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August Craymore stared out at the melancholy waters of the ocean. The gray-black yawning mouths of the waves opened and closed on the shore, spraying salt through the air and spreading water along the growing coastline. The water swallowed the sun in the west, spreading red, orange, and pink across the sky, a cry for help as it drowned in the unforgiving sea. 

The sea, the damned sea! It had been not two weeks since Emile Anderson had plunged into the depths below, weeping like a widow, dressed in his Sunday best. His funeral had taken place earlier today, too bright and cheerful a day of July for such an occasion. His tombstone read Beloved by Many, which felt like an understatement to August. His poetic soul had touched all who lived in the miserable town of Bedley, especially August’s. A tightening feeling rose in his chest, like a black hand squeezing the blood out of his heart. He never got to tell him…

August turned away from the bedroom window and shut the window. Thin strips of cloud wisp over the sun, covering the bright orange disc of it in the sky. He pulled a book out of his bookshelf and opened the pages. The dark ink of the paper shined in the dim gaslight above August’s head. The words of Mr. John Luther Long’s “Madame Butterfly” melted away from August’s vision. What prose could possibly uplift the spirits of a young man who had lost such a valued friend, such an important piece of his life? August’s mind drifted to the sweet summer days the two of them had spent together, writing poetry underneath the maple tree in the park. Emile had laughed at their parents for questioning the two’s friendship, but August had always remained quiet on that subject. Emile would never know August’s true feelings about him, now that his battered body rested six feet beneath the earth. 

August often imagined scenarios where he could save him: bring him flowers every day, help him get through his morbid thoughts, perhaps increase the frequency of those gentle days in the park, as useless as thoughts of “saving” his lost friend were. A voice deep inside August’s mind, full of the blackness of despair, constantly reminded him of the fact that there was no point to it. He was never coming back, no matter how many nights August wished and prayed for it. 

The light in August’s bedroom had completely dimmed to just the gaslight above the headrest. He had not noticed how late it had gotten. 

August twisted the gaslight off and the brightness of the lamp faded away from his vision. The window poured moonlight into his room, thick as honey in its pale blue gleam. While his eyelids hung heavily on his face, August’s heart was too cold to rest. He silently willed himself not to cry, fearful that a passing servant would hear his moment of weakness. 

After half an hour or so, the indigo specter of sleep pulled August Craymore down into the inky abyss of sleep. His head was plagued by wailing spirits and the imagined final cries of his beloved Emile. 


August was awoken in the witching hours of the morning by a loud thunderclap above his father’s house. The rain was coming down in large clumps, water thrusting against the window like bullets into the glass. Lighting sparked in the air, creating deep, white-hot cracks in the sky. 

The room was exceptionally dark, and August found himself squinting at the foreboding shapes of what would normally be objects of familiarity to him. He turned the valve on the gaslamp only to find nothing. Not the bright orange-gold of a flame, not even the hissing of escaped gas, but complete silence. This lamp must be out, he thought to himself. 

The corners of his room were obscured with utter blackness, and August could not make out a single friendly shape in the area. The wind whistled so loudly against the windowpanes that August was sure it was going to crash right through the glass. His eyes finally adjusted to the light and he gasped at what he saw. 

Something was in the corner of his room. 

A shadow shaped like a man, with pale, reflective eyes, shining like a doll’s in the dim flashes of lightning. The form of it eluded August’s vision: while the base shape was humanoid in nature, the figure seemed to melt into the back wall more than once. As its form shifted, its eyes stayed in the same place and were fixed on a singular point in the room: August. 

August’s body seized as if his entire being was filling ever so slowly with ice water. He couldn’t even close his eyes as the figure inched closer and closer to the edge of the bed. August’s pulse pounded in his ears like a drum. Boom. Boom. Boom. 

As the creature, the wraith, reached the side of the bed, a horrible grin of crooked black teeth spread on its face. Its long-fingered hand, now clearly visible in the brief appearances of light through the window, wrapped around the bedpost. Terror weighed August to the bed as the thing opened its wide, grinning mouth. 

