He was in his sanctuary again. He sat down trembling in that blessed oak paneled room, in which all his problems hereto had been solved in his favorite plush armchair. In the sanctity of his library amid his precious books no problem was too great to solve. "Dear God what have I done?" he muttered as the trembling grew steadily worse. What foul demon had he loosed in that upper room that would drive him to commit such an act. The learned old man laid his head in his hands almost at the point of tears and whispered again, "what have I done?"
He had hated her yes but he had always kept his feelings in check before. He had never been one to be irascible or rash, yet what had driven him to act as such. "The eyes," he cried aloud to himself, finally discovering the dreaded catalyst for murder. The malicious contemptuous gaze was the source of his torment; those eyes had fallen upon him so often in the past year, hating him, haunting him. "She was a dreadful old witch," he told himself shakily justifying the crime he had so joyously committed. He was not a sadistic person but oh how he loved killing that wretched creature; fifteen years of pent up aggression so wondrously released in the course of one afternoon.
When he had married her she was sweet and innocent, yet her innocence was lost to time, as was her happiness, and it was this perpetual unhappiness, which she took upon herself to impose on all those around her. All of her friends had left the brooding old woman to herself, which only forced more bitterness and resentment, all of which she poured into that pitiful old man; day after day, like gasoline on a fire, stoking it, tending it, making the suppressed flames grow ever larger. Daily as she hatefully glared at him and whispered her venom to him, the inner anger was compacted into a dark rancid lump of hate, which at final breaking point had been released for the purpose of vindicating himself against that wretched old woman.
But in the silence of his sanctuary that was not as safe as he believed, with only his thoughts to accompany him, new and dastardlier creatures crept into his study. Malicious spirits of ill intent, aroused by his wicked deed, summoned forth to break the soul of that pitiful old man. Quiet as death they stole to the armchair where he sat trembling and began their insidious whispers that pierced him to the core. "Murderer," they whispered, "what sick perverse monster could kill his own wife?" In the solitary darkness the voices of those hateful wraiths were indistinguishable from his own thoughts. But though he could not separate their voices the old man knew he was not alone that night.
"She deserved what she got," he muttered again to the fiends prancing about his study. Yet the wraiths did not heed his cries but continued to mock him from the shadows, whispering judgment in his ears amid fresh laughter. "Be gone from this place," he cried desperately into the darkness, but the creatures only laughed all the more. To mock his fear even further an earth-shattering thud sounded behind the man. Slowly, ever so slowly, he peaked over the corner of the armchair to find a heavy leather bound book lying open on the floor as if placed there purposefully for him to read. Slowly, ever so slowly he raised himself out of the chair, and lifted the book of that great Florentine's finest work, as the old man read a chorus from amid the darkness echoed.
" 'But turn your eyes to the valley; there we shall find
the river of boiling blood in which are steeped
all who struck down their fellow man.' Oh blind
Oh ignorant, self-seeking cupidity
Which spurs us so in short mortal life
And steeps us for all eternity!"
Horrorstruck the old man dropped the book to the floor with a resounding thud. What were these creatures that taunted him so? The handmaids of darkness come forth from the depths to take the vindictive role of that sick woman he had just killed, to torture him to the end.
He fled; he left his sanctuary in a mad haste as if expecting the creatures that now attacked his conscious would miraculously disappear if he left that room. Yet they followed him in the lonely black corridors, finding peace and security in the shadows. The wraiths work best in the gloom and silence of night, for it is the light of dawn, which reveals the truth and refutes the claims of those wretched creatures in whom deception is the chief talent.
As the footsteps of the archaic man echoed through the cavernous halls the creatures flitted around him dancing about the corridors, hissing an accusatory song at the man. He could bear it no longer, the voices were drowning him, "murderer, oh how we shall enjoy your presence in the pit," they whispered in his ear. He was desperate, aimlessly dashing through the house searching for relief, for peace.
"Dear God let it end," he cried to the heavens as he fell to his knees, grasping at the air in a vain attempt to catch hold of some transcendent hand of guidance willing to pull him up. Yet just before he was rescued the demons descended upon him with a new and horrid stream of attacks, which threw him to the ground, and out of reach.
"How dare you even attempt to talk to him, you wretched sinner," they cried, all whispers abandoned with all pretenses of subtly. "You do not deserve to live," they continued at a deafening pitch, "what master will have you, vilest of all sinners?"
Broken down to tears the old man found himself agreeing with the cruel voices floating through his mind. The man tore open his tear stained eyes and found himself on the floor in his bedroom, by what manner of translation he got there he would never discern, yet he could not have been in a better place for his present undertaking. He waded through the mist of hateful seething lying screams that deadened all feeling and shoved him along his course. He threw open a drawer and revealed a heavy loaded revolver. "The creatures spoke true," he heard his own voice in his mind, "I deserve not to inhabit this mortal shell." Still weeping bitter regret he leveled the barrel and a single shot rang through the house.
With a sickening thud the corpse of the deceived old man fell to rest next to his strangled wife. As the thud echoed through the corridors of the enormous house streaks of red could be seen across the horizon through the window at the foot of the dead, and it was with the coming dawn that the full tragedy of occurrence was clearly revealed.
In one final attempt to be heard before the sun chased the wraiths back to their hole, as one they proclaimed, "one more job full and complete, for another soul rests at our master's feet."