All the Devil's Greed

“By trying to convince himself I was a devil by nature, my father made me a devil by nurture.”

Mary-Ann Lansfield’s outbursts cause strange happenings in their house, prayers and church visits seem to stir unbearable pain inside her, and her hunger is so insatiable she’s forced to raid the pantry every night just to keep it at bay. It’s no wonder, really, that everyone believes she’s possessed by the Devil.

The more she’s hurt and berated by those around her, the wickeder Mary-Ann feels, and the more she longs for the freedom she’s been denied all her life- the freedom to live however, love whoever, and eat whatever she chooses. Even after everything she’s been told about the evil in the world, what she really wants is to become every inch the monster she’s feared to be.

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Author's note

Hello! I'd just like to stress that this book contains a lot of blood, guts, violence, abuse, and religious themes. My protagonist is extremely morally skewed and her opinions are most definitely not my own. I never killed anyone, honest! Never!
AA

20. Rot

HE ANGEL STANDS in the darkest corner of the garden, behind the stables, near where the black shadows used to roam. She’s brand new and unsullied, smooth and white from the toes of her bare feet right up to the curls of hair on her head. Her feathered wings are spread behind her and the slim fingers of one hand are stretched skyward. Her face is perfect and childlike, with pouted lips, puffed cheeks and huge eyes. She looks forlornly down at the words carved by her feet.

 

MARY-ANN HELEN ROSE LANSFIELD

31 OCT 1799 – 22 OCT 1817

DAUGHTER TO HENRY AND ALICE

SISTER TO DUNCAN

MAY GOD REST HER SOUL

 

The words are all in silver. Best not touch them. Especially the final line.

The details on this little memorial statue are exquisite. Only the best for poor bereaved Henry, of course. I’m confident it was Mother who actually commissioned the statue. Purple flowers thickly carpet the ground at my feet, climbing up the new trellises- violets and heather and lavender and bluebells and foxgloves- and even though it’s only been a month since I died, I’m shocked my father hasn’t pulled them up yet in anger.

Silly fanciful women and their silly fanciful wants and lusts and dreams. I want, for instance, to wait until their carriage returns from church and show myself to them, to watch their faces twist in anguish and horrified confusion and force my angelic sister to watch as I paint this ugly house red with them. They made me into this, but since I adore the monster I have become, I’m not really entitled to feel any kind of resentment towards them. I want to kill them, but cannot falsify it as some sort of revenge. Unless, of course, I wish to avenge poor Catty. I often wonder how her father is doing, but I cannot pretend the thoughts are anything more than idle.

I am evil. And I have a duty to prove it- the last and only duty I am tied to. I now need not marry, nor eat, nor work, nor earn, nor suffer, nor die. Whenever I think of the infinite dark years stretching out before me, drenched in all of freedom’s delicious flavours, I shiver with joy. But I am not free yet. For as long as he continues to live, so too do our memories.

By dispatching him, I will be proving him right. But I do not care. This was never about proving anyone wrong. This was about defiance.

And now, it is about want.

I nervously check over my shoulder before my eyes fall back on the angel’s. I feel glued to her, drawn. As I force my tongue into one of the gaps in my smile, I close my eyes and imagine I have wings too- great, skeletal ones, in black and scarlet- and that I can fly away. We match, she and I, in some twisted way. But even that- the hilarity of commissioning an angel to remember a demon, a girl reaching for the sky for a girl who dug herself down till the hellfire ate her- isn’t what draws me so. It is the mere fact that anything was commissioned at all.

Why would my father want to remember me? He doubtless avoids this stretch of garden like the Plague, but his eyes must fall upon her from time to time, forcing him to think of me. I wonder what about me he remembers most.

The final line of that obituary sounds like one of his sarcastic remarks. May God rest her soul. A challenge, perhaps, to me or to God. Try to survive Judgement, you disgusting creature of hellfire, and good luck, Lord, in keeping my daughter down. I chuckle. Then, my dead heart reaches up to pummel my throat as I faintly hear wheels crunching on the driveway. I pick up my skirts, turn, and run from the house, past the stump and the wood-chopping axe. I shoot one last look at the girl of fresh white marble in her pool of purple before I vault over the wall and start running for the forest. I’m hungry. I’ll kill the first person I see once I’ve left town.

 

 

I wonder whether I will ever get used to the fact that everything rots but me.

