Friday, June 8, 2012

Evernote in Class

Evernote Use in Class

I chose not to use Evernote in class for multiple reasons. On a the most basic level I didn’t use Evernote because it easier for me to take notes in a notebook because that’s where most of my notes were when we first got the iPads. I didn’t feel the need to use a new system when my notebook was already satisfactory. I was also unimpressed on the one occasion I did try to use Evernote. One of the things that really did not appeal to me is that there are no pages like on Word. It makes it hard to judge how much I have written and, in that case, I didn’t realize I was writing way more than I needed. There was also no spell check system that I could find, and I found later when I transferred it to a Word Document that I had a multitude of errors that went unnoticed and that would have cost me. Evernote did not give me an attractive reason to abandon my notebook and I was unimpressed when I tried it, so I did not use it.

There are a couple of ways to potentially improve Evernote. One of the things that Evernote did not have that could be an improvement is some system to show how much has been written. The number of pages you have written is good to know when you plan on printing something. Evernote could also use a more substantial spell check program. Grammatical and spelling accuracy are very important aspects of writing and some form of checking program is useful in maintaining a high level of both. Evernote could also use a functionality with other applications. It would be highly useful to be able to link Evernote with an app such as Dropbox so as to access your information more easily. Those are just a couple of things that could improve Evernote.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

iPads in Class

iPad Use in Class

There were multiple benefits to having the iPads in class this year. One of the biggest benefits was having a digital textbook. We had Huck Finn on the iPad so we could leave the book at home and have the iPad version in class. It was very convenient and it would be great to have that on a more expansive level. We also had access to the Internet which was an invaluable resource. We could use the iPad to work on a project and then send it to ourselves and work on it at home. We were able to define our words and update our blogs through the Internet which saved a lot of time. The iPads were definitely a huge improvement upon the laptops we had at the beginning of the year.

The iPads were very helpful but there were some limitations. The keyboard is definitely not at the same level as a desktop or laptop lacking several important keys such as the tab key. The laptop is missing several important programs that are useful for writing. Alternatives such as Evernote are insufficient compared to programs like word and it is hard to avoid just doing all the typing at home. The iPad also has the autocorrect which causes as many problems as it solves. I have had countless times when I was typing and I had to re-write a word multiple times to get the word I wanted. Autocorrect is definitely not on the same level as spell check on word.

I think the district should definitely try to go to a 1:1 program for students and iPads. It would reduce the need for textbooks as digital ones could be placed on the iPad. Students' lockers would be much cleaner and their backpacks would be lighter. The district could save money on physical text and reduce clutter. Turn in would be easy, students would just hand in one book instead of ten, and because of the how important it is students would be less likely to forget their iPads. Students could also connect to the internet at all times and it would another resource for the class. Students could do work and takes notes on the laptop reducing or completely ending the need for notebooks which would also take up space in lockers and backpacks. If would be better for students, teachers, and the district if there was a 1:1 ratio of students to iPads.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gothic Story: The Colonel and the Commodore

The Colonel and the Commodore
The fog descended with the darkness of night. It was heavy fog, covering the ground like a blanket, and stifling any perception that would have remained in the dark of night. Away from the city there were no lights, only the stars and the moon hung in the sky, and none of them were sufficiently luminescent to penetrate the murky fog. 
The heat was almost unbearable; summer in the South was not yet something I had experienced, and it was much harsher than that of North I hailed from. It was unmercifully humid as well, a heavy, debilitating heat that was so unbearable. It was all unbearable. I had been supposed to arrive at my uncle's house hours previous, yet fate had not smiled upon me, and the car that I had been so reliant on in the past few months had finally failed me. 
The death of my car was a demoralizing affair of extreme magnitude. It was just over a year since I had bought that car. It had been a moment of supreme triumph, the consummation of a torturous epic that had spanned six years of my life. Since the moment I had turned sixteen I had wanted a car of my own. My father thought that it would be good for me to buy my own, to learn how to support myself, and I had finally accumulated the capital required to make my purchase on twenty-second birthday. Now, only a month after my twenty-third birthday, my car had literally died in a ditch. 

It was the rain, in truth, was the cause of losing my car, and not that I had done something wrong. The rain had fallen for hours, a virtual monsoon rained down upon the road I had driven along. It had denied any semblance of visibility beyond several feet away, and at one particular bend in the road my car had a meeting with fate. The roads, under the abuse of torrents of rain, were just a field of mud. When I reached this corner, I had not the time to react, for I had not been able to see the bend until too late, and even though I tried to break the car's inertia maintained its passage along the slippery slope into the overflowing ditch. I had been lucky, my car was wider than the ditch, and was thus wedge between the two sides and not sinking to the depth of the frothing pit. I was able to open my door and climb out, but as I did so part of the wall of the ditch gave way, and my car was submerged under nine feet of water. Drenched and semi-shell-shocked from my ordeal, I had do e the only thing that had made sense to me; I set off on a trek to my uncle's house. 

