I never go to sleep, but I keep waking up. My senses are blunt, she who was the whetstone for my mind — gone. The creeping mist veils me like a blanket, yet it offers no comfort.

It was the moon, yes, it was this — the half extinguished light of that ghostly medallion that beckoned me to the manor on this night like any other…

Through the woodland I trudge, my breaths coming heavy and fast, yet they create no cloud of smoke upon the icy air. The night is still, despite the occasional breath of wind that howls amongst the whispering leaves, and yet I feel no breeze upon my skin, no gale to caress my face. Nothing to wrinkle my cloak or dance through my hair. Nothing to tell me I am alive.

The tempest cracks her whip, branches bow against her wrath. The clouds flee and the leaves quiver on their wooden bonds. The moonlight is uncertain and convulsive, casting elongated shadows, barely distinguishable beneath the rolling mist; I am agonisingly aware that my own form throws no contour, floats through the mist without disturbing its passing.

You think me desolate, despondent. In truth, I have a very extravagant sense of humour — here’s a fun fact: you are all going to die. You could be a king or a street sweeper, but everybody dances with Death.

The night has deepened, inky darkness spills across the sky and trickles along the land in angular shadows. The tempest has retreated; the wind has been overthrown and silence reigns. The moon stands guard as the watchful night closes in.

The Manor House is sinister with nothing to hint at its former prosperity, (if, indeed, it had been prosperous.) The door lay splintered on the ground, the hinges clinging desperately to the frame. I am certain the floor boards would scream in protest should any living being set foot upon it, if not for the film of dust accumulated there through years of neglect — but the dust is not wholly settled. My gaze follows the course of footprints to a staircase; my own tread leaves the dust placid and motionless.

The spiral staircase oscillates even without my touch, almost as though it. can feel my presence and quakes at the thought. Humans consider me some sort of entity — a hooded figure skulking around with a scythe and a skull bare of flesh, hidden in clocks and feasting on moments, precious and pure. Taking lives where I can. I can’t say I’m too fond of this account, but humans need to entertain themselves, I suppose. As a mental exercise, I often plan the murder of those I deem worthy of a slow, gut-wrenching demise; occupying this profession since the beginning of time has provided a rather resourceful variety of these imaginings.

The moon cannot possibly penetrate the grime that cakes the windows — this should unnerve me, the moon being beyond my sight. The pale, white pearl that hangs like a droplet on the radiant breast of heaven. White calms me. White is all the colours of the spectrum at full brightness. I am the absolute darkness that ends life and kills laughter.

The door stands shut tight, warped with time and dark with damp. A sickness lay upon this house, and where sickness thrives, bad things will follow…

Inside the room, somebody giggles- low, throaty, sadistic. My hand turns. The door opens. Hell is revealed.

Blood, black in the shadows, cascades in a steady stream from the woman’s neck. Her eyes are wild and desperate, her arms grabbing in a futile attempt to delay the gush of vital fluid. She writhes on the floor and her limbs thrash in convulsive movements. The moon beholds the sight through a recently broken window, its rays fixed upon a bloodied knife, reflecting the glistening scarlet substance.

For a moment — an instant, a fraction of a second — her eyes stare into mine, and we gaze deep into each other’s souls. If this is dying, I don’t think much of it.

In that moment, I am benevolent; I lean down, place one hand beneath her knees, the other between her shoulder blades; the skin is drawn taut and I feel her shudder violently at my touch. Her blood spills across. my body, but I do not feel it, the wet warmth of her memory fading away. A river once flowed in her, now it is dry and crimson upon the decaying floor of a ramshackle building in the moors.

In that moment, I am kinder than any human being, I am more loving than God. I hold her gaze and watch her eyes flicker in a final attempt before they glaze over and fix upon the unseen gates to Hades — dying can’t be that hard, up until now, everyone has done it. I carry her away from the room, away from the house and the fields, away from the forest and the fog and up into the night, where the moon shines like the Devil’s eye, staring into the souls of the damned…

And so, we come to the end of this tale, where through extensive research and an eternity of experience, I come to one final conclusion:

I am haunted by humans.

by Arthur Romanzo.

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