A little man with a sparking clockwork device in his pocket, and pupils that reflected light like flat silver buttons, left clues of himself all around—premonitions of a time and place somewhere in the future: he and I would have a conversation in an attic room. Everything that appeared as I went about the city was either foreshadowing or research. As I searched for clues to connect with the visions, a name appeared, and so I went to the library to look it up; only to discover that the name belonged to me, a pseudonym, or, if it wasn’t a alias, there was at least a piece of writing filed under it that was my own. There was the scene again, written down; the same scene that had been plaguing me through unbidden augury, as the days and streets rushed past.

I stepped into the page as across the threshold of a door.

The little man finally appeared in the small attic room, as expected. He was frightening enough to look at. He huffed. He told me “I’m very disappointed.”

“What?” I asked.

“Haven’t you figured it out?”

“Figured what out?”

“Very disappointing indeed.”

He had been hoping for something scarier. I asked him if I was responsible for the scene, the scene that we were playing out and that I had seen, quite clearly, so many ways before being brought into it bodily. He ignored me and asked me what came next. I told him. He said, “Obviously. But we really were hoping for something truly frightening.”

“You want me to tell scary stories?”

“You have it in you. But this…” he cast around, “this is nothing.”

“I found you scary.”

“What? The ominous little man?”

“You’re saying that I could have done better?”

“I’m saying I have to be going.” He shook his head.

“I made you too personal. Too cerebral.”

He perked up a little and looked at me. His eyes flashed. “Yes?”

“You’ve appeared this way, but I only find you disturbing because you’re knowledge-based. You come from knowing too much.”

“Only a few people are gifted enough to scare the hell out of people. We had high hopes for you. It’s sad. Time to go.”

“Wait! Tell me what all of this is about.”

“No. This may have been a waste of time.”

“Are you telling me to write something terrifying?”

He looked at me again: white lights in the dim attic. “Bone chilling. With any luck, you’ll recognize me again.”

And then he left, out the back door. A window cut into the wall looked out onto the enclosed staircase, but the landing was behind the door, occluding my view of him. The walls of the stairwell flickered with fizzled blue light. There was a grumble, and then a dark shape harrumphing down the stairs.

I was left alone in the room.


~ by A Mundi on October 17, 2009.

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