Monday, March 28, 2011

The Shadow Princess- Part 2

A month elapsed, then a second, since Miss Matilda was laid to rest amongst her kin with only the priest and gravedigger to mourn her. The house in the forest remained shuttered, forgotten along with its last inhabitant, destined to be the domain of animals and specters until it was reclaimed by the earth. So the townspeople thought until the night of the storm. Wind howled through the sleepy village, icy rain pelting the windows like pebbles. No one saw the shadowy figure huddled against the onslaught of elements, although years later Mr. Chambers in the house nearest the forest would insist he managed a glimpse through a veil of water outside his window as he investigated what had his trusty hunting hound barking. The next morning, as the obligated locals cleared away the debris from the forest road, a pale light shimmering the door of the old house set tongues a wagging.
"Must be the nephew, come to collect his inheritance," the town lawyer announced, eager to relate the contents of Miss Matilda's will which he struggled for two months to keep secret out of professional decorum.
Everywhere from the diner to the bank to the Laundromat, the topic of the nephew was under constant discussion. Some of the old-timers swore they remembered seeing a young boy many years ago playing behind the house. Others insisted that it was not a nephew at all, but Miss Matilda's own son conceived in wedlock and given up in a hushed adoption. And there were those who wondered if the house's current resident wasn't more supernatural than human. After all, not a living soul emerged from the decrepit abode since the night of the storm. Not hide or hair of a human being had they seen. It was Miss Genevieve, the practical librarian who broke the uncomfortable stalemate between the townspeople and the mysterious stranger. The town watched in wonder and awe as she loaded up a basket of food and made her way down the long dirt road. The front door opened almost immediately in answer to her knock, although the few brave children who followed her on her pilgrimage couldn't see who was on the other side. The creaky door closed behind the stoic librarian as if the house swallowed her whole, leaving the children to speculate on whether they would ever see Miss Genevieve again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Shadow Princess

The inherent difficulty with a solitary life is there are few to miss you. Few who take notice of your presence and even fewer who realize when that presence vanishes. Such was the fate of the old woman in the house in the forest. Those in town who remembered her knew her simply as Miss Matilda. When her family had been alive, the house had been a beacon of life, but the years were unforgiving and the hearses carried the family one by one from the church to the small cemetery behind the house, leaving Miss Matilda to withdraw further into the shadows of the once glorious mansion. As the decades wore on, her needs were few, a local lad who dropped off the same grocery order every other Tuesday and the postman who delivered one letter postmarked from London on the same date every year. Except for the rare glance of a silvery haired figure captured by an intrepid hiker who ventured too far into the forest, no one had seen or heard from the old woman in years. On that fateful sunny Tuesday, it was the grocer's boy who sounded the alarm, preparing to drop off his brown bag, noticing his last delivery remained precisely where he'd left it next to the door. The police were summoned, forcing entry into the dust covered abode after repeated knocks garnered no reply. More than the spectacle on the drawing room carpet, it was the stench which sent the stoic officers of the law scurrying to the safety of the front porch at frequent intervals before they dared face the demons within the mammoth structure. Miss Matilda was barely recognizable as human, the bloated green-black figure oozing putrefied remains onto the faded Oriental rug. From rookies to grizzled veterans, all would be haunted by what they witnessed in the house that day. Although the cause of death was never ascertained, what was obvious to all was Miss Matilda died clutching a silver mirror in her hand, the glass reflecting back the most macabre, grotesque smile imaginable. The corpse's rotting face laughing at a grim private joke, the punch line of which no one ever wished to know.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cracks in the Looking Glass

So an unfair one-two punch of work and stomach flu is putting a serious cramp in my style this past week. Nevertheless, I've been perusing the topic of female serial killers in my downtime which is bleeding over (pun intended) into my writing. And yes, I am fully aware my hobbies are bizarre.

"Your spirit will always be wanting. You were put on this earth to devour." My grandmother's words haunt me to this day. Was it ramblings of her dementia induced haze? Or perhaps, in that state, with all her mind's defenses laid to waste, was she the only one to see me for what I truly am? See the bitter darkness, the endless hunger. When I was younger this hunger confused me. Everyone around me wanted to be a fireman, a rock star, president. I wanted to watch things die. It started small as most hobbies do; insects and animals. Everything the textbooks later told me would happen. The perfect progression. I studied those textbooks, grasping for answers, hoping for a way to control the urges. I memorized every word despite the fact I found the clinical term sociopath distasteful. It implies my existence somehow exemplifies all of society's ills. My day job forces me to study human nature, observe emotions, feign empathy. I can tell you I am hardly the sole embodiment reflecting humanity's chaos strolling around. I prefer to think of myself as evolutionary necessity, much like a forest fire. Without my ability to cull the overgrowth, the rest of the forest would wither. But unlike fire, I play fair, destroying just one tree at a time.