Madness’ Sole Soul
A Short Story by Robert J. S. T. McCartney
“I’m sorry, it has to be this way,” he remembered his mother saying. She left him—left them all. Now, they were all being hunted down by an unknown person (or maybe organization?). Rumor was that his mother was collecting other family members to help her purge those that were left and would get in her way of officially taking over the family since his father’s untimely demise. The lands, she believed were hers; as was the town. It was her birthright. That even though the past had tarnished what should have been regulated to her—she was persistent on correcting. Everything would return to her: the land, the town, the family name—everything. It would only be a matter of time until he would perish. So, he supposed on the issue.
It was true, she had left his step-father for an old fling from the “glory days” or what have you. Perhaps to gain leverage in use against her remaining members of the Hessen household. Though he never saw eye to eye with the man he came to acknowledge as a father figure in his life, he felt sorry for him. Vengeance, karma, these things have a way of working out. Order must be maintained in the universe. Time will work its hands the way it sees fit.
The day had come—one he had anticipated. The hitmen (or so he alleged) had come for the step-father, for him, for the rest of them.
“You need to get out of here, John. I can deal with them.” The young man steeled himself with a knife in hand. “Run, run as fast as you can. Don’t look back.”
“What you’re talking about is madness, Eric. Your mother could never do such a thing! Not to us, especially, to you.” John was flabbergasted at the information that had been collected and evidence that suggested his wife had, indeed, put a price on his head and the rest of the family.
“Go before it’s too late! There’s no time to argue. I know you’re not my real father, but I do look up to you like one.” Eric gripped the knife tighter as he clenched his jaw. John nodded and gathered a few things, before hurrying straight out the back door.
Out front, Eric heard an engine approaching. He opened the massive oak door to see a black SUV coming up the drive to the estate. “Typical fashion,” Eric mumbled aloud before closing the door.
He peeked out the window to see the occupants disperse from the vehicle. He knew them all. “My Uncles? Aunts?” He noted two more vehicles coming to the estate. “This…cannot be good,” he said.
A voice came from behind him. “Hello, dear brother.”
“Hello, dear sister,” Eric replied, still peeking out the window. “Quite the family reunion we have today; unannounced in fact. Any reason as to why?”
His sister grimaced. “Did you not hear? There’s a high price for you and ‘dad.’ We are all here to collect—it’s nothing personal. I could use the money to take care of a lot of things.”
Eric sighed. “You were always greedy. We have vast wealth as it is and yet, you squander it.” His words struck a nerve. “You do know mother will only kill you after you kill John and I, don’t you?”
“I am aware of that. I have taken precautions. I’m afraid John is already. . .disposed. He didn’t get very far,” she smiled.
Eric grit his teeth. “The man was hardly any threat, let alone needed to be involved. You could have spared him, you cold-hearted bitch.”
“Please, I have been called worse,” his sister laughed.
“And soon you will be dead, all of you. I will make sure of it—mom included. I won’t let any of you live anymore.”
“Bold words, little brother, but remember I am older,” she replied sharply.
“Remember, I planned ahead,” he grinned.
Eric’s sister pulled out a knife of her own and motioned to attack him. “At least you will die with some honor, bitch.” He quickly disarmed her and slashed her arm; sending her to recoil in pain.
“You little bastard,” she screamed.
Eric moved in hastily and stabbed her in the gut and slashed upward, bringing her to her knees and to be embraced by death.
“Sorry, Julie, but it’s nothing personal,” Eric said as he twisted the blade once more into her neck.
The door opened and in came the rest of the family: his aunts, uncles, cousins, and his mother.
“Well, you certainly save us the time in having to find you, son,” his mother stated.
She looked over at the dead body of her daughter. “I see you took care of your sister. Good job, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree alright.”
“You all are ridiculous. Acting together to kill another of your family? For what? For money? Land? You will all stop at nothing after this matter is settled to make sure you solely get all of it.” Eric shook his head. “Your greed consumes you.” He pointed to his mother. “Your whore ways and betrayal to this family will be your undoing, dear mother. I will kill you all.”
His mother laughed. “You sound just like your grandfather. He used to believe we had some ‘disease’ within us that drove us mad. Granted, that’s what got him locked up. As cunning as he was, he was no match for me. It’s just human nature, sweetie. Kill or be killed.”
Everyone eyed one another, uncertain of who would betray who.
“Kill him,” Eric’s mother ordered.
The cousins were the first to swarm him, and they were the first to die. He effortlessly slaughtered them and left them dead on the floor. Then came his aunts. The one that had a change of heart was only to be stabbed in the back by his mother. They too fell in the bloody heap that was amassing in the house’s grand foyer.
Three uncles and Eric’s mother remained. They spread out around him and slowly motioned towards him. “I wish you a merciless death, dear uncles,” Eric said as he went after his more overweight uncle. He ran and leaped at the man, stabbing him in the neck and under the jaw. Collapsing atop him, Eric stabbed him a few more times in the chest before rolling off him and readying for another attack. The next attacker came, and Eric disarmed him and stabbing him with his own blade; then used his body as a shield against his other attack. He slid on the ground and slit the Achilles tendons of his last uncle, and then sliced up his backside.
