The young writer found himself in an extremely agitated state, lying in his bed, curled next to his bedside lamp writing feverishly into a small notebook. This is the type of man who, if he were to be executed, would write in his notebook up until he was swinging from a noose. He is what is sometimes known as a “posthumous writer.”
After finishing his firsthand account of terror and certain doom, the young writer felt a certain sense of relief, as if his scribbled words carried some sort of venom out of him onto the page. He was able to relax, turn off the bedside lamp and fall into an easy sleep. After what seemed like no time at all, the writer awoke when a tremendous noise erupted in the kitchen. Paralyzed with fear, the man hardly dared to open his eyes, but found himself unable to look away from the blackness of the kitchen framed by the bedroom doorway. He could do nothing but stare, while his body began to convulse from fright. His heart rate raced higher and higher until he was sure he was going to die. In a situation like this, the writer (in an ideal situation) would have liked to pull out his little notebook and make an account of the experience. But he found himself unable to move. All he could think about were the long thin fingers of the mysterious creature.
In spite of his body-clenching fear, the writer drifted off into another fitful sleep. He woke occasionally with a start and told himself that the crash he’d heard was a result of the poor job of stacking the dishes in the cupboard. He’d finally fallen into a deep sleep where a pleasant dream about having a picnic with a lovely girl who wore a blue dress when he woke to a different noise. He thought at first, that it must be the fan behaving strangely, but when he opened his eyes, the writer saw long, thin fingers stroking his feet while a long, white head whispered, “Ahhh.”
My intent in sharing the “scenario” with you is certainly not a malicious one. By sharing this story, I hope to take the power away that cerebral play can have on myself, and you, reader. In the same way Petersburg helped me to understand the workings of my own mind, I hope that my story can bring some comfort to you—I know the thought of others reading of my experience brings comfort to me.
Before anyone else’s eyes see this story, however, I have only my mind to contend with. So tonight, as I lie in bed with the lights off, I will try to keep another quote from Petersburg in my mind: “Alexander Ivonovich promised himself ahead of time that he would not be frightened. Anything that might happen was only cerebral play.”
Dan Stankivitz lives with his incredible wife in Logan, Utah. He studies Forestry at Utah State University and fixes bicycles.