I’m certain of what needs to be done.

The papers are all here, signed in full. I’ve checked over all the details. I know how deep this work will take me. I know how far I’ll have to dig.

I’ve shuffled through tomes and grimoires, I’ve flipped through so much bible paper my fingertips are raw. My sweat and blood have decorated the pages of more than one book. But all of that — all of that to know exactly what path I wanted to walk. So now I’m here. I’m following. I’m doing what I was told, willingly.

Gathering everything I needed was a struggle.The candles were hard to find. Soy ones wouldn’t do, per the instructions. So I had to find something else. Fresh ones, with real fat. Actual candles. None of the mainstream places carry those anymore, for obvious reasons.

They aren’t easy to work with, either. Ever burn a real candle? The tallow just melts, right through. When I tried this once before the soot got caked all over my blinds. It was unpleasant, the stench carried on everything for weeks – but it was worth it for this.

The wind is awful. She’s howling. I can’t hear myself think.

I’ve taken a marker and outlined the proper pattern on my floor. I used a ruler and and some string. Made sure the distances were just perfect. I know that, for sure. How? How much rope do you think I cut? Again and again and again. I ensured their length to the millimeter — and then, get this, I used a scale. I weighted the individual strands to make sure they all the same. God, I know it’s a tool they didn’t have back then, but why discard something that can get you closer to your goal?

All of the proper symbols were etched in with care, too. I transferred them directly from the books with some wax paper and a good ceramic knife. Like I said, the reagents were tough to find, so I certainly didn’t want to go through the trouble of grabbing any more than I needed.

To do this work so… by the book. To do it so perfectly… it feels like an honor. My whole life I’ve wandered from job to job, never really feeling that same thing that everyone talks about. Purpose? Meaning? I don’t know if they’d even go that far — just a feeling of waking up and knowing, for sure, what needs to be done that day. A sense of duty, I guess. I’ve never had that. But now?

Would you believe me if I told you I was salivating, just thinking about the work?

I hate flies. This work makes them come from just about everywhere. They jet and buzz around, landing on my brow every so often. Disgusting things. I think they are attracted to the fat. Or maybe the stench.

It’s awful. Absolutely awful. Will you stop howling?

The blood is smeared everywhere, just as directed. I was never good at those paint-by-numbers books as a kid, so I really hope I did everything here like I was supposed to. I’d hate to have to run out and do it again. The last time I didn’t even make it halfway through before I lit everything on fire. The soot got everywhere, absolutely everywhere. I had it in my hair for weeks. The stench is still there, too. I tried asking a nice, young woman in the supermarket what the best thing for something like that was. She didn’t know. She never does. It’s always a struggle with her. Absolutely worthless, what was I thinking with those candles? The wicks weren’t long enough. Everything went up. You’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to do it right.

I can see the moon now, coming up over the trees outside my open window. I wouldn’t quite call it bright, but it is distracting. I can’t look at it. It takes my mind off of my work. The wind is coming in, giving me quite a chill. I have goose bumps.

The fireplace is going, too. The embers have always been enthralling to me. You can watch each flame lick at the walls for hours, just enjoying the colors they project everywhere. I used to play a game as a kid where I would flick my hand past the fire as fast as I could, trying to feel the heat without getting burned.

Of course, I burnt myself. Just a dumb kid. Helpful, though. To get used to the smell.

I am getting irritated. You can’t gag the wind. It specifically states not to. The cries are supposed to bring everything forward. Still doesn’t make it any better or less annoying. It’s childish. Why can’t she just be quiet? Why can’t she just leave me alone? Be calm, like me. Let it rest. Stop howling.

All of the candles are now burning, just like you asked. Your mark is on my floor and now I’m digging in with the knife.

I’m digging.

I’m digging.

My sight is fading, and I can’t quite take the pain.

But I’m digging.

I’m digging.

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