All posts by Dathan Emries

Lonely Night

With a subtle click of a deadbolt lock sliding free, the door swung open into the foyer. A figure silhouetted by a flash of lightning filled the doorframe. Raindrops splashed across the threshold onto to reddish-brown tile. Black thick-soled boots entered the house spreading more water on the floor. In one fluid motion the figure entered and shut the door behind him. He removed his saturated coat and placed it on the rack with practiced ease. For a moment he stood there to perceive the surroundings. Dathan, satisfied that he is alone, ran his right hand through his too damp hair, brushing it away from his forehead.

He stepped left into the darkness of the sitting room. He navigated the darkness past a chair and a table. Several more steps and he reached into the darkness where his fingers found a shelf. His hand found a familiar shape and fumbled upwards until he reached a small knob. A deft twitch of his fingers sparked light and the lamp revealed this small world. A cursory glance of the room and he cut a path across to a small island bar. He moved behind the bar and opened the left cabinet door. Within the cabinet were three short glasses resting upside down. He selected the one furthest right and nearest him. Dathan held it toward the light and inspected the inside. He set the glass atop the bar and opened the right door, simultaneously closing the left door with his knee. From the right cabinet he pulled a greenish bottle filled with scotch. This bottle he did not inspect. He merely removed the cap and with a steady pour filled half the glass. Not through with it, he set the bottle on the bar. Picking up the glass, he downed half it’s contents in one quick drink.

Dathan surveyed the room while he contemplated the glass in his hand. To his left and furthest from the door in which entered was a desk and chair. Behind the desk was a large picture window from which the street outside could be seen. Over the window were drawn heavy red drapes. The drapes had not been opened in a very long time. The far side of the room was occupied by a modest bookshelf filled with dusty volumes that Dathan might never read. At the right side of the shelf, midway from the floor was a lamp. Dathan couldn’t remember from where it came. A bit to the right and in front of the shelf was a chair and a table where someone, if one were so inclined, might enjoy a cup of tea while doing some light reading. The only other piece of furniture was the cabinet bar behind which Dathan stood. In Dathan’s mind, it was the only functional furniture in the room.

Dathan clenched his left hand into a fist as a memory of what would happen next splashed through his mind. The telephone rang. Dathan set the glass down heavily on the bar. He moved to the desk and stared at the phone. It was a dull pea-green hard plastic rotary phone. At the fourth ring, Dathan stood and wondered if he should even bother answering it as he has done over a hundred times before. He cut the sixth ring short and put the handle to his ear. He said nothing and the phone gave only a faint hum. This happens every time, as it has done over a hundred times before, except this time will be different. This time there is a voice.

“Dathan,” a woman said faintly, “you must,” getting louder, “let me go.” The call ended with a sharp click and then silence. No dial tone nor busy signal, just silence. Dathan moved to replace the hook on the cradle but then simply let it fall from his hand.

A dam had broken in Dathan’s mind. Five words ricocheted through his brain shattering his reason. Those words last spoken by his wife before she died. Annabelle had never lived long enough to see a phone, much less call him on one., but he was certain that was her voice delivering salvation.

Two truths became clear to Dathan: First, he was no longer trapped in this time and place and second, that Phillip Neuman must die.

The Beginning of All My Tomorrows

Epigraph

How I met the Gent continued

Main Content

Reality is unraveling around me. While I watched Annabelle, my wife, rapidly descend into madness and throughout the time since her death, I’ve seen my whole world unravel around me. Everything that meant anything turned to rubbish. My home, my lands, my wealth, family and friends had all become shadows and ghosts. When the Gent fed me this morsel of information, I did not respond with shock or fear, but with disgust.

I looked down at the drink in my hand. As if to emphasize the point, the glass of ale was now glass of whiskey. I raised the glass to eye level and considered reality in the grand scheme of my life and muttered, “It’s just one more thing.” I tossed the whiskey down my throat.

The Gent watched me calmly through a thickening cloud of smoke. I refused to look at him, but I could see that he was content to wait for me to speak to him directly. I stared blankly at the two full glasses the barmaid had set on the table. I wanted nothing more than to down them both and hope they would finally grant me the oblivion I had sought. I reached for the nearer of the two glasses while the Gent looked on. I downed it in one swallow. Unlike the other glass of whiskey, this one was aged scotch and it burned all the way down.

I looked in his direction and asked, “Why?”

He reached across the table to take my empty glass. He dropped the remainder of his cigarette in the glass to smolder. “Something tragic has happened to you,” my snicker cut him short.

“You gonna tell my fortune?” I asked.

He started again, more forcefully this time, “Something tragic has happened to you and it has set you apart from other people. Something beyond the norm. Someone, somewhere is trying to use that as a means to open a door to another reality. That is why I’m here, Mr. Emries, to help you.” He stopped talking so I took that as my cue to speak.

