Saturday, 22 September 2007

When the Moon Ran Wild

WHEN THE MOON RAN WILD
By A. Hyatt Verrill
First published in Amazing Stories Quarterly 1931 Winter
Digital capture by Doug Frizzle September 2007
Also republished in 1962 with author listed as Ray Ainsbury in World Distributors, London paperback.

To the casual observer cosmic life is unchanging, yet changes in the world beyond are constantly in progress. The moon for example could increase its rotation or frequency which would naturally mean that it was coming closer to earth. This is what happens when a 10,000 Megaton nuclear bomb is exploded in the outer atmosphere and the resulting chaos destroys nearly ail the population and alters the geographical formation entirely. A fascinating and imaginative Science fiction story of those who survive the disaster and try to build a new civilization in the strange and greatly altered world.

CHAPTER ONE
AGE has many advantages, that is, if together with age one retains all one's faculties; one's health, strength, and energy.
It enables one to observe life in the proper perspective; I might say it enables one to weigh and measure events according to their influences, exerted through a long period of time, instead of for a very transitory present. It enables one to acquire experience, and wisdom, impossible to obtain in any other way. It instills in one a deep knowledge of people, of the world around one, and of life in general that can come only through long years of constant association. It demonstrates with absolute conviction the triviality of matters which youth deems vitally important. But perhaps most of all it enables one to revisualize most vividly and accurately the events of years past which, as recorded in books, are seldom wholly accurate and which are very often totally incorrect.
At the time of the occurrence of which I write I was then considered an elderly man. Elderly! In those days sixty years of age was "elderly" with the expectations, no, the possibility, of ten or at the most twenty additional years of life providing one had no malignancy, serious illness or fatal accident.
Yet now - almost two centuries have passed - yes; one hundred and ninety of the old-time years, for it was in the year 1964 of the old calendar that the moon ran wild, while this year according to the reckoning of my youth, would be A. D. 2154 - after almost two centuries, as I say, I am still alive, I still retain my health, my strength, my vigour, all my faculties, and am no older mentally or physically than on that day of 1964 of the old calendar when I looked upon myself as "middle-aged" and by others was considered "elderly".
But everything in this world - and for all I know in the next world as well - is a matter of custom, of habit, of environment and relativity.
I cannot help thinking, and am personally convinced of the fact, that there was an omnipotent power back of the whole affair; that it had been planned and ordained by the Creator from the beginning of time and was as inexorable as Fate, and that it was Divine Justice that the race, having been all but destroyed, should have been given the blessing of greater longevity. And though I am poorly equipped for the task who can say I was not deliberately permitted to survive in order that I might record my experiences for the benefit of those who have come later?
From a scientific standpoint I feel certain what happened was a repetition of a cycle in universal history so far as our planet and its satellite were concerned.
No doubt; in fact, beyond any possibility of a doubt in my mind, each of the recurrent cycles has been shorter and less violent than those preceding it. And while I believe that the same or rather a similar catastrophe will occur again some time in the distant future, I am equally as convinced that the next occurrence will be briefer and of less intensity than this last one. Yet even today and notwithstanding the advances we have made in research we actually know very little about the history of our planet or of the natural laws governing the Universe.
I know - we all know - what actually took place during that shattering, paralysing moment in time known now as the "time when the moon ran wild". We all know more or less, too, the immediate and far-reaching results which were an end-product of that time. But no one knows - despite innumerable guesses and theories - why it occurred; why (within historic times) it had never occurred before, why it did not continue indefinitely, why the world slipped back into its accustomed (or nearly accustomed) place, or whether it may or may not re-occur at any moment again.
According to all accepted theories and supposedly natural laws, as adhered to up to 1964, our earth followed (as it has followed for infinite aeons) a definite course or orbit about the sun, at the same time rotating upon its own axis.
According to the then-accepted ideas, our own satellite the moon followed its orbit around the earth and accompanied us on our journey around the sun. According to these ideas the force known as "gravitation" kept everything in place and in proper relationship, and according to the natural laws as established by scientists any alteration in the fixed positions, the customary movements, the plotted planetary orbits, would result in absolute chaos, the annihilation of celestial bodies and a variety of destruction no one could hope to survive here on earth.
Yet when the actual terrifying and amazing event took place all these theories, these assumptions and scientific rules were (to use an expression of two hundred years ago) "knocked higher than a cocked hat."
There was no premonition of what was impending. No warning at all. There had been of course, for several weeks prior to the occurrence, stories in the world's newspapers that a major power was going to detonate a 10,000 Megaton nuclear bomb in outer space. But no astronomer studying the heavens that night detected anything amiss. Of course the blinding explosion lighted up the Universe awesomely; everyone on our planet witnessed that event though the detonation took place thousands of light-years out into space. But after seeming normalcy had returned the world's observatories reported nothing out of the ordinary in the solar system. There was not even a displaced asteroid, a meteroic shower, a stray aerolite or a "dark planet" speeding through space following a parabola or a hyperbola which might indicate a collision with the moon.
The most popular theory now, of course, is that the detonated capsule itself did not explode where it was supposed to and instead orbited the moon once then exploded, throwing its entire enormous force directly against our satellite from near the bottom; a force, it is universally agreed, sufficient to cause what happened next.
The phenomenon therefore burst upon us literally from a clear sky, completely unexpected, utterly unheralded, not even surmised. One moment the earth was rotating smoothly upon its axis following its ancient orbit round the sun with the serene moon shedding its pale, cold light upon us, and the next moment it seemed to go mad and everything was chaos.
How clearly I recall that night, I was in Peru at the time, a fortunate circumstance because Peru being one of the loftiest countries in the world has elevations extending up as high a 14,000 feet above sea level. It was late in the afternoon and in company with my wife and granddaughter - a child of some three thousand days of age - I was watching the sun sink towards the rim of the Pacific Ocean. In those days sunsets in Peru were magnificent and it was our custom to watch them from our patio, entranced and thrilled by the gold and crimson sky, the constantly changing flash of colours which painted the entire heavens from horizon to zenith with indescribably brilliant tints, and which transformed the mighty Andean Mountains in the background to dull-red masses that glowed like molten metal.
On this particular evening the sunset was exceptionally breath-taking. It had been, I recall, an unusually hot and sultry day for Peru - such a day as often presaged an earthquake - and we had watched the enormous fiery ball of the sun until it had sunk from sight below the edge of the sea. Afterward, surfeited with beauty, we had continued to sit in the gathering dusk, mostly silent, awaiting the event every radio in the world had been exhorting people to watch for as though this was to be a gala occasion; as though Man would show God that he too could fill the heavens with light. It seemed only moments later, as I turned for a final look at the mountains and the eastern sky where dying daylight should have been fading, that I saw the sky above those sawtoothed summits rapidly brightening. Even before I could call my wife's attention to this phenomenon the sky over the Andes blazed with crimson, with scarlet, with gold, with colours as brilliant as those which had just faded in the west. It was as if a titanic conflagration was taking place somewhere beyond the Andes. I was speechless and an indescribable terror made me spring out of the chair and hasten out into the yard. I do not remember my wife following me but she was there at my side, her fingernails biting down into my arm, and my grandchild was there too, huddling close.
I was aware of an inexplicable hush, of an awesome silence everywhere; a heavy, oppressive and dead feeling in the air that seemed actually to press down upon me. And too, so strangely at a time like this, I noticed a trivial detail; hundreds and hundreds of birds, mostly Peru's ugly black buzzards, were flapping wildly overhead in dense clouds against that lurid sky.
Simultaneously with a great flash of flame which shot straight up from the horizon to the zenith, my wife, who had a heart condition, uttered a thick gasp and fainted. My grandchild also cried out, but actually that blinding flash and flame above the Andes worked contrarily on me. The thought sprang instantly to mind that somewhere, hundreds of miles off perhaps, an enormous volcano had erupted, and this being something I could understand caused a lessening of my own panic.
But only briefly for in the very next second, up from where that flaming light had exploded burst a gigantic incandescent globe like a rising sun magnified a hundred times!
I stood as though turned to stone; could not believe what I saw. The sun had sunk as usual less than an hour before yet here before my horrified eyes it was rising again; rising with unbelievable speed and monstrously enlarged. I fell to my knees as that huge and fiery ball raced at an incredible speed upwards from the Andean summits burning the heavens to a faded and brassy hue, and, although trained in science as I had been. I could not in that moment of pure fright, conceive of any explanation other than an end to the world.
I was conscious of nothing around me; my wife lying in the dust close by or my grandchild hiding her face in her dress and faintly sobbing. I saw only that terrible globe of fire, each instant expecting to feel its searing heat, expecting to see the countryside, the trees, the vegetation, the houses, burst into flame as that flaming ball passed overhead.
But what I expected did not occur. Instead those glowing mountains appeared to vanish in a cloud of smoke or dust, the poplars and palm trees bent as if struck by a gale, the birds were completely swept out of the sky and a withering, blasting hot wind came shrieking, bearing down upon us an impenetrable dense dust. I was flattened and my grandchild was rolled along the ground as though she were weightless. Then that speeding globe was past and I strained through watering eyes, following its course across the sky.
The dust acted as a light-filter, like smoked-glass. The blinding ball of fire was transformed to a dull red globe and clearly visible upon its surface, even in that very brief length of time, I saw the unmistakable craters of the moon!

CHAPTER TWO
FOR some reason - I don't know why - the astounding discovery that this gigantic, incandescent mass which had passed overhead was the moon brought a feeling of relief. Perhaps I was too dazed by the terror of events to realize what this portended right away, or again, it may be that my paralysing dread of being burned to a crisp by the sun, supposed to be so near at hand, was suddenly dissipated when I discovered the source of peril to be the moon.
For so long had I, and everyone else I suppose, been accustomed to regarding the moon as a cold, harmless, innocuous thing, that the idea of its becoming transformed into a fiery and dangerous object was momentarily beyond the grasp of human understanding.
Whatever the cause, no sooner had I realized that it was the moon - and so distraught was I at the time that I didn't stop to think how it could be the moon or realize the seeming impossibility of this fact - than most of my terror vanished. Additionally, that monstrous orb had by this time passed beyond and was well out over the Pacific growing steadily smaller in the distance. In fact had it not been that I had actually seen it plunging upwards from the east, and had not that withering hot gale still been screeching over the land to prove this fact, I would have sworn it was only the sun shining redly through a haze of dust which hung now like a vast, dun-coloured fog-bank out over the sea.
It has taken some time for me to describe my thoughts and reactions but it must be recalled that this entire episode happened in a moment; in an actual matter of seconds, and while I have endeavoured to follow a sensible sequence in putting this all down, actually my reactions, experiences, and realizations, all rushed over me at once, confused and jumbled; a chaotic mental storm.
I afterwards discovered too that my wife, who had been enjoying the lovely Peruvian sunset with me moments before, was dead; that her weakened heart had been overcome by the naked horror of those fleeting seconds. But as I got to my feet rummaging in the increasing gloom for my grandchild, I felt grateful for her passing because by then my mind was clearing and I knew she was to be spared the greater horrors, the worse death, which was now certain to follow this disruption of Universal order.
I found my daughter's little girl, who was crying uncontrollably, took her into my arms and stood near the shed where we kept the automobile, gazing apprehensively out toward the sea.
What I saw there, dimly because of that dust, yet terrifyingly recognizable, froze my heart. Outward from the shore, roaring with the voice of a thousand hurricanes, was a staggeringly immense wall of water hurling itself into the west following in the wake of that crazed and speeding moon, leaving the ocean floor bare and slimily glistening. For perhaps three seconds I stood rooted, holding the child in my arms and heedless of the body of my wife some fifty feet away, completely in the grip of both fascination and terror, watching that outflowing ocean and the prodigous dark depths left exposed by its departure. Then total realization struck me forcing acknowledgement of what this terrible cataclysm meant. That mad moon, that wildly flinging and disorganized satellite was dragging behind it the entire Pacific Ocean piling the waters of that vast sea into a west-bound tidal wave of inconceivable proportions thousands of feet high, and at any moment it might - in fact it most certainly would -come roaring back, an irresistible wall of water that would hurl itself upon the land inundating the country, burying the valleys, the deserts, the hills, and even the lower Cordilleras beneath its millions of tons of green water wiping out cities and towns and villages; every vestige of life within its reach.
I was galvanized into action; dropping the terrified child into the rear seat of the automobile I drove as I had never before driven towards the nearby town and my daughter's home. Broken trees, fallen limbs, and tangled wires littered the roadway. There were also a number of capsized autos and everywhere were panicked people; some screaming, some praying, others running aimlessly about. In the town itself conditions were worse; housetops had been carried away and innumerable bodies lay in the streets. Mobs of terrified people milled uncertainly and even the stoic Peruvian Indians were crying out and running. Only an infinitesimal proportion of these fear-maddened human beings would be saved and I remember thinking as I slammed the auto to a halt outside my daughter's home that beyond a doubt most of the earth's inhabitants would also soon perish. I recall yelling at the top of my voice: "To the mountains! Run for your lives!" And I also recall with great vividness that those people, who were mostly highland Indians, did not heed me if indeed they even heard me, but continued to act overcome and bewildered with fear and panic as though convinced the end of the world had arrived - which I also believed - and crowded together screaming and bleating like a band of maddened sheep.
But I had no time to explain; self-preservation being man's foremost instinct I ran into my daughter's home, found her senseless on the floor, slung her over my shoulder and hurried back to the car where I dumped her with very little ceremony into the back with her daughter and slid under the wheel again. Her husband was absent, being in the high-country interior with an oil exploration party; I felt he was reasonably safe but spent no more than a very brief moment on this speculation as I turned the auto toward the mountains.
I could do no more. Even had there been room in the auto for more people it would have been suicide to wait for them or try to select those to be saved, for by that time crazed peasants were running towards the car screaming and gesticulating. Had I lingered another moment the vehicle would have been swamped by that maddened mob, who, motivated by sheerest terror, would not have been able to save themselves but would have doomed us all in their panic.
As it was I barely managed to get clear and as the auto sprang forward a dishevelled girl threw herself upon it and clung there shrieking. With one hand I reached back and dragged her in but a moment later she sprang out with a wild cry. Two boys sprinted forward, caught hold of the rear only to be dragged off by others, and in the next moment we were free of the crowd.
Fortunately my daughter's residence had been on the outskirts of town; only a scattering of other houses and hovels lay beyond it, and the straight asphalt roadway stretched across the plain, the desert, then up into the towering mountains beyond. It was by this time quite dark although there was a peculiar ochre glow to the air and the sky itself was a very dull and reflectionless deep red. I drove as before, with less caution and more speed than ever before in my life, yet all the while feeling a depth of certain hopelessness. I was very positive in my own mind that we would all perish, that the saga of life upon earth, the earth itself, was near its end. Still; the instinct of preservation compelled me to the maximum effort and I accordingly hurtled through that peculiar dim-glowing atmosphere blind to the hazards which littered our way mountainwards, my solitary obsession being to reach the heights, to escape if humanly possible the in-rushing tidal wave I knew must be even at that moment roaring in from the west.
But I was far from being the only driver speeding through the night to escape imminent disaster. Scores of other vehicles were also racing for the uplands, and too, there were dimly visible people beside the roadway on foot, on horseback, astride burros, driving carts, streaming across the plain and converging from every direction, hurrying, rushing, panting, cursing and crying as they fled toward the mountains feeling instinctively they might reach safety there.
Few of that struggling horde ever got there. The mountains were miles away and hours would be required to reach even the first heights, while behind them came that on-rushing, that stupendous first wave thundering inexorably in from the west, its foaming crest more than a thousand feet high and with half the Pacific Ocean behind it.
I passed other autos whose drivers were evidently less terrified than I was, and eventually reached the first foothills with the nearest auto several miles behind me. I was more than a thousand feet above the plain skidding around a switchback when, through that ghastly red gloom I glimpsed the first speeding tidal wave strike the distant coastline. Although it was more than twenty miles distant the roaring impact was frighteningly clear and audible. There was an upflung spume that towered gigantically and in the next moment the coast, the plain and desert, the towns and cities vanished and that crashing surge of greeny water broke over the inland territories with a shock which made even the mountains tremble. For one moment my heart seemed to expand into my throat, and as swiftly, as wildly as I was racing upwards, that water seemed to plunge ahead infinitely swifter, boiling up over the foothills.
I remember very little of the next few moments. The roadway, an ancient one built by Indians many centuries before, not for automobiles but for slow-paced llamas and sandalled feet, heaved itself upwards over each succeeding crest, then plunged down into minute valleys in its constant rise to the very heights, and under the best of circumstances was terrifying to drive over, but this night it was a nightmare which my consciousness benignly blocked out of memory.
I recall stopping somewhere near the foot of the final rise and looking down; that the water was less than a hundred feet below me. For perhaps five minutes I gazed down upon a vast, heaving sea, above which the mountains rose. Finally, with a frightful sucking, sighing noise which I'll remember always, the water began to recede, to pull back. I did not await what I knew was coming but drove farther up along that boney flank of mountain until I came to a cleft, a narrow canyon whose walls shut out the sight of what lay behind me, wishing only to get still higher for there would be another tidal wave and while I believed it would be less than the first one in ferocity I nevertheless had no wish to see it nor stop climbing until I could go no further.
That dull red glow which seemed to suffuse the entire world filled the next little canyon. I drove so that its depth appeared like the interior of a huge furnace, and this was fortunate too, for the auto's headlights made only a very meagre impression upon that steeply ascending, very narrow and frightfully crooked roadway. Yet so strong was my feeling of terror that I continued to drive at that dizzying height at breakneck speed, and it was fortunate for us that I did so. Before we were half-way to the summit of the next ridge ahead I was nearly deafened by a crashing of a thousand avalanches and as I swung along a narrow ledge turning southerly I saw a sight which turned the blood in my veins to ice.
Into the narrow gap through which we had just passed poured a cataract of white water looking more like molten metal under that dull red brightness than the cresting of the second wave. The narrow canyon was filled with it and with incredible speed it rose. Before I had made the next turn a swirling maelstrom of it broke over the road nearly reaching the auto and washing away that ancient trail in a second so that there was no longer any road at all behind us.
Upward we climbed until the summit of that final towering ridge stood blackly against the reddened sky less than five hundred feet overhead. We were now fully three thousand feet above the plain. Below us the water had ceased to rise, and was momentarily still, then it began for the second time to recede, to pull back. For a very brief while we were safe I knew, yet I also knew that while each succeeding wave should be less than its predecessor, the second wave had been greater than the first and therefore perhaps the third would be greater than the second, and if this were so - we were as good as dead. Several times this night I had seen the basic laws of Man and Nature proven fallible; what reason was there to think the oncoming waves would not reach a height of four thousand feet, or even five or ten thousand feet and flood the entire continent? There was no reason and I knew it, but at that moment my thoughts were diverted to the back seat where my daughter had revived and was speaking now in a low and crooning voice to my grandchild. (She afterwards told me that her revival had been accompanied by some rather severe bruises and bumps during that wild ride up the mountain).
When the water began again to suck back I drove still higher noticing as I did so that the heavens had grown appreciably lighter until, at the very summit where I stopped upon a gravely, wind-scourged little plateau, there was a rosy - and quite cold - paleness to the world. It did not seem to me that so much time had elapsed even though I had not been the least concerned with its passing until that moment, so I glanced at my wristwatch, then put it to my ear to be sure it was still operating, for it said 3 a.m. and that would have been three hours before the sun had ever before risen. The watch was functioning properly and at that exact moment the sun came up out of the east. I sat there staring at it, reasoning that if it arose this early then the earth must have accelerated its rotations, and yet how could that have happened without everything on earth being hurled around like chaff and being ultimately destroyed? The only sane explanation I had time to consider before the next wave struck was simply that, again, Man's deductions respecting the Universe, its laws and operations and sequences, were incorrect.
Simultaneously with the arrival of the next tidal wave a tongue of vivid red light shot upward from beyond some far-away snow-capped summits, and with the crashing, seething water below hurling itself again into the canyons I could not take my eyes off that rising great orb. It was not the sun it was the moon and it had increased its speed so that it had made a complete circuit of earth in seven hours!
The fact that this was not the sun and we therefore probably would not be seared to death did not, in my mind, lessen the danger appreciably because the satellite was near - incredibly near us - and seemed even larger and more terrible than when it had passed over before.
Sitting, stone-like the three of us sat there upon that bleak Andean summit too awed to utter a word, while below us the third wave was sucking away again, drawing back into the welling, straining tumult of the sea for yet another tidal assault. But I was only dimly conscious of this because the surface of that onrushing glowing sphere ahead seemed altered. I recognized none of the craters I'd known for a lifetime, and for a time this so intrigued me that I neglected to wonder that I could gaze fully upon it without being blinded. Certainly it was not so dazzling or brilliant as before. It appeared now to be more an orange or golden colour than blazing red or molten silver. Closer, I distinctly made out the outlines of land - of continents, immense islands, oceans. At first I thought dazedly this must be some other planet; that it could not be the moon. Then comprehension came stunningly. I was looking at the other side of the moon! I had seen those Russian photographs taken from space capsules and I remembered them now.
The moon in its doubled speed had, of necessity, to present its entire area to the earth if its rotational speed had increased to correspond with its increased orbital speed. And finally, seeing those huge dark areas which were unmistakably oceans upon its surface, a vast and willing relief overcame me. It could not be ablaze or even molten, otherwise there would be no water there!
Its glowing colour, its fiery appearance, had been optical illusion; the result of atmosphere, of reflected sunlight or earthlight, or perhaps because of its very nearness.
It was still another long moment before it dawned upon me that hot or cold, that drunken satellite must inevitably strike earth.

