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. . .and a draft escapes, rank and stale: the breath of a dead man.  Sunlight slips in like a bright knife through a dead fish. Then, a gaunt figure.  A pale grimace.  A wet rattle as his purple lips, cracked and bleeding, slip into a snarl.  Yellow teeth fill outlines of black rot.  A pair of beads, set deep, shine and squint and dart.

“Eh, Christ,” foam collects at the corners.  “You’re still standinare , eh?”

You don’t answer.

“Eh?”

Cough-cough-hack-spit.  Grunt-swallow.

“Fine then.”

A heavy sigh.  A nervous fidget.  An impatient squint–first at you, then back into the darkness.

“How long ya figure hangin’ ’round, then?”

Inside: a heavy thump.  A shuffle . . . then–somewhere deep in the bowels of it–a muffled curse, drags its muck up dank stairways, slithers though moldy corridors, crosses still thresholds. Damp paper peels from the walls as it sulks by.  Closer, closer.  It’s inside.  Deep at first.  But it’s coming.

The old man turns, but the door won’t shut.

Then it’s there, and it slips by him and through the crack in the door.  Angry from years underneath, the curse slaps you with a wet paw as it wafts, putrid, into your face– marking you like a dog does a tree.  Without reason, a kernel of rage spins in your chest.

A knowing look.  Unspoken, the words “What I tell you,” mingle with the dust escaping on the slice of sunlight holding the crack open, burning into the darkness behind him.

A grunt. “Hangin’ ’bout for this, eh?  Gonna get weird.  Little gross prolly.  A lot maybe.  Imagine. What I’m sayin’  . . . you prolly should leave now.”

His head tips back into the darkness–away from you.

“I’m not sure all what’s in there.”

Author’s note: To all those still subscribed to this blog, leave while you still can.