浓雾号角

The Fog Horn
作者:[美]雷·布雷德伯里
译者:Ent (本文又译《大海深处》)

在远离陆地的寒冷海面上,我们夜夜等候着浓雾的来临。雾来了。我和唐给黄铜的机械上好油,点亮了石塔顶端的雾灯。就像灰色天空下的两只鸟儿,我们把光束送出塔顶,让它触摸大海。红光,白光,又是红光,映入孤独船只的眼帘。即使他们看不到灯光,总还有我们的声音。我们的雾角那广阔深沉的呼喊,颤抖着穿透海雾的残片,让海鸥如撒向空中的纸牌一般惊散,让海浪高高掀起,飞花四溢。

“这生活还真是寂寞啊,好在你现在已经习惯了,对吧?”唐问道。

“是啊,”我说,“多亏还有你这么个碎嘴的人。”

“对了,明天就轮到你回岸上啦,”他微微一笑,“和姑娘们跳个舞,再喝上几盅琴酒。”

“唐,当你一个人留在这里时,你都在想些什么呢?”

“我想大海的秘密。”唐点燃了他的烟斗。这是十一月的寒冷夜晚,时间是七点一刻。炉火正旺,塔灯向两百个方向交替射出它的光芒,雾角在石塔高高的咽喉中颤动,回响。沿岸一百英里之内没有一座城镇,只有一条路,孤独地穿越死寂的原野通向海滨,沿途几乎没有车辆;然后又是两英里冰冷的海水才抵达我们的小岛,沿途几乎没有船只。

“大海的秘密。”唐若有所思,“你知道吗?大海是有史以来最大最大的一片雪花。波涛翻卷,浪花飞舞,变幻出千姿百态,永不重复。太离奇了。有一天晚上,那是很多年以前,我孤身一人在这里,就在那时大海里所有的鱼儿都浮出了海面。似乎有什么东西驱使它们游入海湾,仰在水面上,颤抖着凝视那高塔的灯光,红色,白色,红色,白色,扫过它们身上;因此我看到了它们奇异的眼睛。我感到浑身冰冷。它们就像一幅巨大的孔雀尾羽,在那里游动着直到午夜,然后,又无声无息地离开了。成千上万条鱼就这样不见了。我想也许,某种意义上,它们不远万里来到这儿,是为了朝圣。太离奇了。但是想想看,它们眼中的灯塔,高耸在海面七十英尺之上,闪现出神一样的光芒,用巨兽般的声音宣告着自己的存在。那些鱼,它们再也没有回来,但是你不觉得有那么一会儿它们感受到了上帝的临在吗?”

我打了个哆嗦。望向窗外,大海如同一卷长长的灰色麻布,伸展出去,指向无有之乡和无在之野。

“哦,大海包含着一切。”唐眨着眼睛,神经质地抽着烟斗。他这一整天都坐立不安,也不告诉我为什么。“哪怕我们有这一切的机器和所谓的潜水艇,还要再经历一千个世纪,我们才能踏入这片沉没大地的底部,见到那神话般的王国,并且知晓真正的恐惧。想想吧,海底那里仍然处在公元前三十万年的世界。我们在吹响喇叭列队行进,互相入侵对方的国家,砍掉对方的脑袋;而这时他们却生活在十二英里深的海底,深邃而寒冷,就像彗星的胡子一样古老。”

“是的,那是个古老的世界。”

“跟我来。有件特殊的事情我一直没跟你说。”

我们攀上八十级的石阶,不紧不慢,边走边谈。在塔顶,唐关掉了屋子里的灯,玻璃上的反光随之消隐。只有塔灯的巨眼低声嗡鸣,在上过油的滑槽里轻轻转动;浓雾号角平稳地吹响,每十五秒钟一次。

“听起来像野兽,你说是吗?”唐轻轻点了点头,仿佛在自言自语。“一只孤独的巨兽在黑夜里的呼喊。孑然坐在这里,在一百亿年时光的边缘上,向着深渊呼喊:我在这里,我在这里。而深渊也真的回答了,是的,它们回答了。小约翰啊,你已经在这里呆了三个月了,所以我应该让你做好心理准备。每年大概这个时候,”他说,凝视着阴霾和浓雾,“有个东西要来造访这座灯塔。”

“是你说的那些鱼群吗?”