CHAPTER THREE
THE third and fourth, tidal waves swept in, each seemingly no less than its predecessors, then came the earthquake, I cannot describe the horror of it; solid rock heaved and shattered. We were flung out of the automobile and hurled against the straining earth. Mountain peaks in the near distance tumbled with ear-shattering detonations. Stupendous avalanches hurtled from the heights and it seemed that every inch of the mighty Andean cordillera was being grindingly pulverized. Enormous chasms appeared, tearing solid stone walls three thousand feet thick apart and the dust of riven upthrusts nearly suffocated us. There was no longer any light at all and the sound was unbelievably frightful. Then abruptly - silence.
Silence as awful as the din of moments before. It was as if the world had truly and finally ended. It was the silence of cosmic space; without beginning or ending and possessed of a depthlessness beyond comprehension.
Yet we three remained and for all I knew at that moment there were no other human beings left alive in the world. Certainly in our own immediate area if others had managed some way to escape the tidal waves and had somehow managed to cling to life at the lower elevations, then they had surely been crushed to death or buried alive in the earthquake which had shaken earth to its very core.
But if we three, my daughter, grandchild and myself, were yet alive we seemed only barely so. All action, power of speech and strength of limbs seemed to have been taken from us. We sat up cowering together, dumb and motionless, waiting for something - for searing flame or the earth to open beneath us, for that indescribable and suffocating silence to end though I, personally, thought such an ending would presage the end also of our lives.
It was my grandchild who finally broke the spell as the dust began to lift, to be borne away in the roiled atmosphere; she complained that she was thirsty. It was that small voice, echoless in the hush but plaintively insistent, which brought me back to the present. I then heard other sounds; a great lizard, grey with dust and very clearly annoyed, crossed near us with a scaly and scuttling sound; a cactus wren trilled from the ground where she had been dashed and where she now stood dazedly. A burrowing owl, apparently frightened from his hole, landed upon the auto and peered bewilderedly around for a moment before voicing his annoyance too. Distantly, somewhere beyond the thinning dust came the rush of a mountain torrent tumbling over boulders. Some insects chirped their faint, almost inaudible mountain-heights sounds. I got to my feet, brushed absently at my clothing and watched my daughter arise clutching her daughter's small hand. Both looked bruised, dirty and dishevelled in the soft-silver moonglow. I went over to the automobile and sank down. Except for an unnerving weakness I felt as a person feels who awakens unexpectedly from a particularly vivid nightmare. Everything so far as I could see in the night was normal. The heavens seemed to have completely lost their reddish glow, stars shone against the same velvet vault of sky I had known since childhood and except for the strange, heavy, humid feel of the still air - the steaming feel of tropical jungles -where it should have been crispy cool and invigorating at those heights, there was no sight, no sound, no indication whatever that anything had changed, that the earth, the moon, the Universe, were not as they had always been. Only the presence of my daughter and granddaughter there upon the cordillera summit with me, alone beside the auto, was mute evidence that none of it had been a dream.
Remembering the little girl's plea I arose, saying to her; "I'll get you a drink, Chiquita," and went rummaging through the auto for the canteen - invariably carried in any desert country such as Peru - and returned with it to the child. I then lit a cigarette and gazed over the youngster's head at my daughter.
"Mother?" she asked me.
I pointed downward where the final surges of those tidal currents were diminishing, leaving exposed glistening lowlands where there was no sound, no movement, no fight.
"Frank ?" she asked in the same numb way.
"He is at Rincon is he not?"
She nodded, looking vacantly into the north. "Yes; he is at Rincon."
"Then he was safe from the tidal waves. Rincon is ten thousand feet above sea level. As for the earthquake -I don't know. But Frank is resourceful," I told her. "Your husband is undoubtedly better off than we are."
The cigarette too increased my feeling of normalcy. After a while I thought we had better seek shelter and food and told her so, urging her to come along. She held back. "That - that awful thing, Dad. That blazing thing..."
"The moon," I told her. "The moon has gone wild - has been knocked out of its orbit, honey."
"It is so terrifying, Dad."
I took her hand in mine. "If it comes closer it will probably collide with earth, but our immediate concern is food and shelter."
She still hung back resisting my mild tug. "We'll die yet," she said with hoarse conviction. I squeezed her hand and gave her a rough pull.
"Perhaps not. If it comes no closer we will survive. It may even be receding." I got them both into the car and climbed in myself. "I rather think nothing worse can happen," I said, beginning to believe this was so myself. "The worst effects are probably over; it was the initial passage of the moon that triggered the chain reaction we have just lived through. I think it is very possible that the water pouring into faults and crevices and mingling with volcanic lava caused that earthquake. It may even have been only a local disturbance," I said -but I doubted it.
"But - the ocean ..." she said from the rear seat in a weak and fading tone.
"The ocean is altered," I told her. "That goes without saying. Probably vast areas of earth have been transformed into seas and seas into land. The tides of course will be enormous but the mountain heights, the Cordilleras, will more than likely remain unaltered. Unless of course something else happens on a scale with the flood and the quake; I can't imagine what that could be but I certainly don't rule out its possibility either - not after what I've seen tonight."
I started the car.
Behind me her voice came softly over the motor sounds. "...All those people..."
I drove across the summit and found the descending trail - it was little more than a trail up here and I do not believe automobile wheels had ever before touched it -and drove very slowly and cautiously for perhaps a quarter mile before a stygian void less than a hundred feet onward brought mc to a final stop. The earthquake had split the mountain as neatly as though it had been done with a sharp knife; the road ended somewhere hundreds of feet below us in the darkness. I got out, went exploring, then returned to the car, explained that we could go no farther until daylight and made both my daughter and her child as comfortable as possible in the car and lay upon the ground beside it, scarcely conscious of the stones beneath me, and tried to sleep.
I was not afraid of the morrow. Somewhere nearby I knew was the ancient Incan road; we would find it come sunup and make our way to the village it would eventually lead us to. I was just closing my eyes, letting my body soften mightily against that flinty earth, feeling at last the complete exhaustion which was in me, when I remembered that since the moon had doubled its pace, it would come rushing up from the east coincidentally with the sun. If that happened what cataclysm might yet be in store for us? I was a trained geologist, an oil field explorer, but I remembered something of my other college studies too and if the sun and moon arose over earth simultaneously ... No; it had already happened somewhere. The moon had already encircled earth therefore it had risen somewhere at the same time as the sun and nothing cataclysmic had occurred; nothing to disrupt earth had happened or the night would not now be so still, so benevolently warm and hushed. I lowered my head, closed my eyes and slept.
It seemed only moments before Isobel, my daughter, was bending over me. Again the eastern sky shone with all the splendour one usually finds only in mountainous countries. I gazed steadily at the horizon for a full minute, for once oblivious to the pastels; waiting. It was not a very long wait; again that lambent, beautiful splash of soft rose shot from horizon to zenith prefacing the more stately rise of the sun - a gigantic hot-shot fired from the Master's titanic cannon. It was, as it had always been, quite normal appearing, but as I sat up a diffused very pale overtone seemed to come from below it and within what seemed no more than a minute after the sun had cleared the last far-off earthly crust the moon also rose. It was moving much faster and it was also much closer to earth. It did not eclipse the sun but passed to the north of it rising very swiftly. It appeared paler today, scarcely more than a very weak pink and before it had completely shot overhead it had become silvery, almost white. It would, I thought as I got to my feet, require some getting used to, this business of the moon hurtling across the sky while broad daylight was upon the land. As I stood there feeling an unaccustomed ache from muscles I had used the day before but which otherwise had not been subjected to strain in a long time, the sun's slanting rays fell fully across the mountains, into the valleys and out over a glistening, hushed world of seeming total emptiness, while the moon continued to speed across the firmament, paling before the more fierce and brilliant sunlight.
In watching the sun complete its serene climb beyond the earth's rim I felt reassured, even grateful for its unhurried, very normal ascension, and it occurred to me that those ancient Incans who had worshipped the sun had certainly been justified in feeling a kind of kinship with its benevolent light and warmth, its substantial and dependable materialization each day out of the east
I watched my grand-daughter alight from the car, rub her eyes and look about until she saw me, then smile. I smiled back. Her mother said, "Mathilde; let's find the creek and wash." They went together through a low sedge of wild heliotrope following that sound of water we had noticed the night before. I watched them go then turned slowly with the sun rejuvenating me and gazed far out and down.
In the lowlands there was a mist, a steam, which partially obscured that incomparable destruction left in the wake of those tidal waves. It seemed to me, standing upon that height, the world's beginning must have appeared something like this; a grey miasma lying gently over everything; a strong salt-scent in the air; an almost frightening silence; and far out still troubled but much less so than yesterday, the ocean grinding in its bed. I sat down upon a boulder near the automobile. Until that moment there had been no time to reflect upon losses and even now, with the time to do so, it was difficult; too much had happened; too much had been drained out of me; what was no more scarcely made an impression upon that background panoply of gigantic disorder. I was still sitting there when my daughter and grandchild returned. They had found the freshet and not only that, they had also found a wild berry patch. The little girl, with youth's eternal effervescence, had already recovered from the harrowing experiences of the day before. She was chattering like a parrot, ready and eager for whatever came next. I looked from her to her mother. Isobel, I could see, felt to some degree that identical numbness which still haunted me. I arose: the best cure for shock was movement, activity, occupation.
"Come on," I said to them, for the child's sake making my voice light, "let's see what we can find."
We had some difficulty locating the Incan road, not because it was hard to find at all but because we had to do considerable climbing and sliding over rocky debris before we located one of those inevitable llamas trails with which the Peruvian uplands are criss-crossed, and which invariably lead to some road or other. There were many abysses opened by the earthquake and a few of them had sulphur like vapour arising from them, too. These had to be circumnavigated with extreme caution. And finally, as relieved as I had been to see the sun, its steaming heat now, drenched us all with perspiration, and by the time we came upon the old road we were all three panting and anxious to rest.
Resuming our way my primary concern was that the road might be bisected by one of those very deep chasms which had halted us the night before, rendering the automobile useless. Yet, while the road had been damaged; there were wide cracks in it and at one place a landslide had covered it completely for a short distance; we nevertheless managed a way around or over each obstacle and in something like an hour came to one of those inevitable Indian villages, on the far side of the cordillera and in a secluded small valley, which have bordered the Incan highways since earliest times.
The little stone-thatch hutments here were completely deserted. The people, undoubtedly frightened out of their wits, had fled, and undoubtedly in great haste for although the place was utterly empty there was a corral of llamas someone had neglected to turn out, and a number of burros were grazing on the scanty herbage of the small hill-side pastures. Most satisfying to us, of course, was the quantity of food we found: dried meat, corn, fruit, barley and potatoes. The llamas, watching us with the supercilious serenity of their kind and as undisturbed by the terrifying events of the day before as could be, could not survive long in their corral so I freed them and caught several tractable burros. While I was making packs for these I urged Isobel to rest, which she did, falling asleep almost immediately, and resting soundly until I sent Mathilde to awaken her when I was ready to push on.
Our destination, for lack of a better one, was Rincon where my son-in-law was, or at least where he had last been. There was no point in returning to the lowlands and furthermore, while I felt reasonably certain no additional phenomenon would occur, I had no wish to be down there upon the plain if something else did happen, and motivated by this judgement I kept to the uplands.
Taken from the village, along with the burros to ride and pack, were several cape-like garments called "ponchos" which had served Peruvian Indians since time immemorial as coats, rain garments, blankets, pillows, and capes. Also appropriated were several pair of stout Indian sandals, for in the stony highlands shoes did not last long. Also I had found a rifle in one of the huts. It was not by my standards a very good weapon but along with the pouch of shells for it I felt sure I could provide us with both meat and protection if I had to.
Before we finally departed from the village, with reluctance I'll admit; primitive as it was, at least it possessed a few of the rudiments of orderly human life; I began to be troubled by the fact that I might be the only man left alive upon earth. Yet so normal did everything seem -the sunlight, the mountains, the songs of birds, the vegetation in that small valley, the peacefully grazing llamas and donkeys, the blue sky and the glaciers on those same distant peaks I had admired ever since arriving in Peru -that I faced this strong possibility with an inherent feeling of doubt even though I had every reason to believe otherwise.
Environment, I have come to know, is one of the strongest factors governing civilized man's life and actions, and my environment in that remote Andean village, except for the total absence of other people, was precisely what it would have been under ordinary circumstances. Well -I'll have to qualify that: ordinarily the Peruvian highlands are cool, even at midday in summer; now it was tropically hot with the same unusual high humidity to the atmosphere which I had noticed the day before, and gazing far out where the ageless mountaintop glaciers were, I could see the reflection, of sunlight off cascading freshets of flashing snow-water, and this I was confident was someway attributable to the moon. The moon of course had never been molten within the memory of Man, but I reasoned now that its increased speed through space had probably established a friction which had, or very shortly would, turn it into a fiery satellite perhaps as the sun was. You will understand that I did not learn the reason for this tropical heat for some time after the events of which I am writing, and that it was even longer before I learned of the actual condition of earth, the staggering changes that had taken place upon earth, and the incredible effects then actually in process although I did not suspect it, from the moon having been knocked out of its infinite orbit.
What we all came to eventually know to be fact deserves recognition, I believe, in this portion of my narrative in order to orient readers with conditions existing immediately after the holocaust, even though they remain to this day substantially the same.
Of course the series of tidal waves continued for months as the moon sped around earth, inundating coasts, plains, deserts and valleys, every portion of the earth, to a height of over two thousand feet above normal sea-level. And because fully ninety percent of the world's greatest cities, industries, centres of art, literature, science and learning, as well as the seats of government, archives, transportation systems, military forces and population were situated below the two thousand foot level every vestige of these and practically every living thing within that belt had been utterly destroyed.
There were people who had escaped destruction we know now - nearly two hundred years later - but in proportion to the vast numbers formerly on earth they were very, very few in number. Some had taken to the air in the flying devices then known as aeroplanes; others had miraculously survived on shipboard in out-of-the-way places, while a few had done as I had; making their way to safety in automobiles. Also there had been a number of large cities above the reach of the waves, while still other communities, some actually below the two thousand foot level, had been in interior valleys surrounded by mountain ranges and these had survived too because the water could not reach them.
But it was safe to say that other protected places of human habitation had been destroyed by the earthquake, millions of people being completely buried under mountainous tons of rock and dirt. Still, because enough civilized people had survived, we know now, it was possible for the species to undertake its regeneration even though the Pre-Holocaust Ones, as we have since called them, did indeed revert to a variety of barbarity and lawlessness which has ever since retarded human progress.
Moreover, as it turned out, because many of the Pre-Holocaust radio-telegraphic installations were beyond reach of the waves and also survived the ensuing quake, in due time various isolated groups of people were able to communicate with one another, though not for some years, and in fact in some places not even for generations.
Neither did we learn for many years that the moon had once more assumed its normal course in space, enabling venturesome men to resume residency in the lowlands and even put out to sea on voyages of exploration. It was this latter event, completed not too many years since, that gave us our first full knowledge of how the earth's surface had been irredeemably altered. I refer you now to one of the Pre-Holocaust maps for comparison with one of the current and corrected ones in order that you can plainly see what enormous transformations have taken place on earth.
Those irresistible tidal currents, rushing mountain-high over the lowlands, cut, scoured, and washed away deserts, plains, valleys and hills. Wherever there had been large rivers the tides had flooded inland along their beds changing those streams to enormous troughs in the earth's surface. And as each tidal wave receded it carried with it land-surfaces which were ultimately deposited elsewhere -at times at the bottom of the sea and at other times upon distant shores. Moreover, as the lowlands were eroded there became great bowl-like depressions which filled with sea water to become our present estuaries, gulfs, bays, and inland salt-seas.
North of what used to be Europe there had been a group of islands commonly referred to in those days as Great Britain, or England; a densely populated, prosperous land; one of the world's great powers and the seat of manufacturing, trade, and commerce. After the tidal currents finally receded there remained of these islands nothing but a few isolated, barren upthrusts, still islands but infinitely smaller and less amenable to human existence.
Also affected was that area formerly defined on maps as "Europe." These countries, generally only slightly higher than sea level, were known as France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and so forth. They very nearly vanished completely while the sea covered hundreds of thousands of square miles of what had once been prosperous farms, vineyards, great cities and hives of teeming industry. And where a river known as the Danube once flowed the currents had gouged out a great strait fifty miles in width transforming the land known as Italy into an archipelago of low islands rising in places to lofty volcanic cones separated by labyrinthine marshes, which covered also much of what had once been the nations of Austria, Germany, and other adjacent lowlands.
That vast land called Russia - also known then as the "Soviet Union" - which had, believe it or not, a population in excess of two hundred million people, was almost entirely depopulated, its cities submerged, and with its remaining highlands separated by huge quagmires, estuaries and salt lakes, only very recently was enabled to join its peoples together again.
China, in those early days the source of the so-called Yellow Race, was the same as Russia except where she had once had a population of something like six hundred million people, had now less than seven hundred thousand. Between what once was Africa and Spain huge deposits of silt piled up adjoining lands which heretofore had been divided by ocean, while eastward the former Mediterranean Sea bad become an estuary of the former Indian Ocean. In what was northern Africa there was, in those days, a great plain known as the Sahara Desert, the world's largest arid surface. It is now under water, a segment of the new sea.
In our own Western Hemisphere the changes were equally as great if not greater. The United States, formerly the world's wealthiest nation, was no more except for a long, tenuous archipelago stretching north and south marking the former Alleghany Mountains and rising above great mud flats, bare at low tide. West of where the great Mississippi River once flowed was a huge marsh with inland seas and salt lakes stretching to the Rocky Mountains. Southward, there was no longer an earth-mass to separate eastern and western oceans except for jutting stoney peaks which are now desolate islands, and the saw-toothed ridges of equally as inhospitable mountain ranges.
Of all the eminently habitable islands which once dotted the Caribbean Sea only a few of the higher sea-racked spires remain. The colossal walls of water, crashing into the mouth of what was then called the Amazon River, piled up, sweeping inland across the South American continent and breaking in a titanic surf against the eastern slopes of the Andes, then had fallen back only to be met by other tidal currents, creating a maelstrom which had scoured bottomless holes in what had been the nation of Brazil; had thrown up great silt-ridges, had created islands, and had left what was then called South America an unrecognizable ocean speckled here and there with new islands, some of nearly continental size.
Only the mighty Andes remained unaltered, but this condition existed only at the greater heights, for elsewhere the Andes no longer rose majestically above deserts and jungles, but became as we now know them - a narrow and lofty peninsula, reminiscent of the spinal column of some long-dead gigantic monster - stretching for five thousand miles from north to south.
A natural consequence of this washing away of millions of miles of earth's surface resulted in new lands emerging where before there had been no such lands. Much of the detritus to be sure was on the bottom of the seas, but even this fact forced the water to seek newer and lower channels, hence the new continents our mariners are still discovering from time to time, some inhabited, mostly uninhabited.
All of these transformations of the surface of our world would have been sufficient to alter climates anywhere, but in addition the great ocean currents too, had been disrupted. For instance, that most benign current known in my youth as the "Gulf Stream" - a vast warm oceanic current which flowed northward along the eastern coast of North America - had vanished as soon as there was no barrier for the ever-westward flowing equatorial waters piled up by the trade winds and the centrifugal force of the earth's rotation.
Another great current, known in those early days as the "Humboldt", which carried Antarctica's cold waters northward off the western coast of South America, had been diverted and lost in mid-Pacific while the increased temperatures of the earth's atmosphere had caused polar ice-caps to melt and break up, vastly increasing the currents of icy water flowing southward over what once was North America, Europe, and a portion of Asia, while northward too, they inundated what used to be Australia, Africa, and yet another segment of Asia.
We know that for a long time the equatorial and polar regions, the land and the oceans - in short the entire world - was in unsettled, chaotic condition, that entire species of animal life disappeared along with endemic varieties of vegetation. And for those of us who survived the Holocaust there is much to remember, but for later generations there was, and still is, the need only to rebuild, to relegate what once was to another time which can furnish only one lesson: Man is not supreme, he never was and he never can be; but whenever he believes that he is, there will most certainly be another object lesson; another Holocaust.
Now, the year I write this, 2154, both land and water have again become fixed; the new ocean currents have settled into predictable courses and new vegetation as well as animal life, adapted to the altered conditions, has developed so that a person who never knew the world as it once was, would now think it had always been as it is today. By this time too the moon has re-assumed its fixed orbit. It remains much closer than formerly, being barely ninety thousand miles distant, and its earlier speed has diminished so that it requires eighteen hours now (I think 18.03786 is approximately correct) to completely encircle earth.
This has resulted in our new and simpler lunar calendar of four hundred and eighty-six days (nine months of fifty-four days each) thus eliminating altogether the clumsy and hazardous arrangement of our ancestors when the sun-days were counted with a result that their months were of unequal length and every four years or so they had to add a day.
Finally, although in my youth a twenty-foot tide was considered enormous and we were accustomed to currents of much less size while today a two-hundred-foot tide is normal, I think that by and large we, today, are facing essentially the same problems - and dilemmas - that confronted our earliest ancestors, and in moments of quiet reflection I am inclined to wonder now, in 2154, if actually those dim prehistoric ancestors of ours did not emerge upon earth after a similar Holocaust such as my daughter, grandchild, and I, survived in 1964. I think it entirely possible that somewhere in the ocean's depths lies hidden hoary remnants of another civilization similar to our former one, which we destroyed in 1964 with that 10.000 Megaton bomb. But because I am primarily engaged in setting down for posterity my peregrinations after the Holocaust I should limit myself to that exclusively, and return again to the theme of this narrative from which I departed at the site of our preparation for the trip to Rincon.

