This is the first part of Ch1 of my novel, The Diabolical.
I am not sure how long I have been here. At times it seems an eternity that I have spent walking down these deserted, dark hallways, exploring rooms. Such is the utter weariness that weighs upon me, the listlessness that envelops me as I do so. And yet in truth it may have been but a couple of days, for it is not unusual for my coming across in my wanderings, a new feature of my surroundings, a room or perhaps a painting I had not seen before. For surely if I had been here for an eternity, I would have seen everything there is to see. But there it is! I can remember what I have seen, yet cannot remember when I arrived. But worse, I cannot account for this. I believe myself to have vague memories of arriving here, but again, was that yesterday or yesteryear? Why is it that a man remembers this but forgets that? Surely the man who can explain the minute workings of memory deserves a kings ransom in gold! As unhelpful and poor my memories are, I take solace in them nonetheless, for they provide a bit of comfort for me, for without memory, what remains of us?
And what do I remember? I have an impression of a journey through a dreary landscape. Of a plunging in to a world of darkness and misery; as if the whole world were becoming a sort of giant cave cut off from the true light, with nothing but shadows living and moving about in it. The sky above a brooding slate grey. Long, barren fields - stretched as far as I could see - punctuated but by the occasional ragged and bare tree, that stood desperately alone. There were neither village, nor castle, nor cottage, no smallest trace of human occupation anywhere. To recall it, the desolation of the place, causes my soul to be rent with melancholy and despair. And yet is there also not some quiet satisfaction that goes with it? Were it not for this my collection of memories would be very poor indeed. (A sense of order to my mind? )
The one other thing I do remember - shortly after the first memory, or much later, or before? alas! - very clearly is the glowing red eyes, like that of a fire about to blaze up with a fury. Perhaps that was when I first arrived here. I recall an extraordinarily tall, thin man, looming over me. He had a high forehead, jet black hair, and a terrible pallor about him. His face was gaunt, nose aquiline, and there was a marked steadiness, if yet absolute weariness, to his gaze. But that is all. Here the memory stops. No words come to me Nothing we may have spoken to each other. Nothing more as to who this man was, or where he is now. Did he admit me to this place? Or did I admit him? But this is of course ridiculous. It must be he who admitted me. And yet I have seen nothing of him. And in truth, since I have been here, I have not seen another soul. I continue my walking, for that is all there seems to remain to me to do.
I must say a word about the darkness of the place. It is all very well to say that it is ‘dark’, that is to say, there is very little or no light to be had. It is true that in some of the rooms that face outside that there is at times, depending upon the time of day, a little light, however dim. One could make ones way with only the occasional stumble into an unseen object. It is these rooms that also serve as a sort of refuge for me. But what lies outside these few rooms is another matter. In the inner chambers, the passageways, and the stairwells, the darkness is altogether so complete as to create an unimaginable horror within the heart of one unlucky enough to be caught in it. For believe me when I say that there is such an utter darkness that pervades the Castle as that the darkness itself seem indeed to take on a solidity like the objects it covers.
It is a very large room that I now enter. I have been to this one before. It is a room with towering pointed windows, four of them, that stretch from the floor to the ceiling high above. They are shut fast, but they do let in such light as is available from outside. This, as I have said, is very little, for I can see but utter gloom and darkness outside. Nor am I altogether clear as to what time of day it is. I know that this room lies towards the front of the Castle, for I can make out very dimly a ruined and overgrown courtyard. And there is, as well, the Castle walls extending out left and right on either side, and in the middle, but the void of the outside world. This is a room with floors of rich oak with large rugs strewn about them, ornate ceilings stretching out of sight and many paintings, of stern and serious men, hanging on the walls. Of the furniture, there are many pieces, but these are idle, tattered, and of little comfort. This room is much like the others here. All the rooms that I have seen and all the furniture within them have an air of unuse about them; dust abounded, they were broken, in need of repair. Many chairs are simply covered with sheets. Those grand chambers...in another time, perhaps not so long ago, must have served as the setting of sumptuous parties with many ladies and gentlemen, all dressed in their finest, coming from around the land, and making merry late into the night. But that was another time; those people are now dust, and now the darkness has come, and gloom has descended upon everything. Now the rooms are quiet; I have little doubt that I am the first soul they have seen in quite some time.
I pass through quickly, having not found anything of value here before and yet wanting to make sure that I have not missed anything. Missed what? I cannot say. Perhaps any sign of that man who I believe is the resident. At any rate, my steps have a purpose. For it was not too long ago that I did find something and it is to this that they are often directed. And is this not perhaps a sign of how long I have been here? For this is something difficult to miss, and I know I can recall the first time I saw it - though indeed, every time I do see it, it is like the first time, for such is the absolute marvel of it - so perhaps it is not that long since I first arrived here.
For in this ruined castle of which I am a prisoner, is a wonder. A wonder that I believe that this aged world has not yet seen the likes of. Its very existence I am certain could only be the work of a miracle in the true meaning of the word. I could even speak fully and at great length of what it is, and still reveal not a hint of the terrible grandeur of it. There is, in what I fairly judge to be the very centre, indeed, perhaps the very heart of the castle, a library. And what is more, I have as yet not even been inside it. The wonder of which I speak is the doors of the library. It is the miracle of these, their construction, the vision of their execution more divine than human that continually draws me towards them.