Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)

One of the most successful videos available on the net.

The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Butthole Surfers

Butthole Surfers:Scott & Gary Show Pt 1

Butthole Surfers:Scott & Gary Show Pt 2


Friday, 27 March 2009

Greater Manchester




Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Residents

One of the best odd things around. The peculiar creepy anonymous timeless Residents.

Hello Skinny by The Residents

Third Reich'n'Roll
Meet the Residents

The Residents- Third Reich 'n' Roll

Monday, 16 March 2009

About colour

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse

Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa

Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa perform with John Tesh

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Edgar Allan Poe - The Pit and The Pendulum


From "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Tales Vol I",
J. B. Lippincott Co, Copyright 1895.

This text is placed into the Public Domain (May 1993).

The Pit and the Pendulum.

Impia tortorum longas hic turba furores
Sanguinis innocui non satiata, aluit.
Sospite nunc patria, fracto nunc funeris antro,
Mors ubi dira fuit vita salusque patent.

[Quatrain composed for the gates of a market
to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club
House in Paris.]

I WAS sick, sick unto death, with that long
agony, and when they at length unbound
me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that
my senses were leaving me. The sentence, the dread
sentence of death, was the last of distinct accentua-
tion which reached my ears. After that, the sound
of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one
dreamy indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my
soul the idea of REVOLUTION, perhaps from its associa-
tion in fancy with the burr of a mill-wheel. This
only for a brief period, for presently I heard no more.
Yet, for a while, I saw, but with how terrible an ex-
aggeration! I saw the lips of the black-robed judges.
They appeared to me white -- whiter than the sheet
upon which I trace these words -- and thin even to
grotesqueness; thin with the intensity of their ex-
pression of firmness, of immovable resolution, of
stern contempt of human torture. I saw that the
decrees of what to me was fate were still issuing
from those lips. I saw them writhe with a deadly
locution. I saw them fashion the syllables of my
name, and I shuddered, because no sound succeeded.
I saw, too, for a few moments of delirious horror,
the soft and nearly imperceptible waving of the
sable draperies which enwrapped the walls of the
apartment; and then my vision fell upon the seven
tall candles upon the table. At first they wore the
aspect of charity, and seemed white slender angels
who would save me: but then all at once there
came a most deadly nausea over my spirit, and I felt
every fibre in my frame thrill, as if I had touched
the wire of a galvanic battery, while the angel forms
became meaningless spectres, with heads of flame,
and I saw that from them there would be no help.
And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich
musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there
must be in the grave. The thought came gently
and stealthily, and it seemed long before it attained
full appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length
properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the
judges vanished, as if magically, from before me;
the tall candles sank into nothingness; their flames
went out utterly; the blackness of darkness super-
ened; all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad
rushing descent as of the soul into Hades. Then
silence, and stillness, and night were the universe.

I had swooned; but still will not say that all of
consciousness was lost. What of it there remained
I will not attempt to define, or even to describe; yet
all was not lost. In the deepest slumber -- no! In
delirium -- no! In a swoon -- no! In death -- no!
Even in the grave all was not lost. Else there is no
immortality for man. Arousing from the most pro-
found of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of
some dream. Yet in a second afterwards (so frail
may that web have been) we remember not that we
have dreamed. In the return to life from the swoon
there are two stages; first, that of the sense of mental
or spiritual; secondly, that of the sense of physical
existence. It seems probable that if, upon reaching
the second stage, we could recall the impressions of
the first, we should find these impressions eloquent
in memories of the gulf beyond. And that gulf is,
what? How at least shall we distinguish its shadows
from those of the tomb? But if the impressions of
what I have termed the first stage are not at will
recalled, yet, after long interval, do they not come
unbidden, while we marvel whence they come? He
who has never swooned is not he who finds strange
palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that glow;
is not he who beholds floating in mid-air the sad
visions that the many may not view; is not he who
ponders over the perfume of some novel flower; is
not he whose brain grows bewildered with the mean-
ing of some musical cadence which has never before
arrested his attention.

