On January 5, 1943, Nikola Tesla placed a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to his room at The New Yorker Hotel. His body was discovered two days later by a maid, Alice Monaghan, who ignored that sign. Within two days of his death, the FBI ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize all of Tesla’s property, his work and personal effects, including a journal, the last publicly known recorded entry of which was made on January 4, 1943, and described nothing remarkable or deviating from Mr. Tesla’s normal daily routine.
January 5, 1943
I hear the lightning ride through the coiled synapse, ionization, illumination. The inner working of my mind as it flashes in search of some idea, a resolution or an applicative cure. I had a meeting to attend this evening, it was not to be so, for I could not remove myself from this room and that too long shadow that I can never light in the dark corner of a dream that I had before I had any other.
My beautiful white bird and how she rested her breast against me, I could not leave her for there would be no other who would love her and care for her as I, her broken wing a stain to me representing the whole of the dysfunction of humanity, that such a creature should no more fly and in all my knowledge of science, I could not rightly heal what nature had done to her. Her flight thereafter never quite as graceful though a beauty to me unmatched by any other I have seen in this world. Having watched her closely, having made her weightless and free from any extra stress upon her frame and however I could see that though she was mending, she was not the same and there is some part of me that has died with wanting her to be so as she was, and yet it is broken that I have fallen in love with her.
I did not take my walk today or call in for my dinner but stayed here in this room consumed by that shadow and all that might have been had I not been so devoted to my work. I have dreamed of her most every night these last weeks and have begun to doubt the workings of my days as for the first time it is sleep that I am craving so that I might see her blossom before me in flight and feel the lilt of her feathers once more.
These men and what they want from me now, I know that they will take if I do not choose to surrender it willingly; it will not be the first time this has happened. This is however different as it will enable them to alter the course of the nature of time by transmuting it in travel through it, should they ever determine how to properly use the knowledge, it is the great secret they have long hoped I would discover but what of it? It suits their fancy for purposes of espionage and war, how long am I to be troubled by the limited thinking of men who do not understand the true nature of power and have no interest in exhibiting any mastery over themselves and yet never cease in their attempts to subject others to the very element of control that they refuse to employ in their own management? They waste my time and that of the whole of humanity though their ignorance is not sometimes without its value in entertainment. I have achieved matters of science the likes of which have been attempted by no other mortal and such is enough for me to rest upon.
The problem of that long shadow as it draws through my days, creeping across the room over ever crack in the floor, sliding sideways over the furniture before stopping itself at the foot of my bed as each afternoon becomes night, is that I cannot light it. At times it has taken hold of me as I’ve sat here calculating the corrections necessary to remedy the deficiencies of previous equations, gripping my ankles with two white knuckled fists of what I can only imagine must be the actual grip of death come calling and tried to drag me into the defeat which that dark corner surely holds. I have devised every sort of lamp that my vast experience has made available to me to possibly contrive of to no avail. I have not been able to alleviate this room of that shadow and it has become a plague upon my every waking thought. Perhaps it is fitting that a man so consumed by the endeavor of creating light should be drawn into darkness at the last and in this room, three plus three plus two plus seven is fifteen divided by three is five, today is January the fifth. It is at thirty three that the Christ was crucified and that is divisible by three to eleven, as the number twenty seven is divisible by three to nine and nine by three to three and though such calculations will seemingly be of no matter to others, I am comforted by the presence of the trinity in whatever form I may find it, as is my habit. One must find ones ways to quiet the mind without self-reproach for it is only then that the peace to think clearly is to be found. I have spent a lifetime staying awake that I might discover the secret of our existence in this world and thereby have some hope of transmuting my demise from it for I have been uncertain as to any existence beyond this life. It has been my hope that the power of my mind is such that I might out think death and so it is to the last only to have found that I am quite exhausted though yet unwilling to surrender. I will light that corner at the last.
I have put out the sign upon my door that I am not to disturbed, dear Alice, and trust that you will ignore it in due time if need be and know that I betray myself in some way at the statement of such. You have unlocked my heart with your kindnesses to an old man and it is thus that I have chosen you to entrust with the combination of the world, without which they will have found nothing that they can completely decipher or make use of toward further destruction. Only a woman could be trusted with a secret so great as that of protecting the vanity of a man who cannot bear to die without leaving behind some evidence of his greatest work, the equation necessary to transmute time and space, it is a knowledge the secret of which should be neither lost nor revealed. My spirit will cease with me however it will be well with me if for a moment in between that beautiful bird should take flight that I might gaze upon the silver pining’s at the tips of her wings. I can feel their fluttering at the edges of my heart with each breath that I pull from this world.
Be mindful of any broken glass in the shadows, I would not want you to cut yourself upon my final efforts.
Teri Skultety writes without restriction to genre fiction; poetry, prose, the macabre of suburbia, things darkly romantic, Gothic, horror, and Noir. Teri makes her home in California’s San Joaquin Valley with her husband. Her work has been published here and there on the web and included in several anthologies.