The Silver Syringe

 








To whom it may concern,


     I loved her yet I murdered her. Or rather, I should say, it was that cursed instrument of Lucifer himself that did so! The same of which you have, no doubt, since found protruding from my purple, bloated corpse. I lament for the one of whom pulled that wretched item from my vein. For you have now lost your soul. Forgive me. This is my confession - a cautionary tale in a post-mortem attempt to rid humanity of that wicked, wicked harbinger of doom!


     I believe it was late March of 1899 when I had first met her at an extravagant gathering in London’s Hyde Park district. The young, upper crust of society strutted about the decadent flat - their bright peacock feathers on full display. I was in attendance only by invitation of an acquaintance, Henry. Allow me to digress for a moment, if you will. You have to understand that I was not there by will, but rather by chance. My fortune was thrown upon my lap by complete surprise. My great Aunt’s vast estate, meant for her children, was given to me instead. She loathed her lazy heirs of whom could not wait till she perished in order to secure their opulent future. I cared for her out of sheer kindness, when she was ill, not with expectation of any sort. I simply loved her. 


     Even before I obtained my fortune, my dear mother taught me the ways of the cruel world outside my small bedroom window in the slums of London. She taught me proper etiquette, elegant wordsmithery (as she called it) and, most importantly, humility. “If we can not be like them, my dear Nathaniel, then we must create the illusion of such,” she would say to me often. My mother was of Asian descent and my father from a long lineage of grizzled factory workers. My slight stature and disproportionate features rendered me not exactly aesthetically pleasing, to say the least. The beautiful, fashionable women that passed me on the streets of London, simply looked ahead and down - as if I were merely a warm wisp of air passing them by. 


     When upon first entering the room, her beauty was such that she displaced the very air within it. Olive-hued skin, jutting cheekbones and deep-set, light-brown, obsidian eyes gazed upon me with indifference yet with a tinge of kindness. Her long, glossy, dark hair brought to mind wet riverstone as it flowed down the valley of her back. She wore a stunning, powder-blue, Victorian dress that outlined her ample bosom. In that moment, I knew that I needed to be close to that woman - if only in the dark, empty spaces that nudged against her. In the moments that followed, her scent enveloped me. Exotic oils of sorts, no doubt, and of which I was not able to name exactly but they were alluring, none-the-less. I began my awkward approach but was interrupted by Rudolph Le Pier - our host and the heir of a wealthy textile magnate and of whom had never worked a day in his privileged life. His very name and its ridiculous romantic innuendos rendered me nauseated. I stopped my advance and slipped aside to observe and listen to their introduction discreetly. 


     Her name was Nehir and she had been brought to London, from Istanbul, as a young girl to learn proper English etiquette in preparation for her Ottoman-blooded future. She was royalty and this did not surprise me in the least, as her persona dictated such. My heart dropped when I recognized the look of attraction for Rudolph in her eyes and demeanor. It did not surprise me, however, being that Rudolph was blessed with handsomeness and gift of gab. She did not stand a chance against his overpowering charm yet this did not dissuade me. As the evening progressed, I watched as Rudolph and Nehir meandered about - lingering in the heavily shadowed corners of the rooms. It was when Rudolph finally excused himself from her momentarily, that I presented myself. The introduction was brief and I was instantly captivated by her. I found it difficult to hold her gaze which was utterly intoxicating. She was kind and expressed interest in me. Whether it were genuine or not, did not matter at that moment. I was simply happy to be in her presence. Rudolph returned and summoned us to the King Arthur table in the dining room for dinner. 


     As expected, Nehir took seat next to Rudolph but what surprised me was that she looked to me and patted the chair adjacent to her. I gladly obliged. Small talk about the table was made as Champagne flowed and our dinners were placed before us, which consisted of roast pheasant and truffled potatoes. I was surprised when Rudolph suddenly addressed me. “And you, Nathaniel, what do you think of our latest Prime Minister? Do you find him sufficient?” he asked and the entire table took silence and looked to me. “I have no opinion, Rudolph. I have not the slightest interest in politics, to be honest,” I responded. “Ah, then you must not be a well-rounded man. For you see, there is great fortune and power to be had in politics, my dear Nathaniel,” he responded with an air of arrogance. The entire table chuckled under their breaths. My face flushed and anger rose up within me yet I did not succumb to it. 


