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Abigail Wallace

Short story By: EschatonOmega

A dark and long buried secret returns from the past to haunt a hedonistic man, pushing his sanity to the brink of collapse.

Submitted:Jun 23, 2014    Reads: 28    Comments: 1    Likes: 1   

I, being a man who looks upon his own sanity with a seed of skepticism, cannot expect one who would hear my back-story and look at me with the same assurance of intelligence and presence of mind as one with the highest of genius or social standing, but I say that I must accept what has doomed me to the confines of a house for the insane as fact and who had orchestrated my demise was indeed her who for as long as the first half of this century tasted the soil and still sleep of the grave, despite all counts of logic, sense and sanity standing firmly against my conclusion.
This started in the year of 1836, in the town of Market Harborough, Engalnd. This was the beginning of a time when the traditions and restrictions of the past had been destroyed in the fires of France's and America's recent revolutions and a new era of freedom and enlightenment had begun in its place. Amongst them was the movement growing in popularity among the hopeless poor and the decadent rich of libertinism. A philosophy that was nothing short of liberating for me to know that all my love for food, drink and women was not a "sin" but an embracement of my own personal liberty, or for so I thought. For today, in my maturity and old age, I find that the views of libertines and hedonists are childish, ignorant and worthy only of shame and regret. And I fantasize these days if I had not adhered to such superficial philosophies would I had been a victim of my own wickedness and instead be free in a life of peace and happiness? For I feel only sorrow, as I shall never know.
But my life of constant drunkenness, lavish parties and sexual depravity was briefly halted when I became acquainted with a young woman named Abigail Wallace. A woman of medium build, auburn hair, blue eyes and a gentle spirit came into my life and would later take on as a lover and a later as a wife. She was a very sweet natured girl with a passion for people and nature alike and was loved by a great many, winning the hearts of many gentlemen but breaking them all to accept mine. Although I must admit that while I found her kind soul enduring, I do feel that my desire was nothing short of that very thing; desire. I found her quite beautiful and that lust was my main motivation for even attempting to pursue her to begin with, yet I did have, somewhere deep down, a respect for her loving heart.
Yes, I was in love with the girl. Or at least in lust. Today I still question my true feelings for her and wonder if it was a courtship of what she thought it was, that being her fairy tale dreams of the knight upon a white horse. But I cannot say I agree. I never believed in such things, and will defend the position that any thoughts, ideas or expectations are merely the result of naïve optimism and foolish desire to escape reality. But there were days that I would question those views and consider the idea that maybe I had been struck with Cupid's arrow in actuality, but still I am hardly convinced.
And yet, our courtship only lasted half of that decade. She, in good conscious had tried desperately to break me of my pleasure seeking ways. This was, for me, a complete annoyance. Her meddling would often lead to many, and often physical, quarrels that would still haunt both of us for long after they had ended. And even for me, in the long years since.
Yes in nights of drunkenness after long hours of debauchery I would stagger into my house, hear Abigail's frail criticisms in an annoyed and hurt voice and would grow irritated myself and strike her down with the back of my hand. These types of nights had a tendency of remerging nearly every night and with them I was constantly met with regret and remorse over my courtship. Although these emotions were mostly driven by the selfish desire to continue my decadence without being shamed or berated, and even any love I may have felt at all did not stop me from taking other women to my bed. Yet I do suspect that at farthest corners of my heart was the empathetic guilt of putting her through the emotional torture which my lifestyle and wanted her to be free of it.
Come the winter months of the fifth year is the date when the true level of my depravity came to light and I suffered the grandest of my consequences. It was a night veiled by a heavy wall of snow and I managed to stumble home after a similar excursion into my usual haunts, although I considerably more drunk than what was normal. I walked into the home, very late and quite in a daze; I had, in my alcohol induced confusion made a great deal of noise as I stumbled through the house, making myself known to a very angry Abigail, who immediately confronted me in a tired and rehashed argument that I had had dozens of times before over the past five years.
In the hours that had followed the argument, we had stormed about the house, eventually having brought it the head of the staircase where the argument had grown heated once again, and in a moment of frustration and rage she remarked to an insult that I regret to say I was far too drunk to remember. But I do recall what she said had made me blind with rage, and in that moment I had struck her quite fiercely across the right cheek, which had stunned her enough to where she had slipped back and tripped over her feet, slipping over the first step and, in a ragdoll fashion, she tumbled back downward down the staircase in a fashion almost impossible physically and landed limply and twisted at the bottom of the stairs.
