|Cause of Death
Author: mjlb PM
"Died of an Unknown Cause" - A man's morbid curiousity gets the best of him.Rated: Fiction M - English - Horror/Tragedy - Words: 2,387 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 3 - Published: 05-05-06 - id: 2168030
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Cause of Death
A desperate writer will undoubtedly and invariably go to any length to satisfy his urge to create a new piece of work when all of the normal methods fail. Usually I could just sit down to my desk and pick up a pen and scribble out a tale in a matter of hours. I don't know what exactly happened to me but suddenly my well of inspiration had run dry. I had written about everything I could possibly think of.
It had always come to easily to me. It's not hard to look at the world and realize that everything has a story to it. All it takes is a bit of imagination and a little artistic embellishment and an engrossing and magnificient story is born. That's the art of writing. Give the reader's imagination a good stretch without overdoing it. You have to let them wonder if they should actually believe the story or not, instead of simply letting them instantly decide whether or not to believe.
It was sometime in December when I began struggling to write. I would try and try night after night without any success. No success meant no satisfaction. I had no creative outlet and I could feel the tension building inside of me day after day. I would try each and every night to write something. Anything. The final result was always something unpolished and uninteresting and it quickly made it's way to my trash can. I tried writing while I was drunk. I tried writing after waking up from nightmares. I tried writing while listening to records. I tried everything I could fathom.
It wasn't until sometime in Februrary that I finally got that familiar feeling that a great idea for a story brings. I was sitting in my kitchen one sunny winter morning reading the sunday paper that was delivered to my door each week. I actually never got the paper until monday and I rarely even touched it until tuesday - but I digress. I had worked my way through to the obituary section. I'm not really sure what it was that drove me to read through the lonely paragraphs, but I did. I read about every single person in the area that had passed away over the past week, one after another. That particualy paper didn't list the deceased in alphabetical order, it listed them in the order that they died. I don't know whether or not that's normal of newspapers, but it struck me as rather morbid. Jack V. Creattany died before Margaret L. VanWuensen. What difference did that make?
I read over the obituaries again and noticed another trend. Many of them didn't describle a cause of death, but instead substitued "Died suddenly", or "Died of an unknown cause", and even a few "Died alone". How sad. So many people died of things unknown, I don't know about you but I'd damn well want to know what it is that finally killed me. I sat in the bright winter sunlight that morning wondering what it was that killed these people, and that must be what it was that finally triggered whatever part of my brain thought up stories to come back to life.
As morbid and unappealing as the idea first seemed to me, I gave in to my creative side and scribbled a quick page of text that contained statements from a masked man describing himself in great detail. He called himself Vikke, and he was a sick, sick man. Vikke would be the cause of death for all of those poor people who had died of something unknown. Vikke and all of those myseriously deceased would be the stars of my new story.
Day in and day out I scribbled a horrifying murder mystery using real life characters and Vikke. I slept very little, and when I did it was purely unintentional. I was so thrilled to be writing again I didn't want to rest until I was finished. This was by far my longest tale, it grew page after page, chapter after chapter until it was better than one hundred pages long. Each victim had his or her own chapter dedicated to him. I let my imagination run wild using what little information I knew of the deceased, whether it was from personal knowledge or just small bits that I picked up from the obituaries. Vikke systematically killed one of them each night, in the order that they had actually perished.
During the periods when writer's block had shoved it's way into my mind I usually sat staring at the text I had scribbled so far. I would read it over and over and it would become more beautiful each time. I would rock slowly back and forth in my chair trying to outsmart my own mind, trying to find the next word that would begin the next chain of thoughts. This time I would not be stopped.
I finished my first tale before the week was over and I set it aside for the time being. It was a delighfully well crafted tale, the plotline was flawless and engaging, and it ended with Vikke disappearing into the shadows one last time never to be found by the police who hunted him. I would sit back in my chair and admire the manuscript - my finest work yet. It was a common practice of mine to try to get each work published as I finished it, though I had never been successful. I wanted more than anything to publish this piece, but the subject matter would likely not sit well with the general public, so I instead elected to hide it in my desk drawer and settle for the satisfaction that comes with a finished piece of work.
I tried again for the remainder of the week to write a tale that I could allow to be released to the public and once again I had no success. On the monday that I received my paper I once again flipped through it until I found myself looking at a fresh set of paragraphs describing Vikke's newest victims. Almost unwillingly I went back to work, writing out the final moments of all of the "Died suddenly"'s and the other poor souls who died to a question mark.
Before I knew it I was finished with another story full of real life characters - and of course, Vikke. His character was really coming to life in my imagination. I could close my eyes and see his face, covered by a thin black mask that showed only one of his eyes and nothing more. He wore a red beret over the mask and a cloak that was jet black on the outside and crimson red on the inside. In all of my stores I likened the satin interior of his cloak to that of a well dressed coffin. Vikke wore large black boots and carried a knife on the inner side of his left boot. That was his weapon of choice. The blade was fashoned in the shape of a question mark, which I thought was an ironic but fitting detail.
