25 October 2011

Mephitic and Abominable

My skin grew cold, and my hair stood on end as I listened to that steady and ponderous footfall. There was some creature there, and surely by the speed of its advance, it was one which could see in the dark. I crouched low on my rock and tried to blend myself into it. The steps grew nearer still, then stopped, and presently I was aware of a loud lapping and gurgling. The creature was drinking at the stream. Then again there was silence, broken by a succession of long sniffs and snorts of tremendous volume and energy. Had it caught the scent of me? My own nostrils were filled by a low fetid odour, mephitic and abominable. Then I heard the steps again. They were on my side of the stream now. The stones rattled within a few yards of where I lay. Hardly daring to breathe, I crouched upon my rock. Then the steps drew away. I heard the splash as it returned across the river, and the sound died away into the distance in the direction from which it had come.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Tales of Terror and Mystery

Painting: Nymphs and Satyr, William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 - 1905)

Mephitic: adj., Poisonous or foul-smelling
Abominable: adj., A thing of evil omen, loathsome, detestable

3 comments:

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  2. I'm so used to thinking of Doyle as a mystery writer, I never imagined he did horror as well. This was scary!

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