The latch clicked and with a gentle push the door swung open revealing sights forgotten to time and not laid eyes upon since perhaps the Piltdown man roamed the northern plains. Dr. Warren’s eyes filled with tears as he stepped through the passage and fell to his knees. With the entirety of his adult life devoted to nothing but the arduous searching he had found it. The men clad in robes and pompous whigs with sneering faces, who spat insults upon the ventures he had conceived, were now proved wrong. They all thought him mad for so long that the doubt began to cloud his own vision; but he believed in his research and now it was proven. It had taken his fortune, his family, his life and his credibility to obtain this moment and he savored it. Pulling a handkerchief from his person he dabbed at his eyes so better to take in the limitless vistas sprawled out before him. After fifty-four long years on this rock and twenty spent in quest, Dr. Warren had come to the home he had only been to in dreams. A quick pinch of his forearm confirmed that it was all real; and he stood up and proceeded down the narrow and crudely made staircase.
I kept digging until I found the grave sufficient for the late Robert Morris. The townspeople would never believe the reason for his departure from this world—I scarcely believed it myself; and in order to continue my ever-maddening investigation I was forced to dispose of the grotesque corpse and explain that he had wandered away after repeated failure to obtain evidence or explanation for the strange events that constituted our expedition. Failure could not have been further from the truth. A loud crack of thunder startled me as I threw the remnants into the shallow hole and stared down at the gouged face and chewed limbs of the third victim of my companionship since arriving in the small New England town and wondered if I was to be next. My immediate thought went to the revolver in my pocket which seemed a sufficient substitute for the claws and fangs of the daemonic entity that still lurked in the shadows…watching…waiting. A long minute passed before the rain poured down, washing away the thought as well as the dirt I’d removed and sending it back into the hole, covering the body in a swampy mass. I trudged through the forgotten graveyard to the accursed mansion—the genesis of my journey and all my hardships hitherto, and realized how alone I was. Why did I continue, in the face of such horrid circumstances, you ask?—to uncover the truth? justice for my slain companions? morbid curiosity?—I cannot say for certain. What was certain after that frightful evening was this: any belief in the christian world I had was gone, and my sanity was slipping away with it.
After visiting a communist nation, watching The Farewell, and listening to a philosophy podcast on individualism, one will start to ask this question: what is more important: the individual or the collective? Growing up in America, a country that was founded on freedom and the rights of the individual ingrained in our political structure, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our culture, it’s easy to answer “the individual”; I always have, never once questioning that outlook. I’m an only child; who else is there to care about except myself?
There once was a small man with a small life who lived in a small room. And in that small room was a small window from which the small man would look through. The small window shewed little more than a simple courtyard with a garden below surrounded by high walls adorned with other small windows. To most people it was just another window. To the small man it was a gateway; a gateway to places so beautiful they were beyond description. Nevertheless, every evening the small man would sit himself beside the small window and attempt to capture on the page the fantastical sights for which he played audience. No sooner would the small man finish writing than the words would lose their worth. So lived the small man, bereft of closure, toiling night after night till sleep came for him, and he would lay down his head and dream nothing.
The dying light of the warm September sun glinted off the metal head of the scythe as James swung it across his body, clearing the last line of wheat in the field. He set the tool down and wiped his brow with a smile. Seeing the fruitful gains of the past months’ work, arduous though it was, always rejuvenated his spirits and brought him—he hoped—one step closer to inner peace. He piled the stalks onto the blanket and made his way back to the farmstead. It had been a long day and he felt it with every step of his dirt-covered boots and dust-caked overalls. Reaching the barn, he dropped the blanket with a thud and took a moment to catch his breath and enjoy the sounds ushering in nightfall—chirping crickets, owls hooting off in the distance. It brought him back to watching the girls stumble around the yard trying to catch lightning bugs while Elizabeth would curse at them for getting their dresses dirty. The remembrance was bittersweet. Suddenly, he was snatched from the memory by the sound of a footstep on the freshly cut stems behind him. Without hesitation, he turned to confront whatever made the sound. He held his breath as his eyes darted back and forth across the field. A minute passed...two...he stood deathly still and listenened...waited. Nothing stirred. Damned rabbits, he thought and relaxed. Even after all this time and all those miles trekked, he never could shake the feeling that the horrors he tried to escape followed him here.
Crup had fled to the highest tower to have the best vantage point to look upon the city. He knew they would be coming for him in a short while and the last sight he wished for was the sun setting over the place of his youth. A gentle breeze brought the smells of the market; freshly made breads, exotic fish from the orient, and various salted meats. It was perfect. The narrow winding streets were emptying as the vendors packed their things. Kids threw rocks and danced out of their way in play as their mothers beckoned them inside before the dust storms came. Crup lifted his hand to wipe his eyes but it didn’t matter at this point. He didn’t care if the tears came, it was over. All because of one small mistake. His mistake. But was it a mistake? Crup would argue that in all his life he had never been so free. And wasn’t freedom something to be heralded not punished? Footsteps echoed up the stairwell with the clanging of armor. But did he care? He shook his head to answer the internal question. The sounds of the soldiers heightened as they drew nearer to their goal. Crup prepared himself by disrobing and turned to face the entryway.