Something like fear chilled me as I said there in the small hours alone—I say alone, for one who sits by a sleeper is indeed alone; perhaps more alone than he can realize. My uncle breathed heavily, his deep snores accompanied by the soft thunder outside, and punctuated by the sound of dripping water somewhere in the house—the house was repulsively damp even in dry weather and, in this storm, it seemed positively swamp-like.
I studied the loose, antique masonry of the walls by fungus-light, and once, when I felt that the thick, still, putrid air would choke me, opened the door and looked around the yard and down toward the river, feasting my eyes on the ordinary landscape of a dark hill in the night rain and my nostrils on the wholesome air. Nothing occurred to reward my watching and I yawned repeatedly, growing more tired and less fearful as the night wore on.
Then the stirrings of my uncle attracted my notice. He had tossed and turned restlessly on the cot during the first hour of his nap, but now he was breathing somewhat irregularly and occasionally he would sigh and moan, almost as if he were choking. I turned my flashlight on to see if he seemed to be in any pain, but he was turned away from me. I then walked to the other side of the couch and what I saw unnerved me, as small as it seemed. It was just that he didn’t look like himself. My uncle had always been so kind, so calm, so dignified, most of all, so pleasantly happy. But now, a variety of emotions crossed his face, all of which seemed so out of character for him. I think it was the variety of those emotions that disturbed me most. My uncle, as he gasped and tossed in increasing agitation, with unseeing eyes open even though he slept, seemed not one but many man.
All at once he began to mutter, and I did not like the look of his mouth or his teeth as he spoke. The words were at first indistinguishable and then—with a jolt—I recognized that old Elias Allen was muttering in French.
Oh, crap. Elias went to sleep on a cot but was asleep on a couch. Fire my copyeditor!
I love that the mold glows brightly enough to see by.
The “who sits w a sleeper is more alone than they know” thing is straight from the Lovecraft, isn’t it? I love it, whether it’s yours, his, or both. And this ending!! Ahhhhh, Le français!!!! So much fun.
Yep, that’s Lovecraft word for word. It is delicious, isn’t it?
I must admit that I haven’t read Lovecraft, but I’ve read enough Phillips to know her words from his. So that makes this doubly fun!
You’re definitely a master at setting a creepy stage. Especially impressive since it’s mostly aboud visiting libraries and archives.
After the first installment I intentionally skipped these entries until I could read a lot in one sitting. Now that I have, the suspense is so bad I’m calculating if I can read the original quicker than I can wait for the rest of this one.
Isn’t that the amazing thing about this story, though? He says, way back toward the beginning, that his uncle dies. You know how the story ends. But waiting for it to happen? It’s excruciating.
I’m really learning a lot from looking at Lovecraft’s work so closely.