I see you. You are lurking just beyond the corner of my peripheral vision. I can smell your fetid stench burning the inside of my nostrils, hear the soulless hiss of your tongue just behind me, feel the cold of your breathless breath against the nape of my neck. You are my constant companion. You were there to greet me the moment I was born, ready to snatch me from the eager arms of father and mother. You care little for our joy, you care little for our grief. At first, I didn't know that you were there, didn't know that you even existed, and I was happy. But slowly, ever so slowly, an abstraction grew within my mind and haunted my dreams. Still, then you were merely a phantom, formed of the phantasmagoric mists wafting out of the primordial cave, not imaginary and yet not real. Then I saw you for the first time, face to face. I saw you draw the breath from the rattling body of a still strong and vibrant bit of human flesh—a mere boy. I saw you and I hated you. You were indifferent to me. It was that day that I first became aware that you have been my constant companion, more faithful than the most attentive of lovers, and will be so until that day of dread when you shall reclaim that which should likely never have risen from the dust. Happy is he who is only dimly aware of your presence until it is too late. The young are not meant to see you, to know you as intimately as I do. To see that you take the young and the old without prejudice, the rich and the poor, the just and the unjust. No one may hide from your presence. What could you tell me if only you would speak? Probably nothing. Would it help if I prayed to you, as did my ancient forebears? No, you are but the servant. You're not the one who hides behind the effervescent Holy of Holy's, beseeching our supplication and yet hiding the answer in obscurity. I know I could not face Him, would be destroyed by Him. But oh, to be destroyed by the Font of Being, rather than you! But what does it matter? What would you know of such things, you who are the anti-thesis of that which is? Go ahead and play your game. You will get me in the end. You await me just as surely as a sated spider, digesting her last meal comfortably on the sideline, waiting for the struggling fly to expend its last strength and terror in a vain attempt at redemption. That is the end you have for me, is it not? That I should go from this world screaming.