Nuestra Señora de los hielos


Diversos orígenes se han barajado para el célebre grito de los nativos de Tsalal; Julio Cortazar recoge el más extendido, que lo hace derivar de Tekel, “una de las palabras (Mane, Técel, Fares) que aparecen en el muro del palacio de Belsasar y anuncian su caída”. En 1942, J. O. Bailey introducía su teoría de que “¡Tekeli-li!” derivaría de una corrupción del árabe “confía en mí”. La fuente la desvela Burton R. Pollin en Poe Studies nº 8 (1975): “el capitán James Riley anexa a su libro de 18176 un glosario de vocabulario árabe que incluye Tekkela por ‘confío en Dios’”.

Óscar Mariscal, Nuestra Señora de los hielos. Ficciones polares alrededor de la Narración de Arthur Gordon Pym.



Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres


In the northern sea, between Spitzbergen and the continent of America, there is a strong current, which always comes from the north, and setssouthwardly.It has been stated by some, that, in the spring season of the year, the water of this current is warmer and fresher than the surrounding water of the sea. Various other currents have, at different times, been observed, in different parts of the sea, setting from the north. Floating southwardly on these currents, have been seen large masses of ice, from fresh water rivers, with wolves and bears occasionally on them. New fallen trees have also been seen floating from the north; and various kinds of timber, some of which the species have hitherto been unknown, are frequently found lodged on the northern part of the coast of Norway, having drifted from some region still farther north. Trees have also been found floating in the ocean at latitude eighty degrees; when no timber is known to grow north of latitude seventy degrees. Also, seeds unknown to our botanists, and those of tropical plants have been found drifted on the coast of Norway, and parts adjacent, many of which were in so fresh a state as to vegetate and grow; when it is well known that no plant of their species comes to perfection in any known climate far without the tropics. And, what makes the matter particularly extraordinary, is, that these things appear to be drifted by currents coming from the north; when, according to the old theory, we must believe the sea to be always frozen at the poles, which would render it difficult, if not impossible, to account for the existence of the currents at all.

In the United States of America, and in Europe, the Aurora Borealis isalways seen to the north: But many of those travellers and navigators, who penetrated to high northern latitudes, observed the Aurora Borealis in the south, and never in the north. The region in which it is believed to exist, is supposed to be about the place where the verge commences, and about fifty or sixty miles above the plane of the earth's surface; and that the travellers who discovered these appearances south of them, were at that time beyond the verge.

The Indians discovered by Captain Ross, on the coast of Baffin's bay, inthe summer of 1818, in latitude seventy-five degrees fifty-five minutes north, when interrogated from whence they came, pointed to the north, where, according to their account, there were "plenty of people;" that it was a warmer country; and that there was much water there. And when Captain Ross informed them that he came from the contrary direction, pointing to the south, they replied, "that could not be, because there was nothing but ice in that direction."

Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres: Demonstrating That the Earth Is Hollow, Habitable Within, and Widely Open About the Poles, by a citizen of the United Stated








The Hollow Earth


In fine, the Great Old Ones are huge woomo, watery bags similar to the creatures that sailors call bêche-de-mer, trepang, or sea cucumber. A zoologist would place them in the class Holothurioidea of the phylum Echinodermata, which means that the barrel-shaped holothurians are cousin to such echinoderms as the starfish and the sea urchin.

So humble to see are the Lords of Creation.

I remembered hearing Bulkington and Captain Guy talk of bêche-de-mer, telling of how the earliest cruises to the Feejees had gathered hundreds of the creatures, which had then been dried in the sun or smoked over open fires on the beach. Sold in Canton, the best quality bêche-de-mer fetches ninety dollars a hundredweight. Their purchasers are voluptuaries who use the bêche-de-mer as a tonic and as an exotic delicacy, akin to birds‟-nest soup. Bulkington had asserted that when set into hot water, a dried bêche-de-mer will permeate the fluid with so marvelous and slippery an edibility that a woman treated to a private dinner of such wonder will surely—but I lose my train of thought, I shy away from our universe‟s humble mystery: the Titans at world‟s end are graven not in Man‟s image, nay, nay, the Great Old Ones are ludicrous slippery sacks. Even so, let me now stress, their minds are clear, wise, and beautiful. Indeed, it was their minds whose emanations I had thought to be from God Almighty!

Examining three Great Old Ones in detail with Eddie, I found them to be enormous thick-walled meatbags proportioned, severally, like a rolling pin, like a Turkish hassock, and like a gourd. All three had flexible bodies that were deeply striated as a sea urchin‟s shell. The five longitudinal stripes that run along their bodies consist of warty bumps in double rows, the warts the size of small mountains. These warts resemble a starfish‟s tube-feet and are flexible and roughly cylindrical, with somewhat concave tops. The extremities of the great sea cucumbers‟ bodies are as two poles: cloacal and ingestive. The cloaca is a thick turned-in pucker, but from their ingestive ends the trepangs evert ten branching treelike limbs of enormous intricacy. The flexible branchings give them an appearance like sprouting yams. The oral fans are used for seining food from the air; each bêche-de-mer periodically drawing its branchings back into its mouth, there to consume what has accreted. The ten fans are taken in turn—as a child would suck its fingers.

