Sunday, January 25, 2009

Poe 6

I know not what grotesque energy compelled me to enter the small shop, for its exterior was in no way remarkable; possibly my curiosity manifested itself in the absence of a sign above the entrance. Only a small placard in the window, upon which was printed "EDIT," gave any indication of the shop's purpose, though I could not ascertain how anyone might be drawn in by that enigmatic word. And yet I entered.

The room in which I found myself exuded an atmosphere of gloom, its smoky and unwashed window admitting little illumination, but I readily saw I had been mistaken in concluding that such an easily overlooked establishment could not have sufficient business--whatever its business might be--to support its proprietor. For I found the interior to be filled with stacks of papers and books from floor to ceiling, not unlike some hidden room in an ancient and forgotten library.

It was only after several minutes gazing in wonder at the bookshelves that my eyes fell upon an old man sitting behind a desk stacked high with yellowed papers. He looked at me over his pince-nez, and I was taken aback at the magnitude of his muttonchops, like twin squirrel tails affixed to his visage.

"May I help you?" he inquired, and though he said it with no outward indication of malice, I sensed--and you may well think me mad for it--that he desired me dead.

I stress that I had never before put eyes upon this man, nor he on me, and yet as I looked into his eyes I felt an intense emanation of evil washing over me until I feared, indeed knew, that I would not leave the shop alive.

"I was merely curious as to what trade was conducted here, and stepped within to satisfy my mind," I told him. "I'll take up no more of your time, good man." I turned to leave.

"One moment," he said. "There's something I'd like to show you. If you'd step over here?"

Though I had no desire to do as he said, though every atom of my being screamed at me to run, to exit the shop would have been the height of rudeness. Perhaps he merely wished to show me some prized possession, a rare parchment or book. I stepped his way, and as I did so a previously unnoticed trap door fell open beneath my feet, dropping me onto a mountain of manuscripts in the dungeon below. I noted that I shared my domain with the skeletal remains of a dozen others.

The old man lowered a lantern and said, "A light, that you may read in your final hours, my friend. Sadly, it's all drivel."

My cries have gone unheard, as, no doubt, did those of my unfortunate predecessors, and I scribble these, my final words, in charcoal on the back of some fool's horrid manuscript. Should anyone chance upon it, know that like any sane man having passed three days reading slush, I welcome Death.

--Evil Editor


fairyhedgehog said...

That's masterly, EE. I love it.

Anonymous said...

I was hooked by the well-wrought complexity of the first sentence and by the second para I was reading with eager abandon. Really expert tongue in cheek ending, too!


Dave F. said...

oooh, I like this. It's convoluted like Poe and apologetic like Poe. His heroes always seem timid and put upon like this man, too polite to say no.

dana p said...

Most excellent.

This is going to be permanently burned into my memory: his muttonchops, like twin squirrel tails affixed to his visage. Not sure I'm entirely happy about that...