Amid frequent and thoughtful endeavours to re-
member, amid earnest struggles to regather some
token of the state of seeming nothingness into which
my soul had lapsed, there have been moments when
I have dreamed of success; there have been brief,
very brief periods when I have conjured up remem-
brances which the lucid reason of a later epoch
assures me could have had reference only to that
condition of seeming unconsciousness. These sha-
dows of memory tell indistinctly of tall figures that
lifted and bore me in silence down -- down -- still
down -- till a hideous dizziness oppressed me at the
mere idea of the interminableness of the descent.
They tell also of a vague horror at my heart on ac-
count of that heart's unnatural stillness. Then comes
a sense of sudden motionlessness throughout all
things; as if those who bore me (a ghastly train!)
had outrun, in their descent, the limits of the limit-
less, and paused from the wearisomeness of their toil.
After this I call to mind flatness and dampness; and
then all is MADNESS -- the madness of a memory which
busies itself among forbidden things.

Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion
and sound -- the tumultuous motion of the heart,
and in my ears the sound of its beating. Then a
pause in which all is blank. Then again sound,
and motion, and touch, a tingling sensation per-
vading my frame. Then the mere consciousness
of existence, without thought, a condition which
lasted long. Then, very suddenly, THOUGHT, and shud-
dering terror, and earnest endeavour to comprehend
my true state. Then a strong desire to lapse into
insensibility. Then a rushing revival of soul and a
successful effort to move. And now a full memory
of the trial, of the judges, of the sable draperies, of
the sentence, of the sickness, of the swoon. Then
entire forgetfulness of all that followed; of all that
a later day and much earnestness of endeavour have
enabled me vaguely to recall.

So far I had not opened my eyes. I felt that I
lay upon my back unbound. I reached out my
hand, and it fell heavily upon something damp
and hard. There I suffered it to remain for many
minutes, while I strove to imagine where and what
I could be. I longed, yet dared not, to employ my
vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around
me. It was not that I feared to look upon things
horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be
NOTHING to see. At length, with a wild desperation
at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst
thoughts, then, were confirmed. The blackness of
eternal night encompassed me. I struggled for
breath. The intensity of the darkness seemed to
oppress and stifle me. The atmosphere was intoler-
ably close. I still lay quietly, and made effort to
exercise my reason. I brought to mind the inquisi-
torial proceedings, and attempted from that point
to deduce my real condition. The sentence had
passed, and it appeared to me that a very long
interval of time had since elapsed. Yet not for a
moment did I suppose myself actually dead. Such
a supposition, notwithstanding what we read in fic-
tion, is altogether inconsistent with real existence;
-- but where and in what state was I? The con-
demned to death, I knew, perished usually at the
auto-da-fes, and one of these had been held on the
very night of the day of my trial. Had I been re-
manded to my dungeon, to await the next sacrifice,
which would not take place for many months?
This I at once saw could not be. Victims had been
in immediate demand. Moreover my dungeon, as
well as all the condemned cells at Toledo, had stone
floors, and light was not altogether excluded.

A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in
torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period I once
more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering,
I at once started to my feet, trembling convulsively
in every fibre. I thrust my arms wildly above and
around me in all directions. I felt nothing; yet
dreaded to move a step, lest I should be impeded by
the walls of a TOMB. Perspiration burst from every
pore, and stood in cold big beads upon my forehead.
The agony of suspense grew at length intolerable,
and I cautiously moved forward, with my arms ex-
tended, and my eyes straining from their sockets, in
the hope of catching some faint ray of light. I pro-
ceeded for many paces, but still all was blackness and
vacancy. I breathed more freely. It seemed evident
that mine was not, at least, the most hideous of

And now, as I still continued to step cautiously
onward, there came thronging upon my recollection
a thousand vague rumours of the horrors of Toledo.
Of the dungeons there had been strange things
narrated -- fables I had always deemed them -- but
yet strange, and too ghastly to repeat, save in a
whisper. Was I left to perish of starvation in this
subterranean world of darkness; or what fate per-
haps even more fearful awaited me? That the re-
sult would be death, and a death of more than
customary bitterness, I knew too well the character
of my judges to doubt. The mode and the hour
were all that occupied or distracted me.