“不,这是别的东西。我一直没告诉你,怕你会觉得我精神失常。但是到今晚我不能再拖下去了,因为假如我去年到现在的日历没标错的话,今晚就是它到来的日子。我不想再多说了,你得亲眼看看它。就坐在这里就行。只要你愿意,明天你就可以收拾行李走人,乘上摩托艇登陆,把你停在海角游艇码头那儿的车开出来,一路驶回某个内陆小镇,整夜让你的灯光亮着。我绝不会问你怎么回事,也不会怪罪你。已经三年了,只有这一次有别人和我在一起目睹这件事情。你就等着看吧。”

半个小时过去了,我们只是低声细语地交谈了几句。当我们开始等得有点不耐烦的时候,唐开始给我讲述他的一些念头。他有些关于雾角的想法。

“很多年前的一天,有一个人独自走在海边,在寒冷无光的海岸上静听海洋的低语。他说,‘我们需要一个声音,让呼喊穿越水面,警告船只;我会制作出这样一种声音。我要发出这种声音,就像亘古以来所有的时间和所有的浓雾;我要发出这种声音,就像彻夜陪伴着你的一张空床,就像推开一间空屋的房门,就像秋天里没有叶子的树木。这声音要像鸟儿飞往南方时的呼喊,要像十一月的寒风,要像大海拍击着坚硬、冰冷的海岸。我要发出这样孤独的声音,以致没有人会忽略它,每一个听到它的人都将在灵魂深处潸然泪下;在遥远的城镇里,每一个听到它的人都将觉得炉火愈发温暖,家中愈发美好。我要为我自己制作出一个声音和一件装置,人们将称它为浓雾号角,每一个听到它的人都将意识到生命的短促和面对永恒的悲哀。’”

雾角吹响了。

“这个故事是我编的,”唐轻轻地说,“是企图解释为什么这东西每年都会回到灯塔这儿。雾角在召唤,我想,它就来了……”

“但是——”

“嘘!”唐说,“那里!”他向外面的深渊点了点头。

有什么东西正在朝灯塔游来。

我说过,这是一个寒冷的夜晚;高塔阴森冰冷,灯光时隐时现,而雾角穿透纷乱的迷雾呼唤着,呼唤着。我们看不远也看不清,但是我知道在那里,深海在夜晚的地球上四处流淌,扁平而安静,带着泥土般的灰色;而在这里,只有我们两个人在高塔上。那儿,起初是在很远的地方,有一圈涟漪,然后是一阵波浪、起伏、汽泡和飞沫。再然后,从冰冷的大海中,伸出一个脑袋,一个大脑袋,颜色灰暗,有着硕大的眼睛;然后是脖子。再然后——不是身体——而是越来越长的脖子!那脑袋伸出水面高达四十英尺,下面是修长而美丽的深色脖颈。直到这时它的身体,宛如一座小小的黑珊瑚岛缀满了贝壳和虾蟹,才从海底升起,就像一颗水滴升出水面。它的尾巴扑动了一下。我估计这头巨兽从头顶到尾尖大概有九十或一百英尺。

我不知道当时我说了什么话。但是我肯定说了些啥。

“镇定,孩子,镇定。” 唐在我耳边低语。

“这不可能!”我说。

“不,小约翰,我们才是不可能的。它在一千万年以前就一直是这样了。从未改变过。是我们和陆地改变了,成为了不可能的存在。我们!”

