Literary hobbyist who, in an act of sophomoric hubris, once dreamed of writing the great American novel. My ambitions having cooled since, I am now content to write for the pleasure of the craft and whoever finds my work of any interest.
June, 1914 – Bosnia: I knew June in Bosnia could be hot, especially if Spring has been particularly dry, a fact to which the greatly diminished depth of the Miljacka River which transected Sarajevo in a westerly direction now attested. On its own, it might have been tolerable, pleasant even, if I had been allowed the comfort of the customary summer wool haberdashery or the billowy linen garb of the local ceremonial tradition. But as it was, I had nearly sweated through the coat of my livery uniform by the time the Archduke reemerged from the Town Hall where he had delivered his prepared remarks to the assembled dignitaries of the city.
Chapter 1: Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. So they all said. Well before I had decided to embark upon a course of study at university, --well before I had even the first and faintest inkling of any dream to one day traverse the stars, --it was a well established and forgone conclusion among both the scientific luminaries, past and present, and in the minds of their adulating public, that mankind, --through sheer might of his own ingenuity and determination, --had encompassed the whole of the cosmos within his mind. Its structure, its movements, its composition, --all very well explained by the fields of both physics and mathematics as expressed in the groundbreakingly tidy equations wrestled from countless nibs of chalk as they scrawled across the blackboard with ecstatic ferocity. These had been the essential precursors to everything we believed. These were the much-reverenced shoulders upon whose immensity stood a gratefully indebted humanity.
PART I: The Experiment The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. I had been uncertain for a time that I was in the right place, and once or twice I was almost certain that I was lost. In the darkness of the forest, made worse by a cold and steady rain which fell heavily through the overhanging trees, it was difficult to maintain any sense of direction. But rain was good, and sometimes it was useful in our experiments. Unfortunately for me, however, it had turned the pathway through the woods into a treacherously slick morass, and but for the lantern I held in my outstretched hand, it would only have been a matter of time before I stumbled and injured myself. As if was, my boots squished through the mud, and conscious of an urge to proceed carefully, I clutched my medical case close underneath my coat as I made my way down the path. My partner had given me that medical case, --it had once been his, --and contained within it the whole accoutrement necessary for our practice together. Several scalpels of varying lengths and shapes, a Bunsen burner and a canister of its fuel, several vials of our proprietary medications, a syringe for their intravenous administration, and a metronome.
Appalachia is a strangely enchanting place. It's impossible not to be taken by its immense natural beauty, and then, after a while, by its deep sense of lore and mystery. There’s something about it that draws you in and arouses a childlike sense of curiosity and wonder. The way the mist descends upon the hushed valley and spills over crags, then seems to float across open pastures is a sight to behold for those who’ve never seen it. It inspires a sort of reverence, and when I first saw it in the early hours of the morning just after dawn, I thought it almost looked like incense being offered in the sight of nature’s cathedral. It’s a wonderful place to feel lost, and there’s no shortage of places to do it, especially at dusk as the sun starts to set behind the rolling mountains, setting the sky ablaze with one final flourish of its crimson brilliance before conceding the governance of the heavens to its nocturnal counterparts.