae. His hands were heavy with jeweled rings. His face was seamed and ruddy, as if from years in the sun, and a thin white mustache and beard framed his lips.
The red crab proffered me as for his inspection. The man leaned forward in his saddle. He glanced at the Time Machine, then he let a "Tic-tic" out of the corner of his mouth.
My crab-captor shambled back the way it had come. The strange man rode his stranger mount towards the Machine.
I wrapped my arms around the two halves of the pincer as if holding onto cork floats. A dozen Titan crabs idled between us and my creation. The Bedouin of futurity shouted, and the decapod Mastodons lurched out of our way.
We stopped about twelve feet from the Time Machine. My coppery abductor set me onto the sand and released me. I collapsed on hands and knees, grateful merely to breathe.
The golden crab folded its legs. While a normal crustacean's limbs click shut in an instant, this creature's actions reminded me of an elephant performing tricks. Soon, though, it resembled a flat boulder. The robed man left his high saddle and hopped down to the sand.
This bizarre Master of the Crabs stepped over to the Time Machine and studied its curved arrangement of brass and ivory. He leaned across the seat and ran his thin fingers over the controls, apparently puzzled by the glowing dials. He drew back at last and hit me with a solid dark gaze.
The Crab-Master addressed me, his inflection indicative of a question. I rose to my knees and shook my head.
"I do not know your language," I wheezed.
The man motioned me to come, a coquette's hand-flutter. Behind me the red crab shifted and creaked like a hillside ready to collapse. I struggled up and staggered forward.
I presented myself to the robed man, who wheeled his arms and spoke in a singsong language like Mandarin Chinese, all the time holding my gaze with his own.
I wavered, dead on my feet as the saying goes. More than physical exhaustion was involved, tired as I was. With his colourful jewels, his gesticulations, and his fantastic language, the robed man could have been an enchanter out of the Arabian Nights, casting a glamour upon me.
". . . By Basatan and Thasaidon, I command thee: Understand the Common Speech of Zothique!"
I blinked in astonishment. The wizard had finished in English. Or was it English?
"Now, sir, I ask you again: Who are you and how came you to these shores? How did you avoid my wards and scryings? And what manner of mad tinker's toy is that?"
He pointed to the machine with a sapphire-laden finger. I still struggled with the mere fact that I understood him.
"How can you -- How can I understand --"
Finally, all my struggles caught me up. The Morlocks, the Crabs, the Hyena Men, and now a veritable Merlin -- My legs crumpled under me, and I sprawled onto the dark sand.
I regained the murky consciousness of a nightmare. I smelled exotic spices that reminded me of Oriental shops in Limehouse. Mixed with these perfumes were the wretched stinks of an open sewer.
My ears caught words -- apparently emerging from my own mouth. I opened my eyes to see that my dream had shifted from the Arabian Nights to a dungeon of the Inquisition, complete with blocky granite walls, dripping water, and crackling torches.
"A device that travels through Time," said someone.
I focused my eyes to find the wizard, the Master of the Crabs, pacing to and fro before me. Beyond the wizard stood a young man with black hair. I believed him to be the one with the camel. His gaze jumped nervously from the crab-master to me and back.
"Truly astonishing," continued the white-robed enchanter. "Any maladroit bush-wizard can cast spells to see the future, but to visit it and return, as one might journey to a neighbouring town! It is beyond any necromancies of Zothique."
I stood, or rather hung, against a cold, damp wall. Chains held my arms up in a V.
"The -- the Machine," I croaked.
The wizard stopped and smiled.
"You wake from the mesmeritic drug? Intriguing. You must be a man of great will, Doctor, but that I could guess from your account of your nineteenth century. Do not fear for your marvelous invention. No one will touch it. My pets will see to that."
"Pets. . ." I repeated. I worked my legs, but they would not straighten. "Who are you? Where am I?"
The Master of the Crabs swept his many-ringed hand in the air.
"Where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mior Lumivix, wizard, necromancer, and soon-to-be Emperor of all Zothique."
Lumivix glanced back at the dark-haired youth.
"This churl who so nearly became a meal for the Ghorii is my apprentice, Manthar."
The youth nodded at me. I could not return the gesture, so feeble I felt. I spoke again, my throat and tongue like old leather.
