In a spirit of fun, romance, and experimentation, today I am going to interpose and juxtapose reworded extracts of two texts: one a classic adventure novel and the other the script of a well-known romantic comedy. Readers may well guess the titles. Reading the one, I thought it fit neatly with the other, for all more than one hundred years separated them. The two passages seemed in dialogue, two approaches to the same den.
I had thought my only affliction was that I was banished from human society, alone, cut off from mankind, condemned to silent life. And then one day I was surprised by the print of a naked foot on the shore. I stood thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I went to it again to see if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that, for there was exactly the print of a foot—toes, heel, every part of a foot. How it came to be there I knew not, nor could I in the least imagine.
“Something is different,” I said, as I had over so many years said so many things and without reply.
But now it seemed as if I heard a voice, a sweet voice, as from the surf spray asking, “Good or bad?”
I wanted to say, “Anything different is good.” And, “This could be real good!” But for some reason I refrained and made haste for my fortification, as it came to be called ever afterwards. I was terrified to the last degree, looking behind me at every two or three steps, mistaking every bush and tree for this voice, which now seemed in danger of speaking again.
The wild ideas and strange, unaccountable whimsies that came into my thoughts as I stumbled homeward! To be thought worthy of human society had long seemed a raising from death to life, and the greatest blessing that Heaven could bestow. And yet now I trembled at the thought of seeing this other person—if it—the phantom, the print, the voice—could indeed be that.
I slept none that night. Sometimes I fancied it must be the devil, and reason joined with me in this supposition, for how should any other thing in human shape come so close? What vessel could possibly bring it?
In the morning I heard the voice again, as if waking with me, at my side and full of laughter. “I don’t think you know what day it is,” the voice said.
I shook my head. It seemed forever since I had run out of ink, stopped even noting the days.
“Today is the end of a very long day” said the voice next to or in my head.
“But why are you here?” I asked.
“You said stay, so I stayed.”
“And so would you say that fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself?” I asked.
“I don’t know about that,” was the reply.
— Wm. Eaton, Zeteo Executive Editor
Zeteo has yet to become so cheesy as to offer a free T-shirt to the first (or, say, the fourth) person to guess the titles of the two texts extracted from above. We do, however, now have a T-shirt, which is available for $18. If you would like one, please e-mail zeteojournal AT gmail, and we’ll make it happen. All praise to our graphic designer, Richard Delgado, for his artful work!