CHAPTER FOUR
THERE is no need to record all the incidents of the trip to Rincon. It was no different from any similar journey over the Andes barring the added hazards caused by the earthquake, but even these proved less, thanks to the sure-footedness of our burros, mountain-bred and mountain-raised. There came to our ears from time to time the ominous deep rumble of landslides but since we were travelling the summit at least nothing could fall on us from above.
Ordinarily of course we would have suffered somewhat from the penetrating cold of this elevation, but now even at night the atmosphere was warm and pleasant. We slept wherever night overtook us, sometimes in an abandoned village, sometimes in the lee of a sheltered cliff and, until the rains started, we actually were rather comfortable.
But even the drizzling downfall which came to accompany nearly every passing overhead of the moon was something we became accustomed to after a few days, and, because now the moon passed overhead twice each twenty-four hours at regularly established times, we became reconciled to preparing for the ensuing deluge. In fact, after only four days, so swiftly does humankind adjust to changed circumstances, we ceased actually to be concerned at all about this most astounding of matters. I did notice, before the more immediate demands upon me caused a lessening of interest in the moon, that each time it arose a different portion of its surface showed, while in the evening when it passed over, it was the same old familiar moon again. I did, after a time, observe too that each day it seemed to appear a little later, and that while it had been full at the time it was jarred from space, it was beginning to wane again as it always had.
Something which interested me more was that the few timid Indians whom we began to encounter after the sixth day, returning in ones and twos to their deserted villages; although professedly good Christians, and certainly submitted to influences long enough - four hundred years anyway - had all invariably reverted openly to their ancestral sun-worship again. They had of course failed to recognize in that monstrous speeding satellite which had unnerved them, the moon, but thought it their old-time sun-god, Inti, the offspring of the sun. One old man told me convincingly that the moon was actually Inti circling the earth seeking a place to alight. (They had seen aeroplanes do this). He very solemnly assured me that the arrival of the sun-god meant indisputably that the Indians would very shortly regain all their former power and once more be ruled by an Inca.
I offered no contradiction. In the first place the tale of a returning sun-god was no more fantastic than saying the moon had run wild. In the second place these very kind, very pleasant and very simple people needed, for once, to believe something they themselves had originated; for hundreds of years others had crammed foreign ideologies down their gullets; now let them form and sustain an ideology of their own.
The Indians eventually were very helpful too. They guided us, drove pack-llamas for us (something few white men have ever successfully done; for some reason llamas are as immune to English curses as they are to those who use them), and in time we arrived at Rincon. Here my daughter was re-united with her husband. Here too we learned that Frank and those in his exploration party knew much more of the Holocaust's aftermath than we did because there was a powerful radio-telegraph-radar station located there. There had been, he told us, a constant and frantic calling for help from other stations which, also being located in the highlands, had survived.
One of these a station at San Pablo, initiated us to a new kind of tragedy. Its operators were marooned on what had become an isolated rampart sticking up from the sea. They broadcast with an auxiliary power plant giving weather information, observations, and anecdotes until the last man had succumbed to starvation. There was no way for anyone to succour them. During the brief period when our own Rincon station was in touch with them we also contacted the former Organization of American States' great astronomical observatory which was no very great distance actually, from Rincon itself, and from these well informed - and provisioned - scientists we learned more concerning the cause for the situation we now found ourselves in.
These scientists had been watching the 10,000 Megaton capsule through very powerful instruments, tracking it with radar; they reported that although the explosion was very vivid, as we all remembered, the lack of atmosphere around the moon had really minimized the explosion - that what we had seen was no more than a spark of that capsule's actual true force: in other words, they said, they were in agreement among themselves that the world power which had detonated the thing - known for some years prior to the explosion as a decidedly untruthful world power - had in reality exploded a bomb even greater than they had said. To this I asked why, if so prodigious a force had knocked the satellite off course, there was no gigantic scar visible. The answer was simple: because, the radio crackled at us, the explosion did not necessarily take place on any of the moon's continental areas; may in fact have detonated in one of the huge seas, and finally, the strangely red and pink hue of the moon was due to the accumulated gases not only released by the explosions, but also by the gases generated by the moon itself as its rotational speed increased, thus giving the moon what it had heretofore lacked - an exclusive "atmosphere" of its own.
These things were interesting of course but they filled no stomachs, made no sandals, nor offered much in the way of planning for the future, and naturally enough not one of us doubted but that there would be a future.
Rincon itself was a small town, really little more than a large village. Its population was predominantly Indian. There were, including Isobel, Mathilde and myself, less than two hundred outsiders there. Of a population not exceeding five hundred souls the majority were Permian Indians. Because the town was situated in the centre of what had been a rich mining area, it was well-provisioned with nearly all the basic commodities essential to life. Nevertheless I called a meeting of the storekeepers, other geologists and town officials and we established a vigilance committee. There had been of course, a kind of local constabulary, but it had disintegrated and in fact many of the men, having fled during the Holocaust, did not return.
Local Indians were selected for enforcement work and we elected a junta, or officiating council, to govern. The Indians were divided into squads; some patrolled the country round-about, others had charge of the supplies, which were apportioned to families as needed, equally, and still another squad acted in a police capacity within Rincon itself. We were obliged, also, to activate another squad later which enforced sanitation regulations. This was my squad because it had been I who, fearing an epidemic and realizing how helpless we would be if one struck having no trained medical practitioners among us, had insisted upon it.
As the days passed more and more of the junta's decisions were left to me. Aside from the fact that I was one of the "older" men, I also enjoyed the unique distinction - along with Isobel and little Mathilde - of being the only man to have escaped from the lowlands; such is the idiosyncrasy of humankind that upon nothing more outstanding than this I was regarded as a "celebrity".
An early inspection of supplies in the town convinced me - with relief - that we need not fear famine for at least half a year. Meanwhile I suggested to the Indian spokesmen that they encourage their people to plant crops; sow every available foot of acreage around Rincon with food crops. They did this at once, then a party of us went into the countryside for a further appraisal and found that most of the crops had not yet been harvested, and while some had been damaged by the Holocaust's hot, high winds, the budding wheat, maize, potatoes, and even some of the fruit appeared to be flourishing as never before under the increased, tropical-like heat,
By the time Rincon was functioning as a homogenous, organized unit several exploration parties, mostly under the leadership of my son-in-law, had returned to report that other highland communities which had survived were also organizing and working towards a secure future. They also told us that the great muling centre of Cerro de Pasco had been completely obliterated by the earthquake and lay now completely buried by avalanches. Also destroyed were the towns of Huancayo and Ayacucho; melting Andean glaciers having flooded the rivers, the interior valleys had been transformed into lakes. Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital for instance, had been inundated by overflowing tributaries of the Amazon which in turn had been driven back to their very sources by the tidal waves. The same was true of every important town or city on the eastern flanks of the Andes, and La Paz -or rather the bowl-like valley where La Paz had been -was now a deep, calm lake, an extension of Lake Titicaca.
As our explorations extended and reports came back we found that there were less than twenty thousand people exclusive of Indians, left alive in the Andean region. As for the Indians, it was not possible to get even a reasonably accurate census of them; hundreds had fled into the great unexplored interior mountain areas and did not return to the towns again. From time to time an individual Indian would appear briefly, stay at Rincon or one of the other towns, then disappear again.
Of course all the old Indian legends were resurrected, each pointing through moral or anecdote to the causes for what had happened. I never discouraged these superstitious for several reasons, but mainly because they had always seemed to me to be both harmless and very lovely stories. Most had been handed down from father to son for many hundreds of years. Mostly they dealt with the resurrection of Inti.
Ultimately we found, through our friends at the OAS observatory, that of the something like four hundred million people previously inhabiting North and South America, there were four million left alive. But by the time we had learned this our progress at Rincon had made good headway and while I note in current history books that a good deal of the credit it attributed to me, yet in fact my part was actually very slight. What enabled us to survive, to overcome the monumental obstacles which seemed to grow and multiply against us as a species, was largely the result of chance, my incredulity, sympathy for the ancient legends of Peru, and a knowledge of Indian dialects, beliefs, history, and also to a familiarity with the Indians, a result of my interest in them. (My wife once called it an "obsession"). I personally believe the greatest credit belongs where it subsequently was bestowed, for beyond any doubt at all it was the magnificent character of the Inca, Chukis Huaray - that nearly deified benefactor of humanity - which enabled us to, not only survive, but to thrive and prosper and eventually achieve the modicum of superiority the species enjoys today.
But there were also those heroic men Grayson and Ellis. Without their great courage and sacrifice we would beyond question have been utterly exterminated. Still; these things were yet in the future. For the immediate present we, at Rincon, were busy establishing contact with the world as it had become beyond our own region; with the endless details of planning and supervising, planting, harvesting, building, improving - all the monotonous chores of enlarging the structural complex upon which a new civilization had to be founded.
For weeks, months, and years, following my arrival at Rincon, the threads of existence were carefully gathered, sorted, and arranged again into an orderly pattern. The governing junta functioned efficiently - it had no reason not to; there was no room for jealousy, for friction or politics; the immediacy of survival quashed them all -and very slowly but inexorably the fruits of our labour began to flourish.
These things, while infinitely less dramatic than those events which followed, were necessary otherwise we would not have continued to exist, I am convinced of that, and therefore, before we plunge into what came next, they must be accorded their due place; a place, I must say, which involved constant change of the world as we knew it was constantly changing, the result of a former temperate zone becoming tropical. These changes occurred almost yearly, requiring considerable flexibility in our planning. These changes too, were shaping the events and conditions around us, but at the time preoccupation with immediate needs left us neither the time nor the inclination to speculate much on this.

CHAPTER FIVE
As time passed the first great change we noticed of course was in vegetation. As the first few years passed it was impossible to ignore the green things which were springing up all around us because they posed a particular hazard to our farming proclivities. Even upon the highest mountains where the huge glaciers had by this time shrunk to snowfields, plants sprouted at the very edge of ice-banks. Every crevice and arroyo seemed to spring to new life. There was no spot so bare, so alkaline, so devoid of soil or roothold that plants of some kind did not grow there. Moss, maidenhair, every variety of fern spread over rocks; vines matted downward over precipices which had been utterly naked since time out of mind; where tiny basins existed shrubs and trees shot up miraculously forming within a few short years dense jungles. Even in the high mountain valleys, along river beds and on the stony wastes - called punas - luxuriant tropical vegetation rioted.
Where the seeds, spores, or slips, came from was a mystery and remains one to this day, but the fact remained that within a comparatively short period - no more than five years, as time once was estimated - those once bleak and cold Andes were magnificently green with a vendure as rank as ever covered a tropic area in Pre-Holocaust Days.
Along with vegetable growth came living things - reptiles, insects, strange birds, and quadrupeds. Some were recognizable as former inhabitants of the lowlands but fully as many appeared to be new forms we had never seen before though doubtless they had existed in the more remote regions at an earlier time. These too, being mainly herbivorous, endangered our farming activities. In fact they multiplied so swiftly that we were eventually forced to establish regular patrols round the clock to keep them from devouring our crops.
But this teeming life, plant and animal, was not all against us; there grew many varieties of seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables too. We had no botanist among us but we did have Indians whose knowledge was equal to the occasion. Manioc, for instance, had always been poisonous while a related plant of nearly identical appearance was not; the Indians had learned generations ago to determine which plant was safe to eat. They had also learned long ago that while cashew seeds or nuts will take the lining off a person's tongue when raw, were delicious when roasted. It was these people who experimented with the new kinds of vegetation around us, coming up with many which were not only nutritious and plentiful but which were also pleasing to the taste, who contributed substantially to our well being.
(I should add, I suppose, since everything which materially aided our regeneration as a species deserves full credit, that the Indians invariably, before trying a new plant themselves, took burros where it grew and watched to see if the animals would eat it. They believed - with good reason - that burros will select edible plants from those which are inedible and they were proven right - at least our supply of burros did not diminish while our knowledge of natural foodstuffs widened considerably).
As time passed our community functioned relatively smoothly; we learned to live with the weekly rainfall, the high humidity, the abounding animal-life, and even with the incredibly flourishing vegetation. There was no internal trouble to speak of and I, for one, was reassured by the unbroken life-cycle of birth and death that so far as Nature was concerned we were destined to survive.
There was one thing, however, which troubled me somewhat: Our community grew those first few years certainly more than I had expected and it became evident that our limited farmland would within a generation or two be insufficient to support the people. Also, perhaps not of immediate importance but certainly relevant, was the fact that Rincon's mountainous elevation being higher than normal for the area, did not agree with a proportion of our people as a year-round residence. These factors, plus the condition of my daughter Isobel, who was expecting her second child, required that I assume leadership of the exploration parties from my son-in-law, Frank.
I did not come to this task totally unprepared having for more than half my adult life been engaged in geological studies in remote parts of the world for various oil companies. During the course of my subsequent explorations I searched for, and found, quite a number of additional forms of vegetable and animal life which implemented our knowledge of foodstuffs. I also widened the scope of previous exploration into the hidden valleys and high-country plateaus many miles from Rincon, searching for a larger and more suitable area in which to re-locate our people. As I wandered farther into the hinterlands of the Andes I occasionally located isolated Indian villages; places where the Peruvians had practically no knowledge at all of the world as it used to be, having resided in those places for hundreds of years without outside contact. These people were invariably friendly and hospitable and as near as I could make out their sole reaction to the Holocaust had been a re-affirmation of ancient beliefs.
Speaking the language of these people was a great help; so also was my acceptance of their customs. Appearing among them as I did, bearded now and attired in the poncho and sandals of an Indian, and usually with two or three native Peruvians in attendance, I encountered no difficulties at all. In fact the people seemed anxious to help me in every way that they could, and because of this I was able to extend my explorations into areas no white man, or at least very few, had ever before set foot.
On one such trip I hacked a way through dense tree-ferns and thorny palms making towards a high cleft in the mountains, beyond which more than two miles across were even higher peaks. Knowing a valley of considerable size must he between the two ramparts I wanted to explore it. This time I had two of the Rincon Peruvians with me, both stalwart, capable men. It took us the better part of seven days to reach that cleft and cut our way through the riotous jungle-growth which choked it. I expected to find yet another of those timeless Indian villages, but as we came out upon a jagged eminence I was transfixed. Before me stretched a magnificent valley, perhaps three miles wide and about twenty miles long. There was a crystal-clear, wide river bisecting it, great groves of trees and flourishing farm-fields geometrically laid out. Plainly visible also, although small-appearing from our height, were grazing herds of cattle, sheep, goats, burros and llamas.
Near the centre of the valley was a city - a city of hewn stone buildings surrounding a pyramidal mound or hill which was topped by a great stone temple. In every way this city was the exact replica of the ancient pre-Incan cities with which I was familiar, having excavated a number of them since coming to Peru, except where every other one I had visited had been deserted and in ruins, this one was very obviously not only inhabited, but thriving. That it was, however, one of those antiquated settlements was quite apparent, and that it had been painstakingly restored to its earlier glory was also very evident.
I did not at once venture down into the valley. For one thing Peruvian history associated bearded men with Spain's old-time Conquistadores - Conquerors - and its pages drip with the oceans of blood those men ruthlessly shed. I had no desire to be attacked as a Conquistadore -nor as anyone else for that matter.
The third day of my stay in the jungle I ventured lower, where I had a closer view, and was rewarded by a very unique sight. This day seemed to be some sort of holy celebration for the multitudinous residents of the secret valley. They gathered in throngs which eventually moved solemnly towards the temple atop its mound, and each Peruvian was clad, not in the attire of modern Indians, but in the ancient Incan costumes. All the men, for example, wore the short, ornate tunics, the cotton trunks, the feather leg-bands, the gleaming ornaments of silver and gold, and those turban-like llantus or headbands, which had been twisted into an ornamental knot above the forehead, which was typically Incan attire from centuries past. The women too wore equally as ancient costumes and decorations.
I was so enthralled that I completely forgot my companions. The multitude of slow-pacing people reached the base of the temple-mound. It divided there into two columns which halted, one on each side of the broad avenue, and music started. The people chanted something I could not understand because of the distance, and the interwoven sounds made by drums, horns, and the quenas, or flutes, of olden times.
Through the lane formed by those hundreds of spectacularly attired people, descending from the mound where they had previously stood before the temple doors, more richly garbed even than the others, a group of men passed steadily onward. Being, as I have said, reasonably familiar with the language, history, traditions and legends of these people, I had no difficulty in identifying these men as priests of the sun, and the especially tall and handsomely regal figure with the headdress of gold and gems as the chief or king of this city. He might have come bodily from an old Peruvian tapestry or he might have been one of the antiquated sculptures come to life. He was, to my eyes, a reincarnated Inca, and even at that distance I had no trouble at all in catching reflections from the ear-caps which in centuries gone had been the mark of each royal Inca.
This procession had consumed more time than I was aware of, in fact it was afternoon although I was not conscious of it, and when I turned to my companions for an explanation of what we had witnessed I found them both prostrate, their faces hidden, in which position they had evidently been lying for some time. At that moment a mighty chorus of chanting rose over the city and beyond the farthest mountain peaks came the moon, full again and moving across the high-vaulted heavens like an immense burnished shield of new gold. The satellite's glow bathed that entire valley and the mountainsides beyond in a soft, pink light and imparted to the temple and buildings of the city a slightly deeper, reddish hue. As though triggered by the moon's appearance the multitude of people threw themselves down and touched the ground with their heads. The Inca and his attendants raised their arms towards the moon, then they too dropped, but only as far as their knees, and also made obeisance. They remained utterly still and motionless for a long moment then arose and, with the moon making its swift passage overhead, they turned about, climbed the stairs to their temple, passed from view inside and shortly afterwards there issued from the stone chimney a single column of smoke.
Down in the wide avenue those hundreds of people emitted a great sigh - a peculiar, sibilant sound - and arose. From their latest posture I assumed the ceremony was over and turned, grasped my two attendants and shook them. They both sat up gazing fixedly toward the city and most earnest efforts could not, at once, penetrate the near-hypnosis which held them. For some time after we had retreated back into the jungle to our camp, when I would ask them something, both men would merely shake their heads. The next morning, though, they were willing to talk, but, they said, they knew nothing of this city, had never heard of it, and had no explanation to offer for what we had witnessed.
Of course I knew they were not confiding in me; every Peruvian Indian was steeped in legends, superstitions, and the traditions of his race. None of the glories of their forefathers was ever omitted from childhood onwards in their education by their own people. I spent the morning trying to winnow from these two men something which would serve as a logical basis upon which to build my own hypothesis of what we had all three witnessed -but failed. They would shake their heads or turn away or appear busy with some trivial task about the camp; it was obvious they were inwardly absorbed by their experience, and as strange as it may sound I could actually see each of them, under my very eyes, reverting to that stoic, deeply pensive passivity which had been the outstanding characteristic of their ancestors.
There remained but one course for me to follow now since I was fully determined to explore the city and seek an explanation for all I had seen, and that was to go down there. I therefore started forward, but immediately both my companions sprang up, galvanized to life by my obvious intention, and each of them pleaded with me not to leave the jungle. I admonished them, pointing out that we had never met with anything but kindness, that it was exactly such a valley as this that we had been searching for, and finally shamed them by saying I would go on alone if they were afraid to accompany me. They fell silent then and when I started forward again they both followed but with a reluctance that did not disappear even after we were in the city and the people, while gazing upon us with frank curiosity, made no attempt to attack us, nor even bar our way towards the temple-mound and the cluster of handsome administrative buildings which lay at its base.
I stopped finally before a tall, bronzed man who had evidently been told of our coming by some runner, and who had taken a position near the steps leading to the overhead temple, with a small party of other Indians. Without a preliminary I told him in Quichua who I was and asked to see the Inca. He studied us briefly then, in a pleasant tone, asked us to follow him. We went as far as a large building of hand-hewn stone and there encountered two armed guards. My guide moved back, the soldiers opened a door, and I passed through. Here, my companions appeared especially reluctant but they dutifully followed, although some twenty feet behind me.
As we had passed through the streets I had noted that the city was indeed as I had thought, very old. It had been repaired and renovated within what appeared to be comparatively recent times, at least since the Holocaust I felt sure, and as we entered the stone palace the evidence of recent refurbishing was even more obvious. Beneath fresh stucco coatings and the multicoloured frescoes were signs of long dis-use. But on that initial visit I had very little time really to make a minute study. We had entered an inner court or patio. It had a profusion of flowers, shrubs, brilliantly-plumed birds, and several milk-white llamas - who completely ignored us. Seated at the far end of this court upon a superbly crafted stone bench was the same tall and beautifully proportioned man we - or rather I - had seen the previous day. Now however, he was clad in the simple dress of his people although upon the bench at his side were some recently discarded habiliments of great rank. He wore a crimson borla, or tassel, which fell from the knotted llantu over his forehead and the bell-shaped ear pendants, which completely hid his ears, which were the ancient symbols of Incan royalty. He was, obviously, supreme ruler here; son-of-the-sun or reigning Inca.
I was naturally greatly impressed, but even though a peculiar breathlessness possessed me, I still made as close an inspection of the man and our surroundings as I could. Then the Inca arose to greet me and although I am not a short man he was so much taller I had to look up to see his face. He was powerfully built, broad-shouldered, lithe, muscular and quite erect. His face, his features, were regular, finely made and highly intelligent appearing. His eyes held a confidence, a serenity, an equanimity which left no room for any base vices, and he smiled down at me with no trace of condescension or even personal pride, and yet, probably because of his slightly flaring nostrils and high-bridged nose, his face had a proud keenness to it. He was not a man one could appraise, plumb and evaluate in one sitting - nor for that matter in fifty sittings. There was far too much wisdom, too much learning, too many facets to his character and personality to encourage a ready judgement of him, nor did I attempt it. I told him simply and in as few words as possible who I was, what I was doing in his city, where I had come from, who my companions were, and finally, asked him about his city and his people.
For a moment he continued to gaze at me, and at my companions, then he asked us all to be seated. I sat but my Peruvians remained standing, heads bent forward, eyes fixed fully upon the ground, in a posture of obvious humility and great respect.
"My Lord” the Inca said to me, "you ask many things. Know you that I am the Inca Chukis-Huaray of the Panaka clan, and that here in this valley of Chincana1 and in this city of Achupa2 my people dwelt and my fathers ruled in the days before the Bearded Ones came into the land of Tahuantisuyo.3 And by them the land was laid waste and my people destroyed and enslaved, as my lord knows. But it was prophesied by the Holy Ones in the days of the Inca Wira Kocha that when Inti once again should be born and should flame in the sky, then would my people rise and own the land and dwell within the cities their fathers built and should be ruled by an Inca of the house of Panaka. Behold now, my lord, it has come to pass that Inti rides the skies again."
1. Chincana — Literally a place of Labyrinths,
2. Achupa — Divination of prophesy.
3. Tahuantisuyo - The Incan name for 'empire,' meaning literally "The Four Corners of the Earth."
It was apparent to me at once from the Inca's words that these people - whoever they were or had been - had mistaken the moon for the sun exactly as had nearly every other Peruvian I had talked with since the Holocaust, and were associating the Holocaust's phenomenon with an ancient prophesy.
"So, my lord," the Inca continued. "When once again Inti appeared to us, I, the Inca, summoned the people from far and near to the lost city of Achupa where we might all worship Him as of old, redeem the soil from the jungle, rebuild our hidden city in the valley of Chincana, and live as our forefathers had lived under my own father, the Inca Amaru-Huay, who battled under the banner of Manco1 against the other Bearded Ones, and who died in the year of Mosoc-Nino2 when I was a young man."
I sat there lost in thought when he stopped speaking. I had had no difficulty in following his words, but I did have some trouble in assimilating them - a good deal of trouble I might add. In the first place, if his father, the Inca Amaru-Huav had fought under Manco at the siege of Cuzco, and he had, as he had just said, been a young man at that time - then he was the oldest living man of history, for the siege of Cuzco had taken place four hundred years before. In the second place, if his father had died in the year Mosoc-Nina, his father had also been old beyond belief at the time of passing.
1. Manco — Heir to the Incan throne who rose In rebellion against the Spaniards in Cuzco. besieged the city for a year and very nearly annihilated the conquerors in the old-time year 1535 A.D.
2. Mosoc-Nina — Literally "New Fire," or corresponding to the old-time year 1760 A.D.
In seeking an explanation to these things it did not really occur to me that he was prevaricating; you had only to look into his face to see that such a thing was not possible. I therefore inclined towards a belief that he was speaking allegorically; this, I thought, was very probable; he was more than a king, an Inca, he was also a priest. Nevertheless I wished this information to be reduced to terms of mundane understanding and therefore I said, "Then tell me, mighty Inca of the House of Panaka, if thy father served under the rainbow banner of Manco in the year Kori-Hauyti1 how could he yet be alive in the year Mosoc-Nina, and how could you, great lord, be alive today, if he indeed told you the prophecy of Inti's return in that distant time?"
The Inca had a trace of a smile on his face when he answered. "I do not wonder that my lord asks this," he said. "My lord is of the race of Wira Kocha2 - the Bearded Ones - and he does not know the rites nor secrets of the Children of the Sun. Yet I will reveal them to my lord because this was also foretold long ago and must now come to pass, at this time.
1. Kori-Hauyti — "Golden Flower." The Incan year 1535 A.D.
2. Wira-Kocha — The Great Wise One; supreme divinity of the pre-Incas, also known as The Bearded One.

