I don't know how much longer I have before Poole realises it's me festering up herethe wanted murderer Edward Hydeand not his master. Jekyll's man to the last, trusty old Poole. Twice a day for the past two months, he's been ferrying his master's meals on a tray with a domed silver cover across the gravel courtyard from Big House: charred bangers and glutinous eggs and a leaky slice of grilled tomato for breakfast, then a chop or chicken or minced pie sometimes for supper. But this arrangement won't continue indefinitely. Surely this evening, the moment Poole throws open the rusty steel door, he will feel the change, like a temperature drop, in the gloomy depths of the surgery block below me. With chilled breath he will stand at the foot of the stairs, holding the tray, staring up the dark rickety ascent at the cabinet door behind which I crouch. Will he climb up to the door himself and knock? Or will he fetch Utterson to do it? Yes, it will be Utterson who knocks, Utterson who shouts out, Harry, open this door at once! Jekyll knew his friend would be coming, of course. Jekyll knew how it all would end: Utterson pounding at the door and Poole a step below, armed with some implement to smash the door down, that black-headed axe with a silver gleam along its lip. Take it down, Poole! Utterson will cry, and the door will jump and crack as the blade bites in. Our saviours, who will arrive far too late to save anyone.
I shake off a ripple of goose flesh and peer out one of the three iron-framed casement windows that overlook the white gravel yard. A low stratum of morning fog moves like dense liquid over the stones. Above the boxy, silhouetted back end of the surgery block, to the east, the sky is soft cerulean blue, ribbed with pink fire. My breath mists up the glass, and I draw back, wipe the pane with the squeaky meat of my palm. Seven o'clock. Jekyll stopped winding his pocket watch over a month ago, but I can tell the hour by the light and by Poole's comings and goings. Breakfast at half past eight, and supper at six. I have some time yet. And anyhow, the end will not come today. I am oddly certain of this. I have been selected. Granted this final spell of solitude, alone in the body, to set our story straight. I don't want to die with Jekyll's hectic lies echoing in my mind like the jeers of a mob at an execution. I don't want to die at all, but if there's no escaping it, then at the very least I want to remember everything properly first, the way it truly happened. The truth is inside this head. I simply must extract it. In the end no one will know it but me, but that will be enough. I shut my eyes, blow out a trembling breath. A nerve in my hand is twitching an erratic pulse, like a telegraphic code. Tap-tap, tap, down the wire.
I am alone, I whisper.
I am all alone.
Excerpted from Hyde by Daniel Levine. Copyright © 2014 by Daniel Levine. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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