     When dinner had ended and our plates cleared, Rudolph asked that we retire to the patio and have warmed brandy. With brandy in hand, I leaned against the ornate patio railing and looked down upon Hyde Park in the near distance. It was a pleasant, late-Spring evening and the scent of cherry blossoms lingered on the tepid breeze. Upon observing the gas street lamps below, it brought to mind when my Mother would often take me through Hyde Park as well-dressed individuals looked upon us with disgust. “Do not mind them, Nathaniel. Look ahead and with head high. Chest forward. Walk with dignity and confidence, as if you are wading through a powerful flowing creek and attempting to change its direction,” she would always say - her hand holding mine firmly. I became aware then of several guests bidding their goodbyes to Rudolph behind me. I pondered briefly of also taking my leave but decided to stay, if only for Nehir.


     “What do you dream of?” Nehir said in her slight Turkish accent, suddenly appearing beside me on the rail. 


     “Dream?” I responded, stuttering.


     “You are daydreaming, no?” she said and I smiled.


     “I suppose I am,” I responded. In the moments that followed, we spoke of simple subjects to pass the time. The whole while, I found it difficult to gaze into those eyes that seemed to expose me from within. She nudged ever so gently against me and her warmth radiated throughout my entire body. I must confess that I became utterly infatuated then. You see, I had yet to hold the attention of any woman for that amount of time. Much less a woman of her immense allure. This, I am afraid, marked the beginning of my rapid demise. 


     Rudolph summoned us into the living room and asked that we sit about the ornate Italian furniture. I took seat next to Nehir as Rudolph excused himself, stating that he would return shortly with something extraordinary. He returned from the bedroom, moments later, with an ornately carved, rectangular wooden box and sat on the opposite side of Nehir. He placed the box on the table before him. “This, my friends, this is what the constellations are composed of,” he said and we all stared upon the object - our interests piqued. He opened the box and I swear to you that there was a flash that temporarily blinded me followed by a collective of desperate whispers in many languages, it seemed. When my vision had cleared of the white spots, what I looked upon was a ravishing silver syringe nestled upon a bed of crimson velvet. A small cylinder, that appeared to be made of opal, sat adjacent to it along with a pure silver spoon that was bent where the handle met the receptacle. 


     In the moments that followed, we were speechless - our jaws slack and eyes wide. “I found this extraordinary item in an Asian antique store in South London,” Rudolph said. “The owner was very apprehensive about selling it to me, stating that many souls were trapped within it yet that intrigued me even further. I offered a monetary figure that seemed to change his mind, however.”


     “But what is it? A syringe?” Frederick inquired.


     “Ah, not just any syringe, my dear Frederick,” Rudolph replied. “According to the shop owner, this very syringe has been in the veins of emperors and paupers alike. He claims that it was made for the Empress herself and from the finest silver during the late Qing dynasty. Apparently the old girl was a bit naughty,” Rudolph said and we all laughed (although mine was feigned). “Now, the most interesting and delightfully macabre thing about it all, is that the Empress enjoyed injecting lethal amounts of opium into her loyal subjects and delighted in watching the life drain from them right before her very eyes. How lusciously wicked, yes?! Apparently it was also cursed by the father of one of the victims, who just happened to be an Asian shaman of sorts.” He laughed.  Rudolph then handed the box to Nehir and then she to me. When I gazed upon this stunning relic, I became aware of symbols etched into it. They were Mandarin symbols that translated into one word - DEATH. As a child, my mother had taught the Mandarin alphabet to me - stating the importance of knowing the language of my rich culture. I did not make the others aware of this translation, however, for fear of being ostracized by Rudolph.


     When the syringe had made its round and back to Rudolph, he placed it again before him and said, “Whom of you is brave enough to visit heaven with me?” We all looked to each other in confusion. 


     “My dear Rudolph, if you are referring to what I believe you are, then this is preposterous!” Frederick exclaimed, looking to his wife, Margaret, then to Rudolph with brow raised. 


     “Is it though?” Rudolph replied, smugly, leaning back on the couch and crossing his legs. 


     “I will not take part in this and I advise that the rest of you follow suit,” Frederick said, standing. “Come, Margaret, let us take leave of this place! This...this den of debauchery!” I looked to Rudolph and watched as his eyes followed Frederick and Margaret as they took their hats and coats from the rack adjacent to the front door. The room was silent as the two exited the flat - save for the sounds of their footsteps down the stairs and the subsequent noise of a coach being drawn away by horse. 


     “And then there were four,” Rudolph said, breaking the awkward silence. “Now then, shall we begin?” There was no need for any of us to ask what Rudolph was referring to. In silent understanding, we knew that he was referring to the act of injecting opium. My mind swam then with thoughts of how to possibly decline his invitation to participate in such a ludicrous act. Yet, I could not find a viable excuse that would not make me appear to be dull, especially in the eyes of Nehir. A state of panic set in.