Several hours had passed since then, and the midday sun had turned to a waning ember, before slipping out of sight. At least the rain had stopped about an hour ago, but the fog was only thicker because of it. The ground was muddy, and difficult to traverse, and I myself was not doing so well. My clothes were more soaked than the spray deck at Niagara, and shoes had rolled in more mud than a hundred piglets. My visibility was bad, and I had numerous cuts and bruises from branches and brush that I had not seen until it was too late. I had walked into two raspberry patches already, and I was not eager to do so again. I was hungry too, and thirsty. This whole ordeal was very rough on someone who had lived his entire life away in a city.
It was another full hour, a total of six or seven, I think, after leaving my car, before I heard the noise of windmill cutting through the air like a scythe. It was a noise of welcome relief; I had heard from my father that my uncle was the only person for 100 miles with a windmill, and that meant I was close. I changed my direction and headed for the road. It had been easier to walk amongst the trees than the road because the ground was a little less liquidous, but now I decided it would be easier to walk from there to my uncle's. Is tumbled through the foliage, tripped over several fallen trees, and half-walked, half-crawled out onto the street. I stopped for a moment, semi-dazed by the light that entered into the road. The moon was clearly visible hear, and the fog seemed to dissipate somewhat. I looked ahead to see the fork dividing the road. Of the two directions, one was clearer; it looked as though it had been lumbered, and from there I could see an open expanse that more resembled a prairie than the jungle I had just struggled through. Yet, there was something disheartening about the other road. It was dirt as well, but redder, like there was clay in the earth. The trees that guarded the pathway were old, decaying, and huge; a pair of relic sentinels stationed, a pair doomed to an eternity of vigilance. The trees beyond we're not much livelier, and I felt trepidation fomenting inside me.
I took a deep breath, and the forged on down the dreary path. The light of the moon faded away as I progressed and the traces of fog began to become copious amounts. After just a few minutes the fog became exceedingly oppressive, and the darkness around me was making it incredibly hard to negotiate the rough terrain that served as a trail to my uncle's. Multiple times I stumbled and become immersed in the muddy ground, and each time it was harder to get up and back in my feet. My clothes were now completely covered in mud, and I felt another mental blow with the memory that my suitcase with all my spare clothes was at the bottom of that trench. I pressed on, harder now, a soldier, waging his own personal war with nature's infinite power. 
I walked another sixty yards before a silhouette became discernible from the cloud of darkness and throng of trees. At first it was a shapeless thing, ethereal, yet unsettling, as if it were the form of some vengeful specter. I shivered, from being cold and drenched, of course, and sped up my pace. The closer I got, the more the fog cleared, and soon it took on a more concrete form, and I could see that it was one of a weathervane, very old and antique, with an angel on top as a decoration. It was grim indeed, for the angel was missing his head, and all that remained to be seen was a figure, winged and robed, staring without eyes at the world around for miles. Then the rest of the house came into sight, and it was less of a house, and more of an enormous mansion. It was an uncomfortable view, as the house was rundown, and yet still retained some of what had made it beautiful in a long expired age. 
I walked down the path to the house. Up close it was in an even more morose condition. The walls, which had looked to be in the best condition of any in the house, we're actually full of small cracks, most near the very bottom or the zenith of the outer wall, and it gave a surreal feeling that the house was an archaic monument of another lifetime, and was living on borrowed time. It must have been between the hours of one and three in the morning. I climbed the crumbling marble steps up to the front door and was about to bang on it when I stopped, intrigued with the very door itself. The rest of the house may have been eroding, but the door stood resolute in exception able condition and perplexing magnifigance. It was of an ancient mahogany, with a deep black color obtained from a surplus of sleek lacquer. It was intricately carved, depicting a grand gateway. The lacquer had pooled in certain places of the door, and it appeared as though there was a black lake at the foot of the gate. The pristine condition of the door was in stark contrast with the disrepair of the house, and I spent several seconds observing the smoothly hewn image.
My eyes began to look higher on the door, and I saw a knocker, dull and black, at the pinnacle of the gate where the two halves met. The knocker was the only part of the door that didn't seem new and in prime condition. It was a neutral, matte black, but looked as though it had once been of a more favorable sheen. Years of use had worn it smooth and absolved it of its shine. It was in an odd shape, curled around, with a handle protruding out, in a way that gave the impression of a coiled snake. The hinge was higher up, and looked as if it was just a continuation of a tail. I reached for the locker tentatively, almost as the fearing it would bite me like the snake it mimicked. As my finger closed around the lock, a click emanated from the door, and I immediately jumped back. I stood heart racing, as the single click became a cacophony, and before I could decide what to do the door opened, blasting me with the untainted radiance of a candle. As I covered my face, I heard a voice rasp out,
"Who are you, then?"
I nearly jumped out of my skin, but forced myself to remain calm. Is lowly lowered my hand, and the light was not so aggravating to my eyes. It had been so dark out for so long, the light was a welcome solace from my ordeal. The person holding the light was a woman, probably over the age of sixty, with skin wrinkled from excess time spent in the sun. She was about a foot shorter than me, maybe a little more than that, probably about 4'8". I found myself stumbling for words, and stopped talking for a moment to gather my thoughts. 
"My name is Adrian, ma'am. Adrian Commodore. Is this the residence of Mr. James Colt?"
"Oh, Adrian!" She said (pronouncing the first "A" like the "A" in the word ad), "We had been so worried when you hadn't showed up. We had been very a'feared that something had happened to you in the storm."
Before I could respond she had pulled me inside, and lead me through the entrance hall and into a room on the left. I couldn't help but stare at the entrance hall as I passed through it. It was a high ceiling, probably up to the top of the house, meaning there was likely no second floor, and ornately decorated from ground to roof. The ground was a chessboard of marble, deep, bottomless black and pure, vibrant white, but also veined and cracked from the many years of use that it had endured. The walls were a mighty black, sheets of mighty, soulless obsidian absorbing all the light that hit them. It gave the room a muted, antique, and stifled feel which was unsettling. The ceiling was obscured by the grand chandelier that floated above. The chandelier was made of gold, or at least a. Perfect ringer for gold, and it had a radiance that would make most stars envious. At the outskirts of the light’s blinding domain, there appeared several patches of the ceiling, little bits of a lit gray substance that seemed no more than a satellite in the solar system that the chandelier anchored.
The maid tugged my arm, as I had fallen into a dazed semi-trance, and brought me into a more subtle, yet equally exquisite room as the one I had just left. It was smaller, but the colors were lighter, but not of an in-your-face, garish hue or obnoxious brightness. She opened a closet whose handle had been masked by the darkness that pervaded much of the corners of the room. This room was also much darker than the one that I had just left. Only several lights glowed weakly along the walls, none with a far reaching radiance. The door had been in one of the most shadowed areas, and when the maid opened the closet, it had the effect of materializing from thin air. Within was an assortment of garments, for they were too grand to be just clothes. They were dusty, and some rather moth bitten, but the maid handed me a pair of earthy-brown pants and a burnt-orange button-up shirt, along with a pair of thick, black socks. She motioned at another door that had, until now, been a mere stretch of wall, and told me that the bathroom was within, and I could go change.
I walked through the door, and was surprised yet again by the level of wealth in the house. This room was small and windowless, not that it mattered in the pitch black conditions outside, but stifling. There was a small couch made of a fiery red stain, with pillows of an equally soft black satin. There was also a sink, on the right wall, and for all I knew there was a door leading to a shower or restroom that was camouflaged by the lighting. The floor was carpeted in a thick, geometrically patterned rug characterized with deep blacks and vibrant reds, with a small set of white lines running through it like the cracks in the marble of the entrance hall floor. The apparel I held felt warm to the touch, and I happily removed my sodden clothes. In a minute I had dressed, and I exited the small room. Upon doing so, I managed to entangle my ankle with one of the legs of the sofa. I landed on the floor and a proverbial mushroom cloud of dust burst from the floor. Coughing from the deluge, I pushed myself to my feet. This room was very old, and looked as though no one had been in it for many years. It struck just how empty this ancient dwelling must be.
