An Evening With a Friend

It all started when I went to the library of an evening as usual. Who was to know it would turn out like it did in the end, I could not say. Certainly not I, nor any of my acquaintances, nor even, I daresay, God could have known how it would turn out in the end.

If you are wondering why I don’t hold God’s capacities for foresight in high regard, it is because He never stopped all those terrible and inexplicable things, that have befallen me in the past, from happening as they did, and so over time I am sorry to say I have lost faith in Him, a sin you would not blame me for, gentle reader, had you had a life like mine.

It would be most satisfactory, I believe, to begin at the beginning. I was walking to the library having just finished my dinner, which had been exceedingly large that night; indeed I wondered if I had not overdone it slightly, since I was walking quite slowly, and there was a powerful bubbling going on in my stomach, the front of which was extending out before me further than usual. However, I was happy to suffer these discomforts, for the sensations of pure enjoyment it had afforded me while I was eating it.

It was a cold night; a firm frost had covered the roads and the low walls of front gardens, and snowflakes were gliding thickly through the air. The general coldness was also causing a little fog, and when all these factors were combined, they served to diminish a little the sense of ease which my large meal had provided.

In the library I met a friend of mine, a good-natured and adventurous fellow, working as it appeared fruitfully at mathematical equations. These appeared to my untrained eye wholly foreign and incomprehensible, which was only natural, being as I am a man of letters, not figures; but I was a little concerned for the prospects of my young friend, when upon my remarking this impression of his subject, he vigorously assented, and proclaimed that he himself could little better understand the strange ciphers he was taking down.

Leaving him to his labour, I went to sit down on a purple sofa. I opened my satchel and took out my book, settling down to read. Very soon I became aware that I was sitting opposite a large glass that looked out onto the icy road I had crossed earlier to the noises of my digestion. Not only could I spy from my seat into the living room of a house by the road, where through a gap in the curtain, I could see a thickly haired black arm play the strings of a cello; I could also see my own reflection, with which I was not displeased. The five jumpers I was wearing gave me a solid form and I found a substantial breadth to my shoulders that was new to me, and healthy colour in my face. I must admit that in that moment I thought myself exceedingly handsome, and in the end I was distracted from my book for some time. I began to recall the last times I had been sitting anywhere reading, and enjoyed imagining myself as I would have appeared to observers, assuming various poses of concentration to perceive in the window their effect upon my general air.

As if entering from the side of a dream, the integrity of my picture in the glass was disturbed by someone walking behind me, and I caught sight of my mathematical friend coming to trail his arm across my shoulders, which, having newly acquired firmness, they were quite happy for him to do, and expanded freshly under his tender hand.

He lay down on the sofa beside me, and stretching himself out along the length of it, he yawned and put his hands behind his head.

“It’s nice outside,” I said, looking still at the window, and the dark road behind my reflection. Wet snow was being thrown to left and right on its way to the ground by a gusty wind.

My friend was occupied in trying to open a packet of crisps, and did not respond. Owing to the quiet of the people working at tables around us, every touch upon the wrapper of the packet was producing a sharp noise; especially since the scientist, in an attempt to minimise the disturbance he was creating, was drawing the operation out, and only very slowly increasing his grip on the sides of the packet. Unhappily, this was like shattering a sheet of glass by hitting it five times gently with a hammer, instead of once, powerfully, and with every passing second as he crumpled the packet ever more firmly, and we together held our breath in order not to add the sounds of ventilation to the racket we were already guilty of making, I marked the unease in our observers growing, and so did my friend, for after another moment he handed the packet to me with a wretched expression on his face.

I am glad to say, in the vein of strength and vitality I found myself in at that time, I opened the packet in two seconds, causing, as can be imagined, an explosive sound, but the thing was done, and we both felt good for it, sitting back at ease after our excitement. My friend offered me a dorito and I gladly accepted it, munching happily and looking out of the window.

“We should go for a bike ride,” I said. My friend agreed and we decided to meet again in an hour, after we had completed a little more work.

Two hours later, at a time nearer to midnight than any other hour of the day, we were in the middle of a dark wood. As we walked our bicycles along a trail of mud I made some conversation and said it looked quite like The Blair Witch Project, and my friend agreed. He continued that in fact, that was one of the few horror films to truly scare him, and I considered this for a few seconds, before I gave my agreement, although not without the caveat that I also found it boring.

After some time we reached a low wooden fence, the lats of which were frozen most solidly with ice. This gave my hands a hearty sting as we climbed over it. We found ourselves in the middle of a field, and not a great distance away, we perceived a small house. We walked towards it, but after a few steps we stopped in unison because of a rumbling under our feet, as of a great waterfall, or of a generator turning beneath the grass.

There was a sign on the side of the house in front of us, which for the moment neither of us could decipher.

I considered that danger was probably not imminent, since the field otherwise seemed peaceful, and so I took the moment of rest to look around, and in doing so I became aware that the stars were very clear that night, and indeed upon nearer inspection of the sky I saw that the big dipper was hanging at an angle over the heads of my friend and I, such that its long end was pointing downward toward us.

I wondered whether it looked more like a sword of Damocles, a memento mori from the God whose capacity for foresight I had at that time already questioned, or more like a box having its contents poured out onto our heads. I imagined all sorts of things coming out of it in that nervous state: spiders, rats and even boiling oil dropping from the sky to cover us in an instant.

I was brought back into the reality of the present moment by another intrusion into the fabric of my dream; my friend was calling back from next to the sign on the side of the house, that it said Danger.

A monster was inside, it ate him.

The end

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