I hate that eleventh step. It’s the darkest one. It always has been. I remember noticing it when I was around twelve years old but I couldn’t say anything, not to my parents.
I blamed them. I thought when they died it would leave me alone. It didn’t.
I’ve suffered that step for forty years now. But I don’t think I’ll need to for much longer.
I was somewhere I had no business being, doing something that I shouldn’t, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
They say the wolf ate the magician.
They find the man lying on the stone floor, chunks of his flesh unfurled around him like oversized rose petals, torn apart by thorny fangs. Broken bottles litter the shelves of his home, caught in liquid pools of strange colors that hiss and spread like angry tears. Tattered black books pattern the floor, spines up and pages squashed, sprawled open like dead crows.
There are two worlds.
One is conscious that we see.
And one is invisible that we feel
He looked around. It was dark but there were a few lights on the bridge. He stood in the middle and peered over the side, down into the water. The night was still and the smell of the trees and moss made him smile. The countryside always had that effect on him, this was as good a place as any.
Are you taping this?
Do you know what it’s like to raise a monster? No, no, you don’t. I see you looking at me like I’m trash. I see it, missy.
Did he kill all those girls?
Well, I’ll get to that.
The Box arrives on his fiftieth birthday.
It is sitting on the desk in his office, wrapped in shiny black paper, adorned with a scarlet bow. It is square, the kind of box that might contain a paperweight, or a large book, or a box of chocolates.
Really, it could be anything.