A minute passed, and then another until the very silence itself begot restlessness, siring a sense of inexplicable fear that tormented each of them in the deathly quiet, which was interrupted only briefly by a circulating draught that seized and slaughtered the breath from their lungs. Each man fought the quiet and lost before succumbing to its conquering and accompanying chill. This thing, this object, this faint and terrible monstrosity had already wedged itself into the coming dreams of approaching nights.
"What is it?" asked James nervously after an uncomfortable breeze seemingly hailed from nowhere and dispersed beneath his skin.
No one answered.
"Is it a thing? I mean... is it or, rather, was it alive?"
Still there was no answer.
"Is that a tail hanging beneath it?" he asked as he brought his face closer to the page. "I think it's a tail."
James was now talking merely to hear the sound of his own voice and to disrupt the festering silence.
"Could be," answered John as James puffed a sigh of relief. "It looks braided, though, like a cable or something."
"You think it's a wire?" asked James. "Perhaps the whole thing is some kind of machine," he postulated.
"Well if it is it's unlike any machine I've ever seen," John stated.
"It looks like a sea urchin to me," added Benson. "I stood on one when I was a child. We were in Spain and..."
"An interesting story for a more dreary time I'm sure, Officer," John mumbled as Benson halted his dialogue before sporting an accompanying sneer.
The attachment did indeed appear wired to the barbed object and dangled beneath like some inanimate spine, a dark pendulum affixed to a concealed clock face. John began biting the inside of his lip, a custom he had inherited from his father whenever his wits were challenged. He bit hard. Had he been alone, he would have most likely reached inside with thumb and forefinger to tear loose the flesh from his mouth until it bled profusely. It was cathartic, a temporary release and reminder that he was still in control of a body that already had begun to sweat even in such a chilled environment. He restrained himself and allowed his hand to linger just inches above the image. Never before had he sustained so many injuries to nerves that suddenly felt exposed and threadbare. He experienced tremors in his fingers as they turned the page slowly.
The following images were met with the same forbidding silence...