     When I finally managed to extricate myself from the room, I was greeted by the eerie tolling of a large grandfather clock, which, like many other things in this house, looked so much like the wall around it that I had yet to pick up on its presence. Slightly alarmed, I started, and nearly backed into the maid, who had just come in through another door. She was carrying a small tray of food along with a steaming glass of some liquid that was unfamiliar to my eyes. It was thick and red, and looked as though it had small bits of something floating about in it. The maid smiled, and then, by a nod of her head, ushered through the door to the main hall, and then down another door into a long hallway. We proceeded down about halfway before I was instructed to turn left through a door that I had been able to pick from the wall. It wasn’t that this door was any less conspicuous; it was that I had been adjusting to the house. Through the door I went, down another corridor, and into a room that was much plainer than any other I had seen before. There was a four-poster bed in the corner of the room with heavy, unsettling drapes, and a dresser on the far wall. Next to the dresser was an old oaken desk, and the maid laid my meal on the desk, and then walked out. I walked over to the bed, but didn’t think I could sleep. The old clock had wrung five times and I knew morning was not far off. Yet, even as I sat on my bed, I felt weariness overtake me. Within moments, I had surrendered my consciousness and lay asleep on my bed.
I started awake, heart pounding from a terrible nightmare, and immediately attempted to inhale deeply. With a horrifying shock I felt my neck constricted, and unable to obey my brain’s command. I began thrashing wildly, my arms getting caught up in whatever was assaulting my neck. For a moment of cold, unadulterated fear, I thought that I was going to suffocate, when there was a tremendous ripping noise, and the drapes around my bed were amputated from their holdings. The pressure on my neck dissipated, and I lay on my bed hoarding all the air in the vicinity.
After several moments I regained enough strength to get myself up into a sitting position, where I rested for several minutes before surveying my surroundings. The room was darkly lit, as it had been the night before one solitary light on the wall above the desk. The rest of the room was thrown into varying amounts of shadow by the feeble luminescence, and it was all the more eerie now that I was fully awake.
     When my heart had returned to a something-like-normal speed, I got up and was immediately perplexed. When I had entered last night I had come through a door opposite my desk, but when I turned to exit now I faced two doors, each with the possibility that I had come through it. They were right next to each other, and even opened in the same way. Both lead to identical hallways, and I had been too tired last night to have clearly remembered the exact spot I came in the room from. I tried walking out and then back in from both doors, but my memory was unhelpfully adamant that it knew nothing. I didn’t like the idea of walking through someone else’s house when I had yet to even meet them, but I had little choice.
     I should take a moment to help the listener with the comment I just made, I had never actually met my “uncle”. He wasn’t really my uncle, in all truth, but a distant family member, second cousin thrice removed or third cousin twice removed, or some insane minimalistic link. He and my dad had grown up together, but had lived apart since about their mid-teens. My dad had said my “uncle” was a weird guy, but I had never met him in person. I had hoped that the terms of our meeting would have been a little more certain.  
The only thing I really knew about my uncle was that he had been in the military, and had topped out at the rank of colonel. That’s what my dad called him. My “uncle the colonel”, Colonel Geoff Jackson, a true southerner, born and bred. The loom on my dad’s faced when he said this still brought a smile to face, and after a brief moment I dispelled it.
I still had my choice to make; right or left. Right is right, right? I told myself. Annoyed with myself for thinking something so childish, yet also with my mind made up, I went to the door on the right and proceeded to walk down the hallway. I had already trekked through miles of country, this couldn’t be so bad, I reassured myself.
     I walked down the hall, and took a door on the right (the only door in the hallway) and was immediately assaulted with a very bright light. The room I had entered was unlike any other I had been in yet, mainly owing to the copious amounts of light it had. While many of the other rooms had only one or two lamps, there seemed to be some light-creating device every other foot on the wall. I was about to leave and try the other hallway when something caught my eye, and ornate banister, belonging to a spiral staircase, snaked up into the room. I walked over to the banister, and ran my hand along part of its length. As I began to think of descending down it a voice exploded into use behind me louder than a gunshot.
“Get yourself away from that railin’ Mr. Adrian Commodore (with my name pronounce the same odd way as the maid had done)! What in the name of the South do you think you’re doin’?”
My heart migrated out of my chest for the third time in such a short while, and I spun around to see a portly man in a set of old military fatigues. I almost wanted to comment on how lame it was that he still wore fatigues years after his service had ended, and might have actually done so, except for the unbridled anger that radiated from his countenance.
“I…the two doors…lost my…like a maze…” the words gurgled out like a stream across the rapids, and I could tell my experience was going to be just as rocky. “I didn’t know…”
“What d’you mean you din’t know? Well, ‘asn’t Marie told you ‘bout the basement bein’ off limits?”
He stared at me with harsh eyes and I felt a twinge of unease at remembering that when the maid had introduced herself she had said her name was Anne.
“M…Marie…”I stammered, “I don’t think that I know a Marie. Mrs. Anne was kind enough to help me out last night.”
Immediately the anger receded, and the Colonel’s face turned from a shade of purple to a pensive mask.
“Well I’m a ‘so sorry Adrian. I completely forgot ‘bout how I hire’ a new maid. I ‘pologize sincerely for my tone. Missus Anne don’t right know ‘bout the basement yet, well she know ‘bout it, jus’ not ‘nough to tell you’self about it. You goin’ to have to ‘scuse me for this ‘ere outburst. It’s not like me to react with words when I get myself upset. Come along, an’ will get ye some breakfast.”
And with that he walked right out, through another door, and I hesitantly followed him. As I had tried to say to him, the house was truly a maze. He took me through what I could only describe as a concealed passage, and within a few seconds we were in a magnificent dining hall. It was huge, with a ceiling whose zenith seemed to be higher than I would’ve thought possible from what I had seen last night. The colonel directed me to a small table, which stood alone in the open expanse.
I sat down at the table, which had three chairs, and he sat to my left. In a moment, the maid came in and brought another tray of food. At the sight of it my stomach growled, and I immediately dug in. almost immediately I began to regret opening my mouth, because it seemed like there was as much dust on the food as there had been in the side room. Trying not to cough, I put down by fork and listened to the conversion that had just started up between Ms. Anne and the Colonel.
“Did you hear about old Mr. Dommers?”
“Well, nah, no I do not recall anythin’ ‘bout mister Dommers.”
“Well, they finally found his truck, after three days of searching, and he wasn’t in it. The police are confused, and I his family in a grievous state.”
“Well, I never liked the man much, an’ it wouldn’t surprise me major if he hadn’t found ‘imself on someone dangerous’ bad side.” The Colonel said this with a note of finality, like that was all that was an acceptable opinion on the issue.
“Excuse me, but who is Mr. Dommers?” I asked, trying to bridge the tide of silence that had just rolled in.
“Mr. Dommers was one of the closest neighbors to this house.” Ms. Anne said, cleaning up some of the empty plates that had lain strewn across the table. “He went missing about a week ago, and the case has the authorities baffled.”
I looked to the Colonel, expecting him to weigh in, but he sat, as though he was somewhere else, staring off across the empty room. Slightly perturbed, I began a second assault on my breakfast. It was a long and quiet morning, and after breakfast I retired to my room, where I spent the rest of the room. From what I had gathered, only the three of us lived in the house, and I felt that I was in for a lonely stay.
I spent the rest of that day in my room, reading, and slowly it began to get late. I didn’t know exactly what time it was, but the clock gave me a baseline, for its low chime seemed to resonate with everyone room of the house. It was sometime after nine when I first heard the noises. I had just put down my book and was changing into a somewhat too-small night shirt, all of my luggage had been lost with my car, and I was having particular trouble navigating all of the holes for limbs when the noise first started. It was a low hum, a kind that sent a tingling down my spine. The noise shocked me, and I manage to jar my arm when I a flinched and pulled one way when the shirt was pulling the other. The shirt was strong, and held, so as I clutched my smarting elbow I attempted to discern which direction the noise came from. It was this that really disturbed me, because no matter which part of my room I stood in, the noise was about the same. And it seemed to come from every direction, as though the whole house was vibrating with one note sung way too flat.
Off-put, I left my room and began to look for Ms. Anne or the Colonel, hoping one of whom might have an answer for the anomaly that was plaguing the house. I may have searched for almost an hour, I did know that the half hour mark came and went, and I still couldn’t find anyway. The house was truly a labyrinth, with a multitude of doors, dead ends, and loops, each in varying difficulty to find, ranging from painstaking to nearly invisible. Finally, I found Ms. Anne dusting in one of the hallways. Ms. Anne had an ongoing battle with dust, and she was losing because whenever she cleaned an area, a new reservoir of dust would pile even higher. Delighted that my search had proved fruitful, I asked was about to ask her about the noise when, all of a sudden, it whined, and then died like the motor of my car. Suddenly at a loss for words, and with the possibility of it all being in my head, I quickly excused myself from the room and attempted to navigate my way back to my room.
