From the Archive Short Stories

Revealed ( Part 2 of 3) – Path To Corruption

Revenge drives all. Power corrupts, not even death can keep you from him. The second part of Path to Corruption.

I have lost the ability to count the passing of time. My bursts of consciousness are not lucid. They blend together, I feel that time were a stitched constant that I cannot penetrate. One moment light, another dark, I no longer know if it is morning or night or midday. They have, at my request, stopped giving food. The only thing keeping me tethered to this physical being is the literal bondage of the damned wires and tubes that take things in and out of my body. It is failing, I think rapidly.

Narrated version

The usual bump and squeak of shoes and doors has grown less vivid, life begins to become a shade. The doctors sent a priest to me. He was a pathetic little man, balding with rimmed glasses and a voice so weak and thin, it were as if his very blood were water. Though enfeebled, I summoned what remained of my energy to send him packing. After that conversation I know he is on the path to ruin, the righteous and self-assured were always the easiest to change and break. I smile, as a rivulet of blood dribbled from the catheter into the bag of urine near my feet. My body breaking down at the expenditure of thought and energy required to send him packing. Still, he and I will share the same fate within the month. Death, for many a release, but I know what awaits. I have spoken to it, been moulded by them and know there is no halo and harp for me. I tried, even at the end for absolution, the old Christian thoughts bursting forth like a corrupted froth from decaying lungs. I cannot believe the millennia old lies.

Before I lapse, maybe for the final time here, I will continue with my confessional (I do not fail to see the irony at that term).

My studies had primed me for a life in academia. The thirst I had for knowledge was tangible. There was nothing else that I desired more than to know things. Intrigues and plots were all things I desired to have knowledge of. I knew that knowledge was, ultimately power. Despite being in the position I was in, having command, of those who had passed on before, at my disposal, I knew one thing ultimately true. I would have to follow the conventions of the time, to fit in more than an academic recluse. So, I married.

There was no prolonged romance and whispered nothings. I took what I wanted, and what I wanted was something young, beautiful and supplicant. I found a girl who was the first two of these. I should be ashamed but, I am not in my conquest of her. Conquest is not the correct term, for that implies there was ever any doubt as to me not having her.

She was beautiful and that was what I wanted and needed. Something to show off, the daughter of an industrialist who had survived the crash of the 30s and made it being during the war years making canteens for the armed forces, she was perfect. An heiress and no father in the way. I took her, stalking her, the way a cat does some insignificant and small warm-blooded thing, until she was mine. My advances were dismissed at first, of course I had recourse to things that she could not hope to contend with.

My studies in history had allowed me to fastidiously unlock the powers of the Great Majority. They had begun to fear me, try to hide from me. Save those who were to corrupted and those who wished to still inflict pain upon the living be it for some perceived slight or for something else entirely. After the Second World War avenues into ancient cultures had opened up, I found myself complicit in some, dealings with people who would not look out of place in a boy’s adventure book. These roguish gentlemen were, however, not charming, not a diamond in the rough. They were men who took what they wanted, be it money, power or the innocence of people. I will spare the graphic detail here. The real reason you are here is to learn.

The voice that had rasped and lisped its way into my dreams as a child had become stronger. In a cave along the route of the Nile, he spoke to me with a clarity that I have never before experienced. I learned the ways of being in that cave, what lurks in the hearts of men and women and children and how to exploit that, how to hurt those who impeded my own progress, or just for the sheer joy of it. More importantly how to find and hunt down those I needed in the Great Majority.

It was that power that I employed now, locked in my office at the university, cross legged on the floor. Even though this was at night, it was purely for practical reasons, I was more likely to be undisturbed at so late an hour. I did not need candles, or incantations, just space and a little sacrifice, a small life. I have told you I enjoyed keeping animals. A small meow escaped the covered wicker basked next to me. I began the ritual. By the time it finished what was put into the wicker basked made no noise of any kind. Ever again.

I found her father shaking in a corner of the grey and twilight, his shrieked pleading and pain drove me to work furiously to a conclusion. It is much more efficient to use pain as a tool for information when it cannot be escaped. Incorporeal eyes shed tears that would never fall as I assembled the tools to make his daughter mine. She initially came willingly, with her love, hopes, dreams and wealth. By the end of our marriage she would scream, especially at the end. Death not by my hand but through my cruelty and neglect. My own Ophelia, those who would not love me and were mine would (at the least) fear me.

She had tried for children, but all were plucked from her womb before time. Twisted and broken things, malformed. They ripped parts of her out upon their entry into the world. One apparently had the strength to draw a rattling breath. I cared not. She became a shell after the third time of this happening. Empty and lifeless. I continued seeking out pleasures elsewhere, power elsewhere. I had lost interest in her completely. She, at the end, no longer feared me, I was merely accepted. Just as I was when a child by listless servants.

After the wedding and, on reflection, too soon funeral my father tried to reconnect. He had hoped that we could begin again as a family. It was an admission of guilt on his part. The communication was old fashioned a handwritten letter, my father hated modern contrivances. The phone was anathema to him. I snorted briefly at this thought. There was no joy in it, I was transported back to being a child and the smell of ozone for my treatments. When Becker had shocked me into what I had finally become.

