Laura Brearley 2019
Beneath The Grave
I should feel regret, drowning in my numerous immoralities. Regret of the dried blood encasing my muddy hands, a knife dripping with crimson gripped tightly within my trembling yet relentless grasp, an iron shovel clutched in my other hand. My deplorable evils should be overwhelming me into insanity, my mental state spiralling into madness. Emotions of remorse and mourning are absent from my mind, even though the length of my sins ought to be tormenting me. I should be suffering for my iniquity. Yet I feel nothing. Only the pouring rain colliding onto my back, plummeting down from the grey clouds above, wet fingers caressing my spine. The sound of rain echoes hollowly in my ears, simply a repeated memory of the raindrops plunging into the ground. The tranquil noises drown out the demented voices in my head, and I stand in silent appreciation, although it gradually becomes an eerie silence.
I am surrounded by the ominous shadows of darkness. An abrupt strike of flickering lightning manipulates the surrounding shadows, making it seem like monstrous things lie within the sanctuary of darkness, watching me. Suddenly, another flash of lightning briefly gifts me with temporary sight, illuminating my surroundings. It is followed by the low rumble of thunder that vibrates through me, seeming to rattle my bones. The fleeting, luminous glow reveals the shocking sight before me, and dread floods through my pulsing veins. The abrupt emotion catches me off guard. Then I realise why it emerged from my detached and impassive mind, seeping through the weak crevices in my emotional shield, and it scares me.
The world returns to darkness as the lightning passes, yet the full moon shining through the canopy of branches above is enough to allow me to see. My eyes slowly drift to the abysmal, obscure hole in the ground in front of me, my nerves on end, knowing something abnormal lies within.
I dug that hole, I remember abruptly, horrified by how my deteriorating memories of the past few hours are gradually converging. Like pieces of a puzzle, each connection reveals a story. A sudden gust of wind weaves rapidly through the trees, a barely audible whisper brushing gently onto the back of my neck, my hair standing on end. The trees suddenly appear menacing, their dead spindling branches outstretched, attempting to snatch me. I shiver even though I am not cold.
Despite the wrong sensation squirming inside me, I step forward, ignoring the unnerving, paranormal sounds emanating from the shadows. I peer precariously over the edge of the chasm in the soil. The rim of the hole has particles of dirt cascading down into the sinister abyss, tapering the perimeter of the daunting unknown.
My eyes then drop to the pale figure lying on the earth. I see her. Her appearance so familiar that it is almost painful.
The silky, white fabric is embroidered with elaborate designs, sequins woven into the extravagant material. The dark, red stain of blood contrasted dramatically against the ivory dress. It almost seemed sinful for such a beautiful and elegant gown to be impaired and tainted by that cruel, crimson stain. The exquisite fabric is cut in the chest, the result of a sharp blade. I avert my gaze to the bloodied knife clenched in my left hand, and I realise what I have done. I expect grief and horror to course through me. Instead, I smile, laughing unexpectedly, staring down at the crippled body. Euphoria spreads through me like the blood that bleeds through the ivory fabric.
She is decaying, the pungent stench is repulsive. Her once beautiful, pale skin a sickly grey, nauseating maggots squirming in the red cavity in her chest. The wound is deep, and I could see her heart, pulsing slowly. But how?
Ebony. My beautiful bride.
True to her name, her obsidian black hair is as dark as night, surrounding her pale, innocent face, her complexion a stark contrast with her onyx locks. You can almost mistake her for sleeping serenely, until you notice her open, unsettling eyes. Her once piercing green irises are now filmy and faded, grey and unseeing. One would think she is dead, yet her chest still rises and falls unevenly. But she cannot possibly be alive.
I should feel mournful, but only anger surges through my body. Why is she alive?
I turn my head abruptly and raise the knife in my hand, the moon glinting off its sharp surface. I strike my arm down with one efficient movement and release the blade. It flies towards her, and digs into her neck, slicing through flesh and bone. Her eyes widen, and she gurgles a noise, attempting to speak despite her severed windpipe.
I remain undisturbed, and mechanically walk over to the pile of dirt beside the grave. I raise my shovel and begin to push the dirt into the hole on top of her, hoping to bury my sins with her. She screams, blood gurgling in her cry, echoing through the night.
I continue to cover her living body with dirt, and she remains motionless, unable to save herself. She croaks quietly, and for once I am able to distinguish what she is saying.
“Cain,” she gurgles my name quietly in a desperate plea, betrayal in her blank eyes.
I hesitate, standing transfixed, a single fragment of humanity returning to me. Tears begin to gather in my eyes, cascading down my cheeks. Yet I do not mourn, neither do I regret my sin.
I discard my doubtful emotions and continue to pile the soil onto my bride until I can see her no more, and I grin in satisfaction. I transfer the last of the dirt into the grave and pat it down with the surface of my shovel.
I inspect the segment of earth carefully and nod with approval when I realise that the dirt looks undisturbed, as if it were never dug up. I turn around, releasing the shovel from my grip, and it hits the ground with a thud. I transition into a brisk walk without hesitation. I feel emotions no more.
I jump in fear when I hear a muffled, ear-splitting scream coming from beneath the soil. I cannot distinguish whether it is a fantasy in my head or reality. Either way, I continue to walk away, ignoring my lover’s pleading cries and the dread that gradually builds up inside me.