它缓缓地在遥远的冰水间游动着,散发出一种伟大而灰暗的庄严。浓雾在它周围来回缭绕,时不时抹去它的轮廓。我们的灯光射向它的一只眼睛,被它拦截,捕获,又反射回来,红,白,红,白,如同高高举起的天线,用最原始的代码发送着讯息。它悄无声息地游动着,和裹挟着它的浓雾一样安静。

“这是某种恐龙之类的东西——”我俯下身去,双手紧紧抓着楼梯的栏杆。

“是的,是那个部族的一员。”

“可是它们已经灭绝了!”

“不,仅仅是藏在了深渊里。深深地藏在最深的深渊里。这真是个了不起的词啊,小约翰,一个真正的词,包含了如此之多的意义:‘深渊’。就这样一个词容纳了全世界所有的寒冷,所有的黑暗,和所有的深邃。”

“那我们该怎么办?”

“怎么办?这是咱的工作,不能离开这里。何况,我们呆在这儿,比任何一艘企图逃到岸上的船只都更安全。那家伙和一艘战舰一样大,而且几乎也一样快。”

“但是这里,为什么它要来这里?”

下一秒钟我就知道了答案。

雾角吹响了。

而巨兽回应了。

一声呼喊,穿越了一百万年的海水和迷雾。一声呼喊,如此痛苦而孤独,让我的头颅和身躯都随之颤抖。巨兽向着灯塔吼叫。雾角吹响了。巨兽又一次咆哮。雾角吹响了。巨兽张开大嘴露出尖牙,发出的声音却正是雾角自己的声音。孤寂,寥廓,渺远。荒芜大海,凄冷寒夜,天各一方,与世隔绝。就是这样的声音。

“现在,”唐轻声说,“你知道它为什么来到这里了吧。”

我点了点头。

“一年年过去,小约翰,这只可怜的巨兽远远潜藏在一千英里之外的大海,在水下二十英里的深处,等待着,等待着。这只动物说不定已经有一百万岁了。你想想,等待一百万年!你能等待那么长的时间吗?也许它是这类动物的最后一只了。我有这个预感。不管怎么说,人类来到这个岛上修起了这座灯塔,那是五年以前;又装上了他们的雾角,吹响它,向着遥远的海域吹响它。而在远方,你却把自己埋进沉睡,深深浸入对逝去世界的海之回忆;在那个世界里还有成千上万的你的同类。然而现在你孑然一身,孤独地生存在这个已经不属于你的世界上,在这个你必须藏匿起来的世界上。”

“但是雾角的声音传来了,消逝了,传来了,消逝了。而你也从深渊那泥泞的海底中惊醒;你的眼睛睁开,如同两只巨大的相机镜头;你开始游动,慢慢地,慢慢地,因为大海压在你的肩膀上,很沉。但是雾角的声音穿越了一千英里的海水,微弱而熟悉。而你腹中的炉膛也燃起了火焰;你开始上浮,慢慢地,慢慢地。成群的水母汇成河流,大片的鳕鱼聚作湖泊,你以它们为食,整个秋天都在缓慢地上升。游过薄雾乍起的九月,游过雾气渐浓的十月,号角始终在呼唤着你;直到十一月的末尾,经过一天又一天的减压,一尺又一尺的上升,你终于接近了海面,而且还活着。必须慢慢来;一口气浮上去的话,巨大的压差会让你爆炸。因此你花了整整三个月的时间去浮上水面,然后又用掉许多时日去跨越冰冷的海水,游向灯塔。终于,你抵达了外面那里。小约翰啊,这可是创世以来最大的怪兽。这里的灯塔在召唤着你,有着像你一样的长脖子高挺出水面,有着像你一样的身躯,但是最重要的,有着像你一样的声音。你明白了吗,小约翰,你明白了吗?”

