woke at 4.
wrote it down.
must now excavate.
The great manâ€™s home lay within thick woods, beyond a raging river crossed only by a bridge that looked like it had been falling apart for many years. The woods were dark and loamy and took the sound of our transport like a wolf taking a rabbit. The leaves passed above us in patterns of deep green spotted with glints of old light. There was the smell of something rich yet suspect in the chilled air.
The house rose out of the forest like a cathedral out of a city: unmistakable. It had an antique feel from the end of the drive. Two levels, although the second story was gutted and unusable to us, with an off-white color stained with the amber-and-green dustings of pollen and pine needles. A steeple of a roof that contained nothing but rotted timbers, descending to a screened in porch, beyond which we knew from our maps lay the horseshoe construction of the interior passageways. The house might have been a hundred years old. It might have been two hundred years old. It might have always been out there.
Our tread on the gravel driveway startled me; it was the first true sound Iâ€™d heard for many miles.
The screen door was brokenâ€”someone had slashed through it, and the two pieces had curled back. We walked onto the porch and found there beside two large wicker chairs like decaying thrones the mummified remains of two animals the size of dogs but with skulls more like apes. They looked as if theyâ€™d fallen asleep attempting to embrace. They looked, in the way their paws had crossed, as if they had been attempting to cross the divide between animal and human.
My partner looked at them with revulsion.
â€œCorruption,â€ she said.
â€œPeace,â€ I said.
In answer she took out her keys and crossed to the door that led into the house.
The door had been hacked at with some kind of axe or other crude weapon. The gouges and cuts had turned black against the weathered white. The knob clung to the door as if it belonged somewhere else.
â€œNothing did that,â€ I said. â€œNothing that lives here now. Remember that.â€
â€œI remember,â€ she said, and turned the key in the lock. It made a sound like metal scraping, but also of something released.
She glanced at me before she opened the door. â€œWe donâ€™t know what he left.â€
The iron-gray of her eyes wanted something from me, but all I had was: â€œItâ€™s abandoned. All the powerâ€™s gone from it.â€
Beyond the door, a long, straight corridor waited for us, badly lit by glimmering lamps set into walls that seemed to both jut outward and recede into shadow. It was like the throat of a beast, except at the far end we could see where it curved to enter into the second half of the â€œUâ€. Where it came out, we didnâ€™t know. There was no second door on the porch.
Etc., and on into hell and beyond.