The ancient grandfather clock sang in the great hall— the monotone chimes echoed as my foot tapped nervously upon the oak floor. It was midday, yet I had not left the solitude of the bedchamber. My cold hands rubbed tired, tear-stained eyes.
My heart fluttered, for I knew the Lord and Lady Valentine, my parents-by-law, would surely be at my door within the hour. Three days they had been traveling, and for such a morbid purpose— to bury their beloved daughter, the light of my life— sweet Victoria.
Frigid raindrops tapped the roof with furious rhythm as ominous thunder rolled throughout the countryside. The violent squalls began the very same night the fever consumed my wife, and three weeks later, showed no sign of ceasing. A cold sweat rolled down the side of my cheek as I hastily dressed. I did, however, enjoy the sound of the storms— a pleasant change from the eerie silence that persisted in recent day’s past.
I fastened my belt, laced my shoes, and covered my head with the hood of my cloak. With a deep, arduous breath— I swung the mansion doors open to face the icy, autumn rain that drenched the grey, lifeless land before me.
With haste, I ran to the back of my lot, opened the creaking cellar-doors, and descended into the darkness. The smell of putrid rot lightly filled the air. I covered my mouth and nose with cloth and lit the torches. Dim, amber light filled the cavern. Shadows danced playfully along the walls.
In the center of the underground dwelling upon a makeshift wooden altar— lie my beloved Victoria— cold, thin, and soulless. I held back tears of sorrow, approached her, and whispered into her ear. “Soon, my love… I will grant you what you desire… I curse this plague that has taken you from me. One day I will bury you… my dear Victoria…but not this day.
I tightened the leather straps that bound her frail remains to the wooden planks and left the crimson cellar. I rose once again to face the outside world and shut the doors with a booming crash that challenged the roaring thunder in the heavens above. As I walked towards my vacant home, I was greeted by the sound galloping steeds. They had arrived.
I quickly tended to the rearing horses and proceeded to assist the Lady Valentine from her mount. My father and mother-by-law eyed me menacingly with disapproval as I led them inside the mansion. They had never favored me or my wellbeing, and I knew now— that they never would.
The Valentine’s did not care to even sit nor exchange courtesies with me. The lord stamped his cane upon the floor as his shouts echoed throughout the halls. “Where is she? “Where does the body of my beloved daughter lie?”
Lady Valentine did not speak nor look in my direction as I responded.
“She lies in the cellar, Lord Valentine.”
His round, white-bearded face grew scarlet with rage as my words reached his ears.
“Filthy swine, how dare you!” He spat. “You never deserved Victoria, and now you dishonor her and her family by discarding her in your cellar like unwanted rubbish!?”
“I love your daughter, and I will love her till the end of my days.” I barked.
The Valentine’s turned and marched out the door in disapproval, and ventured towards the cellar. I quickly raced ahead, pulled the doors open once again, and escorted them into the tomb.
As their eyes’ gazed upon the withering remains of flesh, bone, and hair— they gasped—cursing me as they began to unfasten the restraints binding their daughter’s skeletal corpse to the altar. But, as soon as the Valentine’s looked closer, they shrieked in horror. For now that she was free, her head turned to face them— and her soulless, milky eyes opened and stared at her parents with ravenous hunger.
I did not spare a moment as I flew up the dark stairwell and closed the cellar doors — fastening them shut with iron rods. For what I had not told the Lord and Lady Valentine was of the strange, unique, and hellish fever that had consumed Victoria. A fever that had left her with a hunger that could only be satisfied with warm, blood-filled, human flesh. Flesh that I had been providing her at the expense of the nearby villagers’, and now… her own parents. For I plan to bury my sweet Victoria one day… but not this day.