It had been such a weird noise, but I had no reason to expect anything sinister. After all, the people here were very simple people, nothing to worry about. The city was a much more dangerous place anyway.
I kept up this mental fa├žade all through the next day, until, late that night, the noise made its return. More startled the second time, because it assuaged me of my fear of insanity, I sought out someone again. This time, even though it was long after the end of the noises when I found someone, I asked Ms. Anne about it. Her reply was somewhat reassuring, for she told me that it was a problem with the windmill, and that it would sometimes make weird noises. She said it had happened before, when she’d first arrived, and she thought nothing of it. So even as the noise would continue in the following days, I began to pay it no heed as well. After all, a simple cannot hurt a man.
It was a couple days later when I first wondered about Ms. Anne and her tenure. The Colonel had said that she had not been here long, and she herself had mentioned something of the same token when I had asked her about the noise. One morning, at breakfast, I decided to ask the Colonel about it.
“Uncle,” I had said, “Earlier you had said that Ms. Anne was fairly new. She also told me that she had not been here very long. I was just wondering what had happened to your previous maid.”
“Well,” said the Colonel in a deep base, “all the cops could figure is that she just went off back north. What a sterlin’ group of ‘em we ‘ave ‘ere, let me tell you.”
Again, as was the way with many things he said, there was a note of finality, and I did not breach the subject with him again.
Sleeping in the mansion is often hard. The bed is comfy, but it’s what’s in the other parts of the house that doesn’t help me. At first, when the noise was going, they could be a mighty difficult thing to sleep through, but when they were done, it didn’t get much better. The house was an antique, made with many incredibly valuable and incredibly old woods. Those woods creak with the slightest breath of wind, and when they get going in the house you could swear that there was a hoard of people coming through. The cracks in the walls were mostly silent, but a few of the more substantial ones would whistle louder than any man that I ever heard could. It’s like a symphony of ghosts, a cacophony of chilling tones that keep me up at night.
Normally I am a pretty good sleeper, but these noises were unbearable. There was one night where they became oh so unbearable. It was storming, a gale force just like the one that was raging when I first came to the house. It was late, probably past eleven, and the house sounded like a terrible instrument playing its own death march. Every time the wind blasted the whistles I shivered, and every monstrous creak of wood had me swearing that someone was about to come in a bash my door down. It was a monsoon from hell, and there was no way that I could sleep. 
I got up, and began to sit at my desk. I read slowly by the light of my solitary lamp tales of grim happenings of the past. I had been reading a book about medieval torture. Right know I was reading about the process of being drawn and quartered. The details of the book became more and more graphic, and I was having a hard time reading it with the rest of the things that were going on in the house.
 What finally finished off my attempt to keep reading was a particularly earth-shaking crack of thunder, which frayed my already faltering nerves. I put the book away, and tried to go to sleep, but my head was filled with the images I had just read about. I knew it was late, but I decided to take a little bit of a walk, because I have paced my room before, and it is not as cathartic as going around the house. When I walk around the house at night I feel more confident because I know the creaking noises are my noises and I feel the wind that makes the whistles. I may whistle back, compete with the wind. It all helps. But tonight was different. Tonight was a whole different animal, and I really need the peace of a walk.
I started out going through different doors, not really caring about any direction or path. I walked for several hours through the museum of fading glory. It was much more peaceful, even though the storm only rallied again and again, determined to outlast the aged house. It was probably about one in the morning when I heard the scream. It was shrill, it was bloodcurdling, and it chilled me to the bone. I stood frozen, unsure whether to run to assist or to go hide within my room. It was definitely Annie who had screamed, her voice.
After a few minutes of quite, other than the gale that blasted the house, I decided I should check on what had happened. It took me maybe twenty minutes to get there, for I had improved upon my skills at traversing the maze. When I found the source, Ms. Anne’s room, I found naught, save for an unnatural feeling in the depths of my gut. She was not in her room, but there were books left out as though she had been in the middle of reading. The thought that she may have been in the middle of something when, I don’t know, when something happened to her, was deeply unsettling. I was in the middle of a mental debate on what I should do when the night got better. The barely surviving lights of the hallways winked out in unison, leaving me in absolute darkness.
I ran, no more thoughts for Ms. Anne, I needed to make sure that I was safe. I didn’t know what had happened and what was going on, but I didn’t want to. I twisted through the house, tripping, falling, running headlong into bits off wall I could have sworn were doors. Finally I found myself in the hallway that I could access from the left door in my room. It was with a sinking stomach that I began to hear the noise again, that ungodly keening that bore into my skull. It was not a choice anymore; I ran into my room, barricaded the door, and waited for the clock to strike, six, because by then the sun would have risen.
That was the longest night of my life. The noise, the raise, the whistle, the creak, and I all the while sweating bullets under my bed. It was neither dignified nor comfortable, but I lay there, resolute as the guardian trees who guarded the approach to the house. When morning finally came, I was a shivering husk, battered by my ordeal.
The storm abated by about five-thirty, and it was blissfully quiet then. I had been drifting in and out of consciousness, and the welcome relief of quiet nearly put me to sleep. But then I heard the noise of footsteps and then a banging on my door. The handle began to turn, and I braced myself for the worst.
The Colonel walked in, looking extremely tired.
“Adrian, my boy.” He said to the room in general. The he stopped, unable to see me. “Adrian, are you there boy?”
I crawled out from under the bed, and made look like I had just fallen out of bed on the opposite side. I was incredibly scared, but I was not going to let it show.
“Ah, Adrian. Fallen out of bed. My, my, what a strange day. Already six and I am yet to get breakfast.”
He didn’t seem to know about what had happened last night, or maybe it had all been in my imagination. But by a check through the house, I discovered that there was no Ms. Anne in sight. I spoke with the police, and after several days of searching it seemed as though she had disappeared fully. It was very disturbing to me, but the Colonel never seemed to acknowledge it. He just kept talking about how his breakfast was never ready on that day whenever anyone brought it up.
The whole affair affected me badly, but I was able to manage. It got better the farther I was removed from when it occurred. The cops found nothing in a month’s investigation, which was hardly reassuring. However, I spent much more time with the Colonel, and that was okay. I didn’t like being alone anymore, and he seemed to enjoy company. It was just the two of house in the house now.
It came time for me to head back to the city, and I was sure I would not miss the old house in the middle of nowhere. The Colonel was somewhat distance in the days leading up to my departure, but I paid it no heed. I was excited to go home and see my parents and friends. I had been given the best of news that my car would be fully repaired by the time I was ready to leave. I spent the last few days in great spirit. It was not until the last night when I could not sleep again.
It was a peaceful night, not like many of the harsh nights I had been plagued with during my time here. I could not sleep though, but it didn’t bother me to spend my last night here conscious. I could breathe the surroundings, and then be able to enjoy that I won’t have to see them again.
I decided to take one last walk, and I enjoyed it more than any before. The old, dying luxury seemed so surreal, now that it would no longer serve as my habitat. It was a strange walk though for I found myself again in the room with the spiral stairway. The Colonel had had a lot to drink, and he would not be awake anytime soon. I decided I should go down, just because I never had, and I was feeling a little rebellious.
The stairs were made of the creakiest wood in the house. As I walked down, each stair screamed out individually at my trespass. I paid them no heed, this place would ware upon no longer than the rest of the night. Then I would be free of this oppressive labyrinth.
The room I found myself in was dark, but I felt the wall and found a light switch, which I switched on. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the things I saw were not very special. There was a table, with two different sections, a tool bench and a collection of photos. There were numerous photos, probably more than fifty, all of faces of people. It was slightly unnerving because they all had a strange, almost scared look on their faces.
I turned my attention to the tool bench for it was more my speed. There was a large array of utensils. Pliers, hedge trimmers, hammers and screwdrivers. In the most central place, seemingly glorified above the rust was a sturdy hacksaw the looked to be dulling from use. The worn quality about it was eerie, but I didn’t feel like going deep into it. It was just a hack saw.
I looked back at the pictures, and felt a bit of jolt when I recognized one of them. It was Ms. Anne. And next to her was a man whose face seemed mildly familiar. I seem to remember him being in the newspaper about the time I arrived. My foot brushed against something on the floor, and bent down to pick it up. It was the head of an angel, the neck severed by a hack saw. On it was written;
“The model for all.”