 I ignored the letter. Continuing my interests in history. Learning more. Underneath the suits and gowns of academia my body began to be adorned with metaphysical symbols, inked onto my body by artists who would cater to such strange requests. Those who would not agree soon were forced to by my powers of persuasion. One resisted a while. Still, the memories of little cold boys were revealed to me, they did not shy away, they thrust forth gory locks and revealed all. Over conversations with him he went quite mad with the knowledge I had and the secrets I told that he thought no one knew. I left him a quivering thing afraid to go outside, even upon reading of his discovery some months later, an emaciated mummy in the corner of some forgotten studio I did not care.

The lines bisecting and connecting, twisting and arcing across my skin, snaking and sloughing off my humanity inch by cursed inch. The voices told me how to draw the patterns and what they would do. Trapping the knowledge of the Great Majority, allowing me to interact physically, to extract what I needed. My wife saw these and said nothing, she had learned to say nothing. She was a hollow thing a decoration. Even in death, hers was the one I could never control, force to leave me.

It was in the winter that I received the letter. I opened it in front of a roaring fire. The shadows playing about me, childlike, an observer might have seen long, knife like fingers reaching towards me. I was alone, swilling a glass of whiskey and read the lines. The solicitor’s language was terse and contrite and let me know two key things. The second would mean removal of my other two siblings in order to gain access to the entire family estate.

I should mention that after the discovery of my talents my family had ceased to breed. Not through choice but circumstances. Those relatives who were living and of childbearing age. Met with accident or disease that prevented offspring from reaching this world alive. It was as if the curse of the Pharaohs had reached my line. We had offended a deity and were reaping the consequences.

My sisters were of no importance to me. They were easily dispatched. One through an apparent suicide. That was not even a challenge. She was too like my former wife. Desperate and terrified of being a barren spinster. The other required a more delicate touch.

I did not need candles, or incantations, just space and a little sacrifice, a small life

The voices whispered again to me. She would be removed, she who knew about Becker and had done nothing to support me to help to love. To care. I thought of a fitting punishment for her, one worse than death. I learned of ways to trick the mind, to make her seem as if something were wrong. To hear a noise, to see an image, to pretend there were things there that were not. Finding a doctor was easy.

That base factor of greed and money meant he signed. I knew the recommended treatment for mania and what it would entail. I hoped it would burn. I never enquired as to her progress. Simply that some years later a similar scenario unfolded, the arrival of a letter in winter, fire blazing. I smiled and threw the letter, envelop and all into the hungry flames. With that all my familial issues ceased to be.

Throughout all of this I wondered if and how I was being led. The voices had made way for one singular entity. A black hearted cry of a thing that left me restless and haunted. As time passed, I no longer possessed a mirror, the merest sight of my reflection caused me intense suffering. I looked gaunt and skeletal, a monster of sinew and uncaring lines, etched into a face. My reflections at the hospital now are too grisly to describe and only I and the now mocking Great Majority can see it.

I sat cross legged, again on the floor. Rippling lines of ink made from the ashes of dead men and creatures suffusing me with power over the multitudes of the dead. I sent those at my disposal to retrieve someone incredibly special. My hounds, reaped from my children who did not experience the mortal world, would not rest until he was brought before me. As my father had been. I became a patron of the medical sciences. All in the quest to find a name, to find the Dr Becker that still haunted me. The man who flicked the switch on my, I now know miserable existence.

I had found him and sitting in this diffused light, turning putrescent green with a sulphurous flicker. I waited, questioned, listened and tortured. Dawns pressures castrated the ritual making it powerless. Fortunately, I had what I needed.

Dr Becker would be found. There was noting that suggested death, by rights he should have been fine to walk out of the room in which he was found. The silent scream on his face the only sign of trauma. A scream so powerful, it had shredded his vocal tissue and the corners of his mouth had ripped and ruptured, fatty tissue exposed in the congealing light of day.

If you can manifest powers like controlling the dead, the minds of others cannot take it. Becker thought this would be relief. A moment to enter the void. A void I ripped him from and along with my father, we would speak many times. I sent my children to hound him. They were loyal and terrible. At every summoning I could feel the psychic scream of my wife ripping through, it only fuelled my desire to cause suffering.

Always I would be sitting cross legged in the greenish light, tattoos rippling and folding.

The doctor has entered again, I catch my reflection in a bed pan. My flesh appears weeping and ruptured. I know this is only a projection of myself, something I am cursed to see. My corruption and rot made manifest. I could have used the Great Majority to help humanity, cure diseases, build machines that would improve our lot. Instead I vied for power, I already had money.

I will watch the doctor and see. His needle bites through my skin. The scratching pain is soon gone. I hear crows roaring. They wait, the carrion feeders the damned. The Great Majority too wait. They will see me. Soon. Their greeting is one I fear. I deserve it, but does the condemned man greet the noose with cheer and joy? I thought I was master of myself, master of anything I set my mind upon.

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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