Ull. In “‘Till A’ the Seas,’” a young man who, in the distant future, becomes the last surviving member of the human race. After tending to Mladdna, an old woman, until she dies, he seeks out what he believes to be another colony of human beings beyond the mountains, but finds it full of decaying skeletons. He dies shortly thereafter by falling into a well.
“Under the Pyramids.” Novelette (10,950 words); ghostwritten for Harry Houdini in February 1924. First published (as “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”) in WT (May–June–July 1924); rpt. WT (June–July 1939); first collected in Marginalia; corrected text in D; annotated version in TD.
The escape artist Harry Houdini narrates in the first person an account of a peculiar adventure he experienced in Egypt. Some Arabs—led by a man who uses the name Abdul Reis el Drogman—bring Houdini to witness a boxing match on the top of the Great Pyramid; but after the fight is over the Arabs seize him and cast him, bound tightly by rope, down a spectacularly deep chasm in the Temple of the Sphinx. After awaking, he struggles not merely to escape from the temple but to answer an “idle question” that had haunted him throughout his stay in Egypt: “what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent?” As he seeks an exit, Houdini encounters an immense underground cavern—“Bases of columns whose middles were higher than human sight…mere bases of things that must each dwarf the Eiffel Tower to insignificance”—peopled with hideous hybrid entities. Houdini ponders the curiously morbid temperament of the ancient Egyptians, in particular their notions of the spirit or ka, which can return to its body or other bodies after it had “wandered about the upper and lower worlds in a horrible way.” There are “blood-congealing legends” of what “decadent priestcraft” fashioned on occasion—“composite mummies made by the artificial union of human trunks and limbs with the heads of animals in imitation of the elder gods.” Considering all this,