“Nihil Est” by Fosco Graves

December 9, 2012

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If you disappeared, would anyone notice? [26min]


“It’s been a while,” Principal Leth said.

“Two years.”

“Is the grass greener outside the city?”

I lied and told him things were just as bad out in the suburbs where I was now counselor for a whole district, instead of my former position as counselor for just this single school.

“And Judy?” he asked.

“Fine.” Truth was I didn’t know. She’d left me six months before, and I’d not talked with her since.

The small talk perished. In the big window behind him, the black branches of a dead oak scratched at grim November sky. His chair squeaked as he shifted. Then he finally said, “So. What brings you by?”

“I’m spending a week with my parents,” I told him. “My father’s getting worse. The cancer’s pretty advanced. We don’t expect him to last more than a few days.”

The principal frowned. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thanks. It’s no surprise. He’s fought it a long time. But… since I was right nearby again, I wanted to check in, and ask how things are. I still think about the kids I got to know.”

He nodded. That he understood. So, we talked about some of the more difficult cases. The teenage pregnancies, the students with drug-addicted parents, the homeless students, and the ones shuffled from foster home to foster home. It seemed I’d never left: so many of the problem kids were still exactly where I’d left them, a year before. But one name did not come up.

“What about Timothy Marlowe?” I asked.


“Yeah. I always liked him. He had promise, if he could get over his anger and hopelessness.”

The principal frowned and leaned back in his chair. The cracked naugahyde cushion creaked. “Who?”



Nathan December 9, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Loved this story. Like, “I want to eat the author’s brains to gain his magic” loved it. Reminded me of Fritz Lieber and Ramsey Campbell in all the best ways. It was a true delight being able to read it for the podcast.

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