The event began and ended quite hastily, and when it had ended, I had found that I had sobered up just as quickly and in a state of shock, stood gazing down at the bottom step at her unmoving body. I grew nervous when I called to her several times but did not receive any reply. When I had mustered the courage to go and confirm my suspicion, I had descended the steps and inspected the body to be filled with dread as soon at my realization that she had in fact met her demise; such was obvious at the sight of her mangled body.
Still quite drunk, I left the body there at the foot of the steps, now panic stricken and quite fearful of what would come about as well as what the proper course of action should be. This rush of thought and anxiety continued for the following hours, until I sobered up entirely, allowing for my regaining of self control and allowance for my mind to be free to think properly. When I threw away the panic and forced myself to contemplate, I decided that it would be the most practical to hide away from accidental evil deed and continue living as if Abigail Wallace had never entered my life. From this point, I proceeded to drag the body from the staircase to the cellar, where, with a hatchet and a hacksaw, I dismembered the corpse into nine pieces, stuffed the bloody parts into an emptied large trunk, dragged it into the woodlands behind the home and placed it into a small hole which I had opened a hole in the soil which I then resealed after laying the trunk within.
I had attempted in the following weeks to put up a ruse for any who might catch on that nothing sinister had happened, but it was quite difficult, due to my obvious fear of my deed being exposed. A month following, her family and other loved ones had become quite inquisitive, far too much to remain in comfort, and it was then I made the decision to completely uproot my life, pack my belongings and leave that town behind, completely without any information as to where I would relocate to. Although I had doubts originally, I was pleased to find that I had succeeded in attempts in vanishing from wandering eyes and was able to start a new life in the inner sides of London.
As the years died away, I found that the memory had weighed on me with increasing heaviness and was becoming less a simple memory but rather an obsession that had begun to hinder my every waking moment with pain and remorse and my nights haunted by the ever angry nightmares that came to me from the darkest recesses of my mind. Soon the acts of pleasure had no longer offered me the spoils of life and simply had become tools to deal with the growing intolerable pain that the knowledge of my actions had burdened forever upon my soul. I had grown quite weak and my emotional state had grown unstable, struggling with a physical dependence on the bottle and a decaying sense of reality. To add to this my body had deteriorated to such a state, growing extremely thin and even more so pale. My self-image was filled with intense feelings of loathing and my aye to life had deteriorated along with my physical state.
But it at the end of the second decade following the unintentional slaying, (on its anniversary) I became acquainted with another young woman who I met through our shared interests in grand parties, wine, sex and gatherings. Her name was Martha and it was this woman who had become the one that had acted as a shelter against my ever prevailing misery.
And as Abigail before her, I took Martha on as a lover as very quickly (less than a year's time) the courtship collimated into a marriage. I believe that my motivation, then, was not because I was in love with her but rather because she reminded me of Abigail. The reason why, I cannot say specifically, as her personality was entirely different and certainly her looks, although quite beautiful, did not mirror Abigail, but a sense that I had picked up, some kind of indescribable sense, made me think of her every time I looked at Martha's face. She was exceptionally thin, had an oddly cold nature and her eyes were a shade of green. In short, without going into lagging and sluggish details, trust my words when I state that her appearances did not mirror Abigail in the most basic and vague of details, yet I could not help but associate her very existence with that of her who met her end by my hand.
But the feelings of enchantment were not shared in the marriage, as she may have loved me but I never could return the feelings and instead played the part of the star struck lover in a union that offered no such true romance for me. As it was, I found myself falling into many of the same patterns that I had before of self inflicting pain. The catharsis was soon fading and I began to fall into the depression yet again.
As time went on, in the autumn months, Martha had fallen ill with Tuberculosis. This illness fell upon her without warning and seemingly without any reason or why as to how such an illness would befall her. The sickness seemed to come out from nowhere and it grew increasingly severe with each passing day, growing weaker and weaker and ever closer to death. I lost any hope I had for a recovery and it soon became an expectation of mine that she would perish at the mercy of the sickness.
