She'd watched Ichabod silently. Never once did he see her as he examined Masbeth's body on the ground. She'd laughed silently, watching him lunge back in distaste at the bugs crawling out of the severed head. She'd grinned sardonically at his experimental chemicals and dissecting tools. She'd watched behind a gnarled branch as he'd hacked frantically at the aptly named 'Tree of the Dead' and stuffed her fist in her mouth to stifle the sounds of mirth that erupted when the blood spattered across his horrorstruck face. She'd stood in shadow as he spoke with the ever so gentlemanly men of the town. She'd watched his love for Katrina grow with amused delight.
Her observations showed him to be a simple man, no matter what new fangled notions he espoused. One easily led because he placed so much faith in rationality. No womanly charms and spells for Ichabod Crane thank you very much! Mary spat viciously on the ground. That's what she thought of men like him. Men like Baltus, men like the Notary Hardenbrooke- weak sods all of them. Mary smiled suddenly; men perfect for her own plans.
Oh yes, she understood only to well men like Ichabod. Men who philosophized so eloquently till the supernatural enveloped them. It was so convenient and it made it so easy for her to cover her own tracks whilst putting the suspicion on others.
That delicious evening when Ichabod had followed to the Western Woods, she had sliced her pale hand for just such a reason. His shocked expression intense as she had smeared the blood on the Reverend's back, she'd orgasmed at the disturbance on his face as much as at the 'good' Reverend's attentions.
And now at last the knots were tied. He had followed her false trails like a well trained bloodhound- first Baltus and then the remaining Elders of the town; he had sniffed them out ever so diligently. Mary had murdered the servant girl, Sarah, little slut that she was, and had sliced her coarse palm just as she'd done to her own. And then, here Mary smiled, and then she had faked her own death. Oh yes, she had planned this little scheme for years. One puny city tarred Constable from New York was not going to stop her now. It was time to tie up loose ends.
Mary had returned once more to the estate that but for one person was hers. She carried no source of light and the mist shrunk close to her shapely figure like a living creature; sucking up the life force around it. Her white blonde hair was neatly brushed despite the days she'd spent with the Hessian in the Western Woods. Her slender hands smoothed against her ghostly pale corseted dress. Yes, she certainly would look the part of an apparition; returned from the dead for one last night of human contact, before resting at long last.
As she entered at the threshold she shifted one hand out from the folds of her gown to reveal the knife. It was a wicked thing; crooked and sharp, glowing in the dark with some malevolent light of its own. Mary had spent days in her sister's old hovel preparing for tonight. She had stood at an open fire, still chilly due to the ever perennial mist in the woods, and she had sorted through vast witch lore to find the right charm. Feathers of a rook, honey scented candle wax, frog's spleen, droplets of jewel red blood- all ingredients designed to bring about a climax to her never ending wait. In the end though she had chosen to use a more human method of destruction. A knife was as good at ending life as any grammerie.
As she glided through the corridors she noted the richly decorated rooms gloatingly; soon everything in this house would be hers, as it should have been years ago.
She knew where she would find them. Katrina's room was on the top floor, directly above the stairs that led to the servant quarters. The door was closed. She pushed it open softly. She needn't have been so cautious. Katrina and Ichabod were intertwined amongst the blossom embroidered bedspread s of Katrina's iron wrought bed. The only source of light was from a gilt inlaid candlestick standing on a dresser in the corner of the room. Both were too engrossed in their pathetic lovemaking to notice Mary.
Mary strode purposefully past the discarded dresses on the ground, knife clutched in both hands so tight that her knuckles were white. Still Ichabod kissed Katrina passionately, his mouth sucking like a limpet at hers as she moaned against his chest.
Mary cleared her throat. She wanted to watch her victims squirm before they felt the final blow.
"Surprised Constable?" she asked Ichabod seductively. His mouth unlocked from Katrina's as he stared at Mary in shock.
"But…but this cannot be. Baltus Von Tassal saw the horseman kill you."
