It was through my cousin, Rachel that I first came to live at the end of the world. She had a passing acquaintance with the owner of the house in which I came to live, Mr. Blud. It struck me as the perfect place for me to finish my book. I was "going through difficulties" at the time, which was my euphemism for not having written a sentence in months. The house was not literally at the end of the world, though one could be forgiven for the mistake. It sat on a steely-gray cliff high above the ocean, the only house for miles around. No other human settlements were visible save one, the landlord's house across the channel, and only then in fine weather.
My house was small, one floor and three bedrooms, but reasonably well-kept with the notable exception of the living room floor. The living room was my favorite room of the house, always where I did my writing, perched in front of the massive, arched windows looking out into the dark ocean; always so dark due to its tremendous depth near the cliffs. "You'd be drowned before you saw a percent of that water," my cousin said in her cheery way. The living room floor was once something of which the owner must have been proud. It was a beautiful, dark wood, but so deeply scarred and damaged to be nearly unrecognizable as wood any longer. Nowhere else in the house was there the slightest damage to the floors, the wainscoting, or any other aspects of my delightful writing cottage. It was perfect. What did I care of what could be hidden by a few carpets? It would do just fine. Perhaps I would finally finish my book. That was my hope, though it proved in time to be fruitless.
It was storming when I arrived, as it always seemed to be thereafter, and I was waiting to be let in the cottage, getting quite soaked by the salty rain, standing over the top of my lone suitcase and typewriter so that they would not be damaged further than their already dilapidated state. I stood on the cobblestone path, leaning against the siding of the house, hoping by mere proximity to become drier, despite the lack of any protective overhanging. It was when I was in this pitiable position that Riven finally arrived. He gave me the most cursory of nods before fitting the key in the lock and stepping into the darkened entryway. It was not until he lit a lamp that I was able to see much at all. I sat down my things by feel.
"No electricity, though I'm sure your...cousin was it? Told you that already."
"Grady. Thomas Grady."
I offered my hand and it was taken for the briefest of moments.
"Here's the key. I imagine you can find your way around. It's small enough anyway."
"It certainly is compared to your house across the way. I've only just glimpsed it when I arrived, but-"
"I am not Mr. Blud. I'm Mr. Blud's assistant, Riven."
"My apologies, Riven. I only just..."
Without ado, the blunt assistant turned towards the door to leave, clearly believing that his work was done. The two of us stood no more than a few feet from it, neither truly having the right to offer the other a place to sit. He passed the oil lamp to me, and in so doing displayed part of his visage for the first time. He was terribly scarred across the face, a patchwork of poor stitches and crude patch-ups. And he was only in possession of one eye, the other being covered by a black patch without string, that hung as if glued to his skull. I did my best not to ponder on it for long.
"No apologies necessary, Mr. Grady. I'll be going."
"Wait, when will I have the chance to meet Mr. Blud?"
"Your dealings will be with me."
"I'm never to meet him?"
"Mr. Blud is an exceedingly busy man. He was given to believe that you required solitude, not company."
"Of course. Good day, then."
"Good day, Mr. Grady."
It was not a welcoming parade, but the cottage, as I've said, was more than suitable to my desires. I went about the house my first night, lighting the oil lamps in every room in order to get a good look at them in turn. Having few things, there was not much unpacking to be done, but this I did deliberately nonetheless. My few shirts and pants were folded carefully and put away, my lone heavy jacket hung from a hanger by its lonesome in the closet. There was only a small table in the kitchen, a wicker for two that belonged outside a cafe somewhere. I preferred to take my meals standing up those days, alone at the counter pondering my next pages. I moved the wicker table to the living room in front of the arched windows, as I've mentioned. There I set up my typewriter, preferring to pull up the plush, high-backed chair away from the fireplace in front of my table.
The cold seeped into me, showing early on the necessity for a fire at all times in such a place. I was far from an expert at starting fires, though I eventually succeeded, accomplishing a crackling blaze that did little to light the dark cottage. The windows themselves were less portals to the outside, and more the outer darkness pushing its way into my meager light. The dark of a place with no other humans is largely forgotten in our light-filled societies, but it is an oppressive force. The ocean was invisible in the inky black, a giant living organism, millions upon millions of gallons of water so close, but utterly lost to vision. For sights, there were only one the windows provided, and it was curious. Raindrops slid down the double panes with regularity as the ocean's rage continued unabated to pelt the cliff top and my cottage. I noticed that near the top of the pane, for an inch or so, the drops glowed faintly red. Once they breached this particular patch of the window, they became clear streaks of wet once more, but new drops of glowing blood were always there to take their place. They were created by a red light in the distance across the channel. I would learn in good time that the light rested on the dock of my landlord, bolted firmly in place to the boards, safe from the buffeting waves, never to be displaced. Even when I learned the origin of the light, I was never entirely inured to the violence of those raindrops and typically avoided looking too close out the windows at night.
When I was able to pull myself away from my desk, it was late in the morning. I had accomplished little writing, but I had only just arrived. First nights in new places can be difficult. My gas lamp having extinguished, from the flickering light of the fire I saw my watch was wrong, still reading just after three in the afternoon. Perhaps it needed a new spring. I left the fire to its own devices, already burning low, and slid my wool socks across the scarred floor for the first time on my way to bed. I went to sleep pleased that I had found a place of happy isolation where I could finish my work.