The rows of warts are used for sensing and for communication. The Great Old Ones‟ major sensory mode, other than tekelili union, is electric. Each of the tubes of light that flows out in any direction from the Central Anomaly emanates from one of the swaying mesas on their hides. When I watched attentively, I could see how the skeins of light darting through the inner sky were like giant ghostly versions of the Tekelili beings‟ fans. Apparently, the dual, mirrored spinning of Earth and MirrorEarth makes the Central Anomaly an endless source of electric fluid, and the giant holothurians use their tube feet to manipulate the continual discharge. Before he changed his mind about the Great Old Ones, Eddie took this to mean that our planet is a giant body, with the trepangs comprising a galvanically active central brain benevolently working for the greater union of the whole.

Of the Great Old Ones‟ inner nature I can give little more than my initial impression: They were calm, busy, and filled, I would say, with love for the world and for all the living things in it. The tekelili mindreading ability is an effect that seems to take its physical cause from the spatial constriction at the Central Anomaly. An equally odd physical effect obtaining at the throat of the bridge between the worlds is timelessness. Relative to a mind on the Central Anomaly, Earth and Htrae are moving with immense speed, yet so strong is the central tekelili that nothing goes unnoticed. I recall the words of a hymn—“A thousand ages in Thy sight, are like an evening gone.” How to fit something so majestically great into my small mind... and how to tell it?

At the very peak of our first union with the Tekelili, Eddie and I were able to see out through them. I could see out through the Tekelili‟s all-probing eyes of light and into all of Earth, Htrae, MirrorEarth, and MirrorHtrae.

                                                                     Rudy Rucker, The Hollow Earth


The Hollow Earth


“Pardon me, young fella, is this the home of Edgar Poe?”

There was a solid man of medium stature looking at me. He had a short nose, a broad face, and skin that was deeply weathered and tanned. I knew Eddie still had some bad debts, so I didn‟t answer the man directly.

“What‟s your name, sir?” I asked him.

Jeremiah Reynolds,” said he. “Come to see Mr. Poe from Washington. I sent him a letter advising him of my arrival today.”

I got to my feet and made him welcome. “Eddie‟s been talking about you. He went out, but I reckon he‟ll be back soon. My name‟s Mason Bustler, I... I know some Reynoldses in Hardware, Virginia.”

“I‟m from everywhere but Virginia,” said Reynolds, setting down his travel case and taking a seat. When he smiled, which was often, his leathery skin creased in many wrinkles. “So, Mason, what is your trade? And what does Mr. Poe say about me? Good things, I trust?”

“Mr. Poe‟s taken me on as a printer‟s devil at the Southern Literary Messenger,” I said. “And about you... he believes in the Symmes theory that there‟s big holes at the North and South poles leading to the inside of the earth. He was disappointed that you didn‟t tell Congress about the Hollow Earth in your speech last month.”

“Ten years ago I was a firebrand like our Eddie,” said Reynolds, chuckling a bit. “I traveled from city to city with Mr. Symmes giving speeches. He was an odd duck, our Symmes. He‟s dead now, you know; his grave in Ohio is marked with a great hollow sphere. Symmes and I made some converts, and Congress approved an expedition, but nothing came of it. In the end I had to lead my own expedition to the high southern latitudes. We made sixty-seven degrees; a thousand miles south of the Falklands. Surely you‟ve heard of the South Sea Fur Company and Exploring Expedition?”


“Was that trip the subject of your pamphlet?” I said politely.

“Indeed.” Reynolds beamed. “It is a pleasure to meet a young lad of such erudition! You have profited from your association with Mr. Poe! Yes, I led my own expedition for the southern Hole, but very soon the crew—ignorant money-hungry sealers—rebelled and forced us to turn back. Rather than return empty-handed, I had the crew put me off in Chile, where I spent some years tramping about. It took me nearly five years to get back to what we call civilization. Civilization indeed, that pack of purple-bottomed Jacksonians that is our poor young nation‟s Congress. The Symmes Hole is real, young Mason. I have specimens and tales to prove it. What think you of this?”

He drew a thumb-size white lump out of his pocket and passed it to me. It was an animal‟s tooth, marked all over with lines into which some native craftsman had rubbed ink. Along the length of the tooth was a thin map—the map of Chile, with all its intricacies of islands. Carved in less detail was the eastern, Patagonian, coast of South America, and even more sketchily presented were the jagged battlements of the southern wall of ice. The striking thing about this crude globe was that a hole had been drilled in the tooth tip, and the tooth‟s interior had been to some degree hollowed out. Etched on the inside was a mythical landscape of fruits and great beasts.

