The time had come, yet again. He could feel it. The mysterious allure of the unknown was pulling him down to the cellar. He made his way through the hallway as if gliding on a cloud, in a dream. Past several vacant rooms, to the last door at the end of the hall. The pivotal doorway which led to the basement. The ritual never changed except for an occasional appearance by one of the ghostly inhabitants along the way.
When they materialized from one of the upstairs rooms, they would point directly at him and summon the others. Finally making paranormal contact with his spectral ‘houseguests’ was a new milestone. Ordinarily he would have been thrilled for a break in his isolation but he was too focused on the mission to stop. The old man was being drawn into an unavoidable maelstrom. It pushed him to open the basement door and descend down the stairs.
His next recollection was always the same. He would reach the upstairs landing and close the basement door behind him. He had no memory of what had transpired in the cellar. It was beyond frustrating that everything he did in the workshop was a complete blank. The latest search for answers ended just as the others had. He could not remember a single detail of his investigation and the frustration wore heavily on his nerves. It was as if his mind stopped recording what he witnessed in the most important destination on his journey to the truth. He was tempted to break protocol and march back downstairs to confront the enigma, but the sacred ritual dictated otherwise. It had other plans for him.
Once back in the hallway from the failed excursion to the basement, he was compelled to visit the attic again. His earlier search there had been quite fruitful and it seemed like a better option anyway. Among the boxes of long forgotten mementos and dusty furniture, he sought more links to the past. After failing to locate any new clues, he studied the old photograph in his shirt pocket again.
The groom in the picture was very familiar but try as he might, the old man could not place him. Somehow he knew that the unidentified subject was the key to his mystery. He wondered if the young couple had been members of his family. Then he realized that he was never visited by anyone, himself. Had his own family forsaken him to wander the lonely house until he died? Maybe in his confusion, he had just forgotten their visits. For all he knew, he didn’t even have a family. “Surely he wasn’t alone in the world”; He moaned. The thought of dying with no one to even mourn his passing was too depressing to even think about.
The old man’s next trip to the workshop didn’t yield any answers but this time he didn’t come away empty handed. As he closed the door and stepped back into the hallway, he noticed a rusty knife in his hand! He didn’t have a clue as to it’s significance but it was the first thing he had ever brought back from the workshop. It was undoubtably a sign of progress. Little by little the endless cycle was beginning to draw to a close.