     “Ah, I have just come to the realization that I have forgotten an engagement that I promised to attend,” I found myself saying impulsively. 


     “Have you now?” Rudolph replied, smirking. 


     “If Nathaniel is to not take part in this, then I shall not either,” Nehir said, surprising me. Rudolph peered at me - his jaw muscles tightening with ire. I knew in that moment that I would be shunned from any further gatherings. Rudolph’s family influence was far-reaching and would, no doubt, blacklist me from the little events that I found so charming. I had risen from street urchin to a peer of them and I would not allow that cycle to reverse. 


     “Come to think of it, I do believe that I would be barely missed if I were to not attend said gathering,” I said, forcing a smile. “I shall stay and participate.”


     “Ah! Very well then,” Rudolph replied, rubbing his hands together. “Let us begin. Now, you need not worry, my friends. I will attend to you first before myself. With that said, who is brave enough to be first?” There was a nervous silence between us as Rudolph scanned our faces, awaiting a response. 


     “I...I will be first, I suppose,” Henry replied. 


     “A gentleman and a scholar, you are, my dear Henry,” Rudolph said, retrieving a ceramic water dropper from the table and the bent silver spoon. He poured a few drops of water into the spoon receptacle, followed by a dollop of white powder from the opal canister. “Come, Henry, sit beside me,” Rudolph then said and Henry did so. “Hold this ever so gently,” Rudolph said, handing the filled spoon to Henry before he retrieved a box of matches from his coat. He struck a match and placed the flame underneath the spoon. The liquid subsequently sizzled before Rudolph retrieved the syringe and filled it with said liquid and grinned. As the liquid within the syringe cooled, Rudolph retrieved a thin strip of velvet from his opposite coat pocket. He pulled Henry’s sleeve upward, revealing vibrant blue veins against pasty skin. He tied the velvet strip tightly right above Henry’s elbow. In that moment, and if I had not known better, I could have sworn that I witnessed Rudolph trembling with lust of his impending act. 


     The needle was plunged into Henry’s vein and the syringe emptied of its contents. Within moments, Henry grinned lazily and oozed into the couch - his eyes seemingly scanning the landscapes of heaven behind their respective lids. “Now then, Nathaniel, I am afraid that you must be next,” Rudolph said and my heart thudded. “You see, this...this perfect example of beauty must be attended to before myself. I am sure you understand, yes?” How could I possibly respond to such a statement without seeming disrespectful of Nehir. I could not lose face in her eyes so I nodded in agreement. My blood pulsed violently in my veins as Rudolph repeated the cycle of filling the syringe. He sat adjacent to me and pulled up the sleeve of my shirt. I gulped. “I do not think that I have seen lovelier veins in my whole life, Nathaniel. Such a vibrant blue and so...so plump,” Rudolph said, licking his fleshy lips. As the syringe neared my vein, I looked to Nehir and she presented a forced smile and nodded. 


     In the brief moments after the pin-prick sensation, a pleasant warmness traveled up my arm before exploding into an ocean of absolute pleasure. If I dare to attempt to describe it, I would say that it was as if you were to gather all the wonderful memories in your lifetime and multiply them ten thousand fold. I seemingly liquified into the couch and fell into the most superb slumber I had ever experienced. In many ways, It felt as if I had crawled back into the womb of my beloved Mother. When I awoke, hours later, I was pleasantly surprised to find Nehir’s head on my shoulder. She was in a deep, satisfactory slumber and with the most precious and subtle grin spread across her luscious lips. Rudolph and Henry were also sleeping and, in that moment, I contemplated kissing her. After all, no one would ever be the wiser. I smelled her hair and it presented a fragrance of what I perceived to be lavender and rosewater. Simply heavenly.

 

     I suddenly felt then, as if something were begging for my attention. I glanced upwards to find Henry peering at me or rather, beyond me, it would seem. His eyes were desolate and he was shivering slightly. His skin was gaunt and a grey-ish hue. “Good morning, Henry,” I said, yet he did not respond. My voice woke Nehir and she looked to me with confusion before recognizing me moments after. The movement, in turn, woke Rudolph, who had been sleeping adjacent to Nehir. Before any questions could be asked of Rudolph, he summoned the kitchen staff and they promptly made breakfast for us. Very little was spoken, or eaten, for that matter, during that time. We collectively sat in a state of bewilderment and shame, save for our dear host who appeared to be subtly grinning. 