"Men -- human beings -- returned a thousand million years beyond the Morlocks?"
"An interesting puzzle," said the wizard.
He signaled the youth Manthar, who took up a ladle and scooped water out of a nearby bucket. He held the ladle to my lips; I slurped greedily as my captor continued.
"Our history fades into rumor a mere twenty thousand years back. Perhaps men merely dwelt elsewhere and eventually re-colonized your land of Eloi and Morlocks. Or perhaps others flew forward from your own era to colonize the Last Continent, utilizing these Time Machines."
Manthar plunked the ladle back into the wooden pail. Lumivix looked off at a corner of the dungeon.
"Ah! And now, perhaps, the descendants of the Ancients can abandon this sere earth with its tired sun. Explorers like yourself, Doctor, venture first into the unknown. Later follow the conquering armies. . . Imagine! A strong, yellow sun, verdant fields and opal lakes, countries and continents unknown. . . And they call me arrogant for looking upon all Zothique as mine. With this Machine, every era, every civilization, is open to me."
Boots slapped stone. A voice called, "Lord Mior! Lord Mior!"
A bolt shot and hinges squeaked. Lumivix turned to meet a burly black man in a leather tunic and leggings. The newcomer slapped a broad hand to his shoulder in a salute.
"What is it, Commander Zireed?" asked the wizard.
"The armies of Tinarath approach, as you predicted, O Master of Necromancies," said the black man. "But the silver simurgh has landed in the courtyard with further news. Ilcar marches from the north!"
"I've never known the two to ally themselves in any other venture. But, by Thasaidon, I am a force unlike any they have faced before. Very well, Commander, I shall ascend shortly."
Commander Zireed departed as hastily as he arrived.
Lumivix returned his attention to me.
"That you should pick this year out of millions to halt your machine, Doctor! It is proving to be the most momentous in all Zothiquan history. Recently, through much plotting, chicanery, spirit-dealing and plain physical effort, several powerful artifacts have fallen into my possession: the rings, scrolls, and grimoires once housed in the temple of the Moon-God in Faraad. With these talismans and tomes, I shall lead my forces, human, beast, and elemental, across Zothique, uniting all her peoples under the banner of the Jeweled Hand."
The voice of war and conquest had not changed since the beginning of things. I had been appalled to see our species dwindle into the fey Eloi and the brutish Morlocks; now, a milliard summers beyond them, humanity had returned -- with the same greeds and lusts one tribe of Neandertalers felt towards another inhabiting a roomier cave.
"Give him some broth," said the necromancer to his apprentice, "and wine of the dedaim. I want to see this Time Machine in operation before I leave for the southern front."
Mior Lumivix swept into the shadows. The heavy door opened and closed again. I hung against the wall, alone save for the young Manthar.
The sorcerer's apprentice uncovered an earthenware pot. He fed me a strong salty stew with a pewter spoon. Whatever it was, it sent warmth through my torso and limbs. In a minute or so, I supported my weight with my legs again.
"What a curious dream," I remarked gruffly. "Giant crabs, Hyena-Men, and wizards."
The youth snorted.
"Oh, sir, if only it were a dream," he said, covering the pot. "But I fear my master Lumivix can accomplish all he claims."
The apprentice met my gaze briefly.
"I must thank you, Doctor, for your timely intervention at the cliffs. My camel had grown footsore well inland; the Ghorii would have caught me before I reached the fortress."
"It was an accident," I confessed. "I knocked down some rocks, startled by the beasts' appearance."
Manthar smiled. The flicker of torchlight lined his face with wrinkles beyond his years.
"Nevertheless, I feel indebted to you."
I asked only for more water. The youth complied.
"Is it true -- you can travel into the future and the past?" he asked as I licked my lips of the last drop.
"Yes," I replied. "Do you actually grasp the concept of Time Travel? I had the devil of a time explaining it to the Provincial Mayor."
"We of Zothique are well acquainted with Time, Doctor. At least, we know we near its end. We know the sun once burned bright and hot, and that now it fades and bloats, waiting for death, like any mortal creature."
The youth picked up a loose chunk of masonry and hurled it at a distressingly large rat.