雾角吹响了。

巨兽回应了。

我看到了这一切,我明白了这一切——百万年的独自等待,等待着一个一去不归之人的归来。百万年的与世隔绝,在海底忍受着时间的狂乱与荒谬,而在这期间,翼龙从天空中消失了,陆地上的沼泽也干涸了,地懒和剑齿虎风光一时然后沉入沥青坑中,而人类则像蚁丘上的白蚁般四处奔忙。

雾角吹响了。

“去年,”唐说,“这生物整晚上都在绕着灯塔游,一圈又一圈,一圈又一圈。始终没有靠得太近,我想它是觉得迷惑了。可能也有些害怕。还有一点点恼火,毕竟是游了这么远才过来。但是第二天,出人意料地,雾散了,艳阳高照,天空澄蓝如画。巨兽转身游走,躲开炎热和沉寂,再也没有回来。我想,这一年里它的心一定是始终挂念着这儿,辗转反侧,冥思苦想。”

巨兽离我们只有一百码远了,它和雾角互相呼唤着,当灯光扫过时,巨兽的眼睛映出的是火与冰,火与冰。

“这就是生活,”唐说。“永远是一个人在等待着另一个一去不归的人。永远是一个人爱某件东西胜过那东西爱他。到头来你就会想把那件东西毁掉,让它从此不再能伤害你。”

巨兽向灯塔冲来。

雾角吹响了。

“我们试试看会发生什么,”唐说。

他关上了雾角。

接下来的一分钟是紧张的沉寂。我们能听到心脏在玻璃窗间的跳动回音,能听到雾灯在滑槽里的缓慢旋转。

巨兽停住了,全身僵硬。它灯笼般的大眼睛眨了一下。它的大嘴张开着。它发出了一声低沉的咕隆,如同一座火山。它的头颅向两旁颤动,仿佛是在寻找那渐渐消逝在雾中的声音。它凝视着灯塔。它又咕哝了一声。然后,它的眼中燃起了烈火。它抬起身躯,前肢击打着水面,冲向石塔,双眼充斥着愤怒的苦难。

“唐!”我喊道,“把号角打开!”

唐颤抖地摸索着开关,但是就在他打开开关那一瞬间,巨兽已经高高立起。我瞥见了它硕大无朋的爪子,看到它趾间鱼皮似的网蹼闪闪发光,看到它扑向了石塔。它庞大的右眼缀在痛苦的头颅上,像一口坩埚一样在我面前闪烁着微光,让我觉得我仿佛就要尖叫着掉落进去。塔身颤动。雾角呼喊着;巨兽呼喊着。它紧紧抱住灯塔,啃咬着窗户,破碎的窗玻璃飞溅在我们身上。

唐一把抓住我的胳膊。“下楼!”

石塔摇晃着,颤抖着,即将支撑不住。雾角和巨兽一同咆哮着。我们跌跌绊绊地奔下台阶。“快!”

就在我们到达塔底时,整座石塔向我们身上倾倒下来。我们俯身跑下石阶,躲进小小的石砌地窖。乱石纷飞如雨,震耳欲聋;雾角戛然而止。巨兽扑倒在灯塔上。塔塌了。我和唐两个人一起跪在地上,紧紧握住双手,任凭我们的世界灰飞烟灭。

然后一切都结束了,只剩下黑暗,和海浪拍打着礁石的涛声。

还有另一种声音。

“听,”唐轻轻地说,“听。”

我们等待了一会儿,然后我渐渐听到了。起初是巨大而空洞的吸气声音,接着是恸哭,迷茫,和孤独。巨兽蜷伏在我们上面,在我们躯体之上和灵魂之上;它身上难闻的气息弥散在空气中,和我们的地窖仅一墙之隔。它喘息着,哭喊着。塔不见了。灯光不见了。那穿越了一百万年向它呼唤的东西不见了。而巨兽张开了它的大嘴,发出辽远的巨大响声,雾角的响声,一遍又一遍。那天深夜,远方海上的船只,寻不到灯光,什么都看不见;但是驶过了,听到了,一定是这样想的:是它,就是那孤独的声音,寂寞湾的号角。一切顺利。我们已经绕过了海岬。

