Streams of the Conscience

What's that? Rain? And here I was hoping it would be a lovely day. I should have known those clouds were too dark to clear. Ah well, it's the perfect day for sitting in front of a fire with a good book. Ah, and I still have a hundred pages of Kierkegaard's Concept of Irony to read.
Bong.
Ah! Oh my, that startled me. Wonder what that was? Hm, it's a very dreary day. . . I feel so tired. I was wide awake just a moment ago. Perhaps I need some coffee? I do so hate coffee – much rather a nice cup of tea – but it does wake one quite sufficiently.
I must remember to stop tossing so much in my sleep – I seem to have wrenched my shoulder again. More of a stabbing pain than a throbbing, this time. I'll have Marcie bring me some ice when she fetches my coffee. Nice girl, that Marcie; I must remember to give her a raise.
My, my shoulder is really starting to hurt. I must have twisted it more than I thought. But then I suppose tennis yesterday didn't help things.
Bong.
There it is again. What is it? It's a very odd noise.
Curse these steps! Third time this month I've tripped on them. The wood is much too slippery. . . Wait, it's wet. What fool spilled something on the stairs and didn't mop it up? And it's sticky, too.
Bong.
What is that bloody noise? No matter; I can't think about it now. I have too much work to do to bother about strange noises and shoddy janitorial services.
Now that is a sound I recognize – footsteps on wooden stairs. Who would be here at this hour? Not Marcie; she uses the back stairs. No customers are here at this hour. Who is it? It would help if it were lighter. Stupid blighter is standing in the shadows. No, he's coming closer. He must be coming to help me. I only stumbled, I'm alright. Still, nice to see some people have manners.
Bong.
And now there is lightning! This is some day. Supposed to be sunny and warm, now there's lightning – and there it is again! There must be a mirror on the wall; the lightning is glinting off something. It's just to the left of the man coming to help me (he sure is taking his time!). No... it's not to the left of him, it's reflecting off him. Or something on him. He looks familiar; have I met him before? Is he a client? No, he came in with one of my clients. But which one?
Bong.
No. Not them. I finished their job. Why would he be back? I finished that account! They tricked me once, I won't help them again! He's still moving slowly, I can get away. If only the stairs weren't so slippery! Why he is walking so slowly?
Bong.
More lightning, and again the reflection. That flash... it's in his hand. But what...? It would be easier if I had my glasses on. I never did have good vision. My optometrist keeps telling me to wear my glasses all the time, but I just can't be bothered. They only get filthy and have to be cleaned constantly. I find myself cleaning them all the time, even when they don't need it. I hate personal quirks like that.
Bong.
There's that noise again. Is it thunder? No. It may be storming, but that was too musical to be thunder. Oh, there's a clock here. I never noticed it before. What a beautiful clock; you don't see many grandfather clocks nowadays. What exquisite design! There's a whole circus etched on the pendulum. Oh my, I hope the time isn't right, otherwise I'm late. Maybe I am, but I'm just so tired. If only I could lay down for a few minutes. . .
I wonder what colour the walls are? They seem gray, but with a hint of purple. . . or is it blue? Like storm clouds. Speaking of storms, listen to that wind howl! It sounds like a whole pack of wolves is running around out there.
Wolves... wolves... they're just a pack of wolves. Cretans, how dare they? After all I've done for them!
Bong.
Again, that bell! Why won't it stop? Why won't it let me be? Why won't they let me be? I gave them everything they asked for, didn't I? I helped them, saved them, what more do they want? Or. . . or is that it? I gave them everything. . . what more could they need from me?

Bong.

Nothing.

Bong.

Since I've dedicated my whole life to books, I suppose it is only fitting that all I can think of now are the infamous words of John Donne –

Bong.

"Do not ask for whom the bell tolls..."

Bong.

"... it tolls for thee."

The Antithesis

Come on, not long now, just two more minutes. How did I get talked into doing this one? I should be at home with a book, petting the dog and tossing firecrackers into the fireplace. Not only that, I'm wet. Stupid rain. Actually, I'm quite fond of the rain, except when it's sliding down the back of my neck and into my shirt. If only I hadn't had to walk three blocks. I could've sworn the bus stop was closer. No matter. I'll just finish my business here and hurry myself home to a nice cup of tea.
Nasty business, this. He seems like a decent fellow. I must've spotted the complete works of every philosopher and playwright ever to live when we were in his office. I could've had a decent conversation with him. None of the idiots back at the office know Blake from a tossed salad. Probably would have gotten along quite nicely with him, actually.
There I go again, mixing business with pleasure. No matter how many times I do this, I always find myself daydreaming. They're not people; unfortunately in some cases, gladly in others. How did I get talked into this one? How do I get talked into any of them?
Well, he's certainly taking his bloody time. No, I'm just early. You'd think with my impatience I'd learn not to be a half hour early for things. Mother always said I'd be early to my own funeral.
Here now, what was that? A door. Ah, the blighter's shown up at last. Right on time, as usual. Just like Lucas said, he's always punctual. Even more so after today.
Here he comes, no more time for thought. Into the shadows, he can't see me there. Remember your orders: Wait for the bell. I feel like a racehorse anticipating the start of a race. At least a racehorse knows why it's racing.
A creak on the stairs – he's coming up. He's almost reached the landing. He's not looking here, not into the shadows behind the suit of armour. He'll be up the other stairs in another moment; he'll get away. No fear, wait for the bell.
Bong.
There! There, the clock has begun its chiming. Slip out, carefully now. Don't make a noise. Creep up on him, silent as a mouse. One quick jab to the shoulder and away! Back into the shadows, crouch and watch. Ignore the booming of the clock. Ignore the pounding of the heart.
He's fallen onto the stairs. He appears to be moving. He's on his side; he's alive for sure. Curse the lightning! Now he'll have seen me, seen the light reflect from my blade.
Yes, he has seen me, but he does not recognize me. He is trying to stand. One will not be enough.
Slip out again, calm as a cat. He's fallen again. This time he's laying on his side, staring dumbly at the grandfather clock. It has almost ceased it's chimes. Approach calmly, look down at him. He does not see me. He will not die. Why am I here?
Kneel and sigh a wiser man's words: "Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, thou must die."

Raise the knife, say goodbye.

Why am I doing this, again?