"I cannot say Mior Lumivix was ever a good man, Doctor, but he was no worse a master than many in Mirouane. But these rings and talismans and tomes of magic --mighty magic, collected over countless centuries --"
The youth shook his head, stirring his raven locks.
"They have changed him, and not for the better."
I quoted Trollope: "We know that power does corrupt."
"Aye," agreed Manthar. "He is first and foremost a Necromancer, dedicated to the gods of Death and Decay. It is his duty -- and, I fear, his pleasure -- to 'feed' the Lords Beyond. He has boasted to me that he will outdo all the priests of all the elder pantheons in presenting human sacrifices -- once he has conquered Zothique."
"Like the Aztecs, who lived a few centuries before me," I suggested. "They cut out the hearts of many thousands of captives whenever they overran a neighbouring nation. But they, at least, were checked by the invading Conquistadors."
The young man eyed me, a hard yet pleading look, as if he demanded I make some decision for him.
"And what could he do, should he control this Time Machine of yours?"
Some instinct told me a good heart beat within this lad, though he served a cruel would-be despot. I had given some thought as to the possible abuses of the Machine; I voiced them now.
"He could learn his enemies' strategies before they implement them," I said. "He could go back and slay kings and generals in their cribs, or their mothers before they are even born. He could enter the mightiest stronghold merely by moving onto its site in an era where it does not exist, then returning to the present. He could, indeed, conquer whole nations -- and make burnt offerings of the inhabitants -- with Time at his command."
The youth eyed a punt of smoky glass on a marble shelf.
"Doctor -- I have a proposal. First, though -- the dedaim wine, should you quaff it, would reduce you to an automaton, obedient to Lumivix's every word. You would totter about like a somnambulist and stare into the distance like a dotard, never meeting another's gaze. Could you feign such a state?"
Mior Lumivix eventually returned with several burly soldiers. One of the company loosened my shackles; I wavered but stayed upright.
"You are able to walk?" the wizard asked.
I looked into his narrow ferret face yet focused somewhere beyond.
"I am," I said mechanically.
"Good," said Lumivix. "We go now to your Time Machine. Follow me."
I marched stiffly behind the wizard. He led his retinue down a dark, ill-lit corridor, up wide steps, and into a grand feasting hall. Coloured veils festooned the hall, and blazing braziers provided light. Scores of people laughed, drank, and debauched in a veritable Bacchanalia. Scantily-clad women poured wines of royal purple into golden goblets. A slovenly Friar Tuck of a fellow puffed after a panther-sleek Nubian woman. My stomach rumbled at the sight and smell of victuals displayed on a forty-foot table, including huge cuts of meat from unidentified beasts and the monstrous fruits familiar from the Eloi's era.
I marched stiffly past the revelries, thinking that these folk hardly seemed prepared to meet approaching armies. Lumivix muttered something about sycophants and fools.
More soldiers lined the corridors ahead. Two of these muscular men pulled open a set of double doors. We marched out into a wide courtyard surrounded by high walls of an onyx-black material.
We passed ragged rows of what I took at first to be peasants recruited into an army. I nearly gave the game away when I studied the haggard faces more closely: These poorly-clothed troops bore hideous wounds about their heads and shoulders. A few lacked eyes and limbs. None of the horrible mutilations bled, however, and none of the soldiers moaned or even blinked. It was as if Lumivix's mesmeritic powers reached beyond death, compelling even corpses to obey, as in Poe's "Case of M. Valdemar!"
The wizard, Manthar and I climbed into a gold-trimmed coach, like something from the tale of Cinderella. The black Commander Zireed and several other officers mounted zebra-like animals. Lumivix signaled to a phalanx of corpse-like soldiers. These did not march so much as limp, stumble, and shamble behind us.
A pair of guards -- whole and living -- raised a portcullis, and we followed a sandy lane between cacti and sword-leafed plants. Eventually I smelled the sea on the breeze, as salty and familiar in the Year One Thousand Million as it is now. After about twenty minutes we topped a rise; a crooked trail led down to the Beach of Crabs.
The strange company wended its way to the shore. Tarnished green and copper red carapaces surfaced out in the water; more vast crustaceans lurched and lumbered around the Time Machine. None had touched it, thank Providence.
