Frail old Herr Albert Schreckenstein sits on the porch of #1 for hours at a time, watching the skies. He has that look about him that men get after the age of 75 or so, where age has nothing left to inflict upon them. They become, in a way, ageless. No afterglow of youth, but no further down to sink into decrepitude, either.

Herr Albert, as he insists on being called, lives for his post. He has subscribed to a large number of catalogs and other free items and eagerly looks through them. A few are menswear, or free newspapers, but most are meant for young women. The mailman, most recently Mr. Ramirez, jokes about this but secretly he fears that he is quietly feeding some sort of predator. The only other thing that arrives is a pension check from Germany. The address is in Leipzig, and once every few months someone will call, across continents, to make sure Herr Albert is in fact still alive.

Mrs. Soule doesn’t blame them, though cutting through the thick accents is often a pain. Sealed in an envelope under the bed is Albert’s birth certificate, for 1902. It is a lie, a forgery that he paid well for once he realized that his true birthdate would draw too much suspicion. But the time when that date, too, will be too suspicious is fast approaching.

Luckily, he needn’t wait that long. He has but a year to live, give or take six months or so. This is because the last of the life energies he sapped from prisoners high atop Berg Shreckenstein–Mount Dreadstone–is finally fading.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!