Author's Note: This is my entry for the Village Square forum's contest with the theme 'The Seven Deadly Sins.'
I'm not entirely sure whether I'm happy or not with this final version, but after two previous attempts, I have a feeling that this is as good as it's going to get. I actually tried many different things with this story, so at the very least, I can feel like I accomplished something.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon or its characters. After all, Marvelous Inc. would never let this kind of thing happen!
Is it possible for a man to have two selves within one body? I cannot explain this feeling, but I know it is not my own. The whole notion that I, a well-respected man who serves none other than the Goddess herself, could ever have any part in these wicked thoughts that course through my- no our- mind. Day after endless day, the voice nags mercilessly at me while I struggle to release myself from its clawing, willowy fingers and its gnashing, hungry teeth. However, despite the strength of my immovable will, I find it increasingly difficult to turn away. I have always fancied myself a righteous, if not pious, individual, and thus... I refuse to submit to anyone outside of myself.
You are mighty and all powerful.
Can you hear it? The voice... I know what it is, and I know that it is threatening to consume me. It is the Ultimate. This is the time when I must ask myself if freedom is truly worth the struggle. I cannot deny it, and therefore, there is no purpose in making the attempt to begin with. All is lost. Soon... all will be forgotten as well.
Give no resistance.
Am I not the only one who dreams of holding her so close? Alas, I am certain that he once had such a fantasy, for I have heard from her own angelic lips of how fond she is of him and not me...
May the Goddess curse him for it, too.
No, I must regain control. The demon... yes, that is what it is. The voice is no doubt a demon which has invaded this weak body of mine, and if this is true, then this is no longer a battle to be held only within my own mind. My soul is what it wants, not my eventual madness though that will surely come. However, the question of how it came to be remains... Could it have manifested in the wine that once lingered in the bottle which now lays abandoned beside the pulpit? Even if that was the case, it certainly is there no longer. Within the hour, it has found its way inside... of me.
But it would have been a shame not to drink it all.
Do I not deserve it, though? Like that wine, I am obliged to have her and her everything. I have lived as a poor man, yet I have not inherited the earth by any means. It is not a want but a need I have for her because I am the only one who should own such a precious thing. Her smile, her laughter... her everything.
They should belong to no one else.
Why am I the one to be prosecuted by the Goddess in this way? I have given her my whole life without complaint, yet I continue to do so without a single sign of gratitude. If I should burn this hallowed place, then perhaps she would take notice of her only devoted follower. She can lead her own people, for after so many years of service, there is not one who still believes. I am alone in my faith among them!
Goddess damn them all to-
"Father Carter?" a voice, one far sweeter than the one in my own thoughts, calls out to me. My anger immediately subsides as if just the scent of her perfume can cleanse a tainted mind like my own. She smells of roses... and the light pink hue of her curls could certainly match that of any blossom, without the vengeful thorns. Though her eyes which gaze up at me are a deeper shade than any man's blood, her brilliant, unwavering smile assures me that her innocence remains. This one has not been sullied.
She still bears all the purity of a little girl, yet I know all too well that her body is nothing short of a woman's.
"Have you been well... Popuri?" I ask as my palms begin to sweat. She blinks, no doubt pondering my unusually anxious behavior, but she says nothing at first. She only raises a delicate, pale white hand to rest upon my forehead while she continues to wear a rather curious expression on her face. It's almost... thoughtful as if she is searching for something. Could it be...? My mind races with both possibilities and absolute nonsense until she steps back from me cautiously. Does she know? "W-what is it?" I press gently, forcing a smile which I have become quite skilled at over the years.
"You're very warm," she explains effortlessly, a slight blush creeping on her cheeks. The relief washes over me, and I realize that she still suspects nothing. Of course she doesn't, though; why would she? As I have said before, I give her no reason to distrust me, for I am, undoubtably, a respected man in this community.
Very few can have such an honor, either, which makes me all the more dependable.
"Well..." I begin, unsure of what to say. Her unwavering gaze is expectant, anticipating something incredible. She has always come to me for guidance each and every Sunday, save for during the summer season. Still, I can think of nothing miraculous to reply with. Then, by some wondrous blessing, I recall, "Little May had a cold not to long ago, so I might have caught it myself." She nods in understand, but to my surprise, she takes my hand in hers and pats it gently almost like an actual woman.
"Or maybe you shouldn't be wearing those heavy robes?" she suggests with a small smile. I nearly laugh; the girl has actually told a joke! Perhaps she did not intend for it to be one, but although she is far too pure to understand the humor I find in her remark, I cannot help thinking, If only she knew what she was implying... Surely she had no interest in seeing me without them.
