Andrea Johnson Beck & Logan Beck
She brings two cups of tea, one with sugar and one without, to the sitting room in the front of the house. He is gracious and takes the saucer from her trembled hand.
“Have you news of William?”
“I do not.”
“I fear there is an intruder skulking about.”
“Rest assured; we will locate him. Out here on your own, I do hope William taught you to be a good shot?”
Officer Murdock teases. Rise he does and tips his hat. A friend of William and Mary’s, he frequents the house to keep her apprised.
He expresses concern, “Without proper answers on where William is, I do not want your nerves to unravel.”
With a grateful grin, she pats his hand, “You are much too kind, for the trip requires a half a day’s travel.”
He descends the tattered steps. She watches from the door; the sky takes on a pastel hue. Years of salty air and sand eroded the porch floor.
Her gaze, she shifts to the edge of the world. William built a dream, where the ocean met raptures seam. The daybreak horizon stitched in red and gold, a place where they would grow old.
It shall not be, for she is alone—alone to stir within her thoughts.
Without her beloved, the house is mere splintered wood and stone.
Much like what she and William have become. He stayed away. The nights were lonesome.
“Did William think me simple, think me dumb?
He blamed his work, his clients, and his stack of papers.
William is an attorney. He departed the final day in June. A new client inquired his expertise in regards to commercial development. “If I am to be long, I will send word to the postal clerk. Do not be sad. Hush now. I shall return.”
She wept and implored.
His temper swelled, his voice stern.
Alas, word would not come.
Not in July or August. Nor September.
Melancholy lurks in the shadows and the night, she hearkens a familiar hum.
Solitude is her foe. A life of rapture turned to a life of woe.
She does not sleep but paces the halls beneath her veil of black and lace. For at night, monsters creep. The floorboards creak with phantom steps, and through the keyhole to William’s library, there is light. Brilliant at first, but dims the closer she becomes. The hairs rise along the nape of her neck when she takes notice she hears the hum, a vibration, which stirs the chilled air next to her ear.
“William, my dear.” She whispers.
Another sound came with tones of mockery and menace. Waves of fright pale her flesh. “Is this my penance? Am I cursed and my Lord has left me to bare the ache of loss for eternity?”
Oh, how death has cast its shadow upon her. An empty womb and an empty heart, with a deep breath in—the aroma of tobacco and myrrh—grips the strands of her sable hair. With eerie traces, she retreats from the locked library door. In her mind, she flees down the porch stairs until her feet touch the grainy shore. The black surf kisses her toes.
But she does not flee for the moon is unkind. Shadows creep and reveal what we disregard in the light.
My beloved forever intertwined.
Dawn arrived. She remains in bed with heavy eyes. Weary, she succumbs. Her body deprived.
Morning spent, she is stirred awake by a crash and a quake. She calls out, but there no response.
She slips from the linens to seek what moved about.
A flame, she did not start, flickered from across the room, wax melded to the surface of her oak long cabinet. She reaches out to the candle but lifts her gaze. Shadowy ribbons spill out in a smoky haze. A silhouette of evil swallows her screams. Nightmares are birthed from what drifts before her.
Swollen pits where eyes should be observed the terror upon her face and rasped with the breath of death, “It is me.”
The cruel shadow hovers and shrieks.
With wicked fingers, the apparition claws at her cheeks. “Stay away you vile witch.” Tricks of the mind wrinkle her vision; she stumbles from the room and descends the stairs. A putrid stench chokes her stiff, arms flail and twitch.
“Leave me be.”
The library door is open wide, with rattled steps she moves nearer.
Her beloved has returned.
Returned home to save her from the ghastly intruder.
Angular shadows tear at the wall.
Slashing the pattern of the gaudy pink hall.
On shaky legs, she stumbles but enters the dark library. Without breath, she slams the door.
The voice shrieks, “Hush, Mary.”
“Stop. I beg of you demon.”
Behind her, the floorboards creak.
Was this the devil’s dare?
She spins around—velvet curtains drawn open—Officer Murdock stands with a horrified stare.
She looks about the gruesome room.
Hell permeates the air.
Crimson covers the rotten tomb.
With a sickened cry, she looks about the mutilated bodies, her beloved, William and…no, such is a lie. She shifts her stare to Officer Murdock.
Craze twists his face. He holds up the key that matches the lock.
“What have you done?”
“It was not I. It was the sinful being with hollow eyes. Can you not see? She stands behind me. I feel her breath.”
“You murdered William and Mary; you caused their death. Not a witch or spirit or any other being.”
“It is me. I am Mary.”
Dozens of rotten roses wilted over glass vases; insects flee from places no creature should be—she steps closer to the putrefied woman whose face is the same as hers.
“Do you not see? She is your twin, William’s wife, Mary Clarke.”
“It cannot be. She’s an intruder.”
“No, you are, Margaret. You are the shade, and your mind and heart are sick and dark.”
The gruesome wrath was William’s error; he was to leave Mary and be with her forever. She was to give him a child, but his impatience grew.
He announced in the paper in early May; he was to be a father of two.
With William away in town, she paid a visit to her dear sister.
Before the teacups touched the table, Margaret plunged the knife deep into Mary’s chest; her sister cried out with each stab of the blade. Margaret’s eyes whirl sable.
She stuck and pressed.
Blood splattered and smeared as she stroked Mary’s face with the tip of the knife. One final cleave, Margaret seized her sister’s life.
William arrived home before night.
He wanted her not.
Horrified by the grotesque sight, he raised his voice in utter dismay.
“You are filled with delusions. I could never love you.”
The waves crashed from blue to gray.
Mary plunged the knife in. “You have taken my heart; now I will take yours.”
Margaret is distraught by her sick admission.
Lunacy is her gaunt echo.
She meets her reflection.
With a quick hand, she shatters the mirror and raises a sliver.
“I shall be with my beloved.” Her lips quiver.
Officer Murdock reaches into his coat, but far too late, she slashes her throat.
Margaret sinks to the floor. Her time has come.
As she slips away, Margaret hears that familiar hum.
William appears over her dying form.
In the dark space, he rages with ache and forlorn.
“In this vile room, you allowed them to decay. Their souls released, but I am damned, here I shall stay. You took my wife and my unborn children, you mad, manic woman. You shall be with me forever, shackled to the evil I bled.”
A final gush of vibrant red, William chants. “Hush, Margaret. Hush.”
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright © 2014 Andrea Johnson Beck All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Lophan Publishing, Florida