Sunday, October 5, 2008
A History Mystery: Day Five / Part One
From the memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane
Tuesday, 28 October
I am the devil himself. I wallow in the shame of what I have done, ashamed to show my face unto the light, even that of the moon. All day my dead brain pitched fearfully in my slumber. The taste of her lingers still upon my tongue. Even though it pains my soul, I know to venture forth from my dust cloaked cocoon would only bring further tragedy
So, as the night grows cold toward day, I wallow in my own self pity, letting my hunger grow. Soon I will be forced to slink into the shadowy streets to sustain myself for another day. I will wait until the sky grows pink, taking what I need, leaving myself little time to go to her. What a pitiful spinster of the damned I have become. If laughter came easy to me, I would gladly roll upon the floor at the irony.
Perhaps, the malady would not be so bad if not for her thoughts intruding upon my sorrow. Since waking, her voice has been in my head. It is not a peculiar condition. Many times over the centuries the thoughts of my victims have lingered in my head. Normally I can simply blot them out but this time there is no escaping the thoughts ringing between my ears. With no other explanation available, I can only assume our connection goes deeper than I thought. Could this be more than a simple infatuation on my part? Could I love her?
The concept is frightening to me. I do not deserve the emotion. Everyone I have ever loved has paid the price my weakness. I will not let Morgan be the next in the long line. I would sooner go into the darkness and writhe for eternity with the burning need than see her harmed even for one brief second. When I am more in control, I will retrieve my lost journals and disappear from her life. Without them to back up her theories, she has nothing to substantiate her claims. Her career will be ruined but at least she will be alive to rebuild her life.
Whatever joy this existence holds for me I will exploit this connection and live vicariously through it. If I can not be with her physically, this shallow intrusion will suffice. The guilt involved is not even enough to stop me from invading her privacy. I am already a monster, what is one more piece of blackness upon my dead soul?
Easing past the boundaries, I sense her at her favorite haunt, a cup of smooth creamy coffee in one hand and my journal clasped in the other. Closing my eyes, I allow hers to become mine. The muted twinkle of her voice reading along to the words blurred through the flickering images I see through her mind. I found myself content to be in her presence.
Until she flipped the fragile pages of the journal to linger on Constance’s name. The flowing script from my own hand cursed me from two hundred years ago. Seeing my lost paramour’s name written with such care and love stabbed me. Those fleeting moments of love we shared disappeared in the horror of what had come to pass.
Immortality has done little to erase that night from my head, as much as I prayed that it would. Fresh from Diabloque’s curse, I returned to New Orleans. At the time some small part of me denied what I had become. The man I had been still burned bright inside me. I can remember thinking the beast inside me could be contained by the rational mind of man residing within the soul I no longer owned. The monster knew better. I lurked in the shadows, not daring to approach her openly. Already the story of what had happened on that small island had reached the bustling streets of New Orleans. No one knew for sure what had taken place, but then as now, rumor was a more potent historian than the truth. Tales of my demise circulated partly in thanks to my crew who had seen the island aflame with the inferno I started to hide my infamy.
For weeks I hid in the bayou by day. By night I stalked the streets, my hunger too great to ignore. A few times the hunger abated enough to delude me into venturing to Constance’s home only in the dead of night when I was sure she’d be ensconced in slumber’s hold. Finally I grew bold in my comfort. The clear night befuddled me into thinking I could safely enter the balcony adjacent to her rooms and catch some fleeting glimpse of her through the French doors that opened onto it.
Through the gossamer curtains I saw her, not sleeping but crying in the gloom. I dared not move closer, fearful she would sense my presence. The sight tore through the resolve I held onto by a thread. I collapsed upon the balcony, blood drenched tears marking their way down my face. Her sobs grew louder with every moment. I would have left but found myself paralyzed. Then her voice found words to accentuate her pain and they are forever engraved upon my suffering.
“Jean Baptiste, my love. Even if you be dead, I would gladly join you if it meant an end to this agony I bear from being parted from you.”
I would like to say the monster took over, but the lie would sour upon my lips. Her admission and pain drove not the demon I am, but the man I was. Shrugging off my stupor, I threw open the doors and went to her. Upon seeing me, she stumbled from the bed and threw herself into my arms. I wrapped her into me. There were words of love, but they fell short of the truth. I came into her life then, not as a love, but death. Her statement I took to heart.
Her tear reddened eyes pleaded for some explanation but the thirst had already marked her. In those days it was not the steady need it is now. It was a blanket lust that overrode all else. In those fevered seconds I did not see a lover, I saw a meal. Before my strength reasserted itself, the crimson haze cleared from my eyes and I found misery waiting for them. My dear, sweet, beautiful Constance lay, a broken husk, in my arms. Screaming, I let her fall to the floor. Already to the gallerie doors, I heard footsteps racing toward us. As I leapt through the doors I glanced back to see Constance’s blank eyes glaring after me. It was the last memory I took of her after claiming her life and it will forever condemn me.
Wrenching myself from the memories, I felt tears carving trails down my hollow cheeks. Composing myself, I mentally sought out Morgan. She had moved on, abandoning the journal to dark thoughts of her own. My lack of appearance tonight had placed a blight upon what we’d shared. I saw the inner turmoil she experienced because of it. Her pain was inexcusable for even though I planned to disappear from her life at the soonest possible moment, I would not have her assume the role of mistress in her mind. She was better than some simple courtesan, or Storyville whore, to be tossed away when finished with.
I swear now, when my mind reaches a semblance of calm, I will make the break clean with as little pain involved for her as possible. She deserves closure. I made ready to desert the link between us, when a stray thought stopped me. Tomorrow this associate of hers would take the journals for authentication. I could retrieve the documents without harming her, thus saving me from a situation I dreaded. Closing the connection, I allowed a small smile to grace my face. By Hallows’ Eve I could depart her with due haste. My sorrow would continue, but at least my love would live on.
PS: Don't you love the cover?? Huge, mega thanks to Renee Rocco from Lyrical Press for designing it for us!!