I made it a weekly ritual to write these little stories, and they satisfied me to no end. Each time I completed one I felt as wonderful as I had the night I finished my first story.
I eventually became so practiced at writing these little stories that I could finish one inside of four days. That unfortunately left three days of restlessness during the week during which I was hard pressed to entertain my imagination. It was the fifty-first story that took me only one day and one night to finish. I had nothing left to write about for the remainder of the week and instead I amused myself by trying to fashion a costume that was like Vikke's. It was surprisingly easy, I had a cloak that was like his already. I made the mask out of a black piece of fabric I bought in town, and I found the boots easily enough that same day in town. I dressed in the black pants and white shirt that I wore for special occasions and I slipped the mask on over my face. I didn't have a red beret, but I had a red winter cap that I substituted for one. I wore white gloves - a touch that I never did give Vikke's character.
I stood in front of a full length mirror and gazed upon my creation. Vikke stood before me, surrounded by completed and forgotten manuscripts that had helped to bring him to life. Vikke stared back at me, looking at me with only one eye with a bright flash of red showing from inside of his cloak every now and again. I was proud to have created such a unique and intimidating character. In my stories the people in the town all talked about him, everybody feared him. They called him the Death Angel.
I even forged a simple question marked piece of metal over my stove and sharpened the edges of it to form a quite frightening blade. I wrote the entire next story the next week while wearing that costume. I do truly believe it was my best one yet. I could act out the character Vikke in my mind as I wrote. I could see him doing things, and If I had trouble picturing a certain movement of his all I had to do was stand in front of the mirror and recreate it. It was almost too easy.
It was the friday of that week that I had my next great idea. I had realized that I had no idea how a person would truly react to Vikke. I had only been letting my imagination create their reactions to the man in the black one eyed mask. When you think about it, your imagination is a very limiting factor if you're a writer. It doesn't work in the realm of facts, and without great amounts of self control, one could write a horribly unbelievable tale while trying to be realistic.
The situation for me, however, was easily remedied. I donned Vikke's costume once again, blade and all, and walked out into the cool winter night's air. I stood on my doorstep, peering down the street that lay in front of me lit only by the glowing lanterns that are lit so regularly each evening. Nobody was out, and that was very much to my liking. I walked to my neighbors house and tried his door. My concience, my self control, my anxiety were all gone. I was Vikke. I was a cold blooded killer who left no clues. I was uncatchable that night.
To my dismay the door was locked. I can't say that I was overly surprised and I had thought about what I might do in such a situation. I'd simply turn and leave, maybe I'd try another house. Maybe I'd just go home, I hadn't decided and it didn't matter anyhow. Tonight wasn't about what I would do.
I kicked the door below the handle with all of my might and it swung open hard enough to hit it's stop and swing closed again.
Vikke stood before the crippled door smiling behind his black mask. He toyed with his hand made blade that sat quite visibly on his belt, right where he always carried it. He pushed the door open again and stepped into the house to find his next victim. He didn't know why he did it, really. He didn't know why he went down that list of names every week and hunted each person on it. He just did.
He could smell the scent of burned candles in the house. There was no light but that didn't matter, his eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness. He found the stairs to the second floor and climbed them two at a time. He walked briskly to the end of the hall, he wasn't worried about being silent. It didn't matter if they heard him. It didn't matter if they saw him, nobody can identify you if they only see one of your eyes. His black cape flowed behind him mixing with brilliant flashes of red. He opened the door at the end of the hall and stepped into the master bedroom before slamming the door again behind him.
The noise caused a figure
to sit up instantly in the bed, and before the person could move
Vikke grabbed his blade and began to swing it wildly in front of him.
He lept toward the bed just as the figure rolled out onto the door
and bolted for the door. Vikke let out a frusterated grunt as he
turned to follow still swinging the blade. He knocked a vase from
the nightstand and a picture from the wall. He screamed with rage
and lept once again toward the fleeing figure. The person opened the
bedroom door and ran to the stairs, but he was till groggy from sleep
and his eyes unadjusted to the dark. He missed the first step and
lost his balance before tumbling down the remaining dozen hardwood
I stood motionless at the top of the staircase and stared down at the motionless figure at the bottom. Another "Died suddenly" for the paper. Another character in the next tale of the Death Angel. Nobody would ever be the wiser. No marks on the body, no blood, and no description. I walked downstairs and did my best to hide the damage to latch on the front door. I pushed the splintered wood back into the pace as best I could and used bits of melted candlewax to indiscretely hold it in place. I returned the blade back to my belt and stepped back into the night closing the door behind myself.
Once again, Vikke disappeared in the darkness, and I returned home to add the next chapter to my story.