“What can you do to help me?” I said accusingly.

“I can stop reality from shifting and maybe give you a bit a perspective, if you’ll let me.”

“What if I don’t let you? What if I don’t believe you at all?” I challenged.

“That could possibly pose a potential problem of epic proportions. Mr. Emries… Dathan, will you allow me to help you?” he pleaded with a degree of calculation.

A wave of defeat washed over me. I couldn’t find the strength of will to argue with him. If what he said was truth, then what harm could my cooperation do? If only I had known that this moment would lead to countless instances of “cooperation” with the Gent, I might have run screaming straight for the asylum. “What do we do?”

“Are you familiar with the works of Lewis Carroll?”

“Who?” I asked, perplexed.

He pulled a pocket watch from inside his coat and looked at it’s face. “Ah, right! First things first, finish your drink,” he gestured to the other glass as he stood up.

“I picked up the glass, “Will it help?”

“It wont hurt,” he said with a devilish grin as he turned and walked toward the bar. He spoke to the woman behind the bar and pulled out several strange pieces of paper. He gestured to my table and handed the paper to the woman. If it was currency of some sort, it was like none I’d ever seen, and I’d seen plenty. The Gent turned to the door and walked out without a backwards glance.

I downed my drink for the last time that night. I stood and the room tilted. I steadied myself on the table. When I felt sure of myself, I walked to the door in as straight a line as I could manage. As I passed the bar, the woman behind it called to me, “Take care of yourself, Mr. Emries.” Her tone was both familiar and motherly, though I’d never seen her before the past few minutes.

I responded without looking up or making eye contact, “Thank you, Nora, I will,” shocking myself with my own familiarity.

I found the Gent outside. “What do we do, now,” I asked.

“Follow me,” he said. It was such a simple statement. It is only in hindsight that I realize it’s many implications.

We walked up the street. He looked between buildings until he found what he seemed to be looking for. He beckoned me to follow him through a path between two buildings, the one on the right made of stone, the other on the left made of brick. The space was so narrow I had to walk leading with my right shoulder. “Stand here please,” he positioned me with my back against the brick wall. He moved directly in front of me and placed his hands on my shoulders. “This may feel… a little odd.” He began pushing me against the hard brick. I could feel jagged mortar digging into my back. I saw the Gent grit his teeth with determination. I was about to protest when I felt the wall soften. I feared the wall would collapse on top of me. Then with a faint sucking sound and pop I was through the wall.

I stood looking at the space that I had previously occupied from the other side of the wall, only there was no longer a wall of brick. Instead it appeared as a wall of glass with the history of my life reflected on it. This seemingly magic window stretched on forever in both directions and straight up into infinity. Seeing the images of my life like this made me feel so small. I thought of my Anna then. Images of our time together began to shimmer before me as though thinking of her had conjured them. Tears fell from my eyes as I saw the early days as we fell in love, our languid contentment after the wedding and the horror of our final days together. I tried to scream but found that I had no voice.

Suddenly, I felt a sensation like being watched. My presence drew the attention of something else. I turned my back to that damnable wall of sorrows. Whatever sanity I may have possessed in that moment shriveled into nothingness, like the void there before me. Nothingness, a completely empty abyss. It was the abyss that watched me. As I saw nothing within it, it saw nothing within me. We should be as one. I raised my foot to step into entropy.

There was a tug on my shoulder. I wanted to struggle away from it, but before the thought fully formed, I was yanked back through the wall. Oblivion was stolen from me.

Reality struck me in force. I crumbled to the ground. The Gent stood over me until I had found some sense of composure. Then he helped me to my feet. “That should stop the end of the world,” he said cheerfully. I looked at him and let out a deep sigh. He looked at me and I imagine he must have seen the haunted look in my eyes. He asked, “Have you ever heard of the Quasigentsia?”

I’m sure by now you have heard his spiel. It varies from person to person, but it all equates to the same thing.

By the time you receive this letter, Seth, I will be have gone far away. I fear that it is from our association that the ‘Gentsia has noticed you. I hope this letter reaches you in time to heed my warning. Keep you guard up with the Gent’s group of loosely knit freaks. Beware his carnival strong man and the aerial contortionists, they have dangerous agendas. Be mindful of your valuables around the Frenchman. If you choose to ignore everything else I say, at least believe this. Do not trust Eldridge Gent. He is not what he claims to be.

 
Goodbye and good luck, my friend.

 
Your Friend,

 
Dathan

 
This letter was found by Eldridge Gent among the belongings of Seth Emery. Seth has not been seen for two months since beginning his first assignment.

After All This Time, Back To The Beginning

Epigraph

How I met the Gent

Main Content

Please forgive my rudeness when last we met. I was quite taken aback and at a loss to hear you utter that infernal word and the name of the one I most associate with it. I had to remove myself from your presence before I made some rash action that I surely would regret later.

