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Pinpricks in my eyes, every second, every moment pain, and yet, with the pain comes a sensation as if the edges of all things were pricked with a definitive light: some kind of natural frame that not only focused my visual efforts but illuminated and magnified them by many, many times. Will you tell me this is wrong, to be in such a state? My senses are on edge, true, but the rest of me is calm; I can tell you the story with ease.

I have never been a tracker when it comes to my own thoughts; I do not quote famous men, only words come to my mouth, the ones that sound best at dinner parties or times of jest; with this, I cannot remember how I first imagined my plan. My landlord was a kind man, old no doubt, and apparently labored with a great fortune in gold, but to this I paid no attention. It was something else, his eye I believe: his left eye was that of a beast giant, swollen, it resembled a babys head pushed out into the world, grotesque and still-born. Every time he looked at me I felt a dread, and so I decided after a walk and cigar, to take his life and free myself from the sight.

You must think that Im crazed, taken by voices but I tell you that madmen are fools. They crash cars on the highway in rage, they cannot make plans like I have. You should note at how brave Ive been to free the world from such a sight.

The weeks that preceded the act were among the best times Id ever spent with the man; true hed given me an excellent rate for a two bedroom to the rear of his quarters all of this in exchange for some simple chores, a newspaper, some fresh tobacco and the doors: he required me to check and then double check every entrance in his house, up to his very bedroom door. My chores took only an hour of each day and as I have said, we enjoyed our time in the last few weeks myself counting every minute until my plan could bloom, and he a foolish and rich man with the eye of a babys head, laughing along to my jokes as if they were my own.

It was on the night of the 9th day that I started a ritual of lingering near his chambers. It had been my habit to look into his room when I was locking the giant oaks, this was not unusual sometimes he was still awake and would ask for something simple like water or a cracker. But on the 9th night, I did not lock his door until very late well past midnight, when I knew he would be fast asleep. And I did this with the skill of a jewel thief lowering himself into a laser guarded vault slow so as not to raise him from his sleep; Id crack the door and watch him there, sleeping, his left eye still very much awake. I would use a pen light in my hand to shine on the eye; they say a light will travel forever until something intercepts it but this eye was a void. Each night Id shine my penlight and its fragile ray into the room; each night Id find his eye, awake and engorged on his head, and each night the light would disappear into this eye. No reflection and only dim illumination, his eye sucked the light from the room. By morning, Id require a long jog on the streets to free myself from the visions of his night eye, or coffee, or speed, whatever it took; all the same, by morning I always bounded into his room happy and full of the things that he seemed to enjoy. I gave him the morning news in bed by word of mouth; I told him what the cook was preparing downstairs but all the while planning, my brilliant mind plotting to take his life away and I never looked above his chin. He never suspected my plan.


On the 14th night, my act was polished. I knew every subtlety of his sleep. He was a dead piece of rock with an angry lighthouse eye stuck in his head. It was on this night that I had made up my mind to finish him, to end this charade I could hardly contain my excitement. And so, hear this brilliant instead of pushing the door tight and firm and then double-checking for it being locked, I slipped inside the room and proceeded from the opposite side of the door. No sooner was the door shut that I heard a sound, a rustling and a groan like hed sat up in bed I could almost feel the lighthouse beam searching for me in the dark but I was stealthy, I was smart, I remained still, with no light of my own to betray me.

It was later, maybe ten minutes or so that I thought he was asleep again. I started to crawl and my pen light slipped from the grip in my teeth chattering on the wood floor. The old man cried out, whos that?

He tried to find me, the eye tried to find me but they could not. I was motionless below the horizon line of the king-sized bed; his eyes tracked well above my head heat seeking missiles that shot useless into a boring wall. I did not move. Even my heart I slowed to a healthy beat that only a man of endurance can maintain. I took no chances of being detected, yet, he already knew that someone, something, was in the room. He was not dreaming. His eye and the lighthouse eye continued to track the room.

Then a sound, a low moaning I knew that he sensed me despite my invisible crawl towards his bed. This was not pain, this was sheer terror like that I had heard in a man far to the north off the coast of Alaska, this man watched a sliver of ice come crashing down on him. He was paralyzed by the sight. This was the sound, and here the old man was riveted, moaning like the man on the ice, only here it was a lack of sight that caused such paralysis. Was he trying to talk away the demons, like Id done as a child telling pleasant stories to childsnatchers with claws that lived in my closet? Id always thought that if I set a pleasant backdrop, like a painting or a plot line, then no character of my imagination could harm me. Did he feel this same way, and if so, what was he mumbling in his mind to chase me away? I pitied him but laughed silently all the same.