"In this land of Tihuantisuyo there exists the Tree of Life, my lord. Once, long ago, a Bearded One sought it; he had heard of such a thing from his interpreters but they were not learned men and told him it was a fountain; a fountain of youth, and he searched in the wrong places and he died without finding it. But here we have the Tree of Life and he who knows its fruit is blessed with more years than other men."
I was inclining towards the conviction that once more my companion was speaking allegorically, and in fact could speak no other way, when his next words dispelled that notion with some impact.
"You," he went on, "appear to know much of my people aside from our language and customs. You must then know that but thirteen Incas sat upon the throne of Tihuantisuyo between the coming of Manko-Kapak and the death of my uncle the Inca Atahualpa, And yet, my lord, twice Toricuk-Kamachicuk1 years had passed during that time."
1, Toricuk-Kamachicuk — One Thousand.
I was nonplussed. The thing he was referring to has always been an archaeological puzzle. All scientists were in agreement that the old-time Incan Empire endured fully two thousand years, yet according to both Incan history and impartial scientific research there had been but thirteen Incan rulers and two of these had ruled simultaneously.
What Chukis-Huaray was saying left me a little numb. But it also provided me with a clue to that archaeological puzzle which had baffled scientists for many years before the Holocaust. On the other hand, doing some rapid mathematical figuring, I came up with an average age for each Inca of one hundred and fifty years, a palpable impossibility. Only very gradually did I come round to considering the other equally as fantastic thing he had spoken of.
"And where, mighty Inca," I asked, with more blunt-ness than should under the circumstances, have been employed, "is this Tree of Life, and why, if the people of Tihuantisuyo know of it, do they continue to die?"
He turned fully towards me, fixing a continuing stare upon my face. He obviously had detected doubt, if not downright disbelief, in my tone, for he said, "My lord doubts what I have said?"
"I am bewildered," I said simply. I seek only a token of verification."
He smiled. "My lord; the machines those of your race have built that used to fly through the air, to my own forefathers would have seemed more miraculous than the Tree of Life. And the nuts of the tree do not give everlasting life. They cannot save one from death through violence or grave illness. No; they only give to those who eat them an increased allotment of years.
"It is told in the legends that the tree was given to Manko-Kapak by Wira-Kocha himself, and only those of the Inca family, and not all of them, know the tree. It is not right for everyone to be the equal of the Inca, which could be so if everyone knew of the tree. And too, the Tree of Life bears its fruit but once in each Pachacayok.” 1
1. Pachacayok — A century; one hundred years.
"But this, my lord, is the year when the tree bears its fruit and I grieve that I have no son that he may eat the nuts and reign after me for two Pachacayoks" His lingering stare became inward and thoughtful, and after a moment he said, "It was not foretold that you would appear this year but I can see that it was ordained so, for it was foretold that with the passing of the last Inca of the House of Panaka a strong man of the race of Wira-Kocha the Bearded One would come into the land, that his coming would be foretold by the arrival of Inti in the heavens, and that to him and his children and his children's children should the secret of the Tree of Life be made known."
This was, to me, a startling circumstance, for I also knew this legend, and where the Inca stopped speaking, the story continued. It was to the effect that ever after the people of Wira-Kocha - that is, bearded men and fair-skinned woman - should live at peace with, and abide among, and intermarry with, the race of Peruvians, and in the end should become one race of people which should eventually rule the world even beyond Tihuantisuyo.
The Inca interrupted my thoughts by speaking again, and now he arose and stood towering over me with a finality in his words which presaged an end of our talk.
"So, my lord," he exclaimed, "I will show you the Tree of Life and you shall bring your people to the valley of Chincana and here we will work at our common destiny because Inti, wearying of the wars and suspicions, has made the world over again - with fewer people - so that man can start over and remain always as children; honest, trusting, wholesome."
I continued to sit, forgetting for the time being that in all the old tales a man stood when the Inca stood. I could not, you can appreciate, absorb all that I had been told, but my mind clung to one fact: I was free to bring the people from Ricon to Chincana: to this lovely fertile valley which was large enough to accommodate all of us and the Inca's people too, for generations yet to come. I arose finally, and he walked slowly with me across the courtyard.
It came to me that this very handsome Indian at my side surely had a worldly knowledge too; that he had not spent his lifetime hidden away in this lost city and he must therefore have known that his city and his people must eventually disappear as other, more powerful, peoples came in time to increase, to spread out and explore the heretofore unexplored reaches of what little land was left in the world.
I shook my head; it was not his doing though, this invitation to me to bring the people from Rincon. I too, knew the lovely old legends which had prophesied this very thing. I had of course never once believed them, but now - well - what was I to believe? Finally, recalling that without exception the old stories vilified the Bearded Ones - the early-day conquering Spaniards - I asked him if he was not fearful that other bearded people might not prove as disastrous to his race? He smiled.
"My lord forgets," he answered, "that it has been quite a few years since Inti flamed in the skies scourging the earth and its peoples. There are no longer as many Bearded Ones as Indians. There is nothing for us to fear."
I understood clearly enough. "One more question, mighty lord," I said. "Those old-time ornaments of gold and feathers - I understand your wish to fully revert to the attire of your forefathers - but they are not new; they have not been made since the Holo - since Inti returned?"
"No, my lord," he replied. "You must understand that even though the lord Cortez demanded gold for my uncle's life - and killed him anyway - that many of my people did not value the life of one Inca over the sun-god ceremonies of the entire race. They hid away the things you have seen today and they have never been brought back into daylight until Inti returned."
We had stopped near the courtyard gate. He now put one hand lightly on my arm as though to detain me a moment longer, and he said, "I will make ready, my lord, and you will go back to your people and lead them to Chincana."
His warm and searching gaze was, in that brief, moment, indelibly impressed upon me, upon the slate of my mind, and I knew instinctively and positively that never in my lifetime had I ever known or even heard of such a man as the Inca Chukis-Huaray.
I left Achupa that evening. There was an escort as far as the cleft mountain leading out of Chincana. Beyond that natural boundary I became again, along with my two companions, the wanderer I had been when first we had sighted the sun-god temple atop its mound, and the beautiful, orderly, and ancient capital of Tihuantisuyo.

CHAPTER SIX
TODAY, many years after my meeting with the Inca Chukis-Huaray, the results are well known to all and the great Inca has been fully recognized as humankind's most benevolent benefactor, and so accustomed have the subsequent generation become to living no less than a hundred and fifty years under normal circumstances that such a lifespan is taken for granted, but it was not always so I assure you, and later, upon my second visitation to Achupa with the nucleus of the people from Ricon, and actually stood beside the Tree of Life with Chukis-Huaray even I still had doubts.
The tree with which we are all now quite familiar looked at that time, in those early days, very unusual to me. The glazed fronds and polished scarlet berries, so waxen, more like very small red apples than nuts, was highly unusual. However, in the Inca's presence, I did not hesitate to eat, and my first contact left something to be desired. The nut was sweet pungently spicy and aromatic - but it was terribly unpleasant to smell.
Expecting some inner reaction - I had no idea of what form - I was not disappointed. First, my face flushed darkly with a fierce surging of blood, then my body seemed imbued with an enormous physical strength, and finally, my mind was accelerated in every department. Of course, as you know, this was but a temporary sensation and eventually I became as always, calm, logical, and even slightly ponderous in thought and action.
However, before the first flush passed, I asked the Inca, since the tree bore fruit only once in a hundred years, why could not a person who had already eaten the nuts store them up and in this manner prolong life indefinitely. He smiled at me but shook his head. It was not possible he said, and told me what we all know now; that eating the nuts slowed organic deterioration to a bare minimum, but nothing, not even storing up dens of the tree's nuts and eating them regularly, could stop deterioration completely. Life could be prolonged, yes, but it could not be extended beyond a definite limit. Furthermore, he said, (and we now know this also) no one could foresee what each individual person's lifespan would be even after eating the nuts. One person might live to see two, even three centuries of strong, active, vigorous life, and another person might die a natural death of old age at a century and a half.
When I left Achupa the second time to bring on another contingent from Rincon I made up my mind to seek out old Father Antonio, the priest at Rincon who had been in residence there even before the Holocaust, and discuss this, and another problem which was beginning to trouble me, with him.
Father Antonio, like everyone else I spoke of the Tree of Life to, laughed, but where others scoffed the Padre did not. Because Father Antonio is no longer with us, and also because he was so important a personage in those distant early years, I must say this of him: He was originally the village priest at Rincon. He was at that time just turned ninety of the old-time sun-years. He was a jolly, tolerant thoroughly understanding man with snow-white hair, a merry face and large, compassionate black eyes. He was respected, even loved, by everyone regardless of faith. I recall distinctly his words to me when, after sixty years of labouring among the Peruvians, they cast Christianity aside in one day and resumed the faith of their fathers.
"Perhaps," he said, without bitterness. "Perhaps it does not really make any difference to the Heavenly Father in what manner men worship him. Who can honestly say which is better - or if the prayers of those who kneel before the Cross are more welcome to Him that those spoken by those who kneel before the sun?"
When I had explained to Father Antonio about the Tree of Life, how I had eaten its fruit and how it had temporarily affected me, his eyes twinkled at me, and he said only, "1 do not believe; but I do not refuse to believe either. Tell me, did you bring any of those nuts back with you?"
I had of course, a pocketful of them, and I gave him several even as I had also given them to my daughter and son-in-law, among others. He held the hard-kernelled little berries in his hand and for a long time simply gazed at them, then he said, "For nearly three score years and ten have I wandered over this land and in my wanderings among the Peruvians I have seen many strange and incredible things. When I was a young man I attributed much that I witnessed to Satan, and I prayed that he might be exorcized. But as I grew older I decided that the devil really had nothing to do with these things; that actually there are many things of which we civilized and Christian people are totally ignorant; many natural laws we do not comprehend at all; many powers of the mind to which we know absolutely nothing - and yet with which these Indians whom we consider somewhat lesser beings, are quite familiar."
He looked up into my face, still with that twinkle, only now it had become ironic, a little saturnine even.
"Many time Indians have told me of events occurring miles and miles away at the time they were recounting them. And it was true, I learned later, those things were transpiring. At other times I have had them foretell the future - and do you know; those things came to pass."
He hefted the scarlet berries in his hand a moment before continuing.
"Magic, my old friend; is that what it was? Sorcery? Witchcraft? I think not. True; once I was convinced it was. I confess that but now - I am an old man - I know it was not magic and I also know the devil had nothing to do with it. Take these berries; of course your story is utterly fantastic - but is it so impossible to believe in a Tree of Life when the Indians gave us quinine which has saved countless thousands of lives? Was not that saving, in a sense, the prolongation of life? Of course it was. And what else have we gotten from these lesser people? Cocaine, which, used as it was intended, is a major blessing; tobacco, another blessing; potatoes, maize, sarsaparilla, cocoa, ipecacuanha, cotton, the bean - have not each of these in its way stopped suffering, prevented famines, prolonged peace and rest - and in this way prolonged life?
“Then is this Tree of Life of which you tell me any more marvellous than the bark of the cinchona tree which destroys the bacteria of malaria? Is it any more incredible than the fruit of another tree which can render human flesh insensible to pain? I think not, old friend, I think not." His smile broadened and his eyes twinkled again. "But I will reserve judgement."
"Then eat the nuts," I urged him, almost chuckling myself at his wary regard of the scarlet berries and his equally as obvious curiosity. "What have you to lose?"
"What you say is true, of course. At ninety years of age what has one to lose; at best I will live another year or two; surely no more than five more years."
He ate the nuts. He wrinkled his nose at their awful smell but pursed his lips critically over their not unpleasant but very unusual taste. Then he swallowed and ran the sleeve of his cassock across his lips.
"All right, old friend; it is done. If I do not break my neck travelling to this vaunted Chincana of yours, or some malignancy does not carry me off within the next twenty or fifty years, believe me I will bow low each time we pass; but more important, everyone else will rush to eat your diabolical fruit."
I laughed. He considered me a moment, black eyes dancing, then he said. "One thing more. If your fine tree bears but once each century should you not attempt a propagation which will ensure year-round fruit, and also cultivate the tree until you have a grove of them? What a calamity if some jungle beast were to eat it or if one of the thunderstorms should uproot it. And too; is it not practical to store the fruit for future use?"
"In time, Father," I told him. "All in good time. First there is this business of moving our people to Chincana, and after that of seeing that orderly government is established, and after that, securing the means for replacing our steel and iron, our instruments and implements."
He heard me out then inclined his head slowly- "I understand. You will be very busy. Then hear me, old friend; I am an old man; I cannot help by carrying things on my back; I can't even work stone any more with my hands - but lead me to your tree and this I can do: I can cultivate it and propagate and protect it, and since I am becoming to believe that this is God's will - this increased span of life for those of us still remaining on earth - I will be more vigilant than a squad of soldiers and more solicitous than a young lover."
"It is agreed," I exclaimed heartily, and clasped his old hand, feeling an unmistakable warmth for both Padre Antonio and the Being who had left this wise, wonderful man among us.
The rest of Father Antonio's tale you can find in any of the history books; he created a grove of Trees of Life and although he has long since departed himself, every man and woman and child who is beyond the oldtime life-span of four score and ten years, which is to say everyone now alive, owes at least a part of his longevity, indeed his heritage it seems to me, to Father Antonio, the first priest of Tihuantisuyo.
The moving from Rincon to Chincana took many months. We removed everything which could be used in our new location - which is to say everything at all - but, distance notwithstanding, it was a tedious and difficult chore because much had to be dismantled and taken into the valley on our backs. We could, and did, make good use of llamas and burros, but since we had more men than animals and since large parties of men had to accompany each train anyway - to hack open trails which grew over again nearly as rapidly as they were cleared - the men carried more of our substance than did the beasts of burden.
Had it not been for Chukis-Huaray and his people our exodus would have taken infinitely longer; they built swinging bridges over canyons, carried loads upon their backs, located and maintained short-cuts beyond the cleft into Tihuantisuyo, and they not only assisted in the dismantling of our radio station but transported the entire thing into the valley themselves without having the least idea what they were carrying, yet with a regard for the irreplaceable tubes and coils which was tenderness personified.
At the end of a year we were well established; most of our people worked at first in communes clearing new land, erecting hewn-block homes after the Peruvian style and putting in crops. The jungle was pushed back to the very base of our encircling mountains, irrigation ditches were constructed from the river's uplands which permitted nearly every acre of Chincana to be made productive, and before the second year had passed parties of hunters, encountering isolated Indian villages and other hunting parties, spread the story of our progress so that a trickle of outside emigration to Chincana began. One village in particular, called Harichiri, migrated to Chincana en masse, necessitating our working parties to redouble their land-clearing efforts north and south because the valley was already inhabited from east to west.
There were months on end when the days were not long enough for all that had to be done and since there did not appear any immediate need for setting up the radio station again, it was left lying, which meant of course that we were completely isolated from the outside world - a condition which I'll admit did not trouble us at all.
Our first census was taken the second year; it revealed that Tihuantisuyo had a population of two thousand people. Many children were born in the valley and a few people died. In our society there was no place for single men or women; we enacted no laws against celibacy but by example we certainly showed that two could accomplish more than one.
Of course, those first few years, there was the inherited prejudices against intermingling which both Peruvians and non-natives observed but it was inevitable that with time this would atrophy and ultimately vanish altogether, which it had done by the third year. It was not possible for people living side by side, speaking the same language - a mixture of English, Spanish, and Quichua - not to reach a norm, and when this happened there were interracial unions; only a few at first, then more, and finally indiscriminately. This was to me a source of considerable relief. I know too that Chukis-Huaray was gratified for he told me so.
There did remain, though, a thorn-of-sorts which Chukis-Huaray, good Father Antonio, and I frequently mulled over. The Inca's people were strong sun-worshippers, something of course abetted by the Holocaust, while all the non-natives were Christians (of sorts), many being good Catholics.
Realizing as we three did that religion had caused more warfare, hatred and bloodshed in Pre-Holocaust Days than any other single factor, and wishing very earnestly to mitigate - no; to completely obliterate this possibility -in our new nation of Tihuantisuyo, we concluded after many solemn discussions to encourage freedom of religious choice and ban, at least tacitly, proselytizing. Father Antonio - for whom this must have been a very difficult thing - met with the Inca's sun-priests and all agreed, instead of the old-world notions of intolerance, suspicion and derogation, to speak fully in favour of One God, tolerance and understanding. I (least religious of we three I will frankly admit) was privately gratified with this arrangement because I knew, as with the oldtime racial prejudices, such a doctrine would lead eventually to an amalgamation of faiths. (I think too, that good Father Antonio and Chukis-Huaray likewise sensed this, but we did not ever, in the presence of the others, mention it). The result was as I expected (hoped for) and today you have the simple, sublime faith which resulted from this (I believe) very wise decision which led to a consolidation of faiths.
As your history books detail minutely today, the establishment of that first government grew from a similar sympathy, understanding, tolerance, and very sincere honesty. The Inca as you know, became supreme ruler; there was a Lower House and an Upper House; there was representation by population apportionment, a legal code, a full recognition of individual rights, and a system of taxation based not, as in olden times upon the individual, but upon the ability of each incorporated community to pay, hence Achupa, our capital, a place of steadily increasing prosperity based upon manufacture (such as it was in those early days), cheerfully supported the major cost of government while the more remote farming areas, still in process of establishment, paid proportionately less. But all these things are presented with much greater facility to detail in other books than I have the space for here.
Exploration parties, in the beginning, had generally avoided the former lowlands because, aside from the miasmic, foetid fogs which overhung nearly everything down there, our destiny obviously lay closer to home. Therefore, it was not for four more years before a fully organized and equipped company made the extremely difficult and extensive trek out of the highlands. I was the leader and my son-in-law, Frank, had charge of the several hundred men who carried tools, slings and packs to cart back anything of value we might salvage.
The actual journey was fearful; we had to cut our way through miles of the most stubborn jungle imaginable. There were mishaps, injuries, days of exhaustive labour, and, the closer we got to the drop-off from which we could see the lowlands, a variety of muggy heat of such intense humidity (and stench) that we panted even when simply walking along.
We came finally to the drop-off. From our base camp there we could see what had once been the coastal plain. It was a stinking swamp swarming with huge crabs, swarms of over-sized insects, and slime-covered mud flats which at low tide, stretched for miles towards the horizon. Over everything hung that sticky and yellowish blanket of fog. The jungle behind us was by comparison to that which lay ahead, a pleasant country garden. It was unbelievable that such a profusion of trees, giant ferns many times taller than the tallest man, brambles, bushes, lianas, (wild vines), shrubs and aberrant new forms of vegetable life should have come to maturity and fruition in so short a space of time - one decade, actually, of the old sun-years.
This fierce profusion of life was to me a re-enactment of earliest times; of the carboniferous period or before. Earth had retrogressed, I thought privately; it had become once more as it had been, say, a million years before, and I stood as First Man must have also stood, gazing in wonderment - and also in fear - before this unrestricted and invincible omniverous growth which nothing under the sun - or moon - could stop from ultimately enveloping everything on earth.
This feeling remained with me - in fact actually grew stronger - when we began exploring the lowlands. There were no landmarks left at all by which one might recognize former places. Those tidal waves, the constant steaming rains, earthquakes and avalanches, had utterly destroyed every vestige of former cities and that strangling vegetation covered everything; even the tumbled debris of former great buildings, to a spongy depth of several feet.
We did salvage considerable metal - and in the hold of several broken and red-rusted ships - a great many barrels of oil, gasoline (for lack of which we had been unable to operate the auxiliary power-plant of our radio transmitter and receiver for over a year now), and coal. These discoveries were more to me than all the jewels in creation for I had arrived by this time at the conclusion that without metal implements to combat the jungle our "civilization" was absolutely doomed. I began at once to send back pack-trains of men and animals to Chincana, bearing the treasure (or wreckage) from the lowlands.
At the former teeming port of Callao we (actually my son-in-law was the inspiration for this) began building a ship from the shattered hulks strewn there. It was his hope to make a vessel sufficiently sea-worthy to enable us to explore the world beyond the Andes. (This was, as you now know, the forerunner of many ships and many parties of explorers who gathered the exact material for your current geographical charts, maps, and books).
Beyond stating that our labours in those unhealthy lowlands provided the nation with its initial means for continuing prosperity and survival, and in order to maintain chronological sequence to this narrative, there is no point in dwelling additionally upon what was accomplished there. Suffice to say, then, that because of these endeavours we were able to replace worn-out metal implements for fighting the jungle which continually encroached, and to improve our lot in other ways, so in the end, those selfless men and women who died from fever, from animal attack, from flesh-devouring malignancies resulting from ulcerated lacerations for which we had no cure, died as heroically as any soldier ever died, not simply in the defense of Tihuantisuyo as soldiers might have perished, but in the greater cause of survival of our species.
I think no people have ever died in a greater cause.

