Because of the Whispers

“No, no, no, no, no, no!” He rushed down his grand staircase and found the last of the bodies. “Why!” His screams were of the rawest sort of madness and he pulled at his hair as if he were trying to claw his way to his brains and tear them out. He gagged from the stench as he stumbled over the bodies and fell to his knees in the center of the pile, checking each decaying wrist for a pulse. “Not again, not again, not again!” His eyes were crazed and his pupils were dilated as his body trembled in horror. He began smacking his head against the tile and moaning in despair. “Aaaaagggggggh! I didn’t mean for this to happen!” 

He was talking not only of these final deaths, but of the deaths that had happened in days past. The cook, and gardener, and groundskeeper, and maid, and butler, and chauffeur. The deaths of those who laid around him now. He could practically see the stains of his furious touch on each body lying before him. The butler had been pushed, the cook had been slapped, the maid had met the end of his fire poker. He knew of the injury he caused, but he had never thought it would lead to death. Wasn’t even sure if the injury was what killed them. He had been a spiteful man with no care for others, and had thought that he was above his servants, above caring about their well-being. Until the first body appeared and no one else seemed to care. But the more bodies laying on his floor, the more he heard the whispers. The whispered promises of his death, the whispered promises of more bodies, the whispered promises of more and more and more whispers. They never stopped, and the more he tried to drown them out the louder they got until he swore the whole world could hear them. But the world never did. The last remaining servants simply gave him pitiful glances and continued with their tasks.

 He tried to show them, tried to make them see what he did, but in his anger and confusion he only hurt them more. He only added them to the next day’s pile. Until there was no one left to add. And now, he had had enough. He was alone, and he did not know what to do. If someone visited, they would see the bodies. And he would die. So, kneeling among the reeking, crumbling bodies, he listened to the whispers ringing through to his very soul. Using his pain and their guidance, he decided he would kill himself before anyone else got the chance. Before the world could see his sins. He slowly stood up, and maneuvering his way back to the stairs, he resignedly and determinedly began the process of stringing up the manner of his demise. 

He collected the spare rope from the shed of the groundskeeper, trying to forget the sound that the man had made when shined boot had pressed down hard enough to crunch. Tightening his grip on the rope, he went inside and made sure it was firmly tied to the chandelier, which he spent the better part of the day climbing across the rafters to reach. “I am going to end this madness,” he mumbled to himself in a voice so raw, and aching, and sorrowful, that a man even as self-absorbed as his former self would know he was in the deepest sort of insanity and depression. 

He finished with the preparations just before midnight on the third day of his assembly. He didn’t care that all the deed would have taken was a length of rope; he had to make sure that he died. Completely. Undoubtedly. That he never woke up. That no one found him in enough time to save him. For he did not want to be saved just to be blamed. To guarantee this, he bolted the windows, broke the handles off of every door, barricaded himself in. There was no turning back, and he was glad for it. Glad that the faces haunting his nightmares would be forever in his past. Glad that even if hell was meant to be his final destination, he would never have to step foot in this mansion again. With these thoughts of relief and restoration enhancing the pain he was feeling now, he stepped up to the noose. “Heheheheheheheheh! Hehe! Hahaha! Haughhaucghackhack!” He laughed at what lay before him. He choked. He laughed harder. With glee. 

A horrendous new sense of purpose had dawned on him, and he shakily, sickly, disturbedly, slipped his head inside the loop. Standing at his balcony, overlooking the bodies in the ballroom, he smiled. A smile of finality. And, anticipating the end to this world, he made the final step to leave it. A leap of faith, or lack thereof. He climbed over the railing and jumped. 

He smiled as he fell, smiling even when the rope snapped tight against his throat, and he swung violently back and forth over the rotting corpses. He smiled as his lungs constricted, and the light from this earth grew dim. And he smiled as he felt himself leaving. But in his last moments of consciousness, looking out into the room that had started and ended it all, his smile dissolved. Because the bodies were gone. And as he swayed gently, all breath sucked from his lungs, the handles were back on the doors, the barricades no longer there, the whispers gone. The world of insanity that had been created by his mind vanished before him. Only in his final moments did he see through the fog of madness. And now with it gone, he saw the faces of the dead aghast in the doorway. Bruised, branded, limping, crippled, but alive. And screaming a scream of the living at the sight before them. At the dead man in the noose. The only one dead after all.

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