My outstretched hands at length encountered
some solid obstruction. It was a wall, seemingly of
stone masonry -- very smooth, slimy, and cold. I
followed it up; stepping with all the careful distrust
with which certain antique narratives had inspired
me. This process, however, afforded me no means
of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon; as I
might make its circuit, and return to the point
whence I set out, without being aware of the fact,
so perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I therefore
sought the knife which had been in my pocket when
led into the inquisitorial chamber, but it was gone;
my clothes had been exchanged for a wrapper of
coarse serge. I had thought of forcing the blade
in some minute crevice of the masonry, so as to
identify my point of departure. The difficulty,
nevertheless, was but trivial, although, in the dis-
order of my fancy, it seemed at first insuperable. I
tore a part of the hem from the robe, and placed
the fragment at full length, and at right angles to
the wall. In groping my way around the prison, I
could not fail to encounter this rag upon completing
the circuit. So, at least, I thought, but I had not
counted upon the extent of the dungeon, or upon
my own weakness. The ground was moist and
slippery. I staggered onward for some time, when
I stumbled and fell. My excessive fatigue induced
me to remain prostrate, and sleep soon overtook me
as I lay.

Upon awaking, and stretching forth an arm, I
found beside me a loaf and a pitcher with water. I
was too much exhausted to reflect upon this circum-
stance, but ate and drank with avidity. Shortly
afterwards I resumed my tour around the prison,
and with much toil came at last upon the fragment
of the serge. Up to the period when I fell I had
counted fifty-two paces, and upon resuming my
walk I had counted forty-eight more, when I
arrived at the rag. There were in all, then, a
hundred paces; and, admitting two paces to the
yard, I presumed the dungeon to be fifty yards in
circuit. I had met, however, with many angles in
the wall, and thus I could form no guess at the shape
of the vault, for vault I could not help supposing it
to be.

I had little object -- certainly no hope -- in these
researches, but a vague curiosity prompted me to
continue them. Quitting the wall, I resolved to
cross the area of the enclosure. At first I proceeded
with extreme caution, for the floor although seem-
ingly of solid material was treacherous with slime.
At length, however, I took courage and did not
hesitate to step firmly -- endeavouring to cross in as
direct a line as possible. I had advanced some ten
or twelve paces in this manner, when the remnant
of the torn hem of my robe became entangled be-
tween my legs. I stepped on it, and fell violently
on my face.

In the confusion attending my fall, I did not
immediately apprehend a somewhat startling cir-
cumstance, which yet, in a few seconds afterward,
and while I still lay prostrate, arrested my attention.
It was this: my chin rested upon the floor of the
prison, but my lips, and the upper portion of my
head, although seemingly at a less elevation than
the chin, touched nothing. At the same time, my
forehead seemed bathed in a clammy vapour, and
the peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose to my
nostrils. I put forward my arm, and shuddered to
find that I had fallen at the very brink of a circular
pit, whose extent of course I had no means of ascer-
taining at the moment. Groping about the masonry
just below the margin, I succeeded in dislodging a
small fragment, and let it fall into the abyss. For
many seconds I hearkened to its reverberations as
it dashed against the sides of the chasm in its de-
scent; at length there was a sullen plunge into
water, succeeded by loud echoes. At the same
moment there came a sound resembling the quick
opening, and as rapid closing of a door overhead,
while a faint gleam of light flashed suddenly through
the gloom, and as suddenly faded away.

I saw clearly the doom which had been prepared
for me, and congratulated myself upon the timely
accident by which I had escaped. Another step be-
fore my fall, and the world had seen me no more
and the death just avoided was of that very char-
acter which I had regarded as fabulous and frivolous
in the tales respecting the Inquisition. To the
victims of its tyranny, there was the choice of death
with its direst physical agonies, or death with its
most hideous moral horrors. I had been reserved
for the latter. By long suffering my nerves had
been unstrung, until I trembled at the sound of my
own voice, and had become in every respect a fitting
subject for the species of torture which awaited me.

Shaking in every limb, I groped my way back to
the wall -- resolving there to perish rather than risk
the terrors of the wells, of which my imagination
now pictured many in various positions about the
dungeon. In other conditions of mind I might have
had courage to end my misery at once by a plunge
into one of these abysses; but now I was the veriest
of cowards. Neither could I forget what I had read
of these pits -- that the SUDDEN extinction of life
formed no part of their most horrible plan.