     I then became aware of rain slapping against cobblestone below the flat and it peeved me. This puzzled me for the fact that I had always found the sound of rain pleasant and calming. Then it began - the gradual, profound itching within my veins. Based upon the uncomfortable appearance of my peers, they had begun to feel it as well. “Not to worry, not to worry, my dear friends,” Rudolph then said, recognizing our acute discomfort. “I have the cure.” He then stood from the table, disappeared into the bedroom and returned with the ornate wooden box. Not one word was spoken as we all sat around the living room furniture again. The ritual from the previous evening was performed again and when I woke from my opium-induced slumber, I knew there would be no escape from then forward. I had made a dire mistake.


     I will not bore you with all the acute, mundane details of our daily routine thence forth, however I will summarize it for you. We woke, ate (hardly), injected opium, slept, woke, meandered about the flat, lunched, injected opium, slept and, on most nights, attended various gatherings. At this point, I had become a gaunt, thinner (if that is even possible) version of myself. I rarely even visited my flat which was only a mere kilometer from Rudolph’s. I was fully aware that I was in a dire situation yet was unable to escape that wretched syringe and its wailing whispers! There came a particular evening, however, when I could take no more. As I was passing Rudolph’s bedroom (which Nehir had since taken residence in) I observed as Nehir stood before the long mirror - her body now half of what it had been only two weeks prior. She became aware of my reflection and looked to me with chin quivering and desperation oozing from eyes that once displayed a lust for life. My heart bruised and an ire rose up within me. One that I had never experienced prior.


     In that moment, I was determined to be her saviour! However, I would have to rescue myself primarily. The following morning, I took leave of the flat, stating that I needed to retrieve fresh clothing from my own flat and to attend to matters at the bank. I promptly went to the bank and, upon entering, my usual teller looked to me in horror of my appearance. Before sending a telegram to myself addressed to Rudolph’s flat, I explained to the teller that I had been stricken ill by a most unfortunate virus. He wished me a speedy recovery. I returned to Rudolph’s flat and waited for the telegram to arrive. 


     It arrived later that evening and Rudolph handed it to me. Upon reading it, I gasped and feigned surprise. "It seems my dear aunt has taken gravely ill and is not expected to live beyond two sunrises. I must take leave at once, I am afraid," I said. Nehir gasped and placed her hand over her mouth while Rudolph peered at me, stoically. 


     "Is she now?" Rudolph said with sarcasm. I gathered my belongings and bid my goodbyes. Nehir embraced me emphatically and whispered in my ear. 


     "Do return soon, my dear Nathaniel. Please," she said in the most pitiful tone. I assured her I would. I summoned a carriage and instructed the coachman to take me directly to Bart’s Hospital in haste. I checked into the hospital and stated that I would like to be admitted to London’s finest addiction recovery center and that money was not an issue. On the carriage ride to the lavish facility is when the pain began to bloom. In fact, I had the coachmen pull to the side of the road in which I purged my stomach of its meager contents. “My dear man, what is the delay!” I said to him, scratching at my arms. “Make haste!” We arrived at the private sanatorium, soon after, and I was speedily admitted and attended to. And this, dear reader, is when my true horror began. 


     I tossed and turned in my bed, scratching at my veins. I incessantly brushed off the insects that I thought to be crawling up my arms. I defecated myself and sweated through my clothes to a point where the mere scent of myself caused violent projectile vomiting. And the screams! Oh, those horrific, pitiful screams that reverberated in my skull! I was driven to the brink of madness where I seriously contemplated breaking my water glass and emptying my body of its diseased, rancid blood! My incessant cursing at, and provoking of, the attendants caused them to restrain me with cloth strips to my bed. The madness! Oh, the madness! I screamed and pleaded for relief yet they ignored me and for good reason. 


     It was one miserable week later when the horror gradually subsided. With staff help, they allowed me to walk in the adjacent gardens. I ate meager amounts of delicious soups that the cook prepared for me. I began to feel human again. I felt alive yet I knew that I would never be the same from then forward. The cravings for the horrific contents of that wretched syringe would always stay within and torture me yet I was determined to prevail. I was steadfast in my plight to save my beloved Nehir. 


     It was a warm, pleasant afternoon when I devised my plan on a garden bench that overlooked an ocean of tulips. Primarily, I would travel to South London and acquire the most potent dose of opium available and return to Rudolph’s flat, stating that I had just buried my dear aunt. As with most evenings, Rudolph would ask that we accompany him to a gathering yet I would feign illness and stay behind. Like clockwork, Rudolph would return, inebriated, and quickly inject himself with a previously prepared dose right before bed, followed by Nehir (of whom had since learned to administer the opium to herself). However, on that evening, Rudolph would be injecting himself with his own demise instead. None would be the wiser and I will have saved my beloved! 


