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ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



Weird Tales MAY, 1941

By What Mystic Mooring

By FRANK OWEN

The fog is on Yesterday's edge—for Time ceases when the mists begin.

THE morning had been dull, dreary. In Buitenzorg, all activity ceased. It was a moment of languor, of repose. The usual strident voices of the surrounding forests were suppressed, as though nature had ended her song on a high note of which but a faint echo remained. Over the Javanese city, a fog was slowly descending, a strange fog that shimmered and glowed with a thousand fantastic designs. It brought a cessation of stillness, for now in the weird white-yellow glow there were voices, whispering, murmuring, as though people were speaking in the distance.

Alan Wedmore sat in a corner of a cafe, gating through the open window on a city slowly changing into a tapestry in which the figures were blurred, grotesque, occasionally formless. The air was intensely oppressive. It was difficult to breathe. Wedmore had had a touch of fever and his head was still heavy. Nevertheless he surveyed the scene curiously as the monstrous fog wove its way like a serpent through the streets and alleys of the city.

Abruptly his thoughts were diverted as he noticed that seated opposite to him at the table was a Chinese whose face suggested great age, for it was bronzed and lined as though it had been left out in the rain all night and become rusted. But then he was in an amiable mood for he had had many brandies. His spirits were bubbling over.

"Welcome," he said cordially, "whoever you are. What do you think of our tapestries?"

As he spoke he pointed toward the fog.

"It is well that you appreciate them," said the stranger. His voice was low, yet each word fell upon the air full-born, an odd voice that showed vast training in the elegant winding paths of conversation.

"Tapestries," chuckled Wedmore, "not by Gobelins but goblins."

"By many words wit is exhausted."

"But I have said very few."

"Words whispered on earth sound like thunder in heaven."

There was something ominous in the stranger's tone, though perhaps it was only because of the sinister glowing fog that had climbed to the window ledge and was drifting into the cafe. It had a sobering effect on Wedmore. A man cannot afford to give himself over to the joys of intoxication when he is in danger. He stifled the thought as soon as it sprang up, but it refused to be vanquished. He gazed intently at the face of his companion which despite the suggestion of great age, mirrored an expression as tranquil and contented as that of a child. Soundlessly he had come as though on the wings of the fog. Wedmore shivered as he gazed into the gaunt face. The eyes were deep sunken but glowing with light, at strange variance to the brownish ivory texture of the skin. Although Wedmore had never met the man before, about him there was a vague familiar something, an intangible essence that suggested they were not entirely strangers...

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