I was once a man
Street light flooded in through a small window and came to rest on an old orange glass lamp, casting a golden hue onto this mostly empty room.
All except for a single corner.
The corner was dim, light gradually faded, not ever leaving completely, but faded.
Residing in the corner was a writing desk covered in small pieces of paper from different sources. Books, magazines, pamphlets and all manner of printed material that had been mutilated to make a menagerie of text. Under the cuttings, drawn in a thousand different inks, were arcane symbols and images.
Accompanying the desk was a chair, small, quaint and covered with a badly worn red velveteen, but you couldn’t see the chair’s covering right now, not at this exact moment.
Here sat Emery.
Snip snip… snip snip, scissors glinted in the light, tiny reflections flecked the walls that darted here and there, a few moments later the literary works of Plato lay in tatters along with a copy of Science Weekly.
‘New Discovery in Quantum States’ read one of the cuttings, ‘Breakthrough in macro sub-particle research’ another announced from the desk.
Emery was searching, for an answer, hell he was searching for anything that could explain what had happened or that could help him figure out his existence, but he always ended up more frustrated than he started. The year is 2065, Emery doesn’t begin his story here, he was almost 130 years old but the tempest had not ravaged his looks, had not dulled his sense or wit, it only served to sharpen them.
He stared at the lamp in the room, glowing with a tangerine gild, the ambiance faded to match his corner. Emery sighed.
Standing up, he began to pace through the now dim room. When close to a wall the colour drained from its surface, only to return after he’d moved. “I’m not even sure how this happened, let alone why” the thought, “How could I become like this, become so… lifeless.”
Enraged he struck out at his desk, clippings fluttered through the air, turning over and over till resting on a pile discarded books. All but one had landed face down.
‘At my darkest, when at my worst, when I both loathed and loved myself, still… I could see an end’ it was the account of a junkie. Heroin, crack, smack, uppers, downers, she’d had them all but somehow still kept a even keel about one day not needing a fix.
The words filled Emery, he imagined a life without… without the struggle, just for a single moment the golden hue of the room began to return, soon to be reduced to the half-light of before.
A church bell tolled in the background, the city noise had dulled to reveal a chorus of insects. Emery preferred going out in the dark, he figured that darkness shrouded him from others. People couldn’t see the effects of his “condition” very well at night, everything tended to be dark already.
He avoided crowded locations, less people means less chance of hurting anyone.
At first he’d tried to visit busier locations, flitting from doorstep to alcove trying desperately to avoid the street light. But he’d been unsuccessful and more than a few had noticed this behavior. A policeman had stopped him at an intersection, trying to arrest him for jay walking, Emery looked particularly suspicious to the officer and wanted to take him in for questioning.
But mistakes were made, the officer was now dead.
The newspapers had called it a ‘Phantom Death’, an investigation lasted less than 3 days when the lack of tangible evidence was discovered, “A true cold case” the media had announced.
This wasn’t the first death, and although it would not be the last, Emery always regretted being there.
But that was more than 80 years ago, now Emery had traveling down to a fine art. He could slip between the streets without even a soul noticing he was there. Gliding from shadow to shadow, he was especially careful not to come too close to anything that was remotely colourful.
Emery wore gray fingerless gloves and a hooded black trench-coat that was buttoned up to his neck and tattered at its edges. He had the hood drawn and looked slightly downward so no one could meet his gaze. He carefully stepped between people as he proceeded down town, making sure that he did not touch anyone as he passed lest he arouse attention. A friend had asked him to visit a few weeks ago, back then he’d reluctantly agreed, but he now knew the reason for the invitation and was determined to make every effort to attend this very night.
He rounded a corner and saw the renovated warehouse where he had been summoned. All the windows were dark save one, it was illuminated from within by what appeared to be candlelight.
Emery stood on the building stoop in front of a grubby green door.
He reached for the door knocker, and sharply rapped.