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Harold and the Herald of Silence
Author's note: Just a small horror book. It mentions the turbulent past of a young boy named Addison and details his coming-to-terms with insanity. The entire story is interconnected, with each phrase and description intentionally placed. Never having written a short story before, I attempted this piece one midnight after finishing "Till Death Us Do Part". The thrills inspired me to create my own horror story from scratch, and thus, this piece was born.
Two years ago my family and I lived a comfortable existence.
We owned a small ranch--big in my little sister's eyes--that grew just enough to feed the five of us: Jonathan, my older brother; Harold, my father; Margaret, my mother; Tiffany, my younger sister; and me, Addison J. Fitch.
It had been four years since my little sister joined our family--four years of constant negligence and agonizing loneliness. At first I took kindly to Tiffany, helping her here and there, taking her there and here, but weariness insidiously consumed my mind.
My father never complimented me but rather stared when I did something right and scolded when I didn't. He was rarely home, always working out in the fields and doing things my brother should have finished hours ago.
My mother contrasted so sharply with my father that I could never imagine why they got together. She was so expressive; he was stoic. She was very sweet; he was usually angry.
But at the same time, she never loved me as much as she loved Jonathan.
Now Jonathan… that lazy bastard. He was tall and fit, but he was cursed with ineptitude. He flaunted his firstborn privileges as if he had it in infinite supply, but he did, and that did little to dampen his vaunting.
He never did anything to deserve it; he was the handsome jerk who had it all.
Then came my little sister, a jewel we had never had. Tiffany's innocence complimented her cuteness so well that Father had no choice but to favor her. We weren't rich, but we always had more money when Tiffany wanted something at the store.
"Whatever you want," agreed my father.
"Anything for you!" exclaimed my mother.
"Ha! Addy, you got nothing!" teased my brother.
I was heartbroken.
At times I felt despondent like the outdoor trees--cold and lonely in a colder and lonelier wind.
I would sulk around the house, passing by the bedroom doors hundreds of times before Tiffany woke from her naps. Her eagerness to dance always amused me somehow: the giddiness expressed in almost everything she did fostered a deep love for my sister, one that I could never really yield to my inner jealousy. Despite the fact that everyone loved her more than they loved me, I still tried my best to help her: to sew her tattered teddy bears and torn little skirts.
"What are you drawing this time, Addy?"
"I'm drawing you dancing," I would smile back. She'd always rush over, pointing out the vibrant red I used to color her gown. I loved the color red.
"Eh, Addy. What is this crap?" I turned to see Jonathan peering over my shoulder, his eyes stabbing holes in my amateur art. "You’ve ever seen a real drawing?"
"Yea, John, I have." I reached for more of my pieces, but John declined the offer.
"I'm not asking to see, haha. Never mind it, then." He strolled off, his eyes never relenting, always mocking.
"Maybe he doesn't like it because it's not colorful enough," Tiffany cooed. But what could I do? I had used all my self-earned money on red paint. Mom wasn't about to give me any extra and neither was dad about to start giving me an allowance like old-enough Jonathan.
"It's the best I can do for now, Tiff'." I sighed. She must have missed my disappointment; Tiffany went straight back to dancing.
Two weeks into winter, one of the coldest we've ever known.
My father came in two days after final harvest to announce that the cold had destroyed some of the farm potatoes, and that we would all have our rations reduced. I didn't find this accommodation the least welcoming, but I sat quietly and spooned my share.
"If things get tough, I'll sell the family pocket watch," my dad reassured Tiffany. "Tell you what: tomorrow, I'll go down to see what I can get."
The next morning, father left; he came back about eight hours later to inform everyone that his trip was unsuccessful. He had found many offers, all of them at least $200 underpaid. He mentioned something about two guys insisting on him selling it, but I didn't quite remember. Exhausted, he left the watch in the living room drawer.
"No one touch this, you hear? I'll try again when I get the time."
Father went directly to bed.
Three weeks into winter, I heard a quiet rumbling in the parlor, too loud and awkward to be that of the rain's. Curious, I left my room and snuck past the doors. There was a steady dim of light down the hall, but I could not tell from whom or what it came. I made my way there and poked my head around the corner.
There were two figures pressed against a dark canvas, searching for something in the drawers. A feeble lamp on the counter was slowly burning out, but it was bright enough to show the faint glint of a dagger on one of the figure's sash.
