Foreword

The Twisted Staircase, a previously unpublished manuscript by the late Andrew Vlčák, fell into my hands under the most exceptional circumstances. After his most…untimely…death, the SD was tearing up his house, of course—500 of those smarmy blackshirts, frothing around the neighborhood—and that damn Heider screaming through his megaphone, ready to blow a gasket—no, what way is this to begin a Foreword! Perhaps I should begin my introducing myself. I am Herr Doktor Professor Cyrus, of course. A dear friend of the late Andrew Vlčák—no, no, scratch that. The Foreword should begin, should focus, on him, and solely him, of course.

The Twisted Staircase, a quasi-fictional biographical novella, was composed by Andrew Vladislav Vlčák (born July 29, 2645, died May 29, 2666) during the last forty-two days of his life, at his residence in C—, East Coast, R.U.S.A. The manuscript, a Fair Copy—well, not really—well, legible enough, anyway—which has been faithfully restored in the present text , was written in cipher in between the lines of a diary—well, a journal, to be more accurate—in—well, a lecture book—in—between the lines of his Algebraic Topology notes, to exact—in a peculiar kind of red ink. The novella appears to be composed of a series of short stories, or 'Cantos', if I may—a quite eccentric format, and quite a departure from his earlier works, I might add. But not entirely out of keeping with the life of the author himself.

He wanted me to burn it, of course. 'Everything I leave behind me—burn it, burn it all, goddammit!' I believe were his penultimate words. And often when I came up to visit him in those last days, I would find him crouched in front of a cigarette-fire, feeding small torn bits of paper to—I shudder to think what might have been lost—such a pale fire—but such speculation has no place in the Foreword!

I could not honor his request, of course. Instead I have chosen to lie these works at your feet, dearest reader, to present them to you, if you will, in the hopes they may be of some—use—to you—in a purely artistic way, of course! To take a page after my friend, and to quote a much better man than I: "My decision rests simply and solely on the fact that Vlčák's unpublished work contains the most wonderful messages, and, measured against his own work, the best things that he has written. In all honesty I must confess that this one fact of the literary and ethical value of what I am publishing would have been enough to make me decide to do so, definitely, finally, and irresistibly, even if I had no objection to raise against the validity of Vlčák's last wishes."

Perhaps I should add a note here, of how these works came to be edited and annotated by me—but no! Patience, patience. Everything in its due place.