The gathering of crabs parted with many clacks of pincers. The Time Machine sat, mud-splattered and dented, in a shallow crater in the sand. Its brass and ivory facings still glinted, however, and the ebony numerals of the great clock-face behind the seat shimmered as if impatient to spin through the eons.
We crossed the sand to the Machine. Lumivix called a halt, we climbed from his faerie coach, and his apprentice stood at attention next to me.
"Only one seat," observed the wizard, tutting. "A bit near-sighted on your part, Doctor. Oh, well, we can adapt it to our plans later. First I would test it myself. What needs to be done?"
"I must replace the control levers," I said sleepily. I fished the same from my pockets. "Without them the machine goes nowhere."
"Replace them, then. But remember: You will travel nowhere -- and nowhen -- without my permission."
I set my knee on the red velvet cushion and affixed the ivory levers in their slots. How tempted I was to throw them into Reverse, and leave this place-time of Zothique forever! But I had struck a bargain with Manthar.
"All right," said the wizard. "Step back, Doctor. I will take the place of honor."
Lumivix and I exchanged places. I kept my blank stare despite my anxiousness: Suppose he sent himself off into time and could not return?
My fears on that account proved premature. The necromancer ordered me to hold onto the rails encasing the machine. I obeyed, setting my cloth-wrapped feet on the brass runners as well.
"I wish to move one minute through time, no more," said Lumivix, looking over the dials. "What must I do?"
"Push the right-hand lever forward carefully," I explained. "The slightest departure from perpendicularity will propel the Machine through time. The needle on the far left will sweep around once to indicate a minute's passage. Pull the left-hand lever upright to stop."
The wizard nodded. He took hold of the right-hand lever, and I gritted my teeth.
I could compare clinging to the Time Machine to holding onto the side of a railway coach, which I have done once or twice, but there was an added vertigo of direction, for we moved at right angles to Height, Depth, and Width. I bit my lip to keep from retching -- not that I had any solid food to bring up.
The revenants and guards scarcely moved, staring as they did into the space where the Time Machine sat. Lumivix pulled the brake lever upright, and we jolted to a stop.
"I neither see nor feel any difference," remarked Lumivix. "Commander Zireed? Manthar?"
"You disappeared for a long moment, Master," said the black man.
"We could see nothing of you or the machine," added the apprentice.
Mior Lumivix grunted.
"Interesting. I could see all of you."
He climbed out of the seat and stepped past me to address his troops. I swung into the Time Machine.
"Milord! The time-wizard!" warned Zireed.
I slapped the levers forward as the wizard lunged for me. He seized the brass railings, and, to our mutual surprise, his legs and flowing robes swung outward, as if pulled by centrifugal force! I accelerated through time far faster than the wizard had; momentum dragged him just as it would a mailbag hooked by a train.
"Stop!" he commanded. The tendons on his hands bulged behind his rows of gem-rings. "Stop this machine!"
Lumivix's underlings moiled wildly to my point of view, like maggots in old meat. No doubt they were lost without their lord and master. In another second (for me) they vanished. I glimpsed Manthar on the beach alone for an instant, then night covered Zothique.
Lumivix dragged himself close. His eyes, black only seconds before, now burned like gas jets. The sun rose as he hooked an elbow over a vertical strut.
I punched him squarely in the jaw, but my strength had run out like water through a sieve. Night fell. The wizard shook off my blow and seized my wrist.
The scarlet sun shot up again. Suddenly, like a dust cloud blown before a hurricane, armored men, horses, camels, and even the fantastic shapes of gryphons and dragons enveloped the shoreline. Tents swelled like bubbles in a pot, and banners blurred in the sea wind.
"Tinarath!" cried Lumivix. "They've come! Without my leadership, my forces will fall!"
The wizard released me and lifted his right hand. A small, azure sphere, bright as an electric bulb, formed in the palm.
"Take us back, Doctor, or I'll blast you and your damned machine to the Seventh Hell!"
"As you wish," I said.
I yanked the brake lever upright.
You may recall that I foolishly did this upon reaching the Eloi's world. As before, the momentum of hurtling through time transferred itself to space. The Time Machine spun like a top, shooting sand and dead kelp in all directions. I glimpsed the mailed hoods and hauberks of this future army, so paradoxically medieval-looking.