A month's time had passed and, as if by the grace of God, she had recovered from the sickness just as sudden and unexplainable as how she had come down with the illness in the first place. I felt a shock at the thought of how one could come so close to death, itself entirely sudden, to just as hastily returning to optimal health, all without explanation or any possible reason based in logic why this odd occurrence could have happened.
But with her sudden recovery came a series of sudden changes that had been impossible to notice. The first one I noticed was her odd calmness. Not that she was a fearful or nervous person in general, but she had become in a state as if she was half dead. I didn't pay it much notice, nor look at it any distaste, but I found it strange, considering her previous rather vigor and emotional state now shifting to a calmed mood.
As she came back more into our old life, she had shown increasingly odd behavior; growing more reclusive and less aggressive. It was so unlike her and it made me question her current health many times. I decided against inquiring, believing it was some possible effect of the disease.
One afternoon in the year, I believe, 1857 or '58, I had an outing with Martha in Hyde Park, in which we came across a Daguerreotype photographer offering his business on the sidewalks on the South side of the park, proposing for a few shillings a photograph. This was a, at the time, a new and widely exciting thing, to have an actual photograph taken, especially to Martha who found the experience quite elating and begged for my partaking in the offering, which I had accepted.
The photograph was returned to us on a plate of glass, with a heartfelt apology and a complete refund on the part of the photographer, who delivered to us the photograph, which was the most obviously damaged, as part of the photograph on the right side by Martha had a large, undeveloped spot filled with running cracks. But I, unlike Martha, did not react with annoyance or frustration but rather with a sense of an eerie chill met when gazing at her face. Although it was not her face, but instead an almost mist like smudge that only contained the vague familiarity of one, companied with an immediate realization that the cracks and undeveloped lines in the film ran across Martha, over the parts of her body, creating a series of cutting marks across the same parts of Martha's body that I had dismembered Abigail's corpse.
As with time persistent, both the state of her emotional and physical state seemed to shift rapidly, making me greatly uncomfortable as it became evermore clear that she was growing ill in the mind. Becoming more and more reclusive at the cost of the complete abandonment of all of our previous haunts until our quiet and dull house was our only one. Not even I was allowed to leave the house, save for times in which we had become in need food or other goods. It seemed she had grown more and more obsessive, demanding my constant company, leaving all her other of her contacts and acquaintances behind and living a life entirely in our London flat, of which I, under the risk of her growing violent temper, had to live alongside her.
I could sleep the nights, was it such that a reoccurring nightmare would make itself known to me and leave me victim to constant sleepless nights. In the dream I found myself in the same position, in the center of a funeral parlor and for no obvious reason I was afraid and frozen in an absolute state of terror and dread. Appearing before me was the closed trunk which acted as Abigail's casket, that even in my utter terror I decided to open the lid, and there lay the horror of the dream; Sitting up in the false coffin, a horrendous vision of a woman, who immediately I knew to be Abigail. She was already in a severe state of decay and allotted with gore, her limbs and extremities poorly reattached to her body, hanging only by a few threads of flesh and muscle, stretched onto a gruesome mess and a great shock that would awake me, soaked in a pool of my own sweat. When I wake, as if an reflex, I would always gaze over to Martha who lay sleeping beside me and in the briefest of an instant, I would mistake Martha's own figure as the horrid figure that perverted my dreams.
During this point of her life, as if a sort of physical sign of her shifting person, her features had also begun to alter. No longer was this beautiful and uncultivated woman and instead she became frail, skeletal and gray But it was her face that had made the most painful impression, sinking in deep, sagging and darkening so severely, as if the skin had been stretched over the skull and forced into its place. I found myself in great horror at this, for it was as if a corpse freshly exhumed from a churchyard cemetery.
As she fell further and further into this personal decay, I became truly afraid of her. Not only at the utter grotesque nature of her appearance, but also I could not deny the obvious growing appearance of Martha's collapsing face slowly and more clearly mimicking Abigail's, and such parallels grew clearer and clearer as the days passed. Such it was that this would offer me the basis for a lurking fear that creped from the deep recesses of my mind, one that I myself found in minor embarrassment at the very thought of, but something that I was suspicious of none the less, that being the fear that it was Abigail was reaping retribution and revenge upon me for the fate that I had inflicted upon her.