Agitation of spirit kept me awake for many long
hours; but at length I again slumbered. Upon
arousing, I found by my side, as before, a loaf and a
pitcher of water. A burning thirst consumed me,
and I emptied the vessel at a draught. It must have
been drugged, for scarcely had I drunk before I
became irresistibly drowsy. A deep sleep fell upon
me -- a sleep like that of death. How long it lasted
of course I know not; but when once again I un-
closed my eyes the objects around me were visible.
By a wild sulphurous lustre, the origin of which I
could not at first determine, I was enabled to see the
extent and aspect of the prison.

In its size I had been greatly mistaken. The
whole circuit of its walls did not exceed twenty-five
yards. For some minutes this fact occasioned me
a world of vain trouble; vain indeed -- for what
could be of less importance, under the terrible cir-
cumstances which environed me than the mere
dimensions of my dungeon? But my soul took a
wild interest in trifles, and I busied myself in en-
deavours to account for the error I had committed
in my measurement. The truth at length flashed
upon me. In my first attempt at exploration I had
counted fifty-two paces up to the period when I
fell; I must then have been within a pace or two of
the fragment of serge; in fact I had nearly per-
formed the circuit of the vault. I then slept, and
upon awaking, I must have returned upon my steps,
thus supposing the circuit nearly double what it
actually was. My confusion of mind prevented
me from observing that I began my tour with the
wall to the left, and ended it with the wall to the

I had been deceived too in respect to the shape
of the enclosure. In feeling my way I had found
many angles, and thus deduced an idea of great
irregularity, so potent is the effect of total darkness
upon one arousing from lethargy or sleep! The
angles were simply those of a few slight depressions
or niches at odd intervals. The general shape of
the prison was square. What I had taken for mas-
onry seemed now to be iron, or some other metal
in huge plates, whose sutures or joints occasioned
the depression. The entire surface of this metallic
enclosure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and
repulsive devices to which the charnel superstition
of the monks has given rise. The figures of fiends
in aspects of menace, with skeleton forms and other
more really fearful images, overspread and disfigured
the walls. I observed that the outlines of these
monstrosities were sufficiently distinct, but that the
colours seemed faded and blurred, as if from the
effects of a damp atmosphere. I now noticed the
floor, too, which was of stone. In the centre
yawned the circular pit from whose jaws I had es-
caped; but it was the only one in the dungeon.

All this I saw indistinctly and by much effort, for
my personal condition had been greatly changed dur-
ing slumber. I now lay upon my back, and at full
length, on a species of low framework of wood. To
this I was securely bound by a long strap resembling
a surcingle. It passed in many convolutions about
my limbs and body, leaving at liberty only my head,
and my left arm to such extent that I could by dint
of much exertion supply myself with food from an
earthen dish which lay by my side on the floor. I
saw to my horror that the pitcher had been re-
moved. I say to my horror, for I was consumed
with intolerable thirst. This thirst it appeared to
be the design of my persecutors to stimulate, for the
food in the dish was meat pungently seasoned.

Looking upward, I surveyed the ceiling of my
prison. It was some thirty or forty feet overhead, and
constructed much as the side walls. In one of its
panels a very singular figure riveted my whole at-
tention. It was the painted figure of Time as he is
commonly represented, save that in lieu of a scythe
he held what at a casual glance I supposed to be the
pictured image of a huge pendulum, such as we see
on antique clocks. There was something, however,
in the appearance of this machine which caused me
to regard it more attentively. While I gazed di-
rectly upward at it (for its position was immediately
over my own), I fancied that I saw it in motion.
In an instant afterward the fancy was confirmed.
Its sweep was brief, and of course slow. I watched
it for some minutes, somewhat in fear but more in
wonder. Wearied at length with observing its dull
movement, I turned my eyes upon the other objects
in the cell.

