The place was an old studio. To him it seemed abandoned, yet who knows? Certainly nothing there was in its place – not the broken odds and ends lying about, not the scattered papers, not even the dust that caked the panes of the skylight. Yet who can be sure? Perhaps there was some unrevealed interval between activity and abandonment, some fine phase of things that he was unable to detect at the moment. He stooped and picked up a few of the crumpled papers, which appeared to be drawings.
He shuffled a stack of them page after page before his eyes. So intricate, everything in them was made of tiny, tiny hairs or little veins – insect veins. There were shapes: he could not tell what they were supposed to be, but something about the shape of the shapes, their twistings and the way they flared around, was so horrible. A little rain seeped in through some fine cracks in the windowpanes above, making strange marks on the dusty floor of the old studio.
Someone was coming up the stairs outside the door of the studio. He hid behind the door, and when that someone came in, he, without looking back, went out. He tiptoed down the stairs, and ran down the wet street in the rain.
He was walking now, and the rain was pouring vigorously into the gutters. He saw something else in the gutters too. It looked like the tail of an animal, but a very intricate tail. It was being dragged slowly along by the run-off in the gutter, and it made strange wriggling movements. When it was further away, the intricacies of the object – those patterns in which he thought he saw a face smiling so peacefully – were no longer visible, and he felt relieved. But the rain was coming down even harder now, so he retreated to a nearby shelter along the street. It was just a little room open on one side, with a wooden bench. Inside it was very damp, and the frayed edges of shadows waved on the three walls. There was a damp smell, with something else too, some unpleasant enigma about the place. What was it that happened in here?
The bench where he sat was now gleaming with dampness under the moonlight. At the other end, almost entirely absorbed into the dark little corner, was a bent figure, almost folded in half. It groaned and moved a little. Finally it straightened up, and its tangled hair came tumbling down in the moonlight. Along the bench it slid, dragging itself and its rags slowly to his side. He, on the other hand, could not move and inch through fear.
Then from somewhere within all that tangled intricacy, a pair of eyes opened, followed by a pair of lips. And they said to him: “Let me tell you what my name is”.
But when the figure leaned over, smiling so placidly, those shapeless lips had to whisper their words into the cold damp ear of a corpse.