Friday, March 16, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe and Death

Edgar Allan Poe and Death
Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most well known American authors, who wrote numerous Gothic short stories. Poe wrote stories about dark ideas such as revenge, fear, and especially death. Death is a feature in many of his stories, and is the focal point of more than a few. The stories about death usually focused on the most terrifying, excruciating, and horrible deaths that people of the time could imagine. The stories are written with extensive and vivid detail of an almost obsessive manner. This careful attention to detail about death is abnormal in a person, yet it abounds within Poe’s writings. Through his writings, Poe shows that he is not a normal person, and in fact, he is a very strange person. In his stories The Fall of the House of Usher, The Cask of Amontillado, The Masque of the Red Death, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Premature Burial, the theme of horrifying death is ever present. Within these stories, Poe is shown to not only be a very twisted individual, but to actually be obsessed with death.
One of the main elements of gothic literature is symbolism. Poe uses symbolism in many of his stories, and The Fall of the House of Usher is no exception. What is unique about Poe is not his symbolism, but how he chooses to use it. In the Fall of the House of Usher there are multiple symbols, many of which pertain to death. When first describing the residents of Roderick Usher, Poe multiple times says things like this; “I looked upon the scene before me – upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain – upon the bleak walls – upon the vacant eye-like windows – upon a few rank sedges – and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees – with an utter depression of soul…” (Poe 231). In the passage, Poe compares the house to a person, bleak walls a tired, worn countenance, vacant windows an empty stare, rank sedges a feeling of unkemptness, and a depressing of soul an air of depression. Poe uses these vivid descriptions to equate the house with a person, but he also puts a twist on it. He speaks about the house as though it is decaying, which could also be used to describe a dead/dying person. Poe had an endless amount of words at his disposal, yet he chose to say that the house was like a dying person, rather than that the house was just run down. At the end of the story, the narrator watches as the house itself is destroyed, even after its master. This shows that Poe has an obsession with death because he goes out of his way to add an element of death beyond the human characters that perish. Poe personifies the house, he makes it seem like a dying person, and then he kills it in the end of the story. A person would have to be obsessed with death to add that extra layer on to a story that already contains a body count.
Poe is also shown to be obsessed with death in The House of Usher by the way he kills off his characters. Madeline Usher, the sister of Roderick usher suffers a fate that is beyond terrible, and one that few normal people would be able to brainstorm. Poe has Madeline buried alive while catatonic, literally being unable to help herself and only able to watch as she is buried under ground. “There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame.” (Poe 245). Madeline is left to die alone, and helpless, and when she escapes she is bloodied from her ordeal, and emaciated to the point of death. Being buried alive was one the most horrifying deaths a person could meet in Poe’s time, or any, and yet Poe felt inclined to put a character into the ground alive. Madeline does not die underground; she escapes, but idea of putting some one through such a fate is what shows that Poe is obsessed with death, along with how Roderick dies. Poe tries to create a scenario where his characters die in the most frightening way possible, and being buried alive or dying of fright, as Roderick did, are both awful ways to go. Poe is shown to be obsessed with death, because he was not forced to think of these things, yet he thought about them in depth and then wrote about them. Most people do not like the reminder that they are not immortal, yet Poe dwells on it with an unusual interest.
A sane person generally does not commit murder, among many other things. That is why it is hard for a sane person to write a story about an insane person because there is often little that they can draw from within themselves to put into the character. However, in the Cask of Amontillado, Poe creates a character that is both believable, and completely mentally unstable. “I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.” (Poe 274). The character Poe has created is responding in this way because one of his friends insulted him. That is not the thought process of a normal person. The character sees murder as the only option to reconcile the situation, and proceeds to kill his “friend” in one the most horrifying ways that Poe could think of; being buried alive. As in the previous story, the focus of this story is of the character that is unfortunate enough to be buried alive, showing that Poe uses this idea consistently. The main character brings his friend down to a deep catacomb, a tomb, filled with bones, and then buries him alive. Poe creates a macabre setting that is most off-putting to many, and then has a character commit a terrible deed in that setting. Poe’s vision is one of murder in a place of death, which is an indicator that he has an obsession with death.
The plague was one of the most brutal and devastating events in human history. The plague is disease that kills horrifically, and still takes lives in parts of the world today. During Poe’s life, medicine was insufficient compared with today’s medicine, and the plague was still hard to survive if you were afflicted. Yet, Poe felt that such suffering was worth putting on paper, and thus he wrote the Masque of the Red Death. In the masque of the Red Death Poe writes about the force that is death. Poe is not known for writing philosophy, yet he makes some very philosophical insights on death. In the Masque of the Red Death, Poe seems to express the belief that death is a living entity in multiple ways. The first way he does this is with the character that disrupts the prince’s costume party. A person, dressed as a plague victim walks through the costume party, which offends the prince. The prince follows this person, attempting to, as is the theme with many Poe stories, kill the person. When he reaches the last room, a dark room which in itself symbolizes death, he ends up dying at the hands of the person. This person is meant to represent death itself, a living character that is death, showing how much of a reality, how important, death was in Poe’s life. The next sign of death being mortal is the symbolization of the clock in the room of death. “And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay.” (Poe 273). Even after everyone, including death, has died, the clock fades, yet time keeps moving, showing the concept that even death dies, yet time is eternal. These thoughts are not light ones, or common ones, yet they are important enough to Poe that he writes about them. It is shown that Poe is obsessed with death in this story because he spends a lot of time going in depth about death itself, and few would devote a story to death if they were not obsessed with it.
A story doesn’t necessarily need to contain death to show the authors fascination with it. This is most true in the case of The Pit and the Pendulum. In this story, the narrator is a victim of the inquisition, trapped in a room with a dangerous pit, and a pendulum with a blade that swings down. The narrator is deprived of his vision, and comes close to death on many occasions. It is these occasions that show Poe’s fascination with death. First the narrator nearly dies from the pit, when, blinded, he walks around his room attempting to gauge its size. He is drugged, and his sense of the room is wrong because of this. He nearly goes over the edge of the pit, a fall to the certain death. Later on, the narrator is trapped in place while a crescent blade swings down toward him, coming closer with every revolution. The narrator escapes this as well. At the end of the story, the narrator jumps into the pit only to be saved at the last second by the French General LaSalle. While the narrator survives, his close encounters with death are what is telling about Poe. The story points out just how close death is; one false move or one minute longer without moving and the person dies. Poe seems to focus heavily on this, and it shows how he obsesses over death and how people die. He even writes lines like this; “Fool! might I not have known that into the pit it was the object of the burning iron to urge me? Could I resist its glow?” (Poe 257). In the passage, he talks about being drawn to his death, something that most people never feel. This story shows that Poe is obsessed with death because of how deeply he looks into how close we are to death, and how he feels that death is calling him.
            Few stories are quite as telling about Poe as The Premature Burial. A collection of small, individual stories, the Premature Burial outlines Poe’s obsession with death, especially being buried alive. Poe speaks about numerous cases of people who have been buried alive, some of whom survived, and some who did not. Poe then goes on to talk about how he has his own case of catalepsy, and reveals that he himself often thinks about his own death. “I was lost in reveries of death, and the idea of premature burial held continual possession of my brain.” (Poe 264). This line above all else shows that Poe is obsessed with death. He says so himself; that he thought many times, in-depth, about death and that he was always thinking about the possibility and horror of a premature burial. If the author admits that he is engrossed in depth, then who else is better qualified to dispute his claim. A person knows what is going in their own head better than anyone else, and a person knows what they are thinking and what they believe better than anyone else possibly can. Poe says in no uncertain terms that death and being buried alive were constantly on his mind. To be obsessed with something is for it to be the overriding factor when it comes to what you are thinking, and Poe says that death holds that place in his head. By the very definition of obsession, and by his own words, Edgar Allan Poe is obsessed with death.
            The stories that Edgar Allan Poe wrote are pure gothic literature, and he is indeed one of the experts of gothic literature. What makes his works above and beyond others is that, like many good writers, he can put himself into his stories, which he does very thoroughly. Many stories have a common theme of death, and that is not a coincidence. Through the content of what he has written, and by his own admittance, Edgar Allan Poe is definitely a person who is obsessed. With all the evidence that exists to judge him on, it is clear that Edgar Allan Poe has an obsession with death.


