He rubs bare bone with longing fingertips, staring into abyssal sockets. “Oh Agatha,” He bellows, “Why do you do it?”
He repeats these words for a few moments as he swirls his burning drink around in a stained glass. Throwing his head forward in a rush of blood he stares down a once bustling gallery of statuettes and ancient trinkets. His eyes once again meet the painting’s automaton eyes.
That old portrait, hung above the sitting room he no longer dares, is half visible from his fireplace chair. A woman poses there, her figure refined, her eyes a stately blue and her face immaculate. With skin pale as milk and soft as feathers she wears a gown of white with trimmings of gold and holds a single red rose between the gentle fingers of her left and a book of poems in the right from author unknown.
“It’s been too long my love.” He says turning back to the cracked bone, lifting it towards his nose and smelling deeply.
“Too long,” He says with a cracking voice, “Since the days when you lied to me. Since the days you betrayed me and left me to wonder.” His eyes glow savagely in the dancing flame of the hearth as his pounding heart forces his hands to tremble.
“Those promises you made to me. Bah! What promises did you keep Agatha? Oh mistress of my sorrow. Agatha the liar, that name suits you well.” He places the skull on the end table by his chair as he stares down countless corridors and looming ceilings, shadows itching ever closer in the dark.
He begins pacing in circles as he talks. “How many promises you did break in your day I wonder? Promises you left behind. All for me to forgive! But now you sit there dead and I cursed to live.” He turns to the yellowed bone. “Was I never enough for you Agatha?”
His mind wanders to painful thoughts and the burning of it shows prominently on his face. “It all started with a name didn’t it? ‘Weatherby.’ ‘A name like that was never suited for a DuPont woman!’ ” He says in a voice deep and full of hate. “That’s what your father said when I asked for your hand! ‘Weatherby will never be a household name.’ He said to me! The bastard!”
He screams into the dark, throwing his drink into the flame with roaring remarks. “What would he know! My name glows at every drug store from Portland to Baltimore! Countless papers know my name and my face will live on forever!” He lifts the skull in the air and laughs horribly. “Where is his fame now Agatha? What can he say to me while he rots in his hole and the DuPont line thrives no more? What would he say now that Charles Weatherby is wealthier than he? That Charles Weatherby is better than he!” Noticing his breathing rapid and appearance ragged, he removes the hair from his eyes and adjusts his vest. The skull stares blankly at his flushed face from behind pale and cracking fingers.
“No,” He smiles crudely as another thought enters his mind, “No it wasn’t my name,” he places the skull on the mantel. “It was that man wasn’t it Agatha? That polo player from New York who I had befriended in Washington many summers ago. A man whom I quickly discovered enjoyed more than my spring parties in the Boston Harbor!” He slams his fist into the wall, his hand throbbing in pain and cracking at the knuckles.
“I moved away from him you know!” He shouts as he covers his blood with a cloth from his desk drawer. “I moved us away because I didn’t want to lose you! I lost my family and my home for you! So we could start anew.” His eyes begin to moisten as his voice snaps between rage and sorrow.
“But I come home Agatha, I come home and you both shout like animals. In my bed! In my home!” He throws the stained rag across the room into the swallowing darkness and storms over, staring the bone down long and menacingly. “Naked beasts, grunting and thrusting in my home!”
His head spins as he begins to fall to the floor, the skull ever watchful from the mantel in silence. He smirks as he crawls back towards it, his head throbbing from the collision, the fire glowing before him like the gates of hell. His face is shadowed and pale like a devil.
“Oh he was such a man wasn’t he? Weren’t his thighs so tight and arms so big? Best of all his name and pockets were deeper than you could have ever dreamed.” He claws himself to his feet. “But where is he now Agatha? Hmm? Where is this man now I dare you tell me?” He cackles at the silence and thrusts his fingers towards the open window, to the churning sea. “He’s at the bottom with cement around his ankles, all because of you!”
Grief fills his face and stiffens it horribly as he dawn’s despairs mask. “It was his little girl that I hated most about it. She was so beautiful Agatha, but she was his! Her hair was brown and her eyes green. Green! That’s how I knew she wasn’t made from me!” He sobs into his hand as he sinks into the chair. “But I tried my best to be a father to her and called her my baby girl.” He shakes his head violently. “But even still, it wasn’t enough. The world took her from me, how cruel and cold it is truly, to take her the way it did.” He looks out the window, at a light on the dock. A ship in the distance bounces in the waves as the memories of the past further distort his face.
“She was sleeping in her bed when they came Agatha. Those terrible men. She was such a pretty girl and they knew she didn’t want to play. But…they…they made her anyway.” He shudders for a moment, “The blood on her gown…after they were done,” His hands cover his mouth as the images flash before him. “I carried her to the car when it was all over, but she was already gone.” He begins to rock, stroking his hands.
“I remember her screams… They made me watch! Held me down!” Suddenly he finds a smile. “But I got away, and returned from our room.” He looks above an old cabinet at two bleached skulls, the shadows of the fire drawing their yellowed smiles into long frowns. “But where were you Agatha? You were gone weren’t you? Nowhere to be found!” His fists tighten and his muscles stiffen as rage boils in his abdomen.
“You were never there! You left me in this darkness; you betrayed me!” he roars, throwing his chair and end table over. “Forever I gave myself to you, forever I loved you and you always spat at me! Even in death you have mocked me.” He grabs the skull with both hands and squeezes tighter with each passing word. “I was your husband! The man you never cared for! The man you’ve left to live in this world alone! Well I say no more Agatha! I curse that name until I am no more!” He throws the skull towards the wall. It strikes on the temple and shatters into four pieces on the floor.
He rushes over and picks them up, his hands trembling as he speaks. “All that blood,” He mumbles as he carries the shards to a gilded jewelry box and places them gently inside. “They told me you would not make it,” He says softly as he shuts the lid. “They said that our baby would be the end of you. But I told them to try anyway, to try and save you. Even after that bastard’s daughter died we tried again. We tried to forget all that you had done.” He stares out the window again, a storm blackening the night and flashing the sky on the sea’s horizon.
“But it was too late.” He wipes the tears from his eyes. “You sinned me Agatha. When they pulled out our son it…it was the first time in years you said you loved me.” He walks towards the box and begins petting the lid.
“It’s funny; you thought you would win, that I wouldn’t punish you for what you did. Didn’t you Agatha?” The scars on his hands sting with the thought and flashes of darkness blur his eyes. “I made them keep you alive. You begged me to let you rest on the table. ‘Just a minute I beg of you my love.’ ” He says in a voice high and mocking.
“My love indeed.” He laughs. “No act of God was going to have the satisfaction of removing the wind from your lungs!” A crooked smile graces his face. “It’s funny Agatha. Did you or your foolish line ever imagine that DuPont blood looks the same as any other? You know what else? Our son had green eyes. You thought I would never know? That I wouldn’t guess what you had done, again!”
He turns to the the window at two unmarked graves under a dead willow tree. Leaning in close to the box he whispers into the key hole. “Now is the time for your release and I hope you suffer it all just as you made me. The flames await you, my love.”
He lifts the box and throws it into the flame, staring envious of its fury as it swallows the shards, charring them black. “Now your skull matches your heart Agatha. Ha! Imagine it.” He watches joyfully as his silhouette dances and slowly falls from the wall as the flames begin to die and the world around him is consumed in darkness.
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, dark fiction, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.