     Soon after, I bid my goodbyes to the staff of the sanatorium and tipped them handsomely. I advised my coachman to travel directly to South London. I directed him to pass my childhood home and a flood of memories washed over me then. We halted in front of the meager, decrepit apartment and a curious little, pale face peaked from behind the curtain of which used to be my bedroom window. I waved at the young child yet she did not wave back. We moved on and towards where I knew a Chinese antiques store to be. When entering the store, the Asian man behind the counter froze and eyed me curiously, no doubt because of my opulent appearance. I knew then that I was at the correct place. 


     “My dear sir,” I said to him. “I am in need of a certain substance that would be placed into a certain silver syringe that I believe to be purchased from here.” The man’s face became pale and he gulped. He did not respond. I reached into my coat and retrieved a roll of pound notes and placed them on the counter. He eyed the roll for a few moments. 


     “How much you need?” he finally said. 


     “What I need, sir, is the most potent dose you are able to obtain for me,” I responded. “A dose that would put an elephant to sleep.” He nodded then disappeared behind a curtain and returned a few moments later. 


     “Very potent. Be very careful. Just little bit all you need,” he said, placing a small, paper packet on the counter. I thanked him in Mandarin and returned to the carriage and instructed my coachman to return to Rudolph’s flat. I knocked on the door and when it opened, I was appalled. What stood before me was a mere, gaunt sliver of what used to be my beloved Nehir. She gasped and embraced me and pulled me inside. Rudolph was seated on the couch, well-dressed and with his legs crossed. He smirked at me. 


     “My lovely Nathaniel,” Nehir said, kissing me on both cheeks. “You look so pleasant and healthy. You look...wonderful!”


     “Thank you, my dear,” I responded.


     “Yes, you do look healthy, Nathaniel,” Rudolph then said, standing and walking into the bedroom and returning with that wicked, wooden box. My heart thudded and a sickening feeling enveloped me. A feeling of dire, overpowering craving. Perspiration formed on my brow. “Come, let us celebrate your return with an old friend,” Rudolph said, tapping the box. I looked to Nehir and she shook her head ever so slightly. It took all the strength within me to utter the following statement:


     “Thank you, Rudolph, but I feel I must decline. Perhaps later.” A scowl crept across his face. 


     “Well then, we have nothing more to discuss, do we?” he said, walking to the door and opening it. 


     “If Nathaniel leaves, then so shall I,” Nehir said, standing beside me with conviction. Rudolph chuckled and was silent for a few moments. 


     “Very well, then,” Rudolph said, closing the door. “You shall stay the night and we will resume our daily routine in the morrow,” he said with an air of confidence, as if suspecting I would not be able to resist the lure of the syringe. His tactics were cruel yet brilliant. “Come then, let us have some brandy. You do still drink brandy, correct, Nathaniel?” I nodded. Rudolph poured expensive brandy into three crystal snifter glasses. “To your return,” he said and we three tapped our glasses together and drank the brandy.


     “And Henry, what has become of him?” I asked and Nehir looked down and away. 


     “Ah, yes, Henry. Well, it appears he became weary of us and took his leave,” Rudolph said.


     “And where did he leave to?” I asked.


     “We have not the faintest of ideas, I am afraid. We have not heard from him since,” Rudolph responded, sitting on the sofa again and crossing his legs. “Serves him well, however. His malodorous stench began to seep into the very fabric of my Italian furniture.” Rudolph snickered and ire rose up within me yet I needed to remain calm in order to execute my plan. “Ah, Nathaniel, there is a grand gathering this evening that we’d love for you to attend. Correct, Nehir?”


     “Yes, of course,” Nehir responded, without enthusiasm. This was my chance! This was the evening in which I would execute my plan yet I needed to be cunning and nonchalant about it. 


     “I regret to say that I must decline, my dear Rudolph,” I responded, appearing sullen. “I have just buried my dear aunt and my heart is just not in it. I hope you do understand.” Rudolph leaned his head on the palm of his hand and peered at me, as if attempting to read my mind. He smirked. 


     “Ah, yes. You have just buried your dear aunt. How could I have forgotten?” he said, standing and brushing off his trousers. “Come now, Nehir, we must get ready.” 


     “You would not mind greatly if I were to stay the night here, would you, Rudolph?” I asked as they walked towards the master suite. “My flat has so many painful memories of her and I just can not bear it.” He stopped his advance and threw a sideways glance at me. 