A slight noise attracted my notice, and looking
to the floor, I saw several enormous rats traversing
it. They had issued from the well which lay just
within view to my right. Even then while I gazed,
they came up in troops hurriedly, with ravenous
eyes, allured by the scent of the meat. From this
it required much effort and attention to scare them

It might have been half-an-hour, perhaps even
an hour (for I could take but imperfect note of
time) before I again cast my eyes upward. What
I then saw confounded and amazed me. The sweep
of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly
a yard. As a natural consequence, its velocity was
also much greater. But what mainly disturbed me
was the idea that it had perceptibly DESCENDED. I
now observed, with what horror it is needless to
say, that its nether extremity was formed of a cres-
cent of glittering steel, about a foot in length from
horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under
edge evidently as keen as that of a razor. Like a
razor also it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from
the edge into a solid and broad structure above. It
was appended to a weighty rod of brass, and the
whole HISSED as it swung through the air.

I could no longer doubt the doom prepared for me
by monkish ingenuity in torture. My cognisance
of the pit had become known to the inquisitorial
agents -- THE PIT, whose horrors had been destined
for so bold a recusant as myself, THE PIT, typical of
hell, and regarded by rumour as the Ultima Thule
of all their punishments. The plunge into this pit
I had avoided by the merest of accidents, and I knew
that surprise or entrapment into torment formed an
important portion of all the grotesquerie of these
dungeon deaths. Having failed to fall, it was no
part of the demon plan to hurl me into the abyss,
and thus (there being no alternative) a different and
a milder destruction awaited me. Milder! I half
smiled in my agony as I thought of such application
of such a term.

What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of
horror more than mortal, during which I counted
the rushing oscillations of the steel! Inch by inch
-- line by line -- with a descent only appreciable at
intervals that seemed ages -- down and still down it
came! Days passed -- it might have been that many
days passed -- ere it swept so closely over me as to
fan me with its acrid breath. The odour of the
sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed
-- I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more
speedy descent. I grew frantically mad, and strug-
gled to force myself upward against the sweep of
the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly calm
and lay smiling at the glittering death as a child at
some rare bauble.

There was another interval of utter insensibility;
it was brief, for upon again lapsing into life there
had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum.
But it might have been long -- for I knew there were
demons who took note of my swoon, and who could
have arrested the vibration at pleasure. Upon my
recovery, too, I felt very -- oh! inexpressibly -- sick
and weak, as if through long inanition. Even amid
the agonies of that period the human nature craved
food. With painful effort I outstretched my left
arm as far as my bonds permitted, and took posses-
sion of the small remnant which had been spared
me by the rats. As I put a portion of it within my
lips there rushed to my mind a half-formed thought
of joy -- of hope. Yet what business had I with
hope? It was, as I say, a half-formed thought --
man has many such, which are never completed.
I felt that it was of joy -- of hope; but I felt also
that it had perished in its formation. In vain I
struggled to perfect -- to regain it. Long suffering
had nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers of
mind. I was an imbecile -- an idiot.

The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles
to my length. I saw that the crescent was designed
to cross the region of the heart. It would fray the
serge of my robe; it would return and repeat its
operations -- again -- and again. Notwithstanding
its terrifically wide sweep (some thirty feet or more)
and the hissing vigour of its descent, sufficient to
sunder these very walls of iron, still the fraying of
my robe would be all that, for several minutes, it
would accomplish; and at this thought I paused. I
dared not go farther than this reflection. I dwelt
upon it with a pertinacity of attention -- as if, in so
dwelling, I could arrest HERE the descent of the steel.
I forced myself to ponder upon the sound of the
crescent as it should pass across the garment -- upon
the peculiar thrilling sensation which the friction of
cloth produces on the nerves. I pondered upon all
this frivolity until my teeth were on edge.

Down -- steadily down it crept. I took a frenzied
pleasure in contrasting its downward with its
lateral velocity. To the right -- to the left -- far
and wide -- with the shriek of a damned spirit! to
my heart with the stealthy pace of the tiger! I
alternately laughed and howled, as the one or the
other idea grew predominant.

Down -- certainly, relentlessly down! It vibrated
within three inches of my bosom! I struggled
violently -- furiously -- to free my left arm. This
was free only from the elbow to the hand. I could
reach the latter, from the platter beside me to my
mouth with great effort, but no farther. Could I
have broken the fastenings above the elbow, I
would have seized and attempted to arrest the
pendulum. I might as well have attempted to
arrest an avalanche!

