The travellers make their way to the inlet to find a beach strewn with the bones of elephant seals – and a slab of black basalt jutting out of the sand, a dozen metres wide and covered in grooves and nicks. Albright calculates that it weighs at least a ton – and while investigating it, he finds a torn-out and scribbled page from an astronomical almanac, stuffed into a seal’s skull and covered in sand. The page shows a list of past occultations and permutations of Venus, with the next due to occur this week – and a handwritten scribble from ‘PP’ saying he must reach Mt Lyall (one of the island’s smaller mountains) before ‘they’ do.
Mulling over this latest mystery, the travellers walk back up the beach to Port Corveaux, where they’re greeted by a ship’s horn! Is the Austral back? No – it’s the Tenerife pulling to the jetty and disgorging a trip of Germans, one of whom wears an SS uniform. The Germans are quickly ushered into the shearing shed for tea and biscuits, and the travellers meet weary, elderly Dr Walter Schneider, young and nervous Ludwig Müller, and sneering Unterstumbannfuher Thomas Faber – all of whom ask if anyone has seen their expedition-mate Ulrich Buschner, who has gone missing. They give little away about their reason for being in the islands, and in truth the travellers do not press them for information. Pekovic mentions seeing a small boat probably heading into the inlet in the night; the Germans consider investigating, but the late hour and the shallow water make that impractical, so they return to their base (after advising the travellers to leave). Helen chooses this time to show Claudette her sketch of the dead man, who becomes hysterical on realising that her husband, Pierre Petit, is dead.
Much later, everyone is asleep, Helen curled up with Claudette to comfort her. She wakes with a start to a noise – to find Claudette dead, stabbed through the chest with a carving knife! Over the bed, barely visible, stands Adéle le Gallodec, another knife in one hand and her baby in the other. Helen is made of stern stuff, and grapples both weapon and baby from the erratic woman. She holds Adéle at knifepoint and demands answers – to which Adéle says ‘death is his meat and blood is his drink’, lunges forth to impale herself on the blade, and orgasms grotesquely as she dies.
As this goes on, Albright is roused from sleep by Pamela, who says his telescope is in danger in the shearing shed. When he enters to investigate, she throws in a lit stick of dynamite from the de la Rue’s stores, and Albrights dashes out into the darkness to avoid the explosion! Pekovic wakes at this and arms himself with his service revolver to find Léone Ménager on the porch, urging him to come out. Too suspicious to fall for a trap, Pekovic and Helen defend themselves against the murderous women, and immobilise Pamela with a couple of shots to the leg. Helen threatens the baby, but Pamela instead demands she follow through and kill the infant as Albright fumbles his way back to them. ‘God is hungry,’ she says, ‘and death is his meat.’
As the travellers debate what to do, Léone returns, shrouded in a blanket – that she throws off as she comes near, revealing multiple lit sticks of dynamite. They scatter as the explosion consumes both Ménager women, leaving them confused, terrified and lost in the howling darkness of the night…