The fall of A
Now this was a challenge to write…but here it is! The story used is Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and BB reminisces A's death, both of which do not belong to me. Written for The Whammy Girl, I hope it's to your liking. XD
A...he was my closest companion in that wretched school; I remember when we would push C down the stairs and hide Roger's keys in the kettle. I wonder what would had happened if he hadn't died. I probably wouldn't even be in this two-cent prison and certainly wouldn't be as deranged.
No, scratch that.
I can't think of a life with me being sane, ha-ha! That's like the Joker without his Batman, Donnie Darko without Frank the Rabbit.
His death was…gruesome, even to my standards and believe me, I have seen deaths that would shock your hair white. It was my fifth year at Whammy's when it occurred; A had been moved out to the countryside a few months before to work on a case. I sat in the back seat of the sleek Benz as Watari drove up a rocky lane shaded by black trees, winter had his reign of the world at the time and the skies were dark and low. I shivered as the bitter wind screamed against the tinted windows; the sheet of yellowed paper nearly fell out of my hands.
A (actually Watari, I could tell by the handwriting) had sent me letter, asking me to join him in the case. He said he didn't feel too good and wanted a person he trusted to continue it if he could not. I knew from the past that A had mental breakdowns ever since we began our studies, sometimes lasing for weeks at a time and because he was my only friend, I came rapidly.
At last, the trees opened up into a clearing and my heart sunk as I gazed at the mansion. It was like the gut-wrenching feeling of coming down from a high, your eyes now noticing the ugliness of reality, and knowing that you can never get it back. It was like being held under -40-degree water and having to breathe in the water as you slowly die, it was just bad. I don't know why but…the house scared me, maybe it was the twisted oaks around the building or the gaunt windows that looked like sagging eyes. Or maybe the once white now vomit gray paint peeling off the walls, exposing the blackened rotting wood; or the marsh that smelled like decaying bodies.
But I shrugged it off reluctantly; my imagination was very uncontrollable back then. Watari explained that it was the worm of a man had moved him to the house so no one could find him and Watari could keep a close eye on him. As we stood in front of the doors, Watari searching through the folds of his jacket for the keys, my eyes strayed to the marsh once more. With that, my heart began to beat quickly once more, for the house's image could be seen in its depths and as I foolishly raised my eyes to the house, the air became thick with despair as if it was created from the disgusting marsh and withered trees.
There was a large crack down the side of the house, as if it were a sneering mouth…I'm being poetic here, I apologize. These grey stone walls make me do it, now where did I leave off? Ah yes, again I threw away that feeling as Watari opened the door, leading me through a dimly lit halls, the once flowering now gray with mold wallpaper peeling in strips, the ceilings were inscribed with sadistic faces that once could have been features of a god. The paintings did not help lighten the mood either, describing bloody wars and gaunt portraits of grim and soulless people whom probably never said a kind word.
As Watari led me up a cold granite staircase, the iron railings rusting with age, he explained that this was actually A's home before he came to Whammy's. That surprised me because from what I knew, A was usually a very happy and excited boy, not seeming at all like a person who would live in this…place. I gazed around the portraits, searching for an individual that held any resemblance to my friend, finding nothing but cruel eyes and wicked smiles, both of which never stained his face. The house was a lot larger than it looked outside, the staircase seeming to go on for ages as if it had no ending point. I was counting the number of cracks in each stair when I heard heavy footsteps from above, as if they were strolling around in a park on a sunny day.
We paused in our ascent as the person drew near; it was a man in his early thirties, his hair a tawny brown and dressed in a doctor's jacket swinging a small medicine bag. He would have kept on going if Watari did not stop him with, "Hello sir. How are you today?" He turned his head, as if seeing him for the first time, "Good, I am good…how are you sir?" he uttered. There was a hint of a smirk when he said this, probably mocking and cursing the man as he exchanged pleasantries with him; then his eyes fell on me.
They were a cold green, like frost on a summer field enclosing the beauty of a flower in a deadly glass chamber; and narrowed in disgust, as he looked me in the eye. I shot him a murderous glance before he continued his way down…I've always hated people, so judgmental without even taking the time to get to a person.