这个夜晚就这样过去了。

第二天下午,烈日高悬,搜救队把我们从埋在砾石堆底的地下室里挖了出来。

“一句话,塔塌了,”唐沉重地说,“浪头狠狠地冲击了几次,然后它就粉身碎骨了。”他掐了一下我的胳膊。

四周没有任何不寻常的景象。大海平静,天空蔚蓝。唯一的痕迹是一大片绿色的东西覆盖着坍塌的塔身和岸边的岩石,散发出浓烈的海藻腥臭。苍蝇在四周嗡嗡作响。海水冲刷着空无所有的海岸。

第二年他们建起了一座新的灯塔,但是这时我已经在小镇里有了一份工作,还有了一位妻子和一座精致温暖的小房子。秋夜里,房间内散发出柔和的黄光,房门紧闭,烟囱喷出轻烟。至于唐,他掌管着新的灯塔,按照他的特别要求用钢筋混凝土建成。“以防万一,”他说。

新灯塔在十一月竣工。一天夜里,我独自一人驾车来到海边,停好车,眺望着灰色的海水,聆听着新的号角,每分钟一次,两次,三次,四次,孤单地响彻远方。

巨兽呢?

它再也没有回来。

“它远远地离开了,”唐说,“回到了深渊里。它明白了,在这个世界上爱任何东西都不能太痴心了。它将蛰伏在最深的深渊里再等上一百万年。啊,可怜的东西!人类在这个可悲可叹的小小星球上来去匆匆,而它却在那儿等待,等待……”

我坐在车里,聆听着。我看不见寂寞湾里矗立的灯塔,也看不见灯光。我只能听到那号角,号角,号角。它听起来就像是巨兽的呼唤。

我坐在那里希望我能够说点什么。

原载于《科幻世界 译文版》

THE FOG HORN
by Ray Bradbury

Out there in the cold water, far from land, we waited every night for the coming of the fog, and it came, and we oiled the brass machinery and lit the fog light up in the stone tower. Feeling like two birds in the grey sky, McDunn and I sent the light touching out, red, then white, then red again, to eye the lonely ships. And if they did not see our light, then there was always our Voice, the great deep cry of our Fog Horn shuddering through the rags of mist to startle the gulls away like decks of scattered cards and make the waves turn high and foam.

“It’s a lonely life, but you’re used to it now, aren’t you?” asked McDunn.

“Yes,” I said. You’re a good talker, thank the Lord.”

“Well, it’s your turn on land tomorrow,” he said, smiling, “to dance the ladies and drink gin.”

“What do you think McDunn, when I leave you out here alone?”

“On the mysteries of the sea.” McDunn lit his pipe. It was a quarter past seven of a cold November evening, the heat on, the light switching it’s tail in two hundred directions, the Fog Horn bumbling in the high throat of the tower. There wasn’t a town for a hundred miles down the coast, just a road, which came lonely through the dead country to the sea, with few cars on it, a stretch of two miles of cold water out to our rock, and rare few ships.

The mysteries of the sea,” said McDunn thoughtfully. “You know, the ocean’s the biggest damned snowflake ever? It rolls and swells a thousand shapes and colours, no two alike. Strange. One night, years ago, I was here alone, when all of the fish of the sea surfaced out there. Something made them swim in and lie in the bay, sort of trembling and staring up at the tower light going red, white, red, white across them so I could see their funny eyes. I turned cold. They were like a big peacock’s tail, moving out there until midnight. Then, without so much as a sound, they slipped away, the million of them was gone. I kind of think maybe, in some sort of way, they came all those miles to worship, Strange, But think how the tower must look to them, standing seventy feet above the water, the God-light flashing out from it, and the tower declaring itself with a monster voice. They never came back, those fish, but don’t you think for a while they thought they were in the Presence?”

