From the Archive Short Stories

No Absolution – Path to Corruption Part 3 of 3

The final part to the Path to Corruption Trilogy. It seems our narrators past has found a way to catch up to him.

My God, I thought that I was not scared of death, sitting here in the hospital as the sun sets. It was easy to be brave, but what awaits me? The Great Majority wait for me. Those I hurt and whose loved ones I destroyed. The lingering voices of my father and Dr Becker wait with barely bated breath, if that is even the correct word.

Dr Becker, his whole family. I will not go into the screams and the blood and fire here. Needless to say, I am eternally sorry.

No wait, that is not right, I am sorry for what will happen to me, what comes after this. Though I had power over the Great Majority, in my vanity I neglected to ask about their experiences and needs. I am a virus, taking in what I need and that is it.

I have told you of my abilities to make those do what I wanted, but remember I was an academic. To my eternal shame I tried to induct others into these mysteries. Most of these were destroyed by the horror and the knowledge and certainty of life after death. All those individuals were remarkable in one way or another. Those whom I could corrupt to my own will. They would be conduits for my own power.

Last time I saw her she could no longer speak, constant shrieking had shredded her ability to talk, reflecting her mind.

One girl, only a girl. She put trust in me, it was easy to convince her, she was beyond naïve. She was sunshine until I met here, I became the monster, she was not receptive to the Great Majority, but she could sense the weft of it all. She saw something in that mind’s eye that shattered her. She became of so little use to me I cannot remember her name. She passed into insignificance. I don’t think she is dead, I have never heard her voice. Last time I saw her she could no longer speak, constant shrieking had shredded her ability to talk, reflecting her mind.

I left her huddled in a forest in the Balkans, near the border of Lativa and Estonia, a wild place still in the grip of Stalin at the time. Even the Soviets could not be convinced to patrol there, I remember an officer a подполко́вник (lieutenant colonel), sadist. Even he turned a blind eye to those who refused and shirked that order. Strange for a man who lusted so much after human suffering. He thought himself like me. What my comrade never knew was that I did not enjoy pain and suffering, I was Machiavellian to it, it was the means to an end. It was only the doctor and my father I hated, the rest was sheer indifference. I do not know which is worse. The man who plays God for delight and amusement or the one who cares not about his creations, the wayward father.

The last of these followers, a boy who was so cold, I shudder to think of him now. Methodical and hungry. I have not seen him since my wife died. I know, murdered by callousness is more accurate. He learned so quickly, too quickly. I can vaguely picture him now, he was only just younger than myself. He, like the Russian officer, was a sadist who thirsted for power. The only person who took more from me than I could take from them, he experimented with the Great Majority. Asked questions, that even they hid from me, even using the powers I could wield over them.

These drugs are no longer working, I can feel the pain of my poisonous existence. If I could muster it, I would scream for help.

I hear the shriek of rubber on polished floor and it goes through my soul like a knife. I stare down at the tubes going into my arms. The wounds are black, like the tattoos on my body. They look strange, like they are eating my flesh. God I am so thirsty. I just need water.

As I claw gently, feebly at the glass, I have no strength to lift it and it falls to the ground. One of the many laughs, I can hear false muscles creak into a smile. A nurse pokes her head around the door and ignores the puddle and snowflakes of shattered glass. She walks away, I can only follow her with my milky eyes. I must be close.

Death must be close. I cannot remember how long I have felt this for now, it seems an eternity.

Have I been asleep again? The doctor has appeared, phantom like at my side, his back is always to me. He just observes, notes. My notes? No, my notes? The notes about me, the truth? A plunger is pressed and I fade away. Even faded, I feel liquid fire in my veins. I am too weak to do anything about it. I can barely move, I cannot even close the lids to my heavy eyes.

The Great Majority call me, bay for me. Louder and louder, the words turn to shrieks. How am I writing this down? Is this the fevered dying brain. I cannot even hear the sounds of the hospital anymore.

Another memory rips into me, the process of processing the bodies of those who had significance, the burning and forming into pigment and eventually carving into my skin. Resonating my abilities. The first time was hard. He squealed like a stuck pig. No one could hear. The desolate dirt road in Mississippi was isolated. Even so, it was only a coloured, no one would miss him enough to come after a white man such as myself. This was a year before the case of Emmit Till, so no one cared. His was not a quick death, none were. Being methodical does not equate to brevity but it does to precision. The wrong depth or angle of cut, the body burned too much or too little. The first time was a learning experience. Some would call it waste as I could not use him. I knew better, knew for the next time and the next.

That was until age got the better of me. Shadows of my power remain.

It’s hard to think.

Here comes the doctor, he looks familiar.

The man in the long white coat approached the bed of the old man and looked down into the eyes. They were dark, secretive pits of blackness. He continued looking and smiled, what knowledge he must have had, to share. The grin widened. He would have that knowledge.

He slowly reached down into his pocket. The wicked flash of something black and metallic, onyx and dangerous. He began to whisper in a language that had been old and forgotten while men strained with limestone blocks in Egypt.

The old man remained motionless.

I try to scream and cannot, it is him, it is Richard! It cannot be he should be older, he looks in the flush of health of a man in his thirties. I cannot look away, cannot move.

The doctor, not doctor the man Richard looked manic. His usually calm demeanour gone. He would have answers to more of his questions. He ripped the old man from his delusion. Manipulating his view, to the corpse, desiccated and hollow. Richard could hear the moans and echoes from the old devil. Before he continued his work he noticed that the tattoos were beginning to disappear into the flesh like liquid smoke. The old man’s power was finally gone. He was his.

“Well know, you’re at my beck and call,” the refined English accent stated.

The old man’s essence longed for the cruelty he was due from the Great Majority, they were gone. He was left with Richard, trapped inside his dusty corpse. How had Richard managed to make him think he was still alive?

Richard had been watching listening to everything. The old man realised his thoughts had not been private, he had left his explanation, not to the world but to Richard.

The fire of pain was beginning to tingle, it would not be long before his knowledge would no longer be his. Even with his sins he did not deserve this.

Richard smiled, at heart, he was a sadist who lusted after power.

By magpiestories

An English teacher by trade, an author at heart, it only took a global pandemic for me to start writing my first novel. Along the way, I found a love for creating shorter fiction which I share on this site along with some updates and (hopefully) useful writing tips.

I hope you have a... pleasant time reading.

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