“The natives speak of a Hollow Earth?” I said, handing the tooth back to Reynolds.

“Indeed.” He nodded, his genial face grown solemn. “They call it the land of Tekelili, and their gods are said to live there. When a volcano erupts, it is the gods reaching out from Tekelili. I have more than the natives‟ reports, Mason, much more. I hesitate to speak openly of these things—I do not seek the ridicule of poor Symmes—but as you are a friend of Eddie‟s, you will understand. Did you know that in the southernmost climes of Chile the seals and migratory birds head out across the water towards the Pole when the season grows colder? And that there is a great white whale named Mocha Dick who turns his flukes, and sounds, and never resurfaces till three days have passed? He swims through a deep ocean hole to surface on the seas of Tekelili, Mason. Would that I could ride there in his belly.”

“Isn‟t Congress going to vote for an exploring expedition?”

Reynolds laughed wearily. “I believe now that they will finally vote the money for a proper United States exploring expedition, but the expedition will be, as Mr. Poe fears, of little ultimate use. A scheming pock-faced poltroon named Captain Wilkes is even now machinating to take command of the expedition; there is no hope of his pushing past seventy degrees southern latitude to the eighties and on towards the final polar ninety, where the great mystery must be found. The high southern latitudes hold wonders beyond imagining. There is a whole new world there for the men with the courage to vault the walls of ice!”

                                                               Rudy Rucker, The Hollow Earth





El Dios humeante



Me encontró un barco ballenero escocés, “The Arlington.” Ellos habían despejado en Dundee en septiembre, y había salido inmediatamente para el antártico, en busca de ballenas. El capitán, Angus MacPherson, parecía amablemente dispuesto, pero en materia de disciplina, como pronto aprendí, poseía una voluntad de hierro. Cuando intenté decirle que había venido del “interior” de la tierra, el capitán y su segundo se miraron, sacudieron sus cabezas, e insistieron en que me acostara en una litera bajo estricta vigilancia del médico de abordo. Estaba muy débil para desear alimento, y no había dormido desde hacia muchas horas. Sin embargo, después de unos pocos días de descanso, me levanté una mañana y me vestí sin pedir el permiso del médico o de cualquier otro, y les dije que estaba tan sano como cualquier persona.

El capitán envió por mí y de nuevo me preguntó de dónde había venido, y de cómo llegue a estar solo en un iceberg tan remoto en el océano antártico. Contesté que acababa de venir del “interior” de la tierra, y continué contándole cómo mi padre y yo habíamos entrado por Spitzbergen, y habíamos salido por un país del polo sur, por lo cual me encadenaron. Oí luego al capitán diciéndole a su segundo que estaba más loco que una cabra, y que debía permanecer en confinamiento hasta que estuviera bastante racional para dar una explicación veraz sobre mí.

Finalmente después de muchas suplicas y muchas promesas, me quitaron las cadenas. Y entonces y allí decidí inventar una cierta historia que satisficiera al capitán, y no referirme nunca más a mi viaje a la tierra “del dios humeante”, por lo menos hasta que estuviera seguro entre amigos.

                                                 Willis George Emerson, El Dios humeante







The Secret of the Earth


We halted only at long intervals, and generally in thinly settleddistricts, to overhaul our machinery, or stretch our legs upon theground. The amount of territory covered during that week was vast, the air ship being kept at her highest speed. We crossed rivers, great lakes, or inland seas. We saw sights well worth recording, and marvels which we longed to investigate, and would indeed have done so were it not for our utter inability to communicate with the people; and perhaps some day, even if we should not return, it will be worth to write a fuller description of all the wonders we encountered in that strange inner world; that world which, since the dawn of creation, has been so close at hand, and yet whose existence we have never suspected.

Far to the south we crossed a body of water so closely studded withmountain islets, that many were connected by bridges, and nowhere could there have been a thousand yards between them, and this for a distance of five hundred miles. And yet here were evidences of a past civilization, in the deserted old castles, and rock carvings which abounded among them. We hovered close above some of the largest of these relics, without eliciting a response from a human being. Manifestly they had been deserted for untold ages. The golden trumpethad vanished from these desolate halls, neither was there any sign of life within.

A change was coming over the air. There was a chill and the light was fading from the sky.

"We must prepare for cold weather ahead!" said Torrence.

And then we went down into the cabin and made everything as taut and snug as possible. The hatching to the upper deck was closed, and every crevice carefully chinked. Our portholes were fastened and screwed down. Our ventilators arranged, so that the outer air could only reach us through coils of heated pipe; and if the air ship did not fail us, it seemed impossible that we should suffer in our rapid flight across the frozen sea of the Antarctic regions.


