A Fitting and a Proper End

for Rex Stout, with fondness

A missed step and a long drop. How long it was I cannot say—darkness and fear alike robbed me of time and distance. Long enough, in the darkness; then the icy depths of that Stygian pool. There was a rock, and I came to the surface of the water lighter by all the vasty weight of a mortal shell.

In the peace of death no end to fear, no, nor light either. In the infinite night I floated, neither affixed to the earth nor free of it. Neither cold nor dry, hot nor wet, but all at once everything. I spoke to myself then—of Blavatsky’s modern theories, of the learned writings of the theologians, of the scientific explorations of Conan Doyle—but found little meat on those bones.

I found a longing in my heart for light and air, and so I rose. Toward the mouth of that damnable cave, toward daylight, toward the ungovernable Le Mire and my poor brother. Up I rose, and still up, and further up, until my soul felt what surely was the pinch of space. But no light I saw, nor breeze felt, but only darkness, forever darkness, and feeling that was no feeling…