Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Skull

A while ago I wrote this little dandy of a story and posted it on the Happy Chair Clan's announcements. Now, any of you who knows about the Clan, and by any I mean my only two readers: IDontKnow and possibly Mother, you know that the announcements section is probably the zenith of my literary skills, plus it's a place for me to argue with Ou812. I drop all pretenses and unleash the full force of my sesquipedalian loquaciousness when addressing the good people of the Happy Chair Clan. But most of the times something gets lost in translation and I don't sound so much intellectual and more power mad. Whatever. So I posted this short short story a while ago to test the waters. Thankfully it was received well and no one called me a pretentious hack, yet.

The Skull
It is well known among the Manor's staff that Master Watersworth was very eccentric later in life. The old man was not one for proper social gatherings or conventional old people hobbies. Instead, he kept himself busy in his later years with a series of increasingly strange projects, the purpose for any of which was never revealed to us. Naturally, we simply ceased to ask whenever there was a fire in the library or dirty laundry floating in the fountain. We had accepted his habits as the product of his advanced age. He was a strange old man but his antics rarely did anyone harm. All except one.
It was a typical day when he went decidedly "off his rocker" despite the fact that he quite disliked rocking chairs. As one of the gardeners tending to the many shrubberies around the Manor I was not host to Master Watersworth's infamous moods in the morning. Yet, everyday after breakfast, I would see him wandering around the garden near the South Wing muttering to himself. I paid it no mind, per usual, and focused myself with hedges. But it became increasingly difficult to focus on my work when I noticed Master Watersworth yelling quite frantically.
I looked up from the bushes to see why he insisted on making a spectacle of himself, instead I saw him running at me at full speed. It was an incredible sight, he was so old one could not think him possible of running so fast; and yet, he jumped clear over the hedge and landed on my person.
"What is the meaning of this!?" I inquired.
"Paper! Paper!" He gasped as he shook me with his bony hands.
"I don't make a habit of carrying paper when working, Sir." I tried to remain polite despite his earnest efforts to shake me senseless.
"Paper! I need paper!" His wispy beard was in my face and I began to panic. I pushed him off of me to escape, not hard enough to injure the old man but simply to remove his beard from my personal bubble. He looked at me with those crazed bespectacled eyes, I thought he was going to attack me again. Instead he ran back to the manor, still screaming the whole way.
I was able to complete my work with the hedges and after I was convinced they were flat and level I headed back to the manor to see what had become of the old man. Everyone was congregated around the parlor, muttering lowly. I had managed to push my way through to the front of the gathering crowd to see the craven sight for my own eyes.
Master Watersworth had died while smashing all the furniture in the parlor to pieces. Several maids who had been accosted by the man in his last moments cowered silently in the corner of the room. It was all quite horrible to see him sprawled across the carpet, still clutching a large leather bound volume in his claw-like fingers.
Mr. Brandon, his most trusted butler, walked over to the corpse slowly.
"Send the women away, they mustn't see this." He said, never taking his eyes off from the old man. After making sure he was well and truly dead Mr. Brandon snatched the book away from his ancient fingers. Suffice to say, it was a rather strange way to start the day.
For nearly a month after I had thought nothing of Master Watersworth's mysterious and sudden death. Indeed, I had fancied that the old man's senility had infected his vital organs in a manner similar to rabies. I thought this notion logical and forgot the whole rest of the ordeal. Yet, many others in the Manor felt quite differently about his death and thus a melancholy mood hung over the grounds thereafter.
It was not until the Master's legal heir to his estate, Herbert Watersworth, had arrived for the reading of the old man's will did the oppressive mood leave the Manor and memories of his fatal outburst came back to my attention. Herbert Watersworth was the Master's nephew born to his brother, Sir James Watersworth and through a strange combination of deaths in the family and vauge wording on several legal documents did Herbert Watersworth become the sole heir to all of the old man's worldy possessions.
I still remember the day the young Watersworth had come to the manor for I was ridding the lawn on the East side of gophers by throwing sticks of dynamite down their holes. He came in a carriage down the cobblestone path from the North Gate. From where I was standing at the time I could clearly see the disgruntled expression he wore on his face. No doubt, spending one's time at the estate, as dusty and bat-be-ridden as it was, was no way to spend one's weekend.
