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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Eyes In The Dark

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Desiree obeyed; I had risen to my knees and remained so, gazing straight ahead, ready for a combat if it were not a physical one. I will not say that a certain feeling of dread did not rise in my heart, but I intended to show Desiree and Harry the childishness of their terror.

Nothing could be seen but the uncertain outline of the immense bulk; but the same penetrating, sickening odor that had before all but suffocated me came faintly across the surface of the stream, growing stronger with each second that passed. Suddenly the eyes appeared--two glowing orbs of fire that caught my gaze and held it as with a chain.

I did not attempt to avoid it, but returned the gaze with another as steadfast. I was telling myself: "Let us see this trick and play one stronger." My nerves centered throbbingly back of my eyes, and I gave them the whole force of my will.

The thing came closer and the eyes seemed to burn into my very brain. With a great effort I brought myself back to control, dropping to my hands and knees and gripping the ground for strength.

"This is nothing, this is nothing," I kept saying to myself aloud--until I realized suddenly that my voice had risen almost to a scream, and I locked my teeth tight on my lip.

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I no longer returned the gaze from my own power; it held me of itself. I felt my brain grow curiously numb and every muscle in my body contracted with a pain almost unbearable. Still the thing came closer and closer, and it seemed to me, half dazed as I was, that it advanced much faster than before.

Then suddenly I felt a sensation of cold and moisture on my arms and legs and a pressure against my body, and I realized, as in a dream, that I had entered the stream of water!

I was crawling toward the thing on my hands and knees, without having even been conscious that I had moved.

That brought despair and a last supreme struggle to resist whatever mysterious power it was that dragged me forward.

Cold beads of sweat rolled from my forehead. Beneath the surface of the water my hands gripped the rocks as in a vise. My teeth had sunk deep into my lower lip and covered my chin with blood, though I did not know that till afterward.

But I was pulled loose from my hold, and forward. I bent the whole force of my will to the effort not to move, but my hand left the rock and crept forward. I was fully conscious of what I was doing. I knew that if I could once draw my eyes away from that compelling gaze the spell would be broken, but the power to do so was not in me.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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