I shivered. I looked out at the long grey lawn of the sea stretching away into nothing and nowhere.

“Oh, the sea’s full.” McDunn puffed his pipe nervously, blinking. He had been nervous all day and hadn’t said why. “For all our engines and so-called submarines, it’ll be ten thousand centuries before we set foot on the real bottom of the sunken lands, in the fairy kingdoms there, and know real terror. Think of it, it’s still the year 300,000 Before Christ down under there. While we’ve paraded around with trumpets, lopping off each other’s countries and heads, they have been living beneath the sea twelve miles deep and cold in a time as old as the beard on a comet.

“Yes it’s an old world.”

“Come on. I got something special I’ve been saving up to tell you.”

We ascended the eighty steps, talking and taking our time. At the top, McDunn switched off the room lights so there’d be no reflection in the plate glass. The great eye of the light was humming, turning easily in its oiled socket. the Fog Horn was blowing steadily, once every fifteen seconds.

“Sounds like an animal, don’t it?” McDunn nodded to himself. “A big lonely animal crying in the night. Sitting here on the edge of ten million years calling out to the deeps. I’m here, I’m here, I’m here. And the Deeps do answer, yes, they do. You been here now for three months Johnny, so I better prepare you. About this time of year,” he said, studying the murk and fog, “something comes to visit the lighthouse.”

“The swarms of fish like you said?’

“No, this is something else. I’ve put off telling you because you might think I’m daft. But tonight’s the latest I can put it off, for if my calender’s marked right from last year, tonight’s the night it comes. I won’t go into detail, you’ll have to see it for yourself. Just sit down there. If you want, tomorrow you can pack your duffel and take the motorboat into land and get your car parked there at the dinghy pier on the cape and drive on back to some little inland town and keep your lights burning nights. I won’t question or blame you. It’s happened three years now, and this is the only time anyone’s been here with me to verify it. You wait and watch.”

Half an hour passed with only a few whispers between us. When we grew tired waiting, McDunn began describing some of his ideas to me. He had some theories about the Fog Horn itself.

“One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless shore and said “We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I’ll make one. I’ll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like the trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and to all who hear it in the distant towns. I’ll make me a sound and an apparatus and they’ll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.””

The Fog Horn blew.

“I made up that story,” said McDunn quietly, “to try to explain why this thing keeps coming back to the lighthouse every year. The fog horn calls, I think, it comes…”

“But-” I said.

“Sssst!” said McDunn. “There!” He nodded out to the Deeps.

Something was swimming towards the lighthouse tower.

It was a cold night, as I said; the high tower was cold, the light coming and going, and the Fog Horn calling and calling through the ravelling mist. You couldn’t see far and you couldn’t see plain, but there was the deep sea moving on it’s way about the night earth, flat and quiet, to colour of grey mud, and here were the two of us alone in the high tower, and there, far out at first, was a ripple, followed by a wave, a rising, a bubble, a bit of froth/ And then, from the surface of the cold sea came a head, a large head, dark-coloured, with immense eyes, and then a neck And then-not a body-but more neck and more! The head rose a full forty feet above the water ona slender and beautiful neck. Only then did the body, like a little island of black coral and shells and crayfish, drip up from the subterranean. There was a flicker of tail. In all, from head to tip of tail, I estimated the monster at ninety or a hundred feet.

I don’t know what I said. I said something.

“Steady, bot, steady,” whispered McDunn.

“It’s impossible!” I said.

“No, Johnny, we’re impossible. It’s like it always was ten million years ago. It hasn’t changed.. It’s us and the land that’ve changed, become impossible. Us!”

It swam slowly and with a great majesty out in the icy waters, far away. the fog came and went about it, momentarily erasing its shape. One of the monster eyes caught and held and flashed back our immense light, red, white, red, white, like a disc held high and sending a message in primaeval code. It was as silent as the fog through which it swam.

