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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Eyes In The Dark

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The thing was at a considerable distance; we could barely see that it was there and that it was moving. It was of an immense size; so large that it appeared as though the very side of the cavern itself had moved noiselessly from its bed in the mountain.

At the same moment I became aware of a penetrating, disagreeable odor, nauseating and horrible. I had risen to my knees and remained so, while Harry and Desiree stood on either side of me.

The thing continued to move toward us, very slowly. There was not a sound. The strength of the odor increased until it was almost suffocating.

Still we did not move. I could not, and Harry and Desiree seemed rooted to the spot with wonder. The thing came closer, and we could see the outlines of its huge form looming up indistinctly against the black background of the cavern.

I saw, or thought I saw, a grotesque and monstrous slimy head stretched toward us from about the middle of its bulk.

That doubt became a certainty when suddenly, as though they had been lit by a fire from within, two luminous, glowing spots appeared about three feet apart. The creature's eyes--if eyes they were--were turned full on us, growing more brilliant as the thing came closer. It was now less than fifty feet away. The massive form blocked our view of the entire cavern.

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I pinched my nostrils to exclude the horrible odor which, like the fumes of some deadly poison, choked and smothered me. It came now in puffs, like a draft of a fetid wind, and I realized that it was the creature's breath. I could feel it against my body, my neck and face, and knew that if I breathed it full into my lungs I should be overcome.

But still more terrifying were the eyes. There was something compelling, supernaturally compelling, about their steadfast and brilliant gaze. A mysterious power seemed to emanate from them; a power that hypnotized the mind and deadened the senses. I closed my eyes to avoid it, but was unable to keep them closed. They opened despite my extreme effort, and again I met that gaze of fire.

There was a movement at my side. I turned and saw that it came from Desiree. Her hands were raised to her face; she was holding them before her as though in a futile attempt to cover her eyes.

The thing came closer and closer; it was but a few feet away, and still we did not move, as though rooted to the spot by some power beyond our control.

Suddenly there came a cry from Desiree's lips--a scream of terror and wild fear. Her entire form trembled violently.

She extended her arms toward the thing, now almost upon us, and took a step forward. Her feet dragged unwilling along the ground, as though she were being drawn forward by some irresistible force.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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