Folscyvio saw the Thing in a small cramped shop off the Via Silvia. In fact, he almost passed it by. He had just come from the Laguna, climbed the forty mildewy, green-velveted steps to the Ponte Louro, and crossed over to the elevated arcades of the Nuova. Then he glanced down, and spotted Giavetti, who owed him money, creeping by below through the ancient alleys.
When I close my eyes, I see Jacova Angevine. I close my eyes, and there she is, standing alone at the end of the breakwater, standing with the foghorn as the choppy sea shatters itself to foam against a jumble of gray boulders. The October wind is making something wild of her hair, and her back’s turned to me. The boats are coming in.
Each time Lisa rested her head against Joette’s breasts, she heard the centipedes. In between heartbeats there was the tiny sound of hundreds of chitinous footsteps against bone, of miniature mandibles tearing at organs. Joette refused to admit to it, or maybe she didn’t know.
He stared bleary-eyed at the broken glass studding the land. This was his crop, seeded over the span of four weeks, irrigated from the residue of Napa Valley grapes, sun-kissed until it glistened like dew. It was the bounty of his desperation, and now was the time to harvest.
She got into the elevator with him, the young woman from down the hall, the one he’d last seen at the annual Coop Meeting a week before. Around her shoulders hung something soft that brushed his cheek as Gordon moved aside to let her in: a fur cape, or pelt, or no, something else. The flayed skin of an animal, an animal that when she shouldered past him to the corner of the elevator proved to be her Rottweiler, Leopold.
The shore was dark when we showed up, but it would soon be blazing, and that thought was all I needed to warm me while we built the bonfires. The waves slopped in and sucked out again like black tar, and I went along the waterline with the others, pulling broken boards and snags of swollen wood out of the bubbling froth and foam, hauling it across the sand and up to the gravel where the road edge ran.
The door is a rich red wood, heavily carved with improving scenes from the trials of Job. An angel’s head, cast in brass, serves as the knocker and when I let it go to rest back in its groove, the eyes fly open, indignant, and watch me with suspicion. Behind me is the tangle of garden—cataracts of flowering vines, lovers’ nooks, secluded reading benches—that gives this house its affluent privacy.
The cook didn’t like that the eyes of the dead fish shifted to stare at him as he cut their heads off. The cook’s assistant, who was also his lover, didn’t like that he woke to find just a sack of bloody bones on the bed beside him. “It’s starting again,” he gasped, just moments before a huge, black, birdlike creature carried him off, screaming.
I’m writing this down because I’m starting to forget. I may need to remember some day. The chemical air is already kissing my mind, biting my memory away. Something terrible happened at work today. Beyond imagining . . .
You will have heard, no doubt, of the Bergenssen expedition—if only from the manner of its loss. For a short while, that tragedy was deemed significant and remarkable enough to adorn the covers of every major newspaper in the civilised world.