Works Cited

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York, New
                                York: Random House, 1975. Print.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Faust Legend

The Tale of Dante Marshall
                Kevin Marshall was born in May 3rd, 1962, to a poor family in Brooklyn. His father worked three jobs, and barely made a living. His mom worked a part time job, and spent the rest of her time with him. Kevin’s father was hard-working and driven, but also a distant man who had difficulty expressing his emotions. He spent most of his time working, and when he was home he barely saw his son. And when he did he never really connected with him.
                In 1973, Kevin’s father was flying on a flight from New York to Houston. He had received a job offer that would be able to support his family. The flight took off at 5 in the morning, and went for about an hour before all contact between the plane and the ground cut off. The plane had been flying over the Appalachian Mountains, and experienced extreme turbulence. The pilot had misread his altimeter, and wasn’t at a safe altitude, and when the plane hit turbulence there wasn’t enough room to maneuver away from the mountains. The plane crashed, with all 156 passengers losing their life. It was a crippling blow to Kevin and his mom, and it set him on a course that would change his life.
                Kevin was twelve at the time of his father’s death, and he was incredibly affected. He had never really known his father, a fact that haunted him throughout his life. Four years after his father death, Kevin dropped out of school to get a job and support him and his mom. Without an education it didn’t seem like Kevin had much of a future.
                Fate interceded on Kevin’s behalf. Kevin had been assisting a man as he tried to start his own business. The man was trying to start an investment firm, and Kevin was the first person hired. The founder happened to brilliant in his planning, and Kevin had the charisma and intelligence to put the business out there. The business quickly became well-known, and highly profitable. When the founder retired, he left the majority share to Kevin. Kevin sold the company for $17 million in personal profit, and invested in a chain of casinos. This investment was highly successful, and he quickly became the owner several major casinos.
                Such was the case when Kevin met his wife, Kayla, in the spring of 1987. The next year they married, and in 1989 they had a son, Dante Marshall. Kevin, remembering how little he knew his father set out to make sure his son knew him, and loved him the way he wished he had loved his father.
                Growing up, Dante was completely spoiled by his loving parents, and unlike his down-to-earth father, he was highly superficial. He was a brat, a kid who had everything he had ever wanted. He grew up seeing the world as a set of items that belonged to him when he wanted them. Yet there was one thing that young Dante was driven by; he always heard about how successful his father, and how it would be hard for him to live up to his father’s name. Dante wanted to be more successful than his father.