Gradually our disk of heavenly light receded toward the north; and it was clear that we were rapidly approaching the south polar opening. At last it sank entirely out of sight, leaving us in a chill, rapidly closing twilight.


By the time our preparations were completed, it became necessary to start the heaters, put on warmer clothing, and confine ourselves to the cabin. We had bade a final adieu to the summer land, and the rigor of the south polar regions was ahead. Darkness was coming down upon us, as well as the cold, and occasional masses of floating ice were seen from time to time.

At last the stars became visible, the first we had seen in more than amonth, and then there shot up into the sky a great pink light—the_aurora australis_—to remind us of the bright and happy land behind. At that minute I felt a yearning to return; for there was the world of dreams, of poetry, rest, beauty and contentment.

"Torrence," I said, shuddering at the thought of what lay ahead, "how long will it take us to cross this horrible sea of ice and darkness?"

"If we press her, we can do a thousand miles a day. You can figure for yourself. But this region of cold and starlight need not disturb you, for we can dash through it like a meteor. Indeed, were it not for the danger of unlooked for eminences, we might sleep until reaching the land of the sun. But that, of course, cannot be, as a constant lookout through the forward port will be necessary."

The vessel had been furnished with a powerful headlight, which cast a dazzling illumination among the mirror-like surfaces beneath; and as we sat staring into the trembling path, constantly stretching away before us, we felt indeed, as Torrence had suggested, like the parasites of an earth-bound meteor, traversing these regions of ice and darkness in a single night.


Our cabin lamp was lit, and we were stationed at the forward lookout Torrence glanced at the speed indicator.

"Seventy miles an hour!"

I was startled. A mishap at such an awful rate of transit would smash

us into a thousand atoms, and the news of our discovery be lost to the

earth. But my brother was calm and unconcerned; he had no misgiving

while one or the other of us remained on watch.

"It beats the Erebus and the Terror," I answered nervously, peering into the marvelous vista ahead, and the rapidly extending pathway dancing and flickering in the wonderful headlight.

Fresh panoramas were constantly unrolled in the glimmering distance. There were scenes that were strange and alarming. Pinnacles and ridges of ice—autochthonous—awful—would compel us to rise to sudden and terrible heights, to clear them. It was like a steeple chase on a gigantic scale. We were leaping fences, and clearing ditches; only the fences were ice masses hundreds of feet in height, and the ditches horrible chasms whose depths could not be guessed. On and on we flew, through these regions of mystery, which the most daring explorer had never even approached, and without a flying machine it seemed likely he would never penetrate. We did not suffer from the cold, wrapped up in our cozy cabin, although our spirit thermometer, which was placed directly outside one of the windows, where we could see it, marked a temperature as low as -eighty degrees. It was an atmosphere of death, and fortunately we were hermetically sealed against it.

"I propose," said Torrence, "that our next voyage into the interior ofour planet be made through the south polar opening at midsummer, about January, to enable us to see what kind of country we are passing through!"


"That is easy enough to see now," I answered; "ice mountains, ice oceans, ice continents, icebergs, ice valleys of death; surely no living creature could exist in such icy solitudes, in such unutterable cold!"

"But you must remember this ice belt is probably not nearly so wide during the summer months. There is doubtless a change."

"Remember the Palæocrystic Sea!" I suggested.

"True," he answered, "but remember it was narrow, and that we have never seen it in the winter."

"Of all our experiences," I observed reflectively, "the present situation strikes me as the most remarkable, skurrying through these frozen regions like a comet, and spying out the land by the light of a candle. It is surely not the method most in vogue among pioneers!"

"It has certainly not been done frequently before," he answered; "but now that we know the way, a trip to the interior by either of the poles may become a desirable pleasure excursion; in fact it may grow into a fashionable fad, who can tell, and the future may develop——!"

He stopped suddenly, and we both became transfixed with horror at the sight that confronted us.

Directly below, but standing on the very pinnacle of one of the ice hummocks, was a human being, revealed by our headlight. The man was facing us, and waving his arms furiously. Could anything be more blood-curdling than such a sight in such a place? No ship or sled, nor indication of life was visible, save this solitary, deserted creature. The region was impenetrable to human beings; we knew it; it seemed incredible, and yet there it was, a living man, and alone, in this untraversed, and untraversable wilderness of ice.

Such solitude, such isolation, such an impossible fact, was like a sudden vision of the supernatural.