Anyway, we finally reached A's room, Watari disappearing through an adjoining door as he leads me into the chamber. It was large with a high ceiling, the stained glass windows so narrow and thin that not even a ray of green sunlight could be seen on the dark oak floor. The darkness was oppressive, crouching in the corners of the room, behind the frames of large paintings and under the tattered and antique furniture, just waiting for its chance to rake its claws against your skin and chuckle as your screams fill its stomach. From a section of the room was the faint tune of a string symphony, their bows releasing sorrowful notes and only adding to the melancholy of the chamber.
There were volumes upon volumes of books on the floor along with sheets of music, a mandolin and the cherry bow of a violin, none giving the sense of happiness. A rose from a couch, his once lively blonde hair now a greasy yellow and thin frame struggled to stand, the smile on his face almost like a grimace as he walked over and hugged me. "B! How are you? I've missed so much, how's C and D? I hope he hasn't gone in my room again looking for sweets…haha." I only mutter a reply, taking in how his arms have lost the muscle they had a few weeks before and how the rings under his eyes could rival mine.
He stepped back and led me to a couch; I noted that the grimace was a genuine smile and how his eyes have lost the sapphire luster and were now a faded blue. I never thought he would have changed so much in that short period of time. He began to twitch as he spoke of the case, his voice teetering from a calm and soothing temper to hyperactive spewing words, each syllable was hollow of feeling. He chattered of his pleasure of seeing me and his sickness, that it ran in the family and that he was trying to find a cure.
He told me of the symptoms, which disturbed his being, one of which was the sensitivity of taste; gruel was the only thing he could stomach. Fabrics bothered him, making him scratch his skin off if it were the wrong texture; the smell of flowers sends him into seizures, his eyes so weak that any light makes him blind and that it was only string instruments that did not chill his blood with fear. "I must die with curse, my friend" he whispered, eyes wide with terror, "It's to be my demise this damned house. If not I shall go mad, I fear Future and what she brings on her dark wings to me."
I frowned with pity and anger that the stress was affecting him so much, that he couldn't see that.
"A…you just need some sleep; you've probably been working too hard on the case and it's getting to you. Just let me take over and finish it up, and then we can go back. Don't you miss watching C fall flat on his face for a dirty Skittle?"
I tried to lighten his mood but it has no effect on him, only raising his anger. "It's the house that's making me feel this way B! Not the idiotic case, I don't give a damn about it! Also my beloved sister…" he sobbed into his hands as he described her symptoms.
She suffered of mental illness and was already half dead, roaming the halls like a ghost, talking to unseen friends in the shadows. When she died she would leave him the last in his family, they were close and it would drive him to oblivion when it would occur. While he talked about his upcoming loss, his sister Geneva walked through the room with blank blue eyes, her hair was blonde like her brother's, only that the locks were a tangled mess upon her head. Her numbers were low, her death was soon, maybe in day or two, but I didn't want to excite A in his condition.
She didn't acknowledge us, gliding on the floor like a goddess and pausing to open the main door and leave. I glanced at A to see if her sight had calmed him but his face was still in his palms as he cried tears full of heartbreak. Watari walked into the room, beckoning me to leave my comrade in peace and come to bed. The bedroom was a cold room, the walls painted a deep black, the lone scratched dresser had seen better days, and the wide windows faced the dark marsh outside giving no rise in my spirits. My bed was full of lumps as I crouched on it, listening to Watari explain Geneva's condition.
She had a rare form disease, one the doctor couldn't cure, and she had stopped eating causing her organs to fail. However, she had kept it to herself and it had progressed to where she didn't remember her brother or where she was. A woke me up the next day, body shaking violently and blue eyes shining with tears as he told me she died in her bed, her body twisted in pain and a look of fear carved on her pretty face. Watari took care of the funeral processions, not wanting A to have to go through the pain of meeting the lawyers of the family.