“It’s a dinosaur of some sort!” I crouched down, holding to the stair rail.

“Yes, one of the tribe.”

“But they died out!”

“No, only hid away in the Deeps, Deep, deep down in the deepest Deeps. Isn’t that a word now, Johnny, a real word, it says so much: the Deeps. There’s all the coldness and darkness and deepness in the worldin a word like that.”

“What” we do?”

“Do? We got our job, we can’t leave. besides, we’re safer here than in any boat trying to get to land. That thing’s as big as a destroyer and almost as swift.”

“But here, why does it come here?”

The next moment I has my answer.

The Fog Horn blew.

And the monster answered.

A cry came across a million years of water and mist. A cry so anguished and alone it shuddered in my head and my body. The monster cried out at the tower. The Fog Horn blew. The monster roared again. The Fog Horn blew. The monster opened its great toothed mouth and the sound that came from it was the sound of the Fog Horn itself. Lonely and vast and far away. The sound of isolation, a viewless sea, a cold night, apartness. That was the sound.

“Now,” whispered McDunn, “do you know why it comes here?”

I nodded.

“All year long, Johnny, that poor monster there lying far out, a thousand miles at sea, and twenty miles deep maybe, biding its time, perhaps a million years old, this one creature. Think of it, waiting a million years; could you wait that long? Maybe it’s the last of its kind. I sort of think that’s true. Anyway, here come men on land and build this lighthouse, five years agao. And set up their Fog Horn and sound it and sound it out towards the place where you bury yourself in sleep and sea memories of a world where there were thousands like yourself, but now you’re alone, all alone in a world that’s not made for you, a world where you have to hide.

“But the sound of the Fog Horn comes and goes, comes and goes, and you stir from the muddy bottom of the Deeps, and your eyes open like the lenses of two-foot cameras and you move, slow, slow, for you have the ocean sea on your shoulders, heavy. But that Fog Horn comes through a thousand miles of water, faint and familiar, and the furnace in your belly stokes up, and you begin to rise, slow, slow. You feed yourself on minnows, on rivers of jellyfish, and you rise slow through the autumn months, through September when the fogs started, through October with more fog and the horn still calling you on, and then, late in November, after pressurizing yourself day by day, a few feet higher every hour, you are near the surface and still alive. You’ve got to go slow; if you surfaced all at once you’d explode. So it takes you all of three months to surface, and then a number of days to swim through the cold waters to the lighthouse. And there you are, out there, in the night, Johnny, the biggest damned monster in creation. And here’s the lighthouse calling to you, with a long neck like your neck sticking way up out of the water, and a body like your body, and most important of all, a voice like your voice. Do you understand now, Johnny, do you understand?”

The Fog Horn blew.

The monster answered.

I saw it all, I knew it all-the million years of waiting alone, for someone to come back who never came back. The million years of isolation at the bottom of the sea, the insanity of time there, while the skies cleared of reptile-birds, the swamps fried on the continental lands, the sloths and sabre-tooths had there day and sank in tar pits, and men ran like white ants upon the hills.

The Fog Horn Blew.

“Last year,” said McDunn, “that creature swam round and round, round and round, all night. Not coming to near, puzzled, I’d say. Afraid, maybe. And a bit angry after coming all this way. But the next day, unexpectedly, the fog lifted, the sun came out fresh, the sky was as blue as a painting. And the monster swam off away from the heat and the silence and didn’t come back. I suppose it’s been brooding on it for a year now, thinking it over from every which way.”

The monster was only a hundred yards off now, it and the Fog Horn crying at each other. As the lights hit them, the monster’s eyes were fire and ice, fire and ice.

“That’s life for you,” said McDunn. “Someone always waiting for someone who never comes home. Always someone loving some thing more than that thing loves them. And after a while you want to destroy whatever that thing is, so it can hurt you no more.”

The monster was rushing at the lighthouse.