Mary drew closer. "Baltus saw the horseman approach but it is I who control the horseman, and Baltus did not stay behind to watch the final blow." Ichabod drew back in revulsion with a sharp intake of breath.
Katrina flung her naked body across Ichabod, shielding him from Mary's knife. "You shan't touch him," she pronounced defiantly.
"My dear Stepdaughter. It seems that at last you have learnt to use your womanly wiles. I despaired of you ever learning."
Katrina looked at her, big brown eyes indignant. "I'm not a whore like you; crawling into father's bed like you did."
Mary's mouth twitched. "He was happy enough to allow me in wouldn't you say my dear? But no matter. This is no time for petty insults. After all," Mary's voice dropped to a chiding murmur, "after all I am the one holding the knife."
Ichabod shifted from the confines of Katrina's extended arms. "The law shall punish you for this travesty Lady Von Tassal. I will make sure of it."
"Oh?" mocked Mary. "The law can't touch me if you are both dead and there is none left to know that the murderess lives." She turned to Katrina, "and my dear child, what on earth possessed you to think that I would hesitate at killing you. I gain everything in the event of your death."
With that she plunged the knife into Katrina's heaving breast. Again and again she plunged it in to the peerless white. The blood ran, pooling onto Ichabod, still pinned beneath Katrina's body. His feminine screams only encouraged her further. The knife was gleaming as it struck. Katrina choked and coughed; the bright blood bubbling out of her mouth, body arching as she desperately sucked in air. Ichabod was sobbing hysterically as Katrina struggled to stopper the wound between her hands; the blood continuing to pour out of her like thick mead. At last her cries subsided with one last cough as her lungs couldn't breathe, drowning as she was in her own blood.
Ichabod was shouting incessant nonsense. Mary wished he would be quiet. She wasn't finished with him yet. "Katrina, Katrina, no, no, no" he cried over and over; propping her lifeless body up against his own. He cradled her head against him, stroking her pale blonde hair. Suddenly he sprang forward at Mary. "You bitch. You monster. You…you… you've killed the only thing I've ever passionately loved. I promise you this. Someday you will be hanged for this."
"Wrong again Ichabod Crane. I will never be captured because soon you will be dead and I will have all that is rightfully mine." Mary grabbed Ichabod as he leapt towards her, pushing him down onto the bed. Her full soft lips were close to his as she whispered "But first I must kill you. Never fear Ichabod Crane; I have not forgotten about you." She leant in close to his terrified face.
"But your mad," he said panicked.
"No, not mad. Merely upset that the law has denied me my due for as long as it has. But soon that will be remedied." She kissed him full on the mouth, feeling his lust for her like a palpable thing. He pushed her away, disgusted in himself.
Mary kissed him once more as he gave in; his mouth opening to allow her tongue into his.
She watched his face closely as the betrayal coursed through him.
Her hand reached for the candlestick. Slowly and deliberately she brought it close to Ichabod's face. He tried to scramble away from her but the coverlets tangled him as he fell akimbo over Katrina's lifeless body. In one smooth motion she stabbed him in the heart and set the fabric on fire. The whole bed was soon alight. Ichabod was screaming in a frightened frenzy.
The smoke was making her cough and she could hardly see the flames envelope him; marring his peculiarly handsome face as though it were a wax work. The heat was excruciating and his screams were becoming dispersed with loud, hacking coughs as the room filled with smoke. His eyes were popping. He was reduced to the state of the animal that he truly was in the raging inferno.
Mary smirked and turned away.
Outside the Manor she stopped to stare at the smoldering building. Smoke pored out of the windows and muted light pulsed from the top storey.
Mary stood in silence. She thought about all the years her hatred had grown; a canker in the heart while she had said nothing. And now it was over and she felt nothing… soon the estate would be a charred log heap. It would belong to no one; not Baltus, nor Katrina, not the Elders of the town, not even her, Mary Von Tassal.
The past was finally finished and she was free.