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upon my eyes. The air was full of the throb and hum of machinery
pumping air down the shaft.
‘I do not know how long I lay. I was roused by a soft hand
touching my face.
Starting up in the darkness I snatched at my matches and, hastily
striking one, I saw three stooping white creatures similar to the one
I had seen above ground in the ruin, hastily retreating before the
light. Living, as they did, in what appeared to me impenetrable
darkness, their eyes were abnormally large and sensitive, just as
are the pupils of the abysmal fishes, and they reflected the light in
the same way. I have no doubt they could see me in that rayless
obscurity, and they did not seem to have any fear of me apart from
the light. But, so soon as I struck a match in order to see them, they
fled incontinently, vanishing into dark gutters and tunnels, from
which their eyes glared at me in the strangest fashion.
‘I tried to call to them, but the language they had was apparently
different from that of the Over-world people; so that I was needs
left to my own unaided efforts, and the thought of flight before
exploration was even then in my mind.
But I said to myself, “You are in for it now,” and, feeling my way
along the tunnel, I found the noise of machinery grow louder.
Presently the walls fell away from me, and I came to a large open
space, and striking another match, saw that I had entered a vast
arched cavern, which stretched into utter darkness beyond the
range of my light. The view I had of it was as much as one could
see in the burning of a match.
‘Necessarily my memory is vague. Great shapes like big machines
rose out of the dimness, and cast grotesque black shadows, in
which dim spectral Morlocks sheltered from the glare. The place,
by the by, was very stuffy and oppressive, and the faint halitus of
freshly shed blood was in the air. Some way down the central vista
was a little table of white metal, laid with what seemed a meal. The
Morlocks at any rate were carnivorous! Even at the time, I
remember wondering what large animal could have survived to
furnish the red joint I saw. It was all very indistinct: the heavy
smell, the big unmeaning shapes, the obscene figures lurking in the
shadows, and only waiting for the darkness to come at me again!
Then the match burned down, and stung my fingers, and fell, a
wriggling red spot in the blackness.
‘I have thought since how particularly ill-equipped I was for such
an experience. When I had started with the Time Machine, I had
started with the absurd assumption that the men of the Future
would certainly be infinitely ahead of ourselves in all their
appliances. I had come without arms, without medicine, without