In the summer of 2012, Dante had just turned 23. He was handsome, rich, and arrogant. And he was constantly at odds with his good natured father. The conflict had stemmed up from Dante’s craving for power. He wanted to be more successful than his father, so he figured that he needed a piece of business to start working soon. His dad had bought his first casino by the age of 27, and he wanted to outstrip his dad by as much as possible. But a Casino was not in the offing for young Dante. His father loved his son, but he was not stupid. He saw that his son was young, irresponsible, and somewhat ungrateful for all the gifts that he had already bestowed on him.
                Such was the case one hot summer day in Las Vegas. Dante was driving along the strip in his Ferrari, a gift from his dad, and he was mad. It had been the third time he’d broached the subject of owning a casino with his father, and once again Dante had been disappointed. As a kid who had been sued to getting everything he wanted, Dante wasn’t taking this new policy of his father’s very well.
                Dante needed to blow off steam, so he went to his favorite of his dad’s casinos, La Casa del Incendio (the House of Fire). He liked playing the tables when he was mad, and lately he had decided he really liked losing his money. It was his dad’s casino, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but it ate away at his father that Dante could be so immature. It was Dante’s way of firing back for not getting what he wanted.
                Dante walked into the casino and stopped for a second to bask in the red light that radiated through the entrance hall. The whole inside of the casino was light with dim, orange-red light the flickered in a way his dad had thought looked like flames. Dante nearly scoffed out loud every time he thought of that story.
                “Lights that look flames. Really dad, my casino would be a lot more impressive.” Dante thought. He sighed, and walked over toward his favorite table, only to have another pile discontent lumped onto his mood. His favorite table was full, and he recognized many of the people at the table. They were some of the regulars at the casino, and it was unlikely that they would be finished any time soon.
                Scowling, Dante walked over to the next closest table, one tucked away in a nook that coincided with the corner of the room. It was darker here than in the rest of the casino, and the scant red light gave an eerie feeling to the spot. The table looked about empty, and he was turning to find another table when he heard a voice speak to him.
                “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to play at my table? Few men don’t capitalize on the opportunity.”
                Dante nearly jumped out of his skin. At the table, barely visible in the shadows was an old man, hunched with age, yet still with a menacing air around him. Was it pride? No, it was something else, something Dante couldn’t put his finger. The man sat alone, hunched over, he looked to be a cripple. He wore a loosely fitting red polo, with a weird three-pronged spear thing instead of an emblem that Dante had ever seen before. In his lad, he had a case of chips, but they didn’t look like normal chips. Each one was unique, individual , and he clutched them in a very protective way, as though he had had a hard time collecting them, and was loath to let them go. Dante let go of his breath and sat down.
                Dante played with the man for about an hour, losing almost everything he had brought with him, and winning almost nothing. At the end of the exchange, semi-happy with himself, and mentally preparing for an earful from his father, Dante stood to leave.
                “Wait.” Said the old man, “ A question before you go?”
                “Why not?” thought Dante. Then, out loud, he said, “Shoot.”
                “Why is it a man like you comes to a casino? Comes to a casino, loses everything, and ends up happy?” the man asked, his old, pitch-black eyes boring into Dante’s.
                 “My father.” Dante said contemptuously.”It’s his casino, y’know. House of Fire, what kind of theme is that? He became tycoon by the time he was 30, yet he won’t help me get started. I mean, all I ask is for one casino, one venture to prove to him I can work. One chance that I could build on, yet he won’t have it.”
                Dante sighed, then sat down. He wasn’t sure how he felt just having directing his tirade a at a stranger, but it felt good to have it off his chest.
                “Your father must have been a great success. Is that why you’d like to start? To be successful?” The man stared at Dante again with his cold black eyes. He seemed to penetrate Dante, like he could see through him. The perceptiveness of the man unnerved Dante, but he figured he already had started speaking, and owed to the man to accommodate him as he had accommodated Dante’s anger.
                “Yes, I would love to be successful, but not just at the same level as him. I w…I wish that I could be on another level. That I could surpass my father, and make a name for myself. I mean, I’m not gonna be anything special in history, compared with him. He was a poor man he turned himself into a tycoon, and I have everything already. I mean, there’s no way you can compete with a story like his, unless you completely outdo his success.” Dante sank back in his chair, semi-surprised that he had said he wanted to surpass his father, but also sure that it was what he really wanted.
                The other man looked pensive for a moment, and then a twinkle appeared in his eye. It was an almost disturbing vision, that spark in the hole that was the old man’s eyes. Dante shivered, and wished he had something more substantial than t-shirt on.
                “You want to be more successful than your father? That may be possible.” Said the man slowly. “But you would have to trust me.”
                “Trust you?” said Dante, uncomfortably noticing the glowing gleam in the man’s eyes.
                “Yes, trust me. I may be able to get you what you need, but it will cost you.” The man’s stare intensified and Dante had turn away for a moment.
                “You could make me more successful than my father?”
                “How much will it cost me?” The moment the words were out of his mouth, Dante thought they were a mistake. Before he could figure out how to retract them the man started speaking again.
                “Dante, I will give you any one thing you wish, and for one price only.” The man held up the special set of chips. They were old and battered, and some of them even looked burned under closer inspection. “How would you like to be another chip in my collection?”
                Dante sat confused for a moment, and in that moment he began to notice small details about the man that he hadn’t noticed before. The man looked worn, as though he had been spread thin over many years, and was becoming old and tired. He had no hair on his arms or face, and he was extremely pale. His hand twitched, and Dante noticed that it looked as though it had been burned and not been quite healed. The man had calluses on his left hand, in a pattern that looked as though he used it to wield some form of one-handed tool. He looked back at the man, in the eyes, and he looked deep in his eyes, expecting see the haunting blackness again. The man’s eyes were just as draining, but they looked like they had a fire in them. It was a weird sensation, because Dante couldn’t tell if it actually looked there was a flame, or if it was just the intensity of his gaze.
                “I…I…your chips…I…” Dante stuttered, lost in the man’s eyes.
                “Yes, Dante. I just want one more chip. You won’t be the first, and certainly not the last. Many men have agreed and I have given them exactly what they wanted. My offer is appealing isn’t it?”
                “I…” Dante’s throat was dry, and he trailed off again. His eyes were drawn again to the mark of the three-prong spear on the man’s shirt. No! Not a spear! A fork! But it wasn’t any fork, it was too long and sharp…and it clicked for Dante.
                “You’re…you’re the devil!?” Dante said, half a question, half an accusation that had sounded stronger in his head.
                “Think of me as a broker, Dante. I just want to give you what you want. And what I ask in return is so simple, such a good deal. All I want is your service afterward.” His stare was so intense now, and Dante could barely stand it.
                “I…you could make me…more successful than him?” Dante’s head was reeling.
                “Yes Dante, that and more. I can make you way more than your father. You just need to decide if you can take what you want.”
                Dante was silent. He wanted this. He wanted this so bad. Plus, this was crazy there was no devil, and no god. His father, a devout Christian, believed such things, and if that was so it probably all nonsense. This last thought brought Dante confidence, and he acted on it.
                “Alright, I’ll do it. I’ll give you my soul, and in return you make me more than him.”
                The man smiled. “Then it is done, Dante. You’re probably right in think that I don’t exist. I’m just the broker. Just the broker.” And the man reached out and shook Dante’s hand. His hand was cold and smooth, like piece of polished ebony, and when he pulled away, a chip lay there. The man laughed, and then stood, precariously, on his crippled leg. He held up the chip, and burst into fire. It burned a brilliant, bright white for a second, blinding Dante. When Dante’s vision cleared, he was alone. It was as thought the man had walked into the shadows and disappeared.