     “Of course,” Rudolph said before disappearing into the room followed by Nehir. I drank more brandy to steady my nerves and waited and waited for them to take their leave. It seemed as if hours passed before the bedroom door opened and Rudolph and Nehir walked out of it. Rudolph looked stunning, as usual, as did my Nehir, even though her elegant crimson dress hung loosely off her emaciated frame. “Do make yourself at home, Nathaniel. Please help yourself to anything your heart desires,” Rudolph said, opening the front door. Nehir smiled weakly at me before she followed Rudolph out of the door and to the carriage that awaited them below. 


     I paced the flat incessantly, perspiring and with my heart thudding. I finally gathered enough courage to enter the master bedroom. I promptly spotted the wooden box on the nightstand adjacent to the bed. As I approached the box, an article of clothing on the bed caught my attention. It appeared to be a silken nightgown, no doubt belonging to Nehir. I picked it up and inhaled her scent that was utterly intoxicating. She smelled of lavender and rose and with just a hint of perspiration. I rubbed the fabric against my cheek and, for a brief moment, imagined her pressed against my bare skin, caressing me. My conviction to separate her from that wretched being, became even stronger then. 


     I opened the box only to be bombarded with a collective of desperate whispers yet I ignored them and retrieved the packet of opium from my coat. I retrieved the syringe and this is where my plan was nearly derailed. I craved immensely for it then - that beautiful, wicked liquid. I began quivering and licking my lips in lust. My hand trembled as the syringe made its way slowly towards my willing vein. I pressed the needle against my skin, unable to control myself then. Just as the needle was to pierce my skin, I heard her voice. “Do not do it, my dear Nathaniel,” my mother said from somewhere in the spaces of my subconscious. I pulled the needle away from my vein and wept. 


     I gathered myself again and emptied the pre-dosed contents of the syringe into an adjacent glass of water. I prepared the deadly solution, as I had watched Rudolph do many times before, and filled the syringe with it. I placed the syringe back into the box, ever so carefully, and closed the lid. I walked back into the living room and poured myself a sizable amount of brandy and downed it in one swift swallow. I repeated this action one more time before my eyes became as if made of lead. I was awoken a bit later by the sound of heavy footsteps approaching the door. The door burst open and Nehir and a strange man entered dragging Rudolph, who appeared to be only half-coherent. He mumbled as they dragged him into the master bedroom. I wiped my eyes of sleep. 


     Moments later, the strange man emerged from the bedroom and nodded at me slightly before leaving the flat. Nehir appeared soon after, sighed and sat beside me. “He is not too well,” she said, appearing slightly intoxicated herself. “He drank very, very much but I think he sleeps now. He is snoring.”


     “Are you well?” I asked. Nehir leaned back on the sofa and glanced towards the door. 


     “Nathaniel, what do you wish to become?” Nehir asked without looking to me. 


     “Myself? Well, I suppose I just want to be a better man each day to the next. And yourself?” I responded. She did not answer for a few moments and then I felt her hand holding mine. Goose pimples traveled along the entire surface of my skin and her warmth radiated within my palm. My heart galloped. 


     “I wish to be a wife. I wish to watch my children play in a field with horses. I wish to be normal,” she responded before placing her head on my shoulder. “But I feel it is too late.” There was a quiver in her voice and I knew she was on the precipice of sobbing. 


     “Nehir, it is not too late to escape...to escape this madness. In fact, maybe even in the morrow you will be able to do so,” I responded, stroking her hair. She was quiet and I could feel the warmth of her tears upon my shoulder. 


     “You will help me?” she asked, weakly. I smiled.


     “Of course, my dear. Of course,” I responded with confidence, knowing that all would be well in the morning. After they carted Rudolph’s diseased corpse away, I would whisk her promptly to the sanatorium and we would start our new lives together soon after. I absolutely loved this perfect example of beauty that sat beside me then. She wiped her cheeks, drew in a long breath and then kissed me on the cheek. I quivered. 


     “I must sleep now,” she said, standing. “Goodnight, Nathaniel.” I watched as she seemingly glided towards the bedroom door - almost as if she were a deity walking above the ground instead of on it. “Thank you,” she said before blowing me a kiss and disappearing behind the bedroom door. I drew in a long, satisfied breath and let it out slowly. I retreated to the spare bedroom yet I was unable to sleep. I tossed and turned and the minutes passed as if in slow motion. I wondered incessantly as to whether or not Rudolph had already breathed his final breath. I reveled in the very thought of it. 