I know for sure that I am mad now. Or, at the very least, I am what the public would perceive to be a madwoman. Perhaps I am just such a good actor I am fooling myself. Regardless, I love myself now. Love the way I love to kill and love to eat. My greed has grown and grown and grown. Sometimes I kill multiple times a day, even though I know I do not need to. Now, I suppose, I’m so used to the habit it does seem as though I need the blood. That I am slowly becoming addicted. And even now, it seems romantic- this lust taking over me. Perhaps, in time, I will become a slave. A slave to the colour red. Perhaps I already am, and am merely too blind or too stupid to see it. Perhaps I don’t want to see it. Perhaps in time, I will cease to see this as a game, cease to romanticise it. Perhaps, as my doom starts to tighten its grip, I’ll start to regret it all, and long for my old life back.

The last time I was here, two years ago, everything was clean and new. But it has died, as everything does.

The flowers that once blanketed the ground have climbed up and up, creating a stranglehold on the angel’s stone slab that makes the writing illegible. They have congealed from purple and soft to black brittle spikes and slashes, like thorns, dead and crusted against the white marble. The angel herself is speckled with green furry moss and bird shit, and the delicately carved details in her facial features and dress folds are filled with brown. One of her wings has broken off, and I can’t see it on the ground or even in the bushes, so it must have been stolen. Vandals, doubtless. Commoners, perhaps, who wanted to taunt my poor mad father.

It has been two years since I last saw my parents. I am fast leaving behind my nineteenth birthday, although, of course, I still look as I did when I was seventeen, and always will. Forever is within reach, and I know exactly how I want to spend it- the same way I have spent these past two years. Killing. Eating. Laughing. Deceiving. Hurting. Luxuriating in my impossible power. A monster is my future, and she is calling to me, but she and I are not one yet. Because I am still a girl standing before her parents’ house.

I look up at the house. Half an hour ago, a light turned briefly on, accompanied by the faintest sound of crying. My mother, no doubt. Night terrors seem probable- it can’t be later than five in the evening, but she did always sleep at odd times of the day. I wonder if she is alone. If she will be, when I ascend those stairs. Or if he will be there too. I lift the axe in my arms, feeling its weight. It was hard to remove from its stump, but I am strong. I drop it back to my side and turn to walk for the front door.

I go to push it open, and find it unlocked. Henry Lansfield has always been an idiot. He always left the door unlocked, perhaps selfishly convinced nobody would have the audacity to invade his perfect life.

Or perhaps faithless. Perhaps he wants to die. Perhaps he is still waiting for his daughter to come home.

 

 

My mother’s scream pierces the silence. In my mind’s eye, I am still outside, staring at that statue. But suddenly I am in front of her, at the window where she sat reading, and the axe is stuck fast horizontally, unable to be dislodged, equally unable to be released. I move my hands up the handle and sigh, even though I need no air. My ears prickle. I hear the sound of precious blood going to waste.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

She never recognised me before I killed her. No words passed between us. No fear passed her lips, and no resentment mine. I have no words for her. There is nothing now but silence, charged and fizzing in my ears.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The front door slams.

“Alice!” A man’s frantic voice shouts.

And then, footsteps start up the stairs.

I turn to the doorway as my mother’s name reverberates through the room, again and again. With one vicious yank that spills the unspeakable all over the floorboards, I dislodge the axe and let it fall to my side. Then, as my father’s shadow darkens the doorway, I throw it hard at the ground, where it sticks.

I stare at him.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

He doesn’t move for a second or two or three.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

He walks forwards slowly, seeming to see my mother in the window before he sees me. When his face comes into the light, it is nearly unrecognisable- his hair has gone grey, his eyes sunken, his skin parched and pale. His eyes find mine, and I realise I’m out of words. Out. Silent before my tormentor, and he silent before his. I wonder whether he is afraid, shocked, or angry. I am back. The monster he thought he had vanquished. I am back. I am back, like the Plague.

On the way back home, I thought of a thousand clever, wicked speeches. But they all seem ridiculous now.

“Hi.” I say dumbly. Slowly, but inevitably, a grin works its way onto my face. “Father. I’m back.”

He says nothing. Now that I think about it, he’s probably frozen in fear.

“Did you miss me?” I say.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

He says nothing. But I know he missed me. I see it in his eyes.

 

THE END

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