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The Eaves of Darkness
I lay there in my soft, smooth bed, recalling the events of the prior year. Unlike most recollections, I started with yesterday, and moved backwards to a year prior, rather than starting at the year’s beginning. Slowly, as I thought, I built up to the grand beginning of my year. And yes, it was a ghastly grand indeed. Exactly a year before that day was when the joy of life finally revealed itself to me, in the murder of my co-worker Jackson Stoal.
Jackson was your ordinary man, tall, slender, and sweet with the ladies. That’s what angered me the most, his innocent appeal to the women of the office, always showing off his tie or his new suit. But, when he flirted with the woman I loved, it was the biggest mistake of his life. Her name was Susie, Susie Cracket, and my what a sight she was. A perfectly shaped face, with blonde hair like an angel. And her eyes, OH! Her Eyes! They were as beautiful as the moon on a clear winters night. A shade of light blue with just a touch of green, oh how those eyes brought joy into my life. That very day, however, the ladies man Jackson, noticed her eyes as well. I saw him staring at her for a whole five minutes, not even blinking once when the boss passed by. During lunch, he sat by her, talking to her and using his enchantments. HE DISGUSTED ME!!! He even invited her to dinner, after taking my seat by her at lunch. At that very time, only two tables away, I decided it would be the very last lunch of his life.
I watched the two as they strode into the corner restaurant, A La Amor, based on the French word for “love.” He was oh so cunning, as I watched him, rubbing her hand, every now and then, making her laugh, and then giving her more wine. It was a distasteful sight. How could a woman like Susie go after a man so scrappy? I mean, when a woman looked at me, they would see a six-foot, well rounded, scoundrel, who could as easily give a woman a diamond, as if I were sharpening a pencil. Why him? And not me? I watched the two for the next hour, imagining the sure demise of Jackson Stoal. Should I knife him, burn him or shoot him? No, neither of those would work because of the mess. I would just have to see what I could use inside his house.
Once Jackson had walked Susie home, and of course given her a little sweet kiss on the cheek, he turned the corner and walked the next mile, slowly and silently tailed by yours truly. I was so cunning, hiding in alleys, or under my brimstone hat. Not even Albert Einstein could distinguish me from a regular pedestrian. As he strolled through his front gate, I snuck around the side of his house and into his back yard. Just as I had reached his back door, I heard a whistle, and then the creaking of an opening window. It was an eerie creak, like a tree in a windstorm. Perfect, for the horror about to occur. After waiting for nearly an hour, I silently crept to the window, and eased my head through. In the corner of the square room, was Jackson, motionless, accept for the slow rise and fall of his chest. Like a cat, I silently climbed into the room, examining the surrounding area for a murder weapon. Located on the middle of his headboard, just above his head, was an eagle, with silver talons, sharp as a dagger. Perfect. Slowly, I skulked to the side of his bed and picked up the artwork. It was a masterpiece, and the wings were perfectly carved out of the metal. Sadly, it would be used to kill the owner. I then stuck my hand on the mattress, lightly touching Jackson’s body. This touch caused his awakening, and his eyes slowly fluttered open. The only thing that he saw before he died was the sparkle of silver, as the “dagger” talons drove their way deep into his skull, killing him in seconds. Although this process was messy, the assumption would be that the eagle simply fell off the top of the bed and crushed Jackson’s head. The perfect, simple and genius plan.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I continued to dream about that night, when I heard a silent rustling on the other side of my bedroom. My eyes opened, and I jerked towards the sound. There was nothing, only a fire burning with the picture of my great, great grandfather mounted on the wall above. For the first time in my life, I thought I saw the picture actually moving. I could see the slow rising and falling of the chest, and could hear the slow beating of his heart- THUMP- THUMP, and then silence. I must have lied awake for thirty minutes, in silence, when the clock struck midnight, and let out a resounding tone. Then, there was another sound, like the one only about a half hour prior. Slowly, I turned my head toward the opposite side of my room. My eyes gazed upon the portrait of my ancestor. When I gazed at his face, there was a loud hoot of an owl, and his eyes snapped open, with blue pupils and bloodshot. My heart nearly jumped into my throat, and I buried my head in my pillow. How could those eyes be alive, it was just a painting. Right? Although the pillow blocked my sight, my ears heard the quit whispers of my dead relative, speaking to me, “Matthew…Matthew…Why him?? …Murder??…Matthew.” Then the sound grew louder and louder still. “Matthew…Matthew…MATTHEW…MATTHEW!!!!!!!!” At that point I screamed and threw a nearby drinking glass at the picture, it shattered just right of the portrait, and the whispers stopped. Building up courage, I lifted my head to gaze at the picture. Now, the eyes were different, definitely painted eyes. They were lifeless, hazy brown and looked kind, not angry. What a relief, I thought as I sighed. Then, I realized, with horror, a tall shadow was cast on my oaken floor. Slowly, I raised my line of sight and met the stare of a man, standing in my doorway. He was tall and slender, with blue eyes, which were bloodshot. The sight of that man was the scariest moment in my entire life. The same man Jackson Stoal, who I had killed only a year prior, was now standing in my doorway, haunting me, forever. The last thing I remember was the pounding, slow footsteps of the man toward my bed. After that, there was darkness.
Surprisingly, I awoke to the face of a kind nurse, and the beeping of a heart monitor, slow and steady. She said that I had passed out, and experienced a heart attack, one of the worst ever heard off. The kind woman also said that I would be going into surgery, to remove a clotted artery, the supposed cause of my heart attack. Then suddenly, I remembered the painting, and the man in my doorway, supposedly Jackson Stoal, who I had killed only a year before. At that point I realized that it was all a hallucination, and that none of those events actually occurred. Instead, they were mere figures of my imagination.
Within the hour, the surgeons and doctors had come to bring me to the ER. They slowly wheeled me down many corridors, many of which were totally empty, with no patients. For some reason also, I thought I had picked up the stench of blood, freshly flowing from a wound. When I looked at my wrist, a slow trickle of blood drizzled down my pale arm. Somehow, somewhere and at some time, I had been cut by a sharp object, severing the veins across my wrist. Finally, the group reached the surgery room, and I was hooked up to the heart monitor, and oxygen. The doctor noted my condition and moved so I could look at his face. It was covered by a mask and goggles, and spoke to me in a mellow voice, saying,
“Your wound does not appear to be sealing, and I’m afraid that it may be fatal. When you die is all your choice…”
He then cautiously slipped down his mask and removed his goggles. Staring at me from above was the face that I knew too well, the face of Jackson Stoal. The two blue eyes, both bloodshot, and full of anger. He leaned down to my level and quietly whispered maliciously in my right ear,
“It is your choice, whether you believe I am truly alive, or if I am actually dead. Whatever the case, you are going to pay the ultimate price, which can only be satisfied with your death.”
The heartbeat monitor began to speed up exponentially until the final words left his mouth,
“You gave me no choice, and I will return the favor…”
Almost immediately, my senses blocked, my thoughts ceased, and the slow beep of the heart monitor changed, now to one continuous beep, sealing my death forever.