I suppose that I should explain a little about the circumstances surrounding my decision to begin this electronic archive prior to actually uploading the first document, in order to explain the inevitable fragmentations and errors in the text and save any future confusion as to the source of the problem.
Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote the famous phrase “If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you” – which has, of course, been misappropriated the world over to give works of horror fiction the appearance of sophistication. In reality, the phrase means nothing so crude as an actual abyss staring into your soul. It is, rather, a warning to those who battle against monsters to beware lest they become as foul and inhuman as that which they struggle against.
It is a mark of the seriousness of my current situation that I can think of no more-appropriate phrase, then, to illustrate the reasons behind the fragmented state of the documents which I am shall present to you. Herr Nietzsche, even though you are long since dead and buried, please accept my humblest apologies for this improper quoting of your philosophy.
You see, in my particular case, when I gazed into the abyss, the abyss truly did gaze also into me. And what it saw, it resolved to destroy.
I have yet to determine how, precisely, it – or, more accurately, they – became cognizant of my attentions, but given how little that anyone truly understands about these beings, perhaps this should not be very surprising. However it happened, though, the result is the same: I am being hunted by forces against which little to no defense is possible. Even the mortal foes I face are rather more dangerous than an old man such as myself can hope to combat.
And so I am completely at the mercy of those stalking me. I have not left the archives in several days. This section of the building has, after all, been fortified and stocked with ample provisions in case any of those whose files I store needed somewhere to hide. I even have a few weapons with me, for all the good that they will absolutely fail to do. But, in all honesty, this preparation is wholly futile, and I have absolutely no idea as to why I have not been slain and my archives destroyed.
And yet none of those beings hunting me has made any move towards harming me as of yet, despite undoubtedly having full knowledge of my identity and whereabouts. I have no doubt that attempts on my life shall eventually be made – indeed, they shall assuredly succeed – but, for now, I am allowed to continue my work in peace.
Except, that is, for the interference of the one which I have dubbed “Aqualung”. A fitting name for my most persistent foe, I think, given my chosen nom de plume. Others refer to it as the Blind Man, the Howling Dark, the Screaming Void, Reason’s Demise, or any number of other things, but ever since I have laid eyes upon it, “Aqualung” has been the only name which I could think of to bestow upon it. It wears the mask of an old man, bowed and hobbled with age and ill health, dressed in tatters and stinking of decay and filth. Its long, stringy, grease-encrusted hair obscures its face, but when one looks past that lank curtain, its eyes and mouth are hollows, doorways to an endless nothingness. They are not merely gaping black pits, as some have described them. Nor are they hallways stretching away into an endless starry expanse. They are nothingness itself, and nothingness cannot be described as “blackness” or “emptiness”. That implies that there is something there which is capable of bearing the descriptors. There is not.
It alone, out of all those hunting myself and the vast store of knowledge in my care, has disrupted my work. It stalks the shelves, appearing and disappearing according to some ineffable whim beyond my comprehension, accompanied by the abyssal un-sound that is its only herald: the vast, endless, silent wailing of utter nothingness.
Its hunger is limitless. In the end, it will claim everything that I have safeguarded for all these years. In the end, it will claim me. For now, it takes at random, eliminating some records completely and ravaging others piecemeal, leaving only tatters behind. And, try as I might, I cannot remember the contents of the destroyed records. Aqualung has claimed them, and the information that they once contained has never existed. Were it not for the empty, still-labeled files and the half-blank pages of those records which it did not completely take, I would never have known that anything that it has claimed existed at all.
It is for this reason that I am transplanting my archives from their former ink-and-paper bodies into this electronic one. The things which I have studied for so long have finally come to take me for their own, and Aqualung has begun to destroy that which I have worked so long to create. Soon, all memory of these paper records shall vanish from the world. They will not merely be destroyed. They shall never have existed.
I sometimes wonder, in what few idle moments I have, if the same thing will happen to me, when it finally comes to claim the archivist rather than contenting itself with the archives. But, in the end, it does not matter whether or not I am remembered. It only matters that I publish what records I can salvage, that I am able to fling some tiny source of light out into the darkness before it claims me for its own.