CHAPTER SEVEN
THE advent of our lowland-exploration phase of existence - as historians subsequently pointed out from the distance of many decades, the surest way to achieve proper historical perspective (and certainly the safest way!) - did in fact, as they say, turn our attention away from the hinterlands so that only hunting parties, and really not very many of those, continued to traverse the westerly, northerly, and southerly, jungles beyond Chincana. As a result - again as the historians point out - we were caught completely by surprise when the nation was attacked by the Pre-Holocaust Men (referred to colloquially now as the "PH People" although there were no women among them).
Where the PH's came from was never determined. Conceivably it might have been had the species never left Chincana, but perhaps too, at this late date, it is not really important.
There was in those days considerable speculation; some thought the PH People were degenerated members of some former large community; others believed them to be remnants of former primitive Indian tribes. It is not, I think, too important who they were or where they originated, because, beyond initiating the period of final existence in Tihuantisuyo, they did not critically injure us; or perhaps I should say they did not fatally injure us.
But in any event they appeared very suddenly, as the increasing locust plagues appeared from time to time. One day we were living peacefully and industriously in our valley, and the next day with no warning whatsoever a great horde of PH's charged upon us from the mountain-tops, the jungles, screaming at the top of their voices and wielding clubs, slings, lances, and an assortment of metal weapons such as axes - but very fortunately, no guns.
They were as dark as the darkest Indian, quite hairy, nearly entirely naked, and absolutely fearless while engaged in fighting. They attacked men in the fields swarming over them like large children, dozens to each of our people. They were generally not over five feet tall but very strong and quick. I was in Achupa when the first attack came, and rushed forth with hundreds of others at the first roar of battle. I think now, in retrospect, that had the PH's employed more stealth, more calm judgement, they would have triumphed, but their utterly disorganized first rush, accompanied as it was by that great din of howling coupled to considerable aimless and leader-less rushing about, was what contributed most to their ultimate defeat.
Of course, by this time, many of our people had found the Peruvian stone-block homes too tedious to construct and also too damp, scarcely drying out between tropical showers, and had in consequence made homes of timber. (We had to do something with all those trees which were being felled daily in the increasingly bitter battle with the jungle). And at least in this instance (although not many years afterward the reverse would prove true) the wooden homes proved vulnerable while the stone ones did not.
The PH's could batter their way into wooden homes but in our outlying areas people who forted-up in stone houses almost without exception survived until organized parties rescued them.
Even so we lost a great many men. Mostly, these were killed in the fields, in hunting parties throughout the jungles, and in outlying quarries and forges. I distinctly recall seeing one man killed. He was driving cattle across a field. In a twinkling he was surrounded by a howling horde of PH's. Once, twice, three times I saw him hurl that writhing mass aside. With his bare hands he seized one of them and swung that body around him like a flail struggling in this fashion to win a way clear. He almost succeeded too, then he was struck in the face by a stone and went down. PH's swarmed over him hacking at his body, tearing away strips of flesh and eating it on the spot.
We had some firearms of course, but not many, and we also had two cannon-of-sorts salvaged from ships in the lowlands; a number of men knew how to fire them but none had any experience as artillerists in actual combat. In the end though this did not really matter; the smoke and noise worked just as well.
Finally, Chukis-Huaray organized and led forth the host of our defensive force and an appalling battle ensued. As I have said the PH's were absolutely without fear; they died by the score spitting, howling, and flailing to the very last moment of life, and the battle which seemed to last a lifetime but which really was finished in sixty-five minutes, was the fiercest event I ever witnessed.
It was the men with firearms who finally broke the back of PH resolve. They banded together and volley-fired killing whole companies with each blast, until the PH's turned and raced for the jungle.
For thirty days after that sudden, terrible assault, our gun-company of eighty-eight men patrolled the countryside. They killed perhaps a hundred more PH's but it turned out that the great majority had already left our area completely.
Then we discovered that the PH's had evidently not been bent upon conquest at all; dozens of our people came forward to give depositions and in almost every recorded case of a person surviving a meeting with PH's it was a woman. Their intention then, had been to kidnap our women and it was then recalled that as a matter of fact there had been no females with the PH's who attacked us at all.
This mystery was never really solved but since the PH's never returned and occasionally, later on, hunting parties came upon what were taken to be old PH camps, invariably with the remains of females strewn about, it was generally assumed that, living as they did as cannibals, male PH's probably devoured their females, and in this manner caused them to be nearly extinct.
But as I have said, because they did not return - and in fact we never ascertained what became of them after their abrupt attack upon Chincana - we turned next to the unpleasant business of burying the slain, taking steps against being similarly surprised by hostile peoples in the future, and in re-ordering the pattern of our lives along lines which had existed some thirty years prior to the attack.
The burying of all those ape-like corpses was a disagreeable affair, and I suppose where at least some compassion might have existed if the dead foemen had been at least somewhat like us, since they definitely were not and most of us had witnessed them gorging upon the corpses of the slain - both theirs and ours - the bodies were dragged unceremoniously to a remote edge of the jungle and dumped into long trenches. They were covered indifferently and that, we thought, was the end of that.
If I remember correctly it was the fourth day after the last PH had been buried, and very early in the morning at that, when a clamouring party of farmers came running into Achupa crying out in terror. Their story was that the trenches where we had buried the PH's had been torn up, the earth cast aside, the jungle trampled for several hundred yards, and there was not a corpse to be found. Moreover, they said, in the freshly turned damp earth were the imprints of huge hands and feet,
Chukis-Huaray and I called out the entire constabulary corps and went with the farmers to the site of the PH burial ground. Of course by the time we left Achupa rumours had spread and half a thousand bold - and armed - villagers trailed along behind us. In the city itself there was much speculation and also considerable trepidation.
At the burial ground I saw that what the farmers had said was in no sense an exaggeration. For nearly a hundred yards beyond the trenches there was not a single vestige of untrampled ground. There were scores of those huge footprints too, but I saw at once that the handprints, much smaller and possessed of only three fingers, were not so numerous as the footprints. To my mind this indicated that whatever the animal was, it walked primarily upon its rear legs.
Chukis-Huaray and my son-in-law Frank found where the animal had sat - or squatted. The marks made by his hams were very deep and therefore we assumed that he was very heavy, certainly weighing more than a ton. Also in this area, which was some distance south of the trenches, all of which were swept clean of corpses, were found the picked-clean bones of the slain PH's.
It should not be difficult to imagine the terror which came now to our people. Many left the site at once bound for Achupa. The more stalwart banded together and stood about watching the jungle. Of course the smell was unpleasant and this did nothing to abate fear, but it was the size of the animal, his obvious strength, and his man-eating proclivities, all very easily reconstructed in men's minds, which caused consternation. Chukis-Huaray came to sit upon a downed tree beside me in silence. After a long time he said he had never heard of such a beast, not even in legend, and he wondered if we could devise a defence against it? I did not know; I was not considering those things right then; I was thinking of Nature; of how she was determined to conquer the valley, overwhelm us one way or another - with vegetation, with animals, with the Lord only knew what else - and it was beginning to dawn upon me that our battle against her must over the years, be lost. We did not grow greater in stature nor appreciably in numbers - not in comparison to her growth - and this monster, for instance, was a clear warning that she was evolving even greater perils for us.
It was not a pleasant train of thought. I had come to love Tihuantisuyo and our valley of Chincana in particular; the majority of our people, I was sure, felt the same way. They would resist any attempt to move them even though it was becoming abundantly clear that the jungle, and Nature, were combining forces to destroy us and very obviously would be able to do so before many more generations had been born. I was greatly depressed and was roused only when the Inca put a hand upon my shoulder and smiled.
"I think it can be done," he said. "My lord; we will deploy the patrols; we will warn the farmers not to go out except in pairs and well armed, and we must tell everyone, especially the hunters, not to enter the jungle."
"Those things are precautions," I replied. "They will not rid us of the beast."
He arose and pulled me up with him. "No, they are only precautions as you say. but I think we can expect this large creature to return. He is probably gorged now - gone off into the jungle to sleep - and he will return."
"Tonight." I said, with a nod.
"My lord; Frank made the cannon shoot. He blew out stumps from the fields." He saw understanding coming to me and smiled broadly. "So; he will place a charge in a grave and we will wait tonight for our animal to return."
That is exactly what we did. Frank and a working party spent the balance of the day mining the trenches. It was of course impossible to tell which trench the animal would return to and this made the work particularly difficult, but by late afternoon all was in readiness. Chukis-Huaray directed the constabulary corps to split up; part returned to Achupa with orders to direct everyone there to remain indoors this night, while the other party went over the rural countryside with identical instructions. There remained with Chukis-Huaray and me thirty of the best riflemen. We hid in a cleverly camouflaged hideout and settled down to wait. I think, of us all, Frank was the most nervous. He had beside him six detonating plungers, crudely manufactured but we knew from experience, adequately efficient.
It was a long and harrowing wait. After a time the moon arose, huge and golden, moving sedately across the heavens and illuminating the valley with subdued light, but when it sank into the west long shadows came out of the jungle and I think not a man of us, except possibly the Inca, was above shaking a little in his sandals. Around us the jungle rose as a dense black wall to blot out even the stars and there were dozens of unidentifiable sounds of which one, a faint swishing, trampling sound, emerged gradually louder than the others. It was hard to place the sound because at irregular intervals it would stop. Suddenly the lianas parted dead ahead of our refuge and a grotesque silhoutte emerged, blacker than the jungle behind it. I had only this one good glimpse of it standing partially erect, then it went down forward as though on all fours (but afterwards, in studying the tracks, I ascertained that its smaller front feet never did actually touch the ground) and shambled or scuttled - it did not walk in the conventional way - up to the first trench.
With powerful movements of those short but extremely strong front legs it began throwing up dirt. I was immediately struck with the idea that it might tear aside the mines before Frank could detonate them and looked over where he was crouching over the plunger, his face white to the eyes.
A deafening thunderclap came and what seemed to be a volcano blew upwards beneath the beast. One of the men near me made a cry and I sprang upright. Flames erupted, stones, bushes and earth shot skyward and the animal was lifted bodily into the air and fell all in a sodden heap.
For an interval of silence none of us moved, then Chukis-Huaray went forward. It was his movement that enabled me to gather my wits and follow along. We had advanced only as far as the stump of one of those short, scaly front legs, when a disgusting smell nearly overcame us. Breathing through our mouths in order to alleviate queasiness we went nearer. The beast had evidently been belly-down over the mine because his entrails were festooned among the overhead limbs wetly grey and dripping. One massive leg was torn away and his head, lizard-like, was also severed. I had seen enough; he was dead. I felt no curiosity about his species whatsoever and walked off a ways where the air was fresher and waited for my companions to complete their examination and join me. I had not had a smoke of any kind in about twenty-five years and this night was the first time in that entire period that I ardently wished for one.
When the others had gathered up their weapons, tools - and the animal's head - we went back to Achupa.

CHAPTER EIGHT
EVEN if the steaming jungle had not worked its humidity overtime to cause deterioration and a nauseating odour to fill the entire area for a mile in every direction from the PH trenches and the site of the great bloated carcass of that animal, I doubt if there would have been any volunteers to bury it. In the end we simply left it where it lay and it did not take a long time for the vultures and scavenging quadrupeds of the jungle to do away with it. Partly because the smell was longer in dissipating and partly because the earth for some distance around was blackened by some acid, the result I presume of decomposing flesh, no one went near the spot for a long time.
There was very naturally considerable talk that other animals of this species would come out of the jungle. As a matter of fact none ever did, but regardless the government increased the size of the constabulary, encouraged the manufacture of weapons, and in other ways took excellent precautionary measures to protect us from carnivores whether two-legged or four-legged.
Chukis-Huaray, Father Antonio and I, had several solemn discussions. I had not yet put forth my increasing conviction that, as evidenced by the slain monster, Nature's riotous profusion, her aberration, her endless and overwhelming variety, was going to ultimately devour us. For the time being it was just as well that I did not, for nothing untoward occurred. The Inca, busy with ruling. Father Antonio even busier, between his Tree of Life grove and parish, and I perhaps the least occupied between my small farm on the outskirts of Achupa and my supervisorial duties with the lowlands-exploration expeditions now being led by Frank, had for several more years little to trouble us.
During this time was organized the public market. It was exclusively an Indian affair in concept; hundreds, even thousands of years Before Holocaust similar common markets had existed throughout Peru and other Latin American countries. Here, everything produced or raised in excess of the craftsman's or farmer's personal needs, was brought for sale or barter. Until we had been in the valley half a century there had actually been very little surplus, and what had been produced for sale had been offered from the homes of owners. But now there was an abundance and in order to congregate the trade area of Achupa within one district the common market was set up.
Market Day was a gala event. Every fifteen days countrymen, craftsmen, merchants, traders, and householders flocked to the centre of town. There was considerable noise, laughter, shouting, even music and singing, and finally, slightly to one side, was the area reserved for our magistrates and officials. These men, voted into office each ten years, heard all complaints, adjusted all disputes, noted each need for new ordinances, and generally governed at the lower level. It was mandatory that each official be on hand, but if he could not because of good and solid reason - such as illness - his elected alternate had to be there. One or the other was obliged under the law to be available to his constituents each fifteen days. It was a good arrangement. Superior, I thought, to the old-time situation where one went to hear one's elected representatives speak and, except for irate letters which were seldom answered and more rarely read, the representative spoke and not his constituents.
It was on, if I recall correctly, the third or fourth Market Day that Father Antonio sought me out and without explaining his reason asked me to come with him to the Tree of Life grove. I went with him and was greeted by a harrowing sight. The stone buildings Father Antonio used for his hybridizing experiments, storehouses and propagation, were situated in the centre of the Tree of Life farm. Beyond them in even rows, normally kept meticulously free of dead-fall limbs and weeds, were the cultivated trees. Each section of the farm had been divided into areas for trees of specific ages and ever since the farm had been established it had been maintained in a scrupulously clean and orderly manner. Now, though, the grove looked like a cyclone had struck it. The older trees had been raked deeply about the trunks, younger trees had been broken, thrown to the ground, uprooted and destroyed, the most wanton destruction lay on every side of where we mutely stood gazing at this calamity.
After an interval of long silence the good padre said simply, "It happened last night some time." He was at that time very near the end of his life, in fact only months away from it, and his dark eyes, sunken now and troubled, seemed to reflect an overwhelming pathos. "There are tracks out there, my friend, nearly as large as those of the animal killed at the PH graves."
We went among the debris, each heartsick at the enormity of this latest catastrophe, for while we had enough of the dried nuts to last the community many years, the work of reclamation would set us back in production at least a generation. All the labour of half a century had been wiped out in a single night.
Father Antonio led me to the site where he had found those footprints and I was struck at once with the similarity here and where we had blown up that other large animal, except that as Father Antonio had said, the imprints were slightly smaller. Feeling weak I sat upon a downed tree and after a while asked the priest to return to town and ask Chukis-Huaray to come at once to the grove, admonishing him too, not to speak of this to anyone else. After he had departed I continued to sit there gazing about me at the ravished trees and did not at once notice the rather large hump of what appeared to be uprooted earth. It was not until I heard a sound coming from the direction of this mound that I remembered that no such mound had previously existed in this carefully graded and cultivated area. I got up and went forward which I think I would not have done had my mind been less obsessed by the ruin of our splendid grove. As it was I was less than fifty feet from the mound when it heaved, shook, and parted to disclose, first, a powerful spiny tail covered with overlapping scales of rusty hue, then a humped back, and finally a flat, broad head with glass-like green-yellow eyes.
The animal had obviously scented me. As it shook free of the earth it swung its head from side to side and I fled.
I recall springing over a number of felled trees but I do not recall stumbling or striking my head, which I must have done because when next I was conscious of things around me I was upon the ground in a tangle of limbs and leaves and beside me sniffing curiously was the colossa-don.
I offered no resistance when he rolled me with his armoured snout although the urge to spring up and run like the devil was overwhelming. Lying as I was it was impossible to see him in proper perspective, besides my head ached (later I sprouted a magnificent lump where I had struck something in falling), but I could see enough to satisfy myself that he was some kind of giant lizard. Finally, evidently satisfied that I was harmless, he turned to the wilting greenery upon which I was lying and began eating. It came over me then that the reason he had not eaten me or at least killed me was because he was not carnivorous, but was instead herbiverous which I suppose I should have otherwise surmised more quickly if I had not been knocked unconscious, and since I offered no threat to him his fighting instincts had not been aroused.
There was some gratification in this realization but right then I would have appreciated its validity more if he had gone away. I lay motionless listening to his jaws grinding over the greenery and began to hope with considerable ardour that Chukis-Huaray and Father Antonio would not come boiling up to do battle until my companion had drifted a little farther off. But, from time to time, the colossadon returned to me, studied me from those peculiar greeny eyes, flicked his tongue at me and nudged me. He was, as I came to know afterwards, possessed of a curiosity nearly equal to his size; anything untowards fascinated him and he would sit by it for hours on end examining, probing, and studying it.
But it dawned on me, in proportion as my terror subsided, that this beast, unlike the former one which we had encountered and destroyed, was not naturally aggressive; was in fact rather passive and, in his own way, quite gentle. Through slitted lids I studied him more closely. His head, although broad and flat, appeared constructed primarily to support massive and powerful jaws. The area usually associated with the brain-case was disproportionately tiny. He therefore could possess very little intelligence and yet the fact that he had determined that I was harmless indicated at least a minimal intelligence. The thing which most interested me by this time was the unknown factor of temper; he had shown, thus far, only curiosity and interest and a certain lack of bellicosity, but when Father Antonio returned, might he not also show an irascible temper? I did not propose to be the guinea pig which would determine this and when he had foraged slowly to a distance of some hundred feet of me I sucked back a big breath, leapt up and ran.
He did not pursue me. When I slowed finally and looked back he was where I had left him, chewing strongly and watching my progress with that peculiar greeny gaze which characterized him so well. A sort of quizzical, interested, wholly unafraid look. I sank down upon a stone bench to catch my breath and for perhaps five minutes we regarded one another, then he went back to grazing.
As I had anticipated, when the good priest returned with Chukis-Huaray the Inca had with him a party of our constabulary corps. They stopped stone-still at sight of the colossadon and did not move while I related my experience with the beast. I had by that time come to several tentative conclusions. For one thing, I was convinced the animal could quite possibly be domesticated; for another, since he was herbiverous, if he were tethered some way along that steadily infringing rank of jungle which threatened our cleared and cultivated lands, he might prove valuable by eating away at what we had to fight constantly with tools and time. And finally, because he was obviously stronger than a dozen llamas or burros, he might prove invaluable as a beast of burden.
Chukis-Huaray did not at once consent to my suggestion but went slowly forward until he and the colossadon were less than fifty feet apart. The animal, noting the Inca's slow advance, had ceased masticating to watch him. When Chukis-Huaray halted the beast considered him a moment longer, then plucked another mouthful of leaves and, chewing away, advanced upon the Inca with a clumsy, short-legged waddle which was impeded by broken tree-trunks and shattered limbs. The Inca set his atlatl with the lance at the ready but did not take a backward step. Father Antonio and I took several of the soldiers off to one side where they had an unimpeded sight of the animal, and yet were in position to fire at such an angle that the Inca was in no danger of being struck. This movement temporarily distracted the colossadon. He paused, switching his attention to us, watched us get into alignment, and when we were no longer moving he started towards the Inca again. When less than ten feet separated them the Inca thrust his lance forward to its full length and touched the colossadon. He stopped, flicked his tongue at the lance, nudged it with that blunt, armoured snout, then fixed his peculiar, shiny stare upon Chukis-Huaray, as though awaiting what was to come next. The Inca moved the spear slowly raking it gently along the beast's side and back. Except for flicking his eyes to the lance and watching its progress along his scales he appeared to neither like nor particularly dislike being touched.
The Inca moved his lance towards the animal's huge and under-slung chest and stroked it there, where the scales were a pale yellowish-ochre colour. This appeared to annoy, or tickle, the colossadon and with a twinkling, blurred movement of his tongue he flicked the lance away. It fell some thirty feet from him in the leaves. Without taking his eyes off the beast Chukis-Huaray called out: "Bring some maize."
Father Antonio dispatched one of the soldiers and during his absence the horse-tall lizard and the large-sized man continued where they were, neither appearing the least fearful of the other. When the maize came I took it forward and was in the act of handing it to Chukis-Huaray when that cleft and lightning-like tongue flashed out and without touching even my fingers, wrenched away a ripe ear of maize. I suppose my face reflected some of the consternation and astonishment I felt because the Inca laughed. Back where the others stood there were also several guarded chuckles.
"Throw it down before him." The Inca ordered, and I complied.
Our great ugly lizard ignored us both and ate every last ear with obvious relish, the sounds of his eating carrying easily as far as where Father Antonio stood, dark eyes beginning to glint with the possibilities this obviously tractable animal presented. The long moment of silence was broken finally when the colossadon, having devoured the last of our offering, unexpectedly thrust forward to within several feet of me with a swiftness I had not thought him capable of, and flicked his tongue into my face. In springing involuntarily backwards I tripped, but scrambled quickly to my feet and retreated. This time the laughter was very loud.
The Inca sent for more corn, retrieved his spear and regarded me with twinkling eyes. "I think you are right," he said. "But we must keep him quietly feeding until some way can be devised for capturing him." He gestured towards the ruined grove. "He must be made to pay for this."
When the additional maize came it was taken forward by a diffident soldier who, upon emerging alive from his encounter, boasted to his companions that the animal liked him.
A runner was sent to town with the news of our unique discovery, and also with instructions to bring back tools and cables.
One of the soldiers suggested erecting a strong corral and baiting the colossadon into it with more maize. Chukis-Huaray doubted that we could build a pen strong enough to hold the animal and so did I. Another man suggested snaring the beast with cables and tying him. When Father Antonio asked if the man whose idea this was would go forth and bind the beast, the man demurred.
"While crowds of people were coming up, and also while we were no nearer to a solution to the problem of capturing our first colossadon, the huge lizard obligingly solved the dilemma for us. He was, by this time, nearly bloated with the amounts of maize the soldiers had brought up and, oblivious to the hundreds of spectators who were gabbling from a safe distance, he lowered himself until his head lay across a mound of leafy debris, dropped a satiny-like inner eyelid over those bright, glassy eyes, and slept.
It took longer to get the men up close to the slumbering gargantua than it did to truss him, actually. Each time he sighed in his sleep the men would drop their chains and cables and run.
The binding itself was aided greatly by a lack of sensitivity on the beast's part. His scaly body, except for the underparts, was so well armoured that he felt only the most prodigious pokes, and this first colossadon ever captured, believe me, was not handled roughly. We encountered the greatest difficulty in securing his short, bowed legs, because they were beneath him. But even this was eventually accomplished.
Chukis-Huaray fashioned a plaited headstall-of-sorts and secured it upon the creature's body with a strong steel cable from one of the lowland ships crossing to a stout tree-trunk. It was in the area of the animal's head that the perspiring men worked most diffidently and carefully. They got ropes around his neck by employing extremely long poles and standing at the very end of them. But in the end our captive was well trussed and we retired some little distance to await his reaction.
Hours passed. Several people wanted to go forward and rouse him with poles. I was opposed to this on the grounds that almost any slumbering creature when startled into wakefulness reacts violently- (My wife used to accuse me of this trait). We continued to sit and wait. Some of the people made cooking fires and prepared meals. Chukis-Huaray sat in deep thought and on the other side of me Father Antonio speculated aloud.
“Perhaps it would have been better," he said, "if we had tied him so tightly that he could not get up. Look you at those great muscles; if he can lunge I think he may escape."
"If he does," I replied, "believe me, Father, he will have to run much faster to catch me again than I have seen him move so far."
The priest chuckled. "There is nothing on this earth," he said, "which is not of nature. I learned that a long time ago."
"Be that as it may," I countered. "Whether Nature creates such animals as this one or not, I have no desire to be eaten by one or trampled to death either, for that matter," and I got to my feet for at that moment the Inca said:
"He is moving."
Indeed he was, but at first he seemed only to be moving his position preparatory to continuing his slumber. He sighed - it was a loud, half-hiss of sound - then he flexed a leg, found it pinioned and flexed harder. This time he raised his head, fully opened his eyes and looked round at the leg, making another tentative kick with it.
He did not at once appear to grasp the significance of those tethers. He looked over where the crowd of people were standing, absolutely silent now, rubbed his nose upon the ground, then twisted his head to gaze steadily at his body for a moment. It was this movement, tightening the headstall and neck-ropes, which evidently roused him to his predicament. He heaved with a lunge and several of our ropes broke immediately. I had personally never doubted but that this would happen and continued to watch the chains and cables which still restrained him.
For a while he stood there leaning into the bonds and examining them, then with a great lurch he went forward, the cables went taut and he fell to his knees. I now expected his greatest struggles but as a matter of fact he seemed neither angry nor upset, rather he seemed puzzled and curious and sought now to push away the cables. Failing in this he turned next to biting the bonds. I doubt if he could have chewed through them but whether he could have or not was another matter for the headstall did not permit him enough freedom to make a real effort. It was the restraint of this binding upon his head which finally evoked wrath. He tried to throw it off, then he emitted a fierce hiss and threw himself from side to side and made short lunges forwards and backwards. The cables and chains held. He tried rooting his head into the ground, tried catching hold of the thing with his lower jaw, then, certain his greatest efforts would now be expended, I watched intently - only to have him evidence far more wisdom than I expected by lying down with the obvious intention of considering this dilemma he found himself in, quietly and calmly. Around us the people murmured approval, even satisfaction and elation at this indication of tractability. Chukis-Huaray came up to me and said, "He seems resigned." I was preparing to agree when one of the men near the beast moved up and gave the lead-rope attached to the headstall a slight pull. At this the apparently docile colossadon exploded into a threshing, hissing, twisting mountain of fury. With unprecedented speed his head darted towards the man and except for those cables about his neck the man would have been smashed. The cables held, the men fled, and our giant lizard broke two large chains as though they had been made of vines. He swayed forward towards us straining to his utmost and a number of spectators retreated still further although those cables about his legs and neck held fast.
He fought with blazing eyes, threshing tail, and hissing breath for perhaps another ten minutes then, as before, settled down to a baleful study of his bonds. But this time too, he fixed us with his brittle glare and I was confident that, at long last, he associated us some way with his predicament
The Inca sent men forward with long poles and a tempting array of fresh maize, sugarcane, and fruit. But the colossadon paid no attention whatever. He was sulking.
I was, at this time, reminded of the fable I had heard over a hundred years past, in my distant youth, concerning the Roman soldier who had captured a Hun, and when told to bring his prisoner forward, replied that he could not because his prisoner would not let him. We were in a similar fix; we had captured our colossadon, but he would not let us go near him. Father Antonio evidently was entertaining similar thoughts because he said to me: "When I was a boy I read that people used to domesticate wild elephants with the help of tame elephants. But I don't recall ever reading how the first wild elephant was tamed."
It was wise Chukis-Huaray who came up with the solution we adopted. We did not attempt to gentle the colossadon at all. We simply left a detail on hand to keep him supplied with provender and left him where he lay, hoping in this manner to convince him over a period of time that we meant him no harm and also that we were a dependable supply of food.
What we did not properly evaluate was his enormous strength, and it appears now that even during his brief period of rage he had not employed his full power. Neither, never having had prior experience, did we take into consideration his craftiness nor his patience. He lay in the wreckage of Father Antonio's grove for a full month, growing fatter daily as he devoured everything our attending relays of men could provide. In fact, during this time, he lost all curiosity concerning human beings and at least in this respect we were correct, for he now became totally dependant upon us and awaited each arrival of fresh food with anticipatory interest.
Meanwhile, around him, Father Antonio's workers went about repairing insofar as possible the damage he had caused, and in time some of the workmen became sufficiently familiar with the beast to scratch him, announce their coming with whistles which he came to understand and look forward to, and treat him as a sort of pet. It was this familarity which encouraged the keepers to assert a degree of carelessness and one night, when no one was on hand, the colossadon slipped off his loosened cables and returned to the jungle - or at least his initial tracks led in that direction when the attendants discovered that he was missing the following morning and raced to Achupa with this news.
Search-parties were immediately organized, I was routed from my office at the base of the sun-god-temple pyramid, and at the height of the excitement Chukis-Huaray came striding through the throng of noisy people with a countryman and stopped where I stood. With a nod at the farmer Chukis-Huaray moved aside and the countryman said breathlessly: "He is at your daughter's house, my lord. He has his head inside a window and he is squatting there."
I looked at the Inca, dumbfounded. “Is he speaking of the giant lizard?" I asked. Chukis-Huaray nodded. "What is he doing there; has he harmed anyone?"
""We will find out," replied the Inca, and signalled for the constables to follow him.
My daughter Isobel and her husband had a farm adjoining my own farm. South of their place was the home and farm of my grandchild Mathilde and her husband (who had by this time made me a great-grandfather twice over). It seems that Mathilde had been visiting her mother - Frank was in the lowlands finishing up his work of creating a seaworthy fleet of ships for us - and the two women had been baking stuffed peppers when, without any warning, the colossadon, undoubtedly scenting cookery and totally unafraid of human beings by this time - in fact believing they were a fine source of provender for him - came out of the jungle behind the farm, solemnly crossed the fields and poked his unprepossessing head through a window of Isobel's stone house. Isobel had promptly fainted and Mathilde, by the time we arrived, had fed the creature every single baked pepper they had prepared in addition to everything else in Isobel's kitchen the creature would accept and was quite exhausted from her efforts, as well as terrified by that out-sized head in the room with her.
From that day forward we encountered no further serious difficulty in domesticating, or perhaps I should say, completing the domesticating of our first colossadon. Our next problem was to devise some way to keep the creature from eating us out of house and home, crops and groves, and this too was solved in time by means of suitably padded hobbles of steel cable. Afterwards, the colossadon was enticed to the jungle fringe and left there to satisfy his quite appalling appetite upon that objectionable greenery.