                                          Charles Willing Beale, The Secret of the Earth


A strange manuscript found in a copper cylinder


How long I slept I do not know. My sleep was profound, yet disturbed by troubled dreams, in which I lived over again all the eventful scenes of the past; and these were all intermingled in the wildest confusion. The cannibals beckoned to us from the peak, and we landed between the two volcanoes. There the body of the dead sailor received us, and afterward chased us to the boat. Then came snow and volcanic eruptions, and we drifted amid icebergs and molten lava until we entered an iron portal and plunged into darkness. Here there were vast swimming monsters and burning orbs of fire and thunderous cataracts falling from inconceivable heights, and the sweep of immeasurable tides and the circling of infinite whirlpools; while in my ears there rang the never-ending roar of remorseless waters that came after us, with all their waves and billows rolling upon us. It was a dream in which all the material terrors of the past were renewed; but these were all as nothing when compared with a certain deep underlying feeling that possessed my soul--a sense of loss irretrievable, an expectation of impending doom, a drear and immitigable despair.

In the midst of this I awoke. It was with a sudden start, and I lookedall around in speechless bewilderment. The first thing of which I was conscious was a great blaze of light--light so lately lost, and supposed to be lost forever, but now filling all the universe--bright, brilliant, glowing bringing hope and joy and gladness, with all the splendor of deep blue skies and the multitudinous laughter of ocean waves that danced and sparkled in the sun. I flung up my arms and laughed aloud. Then I burst into tears, and falling on my knees, I thanked the Almighty Ruler of the skies for this marvellous deliverance.

Rising from my knees I looked around, and once more amazement overwhelmed me. I saw a long line of mountains towering up to immeasurable heights, their summits covered with eternal ice and snow. There the sun blazed low in the sky, elevated but a few degrees above the mountain crests, which gleamed in gold and purple under its fiery rays. The sun seemed enlarged to unusual dimensions, and the mountains ran away on every side like the segment of some infinite circle. At the base of the mountains lay a land all green with vegetation, where cultivated fields were visible, and vineyards and orchards and groves, together with forests of palm and all manner of trees of every variety of hue, which ran up the sides of the mountains till they reached the limits of vegetation and the regions of snow and ice.


             James De Mille, A strange manuscript found in a copper cylinder







Un extraño descubrimiento


«En otra isla, a cien millas de Hili-li sobre el mismo meridiano —lo que equivale a decir en la misma corriente de aire cálido, aunque su temperatura se ve allí muy atenuada por la disipación—, la partida exploró las ruinas de una antiquísima ciudad que han intrigado a los hili-litas desde antiguo. La isla es bastante grande, y en ella mantienen explotaciones agrícolas que proporcionan una sola cosecha al año. El conjunto permanecía razonablemente inalterado por el tiempo, y algunas construcciones estaban tan completas que parecían sólo un poco más deterioradas que los edificios más antiguos y olvidados de Hili-li; la yerma superficie sobre la que despuntaban veíase sembrada de detritos y sillares carcomidos caídos en época inmemorial. La piedra en la que estaban labrados nunca había sido vista por los hili-litas, en sus muchos siglos de historia, fuera de aquella antiquísima megalópolis; suponían que su cantera podía encontrarse en el gran continente circundante. Pero después de todo, lo verdaderamente peculiar de estos edificios era su diseño —por desgracia, me resultó imposible obtener de Peters más detalles de naturaleza arquitectónica—: los de mayor tamaño albergaban patios centrales — en los cuales hallaron restos de fuentes ornamentales —, y una torre rematada por una cúpula puntiaguda que hacía las veces —en opinión del sabio Masusælili — de observatorio astronómico. A los pisos superiores conducía una escalera de caracol construida en el exterior de la torre. Los huecos de las ventanas estaban cubiertos con una substancia artificial parecida al vidrio aunque menos transparente, si bien la mayoría bostezaba de un modo enigmático y desafiante. En las paredes advirtieron restos de frescos de brillantes colores. Peters asegura que sus estructuras no contenían arcos ni columnas, aunque admite que no se percató de esta circunstancia sólo por propia observación, sino por haber sido comentada en su presencia por los hili-litas que componían la partida. Muchas de las ruinas carecían de techumbre; no obstante, él insiste en que el techo de una de las ruinas más grandes parecía intacto a pesar de la despiadada acción de los vientos antárticos. Cómo puede soportarse una cubierta sin elementos de sustentación vertical y sin arcos para la adecuada distribución de cargas, es algo que no puedo explicar; y es totalmente imposible que los muros de un edificio de esas dimensiones puedan, sin arcos, soportar cerramiento alguno. Los helenos, como sabrá, eran muy hábiles ocultando los arcos a la vista, a pesar de que los emplearon con frecuencia. Admito que debo haber aburrido muchísimo al viejo Peters con cuestiones arquitectónicas; y como yo conozco muy poco del tema en su aspecto técnico, y él lo desconoce todo en cualquiera de sus vertientes —y además no mostró interés alguno por las ruinas cuando las tuvo delante—, comprenderá que la descripción que poseo de esta

urbe ciclópea y arcaica es muy pobre. Tampoco pude obtener del anciano suficientes datos para formarme una opinión respecto a su extravagante estilo arquitectónico. Los edificios eran por lo general titánicos y fastuosos; de una tipología completamente diferente a cualquiera conocida del mundo antiguo: no eran helénicos, ni egipcios, ni asirios, ni romanos. Esto es todo lo que los hili-litas sabían y contaron. Además, descubrieron inscripciones en caracteres alfabéticos desconocidos para el mundo en la época de las migraciones masivas de los bárbaros al Imperio Romano, y también desconocidos para Pym. Una de las torres conservaba un gran ventanal de corindón translúcido azul y amarillo, con arabescos y símbolos geométricos trazados con incrustaciones de rubíes.»

