Well... if it isn't my good friend, The Poet.
I can't say I'm surprised to find you here.
Whose grave are you visiting today?
Weeping at the same grave over again?
Why didn't you choose any of the others?
Or perhaps Berenice?
So sure Virginia was going to be the pick for today's tortured journey.
There's no denying your affection for her.
What was that poem of yours?
"It was many and many a year ago
"That a maiden there lived whom you may know
"And this maiden she lived with no other thought...
"Than to love and be loved by me."
What am I doing?
I recite poetry with a statue!
I must be drunk.
I am hallucinating.
Should I answer this one with another of your stanzas?
"All that we see or seem
"ls but a dream within a dream..."
Still you have no clue to who I am.
I am your shadow, your soul.
The object of your obsession.
Are you mad?
Recognize me now, Poe?
Are you feeling lonely?
Longing again for the departed?
I came here for solitude.
Always obsessed with the dead.
A great subject for your writings.
It is not obsession but rather inspiration which drives my writing.
I wouldn't define it that way.
Remember Roderick Usher?
His compulsive obsession for his departed sister Madeline caused such a nervous agitation that it lead him to an early demise.
It was brotherly love, not obsession.
Obsession, superstition, unrequited love.
Who do you want to convince?
It was a magical place that filled my childhood with visions to stir the imagination.
And now, during the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of another year, I was alone, passing through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself within reach of the melancholy House of Usher.
I know not how it was; but with my first glimpse of the house after so long, an unexpected sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.
What was it?
What unnerved me so in the contemplation of the House of Usher?
Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood; but many years had elapsed since our last meeting.
His letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country.
I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building.
Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity.
The writer spoke of acute bodily illness, of a mental disorder which oppressed him, and brought an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his only personal friend, in an attempt to alleviate some of his malady; and I, accordingly, obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular and haunting summons.
I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe.
My dear friend, I have after all this time been waiting for your arrival!
I at first thought it to be an overdone cordiality.
It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the man being before me with the companion of my early boyhood.
He entered into what he conceived to be the nature of his malady.
The most insipid food was alone endurable.
The odors of all flowers proved oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light.
And there were but peculiar sounds which inspired him with horror.
I began to question my worthiness of being present for my friend, who now existed in a world of which I held no key.
I shall perish!
I dread the events of the future!
I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm...
But what do you fear, Roderick?
I must know what is it that torments your every moment.
I admit that much of the peculiar gloom which afflicts me could be traced to a severe and long continued illness.
I speak of my tenderly beloved sister, Madeline.
My sole companion for so many long years, my last and only relative on earth.
Roderick spoke with such bitterness, which made me shudder.
And yet, I could tell of his complete devotion towards his sister.
Her decease will leave me as the last of the ancient race of the Ushers.
His voice trembled as he recounted how even in her youth, Madeline would fear the outside world.
Roderick loved his sister for her purity, but the foreboding doom was forever present.
The Usher's life of loneliness will mean there will be no heir.
But on the closing in of the evening of my arrival at the house, she succumbed to the prostrating power of the destroyer.
She is dead!
Madeline has died!
She has left me!
At the request of Roderick Usher, I personally aided him in the arrangements for the temporary entombment.
And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observable change came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend.
At times, again, I was obliged to resolve all into the mere inexplicable vagaries of madness.
For I beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening to some imaginary sound.
It was no wonder that his terrifying condition was creeping upon me, the wild influence of his fantastic yet impressive superstitions.
And you have not seen it?
Then you shall!
You must behold this!
I hear it, and have heard it.
We have put her living in the tomb!
I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin.
I heard them many, many days ago.
Yet I dared not, I dared not speak!
The rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault!
It is the storm that draws breath, playing tricks on us both!
Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste?
Have I not heard her footsteps on the stairs?
Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart?
I tell you that she now stands without the door!
The vision before me will stay burnt into my very soul and haunt me to the end of my days.
Where I gazed, the House once stood.
I saw the mighty walls rushing as under there was a long tumultuous shouting sound, like the voice of a thousand waters and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the House of Usher.
In your own words he became a victim of the very terrors he had anticipated.
Much like you.
Don't you wish you were dead?
Why should I? I want to live.
I have more stories to tell.
Your time is up in your world. You have nothing to lose, no one to love.
Stop feeling guilty for other people's death.
Virginia died in spite of your care or your love.
Your mother succumbed to my power leaving you helplessly alone.
I was so young when she died...
I was denied even the memory of her face.
Guilt never leads to any good.
If anything you are haunted...
Haunted by sorrow, guilty not of a crime, but of the inability to stop me...
If anything, I am guilty of giving my readers what they want.
A glimpse of redemption, stories with a moral where justice always triumphs.
Is this what you mean?
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.
Object, there was none, I loved the old man.
He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult, and for his money, I had no desire.
I think it was his eye!
Yes, that was it!
One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture.
I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
You should have seen how wisely I proceeded, with what caution and foresight I went to work.
And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it.
And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously, oh, so cautiously.
