People say that I am mad - that my experiences have broken me. That the life of a soldier, a doctor worn by war, would drive me to extremes. But no! Any man who knows me, most of all this man who knew me best, could tell you that I thrive on risk, that danger soothes my nerves and steadies my own hand. So how could battle break me? Attend! First most I am a writer, yes, a blogger, his own Boswell. And as I put down words, see how clearly spun the tale, and know I am not mad.
I loved him, how I loved him. He saved me from myself, how could I not? And while his insults stung, he never truly wronged me. And yet the vision haunted me. I cannot say how it began, or why it grew, except - perhaps - his eyes. Yes, those eyes of pale grey steel, always watching, seeing every secret and penetrating all through skin and bone. And when his gaze exposed me I was chilled; I had to get away, and yet could not deny myself his presence. And therefore, by degrees, my mind was set. That If I could not bring myself to leave, that I would take his life instead, and close those eyes forever.
Now again, you may doubt my mind. But madmen could not act with care as I did. See instead, how cautiously I moved, how much I used his art against him. He taught me well; a gift: to observe where others look, to see what they cannot. And where they will be blind. For all his eyes revealed, for all his gaze was piercing, he looked at me and saw my deeds, my actions, the times I worked to save him. For all he claimed to lack a heart, I knew where sentiment would blind him. And thus he could not see me. When I crept into his chamber, he would not fear me if he woke. Could a madman know this? That the heart of a self-named sociopath could be his very downfall? And yet, despite this knowledge of his ease, I acted with more care than anyone might grant me. The week before I killed him, I gave to him all leniency and kindness. My demeanor was of the most trusted confidant; which indeed, I was. And every night I stole into his room, a watchful eye upon a restless slumberer. The man kept erratic hours; yet, with care, a most observant man could catch him in repose. Oh, that you might watch how carefully I moved, taking o'er an hour to open up the door, and place inside my head. Ha! That any madmen might act as I! Absurd! And fixing there my torch, a careful beam of light upon his face, to watch those Evil Eyes. And when I found them closed, I left as carefully as I came - for as I said, I loved the man, and could not bear him harm, save for those piercing eyes. And come the morning, as the day began, I fixed him tea and toast for his own health (for he would starve without me). So how could he suspect that every night I watched him in his sleep?
The eighth night came, and, with my usual care, I set to creeping at his doorway, peering through. This night, I felt my power - yes! - my triumph drawing near. He saw no sign of any of my deeds, my plans; I almost laughed upon the thought. But wait! My glee escaped me, soft, and there I saw him start within his bed. His room was black - I did not move, I waited in the dark. For even his keen eyes could not pierce night. I waited still, a quarter of an hour, before I dared to creep yet further in, and shut the door behind me. But with that softened click he startled once again, and called out there my name, soft question on his lips, worried and confused. I stilled again, and my continued silence did yet blind him. His hubris and his vision both are great, this I do grant him - but in the dark and safety of one's room, bound only by the night, even he may doubt his senses.
And so I waited, in darkness hid, listening to his breath a quarter hour more. He did not move, and nor did I, 'til finally I braved to light my torch, a tiny ray of light, to gaze upon his face.
His eyes - those painful orbs - were open. Staring wild and shaken. Those eyes which drove me to distraction, which dogged my every move, and seeing them upon me once again I felt my rage rise hot and wild. Yet he did not suspect me. He called my name again, soft and unsure, then fell into a silence.
Now, listening to the dark, where senses both are muddled and yet heightened, I heard a sound. A soft and constant drumming. The sound which any man might hear within his breast: the beating of his heart. I knew at once that heart was his, and it incised me as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
My motion stalled, I stood as though a stone. My light was steady, fixed upon those eyes. That frightful heartbeat quickened, and grew stronger every moment. He sensed things were amiss, and so his worry heightened, and with it that pulsation. Louder! Louder! Read carefully my words, and comprehend - the silence of the room, the thundering of his heart, the scrutiny of his numbing gaze. And so my rage was amplified, my discomfort in his eye. And as that measured rhythm swelled, another fear did take me - that sound, that dire cacophony, would soon be overheard, reported by a neighbour! This was the moment! I had to act, or be found out, at once! I leaped at him, my hands outstretched and ready, dropping torch and taking by surprise. He shrieked once, a cry both loud and shrill, before I silenced him, my hands around his throat. I am a soldier - on my worst days, I killed and brought down death with swift deliverance. And so I did with him. He choked, soundless once again, and soon I heard that heartbeat hush and slow, before falling into nothingness. I waited, hands still round his neck with all my strength for minutes more. Until I could be sure. Yes - he was dead. I lit my torch again and examined his still body. I checked for vital signs with doctor's hands, and was satisfied. Yes, dead. I smiled - the task complete, the deed done well - those eyes could haunt no longer.
