The beginning and the end…
I am sleeping when it begins. The hard scratching, like the sound of a heavy nail against an unforgiving surface. And there is breathing, although I am uncertain of the source.
At first, as I become slowly aware, I think possibly it is a small child. But then I remember I am alone and have always been so. My move to the El Moore was to seek lodging in a kind space of others who would cause me to forget the inescapability of my haunted circumstances. And ever since that warm spring day in 1905 when I took up residency here in Detroit at this somewhat unusual but strangely charming establishment, I am pleased to say the community here has more than measured up to my rather desperate hopes.
I am reminded that it is neither a warm nor a pleasant day as consciousness returns, but I am unsure whether or not to open my eyes. It is the alien breathing more than the fevered scratching which causes me to hesitate. Perhaps it is better to play dead in such a situation rather than to invite the actual thing itself. But then something causes me to cough, an unwelcome tickling in the back of my throat.
The nature of the breathing changes and becomes more menacing somehow. The scratching stops and I can sense the thing looking in my direction, wondering, perhaps calculating. I am sure the sound of my heartbeat has become deafening against the sudden silence as even the breathing comes to a halt. I fear the end, but then comes an angry stomping sound that is thick and damp, as if made by a heavy appendage through slimy layers of mud.
The scratching becomes quicker, more urgent. Perhaps the end of darkness is near.
It is morning when I see the date…but how did I…?
I am outside, in the turret. The sky above is gray and the wind is blowing particularly hard, but what catches my eye right in front of me is that carved number etched into red brick. It is dark and awkward somehow, and it is glowing.
Like the sound of a heavy nail against an unforgiving surface.
Twenty-three years later to the day is when it began all over again. I fear I shall never escape…