AUTHOR OF THE WEEK
D. G. Gillespie
January 12-19, 2019
After graduating from the University of Connecticut and then Arizona, Dave Gillespie returned to New England to teach college composition and continues to do so. In Providence, Rhode Island, he lives happily with his wife (Elena) and two dogs (Belle and Holly). His “Simba” passed away peacefully in 2013 at the age of 16.
Read an excerpt from D. G. Gillespie’s RULES TO DIE BY:
The hooded figure entered the unlocked Faculty Offices Building carefully, quietly, at around 8:30 p.m., and as soon as the door hissed shut, the newcomer squeezed in the building’s warmth, its welcome. A nice feeling: I’m home! From the cold outside, the entire building was dark except for one window, his window. A big dead building. Four stories of darkness with just one flicker of life, Mann’s window at the far left, third floor. The newcomer had been in that office before, oh, many times! Had never gotten a wisp of satisfaction from those visits, either, just the relief of leaving that room. Passive in Mann’s office, weak, just an object each time, but tonight would be different! The doer would be done, object becoming the subject—action itself. The hero in this little drama called life. Just like the forefathers! At that thought, the shrouded figure smiled, but no face could be seen, just the gleam of eyes, maybe teeth, inside the folded grey hood. The hood moved into the building.
Up the stairs, through the dark, step by step, seeing by the dim safety light in the middle of each stairwell. Up the steps, turn, turn, up the steps to the third floor. The figure looked half like a human, half like a grim reaper minus the scythe and black shroud—a modern reaper in sweats. As the being passed from stairwell to waiting area, the landing door exuded a little hiss, too, air escaping maybe, but Mann’s office was too far away for worries. No fear! The hooded presence smiled again to release the hounds, shaking the hood, too, feeling the prickling anxiety click apart from neck and shoulders, breaking the thin chicken bones, squashing any last doubts. I am the stalker here, the wolf. The Wolf will use the shadows to reach the prey. When pitted against the wild, civilization really had no chance.
Through the third-floor door, two choices unfolded: right into darkness, left into shadows with a slash of light. Far away light. Then the silence snapped beneath a sharp sound—a cry, a howl? No. Just the wind, or maybe a gull, the muffled scream and yodel of a seagull—EEEaahyut, yut, yut!—waking up within the blackness, struggling from a dream of killing or being killed. The noise had momentarily rattled the intruder, but the sound came from the wild, from a kindred darkness. With that buoying image, the Wolf focused on breathing, closed its eyes, raised an upper lip, waited for the heart to slow, waited for the predator’s heart—steady, ready. To the left, the slash of light gave the darkness length and purpose.
The ghostly human figure moved slowly down the left corridor, a shadow within the shadows. In the mind, the hallway could be stood on end and imagined as a deep hole, the lighted opening beckoning the other upward. Yes, must climb out of this deep place, pull up from rung to rung, toward the waiting light. Adrenaline shivered up the body and drifted toward the light like some night insects. Mann deserves to die! How many peers would agree! No one would admit to it, but they all hated Tobias Mann, and they would all be thankful, beneath their breaths, out of the hearing of the rest. The rest! Mann was enough for this night.
The hooded Wolf closed out the darkness, let it trail away. The corridor righted itself, and Mann’s office light spilled out like a tongue into the hallway and gave the approaching creeping figure legs, a torso, arms, and then a sliver of face, a fixed smile, dry and shallow behind the grey veil. In the right hand, silver and pointed, death itself glittered, having emerged from the front pocket of the hooded sweatshirt. Two doors down from the source of light, the stalker stopped. To do this is to leave life, to cross society’s thickest shield. The creeper’s head felt light, as though it could detach itself and float away, up out of this semi-dark tunnel, up through the ceiling. Legs felt heavy now, too, each step pronounced, considered, and beneath the mask, both lips had turned down, lost their fire. The Wolf’s heart beat too fast. Sounds no longer entered ears, but exited the suddenly still form instead. Blood pounded, adrenaline crackled, breaths wheezed and drifted toward the light. Then the silver knife made its weight known, and as it was raised up in two hands, the terrible steel glinted, ignited. Within the hood, the intruder gazed at the gleaming offering and thought of those who had in the past wielded the knife, former wolves who did the job, who did what must be done, took care of history’s enemies. Emotions must be controlled! Blood steadied. Action taken.
Feet shuffled forward carefully. Ten feet from the door, mere steps from the goal, the light began to cling and tried to mock, illuminating reality, highlighting passivity and place. Too far advanced now, the Wolf heard mouse sounds and then recognized key strokes: Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. Little mouse tappings. Poor little mouse! Advancing toward the taps, scuttling with the key strokes, peeking inside—the scene laid out exactly as imagined: Mann faced away from the door, focusing on the screen, paying no attention to anyone but himself, as always.
The Wolf let the silver blade lead, the great canine fang, serrated and thirsty, and from the dark edges of the window a whiteness grew in the top-left corner. Frost framed the ghostly shapes, the big one and the other, the expanding one, and the hooded presence could hear the wind now, moaning, scrabbling at the pane to be let inside.
To read more of RULES TO DIE BY, check out its Amazon page here