Now that the act was ended, I moved once again with care. He had taught me freely the errors that people made, I knew them without flaw. And so I took precautions, working quickly and with all my attention fixed upon my task. First, moving his remains into the bath, I stripped him bare and laid his cloths away, disposing of all evidence of my touch. I considered next his room, replacing items knocked in my exertions. When all was neat and well, I considered his disposal.
Then with a surgeons skill, I cut him into pieces. His blood I caught with care within the tub, and let it drain such that no drop would blemish it. (Indeed, from experiences past I knew that blood - at least a hogs - would wash down well and leave no stain.) Throughout the flat I lifted floorboards - here! And here! And placed within them parts. Inside the fridge, I even dared to place an ear, hidden one amongst the many he had stored there. And in the front room, centre to it all, I placed his heart - not burned, but red and flush. Proof at last his nemesis spoke true: he had a heart, indeed.
These labours I performed with care, and with an eye well trained to all policemen's methods. No lunatic could move with such deliberation! Each board I moved I then replaced with such care that not even his keen eye might have noticed any difference. I marked each place so carefully in my mind, that I might smuggle out each part in turn. I could remove them all without suspicion, saving last the heart in all my triumph - that I would preserve, and pass off as experiment. A doctor's privilege.
The hours had passed by, and when the act was done the clock chimed six. As light began to shine, the front bell sounded, and soon a knocking came upon the door. With fearlessness I went to answer - I knew I had but naught to fear. A familiar face looked in upon me: Lestrade, the good inspector. He greeted me and stated his intent: a cry had been heard by neighbours overnight. As in our work we often met with danger, he took upon himself to see if we were well.
I gave Lestrade my welcome - I had no cause to fear. The cry, I stated, was my own. A dream, a remnant from Afghanistan, a leftover of war. A lie disguised by truth, as in my slumber specters oft appear. My flatmate was away, said I, a case for which he had no need of me. Again, a circumstance so common that it could not rouse suspicion. I led him through the flat from room to room - revealing to his eyes the empty chamber where the man once lay. I offered the inspector tea and biscuits, and the pleasure of my company. I pulled up the chairs; moving mine - in my audacity - directly o'er where I had placed that singular heart. My victory was complete, in perfect form.
And he was satisfied. In turn, I asked him questions - of his wife, his work, the cases we had shared. My manner was at once all things familiar, no change did I allow. But as the good inspector sat and talked, a ringing in my ears began to rise, an ache upon my brow. Yet still my visitor went on and on. I spoke more freely, gesturing and loud, that my words would drown out that beating, throbbing sound. And still the sound intensified and sharpened, until at length I found it was not inside my ears, but without - growing, rising, from beneath my chair.
What horror! What growing dread that pulsing sound aroused within me. My face grew pale and wan, listening to that underlying murmer which came more clear with every passing breath. And yet, his face was calm, his continence unsuspecting - he had not heard. I stood and paced and argued with Lestrade, in desperate distraction. The sound grew clearer still! Those savage beats intensified as my agonies increased. Oh God! Why did they plague me? And why did the inspector not react? I overturned my chair in blazing fury, an unsuccessful mask for those haunting reverberations, and swore at the good man. He stared, but did not part. And when I considered Lestrade's amiable face, still cordial, but growing more concerned - I realized: He heard! He knew! He mocked me in my folly and disgrace! I knew it then and so I know it now. How could I bare it? I am a soldier - I will gladly face a battle, but not these cloying games of cat and mouse, this smiling sheer hypocrisy. No! I face my foes with pride! With courage! And I know when I am captured. Listen, now - again, I hear it beating! Louder! Louder! Louder!
"Lestrade!" I cried. "Please put me to the task no longer! I admit the deed! - Tear up the planks! Here, here! - it is the beating of his hideous heart!"