I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye.
But I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.
I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.
And this I did for seven long nights.
Every night, just at midnight.
But I found the eye always closed.
Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door.
A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine.
When I was about to open the lantern, my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening.
And the old man sprang up in bed crying out: Who's there?
He had been trying to fancy them causeless.
He had been saying to himself:
"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney.
It is only a mouse crossing the floor."
But all in vain...
Then, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound such as the watch makes when enveloped in cotton.
I knew that sound well.
It was the beating of the old man's heart.
Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased.
It grew quicker and quicker, louder and louder, every instant.
The old man's hour had come!
He shrieked once, only once.
The old man was dead.
His eye would trouble me no more.
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body.
First of all I dismembered the corpse, I then took up three planks from the flooring and deposited all between the scantlings.
I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye could have detected anything wrong.
There entered three men, who introduced themselves as officers of the police.
A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night and they had been deputed to search the premises.
I bid the gentleman welcome.
The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream.
The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country.
The officers were satisfied, my manner had convinced them.
But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone.
My head ached and I fancied a ringing in my ears.
I found that the noise was not within my ears.
I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not.
Why would they not be gone?
What could I do?
Was it possible they heard not?
They heard; they suspected!
They were making mockery of my horror.
I shrieked, "I admit the deed!
"Tear up the planks!
"It is the beating
"of his hideous heart!"
So you presume everyone is guilty of some unfathomable crime?
A crime that should remain unpunished?
I feel flattered.
Your obsession with death is to my ears like a sweet love song.
What do you mean, obsession?
Come with me, don't delay for another second.
Being alive in this world brings you more unbearable pain and suffering than those who wish to sleep forever even as you try to extend life beyond my sweet embrace.
I remember vaguely, once I wrote about a doctor.
Someone who challenged you.
My attention, for the last three years, had been repeatedly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism.
In Boston, a 13-year-old child under hypnosis could diagnose his own illness, one which his own doctors could not determine.
And in India, a paraplegic, placed in a similar hypnotic state, managed to take some steps!
Imagine, Mr. Valdemar, the progress that Mesmerism offers to science!
My friend, I respect your enthusiasm, but for my part, I can't disavow my skepticism about the future of hypnosis.
Our table is waiting for us at the Black Swan.
In addition, it seems that no person has as yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis.
What a great testimony will that be, witnessing the transition between life and death.
My friend, if you promise to change the subject, I am ready to volunteer myself to this experiment at the time of my death.
Yes, but rest assured, I have no intention of dying anytime soon!
It is now rather more than seven months since last time I talked with M. Valdemar.
Phthisis has attacked my lungs.
They give me a few months at most.
M. Valdemar, do you remember your promise?
I beg your pardon?
Yes, the idea may seem absurd, but think of all you have to gain now.
I don't know.
Allow me to consider it.
Valdemar, you are condemned.
You have no family or home.
What have you to lose?
Promise me you will think about it.
Very well, lam in your hands.
It was finally arranged between us that he would send for me about twenty-four hours before the period announced by his physicians as that of his decease.
I received this note within half an hour after it was written, and in fifteen minutes more, I was in the dying man's chamber.
It was about five minutes to eight when, taking the patient's hand, I begged him to state as distinctly as he could to Dr. L whether he was entirely willing that I should make the experiment of mesmerizing him in his then condition.
Yes, I wish to be mesmerized.
I fear you have deferred it too long.
At five minutes before eleven, I perceived unequivocal signs of the mesmeric influence.
When I had accomplished this, it was fully midnight, and I requested the gentlemen present to examine M. Valdemar's condition.
The patient's extremities were of an icy coldness.
Still, the general appearance was not that of death.
Monsieur Valdemar, are you asleep?
Yes, I am asleep now.
Do not wake me!
Let me die so!
It was now the opinion, or rather the wish, of the physicians, that M. Valdemar should be suffered to remain undisturbed in his present apparently tranquil condition, until death should supervene, and this, it was now generally agreed, must take place within a few minutes.
I concluded, however, to speak to him once more.
Monsieur Valdemar, do you still sleep?
I have been sleeping and now...
I am dead.
It was evident that, so far, death, or what is usually termed death, had been arrested by the mesmeric process.
The experiment is completed.
But... are we sure he's dead?
You've heard it like me, right?
Is your scientific mind restricted by that which you can only see or hear yourself?
From this period until the close of last week, an interval of nearly seven months, we continued to make daily calls at M. Valdemar's house.
I managed to convince my colleagues to leave M. Valdemar in this state and to monitor him.
First, we confined ourselves to simple daily observations.
But soon, we were obliged to face the facts.
Gentlemen, we are not advancing our work.
These observations are too superficial.
You still wish to dissect the subject like a laboratory animal.
Without going that far, we can engage in some light tests.
You are mistaken! I...
What are you suggesting, Dr. L?
Well, we could always... let it be.
There is nothing further to be done.
All of the subject's vital functions are inert.
