Aztlan was barren for many cycles. Then something happened that never happened before or after. Life had come to Aztlan, and the cycle had started that would culminate in the birth of the gods.
– From the Skulkers in the Void, by Amoxtli.
When Grangran first taught him and herself English, it was to the worm-eaten books in their old library, from the words of Poe, Machen, and Milton. At the age of six, he had begun teaching himself Latin, French, German, and Italian in addition to his native Spanish. He solved complicated equations in his head and surfed the internet on Grangran’s battered old tablet to teach himself physics and chemistry. His dream was to be an engineer, but he was interested in whatever knowledge he could get his hands on, and was restless in his hunger for more. He wanted nothing less than to know – to quote Goethe’s Faust “was die Welt im Innersten zusammenhält.” – what keeps the world together in its innermost. It was his quenchless thirst for knowledge that had him so excited for school, only to find out that he was far beyond his peers and indeed his teachers regarding education.
His outdated and overly complicated English and his skin condition fueled ridicule and bullying. Thus he preferred to learn on his own, back home, and never felt at home amongst other kids his age. He grew up this way, hiding away from the sun and humanity, a hermit-like recluse in the 21st century until the sudden stop of his skin condition, afraid to be seen or be exposed to direct sunlight.
Grangran had tried to help, tried to sell the mansion, but the city had told her firmly that it wasn’t hers to sell and that she needed to depend on charity for both Martin’s treatment and her own.
The mansion; the colonial and luxurious but high maintenance nightmare in which he had grown up, or, to be precise, in the west wing of which he had grown up, the only part of the mansion Grangran had kept open in order to save costs for heating, she said. It was a castle-like affair that would have been at home in England, less so in the New World, built in a neogothic style and situated far from civilization. Martin spent many hours in its well-stocked library, and it was from the books therein and not of public schooling that he got most of his considerable knowledge.
The library was his favorite place in the building. The rest of the home was alien and repulsive to him, despite the grandeur of the site. It had been built what seemed like ages ago by a local eccentric who fancied himself an old-world lord, and who had lived there with an army of manservants. It must have been glorious in those days, heated by coal furnace and wood fire, the lord of the mansion wining and dining with gentlemen of leisure and local businessmen and nouveau riches.
Sans all the people that used to live here, the place and his contrast with Martin’s own meager means was positively grotesque, a delirious vision of grandeur and pomp which disgusted young Martin. Add to that the mephitic, cryptlike smell, miles of gossamer spider webs and mounds of dust and dirt in the uninhabited parts of the mansion, and you have an ideal setting for a gothic or Lovecraftian novel, but not for a poor boy to grow up in. He had come to hate the place, and whoever had settled Grangran with this burden, and her other burden: himself.
Have a story you want to share? Let us share it with our audience: Share Your Story