• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 12
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The Disappearance of Alden Marsh

Few if any of those familiar with the works of Alden Marsh would be surprised by his mysterious disappearance. Perhaps it was inevitable, given his eccentric nature, the imagination that produced such whimsical tales as "Climbing to the Moon" "The Cat in the Woods" and "The Comfy Chair"--stories enjoyed by children and grown-ups alike.

We were roommates in college. He was shy and reclusive even then, and given to bouts of insomnia. Still, we became friends, a friendship that continued when I became an assistant editor at Haunted House, specializing in works of fantasy and the macabre. I was the first to recommend his work. He wrote his stories. I became his editor.

A generous inheritance afforded him creative freedom, and he lived a quiet life in the old family house in the country. In his extensive correspondence with me (always by written letter; he had no use for email or mobile phone) he often described his evenings in the attic, sitting in his favorite chair, surrounded by cats and piles of books.

I regret now I did not take up his invitation to visit sooner. My editorial commitments kept me busy, and he did not like to come into the city, but he insisted that he wanted to see me. He appealed to our college days, our long conversations about the nature of reality and imagination. His letters grew more insistent, as he wrote at length about his dreams, the shadows in the basement, the monster on the stairs.

In what turns out to be his final letter, he mentions a gathering darkness, the changing colors of the leaves on the trees. When I arrived, I found he had been gone for some time. The autumn wind blew through the open windows and the cats prowled the vacant rooms. In the attic, the golden light of the afternoon fell on the empty chair.