It has been my over-riding hope to keep you sheltered from such people and things, and much more so, with my participation in what they represent. From your inquiries, I can assume you now know that I am indeed affiliated with the Quasigentsia and it’s best pitchman, Eldridge Gent. I have no doubt that he has approached you with an offer or a warning, as that is his Modus Operandi. Before I can explain the ‘Gentsia, I must first relate how I came to meet the Gent, or more accurately, how he came to meet me.

It was some time after the death of my wife when I saw the Gent before me. I was sitting at a table in a rat hole that passed for the local tavern. Bleary eyed and slurred of speech, I demanded the barmaid to bring me two more pints of what she insisted was their finest ale. Though I sat alone, I ordered two at a time in the hope that my sorrow would soon drown. I was completely oblivious to the raucous celebration going on around me. With the exception of my table, the place was filled with singing, cheering and all around merriment. I stared straight ahead, for a hundred miles, which was affixed to a tiny point on the wall across from me. When the barmaid finally brought my drinks, I clumsily flung a silver piece across the table. It bounced off the back of the chair beside me and landed on the seat beyond my vision of the table.

Polite as you please, this dark haired wench bent over the back of the chair and returned with a gold piece in hand and asked, “Would you like change ?”

“I think I’ve changed enough. Bring me two more,” I muttered. I turned to find my spot of the distant horizon upon the wall and was shocked to see someone from the party had invited themselves to my table. “Are you lost, mate?” I asked before downing the first of the two pints. I looked back at my new companion, but no one was there. I glanced about the room to see where they got off to so quickly but saw only more revelers. I downed half of the second pint with the intention of nursing it until the next two arrived. I set the pint down and looked into the eyes of a stranger. “The party is over there,” I gestured to the other celebrants.

“Oh, I’m not here for them, though they do appear to be enjoying themselves. I believe they are celebrating the victory of war,” he paused for a moment of consideration, “or possibly some sort of sport. It gets more difficult to discern the more I see of either.”

I studied him for a moment. I tried to gauge whether he might be a hallucination.

“By the way, I’m no hallucination, though I do strike quite an image,” he said while tugging at his cuffs.

Just as I was about to say something, two more pints were placed in front of me by a blond waif of a woman. She shot me a bright smile and turned to go. I shot out my hand to tug her apron, but, in my drunkenness, grabbed her hand instead and pulled her back. “What happened to the other waitress?” I slurred at her.

She leaned in close to my ear and whispered, “I’m the only one here. I checked that coin you gave me and I’m willing to let you give me another kind of tip if you want.” She stepped back with another bright smile and dashed away. I looked to the man across from me to see if perhaps I was the butt of a joke I didn’t understand. He was grinning and wagged his eyebrows at me.

“What in hells going on,” I asked this stranger, “and who are you?”

“Eldridge Gent,” his hand hovered before me as though it had been there all along, “pleasure to make your acquaintance.” It was then that I made my first mistake in a long history of mistakes concerning Eldridge Gent. I shook his hand. “Might you indulge this instance of inquiry to introduce yourself, Sir?” His smile never wavered from his face.

“Dathan. Dathan Emries.”

“Emries,” he said as if he tasted it, “like the wizard?”

“No, Emries as in Ian Emries, my father.”

He clapped his hands together. “Splendid!” he shouted as though a great discovery had been made. “Dathan, would you favor me a flight of fancy?”

“What?” I asked incredulously.

He completely ignored my dismay. “Look about this dour dwelling and tell me what you see.” He gestured by opening both arms in an arc whilst turning his head, eyes scanning the room.

The ale was giving me a headache and this fool was taking a survey. I tried to clear my head with a gentle shake. I looked around the room with dawning incomprehension and widening horror. Nothing was as it was. The revelers were now all sitting calmly and speaking in subdued tones. The barmaid was a frumpy woman with bad teeth serving drinks at the bar. Even the tavern itself had changed. The floor and tables were solidly built, where before they looked as they would crumble at the slightest knock. The place was clean and the patrons had become well mannered and civilized. I wondered how one such as myself could come to be here. “Mr. Gent, what is going on?”

He was reaching inside his coat when I turned to him. He seemed to find what his fingers were searching for. He pulled out a silver cigarette case. He opened it and smiled as though he was pleasantly surprised by what lay inside. He held the case open for me to see and asked, “Would you like a cigarette?” I shook my head no. He began tapping a cigarette against the silver case, then placed the case back in his pocket. He lit his cigarette and inhaled deeply, before blowing out an impossibly large plume of smoke. He straightened himself to face me and looked straight into my eyes and said, “Reality is unraveling around you, Mr. Dathan Emries.” He leaned back and took anther drag on his cigarette.