—¡Qué mundo tan extraño —reflexionó Bainbridge—, en el que razas enteras vienen y van, dejando una ruina o dos y una inscripción indescifrable aquí y allá!

                                                       Charles Romyn Dake, Un extraño descubrimiento








Quién llama en los hielos


El aire estaba aún inmóvil y delgado. Al aspirarlo sentíase el olor del frío, y el olor sin olor del hielo, la falta de olor del cielo y del vacío. Por la nariz, hasta los pulmones, penetraba algo afilado y las pequeñas partículas vibrantes de la luz me hacían sentir etéreo y me embriagaban.

En este estado, sumamente lúcido, percibía el monte esbelto que tenía a mi frente, al otro lado del mar, tan parecido a uno de nuestros volcanes de las regiones del sur. Sin embargo, qué distante y qué diferente de ellos. ¿Podía decirse que esto continuara siendo el sur, o que tuviera realmente algo que ver con la Tierra? La visión era más bien la de otro planeta.

Arriba, el cielo estaba cruzado de temblores de luz y, a pesar de la tarde avanzada, permanecía azul como en el mediodía. El mar, suave, movía unas pequeñas olas sobre la playa de guijarros. Lejanos, avanzaban unos témpanos blanquísimos. Navegaban en paz hacia la entrada de la bahía. Sobre ellos batían sus alas unos pájaros felices. Describían círculos cada vez más amplios, ascendiendo hacia alturas radiantes. Tras de mí, las barreras del glaciar precipitaban sus enormes bloques y el ruido de los derrumbes parecía herir la claridad del aire, produciendo quizás ese continuo parpadeo de la luz. El brillo del hielo me hacía cerrar a menudo los ojos, esforzándome por mantenerlos sin lentes oscuros, para percibir el contorno en su máxima realidad.

Sin embargo, estaba sintiéndome tan liviano y todo me parecía en tal grado extraordinario que hube de bajar la vista para interrumpir esa visión.

Entonces, ahí cerca, sobre la playa salpicada de nieve, detuviéronse unos pájaros de plumas grises, con anillos rojos en el cuello. Me pareció haberlos visto antes, en alguna parte. Afirmé mi cabeza entre las manos y sentí el pelo frío: “¿Dónde los había visto?”

Alcé de nuevo el rostro. Allá, en la línea del horizonte, vi un cielo gris, cuyas nubes empezaban a ascender. Y entre ese cielo y el mar que lo limitaba extendíase una franja roja, igual que de sangre o de incendio violento.

Fue como si súbitamente un velo se desprendiera de mi memoria; lleno de estupor, reconocí ese cielo y esos pájaros, que ahora caminaban sobre la playa. Los había contemplado idénticos en mi sueño antiguo, durante mis “Tres Noches de Hielo”. Frente a mí tenía el mismo cuadro: cercanos a mis pies se movían los pájaros grises, de cuellos rojos, y hasta las piedras, salpicadas de nieve, eran tocadas por las olas.

Mucho tiempo permanecí sentado aún sobre esa roca, mientras la luz de la noche se acercaba, recreando el eterno día.

                                           Miguel Serrano, Quién llama en los hielos




Quién llama en los hielos


La fragata avanzaba entre témpanos dispersos, teniendo delante las cumbres nevadas de la isla Smith. Más allá, veíase la isla Snow. Y el cielo era de un azul transparente y frío. Los pájaros lo cruzaban siempre. La inefable existencia de ese contorno parecía estar envuelta en la música que surgía de sus abismos y de los seres invisibles y radiantes que viven en sus cimas pálidas.

Como aves, mis ideas también se fueron. Ya no podría pensar como antes. El golpe de la luz de la Antártida quema el alma y enceguece. El bautismo de su luz transforma al ser que habrá de cruzarla. El mundo de los muertos y de las sombras ha sido sobrepasado. Y si el peregrino retornara algún día, terminará deshecho como un iceberg en climas inhóspitos. Será como un muerto penando entre sombras vivas. O como un vivo entre los muertos, recordando su patria nupcial.