Know that, even how far into paranoia I had fallen, I did not reach such a conclusion without any form of suspicion or self-doubt. I treated it as nothing but a fear induced delusion at first. But the terror that had corrupted my mind proved too pervasive to leave my mind at peace, and I decided that I would put my self-declared delusions of ghosts to rest and return to the location that reoccurred in my nightmares over and again to exhume the corpse of Abigail in the hopes that the sight of her bones would reassure my mind that the nightmares were nothing more than that and all supposed appearances of Martha's apparent possession were mere illusions of the fear corrupted mind.
And so, under the lie of visiting of a long unseen friend, I left Martha and London behind and set out for the town of Market Harborough. I took residence in a low cost Inn and waited until nightfall to set out for the woods to remove the body from its grave. So came the late hours of the deep night, shovel in hand, guided by lantern light and moonlight alike, I set out for the spot in the forest where I laid her to rest, being able to recall its location from memory alone.
I had found the location easily, but the process of digging away the soil was long and strenuous, giving me the temptation of abandoning my goal, until I felt the shovel be stopped by some great obstacle and I knew I reached my intended goal.
The trunk, when pulled from the pit, was clotted with mud and left in an intense state of disrepair from the years in burial, and the latch was rusted shut, to where it required a great deal of force to pry the lid open. But when I had finally achieved my desire, the revealing of inside yielded a great distress. Inside, the trunk was stained with the large amounts of dried blood but no other evidence of any remains was within. The bones which I expected to discover were entirely absent, as if robbed away by a thief in the night.
My trip back to London was plagued by an awful sense of reality as the possibility of fears being true had become undeniable to me. How could such a thing be so? For how realistic was it to believe that the nightmares and other peculiar events plaguing my life were in fact Abigail returned from the grave to exact her revenge. One that, in my heart, I knew I deserved.
The hour was late in the night when I returned to my home in London. The greatest of fears had pierced my heart and left me petrified to enter the house. When I had finally mustered the courage to do so, I knew that Martha was in fact asleep, and made an effort to make my way as quietly as possible to avoid waking her.
What was I to do at this time? Should I leave the house and never return? What should I do? Was there anything I could do?
To the top of the stairs I creped, still trying to remain ever silent and keep my presence unknown, with the light of the lantern to guide my way through the darkened house. At the head of the stairs, a shuffle behind me had stopped me in my steps. A brief moment of complete silence was followed by a recalling of my name with a hint of concern. The voice was not Martha's own.
I turned quickly around only to be horrified by the sight that stood before me. It was not Martha but only a shell and nothing more and in the light of the lantern I could see the true figure that made itself known and in utter horror I saw that it was not Martha but instead the maiden of my nightmares. The figure stood motionless, strongly decayed and horribly disfigured, the contorted features accented in the lantern's light. I screamed, knowing that she has returned to exact her retribution in the form of this wretched abomination, to drag back into the pits of hell where she had spawned!
An instinct of survival would shine through as it were, and I grabbed the creature by its pale shoulders and threw it down the staircase behind it. Limply it tumbled downward, falling apart piece by piece as it fell to each step, finally hitting the last step in a bloody pile of body parts, where it stayed still, suffering its second death.
In panic I rushed past the dismembered pieces of the creature and fled the home to find two night watchmen out on their late hour patrols. I alerted with a great urgency and led to my house down the road to show them the vile undead creature that lay in pieces at the bottom of the staircase. But in shock and horror, I saw that the bottom of the steps lay not the rotted carcass of Abigail but instead the body in pieces before my and the watchmen was indeed Martha, who's features were not at all as I had described. Her skin and body returned to their normal color and she was again, in death the beautiful woman who I met the first day and the not the corpse like figure that I remember seeing over the past months.
The watchmen branded their revolvers in demand that I surrender to them. It was in that same moment that I looked down at myself to be greeted by the horrible realization at the sight of my clothes greatly stained with amounts of red and in my left hand I held the hacksaw which was stained a deep red with Martha's blood. A great sense of dread flooded over me and the pain of regret settled in as I saw that I had not vanquished the vengeful creature but instead, like Abigail before her, doomed Martha to her own violent demise.


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