I never mentioned her name to him as the days progressed, trying to at least bring a chuckle from his lips as he sat in front of the computer, just curled into the fetal position and talking to himself. I asked Watari to postpone the case, since A was in too deep a depression to continue. I tried to distract him with books and games we enjoyed before, but his mood never changed and he began to sing funeral hymns to the air. Always he talked about the house as if it was a living thing, wanting to entomb him in is dark halls and even darker vault filled with his decaying and rotten ancestors. It was two weeks later that he announced that he wanted Geneva to put into the vault in the basement, so that she would close to him and not six feet under in some friend graveyard.
Watari did not object, for A seemed to have a lighter step and a small smile on his face when he made is decision. The coffin was a beautiful cherry oak, though rats had rounded out the corners, and Geneva fit perfectly inside. A said that their father had already made their coffins when they were born and that his was silver and granite; he would show it to me at another time.
Watari led the way down the dusty and cobwebbed stairs as A and I carried the corpse down, the vault was damp and so dark Watari's flashlight couldn't even illuminate the ground two feet ahead of him. We reached a high archway completely covered in copper, as if it were an alchemist's experimental room, the door in the center of the arch was also enveloped in the metal, screeching on its hinges as Watari inched the heavy door open.
After we laid the coffin down on a nearby marble stand, we took one last look at her. Watari had straightened out her body and smoothed her features; hoping A's last view of her was a pleasant memory. He told me that they were twins, that when he left for Whammy's he couldn't eat for a week because he missed her so much, that they had a strong emotional connection.
We closed her lid and left the room, moving to the less despairing rooms above. A had changed radically as the days progressed, he walked around the house, his pace was fast and uneven as if he were running away from something. He became white as a sheet, his eyes dull and void of any luster, and his voice that once had a shred of health disappeared, now a low and wavering sound came from his mouth. There were times where I thought he wanted to tell me a dark secret, which he struggled to form the words; other times, I though he had gone off the deep end, he would sit in a chair and stare off in the distance as if listening to piece of music.
It tore my heart to see my dear friend like this, I wistfully remember when he would laugh and joke around…Damn you L! I just wish for my chance to strangle the life out that wretched frame…I'm venting again, sorry.
A's attitude began to effect me also, its nails digging deep inside my mind and sending my imagination down a twisted and dark road. It reared its head on the week after laying Geneva to rest; I was in my room waiting for sleep to take me captive. I paced in my dark room, trying to calm down my racing mind of the horrors of the house, failing to convince myself that it was tattered drapes that fluttered around my bed as the wind picked up outside. I shook with fear and my heart felt cold with shock, my eyes trying to decipher the shadows in the gloom.
I began to hear low grating noises, as if grinding two large stones together, between the pauses in the storm, coming from depths of the home. I began to walk toward the door to see what when I heard A's slow footsteps on the staircase, he entered my room with a light knock and a flashlight. He was still pale but now his eyes held a madness, one as severe as mine, which could be seen in his wide smile on his face. His mood frightened me, but the weeks of loneliness caused me to welcome him.
"You haven't seen it?" he asked as he gazed round my room, "you haven't seen yet, but you will!" With that, he turned off his flashlight and walked over to a window, throwing it open to the rainstorm. The howling wind nearly blew us over, it turns out that a whirlwind had begun for the wind changed direction every minute. There wasn't any lighting or thunder nor were there any stars in the sky, only a low ceiling of clouds hung upon the house as the wind continued.
"A! You shouldn't be near there, you're already sick as it is!" I yell over the storm as I lead him to a chair, "It's just a storm and the cold air will probably kill you!" I forcefully close the window, grabbing a book as I sit across from my friend, "Let me read to you, so we both have something to concentrate on while the storm passes, huh?"
I had picked up the novel of "Sir Lancelot and Travels" and I knew that the Lord Arthur was the sort of thing that usually bores A to tears, but there was no book that could hold his interest in his mood now. As I read, he began to lean forward as if he was listening intently smiling with I thought was joy. The imaginary cookie goes to me. It was early in the morning when I got to the part of the story where Fromlen, the hero of the tale, begins to attack the ogre who would not let him peacefully pass the bridge leading to a castle of jewels.