Down -- still unceasingly -- still inevitably down!
I gasped and struggled at each vibration. I shrunk
convulsively at its very sweep. My eyes followed
its outward or upward whirls with the eagerness of
the most unmeaning despair; they closed them-
selves spasmodically at the descent, although death
would have been a relief, O, how unspeakable!
Still I quivered in every nerve to think how slight
a sinking of the machinery would precipitate that
keen glistening axe upon my bosom. It was hope
that prompted the nerve to quiver -- the frame to
shrink. It was HOPE -- the hope that triumphs on
the rack -- that whispers to the death-condemned
even in the dungeons of the Inquisition.

I saw that some ten or twelve vibrations would
bring the steel in actual contact with my robe, and
with this observation there suddenly came over my
spirit all the keen, collected calmness of despair.
For the first time during many hours, or perhaps
days, I THOUGHT. It now occurred to me that the
bandage or surcingle which enveloped me was
UNIQUE. I was tied by no separate cord. The first
stroke of the razor-like crescent athwart any portion
of the band would so detach it that it might be un-
wound from my person by means of my left hand.
But how fearful, in that case, the proximity of the
steel! The result of the slightest struggle, how
deadly! Was it likely, moreover, that the minions
of the torturer had not foreseen and provided for
this possibility! Was it probable that the bandage
crossed my bosom in the track of the pendulum?
Dreading to find my faint, and, as it seemed, my
last hope frustrated, I so far elevated my head as to
obtain a distinct view of my breast. The surcingle
enveloped my limbs and body close in all directions

Scarcely had I dropped my head back into its
original position when there flashed upon my mind
what I cannot better describe than as the unformed
half of that idea of deliverance to which I have pre-
viously alluded, and of which a moiety only floated
indeterminately through my brain when I raised
food to my burning lips. The whole thought was
now present -- feeble, scarcely sane, scarcely definite,
but still entire. I proceeded at once, with the
nervous energy of despair, to attempt its execution.

For many hours the immediate vicinity of the
low framework upon which I lay had been literally
swarming with rats. They were wild, bold, raven-
ous, their red eyes glaring upon me as if they
waited but for motionlessness on my part to make
me their prey. "To what food," I thought, "have
they been accustomed in the well?"

They had devoured, in spite of all my efforts to
prevent them, all but a small remnant of the con-
tents of the dish. I had fallen into an habitual
see-saw or wave of the hand about the platter; and
at length the unconscious uniformity of the move-
ment deprived it of effect. In their voracity the
vermin frequently fastened their sharp fangs in my
fingers. With the particles of the oily and spicy
viand which now remained, I thoroughly rubbed
the bandage wherever I could reach it; then, rais-
ing my hand from the floor, I lay breathlessly still.

At first the ravenous animals were startled and
terrified at the change -- at the cessation of move-
ment. They shrank alarmedly back; many sought
the well. But this was only for a moment. I had
not counted in vain upon their voracity. Observ-
ing that I remained without motion, one or two of
the boldest leaped upon the frame-work and smelt
at the surcingle. This seemed the signal for a
general rush. Forth from the well they hurried in
fresh troops. They clung to the wood, they overran
it, and leaped in hundreds upon my person. The
measured movement of the pendulum disturbed
them not at all. Avoiding its strokes, they busied
themselves with the annointed bandage. They
pressed, they swarmed upon me in ever accumu-
lating heaps. They writhed upon my throat; their
cold lips sought my own; I was half stifled by their
thronging pressure; disgust, for which the world
has no name, swelled my bosom, and chilled with
heavy clamminess my heart. Yet one minute and
I felt that the struggle would be over. Plainly I
perceived the loosening of the bandage. I knew
that in more than one place it must be already
severed. With a more than human resolution I
lay STILL.

Nor had I erred in my calculations, nor had I en-
dured in vain. I at length felt that I was FREE. The
surcingle hung in ribands from my body. But the
stroke of the pendulum already pressed upon my
bosom. It had divided the serge of the robe. It
had cut through the linen beneath. Twice again
it swung, and a sharp sense of pain shot through
every nerve. But the moment of escape had arrived.
At a wave of my hand my deliverers hurried tumul-
tously away. With a steady movement, cautious,
sidelong, shrinking, and slow, I slid from the em-
brace of the bandage and beyond the reach of the
scimitar. For the moment, at least I WAS FREE.