Lumivix cartwheeled along the beach like a mountebank as I ground to a halt. The necromancer crashed into a stack of blanket rolls and supplies fresh from a camel's back. The animal in question bawled and trotted away.
Tinarathan soldiers looked from the wizard to me. An officer -- at least, a soldier wearing a tabard with a lion rampant -- flipped Lumivix onto his back. The necromancer appeared to be unconscious.
"Mior Lumivix!" the officer gasped.
If they recognized him, I reasoned, they would also know what to do with him. The barbs of arrows and spears, meanwhile, shifted towards me. I grabbed the controls -- warm due to temporal friction -- and pulled them. The soldiers moved like hummingbirds, retreating backwards to the south.
By Heaven, how tired I felt! How I longed for a hot bath, a feather bed, and one of Mrs. Watchets' pot-roasts! I still had an obligation to fulfill, however.
A night and a day slid by in reverse. I decreased my anti-chronal velocity; the sorcerer's apprentice Manthar popped into view beside the machine. I braked the device and emerged into normal Duration.
Manthar hopped like a mouse. A traveller's wallet on his back bounced with him. He daubed a stained kerchief to his forehead.
"Did I startle you?" I asked. "I thought a necromancer's assistant would be used to stranger things than I appearing from thin air."
"I will be apt to jump at a sand flea's chirrup for quite some time, Doctor," answered the youth. "If there is any chance of Lumivix's return. . ."
"I left him a day or two in the future," I assured the boy. "He lies now, so to speak, unconscious in the enemy camp. We are about to put yet more distance between us in a direction even a wizard cannot travel. Hold on to the rails and set your feet on the runners, as I did earlier."
The youth obeyed. I edged the controls back. A duplicate of the boy, slogging in reverse, left the Machine and trudged back toward the arid tablelands. A set of shallow pits marked his path across the shore; upon stepping into a pit and removing his foot again, the sand smoothed out, leaving a homogenous expanse of beach.
"How far?" I asked, watching the dials.
"Two -- no, three years," said Manthar.
Nights and days alternated as we picked up speed.
"That will give me time enough to hire a boat and reach Iribos -- and the hoard of the Moon-God -- over a year before Mior even finds his treasure map."
Treasure maps, yet. My eyelids grew heavy. A grey mist crept in from my peripheral vision; it was not the blurring of sun and darkness. Perhaps I would fade into dreamless slumber at last, but I played the phantasy out.
I stopped on a hot day that sent the Crab-Things into the cool of the brine.
"There. Mior Lumivix's rantings of conquest lie three years ahead," I said wearily.
Manthar hopped onto the sand, plainly relieved to stand on solid earth again.
"Thank you, Doctor. All of Zothique would thank you as well, did she know what might have happened."
He extended his hand. Apparently some gestures are unchanging through Time and Space. I accepted it weakly.
"It occurs to me, Doctor, that I am enmeshed in ironies." He patted the strap of his travelling wallet. "I will pay for my expedition to Iribos with gems and moneys that would have been taken from the treasure on Iribos over a year from today. And if I take the treasure now, the events I lived through two years ago will never occur."
"Ah! My friend Filby worried about such contradictory events. What did he call them? . . . Paradoxes! You'll be a walking, breathing paradox!"
"What will happen to me, distorting my own history?"
"I don't know, Manthar. I've done my best to avoid such circumstances. Perhaps you will simply carry memories of a future that never comes to be, like a false prophecy. Or perhaps you will be destroyed by the forces of Time."
The youth hiked up his knapsack and set his face stonily.
"It does not matter. If I exist long enough to cast the gems and grimoires of Faraad into the abyss, I will be satisfied. My master -- my former master -- will not have them. He will live out his life undistinguished from a thousand other wizards of Zothique perhaps, but at least he will live."
I nodded. Manthar stepped away from the Time Machine. I scanned the sand and rock shore of Zothique one last time, then I tilted the right-hand lever towards me again.
And so I came back.
[Editor's note: This last line is the first sentence
of Chapter Twelve of The Time Machine; the story runs on from there.]
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