                Shuddering, Dante left the casino quickly. He looked down at his hands. They were cold and clammy, and he was sweating. It couldn’t have been real, could it? he thought. He needed fresh air and took a walk down the strip.
                It was a bright and sunny day outside, and Dante realized how cold he felt. He walked for about an hour, before he felt better. He was being ridiculous. There was no way what had happened was possible. He must just have been tired, had a bad dream. He checked his wallet, and it was full again, as he had never lost anything. He laughed at himself, but it sounded weak. He laughed again, this time more strongly, and kept walking.
                About a month later, Dante finally got what he wanted. His dad had found that managing one of his casinos was too time consuming, and so he gave it to his son. Dante accepted the position smugly. He had deserved it. He had been good and obedient since he had last asked for a position, and it was obvious to him that his father had seen that he was mature enough.
                This would be the first success of Dante’s to come in the next year. A few months later, his success would lead to him buying three more casinos, creating a chain larger than his dad’s was at ten years older than Dante was now. Dante used his money to expand. One of the ways he liked most when expanding was to buy the land of schools whose funding had run out. It was cheap land, and he made a huge profit.
                Over the next 25 years, Dante created a casino empire larger than his Dad’s by far. He had everything he ever could have hoped for. And he had done it all himself, no thanks to his lousy father. Dante had ended up running his father’s casinos out of business by making similar themed, but more advanced versions of his dad’s casinos. Dante hadn’t even spoken with his father for fifteen years, and he was just fine with that. Things couldn’t have been any better until one day in October.
                Dante had been looking at buying the land of another high school to make another casino. He had been relentless in negotiations for the land, and he was driving home when he got a little lost. He was in the middle of a run down neighborhood, and the sun had gone down. He drove around for several hours, before finally stopping at a gas station to ask for directions.
                Dante got out of his car, and saw a man standing off in the distance. The man was hunched and had a cane. His back was to Dante, and as Dante started to approach him, the man turned around.
                The man was pale, and looked like he had recently been burned. His eyes were a haunting, fiery black, a fiery black that haunted Dante in his darkest nightmares.
                “You seem to have lost the way my friend. Don’t ever forget how you got where you are, and you’ll never get lost. Trust me, you’ll end up heading South anyway.”
                The man turned down a street and disappeared, leaving Dante scared out of his mind. Dante had successfully kept himself in denial about his success all these years, and it was a huge blow to him. He ran back to his car, and locked himself in. He lay there over two seats, out of view from anywhere other than right next to the car window, and spent the night quivering and trying to pretend he hadn’t; seen what he had seen.
                It was a wakeup call to Dante and, now that he had surpassed his father, he didn’t really know how much he valued success. He decided to take a more detailed look at what he’d done, and was disturbed to find out that he didn’t really care much for success, only beating his father. His bubble burst, and he began to feel a little sorry. He decided that he was going to rectify things before he died, that he would fight the devil for every bit of his soul.
                So Dante began to start funneling money into a government schooling program. He decided he would it up to the students he displaced by bolstering their funding for books and other schools supplies. And he started going to Church.
                He tried to get in contact with his father as well. He called him many times, left him many messages about how he was sorry that they no longer saw each other, and that he felt bad that his Dad couldn’t maintain a successful business for a long time.
                He went about this for several years. Dante found out later that his father, along with his mother, had passed away years prior to his attempts to reconnect. So Dante began to try to make up for his failing in this area by redoubling his efforts to help the students whose schools he had razed. He began to travel around the country, but in the back of his mind he felt as though it wasn’t working.
                And he received his confirmation on a dreary day in April. It had rained all morning, coming down in torrents and flooding the single road between the Hawaiian retreat he was staying at and the closest city. In was a majestic place, but very secluded, and with all the rain, the dirt road washed away. No one could come to them, and no one could leave. Dante was walking out a short while away from his condo, when he saw smoke rising through the downpour. It was a curious sight, and Dante went to investigate.
                Dante walked about 80 yards before finding a clearing, where a roaring fire was burning. The rain was still falling heavily, and the sight of the fire burning while wet gave him the chills.
                “Beautiful weather, isn’t it?”
                The voice came from right behind Dante, and whirled around to the old man standing behind him. He looked no different from when they had first met, even though Dante had aged a lot. And Dante had not aged well. He was old now, and just as crippled as the old man. Dante shuddered and tried to not to be afraid.
                “I have changed.” Dante said. “I am a different person than the one you once knew. I have donated a lot of my fortune and repented. I have purified my soul, and it doesn’t belong to you anymore!”  Dante stood as tall as his form would let him, emboldened by his own bravado.
                The devil spat contemptuously at Dante’s feet.
                “Bah. You are no different. You deceive yourself my friend. You do irreparable damage to children, and then offer them an insubstantial band-aid, and think you’re redeemed? No Dante, the only difference between how you are now and when we first met is that you are more like me. We are the same now Dante, cripples, old and wasted. But I embrace my twisted nature, while you deny it. Which is more sinful? I do not know. You are now on my level, but you are not long for this world, while I, I shall endure as long as fools like you continue to accept my corrupt bargains.” The devil turned, and few of his special ships on the fire. They sustained it through the droves of rain. The devil dug deep into the depths of darkness that served him as pockets, and pulled out a chip. It was nothing special, but Dante tensed upon sight of it. It was his chip, and it was about to take the drop into the fire.
                Dante gave a formless shout of despair and anger. He picked up a slick rock of the ground, and hurled at the devil, and then turned and run. The rock hit the devil square in the head, but he just laughed, a horrible, jarring laugh that crawled into Dante’s ears and chased Dante further away from the clearing. All the while Dante ran, and the laughs echoed on his ears. Dante ran, slipping in the mud, tripping on rock, scared out of his mind. The laughter was in his head, it was everywhere.
                Dane had to escape. He ran and ran. The laughing. It scarred his eardrums and ricocheted around inside his skull. He was running on the bank of a river. The ground was slippery, and the river overflowing. He had to get it out. He had to purge himself. Dante plunged into the river, yet the laughing stuck with him. He bobbed up and down in the waves, and was carried on at a breakneck pace by the over-filled river.
                There was a waterfall in the river, and Dante was speeding for it like a bullet out of a gun. Like a bat out of hell. Dante was drowning. The water sloshed in every orifice of his head, and any open space has suffocated by the fiendish hilarity of the devil. The edge of waterfall rushed up, and for a split second Dante flew.
                But as all things that go up, Dante must come down, and come down he did. He smashed against the rocks like a battering ram, and then rolled back into the river. Dante’s body floated down the river, broken. A bend appeared in the river, and Dante’s body finally escaped the river. Standing in wait was an old man, a poker chip in his hand.
                The old man laughed, and flicked his wrist. The chip flew across the water, skipping like the flattest of stones. It skidded off a rock jutting out of the water, and careened off into the water. The chip floated for a second, then sunk like the Titanic in the onslaught of the overflowing river.
                “The broker always wins, because he can bet as many times as he wants. The player only has one shot. And that is why I will always exist, to prey on men. For men will always fall to me until they cease to be men.”