"Ha! I got it!" One of the robbers held up a golden chain, chuckling quietly. "It'll make me rich!"
"You rich? No, that wasn't part of the deal. I show you the house; you show me the money."
"What deal? No! I found it; I keep it." He started to pocket the treasure.
"Unhand that, you bastard." The other glared at his partner. "Give it to me, and no one gets hurt."
"Hmmph, we'll see about that!" The partner tore the dagger from his side and pointed it at the other's chin. In quick response, the other removed a hidden blade from his belt and, too, jumped at his opponent. The two wrestled madly, sounds muffled by the loud thunder of the storm and the hard pounding of the rain. Just as the light flickered, I saw one raise his weapon in the air. On queue, the thunder crashed as he sent his dagger sailing down into the spine of the other. Harsh grunts followed as he continued to stab the other's back, each lunch diminishing in intensity as time went on. Finally, the victor pushed the defeated off of him and lifted up the lantern. Rays of light filtered down to illuminate the bloodied body and a face distorted with petrified death. I stared at how clean the floor was--the guy's robes must have absorbed all the blood.
"Hey… what the…?"
"Hell, come here!"
NO! I was discovered! I jumped to my knees and ran, but the robber's two steps equaled my three jumps. He grabbed me by the collar and thrust me into the air. "What did you see, boy?!"
"N-n-not-h-h-ing, s-s-ir, n-n-o-th-th-ing." He growled so menacingly I swore he was part bear.
"Don't say nothing about this, ya’ hear?!" I nodded frantically. "If I even think ya’ gonna say a word, I’ll come by ya’ room and do that to ya’." He motioned to his dead partner. I never stopped nodding.
He threw me to the ground.
"Ehhh, damn Georgie. Never trust nobody, ya’ hear? They'll all just backstab ya’. It's betta’ to finish them off quick--let loose ya’ anger and get rid of them before it's too late." And with that, the robber carried away the body.
My father blamed me for the missing watch the next morning.
I was to miss dinner.
Three weeks into winter, and I was starving.
Everything after the murder was wrong.
Oh, I meant everything I did was wrong.
I was just so shaken by it--so distressed by how well Georgie's killer cleaned up the floor boards, how silently he gutted his friend--that I dropped the plates or bumped into other people. Now, I couldn't explain myself. No one could, after such a promise.
"Quit staring at the floor, you bonehead! If I catch you standing like an idiot again, I'm going to send to bed without dinner!"
I got caught again.
And so I was sent to bed without dinner.
There was something about it though--being so near puberty, so needing of nutrition--that I could not ignore. Father loved me… right? I mean, I'm the only one getting punished. No one stood up for me; heck, John even mocked me. I wasn't fond of my family’s negligence or my father's cruelty, but I was fond of what they taught me.
"Don't let anyone backstab you, you hear? Take them out before th--"
Wait… was that the message? I couldn't remember. My stomach kept whining. Just a few more hours until midnight and then I'll sneak out. At least I'd get something to eat.
I walked down the hall, spoon in hand, hunger in stomach, towards the kitchen. Around the corner, past the--what's this? I turned to face a steady snoring from the door. I must have seen this door a thousand times, but I couldn't remember who lived behind it.
Oblivious to the bedroom sign, I opened the doorway and entered. Jonathan was sprawled awkwardly over his mattress, sleeping and drooling like the buffoon he was. Oh. It's just Jonathan. I stayed my place, occasionally swaying with the breeze of the wind outside. I had no reason being there, but for some inexplicable motive, I contemplated a red night.
I stared so long at him, I felt a trickle of anger seep into my veins. I was suddenly so warm--no, so hot!--that it forced me to grasp my spoon in fear I would melt and drop it. In my panic, I stumbled forward, hoping I would not thaw in the winter air.
Move. Run. Let the air cool you off. I strode quickly to the side of his bed and grabbed his neck. Jonathan's eyes snapped open, desperately trying to focus on the shadow that was choking him. I pressed down--jumped on his body and pressed down. His eyes arched with fear as he eventually recognized me. He pleaded with them; he fought me with them. But no matter how wretchedly he presented himself, his eyes only infuriated me.
I clenched my spoon and sank it into the left side of his face.
