The chill October wind nipped at his heels.  The scent of autumn, of woodsmoke and decaying leaves, mingled in the gently sharp air.  The young man rounded the corner, intent only on his goal, the warmed and perfumed air within his apartment.  Several of his fellow students stood within the courtyard of the dormitory, discussing the day’s news.  He took little notice, passing quickly to the heavy green door.  Inside, he placed the woolen scarf upon the hook by the mantle.  As an elder student he was entitled to a fire and took full advantage of the privilege.

The fire had been stoked and fed only recently, so the logs crackled merrily above the hearthstones.  Ignoring its cheer, he added his academic’s coat to the hook and turned his attention to his writing desk  Situated in front of the room’s sole window, it looked out upon the park established by the College’s founder.  He often enjoyed strolling in the crisp, leafy solitude during the semester, though in the cold, Eastern winters the luxury was quite rare.

The kettle soon whistled, though he’d been miles away while putting it on.  Like some of the British students, he preferred tea to the American coffee, though few of his foreign counterparts would deign to sip the tea prepared by the Irish to supplement their hearty breakfast.  A dash of comb honey to sweeten the taste and he returned to his desk.  He flipped to a new page in the fine journal and picked up his pen.

Hours later the light had fled and he was obliged to light the gas lamp beside his blotter.  He laid down his fountain pen whilst he lit the wick, turning up the flame only enough to make clear the letters upon the page.  The sable ink stood out well against the yellow paper, but it would not do to make mistakes.  “After all, words do carry such weight,” he mused silently to himself.  Absentmindedly he licked the ink from his fingertip, long habit making the gesture seem quite natural.

It was many hours again before he thought to check the timepiece silently marking the march of eons in his pocket.  Much later than he should be about, but the damnedest things happened in the witching hours.  Others might mock his odd hours and devotion to the pen, but it yielded such things of beauty.  The words spread out before him, crawling an eternal march across the pages,  The manuscript neared completion daily, and his work seemed about to come to a long-awaited conclusion.

The words took on a life of their own, sapping his desire to take part in the cares of mortal life.  What were words, in the throes of that terrible ecstasy but the stuff of life itself?  Each page filled to the hat-brim, a repository for the life and love of exactly one man.  One human man.  Beyond was more than just a man, but to reach that nirvana required sacrifice in total, complete surrender to the ineffable words so rarely divined.

He raised his head, allowing the power to fill him once more a conduit for raw energy.  At last he lay, speechless, panting with the effort expended.  The words had ceased to write themselves onto the manuscript’s pages.  The pen fell, seeming an eternity before the brass nib touched paper surface, splattering a single droplet of ink towards the lightening sky.  Silence reigned, save for his labored breathing.

As he slipped into an inky blackness, he contemplated the power of the written word and the price it asked of those seeking to bask in it.

First drafted Sept. 17, 2009.  Typed and edited Sept. 28, 2009.

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