Early in the day I had arranged my letters and private papers so that in the event of the worst happening, they could be readily packed, and it now occurred to me that it would be only proper to leave a word of explanation with them. I therefore hastily penned a note to a cousin living in England—my nearest relative—briefly explaining my discovery of the Martian super-radium current, and also the character of the adventure in which I was about to participate. This note I placed with my papers.
Returning to the instrument, I discovered that Mars was already visible. Quickly turning on the current and finding no responsive glow, I knew that Almos was already making the preparations he had described to me. He had said that within half an hour the clockwork would turn on the current, and the glow of my instrument would be the signal for my departure.
No time was to be lost. Securely fastening the door of my room, I prepared the cone of chloroform and extinguished the light, in order not to excite the suspicion of a chance caller during the evening.
I now sat on the couch awaiting with anxiety the current of super-radium that would convey me to the far world of my dreams. Minutes seemed like hours, as I sat in the darkness, with every nerve strained to its uttermost, awaiting Death. What if Death should refuse to release me! Millions have been wrapped in Death’s cold arms, but no mortal has returned to give accounting.
What was that!—A blinding flash made me instantly shield my eyes. Ah! The glow at last! But such was its dazzling brilliancy that I could not stand the glare. I had been accustomed to see the glow gradually creep up the surface of the instrument, slowly growing brighter as the rim of the star appeared above the window casement, but this time Mars had risen to full view before the current was turned on by the clockwork. This was ample proof that everything had happened as Almos had planned. It was now my turn to act and I must not hesitate. Stretching myself on the couch so that I came into full contact with the current of super-radium, I seized the cone saturated with chloroform, and fastened it securely over my mouth and nose.
A few moments of a slightly suffocating sensation, then a long, long fall, gradual at first, then quicker, quicker—
* * * * *
With a feeling of exhilaration, such as I had never before experienced, I opened my eyes and sprang to my feet. My brain was perfectly clear, and so active that my mind utterly failed to keep pace with the multitude of thoughts that were crowded upon it—thoughts that were strange to my mind, yet perfectly familiar to my brain, if this paradoxical statement may stand. It seemed as if my mind stood, apart and marveled at the remarkable activity and knowledge possessed by the brain—of which knowledge my mind was entirely ignorant.