Don’t forget, Craymore.” 

It dragged its fingers, now forming claws, down the wood of the bedpost. “Craymore…don’t forget. Never forget.” 

Quick as a flash, the wraith pressed its long fingers on August’s neck. His scream died in his throat, snuffed out by the building pressure on his air supply. August grabbed at the creature’s face feebly, his nails desperately digging into nothing. The wraith’s eyes were cold and dead, black capillaries bulging in the slimy orbs. Its teeth continued to grin, and the smell! Death and rot and decay and despair! O god! 

August’s legs flailed up and down in a futile attempt to kick the monster off of him. His vision began to blur and as he lost consciousness, he thought only of Emile’s sweet blonde hair. If only you’d done something. If only you’d been there for him. If only you cared enough to put your damned books down and visited him more often. 

If only, if only, if only. 


August gasped awake, coughing, choking on the sweet yet stale air of his bedroom. Blessed sunlight streamed through his window, quelling all notions of his late-night visitor. He sat up in his nightgown and peered into his sterling silver-lined mirror. He gently touched his neck, but no marks showed. August exhaled a shuddering breath, the wraith’s raspy voice of broken glass still crackling in his ear. 

Never forget. 

As if that was possible, August thought darkly. He knew that he had not seen the last of the wraith, and he never would. 


August Craymore finished his studies in the summer of nineteen-oh-two. He decided to stay in the newly blossoming town of Bedley, as he couldn’t bear to leave the wraith. The wraith and he were connected: One could not live without the other. August had nurtured it too deeply, and now it would never go away. 

August did not see it every night, though the visits had extended into the day. Sometimes the wraith would stand quietly in the corner, grinning like a devil as August filed some paperwork or sipped a cup of late-night tea. Sometimes it would choke him, or stab him, or claw his eyes out, grinning and whispering. Never forget. Never forget, Craymore. Craymore. Crayyymoree. August fed it as often as he could. He kept it as a reminder of his weakness, his uselessness to stop Emile’s fate. 

He took a wife in the year of nineteen-oh-six and a year or so later August had a son with the woman. But the wraith refused to give way, refused to let August wriggle free from its grasp, regardless of the new wife and son. It never would. 


‘Twas a storming summer night, nearly twelve years after the death of Emile. August twisted and turned in his bed, the small warmth of his wife’s sleeping body doing nothing to quell the cold. As the rain pounded down on the window and the storm howled to come inside, August dreaded the arrival of the wraith, though a part of him wished it would come sooner. 

It has been so long, he thought mournfully. I want it to end. 

Finally, it arrived silently. Instead of pouncing, it extended a long hand out to him. August stood up as it gestured for him to follow. August followed in a dreamlike trance out of his room towards the front door of the estate. Is it time at last? Am I to be free? He thought, desperation flooding his mind like rainwater. 

Your choice,” the wraith hissed. 

The rain battered down on August’s head, each drop so heavy, but his mind was still. He followed the wraith up the hills and cliffs of the oceanside until he was at the top of the highest cliff in the town. 

The slick mud of the top of the cliff stuck between his toes as he walked to the edge of Emily’s place of death. Water poured off of the jagged rocks in streams, casting into the ocean below. Insanity! A part of his mind wailed. But the rest of it was calm, serene, if a bit nervous. 

The wraith stood behind him, the gleam of its glassy eyes reflecting no light that August could see. “Your choice. Live with me or with him.” It rasped. August stepped closer to the edge. You’ll go to Lucifer’s pits, the voice in his mind warned. “I’m already there,” he muttered, barely heard over the storm. His toes met the sharp rock of the very precipice of the cliff. The ocean below opened its mouth readily, and who was August to deny it? 

He closed his eyes and lept, his last thoughts on Emile’s bright green eyes. Emile, my love, I come to you.