     Exhaustion got the better of me and I fell asleep but I was woken soon after by something which I am unable to describe sufficiently. It was as if the very hand of doom had nudged me awake. I stood and crept towards the master suite, making sure to not make any noise that would awaken Nehir. I opened the door slowly and peered through the crack. The flickering light of a solitary candle sparsely lit the room. In its glow, I could see the outline of a body on the floor. I grinned and opened the door further. I prepared myself for the gruesome sight that would soon unfold before me. I approached the body but was startled by the flash of a match being lit off to my left. Another candle was illuminated.


     “Good morning, Nathaniel,” a voice said and my legs quivered and became weak, almost to the point of collapse. Nausea crept up within my gut. It was Rudolph sitting in the corner and smoking a cigar. I gasped and ran to the body in the corner. It was Nehir. Her desolate eyes were open and staring towards the heavens. Her lips were blue and that demonic syringe protruded from her angelic vein. “What have you done?! What have you done, you wicked, wicked demon?!” I exclaimed, holding her cold body in my arms. 


     “The question is, Nathaniel, what have YOU done?” he replied, calmly, blowing a plume of smoke in my direction. “You see, I was not as impaired as I led on to be when returning from the party, Nathaniel.” I glared at him - my chest heaving with animosity. “Earlier in the evening, when you had returned to my flat, I noticed something in your eyes. It was the all too familiar look of vengeance and ire. I knew you had devised some sort of plan,” he said, taking a long puff from his cigar and expelling the smoke all about him, which resulted in an eerie setting, especially with the firelight flickering through the smoke that framed his dire silhouette. 


     “Look what you have done to her! She was so beautiful! So...so kind. It should be you that is lying here!” I snarled, laying Nehir’s body back on the floor, gently. He smirked and sat on the edge of the bed, nonchalantly and yawned. 


     “You see, my dear Nathaniel, I have a propensity for being meticulous, as I am sure you can discern from the organized nature of my flat. Now, with that being said, I always tend to place my silver syringe back into its box with the needle facing to the left,” he said before extinguishing the lit cigar on the palm of his hand without any discernible indication of pain. This startled me. “As you can imagine, I found it quite peculiar, when returning from the party, that the needle was facing to the right.” He winked and I clenched my fists, unable to suppress my rage any longer. “As you and your beloved Nehir chatted in the living room, I decided to just let things flow as they may, so to speak. I pretended to be sleeping as I watched her, with half-closed eyes, open the box and retrieve the syringe and, well, the result is right below you.”


     “You evil, bloody bastard!” I snarled through my teeth. 


     “Oh, Nathaniel, it is not all that bad, is it? If anything, I have saved you from prolonged, inevitable heartache. For you see, a woman of her beauty and stature, would never be caught dead, excuse my pun, with a man like you. Especially, well, with your dreadful fashion sense.” 


     Fury got the better of me and I lunged at him only for him to stand and strike me with the back of his hand. I staggered for a moment before he struck me again yet this time it was with his fist to my temple. I lost balance and fell on my back. In a state of confusion, I watched as he slowly stood above me and then proceeded to sit on my chest. When I looked into his eyes I reeled in horror! What I looked upon was layer upon layer of many different desperate eyes seemingly fighting for space within his. They pleaded with me in silence for their liberation. He growled and then speedily wrapped his hands around my neck and proceeded to strangle me with fascinating strength. Spittle flew from his mouth as he muttered something incomprehensible. Perhaps in another language I was unfamiliar with. 


     As you can understand, I was only but half the stature of Rudolph and my attempts to remove his hands from my neck were futile. I scanned the surroundings and took notice of an ornately carved walking cane with a golden snake head as its handle. I desperately reached for it but my fingertips fell only inches short. In that moment, I resigned to perish. Oddly enough, I found a certain solace in the thought that I may see my Nehir again in the land beyond this one. Perhaps in that space we would be equals and spend eternity in each other’s embrace. As I began my transition into the next dimension, something very curious happened. Rudolph released his grip on my neck and jumped up. He scanned the corners of the room erratically, as if he had heard something or someone. “Who is there?!” he called out, in a state of panic. “Who calls me by my name?! Show yourself!” I was a bit dazed and gasping for air but I managed to lift myself up yet Rudolph seemed oblivious to my movements. He ran to the window and scanned the perimeter, all the while breathing heavily. “Who calls me by my name?!”


     I slowly grabbed the walking cane and crept up behind him. I gathered up every bit of strength I could muster and swung the cane at him. The metal snake head handle struck him directly on the temple and he swiveled to face me, seemingly dazed. All the eyes within him scanned me as well, confused as to what had just transpired. I swore that I could even hear them whispering to each other. He staggered for a few moments before his legs gave way and he tumbled to the floor facing upwards. I placed my ear to his chest to make sure I had not killed him. He was still alive. I slumped over and took a few moments to calm my thudding heart and to gather my strength again. 