"And he raised his mighty sword and struck the beast," I read in a monotone voice, eyes struggling to keep awake. "The cold rain pelted his shoulders and chain mail as the forest was loud with the beast screams of agony, the animals talking flight and leaving the woods all together." It was after I said this that there came to my ears a sound that was a perfect match of what the novel described. However, I just thought it was a coincidence, the rustling of the curtains coupled with the age and sounds of the house made the noise.
I continued with the story, "But when Fromlen reached the other side of the bridge , he found that the castle was guarded with a terrible dragon who had fire as red as rubies. It sat upon a throne of gold and emeralds with a silver floor and above its head hung a brass shield with this phrase inscribed 'All who have entered here, a ruler you have been; the noble who slays the dragon, the shield he shall win.' Fromlen lifted his sword and struck the dragon on its skull, which fell before him and ceased its fire with a cry so loud Fromlen had to stop his ears lest he become deaf from the sound of Hell."
I paused again, now hearing in amazement, a low grating shriek from below that sounded just like the dragon's scream. Bothered as I was from these noises, I made an effort not to excite my friend. I didn't if he heard the sounds but there was a change in his mood, he had gradually turned his chair to where he was facing the door, where I could barely see his face. "A…a-are you ok? Do you want me to stop," I asked, only gaining a mutter in reply.
He mumbled to the air as if speaking to an audience, his head lolled upon his chest as if he were asleep but I saw that his eyes were open and he rocked back and forth as if in a trance. I speed dialed Watari on my phone and continued the story as to not wake him from his stupor," And the victor, having battled the demon and breaking the spell of the shield, he removed the corpse from his path and reached for the shield. The shield was made of a heaver metal than the man thought, for it clattered to the silver ground with a terrible ringing."
As soon as those words left my lips, there came a sound as if a brass shield fell upon a silver floor. With that, I jumped up from my chair but A's rocking was intact. Watari footsteps could be faintly heard as he hurried downstairs, I ran to A's chair to see how he was. His eyes were fixed to the ground in extreme concentration and his frame was rigid as if made of stone.
However, as I barely touched his shoulder, he began to shake as a diabolical smirk came upon his lips; he began to speak in a low but hurried voice, the words a jumble until I leaned in to listen to him.
"Not hear it?...yes, I hear it well and I have heard it before. Long, long, long minutes, hours, and days it haunts but I didn't speak…forgive the weak animal that I am!"
I shook him as Watari entered the room trying to stop his rant, "A! Wake up and calm down…you just lost your sister but you'll see her-"
He cut me off, "We have put her tomb alive! What do you mean calm down! I have heard her stirrings in her coffin, I heard them many days ago but still I did not- I did not help my sister!" He was becoming hysterical, his voice raising a pitch as he screamed, "Now this story, Fromlen, haha! The attack against the ogre and the death cry of the beast and the clanging of the shield-NO!
Rather it was her opening her coffin, the grating of the iron blots of the vault and her frail body against the copper door as she comes back from the dead! Oh God, where should I hide! Isn't she on her way to scold me, I have heard her light steps on the stairs. Her heart beats slow and sluggishly as she comes ever closer! Madmen!" he stands on feet, knocking me into Watari, as he bawls out, "Madmen! I tell you both that she stands outside this door!"
Watari converses on his phone in German, talking to whomever as A wrenches open the door. The phone falls to the ground as Watari gasps and grabs his chest and my burgundy eyes widen in shock as Geneva stood before us in the doorway.
There was blackened blood upon her dress as she trembled in the doorway. Then with a low wail she fell backward into the darkness. A ran forward with tears in his eyes, "Geneva!", and then he screamed.
There was sickening smash a second later…A had fallen off the railing…
From that room I sprinted, running down those death-covered stairs and past the corpse that was once named A.
"B!" Watari called from behind, his old age preventing him to catch me. I ran through the oaken front doors, the storm in all its force as I dashed down the lane. There was a flash of light down the path, I paused and turned for the house was constructed of shadows. Watari was far behind me ,but the brightness came from the crimson full moon that was setting upon the fissure of the home, bringing the zigzag detail of it.
As I looked upon the crack, it began to widen as the wind blew even harder and in shock I watched the house begin to collapse inside itself. There was a ungodly shouting noise in the air and the black marsh slowly covered the body of A.