As I was told, he spent the rest of the morning in the very parlor Master Watersworth had died in, going over the preceding with a group of lawyers. Allegedly, there was one, very strange, condition that had to be met in order for Herbert to inherent the estate. I learned later that day what the condition was as my presence was required in the dining room where it would be met. The young Watersworth was there as well as the lawyers and a strange man wearing the skull of a cow as a mask and a long flowing robe.
Master Watersworth's remains were laid out on the table, with no tablecloth I noticed. It was an altogether gruesome sight.
"Why do I have to be here?" I asked, or maybe whined because I was silenced right away by one of the lawyers.
"Yes, what is the meaning of this? None of you have told me why you have my uncle's bones on the table, with no tablecloth nonetheless!" The young Watersworth said.
"It was in his will, he said that until this ritual is completed, with the heir of the estate as a witness, then no one will get anything." said one of the lawyers.
"Ritual? What ritual?" said the young Watersworth.
As he said that, the man with the cow skull raised his arms, chanted something in an unpleasant guttural language and started dancing around the room.
"This man is an expert." One of the lawyers assured us. "He comes from darkest Africa, from the very fringe of the Empire where Master Watersworth would go on safari earlier in life."
"Yes, I remember Uncle talking about how he would shoot ten to twenty giant lizards a day." the Young Watersworth said.
The strange be-robed man continued to dance around the room, he jumped onto the table and began convulsing all the while talking in that awful sounding language. Suddenly, Master Watersworth's remains began moving in a similar manner.
"My God! The old man is haunted!" yelled one of the lawyers.
With that, the old man's skull ripped from his ancient face and twisted from his body with a sickening pop. The skull then started to fly around the room.
"Great Scott!" I said. Again, I wasn't sure what my purpose there was.
"Silence!" The skull said as it floated just above the chandelier. "I have come back from beyond the grave to give a dire warning!"
"Uncle!? Is that you?" The young Watersworth said.
"It is I, you must all leave this place and never return!"
"But why?" said one of the lawyers.
"Silence!" said the skull and suddenly a huge gout of flame came from the skull's empty mouth and conflagarated the lawyer who was instantly burnt to ashes.
"Good heavens!" said another lawyer.
"Silence!" Again, more fire and another lawyer was killed. I noticed the room was also burning but I politely refused to speak about it because I did not want to face the skull's wraith.
"You must all leave this place and never return! You will face my eternal undead wraith if you do not obey!" said the skull.
"But what about your estate?" Said the young Watersworth.
"I no longer need Watersworth Manor, I have broken my mortal coil and live on in the form you see me in now." To prove his position the skull summoned a swarm of angry bees from it's hollow eye sockets which began to vigorously sting the man with the cow skull who was inconspicuously standing in the corner of the room. The bees swarmed and his entire body was covered in the buzzing beasts. In a moment, the buzzing had become intolerably loud and even managed to drown out the sound of the man's screaming as the bees bit and tore into him. Suddenly, the bees left his person and only a blanched white skeleton remained.
"Now leave!" said the skull as we tried to escape the now very much on fire dining room. I wasted no time at all jumping out the window as did the young Watersworth. The lawyers however, still faced the skull's wraith as streams of burning acid ejected from it's eye sockets and onto the faces of the lawyers.
Me and Herbert Watersworth stood in the garden for some time, watching the Manor burn to the ground. Every so often a maid would come running out, their petty coats on fire.
"Now what?" I asked him. Herbert still watched the Manor, deep in thought.
"I suppose." He finally answered."I shall build a new Manor, one without crazy uncles. I still inherited the family's large tracks of land in China, maybe I shall open a trade route there. Why, it could revolutionize the opium industry! I could live in comfort for the rest of my life."
As he said this, the roof of the Manor exploded violently as a single burning point shot straight into the sky like a steam engine. It let out a terrible cry as it disappeared into the clouds.
"What was that?" I asked.
"It was probably Uncle, most likely he'll be able to live out his dream now." said Herbert.
"What dream is that?" I asked.
"He always wanted to become a flying death-skull so he could go into space and fight the Martians. Silly me, I forgot that was his intentions all along."


Anonymous said...

well thats just a dandy little story you got there mate.

Shelley said...


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