“It was around this time that the squatters began disappearing.”
At the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference, Professor Dogwood was beginning to get long-winded. On the seatback in front of me I watched a moth’s eyes turn from green to gold to green again. I imagined what its life might have been like before it joined me and the other conference attendees to drift in the rise and fall of the professor’s words. Outside in the gathering spring night, worms moved wordlessly through the low-growing, early plants. A pretty moth like the one winking at me then was better off in the company of the undead.
The professor continued:
“Despite the fact that its squatters were never accounted for, the Krankenhaus Bethanien was resurrected as the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, a world-renowned destination for rising and established visual artists. I can say with certainty though that the Krankenhaus never left the premises entirely. During my recent stay at the Kunstlerhaus, I accidentally stumbled into its night thoughts.
“An unfortunate encounter with a plate of sauerbraten had left me unfit for sleep and wandering the empty and foggy halls of the institution. My mind was busy composing a pretty piece of poetry for a restless girl-spirit I had met in Dublin, so perhaps I didn’t pay particular attention to the men’s lavatory as I passed it on my right side. I must have walked 50 paces past it before turning on my heel with designs on sleep. When I passed it again, I was surprised to find that all six of its faucets were turned on full blast, and that the floor had one or two inches of water already collected on it.
“Some breathless moments passed before a low and slow-moving mound in the floorboards snaked quietly through the amplifying waters and made a languid jump, as if for air. When it missed its mark, as I knew it must, the mound bubbled back into non-existence.
“An interesting incident to be sure, but if any edification is to be extracted from it, it is this: A building is an animal with a memory like a rain bucket, and when the endless frozen rains of a German December steep and widen a building’s sleepless bones, certain visitors are bound to come a-calling.”