He has stopped breathing, his heart no longer beats, yet... in seven months, decomposition has not attacked his body and no treatment has cured his illness.
Medically, M. Valdemar is dead.
Let's wake him up.
You're talking nonsense!
These thoughts are sacrilege! Insanity!
You would not agree to put him in this state and now you refuse to release him from it?
Let it go my friend, Dr. P is right.
M. Valdemar is legally dead.
All we can do now is to offer him a decent burial.
It was on Friday last that we finally resolved to make the experiment of awakening, or attempting to awaken him.
For the purpose of relieving M. Valdemar from the mesmeric trance, I made use of the customary passes.
These, for a time, were unsuccessful.
M. Valdemar, can you explain to us what your feelings or wishes are now?
For God's sake!
Put me to sleep!
Or Waken me! Quick!
I say to you that I am dead!
For what really occurred, however, it is quite impossible that any living human could have been prepared.
And as I can see, he lost... lost to me.
He was so close... so close to sparing M. Valdemar from your fatal embrace.
Was that a crime?
A crime against fate.
And your sentence was a life of endless sorrow.
Stop with your tortured mind games.
There is nothing worse than imagining your own death.
Nothing worse than to fear eternity.
I wrote a story once.
A tale about someone who relived the hell of dying a thousand deaths.
Perhaps a mirror where you saw yourself reflected, every image a different death.
I was sick... sick to death with that long agony.
And when they unbound me, I felt that my senses were leaving me.
The sentence... the dread sentence of death... was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears.
After that, the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged into one dreamy indeterminate hum.
I heard no more.
Yet, for a while, I saw the lips of the judges.
I saw them pronouncing the syllables of my name, and I shuddered because I heard no sound.
The tall candles sank into nothingness; their flames went out.
The blackness of darkness supervened.
All sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades.
Then silence, and stillness, night were the universe.
After this I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.
So far, I had not opened my eyes.
I dreaded the first glance at objects around me.
My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed.
The blackness of eternal night encompassed me.
I struggled for breath.
The atmosphere was intolerably close.
But where and in what state was I?
The condemned to death, I knew, perished usually at the autos-da-fe, and one of these had been held on the very night of the day of my trial.
Had I been remanded to my dungeon, to await the next sacrifice, which would not take place for many months?
And now, there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo.
Of the dungeons there had been strange things narrated, strange, and too ghastly to repeat.
Was I left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness; or what fate, perhaps even more fearful, awaited me?
My outstretched hands at length encountered some solid obstruction.
It was a wall, I followed it up.
This process, however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon.
Another step before my fall, and the world had seen me no more.
And the death just avoided, was of that very character which I had regarded as fabulous and frivolous in the tales regarding the Inquisition.
To the victims of its tyranny, there was the choice of death with its direst physical agonies, or death with its most hideous moral horrors.
I had been reserved for the latter.
I was consumed with intolerable thirst.
This thirst it appeared to be the design of my persecutors to stimulate: for the food in the dish was meat pungently seasoned.
It must have been drugged; for scarcely had I drunk, before I became irresistibly drowsy.
I could no longer doubt the doom prepared for me by monkish ingenuity in torture.
My cognizance of the pit had become known to the inquisitorial.
Having failed to fall, it was no part of the demon plan to hurl me into the abyss, and thus a different and a milder destruction awaited me.
I counted the rushing vibrations of the steel!
Inch by inch... line by line... with a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages.
Down... steadily down it crept.
Down... certainly, relentlessly down!
It vibrated within three inches of my bosom!
I prayed for its more speedy descent.
I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar.
For the moment, at least, I was free.
Free! And in the grasp of the Inquisition!
I had but escaped death in one form of agony, to be delivered unto worse than death in some other.
For a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning of what I saw.
Any horror but this!
Any death but that of the pit!
Might I have not known that into the pit it was the object of the burning iron to urge me?
Could I resist its glow?
There was a discordant hum of human voices!
There was a loud blast.
The French army had entered Toledo.
The Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies.
You have devoted so many pages to my name, caressing my face with your poems, kissing my lips with your prose.
All veiled love letters addressed to me.
You fear me and yet you are insatiably attracted.
Come with me. It's time.
No, it cannot be. I don't want to be forgotten.
I was buried in a common grave.
My writings were forgotten for years.
You are already dead.
How could you remember your own death... unless you have succumbed to my embrace?
Your life is not worth living anymore.
It is time to meet your own ghosts, the people you loved and lost forever.
Come now, Poe.
You love me!
You've been a corpse walking amongst the living for a long time, Edgar.
It must have been quite a strain.
Maybe you're right.
Sometimes I think the only thing that kept me from you was my beating heart.
Look at your final act.
They all succumb to my prowess.
The poor, the weak; the rich, the powerful.
Everybody bows before me.
I offer you one last chance.
Who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery?
I don't want my work to be lost forever.
My work is eternal.
I want that eternity.
I want to be sure my words will survive me, that they will be never lost in time.
That, my friend, nevermore.