CHAPTER NINE
MATHILDE later told me that if her mother had not been lying senseless on the kitchen floor she would have fled without a backward glance, and Isobel, when I later took her out to watch the men training the first colossadon to haul loads, shuddered all over again at sight of the creature, and I will confess that despite his really quite tractable disposition and almost comical personality, he was anything but a pleasing or reassuring sight until one became accustomed to him.
The hobbling of our giant lizard did not prove entirely satisfactory because he was endowed with powerful olfactory senses and very often left the jungle-edge, worked his way laboriously to some countryman's lush fields and fed there placidly until irate farmers came to lead him back to the jungle again. In the end, since it would have been impracticable if not impossible to erect any type of corral or pen to hold him, we dug a huge hole in the ground, made a ramp into, and out of, it, and by means of a cleverly devised doorway with impaling spikes facing inward from it, finally solved the problem of our pet's nocturnal maraudings. Moreover, so long as he was amply provided with provender he was content to stay in his large, deep hole. In fact, during the months of lengthened darkness he even showed a disinclination to come out and very often had to be starved out, but this never failed because he was, first and last, a slave to appetite.
But at least once during his first months in captivity he displayed an interest in something besides food. One early spring morning his attendants came into Achupa to announce that we now had two colossadons. It appears that our docile male had enticed a female only slightly smaller than he was, to join him in his pen. The female gave the animal-handlers even less trouble however, and we were within a short period of time possessed of two beasts of burden whose combined strength was easily equal to the power of an old-time diesel railroad engine.
Two events occurring simultaneously the following year kept the interest in Tihuantisuyo high. The first, one was the discovery that the female colossadon had laid a number of eggs which the male had carelessly sought to cover. Each egg was the size of the hewn blocks used in house construction, which is to say about four feet high and perhaps three feet long. They did not have a shell as is customary with eggs but were encased by a spongy membrane of some sort, grey-white in colour.
This event was particularly hailed by the people in the southern part of the country who had been trying without success to secure a few colossadons of their own to assist in their land-clearing programmes. We of Achupa of course agreed to give them half the litter when it hatched.
The second event which occurred at this time was the return of a very strong exploration party we had sent out some time before, with the electrifying news that there was a large concentration of people some two hundred miles north of Chincana at a place they called Chavin.
If it now seems odd that we had not discovered these people before let me explain that we had exhausted the fuel supply for our radio station some years earlier, the thing had fallen into decay because it was no longer of any practical use to us, and additionally, since the battle with the PHs, and the appearance of enormous animals in the jungle beyond Chincana, specific orders had been given that no hunting parties were to explore except when accompanied by constables or when sent forth by the authorities.
Because we were now producing all the food - and more - than was needed, hunting parties no longer went into the jungle except, as I said, with official sanction and with a proper armed escort, and even then they certainly had never gone any two hundred miles overland.
The purpose of the strong party which had been sent out and which had discovered the Chavinists had been to ascertain if there was any way for Frank's fleet to be gotten closer to Chincana, perhaps via some unknown river, than the lowlands. However, in the excitement of discovery this purpose was temporarily forgotten, and the Chavin people who returned with our party were plied with questions. They said they were the descendants of early-day people who had escaped the Holocaust along the northern coasts, had subsequently assimilated Indians who had come out of the interior valleys to join them, and although they had flourished for a generation, the jungle now was about to overwhelm them entirely.
They had no Trees of Life, no wise Inca ruler, and no verdant, beautiful valley like Chincana, and finally, they had never possessed any radio equipment and therefore had had no more idea of our existence than we had of theirs. When taken to see our colossadons they recoiled in fright saying that it was these same creatures which were destroying their farms. They had made no attempts to cultivate the animals; had in fact been waging a losing war against them. They further described another animal, a carnivore, which we all recognized as belonging to the species of the one we had dynamited, saying that this creature abounded in their country until they had taken to retiring at night into a huge and ancient stone fortress in their area and remaining indoors throughout the night.
They too had been attacked by the PHs, and, as with us, had driven them off. But, we were told, there was a fermented drink made by them which had been handed down in recipe form from their forefathers, former rough miners in that upland district, and it caused frequent debauches and brawls among them until it had been banned; even so, we were told, and despite a strong constabulary corps fashioned along the lines of our own force, there continued to be irregular outbursts of drunken savagery.
We were not too favourably impressed with what we heard, particularly when the informants explained that of late their people had been visited in broad daylight by a variety of winged creature as large as a big dog, which mangled people in the fields eating their flesh and drinking their blood.
Their numbers were considerably less than ours, being not in excess of one thousand souls, and while we were not averse to their plea that we join forces it did not appear that this could be very readily accomplished. Certainly we had not the manpower to force a passage through the jungle for over two hundred miles and patrol it long enough for the Chavinists to migrate to Tihuantisuyo against the mammals and natural obstacles which would challenge us on every side. Moreover, in council we were not wholly entranced with the idea of importing drunks and brawlers into Tihuantisuyo which thus far had none of this kind of people. Finally, when the report of the exploring expedition was heard, it seemed anything but feasible to reach Chavin because, although the exploring party had intended to push on farther, it had been unable to do so, the leader said, in the face of the increasingly tangled and towering jungle and also because of the fierce, over-sized animals it had encountered.
We were reasonably certain that perhaps not too far distant from Chavin northerly, there was ocean and beaches, but neither the Chavinists nor the leader of our exploring party could confirm this, and except for the appearance of my son-in-law in Achupa at this time, freshly returned from a sea voyage, we would likely have abandoned any notion of combining forces with the Chavin people.
At the same time Frank appeared someone put forth the suggestion that we use our colossadons to force passage to Chavin. This plan, however, was scarcely considered. In the first place the colossadons, although tractable, were too slow. In the second place their size offered no deterrent to attack from equally as large and infinitely fiercer carnivores, and finally, none of us had ever seen a colossadon fight and it could be doubted, so readily had they become docile, that they actually would be much protection against attack.
Frank's recent voyage gave substance at least to the wish of the Chavinists for amalgamation; he said he had mapped the entire coastal headlands for six hundred miles north and was reasonably certain that we could anchor one of his four seaworthy vessels within ten miles of where Chavin was shown to exist on the old-time maps and charts.
Frank's report was greeted with general enthusiasm and cheering. I, possessed of the same strong misgivings I had had earlier, visited Chukis-Huaray privately and we two (Father Antonio had died the previous summer) discussed the chances for success of a sea-going relief expedition, the advisability of bringing liquor-distillers to Tihuantisuyo, and the overall problem of increasing the nation at a time when the jungles were actually beginning to make some headway in their ceaseless battle to take over Chincana. Chukis-Huaray's final decision was for succour; I dropped my objections and turned at once, with Frank, the Inca, and others, to organizing the relief parties. Needless to relate the Chavinists among us were greatly pleased
The matter of ships crews was left entirely to Frank. In other matters we leaders co-operated towards the end that when we were at last ready to go down into those unhealthy, steaming lowlands again, we had everything in the manner of supplies that would be needed made fast to our colossadons.
This was the first trip out of Chincana for either beast since captivity and they enjoyed it immensely. Ploughing through jungle so thick the sun never touched through it to the ground, those giant lizards often carried men on their backs and tails without seeming difficulty and literally ate their weight in both cases cross country and down to the eternal fog-lands where Frank and his men had created their docks.
I had not personally visited Frank's shipyard since some time prior to the passing of Father Antonio because I had taken over our lamented good friend's duties along with my other offices and had not possessed the time. It was therefore with considerable surprise that I found Frank's four vessels not only very shipshape in appearance but actually glistening with fresh coats of paint. His crewmen too, appeared thoroughly capable and seasoned; in fact they swaggered with a gait I found not only amusing but nostalgic; I had, in generations past, seen the identical bearing in the B.H. world's major sea-ports.
I did not interfere in any way with what Frank ordered until the question arose of hoisting the colossadons aboard, then I took a vehemently opposing stand and was supported by the Inca. I had no doubt but that the ships could easily accommodate our animals nor did I argue that they would prove invaluable for bringing dozens of Chavinists to the seashore thus expediting their exodus. But I did refuse to accede to the ideas of those who said no harm would come to the creatures and they would be more valuable with the expedition than at home. I told Frank that if the Chavinists could not traverse ten miles of jungle to effect their salvation, then they were not the kind of people we needed in Tihuantisuyo in the first place, and in the second place if anything happened to our only two colossadons we would be unable to keep the jungle out of Chincana. As I have said the Inca supported me and the colossadons were not taken along.
I did not accompany the ships and therefore what I relate of Frank's expedition is not eye-witness knowledge. The ships had no trouble in locating the headlands closest to Chavin from their charts, but the men of our crews did encounter a definite reluctance on the part of the Chavinists who had accompanied them to go ashore and help hack a path inland. So thoroughly cowed had these men become from ceaseless peril and unending disunion among their people that, as Frank reported to me later, they had ample cunning but no courage to speak of at all and went ashore only when bodily seized and put into the shore-boats.
Frank's men were hard put to hack a trail nor was their passage made any easier by the steady up-hill climb to Chavin. They were attacked only once, it seems, and that was on the outskirts of the village where a number of large bats or flying carnivores of some kind descended upon them from the overhead gloom of the forested jungle. Having firearms however, the report more than the bullets causing consternation amongst their attackers, they easily drove the flying animals away - then had to spend a full hour scouring the underbrush for their Chavinists before proceeding.
In the city itself where they were received with considerable clamour and jubilation, being nearly overwhelmed as saviours, Frank's men kept their ranks dosed and, as I had specifically instructed, did not drink anything offered them nor permitted themselves to be borne away separately.
The land around Chavin was poor and encroaching jungle had advanced steadily despite the efforts of the people until it stood on the very outskirts of the city. The people had an inordinately large supply of firearms and ammunition, otherwise it appears they would have perished long before. But a steady diet of meat had done little to improve them.
They had no real leaders either. There was a council-of-sorts but it had no power of enforcement hence the people did generally as they pleased and while there were many people, actually a majority, who were worthwhile and conscientious, the minority of shiftless people prevented this better class from accomplishing anything more than organizing the common defence.
Frank's people remained at Chavin three days. In that time they shot and killed 160 carnivorous flying bats, one of which they preserved and brought back with them. In that time too they organized the exodus, selected the strongest men for pack-service, recruited an excellent corps of riflemen, and encountered trouble only once - when a dissenter refused to make but one trip to the coast. Frank called upon the council of Chavin to punish the man; when it half-heartedly directed disciplinary measures Frank had the man seized, spread-eagled and lashed. There was no more trouble.
On the trip back to the lowlands Frank's scours came back hurriedly when less than half the distance had been covered to report tracks of large animals ahead. They had heard, but had not seen, these animals, Frank went swiftly ahead relegating the grenadiers he had trained against just this emergency to flanking and skirmishing position. But it was the head of the column that finally came upon the creatures, and Frank was with it, certainly not eager for an encounter but prepared for it and resolute in his determination. He told me the animals were identical in appearance - and smell - to that one we had blown up at the PH trenches. There were seven of them and they advanced at once upon Frank's men. The first three were blown asunder by the grenades of Frank's crewmen and the others immediately fell upon their still quivering comrades evidently driven wild by the smell of torn flesh and blood, and began devouring them. While they were thus engaged Frank's men killed the remaining four.
This engagement un-nerved the Chavinists and Frank was the balance of the morning getting them lined out again. He told me that he did not believe he would be able to get the men to return to their city and bring out the supplies they had there, but after they had spent a night on shipboard, had been well fed and slept below decks free of fear, they did in fact return in company with Frank's men, and bring out everything Frank deemed valuable. In fact they made two more trips and did not once encounter either natural difficulties nor unnatural ones.
The return trip was without event but when these newcomers were disembarked and saw the colossadons eating idly, awaiting to be packed, except for the fact that Frank's crewmen were behind them they would have returned at once to the ships.
Before they were escorted to Chincana the Inca addressed them. (I had to interpret; because Spanish had been the predominant language of their forefathers they did not understand our language - or dialect - except to catch an occasional word.)
Chukis-Huaray told them they were welcome; that we all worked in Tihuantisuyo; that they would be aided in claiming land from the jungle; that the first one of them caught fermenting liquor or drinking it would be exiled into the jungle to die; that we would tolerate no slovenliness, laziness, dishonesty, or theft. In turn their leader went forward, accepted the Inca's terms for their resettlement, and laid at the feet of Chukis-Huaray (with noticeable relief) the symbol of his chieftancy - an ornately decorated Spanish vestment which upon closer examination, I discovered had once been the embroidered robe of a high priest of the Catholic Church. I thought what Father Antonio's reaction must have been had he seen this filthy, ragged robe, and winced.
The trip back to our valley was marked primarily by the exclamations of those people from Chavin. They were amazed that we had a road to the lowlands and dared use it. They cried out frequently when the shadows of large birds fell across them and crouched down. At the cleft, beyond which they could see Chincana, they were dumbfounded: a few wept and all gave thanks; they told us repeatedly that they never dreamed civilization had survived nor that there were still so many people in the world.
In some ways their arrival in Tihuantisuyo was ennervating; I was reminded of our own early days in the valley. Building, land-clearing, bustle and activity of every kind went forward at a great pace. The Chavinists mingled freely with our people and within a very short period had learned our language. In other ways Chukis-Huaray and I found, privately, that their coming had perhaps saved a remnant of the species from extermination but at a considerable price; we found our troubles and problems doubled - no, trebled - and our days filled from dawn till dark with planning, ordering, projecting and supervising.
And if this wasn't enough Frank came forward now with an ambitious project, bent upon sailing forth upon the unknown seas, for purposes of exploration. This brought to light a matter of which I had not been ignorant but which I had not felt was vitally important to the business of survival and propagation: the matter of proper navigation.
Until now the simple Incan Intihuatana had served our purpose admirably for computing time, but, as several of Frank's seamen who understood such matters exclaimed, the Intihuatana totally lacked the precision necessary to ship navigation. It would, they further asserted, be suicidal to attempt any overseas voyages unless they could make a series of astronomical observations on the sun and stars, bringing their astronomical data up to date. To determine longitude, for instance, they said they must have the accurate time and ours was merely an approximation; that the reconditioned navigational instruments they had found on the ships, and all former rules of navigation, had been based on the B.H. solar system.
The problem here was that we had none of the observatory instruments necessary to calibrate Frank's salvaged instruments, and although we made efforts one way and another, short of actually undertaking an expedition to the old Organization of American States' observatory, we could raise no one in our community who was sufficiently educated in astronomy to help Frank and his navigators.
The obvious alternative then was another expedition, this time to the site of the old OAS establishment. I was not entirely sympathetic to this for two reasons, despite Frank's insistent overtures. In the first place if, as a result of his overseas voyages, he found more destitute people, there was no room for them in Tihuantisuyo. In the second place, while the perils attendant upon locating the old OAS observatory would be great at any time, in the last half century Nature's running amuck had produced dangers and obstacles even a strong expedition would find nearly insurmountable; for many years now it had been almost impossible to penetrate the jungle for more than a few miles, and I believed that even if he were able to surmount the perils, it was highly possible that he would find the instruments he sought corroded and battered beyond repair.
But to make a long story short, I was over-ruled, Frank undertook the expedition, located the observatory -found it inhabited by skeletons - secured the instruments and returned with a loss of only three men. He calibrated his instruments and in due course sailed away.
I kept my misgivings to myself and as it turned out my silence proved golden, which convinced me that wisdom may come to the "elderly" but it may visit them under another name, that of excessive caution, because if Frank had not gone exploring I would not now be in a position to write this narrative.