                                                    Miguel Serrano, Quién llama en los hielos


Symzonia: Voyage of discovery


I had not been long on the bank of this river, before I found cause to doubt the prudence of venturing thus far by land into an unknown country, in the appearance of fresh tracks of some huge land animal, which were larger than the bottom of a water bucket. Whether they were those of a white polar bear as big as an elephant, of a mammoth, or of some other enormous nondescript animal, I could not guess. I re-ascended the hill with all practicable expedition, collected my men, and hastened towards the ship as fast as possible.

We reached the ship after six hours constant marching, all completely tired out, our horses and mules being too feeble to travel, from long confinement on shipboard.

The discoveries I had already made were so far from satisfying my ambition, that my desire to push on and explore the internal world was more intense than ever. I was now convinced of the correctness of Capt. Symmes’s theory, and of the practicability of sailing into the globe at the south pole, and of returning home by way of the north pole, if no land intervened to obstruct the passage. My first thought was to enter the river I had seen, and ascend to its source, which must necessarily be in the internal world; for if the poles were open, there was not room enough for a sufficient body of land to the south of 84 degrees, to maintain so mighty a river. But I abandoned this idea, on reflecting that by confining myself to this river, I should at best enter the internal world but a few hundred miles, while by entering on the open ocean, I should be able to visit every accessible part of it.


On the third day a cry of terror called my attention. I saw the men all running for the boats, and thought it best to follow their example. We had all got into the boats, and shoved off into deep water, before I could ascertain the cause of the alarm, when the appearance of an enormous animal on the ground we had left answered my inquiries. The huge beast walked to the edge of the water at a moderate pace, and stopped to survey us new comers with great composure. I ordered Jack Whiffle, who was an excellent marksman, to give him a shot from a three-pounder, mounted in the bow of the launch, and at the same time gave him a volley of musketry. Whether the shot took effect or not, could not be discovered. He returned to the woods without haste or fright, and thus deprived me of the pleasure of securing his skin and skeleton, for the examination of the learned, and the benefit of Scudder’s Museum.


                             Adam Seaborn, Symzonia: Voyage of discovery






La noche de los tiempos


Y lo que había temido Coban se había producido: el choque había sido tan violento que había repercutido sobre toda la masa de la Tierra. Ésta había perdido el equilibrio de su rotación y se enloqueció como un trompo derribado, antes de volver a encontrar un nuevo equilibrio sobre bases distintas. Sus cambios de giro habían rajado la corteza, provocado en todas partes sismos y erupciones, proyectado fuera de sus fosas oceánicas las aguas inertes cuya masa fantástica había sumergido y devastado las tierras. Había que ver, sin duda, en este acontecimiento el origen del mito del diluvio que se encuentra hoy en día, en las tradiciones de los pueblos en todas partes del mundo. Las aguas se habían retirado, pero no en todos lados. Gondawa se encontraba colocada, por el nuevo equilibrio de la Tierra, alrededor del nuevo Polo Sur. El hielo había embargado e inmovilizado a las aguas del ras de marea que barrían el continente. Y, sobre esa explanada, los años, los siglos, los milenios habían acumulado fantásticos espesores de nieve trasformados a su vez en hielo por su propio peso.

Eso, Coban lo había previsto. Su refugio debía abrirse cuando las circunstancias hubieran hecho que la vida en la superficie, fuera nuevamente posible. El motor del frío debía detenerse, la máscara debía devolver la respiración y el calor a los dos yacentes, la perforadora abrirles un camino hacia el aire y el sol. Pero las circunstancias nunca se habían vuelto favorables. El Refugio se quedó como una semilla perdida en el fondo del frío, y no hubiera germinado nunca sino por obra de la casualidad y la curiosidad de los exploradores.

                                               René Barjavel, La noche de los tiempos



Diario del Polo Sur


Viernes 19 de enero.- Almuerzo. Temperatura: -30,3°. Poco después de la partida hallamos un montículo noruego y nuestras propias huellas; las seguimos hasta la siniestra insignia negra que nos anunciará la victoria de Amundsen. Nos llevamos este estandarte y su asta para utilizarla como palo en el velamen del trineo. Actualmente hemos acampado sobre nuestras huellas a 2.400 metros, aproximadamente, de allí. Por el momento, pues, no hay más datos de los noruegos.


La meseta ofrece ondulaciones pronunciadas en esta latitud, más acusadas hoy que cuando marchábamos hacia el Polo.


Campamento de noche (R.2) Altitud: 2.810 metros. Temperatura: -28°; mínima: -30,1 °. Durante tres horas esta tarde, al comienzo, marcha fácil; después, hacia el fin de la etapa, durante hora y media, penosa.


