It is a condition of the publication of this text that all the named parties within will have passed on before it is released. I have chosen to do this to spare those involved the inevitable questions and distresses.
It all began with a letter from my good friend Howard. An excitable chap filled with whimsy and boundless enthusiasm but nonetheless most dependable. A man I had known almost my whole life. I had not seen him in some 2 years and so I was quite pleased at receiving this letter.
It described with great enthusiasm, a large and unusual crystal that he had found at a local antiquity dealer. The egg shaped piece was to him a great fascination, and he made all sorts of speculations as to its calming influence upon his nerves. We entered into a discourse for a time, considering all sorts of wild and unsupportable theories as to its origins, purely for our own intellectual and creative pleasures. This discourse faded but my friend remained frequently in mind and so when, over a year later, I came upon a curious tale that bore more than a slight resemblance to his crystal I passed it on to him in good humour.
I was most disturbed to find that he took the story to be fact rather than the fiction it was printed with. For you see the story was about a crystal egg, now sold and lost, from which one could observe a vista of the planet Mars and the inhabitants thereof via an identical crystal egg atop a mast upon the planet Mars. His reply insisted that it had unlocked for him the secret of the crystal egg and that this explained many unusual scientific observances of late. Of these observances I knew nothing, having been kept quite busy with my own projects I had allowed myself only the luxury of fiction and the occasional concert and exhibition. The papers to oft full of news that did not interest me I was completely unaware of anything regarding recent astronomy. Or of the events already transpiring in Woking.
Fearing for the nerves and perhaps even the sanity of my good friend I decided immediately to take the first train to London. To argue reason and logic, to check his diet and have a good physician look him over. Skipping breakfast and gathering the minimum possessions I hastened to the station oblivious to the hubbub in the streets. Though I did catch a chance mention of “men from mars” in a conversation I walked past just outside the train station. My curiosity was piqued but I was resolved to catch the early train and I had neither the time nor the inclination to be so rude. The station was becoming busy as my train pulled out and I noticed the smell of fire, not the coal fire, though that choked the air as we started off, but the aromatic scent of fresh green wood.
It seems incredible now that I could have gone about with such ignorance but that is indeed the way it was until a gentlemen sat down in the seat opposite me and began reading the morning paper. “Men from Mars? Cylinder falls on Horsell Common” Screamed the headline, tearing apart my reason and assumptions. It was like a scythe were taken to the back of my head. I was stunned. At first I disbelieved my eyes, assuming that the letter from Howard was playing with my senses I re-read the title. Again it read “Men from Mars? Cylinder falls on Horsell Common”. I shook my head, I rubbed my eyes, I looked out the window and focused upon the horizon. I looked again but was confounded by the man closing the paper to turn the page. Once more it was opened before me screaming “Men from Mars? Cylinder falls on Horsell Common”. I could doubt it no longer.
The air began again to carry a strong scent of fire, and for the next three miles there was a disturbing warm glow upon the wrong horizon. This headline of men from mars was too much to attribute to coincidence and I stared outside at the vista passing by trying to find some way out of the unreality of it all, something to quell this feeling of...