"Please do not worry about me, dear child," I assure her with another false smile. However, she does not appear pleased to hear it, and I have to wonder what I could have said to wrong her.
"I'm not a child," she scoffs, turning from me with a huff. I almost gasp when her skirt, as deep a red as her eyes, brushes against my leg while teasing me with its alluring satin sheen. If only I could run my fingers along the silky fabric as it clings to her gently sloping hips, or even better, I could slowly untie the threads of her black, velvet bodice. After all, one would agree it is nothing short of a crime to restrain her in such a way...
"Forgive me," I apologize, resting my hand on her shoulder comfortingly. Although I certainly consider allowing it to roam freely of its own accord, I refrain myself from doing so. No good would come of rushing things, yet it had already been decided before she even stepped in the door that she would be mine today.
Even so, patience was a virtue in these matters.
"Do you think I'm just a little girl?" she asks as she eyes me suspiciously with those intense, ruby orbs of hers. I merely continue to smile, and soon enough her anger dissolves into youthful laughter. I should have known, I suppose... My darling is rarely upset, and if there is a chance that she is, she cannot be for long. She is perfect in this way, not to mention so many others. I have to wonder whether or not I will love her once she loses the perfection one only has in both innocence and ignorance.
"Not at all," I reply which stops her giggling almost instantly. Her eyes are wide with surprise, but I simply smile as always. However, I know that the time has finally come for me to make a move, no matter how subtle. "In fact," I add with a slight chuckle, "I think you are a marvelous young lady." She nearly squeaks with delight to hear this, and I know I have played my cards right. She is rapidly falling which leaves me to be the one to catch her.
"Really, Carter?" she presses, taking both of my hands into her own. My smile almost falters because of her pitiful naïveté, yet I keep strong, for my own sake. It would be a shame to lose it all so quickly. A prince always wears a charming smile...
"Yes... I really, truly do," I agree to her amusement. She is still nothing but a little girl, but she will not be for very much longer.
She squeals with glee, and she almost kisses me as she throws her arms around my neck in absolute joy. In the glow of her excitement, there is a new voice beginning to take form. It pleads and begs, but it is far too late for any of that. There is no one but me to act as her knight in shining armor. Once I have the princess, I shall become a king in my own right. I am the one in control now, and no voice will prevent me from reaching my final goal!
Was there not a perfect phrase for a moment like this? Ah, yes... 'let it be.' That was it. It was in a song as well if I remember correctly, and although I am certain they were not referring to such an act like the one I plan to perform, it more or less fit the situation. Just this once, I would let my behavior slide. I did not have a single care!
Heh, I would actually like to see that young man's tanned face when he caught us in the act of what was to come. I am sure it would have been worth the risk; the thought of him being rendered speechless was humorous enough in itself. He always played the part of the villain, yet here was the perished priest seducing a fair maiden with no one to suspect him, let alone stop him. How unexpected! Quaint even!
"Let's have some wine as well," I offer and produce another bottle from the pulpit. "After all," I add with a clever grin, "we're both adults here, right?" She nods eagerly, and I let loose a humorless laugh as I pour her a drink, spilling a bit on the carpet. She drinks it with relish before batting a single eyelash. What a darling, little fool!
She was mine... After all of this time, she was finally mine, and there would be no one else to take her from me. There was a chance that May and Stu might find themselves at the church doors, but when they found I was not within the sanctuary, I knew they would simply go off to place elsewhere. At long last, Popuri and I would be alone in the confessional... together as I had always intended. Her everything would be mine, and I would be free to bask in the afterglow of my victory. Oh, the things we will do!
"Wait..." she pleads desperately, trying to wrench her slender wrist free of my tight grasp. "Don't pull so hard!" she cries out to deaf ears. "I don't want to-" Something within me breaks right then, and I feel my face grow hot once more. I swing at her face which is followed by the sound of shattering glass. I blink in surprise, yet she falls limp to the floor. She is rendered lifeless there. The realization of what I have just done does not set in, for I can only snarl in frustration. She never should have questioned me!
There she lies... the blood, a deeper red than her now dull eyes could ever be, staining her once light pink curls which have become withered blossoms. There is no longer the scent of roses in the air. Even so, her innocent laughter is not the only thing that has died due to my carelessness, though. She is no longer breathing, either, it seems. She is dead... as well as all of my desires.
Author's Final Note: Well... I have to say that this is the only story I've ever written that was this extreme, but Crazy Carter certainly is interesting if nothing else! XD
However, I can honestly say that I will never write in present tense again or without contractions. I just wanted to try my hand at it only this once, and I swear it won't happen again. It was difficult to write, and it's probably difficult to read. Oh well, I only do these contests for a fun challenge anyway...