| In the small town of Chimesborough is an old house on Barrel Street. It is big and commanding, made of the finest oak and based with stone. Overlooking Barrel Street is a study, perched just below the fourth floor attic.
Inside the study echoes the lonely sound of pen and paper, contrasting the muffled burst of gunfire from outside. Artillery fire rattles the windows, yet the pen is unfazed; it continues writing furiously. Black ink scribbles black scars across the paper to form the dark words of a dark man. That man is Arthur Delacio, author of lies, father of falsehoods, or so he describes himself. A writer of fiction is he, and additionally he writes letters to the local and national periodicals. Generally, his letters oppose the senseless civil war that has raged for fifteen years across the land, but what he was authoring now was far more somber and far more foreboding.
"A man even in his late twenties has no room to lie, just as a man in his late sixties, eighties, hundreds, thousands... yet I make a fortune of it every day."
On and on he writes, hoping to extinguish the candle of past sorrows with his distractions. This day especially Arthur's sorrows leap high within him. He wished the sun never to shine again on this day, yet year after year he draws the curtains of his study. He will not see the light of this wretched holiday. Twelve years previous had taught him hatred. Twelve years in the past, Arthur knew it, he counted every day of it. Back then, he and his family lived in the city. In that year he watched his family lined up against a wall and shot to death by a squad of faceless gunmen; murdered for resisting the iron-fisted rule of their faceless leader. His father stood away from him, bound to a post. Both were forced to watch the horrible spectacle of execution. His mother and his five-year-old brother both fell to the cries of anguish from the two bound men. Then Arthur watched them do the same to his father. As the death squad reared on him, he was liberated. He ducked and dodged fire as he saw the resistance fighters pour out of buildings and manholes, burst through fences and surround the enemy. In the midst of the battle, he ran from the city, never once stopping. Tears poured down his face and thoughts raced through his head. He finally collapsed in an old house in Chimesborough, gasping for air, unable to see from the tears. Every day since then he has counted, and every February 14th he has drawn every curtain in that same house. This year would be no different.
And so he continues writing. And so the artillery continues to boom and the gunfire to burst and the men to shout. Nothing ever ceases.
"Such a man of lies can not rightfully make a claim in Heaven. It is a curse he bears, but a curse he has placed on himself. I assure you that, being one of this sort, my lot is in Hell."
The air begins to smell of sulfur, the heat of the guns grows around the old house. Arthur Delacio's pale complexion would not reflect any show of life. No spark of heat could ever change him. He is without awareness to such things. He does not feel. He does not emote. He is dead.
"That said, there is not much I can do in this world. I am truly dead to the joys in this life. If it happens to grace my walks, it is burned away by fire and brimstone. And the fires grow hotter every day."
The sounds of terror rage louder and louder outside. He hears glass shatter and men shuffle and shout. Doors burst open somewhere, a gun fires, a shell bursts, a pen scratches, a clock ticks, a window crashes, a fire rages, a page turns, a candle flickers.
"This world that we live in masks itself over with happiness. This is a realm of terror, of pain, of death. We are made to cover what we say with niceties. We are all in denial. Happiness is denial. Friendliness is denial. Dreaming is denial. Love is denial. You, my reader, cannot escape it."
The old house shakes and shouts come from the first floor. Footsteps, many of them, rush down hallways and up stairs. Men shout and doors splinter. As the candlelight fades to black a stream of hot wax dribbles down the candle on Arthur's desk. It settles and cools, adding age.
"But I already have."
The door to the study falls and men in uniform pour in, raising weapons, all aimed at Arthur. He dips his quill into the inkwell.
"HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!" a soldier orders Arthur. He does not respond. The quill slowly lifts from the ink well and travels to the paper. He begins to sign. The soldier shouts louder. "HANDS ON YOUR HEAD, NOW!" No response. Arthur signs the paper in Latin.
"In Mortis Pacem"
The soldier rushes over to Arthur and grabs the back of his hair, pushing his head down onto the table. "This is what I think of your damned resistance." The weapon is raised and the trigger pulled. Blood stains the paper, scars the pure white with dark red. Arthur lies in peace at his desk. His face is emotionless. The sounds of battle fade in the distance and the men in uniforms retreat from the dim study. The sunset shines brilliant through the curtains. Quiet regains its honorable position in the household. Peace has finally settled over one who's life pursued it forever.