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My hand shook as I washed the blood off the knife. Even though I’d been building up to it for so long, it seemed almost unreal now it was over. He was gone. Edward, the brother I’d both envied and hated for my whole life. And I had killed him.
It had all started in 1886, when our father died, and we found out he had left his title, home and entire estate to Edward, the elder son. I would receive one thousand pounds per annum, and that was it. No house, no title – no nothing. That’s when the jealousy really set in, and I started to plot my revenge.
It became a sort of obsession. I even quit my job to devote all my time to planning every last detail. Nothing could go wrong. I lived with him for a year and a half before I did it, and he never suspected a thing. The look in his eyes when I pressed the knife to his throat was enough to assure me of that. I had no regrets though. I was the Lord of my own estate, and had no one to thank for that except myself. That was how I liked it – I was alone in the house, free to do what I wanted when I wanted, without Edward’s stifling presence.
Click! I heard the latch on the front door lift, and then fall again. Spinning around, I dropped the knife in my haste. My hands were covered in blood – an obvious giveaway that I’d been up to no good. I hesitated, waiting for whoever it was to announce themselves. They didn’t, so – drying off my hands quickly – I strode into the hall, just in time to see a foot disappear around the corner into the parlour.
Quickly, I followed, only to find the room empty. I looked around, but there was no other way out of the room except the way I’d just come in. I rubbed my eyes wondering if I was seeing things, when suddenly I heard the sound of running water upstairs.
I bounded up the stairs two by two, and burst into Edward’s old bathroom only to find the tap spurting out water. I was certain it had not been running earlier, but nevertheless I reached out to turn it off. My hand had just touched the hard cold metal, when the water turned to blood under my hand. I recoiled, and it switched itself off, leaving the pale sink stained with red. I tore myself away from the horrible spectacle and forced myself to walk back down the stairs calmly.
My heart was pounding in my chest, and for the first time I began to have regrets about what I had done. I longed for Edward’s safe and reassuring presence, suddenly feeling too young and inexperienced to be in the house by myself. I was terrified, and that was before I heard the pounding on the basement door.
It started so unexpectedly my heart stopped for an instant. The cellar was rarely used, which was why I had used it to store the body in earlier. So who could be down there now? I sat down on the bottom step as I debated internally. I could just turn away now, but something held me there, and I walked spellbound towards the door. All reasonable thoughts left me as I gripped the handle, and I was powerless to resist.
The door swung open under my touch, and I leant forward to see what lay beyond. It was pitch black, so I grabbed a lantern off the hook on the wall and lit it with shaking hands. I held it in front of me to light my way. Still nothing. Whoever or whatever it was that had been banging on the door was gone. Hopefully.
I crept slowly and carefully down the winding stone steps to investigate. The lantern cast shadows on the walls, causing me to almost jump out of my skin a couple of times, thinking someone was following me. All of a sudden my feet went out from under me as I slipped on a wet patch. I went tumbling down the bottom couple of stairs before coming to a sudden halt on the floor. I was plunged into complete darkness as I staggered to my feet I wondered hazily at what the sticky substance now coating my hands was, until I realised with a jolt exactly what I was covered in. Blood. I jumped away sharply. The lantern lay smashed on the ground next to me.
I ventured further into the basement, slowly, keeping my senses alert. In an instant I was hit by an awful smell of rotting flesh and open sewers that filled my nostrils. I backed away, but the smell grew stronger, and more repugnant.
I became aware of heavy breathing behind me. I jumped, with a sharp intake of breath which made me gag when I sucked in the foul stench. The breathing was haphazard, panting and gasping in an inhuman way. I heard laughter, and in a moment I was reminded of Edward in his youth. We used to play together, and I remembered how he would giggle for ages when I misbehaved. The laughter suddenly changed to a harsh, mocking laugh that brought me back to the present, and returned my uneasy mind to the mysterious thing behind me.
It was so close to me now, right behind me, yet still I was rooted to the spot. I became aware of a warm sensation trickling down my throat onto my chest, and I reached up to touch it. My hand came away wet, and I realised it was blood. My blood! The dark cellar span, and I felt light-headed - my knees buckled. The last thing I remember was the sardonic laugh in my ear, and the nauseating smell of death…