The Fog Horn blew.

“Let’s see what happens,” said McDunn.

He switched the Fog Horn off.

The ensuing minute of silence was so intense that we could hear our hearts pounding in the glassed area of the tower, could hear the slow greased turn of the light.

The monster stopped and froze. It’s great lantern eyes blinked. Its mouth gaped. It gave a sort of rumble, like a volcano. It twitched its head this way and that, as if to seek the sounds now dwindled off in the fog. It peered at the lighthouse. It rumbled again. Then its eyes caught fire. It reared up, threshed the water, and rushed at the tower, its eyes filled with angry torment.

“McDunn!” I cried. “Switch on the horn!”

McDunn fumbled with the switch. But even as he switched it on, the monster was rearing up. I had a glimpse of its gigantic paws, fishskin glittering in webs between the finger-like projections, clawing at the tower. The huge eye on the right side of its anguished head glittered before me like a cauldron into which I might drop, screaming. The tower shook. The Fog Horn cried; the monster cried. It seized the tower and gnashed at the glass, which shattered in upon us.

McDunn seized my arm. “Downstairs!”

The tower rocked, trembled, and started to give. The Fog Horn and the monster roared. We stumbled and half fell down the stairs. “Quick!”

We reached the bottom as the tower buckled down towards us. We ducked under the stairs in the small stone cellar. There were a thousand concussions as the rocks rained down; the Fog Horn stopped abruptly. The monste crashed upon the tower. The tower fell. We knelt together, McDunn and I holding tight, while our world exploded.

Then it was over and there was nothing but darkness and the wask of the sea on the raw stones.

That and the other sound.

“Listen,” said McDunn quietly. “Listen.”

We waited a moment. And then I began to hear it. First a great vacuumed sucking of air, and then the lament, the bewilderment, the loneliness of the great monster, folded over upon us, above us, so that the sickening reek of its body filled the air, a stone’s thickness away from our cellar. The monster gasped and cried. The tower was gone. The light was gone. The thing that had called it across a million years was gone. And the monster was opening its mouth and sending out great sounds. the sounds of a Fog Horn, again and again. And ships far at sea, not finding the light, not seeing anything, but passing and hearing late that night must’ve thought: There it is, the lonely sound, the Lonesome Bay horn. All’s well. We’ve rounded the cape.

And so it went for the rest of that night.
The sun was hot and yellow the next afternoon when the rescuers came to dig us from our stoned-under cellar.

“It fell apart, is all,” said McDunn gravely. “We had a few bad knocks from the waves and it just crumbled.” He pinched my arm.

There was nothing to see. The ocean was calm, the sky blue. The only thing was a great algaic stink from the green matter that covered the fallen tower stones and the shore rocks. Flies buzzed about. The ocean washed empty on the shore.

The next year they built a new lighthouse, but by that time I had a job in the little town and a wife and a good small warm house that glowed yellow on autumn nights, the doors locked, the chimney puffing smoke. As for McDunn. he was master of the new lighthouse, built to his own specifications, out of steel-reinforced concrete. “Just in case,” he said.

The new lighthouse was ready in November. I drove down alone one evening late and parked my car and looked across the grey waters and listened to the new horn sounding, once, twice, three, four times a minute far out ther by itself.

The monster?

It never came back.

“It’s gone away,” said McDunn. “It’s gone back to the Deeps. It’s learned you can’t love anything too much in this world. It’s gone into the deepest Deeps to wait another million years. Ah, the poor thing! Waiting out there, and waiting out there, while man comes and goes on this pitiful little planet. Waiting and waiting.

I sat in my car, listening. I couldn’t see the lighthouse or the light standing out in Lonesome Bay. I could only hear the Horn, the Horn, the Horn. It sounded like the monster calling.

I sat there wishing there was something I could say.

原创文章,作者:瓦力,如若转载,请注明出处:https://www.kehuanstory.com/archives/904

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