Free! and in the grasp of the Inquisition! I had
scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of horror
upon the stone floor of the prison, when the motion
of the hellish machine ceased and I beheld it drawn
up by some invisible force through the ceiling.
This was a lesson which I took desperately to heart.
My every motion was undoubtedly watched. Free!
I had but escaped death in one form of agony to be
delivered unto worse than death in some other.
With that thought I rolled my eyes nervously
around on the barriers of iron that hemmed me in.
Something unusual -- some change which at first I
could not appreciate distinctly -- it was obvious had
taken place in the apartment. For many minutes
of a dreamy and trembling abstraction I busied my-
self in vain, unconnected conjecture. During this
period I became aware, for the first time, of the
origin of the sulphurous light which illumined the
cell. It proceeded from a fissure about half-an-inch
in width extending entirely around the prison at
the base of the walls which thus appeared, and were
completely separated from the floor. I endeavoured,
but of course in vain, to look through the aperture.

As I arose from the attempt, the mystery of the
alteration in the chamber broke at once upon my
understanding. I have observed that although the
outlines of the figures upon the walls were sufficiently
distinct, yet the colours seemed blurred and in-
definite. These colours had now assumed, and were
momentarily assuming, a startling and most intense
brilliancy, that give to the spectral and fiendish por-
traitures an aspect that might have thrilled even
firmer nerves than my own. Demon eyes, of a wild
and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a thousand
directions where none had been visible before, and
gleamed with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could
not force my imagination to regard as unreal.

UNREAL! -- Even while I breathed there came to
my nostrils the breath of the vapour of heated iron!
A suffocating odour pervaded the prison! A deeper
glow settled each moment in the eyes that glared at
my agonies! A richer tint of crimson diffused it-
self over the pictured horrors of blood. I panted '
I gasped for breath! There could be no doubt of
the design of my tormentors -- oh most unrelenting!
oh, most demoniac of men! I shrank from the
glowing metal to the centre of the cell. Amid the
thought of the fiery destruction that impended, the
idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul
like balm. I rushed to its deadly brink. I threw
my straining vision below. The glare from the en-
kindled roof illumined its inmost recesses. Yet, for
a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to comprehend
the meaning of what I saw. At length it forced --
it wrestled its way into my soul -- it burned itself in
upon my shuddering reason. O for a voice to speak!
-- oh, horror! -- oh, any horror but this! With a
shriek I rushed from the margin and buried my
face in my hands -- weeping bitterly.

The heat rapidly increased, and once again I
looked up, shuddering as if with a fit of the ague.
There had been a second change in the cell -- and
now the change was obviously in the FORM. As be-
fore, it was in vain that I at first endeavoured to
appreciate or understand what was taking place.
But not long was I left in doubt. The inquisi-
torial vengeance had been hurried by my two-fold
escape, and there was to be no more dallying with
the King of Terrors. The room had been square.
I saw that two of its iron angles were now acute --
two consequently, obtuse. The fearful difference
quickly increased with a low rumbling or moaning
sound. In an instant the apartment had shifted
its form into that of a lozenge. But the alteration
stopped not here -- I neither hoped nor desired it
to stop. I could have clasped the red walls to my
bosom as a garment of eternal peace. "Death," I
said "any death but that of the pit!" Fool! might
I not have known that INTO THE PIT it was the object
of the burning iron to urge me? Could I resist its
glow? or if even that, could I withstand its pres-
sure? And now, flatter and flatter grew the lozenge,
with a rapidity that left me no time for contempla-
tion. Its centre, and of course, its greatest width,
came just over the yawning gulf. I shrank back --
but the closing walls pressed me resistlessly on-
ward. At length for my seared and writhing body
there was no longer an inch of foothold on the firm
floor of the prison. I struggled no more, but the
agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long, and
final scream of despair. I felt that I tottered upon
the brink -- I averted my eyes --

There was a discordant hum of human voices!
There was a loud blast as of many trumpets! There
was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The
fiery walls rushed back! An outstretched arm
caught my own as I fell fainting into the abyss.
It was that of General Lasalle. The French army
had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the
hands of its enemies.


Audio book:

Christopher Lee Reads Edgar Allan Poe

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