CHAPTER TEN
I ACCOMPANIED Frank on his third voyage, caught up I suppose by his enthusiasm and also by my own curiosity concerning the world as it had become. Except for Frank and his crewmen none of us had been beyond the boundaries of our own immediate locality since B.H.
At the time we embarked I was prepared for many surprises but had no inkling that this trip was to alter the lives of our people, and of other people as well, for all time.
For some days I was occupied with an endeavour to classify the various headlands we sighted, but without Frank's navigational aids I wouldn't have known any of them at all. Obviously they had once all been inland mountain chains and therefore, while appearing on the old geographical charts, did not appear on the navigational maps at all.
We dared not approach most of these sightings because of the hundred-foot waves. However, from time to time we encountered lesser landfalls and made occasional landings, usually in search of fresh water and food, but at no time did we encounter other human beings.
This sailing a seemingly endless green sea left me with an eerie feeling. Until we had left the tropics behind there was a constant fog-bank over those steaming lowlands and except for the straining and clanking of our vessel the world was steeped in a bottomless hush. The water was murky, gently heaving but generally, except for huge rollers sometimes miles wide, was ideal for cruising.
I do not remember exactly how long we had been at sea nor did I make an observation at the time of our encounter with the strange ship; I was too flabbergasted. It was a beautifully clear morning though, and I was standing at the rail watching a large island bow-down on the horizon when, emerging from a sheltered bay I saw a large vessel put off heading straight for us. Even at that distance I could see she was much larger than our ship. I called Frank but he was on the bridge and had already sighted the vessel. Word of course spread quickly and our crewmen dashed forward to stare in stony silence.
It was inconceivable that another vessel was afloat upon that utterly deserted waste of water. For weeks we had seen absolutely nothing which indicated there were other human beings on earth.
Frank came down where I was standing and without a word handed me his binoculars. I could plainly see that the decks and railings of the oncoming ship were crowded with people; that they were running about, gesticulating, and evidently crying out. There were even some who had fallen to their knees. I lowered the glasses. Our reaction to this apparition had been one of wonder, purely and simply, but across the water the strangers seemed obsessed with a frenzy of jubilation, of thanksgiving.
The ship was larger than our vessel and had obviously once been a leviathan of the trade routes. She was rusted now and in what appeared to my inexperienced eyes as very poor shape. Her hull rode sluggishly in the water and wallowed with unmistakable ungainliness.
"They're signalling," Frank said, and pointed to the bridge where a man with semaphore signals was wig-wagging with small hand-flags at a great pace. "They want to send over small-boats."
Observing the frantic activity around the stranger's davits I said dryly, "It won't be necessary to answer them." And indeed it wasn't long before Frank had gone to order down our landing ladder the stranger's dinghies were in the water and splashing towards us.
When the first boat came alongside I peered down at the men in it. They were dark-skinned people; in pigmentation equal to the darkest men of our crew. They were on an average finely-built, handsome men, with Anglo-Saxon rather than Indian features, and as they swarmed aboard the confusion, the elation, the babble of talk and shouting and laughter, with neither side understanding the other, reminded me of Market Day at Tihuantisuyo.
It was some time before our people and the strangers calmed down, and with good reason. Both parties had long since accepted the fact that they alone were the earth's sole surviving human beings. Moreover it had never seriously occurred to any of us that there might be another seagoing vessel on earth, I don't suppose that ever before in the world's history had there been such an epochal, unexpected and mutually astonishing high-seas meeting.
It came over me gradually as the shouting died down, that the strangers spoke English, and this too, amazed me for obviously they were not of English stock, at least not originally anyway although their features definitely could have been. Frank brought a tall, stalwart man of perhaps forty-five years of age over where I was standing. He was their leader. I shook hands with him and guided him to the bridge. In the comparative silence of the navigational room we sat down and he told me his story, which proved as strange as ours, and he told it in a tongue that brought a rush of nostalgia over me.
Many years ago (you can find the entire story in the B.H. histories) the crew of a British warship mutinied and settled upon a small Pacific island known afterwards as Pitcairn Island. During the subsequent years these men established a settlement, married the indigenous females of the islands, prospered and increased. My informant was a descendent of these people, as were nearly all the people who had remained upon the strange ship.
At the time the moon had run wild a large combination trading and passenger ship had been lying off Pitcairn Island, which was in those days a regular port on route from New Zealand to Panama. The sea around Pitcairn Island, fortunately, was of a tremendous depth, and as the seas had dropped the ship had dropped with them, and the islanders, seamen all, despite their terror, had recognized instantly that when the seas returned their island would be swept bare, completely submerged, and had rushed to their beaches. Hundreds of course had perished, being unable to launch their smaller vessels in time, but something like a hundred of them had managed to reach the big ship and board her. They had at once headed for the open sea before their vessel could be grounded by those receding waters, had managed by concentrating every effort on making speed, to follow the waters' trough into its rising billows and eventually, quite miraculously, had breasted the initial froth of that returning maelstrom and had in fact gotten well away from land before the impact of those racing waters had created the immense tidal waves. They came perilously close to being swept inland and swamped but their distance from land, where the impact had been greatest, saved them, and although beaten mercilessly for weeks, after having survived the initial holocaust they had only to concentrate on keeping clear of land and manning their pumps to feel reasonably sure of escaping destruction.
Tumultuous waves, terrific cyclones and tempests flung the ship about at will. The crewmen fought without rest for weeks on end to keep her head into the prevailing winds and in the end they won their wild battle for life. Only, the captain told me, to discover that their supplies were limited and unless they could replenish them they would succumb to starvation. They tried fishing, but had no luck. They cut rations and when the seas began to subside cruised desperately in search of land. They did sight islands, but could not approach and because of those mountainous tides dared not attempt putting out boats. In the end help came from an unexpected source. They found a number of half-submerged, foundered ships and at great peril secured from them both food and fuel. In this fashion they had existed the first hundred days.
When the seas ultimately subsided they steamed hopefully for the Galapagos - only to find that those prodigious waves had completely denuded them, and worse, where they thought it feasible to affect a landing, there was nothing to land for; a dozen fire-belching volcanoes were all that remained of the Galapagos Isles.
The survivors had known - roughly - where they were; off the coast of South America; but none of them, ever before having been there were unable to recognize any of the towering peaks and being afraid to trust the ship's charts had stood well out to sea. The currents and winds having altered too made the vessel's charts additionally valueless and try as their captain did to find a lighthouse - anything at all he could use for orientation - he had no luck whatever.
The islanders drifted aimlessly for thousands of miles. Their ship, as time passed, became barnacle-encrusted and overgrown with twisted masses of trailing seaweed. Her boilers eventually gave trouble and her seams leaked. For days at a time she drifted sluggishly without responding to the helmsman and the people on board were convinced they had survived the Holocaust only to perish aboard their disintegrating hulk.
They had been existing in this manner nearly a year when land was sighted. It was mountainous near the coast but plainly to be seen inland were rolling hills and beautiful upland meadows. Great cliffs bisected by fjords and rivers led inland. The land was green, blessed with large trees, flowers, and tall grasses.
The captain made his way up one of those wide rivers and beached his ship between two vine-draped cliffs. He did not anticipate ever leaving land again. The people stripped their vessel of nearly everything on it and made a settlement in a wide valley, convinced they would never again take to the sea.
Time passed, as it has a way of doing, and the people prospered. In their temperate zone there was game aplenty, fish to spare and the earth yielded bountiful crops year after year. Life became easy and idyllic. The colony rapidly increased. The older people died, were buried, and with them of course went the vivid memories of the past. There was, as with us at Tihuantisuyo, a Tribunal of Justice and a Council of Elders. In fact, in nearly all their phases of development, they had paralleled our own progress.
It was the third generation, of which my informant was a member being the grandson of that first ship’s captain, which had turned with curiosity to the sea again. It had taken them, he said, three years to refloat the old wreck which had brought his grandfather to their country, and they had undertaken only a few short excursions on the vessel when we came along.
From the very first, he also said, his people had been puzzled by what land they had found. According to the old ship's charts it was in a location where there was only open sea. A few people had held that it was a new land thrown up from the bottom of the sea. But both his father and grandfather, he stated, had pointed out that this was on the face of it quite impossible; the trees and verdure had been above salt-water for many hundreds of years. This mystery, he said, had not been resolved until his own time; in fact not until he and his sailors had undertaken their initial sea voyages, cruising cautiously along the coastlands seeking to circumnavigate their country. They found a half-ruined structure upon a promontory which examination showed to be an old lighthouse. It stood upon a headland some three thousand feet above the sea and in it, among other things, they found old maps which showed their discovery to be the ancient lighthouse of Cape Pillar, the beacon which many years past had guided mariners to the entrance of Magellan Straits. Their country then, was old-time Patagonia, and the lighthouse was on the north-western extremity of it, and beyond, where once had been a great landmass, looked upon distant, fog-shrouded peaks with an unbroken sea in all directions. Their country then, was the archipelago which had once extended southward from the Straits of Magellan to the Antarctic Ocean!
On the following day a second discovery had been made. Sailing round a point of land the explorers had come into sight of a long, steeply shelving beach, and above the waves partially concealed by a grove of very old oak and cedar trees, was a village. Smoke rose above bark roofed houses, there were a number of canoes in an inlet and people came to the cliffs' edges to stare down at the ship. They were attired as savages, in the skins of animals, and they showed neither hostility nor fright. They turned out to be indigenous Patagonians but not the miserable old-time creatures once known as Alekaluts, Yaghans or Onas, but rather descendants of another tribe known in the days of my youth as Tuelches, a tractable, intelligent, and larger people.
Filled with news of their discoveries the explorers returned to their own town accompanied by some of the Tuelches and forever laid at rest the question of where - in the world - they were, and this of course explained why there was a tidal rise of barely forty feet. It also explained the vegetation, the pine and cedar forests of a temperate zone, and the lack of the varieties of huge dangerous beasts which had come to inhabit our own Tihuantisuyo.
The discovery of the Tuelches, alive and hearty, prompted a belief that there must be other survivors of the Holocaust too, for while these native Patagonians were intelligent enough, in former times they had not been civilized or educated, and if they could survive, perhaps more progressive people also could. At least, my informant told me, this was the thinking of his people at the time we had appeared, but thus far they had done nothing to prove or disprove their notions in this field.
When I had written down everything my informant had imparted to me, and Frank was anxious to go with the Pitcairn-Patagonians to their country, I concluded my journal and went along.
The land, I found, was beautiful, productive, and very extensive. Because, I suppose, Patagonia had never been extensively settled, there was now an abundance of game and a profusion of succulent growth second to none I have ever before seen B.H. or A.H. We spent nearly a month in that lovely country. I spoke before the Patagonian Council of Elders; told them of Tihuantisuyo, of the Chavinists we had succoured, and of our Trees of Life. They listened with great interest to my explanation of our form of government; they even discussed my description of our colossadons with solemn credulity; but of the Trees they expressed more doubt than amazement and since I had none of the nuts with me to exhibit all I could do was invite some of them to return to Chincana with us. They agreed to select representatives to go back with us and while they did this I continued to explore their country.
They of course, being in a temperate zone, had no jungles, no giant carnivores, no plagues of insects, and their climate was equable, invigorating, and balmy; they rarely ever had humid hot days and they could grow wheat, grains of all kinds, vegetables and fruits which, in Tihuantisuyo were nearly impossible to cultivate, and which, when brought forth at great labour, did not often survive attacks from nocturnal pests of one kind and another. Finally, while we were confined to one large valley and had to wage ceaseless warfare against that encroaching jungle, the Patagonians possessed hundreds of miles of open, rolling country capable of supporting millions of people. Fond as I had become of Tihuantisuyo I nevertheless for some years now had been very conscious of its very definite limitations and of its steadily increasing perils to our species. By comparison Patagonia was to my mind exactly as Chincana had originally appeared to me when we had resided at Rincon: it was, I thought, the answer to the growing need we had for a better climate, more land, and a greater future.
The Patagonians called their country "Pacifica", and while I was among them I came to know these "Pacificans" rather intimately. I found them to be a great improvement over the only other humans we had encountered - the Chavinists. They were cheerful, industrious, honest, and pious in about the same degree that our people were. They were making too, a steady progress towards civilized adaptability to the changed world.
We could, I thought, form a commonwealth-of-sorts. We both had ships and the language barrier was nothing, really, and we certainly had need of each other. The reason I thought this at the time was because I did not believe Chukis-Huaray or any great number of our people could ever be persuaded to abandon Tihuantisuyo and resettle in Pacifica, furthermore, although events proved otherwise, I am firm in the conviction to this day that except for the Moon Children, Chukis-Huaray and others never would have consented to leave our Andean community.
Finally, laden with presents and accompanied by a rather large entourage of Patagonians, we set sail for home. We left seven of our crewmen at Pacifica's capital, each man, according to Frank, volunteering for this duty as the result of the never-to-be-underestimated influences of lovely Patagonian girls. It was, I felt, an auspicious start for our freshly-established "international relations".