“Mother, you are all that remain. It appears things did not go as you had hoped,” said Eric.
“On the contrary, honey. You did the legwork for me,” Eric’s mother replied. She then drew a small pistol from behind her.
She smiled menacingly. “Never bring a knife to a gunfight, sweetie. Thank you for getting rid of everyone for me.”
Eric reached behind him and withdrew his gun and shot his mother in the chest several times, “I knew you would.”
He approached his fast-dying mother’s side. “The only difference, mom, is that I didn’t hesitate and make a big speech before I pulled the trigger. Perhaps now you can be at rest.” He kissed her on the cheek and looked at her dimming green eyes. “I love you,” and then pointed the gun at her head and pulled the trigger once more.
One by one, he went around to each family member and shot them in the head. He called the cleaning service that the family used in cases of messes like these. He gave them all a proper burial, despite them having tried to kill him. Ownership and duty fell to him now. Eric was the lord of the manor, the land, and town that came with it. He was the sole survivor of Hessen Estate Massacre.
He was granted everything, although the attorney thought it to be proper to read the wills and testaments of the deceased. Sifting through the mess, Eric had found a piece of paper that clarified more things for him. He handed it to the lawyer.
Clearing his throat, the lawyer read aloud. “It is hereby declared that under article nine, sub-article three, clause eleven, that in the event of the purge of the household, all assets fall to the surviving heir. Debts will be settled with the provided fund, and any outstanding family members outside of second cousins will cease any violent interaction. Half siblings hold no right, nor just cause, and are therefore exempt of any claim to the family name, land, or township. If so claim is ever made, they will be disbarred, and the assets will become forfeit to the state.”
Eric sighed at this. The lawyer shook his hand and eventually left.
In due course, Eric readied himself to leave the house for good. As he is about to close the door, one by one, his family all appeared before him.
“Eric, can you forgive us,” his mother asked.
“We are sorry. . . We should have been a better family,” an aunt stated.
“Time wasted. . .” an uncle added.
“We all could have been better,” his sister agreed.
“No, it was my fault,” he said. They all looked to him, puzzled. He returned their gaze in spite and anger. “It was my fault. . .for being so weak. You may haunt me and my dreams, but you cannot escape your damnation. Suffer your fates, you wretched kin.” The house trembled and shook, and the spirits vanished; returning to their relics, paintings, and pictures. Slowly he pulled the door behind him, closing and leaving behind it all.
Eric took a seat outside in a rocking chair and rocked in it. He noted the gray sky that seemed to have plagued the day. He sighed aloud.
The family car and chauffer pulled up. He noted his serviceman and driver in black attire, with two cousins that laid claim of wanting no involvement of what had transpired. Slowly, he got his pale self, up and ventured to the car.
The driver motioned for the cousins to get in the car. Eric remembered the driver had made prior claims before that he shared his distaste for the twin cousins. He always thought they were up to no good. To spur a change in the young master’s mood, the driver accelerated and would leave a short distance between them and the car.
“Stop, Thomas. Let them in,” Eric stated.
“Thank you, Eric,” replied the one cousin who sat in front of him. The other cousin nodded and sat next to Eric. The car then rumbled away from the estate.
Soon, down the driveway, the cousin who sat next to Eric, took out a knife and slit his throat, then his brother’s throat, and then his own throat. He had tried to strike the driver but was held back by the serviceman in the back.
“Is he alright, Bennie,” Thomas asked the man in the back who applied a handkerchief to Eric’s neck. “Drive—drive to the bloody hospital!” Bennie looked back down at the bloodied Eric. “Put pressure on it! Hold it, young master!”
Eric could feel the warmth slowly leaving him. He also felt the heat of his dead cousin departing him as well.
“Faster,” Eric gasped.
Eric looked at the rearview mirror from the backseat. Who he saw was not his reflection, but rather his grandfather’s. “Grandpa?”
“Eric, do you see now? Do you see why I did what I did?” Sadness overcame the old man’s wrinkled face. “I loved my family. Honestly, I did. I loved you all. But what I saw—what I knew that was harbored deep within, I knew it was only a matter of time. Even when shown kindness, we’ve all turned on one another. You know it well, my grandson. We carry a sickness—one that spreads like a plague. It must be contained, Eric. It must be put down.
Eric nodded. “I understand. I will purge them all. I will carry this mantle—this burden. For our family.”
His grandfather smiled and then vanished into nothingness. Eric looked out the window to the cloudy sky and the buzzing street corners. He closed his eyes and greeted the darkness.
Some time passed, Eric stared out at the gardens at the hospital. The sun shined brilliantly everywhere. He caught a glimpse of himself, and his family behind him, all mourning. He grinned as he lightly rubbed his bandaged neck. “I’m not dead yet.”
It begins again. This time the madness will be contained.