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Chapter 1: Ghosts and Demons

click, clock, click, clock. A distressed man watches a grandfather clock against the wall opposite him. It reads three O’clock with its brass appendages. From the lack of light outside it’s barely appropriate to call it early morning. click, clock. The man reaches for a glass of bourbon, neat, on the table he sits at. His hand brushes the nearly empty bottle as he brings the glass to his lips and drinks it all in one gasp. click, clock. He sets the glass down and looks at the clock again as if mesmerized. The ticking seems to pause for a second, but resumes its rhythm immediately not wanting to disturb the man any more than he already was.

The man’s surroundings are as grim as he is. A few feet away, ceramic dishware is piled in the kitchen sink, spilling over onto the countertops and what pieces aren’t covered in weeks old putrefaction are either chipped or cracked. The room adjoining the kitchen, framed by the doorway, is hollow and cold. A lamp lays broken behind a side table and trash and dirty clothes are carelessly occupying every bit of floor space. Sticking out of the cushion of the armchair is a single paintbrush, its shaft splintered near the top. The house feels haunted and for the man, perhaps it is.

As if responding to these demons the man mumbles, “Abigail.”

Hearing the sound of his own voice startles him and he looks down at the note atop the newspaper in his lap. This is only the second time he has been able to do so since sitting down the evening before. His reluctant hand brings it closer to his face in the dim room, lit only by what effulgence of the streetlamp outside that escapes the folds of the curtain over the window. The man’s eyes take a moment to adjust. He reads:

David,

I don’t blame you. We can work through this. Please come see me.

Love,

Ada

David gently sets the note back onto the newsprint again and wipes his nose with the back of his hand. Tears well up in his eyes as he remembers something far away. The accident seemed like only yesterday to him, but he knew it had been much longer. It was acutely obvious how the time had accumulated, showing in the layer of dust on every surface of the room he sat in. The essence of the thing, however, has only burrowed so deep into his conscious mind as to be found understandable, but not to the greater depths of being transcribed to what David knows to be fact.

click, clock, click, clock. He is aware of the clock’s rhythm again, finishes his drink, and drops the newspaper and Ada’s note onto the table. He stands slowly, the cracks and pops of his joints going unnoticed. He kicks the trash from his path as he shuffles through the dark, disheveled living quarters towards the bedroom beyond. His drunken footfalls disturb a short, but precarious stack of canvases leaning against the wall knocking them over into the clear path left in his wake. He ignores them and continues toward the bedroom, but stops at the open door to the bathroom.

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