CHAPTER ELEVEN
As I had anticipated, when we returned to Chincana and related all that we had seen, our people were greatly interested and properly impressed, but when I hinted at the benefits of mass-migration I was instantly faced with a solidly negative reaction. As Chukis-Huaray said publicly and in council, Tihuantisuyo was our home, our land, our nation. Here lay our interests, our ties, our life-long associations. We could not seriously consider abandoning our city of Achupa and the smaller villages, our fair farmlands and our homes. Moreover, too, for the Inca was the land of his people, of his ancestors for hundreds of generations, for countless centuries, and oddly this mutant patriotism, brought on by the mingling of our bloodlines, by our amalgamated religion, came to the surface now and at least in my eyes seemed perhaps the strangest of all reasons for those among us with blue eyes, light complexions and fair hair, to wish to remain in Peru.
I did not propose to make an issue of it and told Chukis-Huaray privately of this. He replied to the effect that he had never once doubted but that I would be selfless if the occasion arose to demand it of me. Then he said that he too had been considering the many limitations to our continued growth and expansion over the years - which surprised me - and came up with a suggestion that appeared logical to me. Take, he said, as many volunteers as wished to go, and lead them to Pacifica. This would drain off some of Tihuantisuyo's surplus population and it would also bind the Pacificans closely to us so that in the end we might emerge, as I had suggested, into a commonwealth. I agreed instantly with this and within ten days of my arrival back in our valley was making lists of volunteers anxious to return with me to Pacifica.
Mostly, the people who came forward prepared to leave Tihuantisuyo forever and establish a new life in a foreign land, were younger people. Nearly all were married couples but there were a number of adventuresome young men without attachments as well. When the lists reached five hundred people I closed them and instructed Frank to prepare his ships for the voyage.
Five hundred emigrants did not appreciably deplete Tihuantisuyo's surplus population but it was a start and I was confident within the next few years the migrations would greatly increase. All that would be required to fire the imaginations at home would be the tales of these pioneers trickling back to Chincana, recounting favourably the conditions they found in their new home. I had no idea at all that other forces would shortly increase this trickle of migrating humanity into a floodtide of terrified Tihuantisuyans so anxious to leave the tropics that Frank's crewmen would actually have to use clubs to keep them from swamping our four ships. But then, at this time there was still no knowledge among us of the Moon Children.
I accompanied the first contingent of emigrants to Pacifica. They were greeted joyfully by the Patagonians, aided in establishing themselves in the villages and upon the farmlands, and there was a degree of harmony I suppose has only very rarely existed before in history among strange peoples, but one must never lose sight of the basic fact that in those early days the uppermost thought in all minds was re-establishing the species, in strengthening it, propagating it and making sure that it would survive. There was some disharmony, naturally, but it was neither serious nor permitted to flourish and in the end, when Frank and I embarked for the return trip, it was with a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
We had not been gone a long time, actually, and though we tarried perhaps longer than was necessary in order to complete plans for more emigrants, and to rest, when we finally returned to Tihuantisuyo it was as though we were coming to a place we had once known well, which was, except for familiar landmarks, quite changed.
Our lowland docks were deserted and the inland trail to Chincana was beginning to show where the jungle was closing in again. In the valley itself we encountered no one at first, though it was broad daylight, until we came almost to the environs of Achupa. There, we were escorted hurriedly to the Inca's residence and found Chukis-Huaray hollow-eyed and despondent He had not, he informed us, had any sleep for several weeks, and he explained why: because of the Moon Children.
They were called Moon Children because of their weird, diaphanous appearance, but what they actually were or where they had really come from, we did not know. The name, though, did not seem illogical; until their appearance in Tihuantisuyo there had never before appeared anything like them on earth and therefore it was a reasonably fair assumption to say that whether they came from the moon or not, certainly the moon's having run wild was responsible for their appearance.
No one ever ascertained either, when they first appeared. An amateur astronomer in the valley said later that he had observed a strange mist vapour above one of the continental masses on the moon and it was shortly after this report that the first Moon Children were seen in Tihuantisuyo, But for all anyone really knew the mist on the moon could have been simple steam or a heavy cloud for that matter.
All we know of a certainty is that the Moon Children came, like the PH's, that corpse-eating monstrous carnivore we had dynamited, the collosadons and the winged monsters of Chavin, suddenly and without warning; but with this difference: where before we had met and conquered each of those other perils, the Moon Children were the most uncanny and grave peril to our species ever before known and we could never devise an adequate defence against them.
They had as a matter of fact appeared in Chincana very shortly after that column of pale vapour had been seen descending from the moon. (A number of our scientists speculated that until the moon's increased rotation had disclosed earth to the far side of the moon, presumably where the Moon Children had resided, they had not known of earth; but after seeing it, they had come down to us. If this seemed far-fetched it was certainly less so to us than the substance of the Moon Children, who were totally unbelievable even after we saw them).
The original encounter between our people and the Moon Children occurred at night. I think now that a number of people saw them simultaneously. I know when I first saw the things I was not vastly impressed; the jungle had been spawning strange varieties of life for too long to overwhelm me any longer. Moreover, in spite of what I had been told, the things did not look dangerous to humans nor interested in either our livestock or crops.
I saw my first Moon Children hovering above some trees at the edge of the jungle. The moon had just sunk beyond the western horizon and a faint glowing light hung over the valley outlining all dark objects, such as trees, buildings, grazing animals, and the distant city. Above the dark mass of jungle what might have been a transparent mist, such as one saw often rising above the cooling dampness of that jungle, was this peculiar translucent bit of vapour which appeared to move and sway and rise and fall and gyrate so that my attention was drawn to it.
Approaching more closely I saw that this was not mist at all but a cloud of exceedingly frail-looking tines; nearly transparent, colourless, evanescent bodies, intermingled so that if was impossible to discern one from the other. I was transfixed. It was as though I was looking at May-flies through a powerful magnifying glass; there was a positive similarity except that the Moon Children were much larger, nearly as large, in fact, as a small man or woman. They moved rapidly in a blurred swarm without, so far as I could then determine, any central directing force, yet always in unison and together. They hovered, flitted, gyrated, as though dancing in air to some rhythm they alone could hear.
I could not be sure how they moved, whether or not they possessed wings, although I felt sure they must, nor could I be at all certain of their form, of the distinguishing shape of their bodies in that fading light except to notice how nearly transparent and fragile they were.
I watched them for some time, thoroughly fascinated, and did not once recall the rumours I had heard concerning them, nor more specifically the warnings I had received from Chukis-Huaray. Then I finally turned to go towards my house and as soon as my back was turned I had a sudden instinctive awareness of being followed. I faced about and caught up a short length of fallen tree limb, but it appeared that I needed no protection, for while that peculiar faintly glowing vapour had indeed come along behind me, it was still some hundred or so feet distant when I stopped and turned.
I was not immediately aware of one of the Moon Children being much closer until I heard, directly overhead, an almost inaudible sigh, which sounded very much like a softly indrawn breath. I then looked nearly straight up and there, hovering less than five feet above me, faintly luminous and perhaps a little under five feet in length was the first Moon Child I had ever seen apart from his - or her - fellows.
I now had a quite good look at the thing; perhaps had it been full daylight I would not have been able to see it so well. It was unbelievably fragile in appearance, its weakness too was accented by the background of jungle which I could distinguish through it with no difficulty at all It was, to my judgement, the frailest of animated creatures endowed with a spark of evanescent life. It descended then shot upwards again, repeating this manoeuvre several times as though battling with an inherent timidity. I waited until it was close overhead then swung the stick with more force, really, than was necessary and although I did not hit the creature at all, the slight gust of air produced by my slicing overhead movement caused the Moon Child to flutter erratically, sway, then veer off and vanish hurriedly in the direction of that vaporous mass of its companions. Instantly the pale cloud faded into the evening westward-bound and I pursued my former way to the house.
I had not quite reached my front door when from the north of me several hundred yards came the anguished bellow of some beast. This sound trailed off in a fading way. I started at once in the direction of the sound, clambered over a stone-row and raced towards the home of my northernmost neighbour. As I came into the light cast from the house into an adjoining corral, I saw something mist-like rising swiftly from the ground within the corral, and halted to watch as several individual Moon Children lifted gracefully to hasten after that larger and luminous vapour which was swinging away overhead back towards the jungle.
Excited voices interrupted my observation as my neighbour's family poured from his house and joined me in the yard. The head of the house was both baffled and fearful as he entered the corral to see which of his animals had made that rousing cry. He had in one hand a rifle and in the other a lantern. Beyond him I could see his cattle and burros, even the usually aloof llamas, crowding together against the far wall, obviously terrified. Their terror did not diminish, either, when we entered the corral.
Upon the ground in the middle of the pen lay a large bull. He was not yet dead but he seemed paralysed. My neighbour stopped near to the downed beast and held up his lantern. The animal's eyes rolled, following that light, but they were swiftly glazing and while he attempted to breathe, the full spectacle of what had happened to him overcame us, causing the hair of every person present, to arise like hackles along the nape of the neck.
The bull's skin was hanging loosely; he appeared very emaciated, as though the skin which hung loosely and in folds had been carelessly thrown over his skeleton. On his neck, shoulders and flank were dozens of round holes, the size of a small coin, making it appear that the animal had been riddled with bullets. I left my neighbour hunkering beside his now expired bull, returned to the yard and leaned upon the house-wall. Patently, the diaphanous things I had seen - those Moon Children as people called them - had caught that bull, fastened on to him some way and had sucked away the very last ounce of his blood.
I was still having difficulty absorbing this obvious fact when my neighbour returned with his family from the corral and halted near me after sending his wife and children on into the house.
"It was Moon Children," he said, and I nodded at him, "What can we do?”
I told him truthfully that I had no idea; that I had only recently returned to Tihuantisuyo from Pacifica as he knew and until that evening had never before had contact with those creatures - whatever they were.
"But you will," he assured me. "You will meet them. A man can no longer go out at night and every morning that comes now to Chincana there are more carcasses of our animals left lying." He glanced at the overhead void then set his lantern aside but did not let go the gun. 'Tell me, then," he asked. "Is Pacifica free of things like Moon Children?"
"Yes, it is. In fact there aren't even any very large meat-eating animals there."
He gazed steadily at his fine stone house for an interval of silence, then said, "My lord; please put my family name on your list for the next departure. A man can fight only what he can see." He went on into the house finally and I returned to my own home.
The following day I visited Chukis-Huaray. I had expected him to meet this peril as he had all others; with a typical fearless gravity. This was not the case, though. He sat with me in that lovely courtyard where I had first seen him and related dully the figures as reported by the night patrols, of animals slain and emptied of blood. He also told me that the constables had reported sighting not one, but dozens of those ghostly vapourous clouds of Moon Children hovering above the valley, the jungle, and even Achupa itself. And in conclusion he recounted the fact which I was sure had so thoroughly undermined his resolve.
"We have two lists compiled too, my lord, of people. One list for those who have simply gone out and have failed to return, and another list of those whose bodies have been found."
"Drained of blood?"
He nodded. "Drained of every drop of their blood."
We sat there stonily, scarcely hearing the sounds beyond the courtyard walls. Daylight sounds of venders, of children playing, of animals lowing or braying; the calls of people to one another.
I roused myself to ask if the attacks occurred only at night. The Inca replied that they did; that thus far no one had reported any daylight onslaughts.
"Do you have any idea where the Moon Children stay during daylight?" I queried.
"None whatever," replied Chukis-Huaray.
I considered this carefully and it appeared to me that the Moon Children must hide, or sleep, or hibernate some way during the hot daylight hours, and if this was so, and we could locate their perches, or nests, we might be able to exterminate them while they slept or were at least inactive and possibly sombulent.
Chukis-Huaray gave this some thought and when he finally approved it, I had the impression that he was not elated at all; that he was lethargically passive. I did not think, at the time, that he was beginning to visualize an abandoned Tihuantisuyo, overcome finally by the increasingly violent and constantly growing horde of natural enemies which were closing an ever-tighter ring of destruction about us, yet that was exactly what he was considering, so very naturally he was not pleased particularly at the prospect of vanquishing simply another foe from the ranks of ever greater foes. I am glad now that I did not suspect the reason behind his lethargy for I had no words to speak in either sympathy or encouragement. I was then, and had been for some time, fully convinced that salvation lay only in re-settling in Pacifica's temperate zone.
Probably because the people barred themselves indoors at night and put their animals inside buildings as well, the Moon Children were driven to attack our herd of colossadons. They were not entirely successful in this except when they caught three of the beasts lying asleep upon their sides and were able to attack their relatively unarmoured underparts. In this fashion they killed three of our huge lizards.
Finally, unquestionably driven to it by the sheer pain of hunger, they began attacking men in their fields during daylight hours. The bodies I saw which were brought to Achupa for final rites and burial were bloodless bundles of skin and bones, and almost without exception when human beings were attacked the jugular vein had been severed. This, to my mind, indicated, if no real corporeal intelligence, then at least an ability to learn, which was not a very pleasant reflection. But even worse than the horror and the tragedies was the knowledge of our almost total helplessness.
For a while it was enough to hide at night, but very soon that was no longer the case. Further, the knowledge that somewhere beyond the jungle-fringe Moon Children hid awaiting nightfall to come like luminous ghosts over the treetops to smother living things and suck away their blood, completely destroyed the morale of our people.
In fact it was after no less than forty-four debilitated skeletons, hung over with deflated, grey and bloodless skin, had been brought to Achupa for interment that a disorganized horde of utterly terrified people had fled all the way to Frank's lowlands docks and had nearly swamped one of our vessels, that armed parties of men, never less than twenty to a detail, began patrolling the lowlands' shipyards and docks as well as the capital of Tihuantisuyo both by day and by night.
I think now, in reflecting upon those times, that what so thoroughly unnerved the people was the belief that since everything which had threatened us thus far with extinction was directly attributable to the moon, against which we could do nothing in our defence, and everyone believed the Moon Children were from that satellite, that we were equally as helpless against them. I suppose too that it was natural for the people to believe Moon Children lurked in the jungle by the thousands waiting to suck the life from every living creature on earth. And finally, it was very obvious to everyone that Chukis-Huaray, to whom everyone looked for strength and guidance, was badly demoralized, and this perhaps was what ultimately caused the complete breakdown of morale. But if I am incorrect in attributing the causes for demoralization I certainly am not wrong in stating that demoralization existed among us. Each day saw it increase, too, even after our first constabulary troops went forth in search of Moon Children, one division led by me, the other division lead by Chukis-Huaray.
Looking back now I can see how inordinately brave were those two companies of men. In the first place in order to be certain of effecting contact with Moon Children we had to go out at night. In the second place, although armed with rifles, grenades, and lances as well as bows and arrows, not a one of us had ever seen a Moon Child slain and had no confidence at that time they could be killed, nor any general belief that we could kill them with the weapons we had.
I had with me a man of about my own age named Jameson, in olden times a mining engineer, who had since become a prosperous merchant in Achupa. I mention Jameson because he never once left my side in what ensued and he proved himself a benefactor to the species more heroic, I believe, than most of the rest of us.
I led my division of men out to my farm and beyond to the jungle's edge where I had first encountered Moon Children. Overhead rode that great copper moon, its depressions and mountain ranges very clear in the night-stillness. All around us the land, even the jungle, lay seemingly safe and at peace in the soft bathing light, each tree, house, stone fence limned, and the grass underfoot damascened in gold upon a blue-steel background. Stars also shone, flecks of diamond-dust cast at random across the great fluted canopy of heaven.
From the jungle came that constant, restless and inexplicable sound one heard day or night; the music of insects, the rustling of rodents in the underbrush, the drowsy call of birds, the faint touching of vines, of leaves, as though a breeze brushed over them although you never felt any freshening of the air. It had never seemed an ominous sound; it had warned one to stay clear, true, but so long as one did not venture into the jungle there had rarely been any cause for actual alarm. But this breathless night beneath that enormous moon there was danger all around; the worst kind; the variety of peril a man could feel without seeing.
Our men stayed close, arms at the ready, probing the forested fringe for anything extraordinary while that awesome moon swept across the firmament and began to drop towards the west, and as it went ever lower, the shadows around us lengthened, drew out deeper, darker, and thicker with a murky sootiness. For a full hour we were left to enjoy, if one could call it that, our explicit solitude then as I turned slightly to skyline the nearest trees I heard someone beside me emit a short gasp. It was Jameson. Without a word he raised his arm and pointed rigidly. I followed the line his upflung arm indicated and saw them dancing, gyrating, above the treetops, their wraith-like forms matting into a solid frail and very faintly luminous vapour. They struck me as beautiful, swaying there like spirits, like childhoods' fairies moving in an elfin dance of exceeding grace and symmetry. "They seem like phantoms," I said.
Jameson's voice came hoarsely back into the stillness, needlessly loud. "Ghosts," he said. "They're like ghosts. Maybe that's what they are."
I reached out and took the rifle from one of our constables, put it to my shoulder, cocked it and fired to determine if gunfire would have any effect. I aimed where the cloud was thickest. That misty vapour swayed, reeled, swung back and forth, then resumed its rhythmic dancing as before and as near as any of us could tell nothing had fallen to earth.
The man from whom I had taken the rifle took it back and I asked him for a grenade. He handed the thing over and I started forward. Jameson went along beside me holding his rifle in both hands although he knew, having seen what little success I had met with, that his weapon was useless here.
The Moon Children dropped a little lower as I approached, probably in response to the scent of a blood-bearing creature. Jameson and I stopped. I admonished him to stand perfectly still. Together we watched the vapour's luminosity settle nearer to earth less than fifty feet ahead and approach us almost timidly. I depressed the grenade's trigger, counted to five and flung it straight into the fairy cloud.
Jameson and I immediately flattened ourselves against the earth but even so the explosion nearly deafened us. From farther back as I was arising, wiping dust from my face, I heard a soft call arise from the other men. I did not look around. I did not even look to see if Jameson was all right because the vapour had vanished, blown away I think, by the grenade-blast. Then Jameson was speaking.
"Do you smell anything?" he asked.
I answered affirmatively; the odour was unmistakable; it was not exactly unpleasant but rather reminded me of mouldy vegetables. "Get a lantern," I said and went carefully forward.
When Jameson returned the balance of my patrol came up with him. There were several lanterns. What we saw was utter destruction; adhering to the grass and nearby bushes, strung out in some places for several feet, were strips, ribbons, fragments of an ephemeral substance; a kind of greenish-grey membrane like putrified tripe or, as Jameson said, masses of squashed frogs' eggs. What captured my attention was that within each jelly-like glob of this material which was not smeared, shone a peculiar nucleus-like central spore, or ovoid, about the size of a pigeon's egg. I very incorrectly thought at the time this was the source of each Moon Quid's luminosity. Had I known then what I later discovered I would have set the men to stamping each of those faintly luminous ovals, but before I could make a closer study Jameson's sharp cry brought me upright. A faint humming - actually more of a purring sound, but very faint - was coming directly towards us and two of the Moon Children moving with incredible speed came sweeping down straight at us. I was rooted to the ground, for one brief moment wholly incapable of thought or movement. I could see two pairs of eyes, unblinking, cold and insensate, not twenty feet away from me. I could also distinguish the shape of those two identical gelatinous bodies, each surrounded by a faint and shimmering halo which seemed to operate in a circular fashion like a wheel with incredibly speeding spokes.
The thing which brought me back to awareness with a crash was two close and deafening gunfire explosions, each shot blasting outward almost simultaneously with violently bright tongues of flame. As though hurled upward by a spring the two Moon Children shot into the air where they rocked and danced frantically, then righted themselves and vanished into the night in the direction of the jungle.
Behind me a strained voice said, "They're not spirits, anyway. I shot right through the biggest one and if it didn't kill him it certainly changed his course."
I gulped the insufficient night air into my lungs and turned to gaze at Jameson. He was reloading his rifle. When he finished he looked me fully in the eye. "We know two things about them. One is that they can be killed and the other is that they can be dangerous." He gazed towards the jungle. "Those last two acted like we'd killed their children. They were mad."
It was sobering to have someone attribute the power of logic and reasoning to Moon Children, I was not yet ready to believe they had these attributes but hearing someone ascribe human characteristics to them did nothing to alleviate the weakness I felt in my legs. We were distracted from our own encounter by distant gunshots and after another final long moment of looking upon the rotting-vegetable-smelling things at our feet, we started back towards Achupa in the direction of those other shots.
Two men sent forward by the Inca's party to scout, Grayson and Ellis, had located Moon Children near the colossadon pen. By way of attracting the rest of their party they had fired into the luminous cloud. This had brought their friends up on the run and it had also dispersed the Moon Children. However, as we had similarly learned through the same expedient, although gunshots tended to frighten off, or at least temporarily rout Moon Children, bullets did not kill them.
When we located the Inca's company they were still searching for Moon Children remains. They of course did not find any and we explained that we too had shot into the vapour without bringing any down. We also told them of our success with a grenade, and of the anger it had aroused in two of the creatures.
Both parties returned to Achupa. In the Inca's courtyard we were brought chocolate and sat until shortly before dawn discussing what we had thus far learned of our adversaries. Chuhis-Huaray offered a suggestion which was food for thought. He said he did not think it was our bullets so much as the concussion which upset Moon Children. Clearly bullets passed through them as through steam, causing no appreciable damage, but the roiled air following each shot tumbled them about. Someone else added to this by saying that if Moon Children did come from some lunar area such as the moon, where there was no great density to the atmosphere, it was very possible that they had a hard time of it keeping their balance in our own heavier, denser atmosphere and therefore, when gunshots caused eddies in our air, they were knocked about quite easily.
I thought at the time that this theory was probably correct; certainly our far greater gravitational pull would pose a problem to anything from outer space.
"We parted, as I have said, shortly before sun-up, after agreeing to meet again the following night for another hunt. I was thoroughly tired and slept that day, following our fight with Moon Children, like a log. About dusk Isobel awakened me, I ate and hastened into Achupa where the others were assembling at the Inca's residence.
As before the two companies separated, but before we left the city everyone had taken several grenades. Chukis-Huaray led his company north and west towards the area where he had met the leeches before, while I went south again, out into the country beyond my farm.
Again it was Jameson who sighted the shimmering mass of Moon Children, but this time he saw them rise up from the jungle, hover briefly above the area from which they had arisen, then come forward as far as the boundary between that green wall and our farmed fields where they hesitated again exactly as they had done the night before.
By that time we had all seen them. It was not yet fully dark though and except for the fact that they moved it was difficult to distinguish them. The best way, I found, was to gaze slightly above or below their vapour. Then one got the impression of a slight cloudiness against the sky's deepening gloom. Their luminosity was evident only after nightfall; it was so faint that as long as any daylight lasted it was invisible.
I was certain the creatures were aware of our presence as soon as we started across the field towards them. Until we moved upon the jungle fringe they simply hovered there, above the treetops more or less stationary, but when we came closer they began to sway and dance and reel with increased activity.
My companions were very resolute. I attributed this to the degree of familiarity we now had with our enemies. We knew they could be killed; we also had learned the night before that gunfire upset them and that, at least so far, they had showed no inclination to attack in a body so long as their antagonists were alert and prepared. It seemed to me as we stopped near the jungle and gazed at them, that they were scrutinizing us with even more curiosity and wariness. I wondered then if they had ever before encountered human beings.
At my side Jameson said, “I’ll walk off a ways alone and bait them away from the trees."
I stopped him. What he had proposed would have been suicide. If the Moon Children did not get him our shrapnel certainly would. "We'll all go back," I said, and led the way. It worked; we had progressed no more than about a hundred yards when, on looking back, I saw that faint cloudiness rise, dip, and swoop down from the tree-tops following us. We continued forward another hundred yards until we were near a stone fence, and stopped. The Moon Children were less than a hundred feet behind us. In a low tone I said, "Get your grenades ready," and strolled as casually as I could to the fence, crossed it, went another hundred feet or so, and again halted. The Moon Children were less than fifty feet beyond the stone fence, hovering there. That time I walked slowly towards them and halted at the fence. They did not retreat but settled lower to the ground. I depressed the grenade's trigger, called out "Now!" and hurled the thing into that swaying mass. Around me men's straining bodies whipped upright under the impetus of lobbing those grenades then we all dropped flat behind the stone fence.
The explosions were raggedly simultaneous and deafening. Before I raised up I caught the odour of burnt powder and rotting vegetables and I expected carnage but hardly as much as I finally saw.
If any Moon Children had escaped they were not discernable. We went back over the fence to examine the disturbed earth where shrapnel had ploughed it up and found the ground underfoot slippery with that gelatinous mass which we had met with the night before.
There were strips of that same greyish membrane. Some of us - myself included - procured sticks and poked in the debris. There were no entire bodies but in one quivering mass of nearly transparent, faintly glowing "flesh" I found what could be reasonably reconstructed into a body. The Moon Children were pulpily diaphanous; their substance seemed similar to that of cuttle-fish or squids but more membranous and translucent. About the middle and extending down the back were hundreds of delicate appearing but actually quite tough elastic-like filaments of horny membrane. These were the cilia by means of which the creatures flew or moved. These things were also responsible, by their lightning-like vibrations, for that faintly luminous, halo-like effect. On the front of the body were several tentacle-like arms, each ending in four finger-like digits, each digit possessed of a powerful suction-cup (similar to the cups on the toes of chameleons or tree frogs). Above these tentacles was the head, a round appendage of the same jelly-like substance as the body but with scores of semi-spherical cilia which surrounded each eye. Neither eye had any protective lid as near as I could determine, and in death appeared no different than in life, the expression being glazed, icy, and fiercely staring.
The most interesting thing about the head was a long, slightly corrugated tube coiled like a clock-spring and having at its tip a perfectly round mouth with a ridge of gristle with a lancet-like, razor-sharp rim. It was obviously this 'mouth' with which Moon Children made the surgically neat and deadly holes in the bodies they attacked for the purpose of extracting blood.
Having completed our examinations, and noting as before that the only parts of those unique bodies which were not destroyed were the nucleus-like round particles which seemed imbedded in that pulpy mass, we started back for Achupa well satisfied with our night's work. As before, we made no attempt at burial, believing (falsely as it turned out) that the buzzards and other gleaners would oblige us by cleaning up the offal.
That second night, when both companies were again comfortably seated in the Inca's courtyard sipping chocolate, much of the gloom had lifted. Even Chukis-Huaray, whose men had similarly bombed Moon children with success, seemed in a somewhat better state of mind. We compared observations as before then dispersed. Before dropping off to sleep that night - or morning - I recapitulated all that I recalled of the two encounters and should have felt gratified that we had discovered at last how to obliterate our foe. But doubts persisted and I did not sleep well.
The following afternoon I went to the Inca's residence and found him sitting at a table with his head in his hands and a great disarray of scattered reports in front of him. When I entered he looked up, gestured towards a bench and said. "Last night while we were protecting Achupa Moon Children killed seventy head of cattle, two more colossadons, forty-four llamas and eleven burros." He touched the papers with one hand and blew out a big sigh. "About sun-up one of the patrols found four dead farmers too, and I think before this day is over there will be other deaths reported."
I was distracted of course, and saddened, but it seemed obvious that we must consider this matter as a full-scale war. I told the Inca this and he agreed.
That day we recruited every able-bodied man we could, put hundreds of people to making grenades, and after nightfall plotted Chincana into a grid with strong, aggressive patrols covering every foot of the valley. Neither Chukis-Huaray nor I accompanied the troops that night. We remained at a command-post and coordinated orders and information. From time to time we heard gunfire but more often the sounds were made by exploding grenades. When daylight finally came (that night was the longest one I ever lived through, with one exception) and patrol leaders came wearily in to personally report their successes, the command-post acquired an unmistakable rotting-vegetable stench. This, almost as much as the reported triumphs, inclined both the Inca and me to believe that we had at last conquered our enemy. I parted from him two hours after sun-up and went home to sleep.
I was not awakened until nearly a day later, then it was Chukis-Huaray who was standing beside my bed gently rousing me, his face deeply solemn, his eyes sunken and exhausted-looking.
"I have something to show you," he said, and from his voice as well as his expression I knew it was nothing trivial. I arose it once, dressed, and went with him back to Achupa.
There were several of our ranking constabulary officials in the Inca's courtyard when we arrived there. They nodded but no one spoke. I noticed at once the rotting-vegetable smell and sought for its source. It was not hard to find. In the centre of the patio was a large earthen pot over which had been stretched tightly a tough, fibrous net. When the Inca approached this trap-like affair I went with him.
"There," he said, looking down into the pot. That was the only word spoken.
In the bottom of the earthen urn was a sticky mass of that gelatinous substance of which Moon Children were made. It had obviously been shovelled into the urn from the ground; there were some withered leaves and grass blades imbedded in it But what made me catch my breath was not the obvious fact that this transparent jelly had in no way decomposed - although that was startling enough - but squirming among that disgusting mass were living, larva-like things, in appearance not unlike huge maggots. Even as I watched they fed upon the wet substance from which they had emerged.
After recovering from shock I determined that these larva had evolved from each of those nucleus-like round spores which had dotted all the jelly-substance I had theretofore seen, and which I also saw again at the bottom of the urn.
I went across the yard to a stone bench and sank down there.
The implication was very clear, and obviously my companions in the courtyard understood it also. We had killed hundreds of Moon Children the last few nights; each fallen mass of that transparent flesh spawned dozens of new Moon Children, so we had not triumphed at all, we had simply increased the numbers of our foes by the hundreds, by the thousands!
"We are sowing dragons' teeth," I said aloud. None of the others understood, except in essence, what I meant but neither did a single one of them ask me to explain either. Riddles right then were meaningless.
It was Chukis-Huaray speaking that finally caught my attention. "Each company must return to the site where they have killed Moon Children," he was saying. "The remains must be gathered and burned. It will do no good to bury it - it must be destroyed by fire.
The officers left in silence and the Inca returned to studying the earthen pot and its contents. I said to him: "There is no solution, my lord. If we burn all that we have killed, what force is there to destroy the larva born in the jungle?"
"None," he replied without looking around where I sat.
"I am at a loss," I said.
He crossed to where I sat and stood towering over me. "There is an escape," he said. "But I find it hard to accept"
"Pacifica?" I asked.
He nodded. "I know of no other way." He sat down and clasped his hands together. "I think I know why there are no Moon Children there."
"Why, my lord?"
"I think they can survive only in a hot and humid country. We know they are bothered by our heavy atmosphere. I think we will also find that they cannot stand cold nor changes in the weather."
He was right of course, we know that now, but then I only hoped that he was right. What filled my mind at that moment was the overwhelming job of moving; of not only re-settling our people but of dismantling and transporting the things we would need in a new land. It was a staggering concept. I had of course thought of a mass-migration, but in terms of years, not months such as I anticipated would be mandatory now. "I await your orders," I told him. He put a hand upon my arm. 'This is not an easy decision for me, my good friend. Come again in the morning."
I left him in the courtyard. He would, I knew, climb the hundred steps to the sung-god temple. In all likelihood he would spend the night there above his ancestral Achupa with the beautiful valley of Chincana spread out below him, praying for his land of Tihuantisuyo, and knowing in his heart there was no remedy.
That night, again, the patrols went out. While Chukis-Huaray and I talked we could hear distantly the explosion of grenades. Near the end of our council he took me back to that urn in the courtyard and said, "It does not take long, does it?"
I was dumbfounded. The maggots we had watched that morning had consumed nearly all the greyish jelly and scores of them were beating against the fibre net, able to fly in one day, each creature an exact scale-model replica of a full-grown Moon child.
"Those we kill tonight will have children flying by this time tomorrow night,” he said. "My lord; there is no time to be lost, or none of us will leave Tihuantisuyo alive. You will go to the lowlands and have your son-in-law prepare the ships no later than tomorrow morning." That last visit Chukis-Huaray and I had in his courtyard at the foot of the sun-god-temple pyramid, was the beginning of the exodus from Tihuantisuyo. Frank started for Pacifica the next afternoon with the first of our people. During the weeks when he was gone our plight gradually worsened in the valley. Where once there had been perhaps no more than twenty or thirty of those luminous clouds of Moon Children, now there were hundreds of them and our casualties grew accordingly. Near the end we put animals aboard along with people so that we would have at least some root-stock left to start over with in our new homes, but we were unable to save a single colossadon. We had no buildings which the giant lizards could not, in fact did not, break out of at will, and while the Moon Children had difficulty penetrating the scales of our colossadons and dozens were smashed to jelly when they tried, the dearth of other blood-bearing creatures in Chincana drove them in frenzied thousands to attack a colossadon whenever they found one, and we eventually lost every giant lizard.
All the former patriotic fervour which had met my initial suggestion that the people leave Tihuantisuyo and migrate to Pacifica, had vanished completely during those terrible weeks since the Moon Children had appeared. Now it was necessary to use physical force to keep the people from clambering aboard the ships each time Frank returned for his next load of terrified humans. It was very difficult to recruit men to dismantle and carry to dockside the machinery, tools, religious relics, household effects and other impediments which would otherwise have been abandoned in the valley, for by the time Frank had transported the majority of our people to Pacifica, the Moon Children, encountering weakened opposition and with vastly increased appetites due to their great numbers, were bolder in their attacks and scarcely anyone was safe from attack.
Two men, Grayson and Ellis, achieved a temporary repulse of the Moon Children, but at a terrible cost. Having discovered that the avenue to the lowlands was constantly being travelled, day and night, the Moon Children congregated along it, hiding usually in the tree-tops and swarming over small parties, sucking them dry in a matter of minutes. We put out strong patrols with bags of grenades and while this protected the people in the end it also increased their peril, producing a dilemma which required some drastic action.
Frank's ships were lying-to at the wharves awaiting their final human cargo and the Moon Children, as though sensing this was the final parting between them and the source of their continued existence, came together near the drop-off leading down to the lowlands, and hovered there by the thousands, plainly visible even in broad daylight, a terrifying sight. They were not dancing their endless quadrille this time, but simply moved gently from side to side, a great cloudy, swaying vapour. Then they began an inexorable advance towards the one wide space in the roadway where they could engulf that screaming, grovelling mass of humanity. Chukis-Huaray was there in the midst of those people, erect and defiantly facing forward. It was beyond any doubt his example that got the people moving again. As they streamed down towards the ships two men, each carrying a bag of grenades, fought past them and moved steadily towards those approaching Moon Children. I recognized both of them; Grayson had been a farmer in the valley and Ellis was a merchant in Achupa. Both were volunteer officers in the constabulary corps.
It was a terrible moment, one that has survived in my memory when other events of greater importance have passed long since beyond recall. For one thing I had never before seen the Moon Children advance as they were doing now; they came on in a wedge-shaped aggregation, thousands of them, barely swaying at all in that steady forward-march. That densely packed mass of them must have been several hundred feet thick, and their cilia beat strongly enough to be actually heard where I stood with Chukis-Huaray at the wide place in the roadway.
Grayson and Ellis stopped finally, no more than a hundred feet from the Moon Children. Each man opened his grenade sack. As both men had their backs to me I did not at once see what they were doing. Then I saw. They were deliberately setting the grenades out around them and each grenade had its trigger depressed!
Chukis-Huaray seized me violently and bore me with him back into the jungle where we both landed hard only moments before a terrific blast shook the land for hundreds of yards in every direction.
When I got back to my feet dust and slowly descending debris temporarily obscured the spot where Grayson, Ellis, and the Moon Children had been. It was several minutes before Chukis-Huaray and I could see clearly but before that time we caught the stench of rotting vegetables, stronger at that moment than either of us had ever smelt it before.
Grayson and Ellis were gone. Although the Inca and I searched assiduously we never found anything larger than some scorched scraps of cloth. Of the Moon Children there was nothing to be seen excepting the odorous masses of jelly, a number of mounds of it and each bearing within it those spore-like round cells the size of pigeons' eggs - the Moon Children of tomorrow.
Chukis-Huaray and I were the last of our people to reach Frank's vessels and go aboard. We shared a cabin during the trip to Pacifica where we ultimately landed and were re-united with our countrymen. For months Chukis-Huaray was depressed but time heals all wounds and the exertions and activity required in re-ordering our own lives as well as the lives of our people eventually healed the scars and dimmed the memories of another land and another way of life, and now, on the first anniversary of the great Inca's passing, which marks too a nearing of the end of my own time perhaps, I find satisfaction - and humility - in reflecting upon the great events I have been privileged to be a part of, and for the honour of knowing such selfless men as Chukis-Huaray, Grayson and Ellis, and good Father Antonio. And finally, in witnessing the growth of the species to the hundreds of thousands who thrive now and prosper in Pacifica.
THE END

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.