Beneath the grave
Once lay a corpse
Lying still in darkness
On the bed of loss
It shall simply stay a carcass
Below the soil it decays
Memories of a bouquet
On their wedding day
Though it did not come to pass
Due to the murder of the bride
By bloodied hand of groom
Who betrayed and lied
Who slayed her heart by knife
Vengeance will occur soon
But to whom one shall assume
Is the murderous groom
Yet this confined soul
Aches to be free
Its unachievable goal
To leave her lifeless body
To find the traitor and drown him in their blood
So he can repay his morbid sins
I feel a presence at the back of my mind, constantly lingering in my conscious. A supernatural spirit living inside me. This persistent force is gradually driving me into madness. Memories of stabbing my bride continuously emerge without me requesting their presence. Certain recollections on replay, each repeat forcing me to identify appropriate emotions, and I begin to feel them.
Dread. Sorrow. Regret.
They overtake my whole mind, always finding another way to torment me. Without my control, a force suddenly pulls me towards an unknown place, and my feet begin to transport me to a foreign destination. I wind through the trees, feeling like a magnet as I get drawn towards my other half.
The trees that once possessed a variety of green pigmented leaves are now gone, replaced by dead trees with bare branches. My surroundings start to become strangely familiar, and I cannot quite recall why. Then it hits me and I freeze, paralysed in fear, a cold sensation trickling down my spine.
I stare down at the earth in front of me and I inhale sharply, stepping back in terror, yet I do not move. A shovel lies innocently on the ground, a single tool surrounded by nothing but dirt. I inhale and exhale heavily, panic surging through me. I try to step back again, only to fail once more. I struggle frantically with the invisible force, but I remain completely still.
“Dig,” I hear a feminine voice command quietly, sending chills down my spine, the source not visible. No. My eyes widen in horror, and I begin to bend over involuntarily, my hand grabbing for the handle of the shovel. I pick it up, even though I try not to, and I drive it deep into the ground.
I stop. All is quiet, the world completely still.
Then I lift the shovel without warning and a pile of dirt with it. I dig, and I dig, no amount of resistance can make me stop. After minutes of agony, I am deep in the ground, only the top of my head visible. I push the shovel into the earth again and it sliced into something other than the soil. I remove the shovel from the dirt, and I hear a moist squelch sound, making me quiver in disgust. I stare at the tip of the shovel and gag. It is covered in red liquid, a brown slimy object stuck on the tip of the spade.
Suddenly red liquid begins to seep from the hole in the ground, spreading rapidly, flowing around my ankles and gradually rising to my knees. I scream hysterically, my throat hardly releasing the bloodcurdling sound. I am completely confused and afraid of what is happening, feeling helpless as I stand still, unable to move. The crimson blood rises to my waist, and I reach my hands out to the edges of the hole to try get out, but I cannot move. Instead, my knees bend and the red liquid reaches my neck, gradually covering my chin. I cannot get out of this, for my limbs seem to be fused, stuck in place.
I take a deep breath before my head is completely immersed by blood. I taste its metallic flavour, the crimson fluid going into my eyes. The pressure gradually builds up inside me until I am forced to take a breath, and the blood flows into my lungs, suffocating me.
I am drowning. Drowning in my lover’s blood. Drowning in my own.
My vision gradually tapers at the edges, darkness spreading like a decay. I slowly slip into oblivion, the unknown greeting me with open arms.
I feel like I am rising, my feet lifting off the ground as I ascend through the blood. Suddenly my head breaks the surface and I inhale a much needed breath. The red liquid overflows the grave and the current lifts me onto the ground and I tumble limply, coughing up blood as I roll. My clothes are drenched in blood, and I turn around towards the grave. It is completely uncontaminated, no blood visible as if it were never there.
Confused, I approach the hole and look into its profound depths. In the centre of the pure soil lies Ebony, her flesh decomposed, her bones visible. I look away in disgust, but I force myself to look back. But all I see is a hole with nothing but dirt. Where did she go?
Suddenly the hairs on my back stand on end, sensing something unearthly behind me. I pause, feeling the weight of someone’s watching eyes on my back. A familiar yet alien hand touches my shoulder, and I tense at the solid contact, yet I could mistake it as a gentle breeze. My blood runs cold, and I slowly turn around, scared for what may see.
Something abruptly pushes into me and I fly forward head first towards the ground. I have no time to scream as my head collides with the ground and the sound of my neck snapping vibrates throughout my body. I feel a sharp, excruciating agony, then nothing. I fade into oblivion, darkness spreading through me, my soul wandering into my bride's welcoming arms.
Nothingness engulfs me and I think no more. The last thing I hear is a sweet whisper, sending pleasurable chills through me. All there is around me is infinite darkness.
“I forgive you,” I hear her whisper, her voice echoing in the darkness, “We have eternity now.”
My love, my life
Is as endless as the sea
The debt of blood is repaid
And my lover shall join me
Beneath the grave
Beneath the soil
Hand in hand we shall lie
For eternity upon our bed of mixed bloods
And guilt shall not weary us
As our demise, and the darkness of our grave binds us
As do our bleeding hearts, stabbed by our lovers
Together we shall stay
Beneath the grave