Monday, March 29, 2010

A Bit of Horror From Years Past - Part 1

Here's one of my horror/crime pieces that was originally published in Hellbound Book's anthology, DeathGrip: Legacy of Terror. I think it still evokes a shudder or two; sure hope so. See if you agree. Enjoy. I'll warn you though. It's quite a lengthy piece, so I've split it into five parts. Still, make yourself nice and comfy and make sure you're all alone in the house. Horror is more fun that way!

Too Late a Lesson Learned - Part 1

Amelia Lorraine was really in a tizzy. For sure. No doubt about it. In the recent past, she had felt a tad flustered briefly a time or two and, or course, one could not ignore the fleeting moments she had been certain she had experienced a conniption, but right now, she was most assuredly in the midst of a tizzy. Standing at the top of the stairs, staring down at her sister, Emily Mildred, sitting with her back against the front door, blood gushing from the gaping wound in her throat, pooling in a lake around her. What else could it be? Yes, indeedy. It was a tizzy alright.

* * * * *

Amelia Lorraine and Emily Mildred Coopersmock had been born to wealth. One would never have guessed it though, to look at either of them. Baxter Eugene and Martha Cecily Coopersmock had lived very extravagantly and had zealously indulged their expensive tastes. Their expensive tastes, certainly. Baxter had founded an advertising agency that did nothing but make money with very little effort on his part and as time went on, all his business did was more of the same.

The Coopersmock's eight-bedroom home was carpeted throughout--so plush, the children's feet could not be seen as they made their way from room to room. The master bedroom, entry into which was restricted to the Mr. and Mrs., with the exception of 'special occasions', was furnished with priceless antiques and wall-to-wall museum-caliber artwork. The bed was a four-poster, with 14-carat gold edging and bright blue satin bedding. The bathroom was furnished with a sunken tub and gold fixtures sparked throughout. The dining room contained an elegant oak table, also edged in gold, with an oak china cabinet displaying gold-edged dinnerware. The Mr. and Mrs. really enjoyed the look of sun reflecting off gold. It made their favorite rooms sparkle and shine, and they spared no expense to indulge their fancy. The living room was equipped with an entertainment center that spanned the longest wall and held a wide-screen television, a stereo system, a DVD player, a VCR, and their projector. A movie screen could be lowered with one of their numerous remote controls, several recliners circled the room to provide comfort at any angle, and the fully stocked bar provided its own unique form of comfort on cold winter nights. The kitchen was full of every modern appliance known to man, and a twelve-course meal could be prepared effortlessly with the touch of a few buttons. Truly a luxurious haven for the privileged few. But, when it came to the children...

Upstairs, there were seven bedrooms that were reminiscent of prison cells. They were each furnished with a three-drawer bureau, a box spring and mattress resting on the floor--headboards and frames being deemed unnecessary clutter--and a wastebasket. Each room had one window, covered with a drab white curtain, and that was the extent of frivolous decoration. Baxter and Martha believed children should not be pampered, and that they must learn to earn the luxuries life has to give. They had the run of the house during daylight hours and could enjoy the fruits of their father's labor, but every evening after dinner, they were sent to retire to their rooms to do their lessons and experience the way of life of the average person off the street. It was an experience they did not enjoy, and that was their parents' point. Since they were girls, there was no necessity in planning for a career or any of that nonsense. What they needed to do was refine their manners and appearance to enable them to marry well, learn several languages to impress the elite and someday, if they learned their lessons well, they would be able to rise above the banality of their existence and become the mistresses of an estate as their mother had.

Let them see both sides, Baxter and Martha were in agreement. They'll make the right choice.

Emily was the first-born and she was an absolute delight. A physically beautiful blond, blue-eyed child, precocious and witty, Baxter and Martha made the decision to fill their home with more of the same. Unfortunately, when Amelia made her entry into the world, the Coopersmock's plan to populate the house went up in smoke. Amelia was somber and morose. The child was not at all appealing to the eye, with her stringy brown hair, dark eyes, and uneven smile. She was not at all a joy to behold, and Baxter and Martha felt the best thing to do was simply to leave the rest of the bedrooms furnished as is and empty. No more little bundles of joy for them. Not after Amelia.

Special occasions occurred once per week on Wednesday evenings. This was another important part of growing up as young, marketable ladies. Amelia, however, was not included in these sessions, as Baxter was repulsed by her--daughter or not. Emily though, was not only pleasing to the eye, but also pleasing to daddy as he began to train her how to please a gentleman--physically. Emily was instructed, from the age of 12, to arrive at the master bedroom door at precisely 8:00 p.m. every Wednesday evening, clad only in a sheer gown and follow her father's instructions in the art of love-making. Baxter and Martha (who always observed and provided helpful tips) routinely sent Emily back to her own room when all was over and done with words of encouragement to assure the child that she would be successful in adult life. She would someday become the mistress of her own estate and her spouse would never stray if she learned her lessons well--the ones from her books and the ones taught by daddy in the bedroom.

The door was always closed once Emily arrived and often, Amelia would sit outside and lean against the door so she could hear what was said and try to imagine what was going on. She always felt cheated and betrayed, but only had to be briefly in the company of her mother or father to be reminded of why she was not asked to join in on any family activities. They never missed an opportunity--nor did Emily--to point out how basically unattractive she was and her best hope for the future would be to join a convent or some such establishment. Marriage was not in the cards for Amelia. No man would have her; no man would want her. After all, if daddy could not bear the touch of her hand, what man on earth could bear to lie with her? She had better just concentrate on the lessons from her books. Perhaps, she could become a teacher in a girls' boarding school if the convent idea did not pan out. There was always that possibility as well.

The Coopersmocks frequently entertained others in their social class; although Amelia and Emily were always confined to their rooms during such events. These gatherings always began in the dining room with a sumptuous dinner, then continued and finished in the living room with music, movies and laughter. Several times, Amelia and Emily would sneak to the edge of the stairwell and watch the goings on. It puzzled them that the guest couples always brought their children along. The children were encouraged to participate in the festivities and to engage in games and socializing with each other, but not with Amelia or Emily. They were never permitted to attend these get-togethers held in their own home. They were permitted to socialize only with each other, and there was definitely not much of that.

Emily flatly despised Amelia and made that point clear on a daily basis. Amelia never lost any sleep over it though--she felt the same toward Emily. They didn't play together; they barely spoke to each other, so no problem in that regard. There was no love lost between the Coopersmock sisters, so no one ever had to worry about their playing together getting out of control.

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