     I devised a plan to make Rudolph appear to have perished from an apparent overdose of opium yet I would not dare use the same syringe with Nehir’s precious blood on it. I scoured through cabinets and drawers before I finally discovered one with various items of drug paraphernalia within it. One of which was a crude, metal syringe that he had, no doubt, used before purchasing the cursed syringe. I acquired it, ran to my coat in the other room and retrieved the rest of the fatal opium from its pocket. I cooked the opium and filled the metal syringe with it. At this point, Rudolph began to slowly gain consciousness. He moaned quietly and I knelt beside him. “My dear Rudolph,” I said. “Look what you have gotten yourself into this time. Tsk, tsk, tsk.”


     His eyes opened very slowly and looked to me - all the other eyes followed. “Nathaniel, please...do not,” he managed to say, weakly, before he lost consciousness again. Then, to my surprise, I heard what I thought to be a faint whisper coming from deep within him. It was in Mandarin and it said, “Kill him! Free us!” I disregarded it as simply my imagination caused by stress of the moment. With metal syringe in hand, I watched Rudolph for a long while as he moaned quietly and stirred and then a strange feeling overcame me - sympathy. Perhaps Rudolph had not been given the same affection in his youth as I had. Perhaps he had not a father to guide him in the direction of good morals and gratitude. Perhaps he had even been molested. After all, he had not actually killed Nehir but rather allowed her to kill herself. Which is the lesser of the two evils, I thought to myself. I had only to gaze upon Nehir’s purple corpse to finalize my decision. 


     I plunged the needle into Rudolph’s vein and injected the opium, leaving the needle in place. Almost instantly, his eyes opened and he gasped and his head turned slowly to me and his many eyes met mine. “Forgive...me,” he managed to utter, hoarsely, before his eyes half-closed and his mouth opened wide and in a grotesque manner. I fell backwards as a collective of screams exited his mouth in many different octaves and tones. I covered my ears and winced at their staggering volume and pitch. It was at least one minute before they subsided and a deathly (quite literally) quiet overcame the room. It occurred to me then that because Rudolph possessed and took responsibility for the silver syringe, the many souls who fell victim to it, possessed him in return. It was not until now, many years on, that they finally achieved their liberation at the expense of his death. 


     I crawled to Nehir’s body and gently pulled her eyelids down over her eyes that, only hours prior, had been so full of ambition and kindness. I then lay my head on her cold bosom and wept. “We will meet again, my love, in one fashion or another,” I said. I layed with her for a long while before I came to the realization that dawn was soon at hand. I kissed her cold, blue lips and bid my goodbyes. One would think that I would have the intelligence to leave the silver syringe within her arm but I just could not. Perhaps it was because it was christened with her precious blood or perhaps I had a certain, macabre bond with it. Nevertheless, I took it with me, along with the walking cane so that there would be no evidence of me having anything to do with both of their deaths. Rudolph’s drug use was widely known and the inspector would surely surmise that he had accidentally killed Nehir and then himself out of shame and panic. The blunt force trauma on his temple would have been from him striking his head on the bed frame upon fainting. 


     In the years that followed, I traveled Europe with that cursed syringe always at hand yet I never injected opium from it, until later, as you have already discerned. Guilt compounded within me to a point where I was no longer able to keep it at bay. On All Hollow’s Eve, and under the full light of a rare blue moon, I booked a hotel only a stone’s throw from Nehir’s childhood residence - Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. As I listened to the gentle lapping waters of the Bosphorus, I imagined Nehir walking the grounds of the palace, as a child, so young, fluorescent and plump with dreams. I imagined she and I, walking hand in hand along the ornate gardens in the Spring, our children following close behind. I imagined achieving my eternal sleep with her by my side - gazing upon me, lovingly. 


     At the moment, the night has achieved its deepest shade of black and, below me, children and adults alike are gathering for observation of the rare event. As for myself, I am preparing for my journey into the next dimension. The silver syringe is by my side, filled with its potent dose and with miniscule amounts of Nehir’s blood still on the needle. Dear reader, I ask that you do what I was unable to. Destroy this syringe so that it never infects another poor soul! Throw it into a furnace and melt it down then bury the clump of silver somewhere desolate. Somewhere where no other human being can discover it ever again. Rid humanity of this harbinger of doom for it has cost me the ultimate price - true love! Now I must take my leave for she awaits me just beyond the thin, silver, ethereal line that separates the dimensions. May you never suffer the fate I have. Goodbye.



Nathaniel Belgrave II

All Hallows Eve, 1905



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