A breathless shriek escaped his compressed throat as I carved his flesh with my metal chisel. A crimson puddle filled the socket in where his eye use to be, but that was the least of my accomplishments…
Jonathan was out of breath.
His remaining eye fell out of focus as it rolled upwards; the weak thrashing of the body beneath me ceased. He gurgled the blood that had flowed into his gaping mouth and--after thirteen, painful years--finally left me alone.
With the hand that suffocated my brother, I ripped out the first eye from his face. With the hand that wielded the spoon, I reached for the severed second.
With those mocking eyes…
Naa, not anymore. I had them both in hand.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Happy, but not content, I arrived at the kitchen and pocketed my new treasures. I tossed the spoon onto the floor and reached up for the cabinet, smearing blood onto the boards. It was a lovely color. Where are the leftovers they always keep?
I found a kitchen knife instead.
My parent's bedroom was comfortable. The window was slightly open, but the warmth of family closeness balanced the breeze that seeped in. I smiled delightfully at the sensation, for there could be no better time.
I approached their bed, Harold's and my mother's. Expecting a familiar face, I was startled by what I saw. I could not believe how peaceful Harold seemed. He dozed in rhythm with my mother's breathing. It… it didn't make sense. How could someone so domineering look so serene?
It was mockery from the start.
Jonathan must have conspired with them to agitate me, but I would not have it. It was a lie--and I knew it!
For the first time in my life I lost my mind. My guttural roar shook Harold and his wife awoke, but my arms didn't keep it that way. I lashed out at his vulnerable body, slashing his limbs and gashing his abdomen. Blood streamed from the open veins and darkened the sheets as he attempted to deflect my strikes with his hands. Berserk, I continued to stab him, plunging my blade deeper and deeper into his chest. Somewhere in the distance two voices were screaming, a pair of hands pushing me away from the dying man. I tried so hard to ignore them, to shrug them off, but they kept coming back to attack me.
I turned to the woman and drove my knife into her heart.
She shrieked: the most dreadful and heart wrenching sound I'd ever heard. Who was she to have had such terror behind her voice? She almost seemed… betrayed by the one she trusted the most, but that was my unprofessional analysis.
No time to think about it. Her arms fell limp onto my shoulders as she collapsed back onto the bed and off onto the floor, her weeping, fearful face forever frozen in an icy expression.
I turned back to Harold, but he too had given up. I had ruptured nearly all of his organs. I contently used the red paint he provided to draw stick figures on the floor, using my finger to cross out the three tallest people. It was a lovely red on canvas--no doubt about it. I moved to the corpse of the woman and flipped her over. Like a surgeon, I removed the knife still lodged in her and slit four cuts into the corners of her chest. I rolled up my bloody sleeves and wriggled my hands into the cardiovascular cavity. With one forceful yank, I tore her heart out, squirting blood and staining my face.
I left the male alone, however. Why would I want anything from him when I have her lovely heart?
The perceived silence faded abruptly as she cried. My ears pricked as I turned in astonishment. Tiffany! Ahh, how could I have forgotten…? She had been sleeping in the crib in Harold's and Margaret's room. I got off my knees and slid the heart down my shirt. Tiffany was standing, frightened beyond comprehension. The closer I got, the more she shrank back.
Surprisingly, she was weeping.
At four years old, she understood the feeling of loss and horror. Amazed, I unconsciously took another step forward. She clutched her ragged teddy bear so close to her heart you'd think the animal would pop.
But not this bear.
I made sure to get every stitch tight and correct.
"A-a-addy… w-w-why…?" She was gasping between every breath, uncontrollably sobbing. She seemed so innocent. So… pathetic.
I stared at her. My hands trembled slightly from the cold air. Blood continued to drip… so slowly… down my fist and onto the beautiful red boards.
I took a step towards her, the floor groaning in pain.
"It is because I love our family-"
Another step. My footprints had never been more noticeable.
"-and because I love you-"
The silence of the night was deadly. It made her ears bleed; her knees weak. Tiffany collapsed to the floor of her crib, prostrate with sheer trauma.
"-that you must die tonight."
There were no more screams that evening. The house shuddered in the ghostly air, scattering what befouled morality was left to the wind.
My identity is no longer Addison J. Fitch, but the unnamed boy who lived his life.
Son of my father, I am the herald of silence.