The doubly dead
The room was perfect, from the leather-bound bookshelves with their faint aroma of ancient knowledge, to the writing-desk, to the pale marble bust of Athena with, curiously, a stuffed raven perched on it (why is a raven like a writing-desk?) above the chamber door. Perfect and silent and empty, so very very empty; the sort of hollow vacancy that comes when a place has known the rigors of use and abuse, now forgotten and left alone. It touched a chord in me, that abandoned, waiting sort of decay, and I was barely conscious of the soft tracks my bare feet should have left in the dust that sifted the floor.
It was a waiting room, silent, undisturbed, as if the room, like I, was sure that its master and its purpose would return apace, to fill it with reason and life and to chase away the stuffiness, the cobwebs, the dust. I looked up to the pale marble bust of Athena (wisest of the virgin goddesses, Athena, can even you offer me advice now?) and wondered at the raven. Change takes all things; it had taken me most certainly, but why should he have chosen to place a raven on that bust?
Long I stood there, staring at the incongruous bird, so long that it seemed I fell once more into the timeless trance that overtook me at every lost opportunity, forgetting this thing and all things in the undiscovered, empty room. So it was that when the wings stirred and the beak opened to croak "Nevermore" in a voice that had haunted my dreamless emptiness, I would have screamed, had I had voice. What living thing, bird or beast or man, could still have survived the passing of the years? It was not possible. It could not be.