The Fall of the House of Usher

As told by the Lady Madeline

I was so very weak. My hands shook. My vision blurred. I had never felt as weak as I did then. The family physician had disclosed of my illness long before. It was an illness that had eaten away at me slowly, gradually. I knew I would make it only a short while longer. Even my brother, Roderick Usher, who was the last of my family, gave no words of assurance. No enthusiasm.

The illness brought me no pain, and for this I was angry. The only discomfort I felt was the knowledge that I was leaving my dear brother alone in the world. It was killing him to watch from afar as I slowly died. Some pain to bear might have taken my mind off of Roderick's.

Roderick had not recently been the same. He acted very peculiar. He seemed to be a different person. He would not speak to me the same as he once did. I fretted he may be going crazy. It was my fault alone.

On the last day of my mobility, I believe an old friend of Roderick's had been summoned. But as I passed them both by, I dared not look to them for fear of what could be seen in their expressions. I had not liked to see the sadness and fear brought to one's eyes by my condition. I knew how pale I was, how weak, how thin, but I could not bear to be reminded through the eyes of others.

I remained in my room for the remainder of that day, and by the next I could no longer walk. I would lie in bed all day, sleeping. Then I would awake only to fall back into my slumber. Each time I slept, a constant fear that I would never again awaken was ever present. Eventually, after suffering fearfully through days of on and off sleeping, I fell into an even deeper sleep than ever before. But with this, I felt no fear. I felt nothing. There was no light, yet any darkness. No sounds, yet no quiet either. No life, but no death. Just nothing.

It was so peaceful. And I knew that I would be all right. Somehow, I would pull through for my dear brother Roderick.

I could remember nothing after this sudden break-through, until suddenly I was awake. Awake.

But no, I could not be awake, for when I opened my eyes no light was to be seen. Only darkness. It was pitch black. I squirmed a little and I could tell I had not moved for a long while by the stiffness of my body. I must have slept for days. I began to breath more deeply as fear crept through me. Where was I?

I could move my body, but only to an extent. It was as if I was encaged in some tiny wooden room. I realized I was upright.

My trembling hands reached in front of me to another wooden wall. Or door? There was no handle, but I did feel something else. There was a papery feel to it. It took me a while to realize it was a flower. The arrangement of the petals suggested it was a rose of some kind.

I remembered the day of my mother's funeral when my brother and I had each placed a rose into her casket before she was buried. A sudden realization made me gasp with horror. I was not in a tiny wooden room. I was in a casket. I had been buried alive.

I screamed and the sound burst all around me. I slammed my fists against the wall. The terror in me was worse than any pain one could feel. It seemed that I continued for hours, but to no avail. I fell asleep.

For days on end I would spend my time sleeping, screaming, and thrusting my hands against the walls of my tomb and personal hell. I could feel myself growing weaker. I was so very hungry. And thirst began to make my mouth very dry; each scream would come out cracked and broken. I knew that since I was upright, I must still be in my home. Roderick must have decided to entomb me in a vault within the walls.

After days and days of this torturous state, I was so close to death that I was eager for it. I wanted the pain to stop. I thought about my dear brother. I had been screaming and pounding the treacherous walls for days. How had he not heard? I resumed pounding a sudden hope fluttering inside that he might. I could no longer scream my throat was so dry.

He must hear it. The truth was suddenly painfully clear. He must have heard my screams of terror and my useless efforts of escape. He chose to do nothing, for he was no longer my brother. He has become so crazy he lost himself when he lost me.

Anger flared inside me. I could not bear to die without ever seeing light again. I must have deserved that much. I gave up pounding with my fists and with final desperation; I thrust my whole body at the walls, shaking the whole coffin. I managed to force scream after scream, painfully out of my throat. I heard the coffin banging against the metal of the vault and the wood cracked open.

I did not feel where I had ripped off my fingernails from scratching fiercely at the walls, or the bruises from my desperate attacks at the walls. I barely felt the blood trickling all over my body. I didn't care. I just needed one more glimpse of sunlight. I was out of the confined space of the coffin and in the scarcely less confined space of the vault.

Suddenly, the vault door was thrust open by one of the powerful winds that could be heard outside and light mercifully poured in.

I squinted to see two figures; one, the man who was once my brother, and the other was a man who must have been his friend. I had done it. I had reached the light. I could hold on no longer. I let myself fall right into Roderick. I was almost gone.

The winds worsened and objects could be heard crashing around, but I know longer felt any fear. I heard a scream as a heavy object smashed into the man who was once my brother, but who was now no more along with the man he had become.

I heard his death only seconds before my own.

I was peaceful at last.