Almos stopped abruptly, consternation written on his face. A moment later, I realized the cause—the two planets were passing out of wave contact. At such a critical moment nothing could be more unfortunate, and I was about hastily to suggest a postponement, when Almos exclaimed: “It is all right!—I shall leave——”
Wave contact ceased before he had time to finish the sentence, and I was left standing before the instrument in a state of irresolution.
How could I arrive on Mars totally unprepared to meet the conditions? Upon my regaining consciousness these might present themselves in the most urgent form, demanding immediate attention and a thorough knowledge of Martian sciences. Almos’ life, indeed, might depend upon just such a condition.
Undetermined upon the course I should pursue the next day, my mind filled with the most formidable fancies of so strange an undertaking, I at last sought repose, hoping that with the morrow would come clearer thought.
“As others see us.”
The next morning found me resolved to make the journey to Mars at any cost. That Almos had intended to say he would leave further instructions, I had no doubt. The instructions would probably be written, and placed where I would immediately see them upon regaining consciousness. In any event, I argued, if, at the usual hour of Martian contact, my instrument should glow in response to super-radium, it would clearly be my duty to fulfil my part of the agreement, for the glow would be proof that Almos had fulfilled his and that his spirit had passed into the upper chamber of the virator.
I had purchased the necessary articles for my remarkable journey, and had taken the precaution to fasten a notice outside my door to the effect that I would be out during the evening. I could not restrain a grim smile at the thought of the uncanny literal truth in this announcement.
These things done I fell to speculating upon what would be my experience on Mars if, indeed, I ever reached that planet. For the first hours, try as I would to check it, there was, at times, a doubt as to the outcome of this wild soul-adventure. But, strange as it may appear, although I fully realized the danger attending such an undertaking, the success of which was based entirely on theories, it did not, in any way, act as a deterrent. So great was the prize to be attained, that the risk of life seemed unimportant. Indeed, the first step of the journey to Mars was to take my life, as we understand the term on Earth, and, having become reconciled to this, I was not sensible of any danger beyond. So absorbed was I in these thoughts, that the time passed without my realizing it, and only the fading daylight warned me of the near approach of the hour of Martian contact.
I now made a complete examination of all the batteries and coils of my instrument, as failure in any of these might result most seriously. Finding all to be in perfect working order, I next proceeded to arrange my couch so as to bring it directly between the instrument and the window. Having thus completed my preparations, possessed by conflicting emotions, I now waited for the appearance of Mars.