I think greed took me, if that is the right word not for the mans money but for the power I held in his room. I relished the sound of his heart beating louder and louder than the grandfather in the hallway, that is until the moment the greed hit me spreading through my veins. It was not enough that I could smell urine in the air, it was not enough that he might die from fright, I needed more. So I stood up, very slowly just on my knees and at a careful angle so that I could once again light upon him with my pen light. I did this with precision. Just as the light was about to click on, I swear I heard his heart beat louder.

My aim was direct, my light shined straight to his eye. This had not been my intention of course and I stopped there, already half the distance to the bed his heart beating as if through an amplifier inside my head and these bedroom walls, madness

I used my free hand to steady my shaking hand, my penlight still set upon his eye. I could see nothing else of the man just vague shadows of his thin frame. And still, that sound, infuriating me drums with a cackling reverberation like static with the volume of thunder, his heartbeat. You must imagine how torturous this was for me, a man of gifts, a man who can hear the faintest things, this sound would you not have done the same?

I threw myself on the bed. This can be no more, I said pushing him to the hard wood below. Without a second passing I was upon him with the heavy mattress and my weight above his head. He shrieked just before I put him under the heavy cotton but this did not worry me, it was his heart it continued to beat with a fever I could not extinguish. I bounced on the mattress; I kicked and punched with all my might and still, a furious thumping that would soon bring the entire block to his aid. As sweat tricked down my side, I soon realized that none would hear, this was only my excitement, the sound was still there but slowing. I pushed hard enough that I feared his head might pop through the mattress and then quiet, done, no more sound, not for a neighbor and not for me. I knew before I touched his neck that there was no pulse remaining. His body was still warm but he was now, finally, dead.

When Id caught my breath, I rolled off the mattress. You cannot doubt my exhaustion and you can see that my plan was a success. Furthermore, I was not finished I had the body to dispose of. Working, still in the dark, I removed his head and limbs with a saw Id positioned just outside his bedroom door. I did this with the same slow precision as before, letting his blood run thickly into his bathtub to be washed away, evidence destroyed.

After that, I removed planks from the floor and placed his body parts, wrapped in spare blankets and plastic, beneath the floor board. Everything was cleaned spotless, the planks were replaced, the mattress returned to its place and the bathtub shiny. I looked at my watch to read 3:33 and then, a knock at the old mans front door.

Outside: three men officers of the law, each with a swooping mustache, a pistol and a badge and inquiring about a shriek that a neighbor had heard some hours ago. I invited them in, knowing nothing of such a sound, Id been dead asleep until just now, I said, but I appreciated the men working so late, on such a cold night. Come in, look around, Ill make a few drinks before you go you see the old man I share the house with is at his country house for the weekend.



See here, I said, bringing out a tray of drinks, its only me and my nightmares tonight. Perhaps it was me that the neighbor heard. I have this vague memory of a dream of falling beneath a carriage driven by the governor. They laughed at my recycled joke about taxes, talking on, sitting in a circle precisely above the spot where Id placed the old mans body.

But the minutes became agonizing as the sound returned, that of his heart beating slow, steady but furious in sound. How could they not hear it? I swear I could see the floorboards starting to buckle from the strain of this beat, thumping, tearing away at my patience, and still the officers lingered, laughing rosy in the cheeks now from the wine Id pilfered from the old mans stash. They ignored me as I stewed, wishing them away, wishing the sound away this was no prize for such a brilliant plan. I began to pace but they only assumed I was up to some stage acting or imitation of another political figure; one even called out a request for the police chief, a ghastly man whod recently been arrested for pornography I know no such man, I screamed, and they fell to the floor in hysterics. Thats just like him, they said, just like him. A stitch, you really are too much they said. I stomped my chair on the floor, hoping to drown out the sound of the heart, steady and filling my head with percussion, but I could not, it continued, and they laughed, and the heart raged, until finally, Id had enough, I fell to the floor to tear away at the boards.

See, see what Ive done! In this spot is the man that youve heard, I admit! It was his scream you heard and it is his heart that I will hear forever more



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Comments

The following comments are for "pastiche of Poe's Tell Tale Heart"
by gogolism

Lovely Ghastliness
I loved the modern touches to Poe's classic tale. A wonderful rephrasing -- excellent work.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: December 8, 2004 )

Nikolai...
...Not being an expert of Edgar's work, I can't tell how much of this is inspired, and how much is reworked or taken directly from the original piece. The writing is fantastic, however, though I'm not a big fan of retelling someone else's story.

Cheers!

-SD

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: December 8, 2004 )

tell tale
strangedaze, hazelfaern,
thank you for the comments. this is a paragraph by paragraph imitation of Poe's work and while I made every attempt to change every word, every sentence -- the structure and tone remain indebted to Poe's original. I have enjoyed this site in the past few months and thought this exercise might encourage my participation.

( Posted by: gogolism [Member] On: December 8, 2004 )





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