Muy curioso el cielo. Densas nubes de nieve viniendo del sur pasan sobre nuestras cabezas produciendo una luz deficiente; a cada instante se funden en ligeros chaparrones y, en los intervalos, el sol aparece y el viento cambia al SO. El arrastre comienza a ser laborioso a lo largo de la última hora, aunque el trineo sea liviano y el viento hinche la vela, tanta nieve fresca vuelve mala la pista. Nuestras antiguas huellas han sido borradas por zonas y en su lugar se han formado sastrugi dentados. El viento juega con la nieve polvo como arena. ¿Cómo se explica que los surcos dejados por nuestro trineo, sólo tres días antes, hayan desaparecido en parte, mientras que los de los noruegos, de un mes, permanecen visibles?


                                                         Robert Falcon Scott, Diario del Polo Sur



Diario del Polo Sur


El 14 de diciembre de 1911, Roald Amundsen llegó próximo al centro geográfico de la Antárida, a los 89° 45´ de latitud. El mismo día, pero a los 84° 8´, el equipo del capitán Scott hacía parada cerca del glaciar Beardmore:


Vuelan alrededor de la tienda, a la hora de la merienda, dos oscuros estercorarios. Les ha atraído sin duda nuestro Shambles Camp.


El 02 de enero de 1912, a los 87°20´8´´, el capitán Scott vió de nuevo un estercorario:


¡Por la tarde un estercorario! Evidentemente muy intrigado por nuestra presencia, el ave se posaba sobre la nieve delante de la columna y volaba algunos metros más lejos cuando nos acercábamos. Parecía hambriento. Un visitante extraordinario, considerando la enorme distancia a la que nos encontramos del mar.


El 09 de enero, a los 84°26´, el equipo de Amundsen, en su ruta de regreso, se topó con dos págalos (Stercorariidae):


Tanto Amundsen como Scott, ¿se habrán encontrado exactamente la misma pareja de dichas aves, o tal vez, con individuos de una misma parvada?

                                             Robert Falcon Scott, Diario del Polo Sur





El hombre del haschisch



«De pronto comenzó a contraerse con violencia la faz del Emperador y su labio a temblar rápidamente, y llorando de rabia, gritó en yannés con desgarrada voz al capitán de los torturadores que había un espíritu en la cámara. Yo no temía, porque los vivos no pueden poner sus manos sobre un espíritu, pero todos los torturadores espantáronse de su cólera y suspendieron la tarea, porque sus manos temblaban de horror. Luego salieron de la cámara dos lanceros, y a poco volvieron con sendos cuencos de oro rebosantes de haschisch; los cuencos eran tan grandes, que podrían flotar cabezas en ellos si hubieran estado llenos de sangre. Y los dos hombres se abalanzaron rápidamente sobre ellos y empezaron a comer a grandes cucharadas; cada cucharada hubiera dado para soñar a un centenar de hombres. Pronto cayeron en el estado del haschisch, y sus espíritus, suspensos en el aire, preparábanse a volar libremente, mientras yo estaba horriblemente espantado; pero de cuando en cuando retornaban a su cuerpo, llamados por algún ruido de la estancia. Todavía seguían comiendo, pero ya perezosamente y sin avidez. Por fin las grandes cucharas cayeron de sus manos, y se elevaron sus espíritus y los abandonaron. Mas yo no podía huir. Y los espíritus eran aún más horribles que los hombres, porque éstos eran jóvenes y todavía no habían tenido tiempo de moldearse a sus almas espantosas. Aún gemía blandamente el marinero, suscitando leves temblores en el Emperador Thuba Mleen. Entonces, los dos espíritus se abalanzaron sobre mí y me arrastraron como las ráfagas del viento arrastran a las mariposas, y nos alejamos del pequeño hombre pálido y odioso. No era posible escapar a la fiera insistencia de los espíritus. La energía de mi terrón minúsculo de droga era vencida por la enorme cucharada llena que aquellos hombres habían comido con ambas manos. Pasé como un torbellino sobre Arvle Woondery, y fui llevado a las tierras de Snith, y arrastrado sobre ellas hasta llegar a Kragua, y aún más allá, a las tierras pálidas casi ignoradas de la fantasía. Llegamos al cabo a aquellas montañas de marfil que se llaman los Montes de la Locura. E intenté luchar contra los espíritus de los súbditos de aquel espantoso Emperador, porque oí al otro lado de los montes de marfil las pisadas de las bestias feroces que hacen presa en el demente, paseando sin cesar arriba y abajo. No era culpa mía que mi pequeño terrón de haschisch no pudiera luchar con su horrible cucharada... »

Alguien sacudió la campanilla de la puerta. En aquel momento entró un criado y dijo a nuestro anfitrión que un policía estaba en el vestíbulo y quería hablarle al punto. Nos pidió licencia, salió y oímos que un hombre de pesadas botas le hablaba en voz baja. Mi amigo se levantó, se acercó a la ventana, la abrió y miró al exterior. «Debí pensar que haría una hermosa noche», dijo. Luego saltó afuera. Cuando asomamos por la ventana nuestras cabezas asombradas, ya se había perdido de vista.


                                              Lord Dunsany, El hombre del haschisch