An injured archeologist is mesmerized by the appearance at dusk near his camp of a hoard of snakes.

Ballard does a great job of capturing the tone of the British colonial mindset in the crippled Charles Gifford who manages to be abusive to his Indian servants even when flat on his back. Even as his expedition to the Central American jungles, and his marriage, crumbles around him, Gifford commands the world to comply with his apparently hallucinogenic visions.