- Last Record: 2013-04-29 16:16:18 -1000
- Joined: Sep 29, 2011
(When I first saw brookeduckart's 1/2 blind taxidermied fox (http://www.hitrecord.org/records/810827) I immediately thought of Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart. I believe it's in to public domain http://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Poe/Tell-Tale_Heart.pdf , so I thought I'd attempt a subtle rewrite. Probably could be shortened more.)
The Tell Tale Tail
True!---nervous----very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? Listen! And see how steadily and serenely I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how I first got the idea; but once thought, it plagued me day and night. Gain there was none. Pleasure there was none. I pitied the poor creature. He had never wronged me. For his pelt I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture---a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me while I hunted, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees--- very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the poor creature, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. I was never kinder to the poor creature than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I crept to the place that was his den---oh, so gently! And every morning when the day broke, I went boldly to his den, laying treats for him, speaking courageously to him, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound creature, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.
Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in entering the den. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers---of my clear thinking. To think that there I was, entering his den, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back--- but no. His den was as black as pitch with the thick darkness of the woods and so I knew that he could not see me slither along the ground and I kept slinking on steadily, steadily.
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still awake in his den listening;--- just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the howls of the wolves in the woods.
Presently I heard a slight whimper, and I knew it was the whimper of mortal terror. I knew what the poor creature felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had stirred. His fears had been ever since growing upon him.
When I had waited a long time, very patently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to turn on the light---a very, very little crevice between my cupped fingers. So I turned it on---you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily---until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and full upon the vulture eye.
It was open---wide, wide open---and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness---all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones.
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?---now, I say there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the flicking of the poor creature’s tail. It increased my fury, for surly he recognized my scent.
The hellish switching of the tail increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The poor creature’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say louder every moment!--- do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. The switching grew louder, louder! I thought the tail must fall off. And now a new anxiety seized me---the sound would be heard by others! The poor creature’s hour had come! With a loud yell I took my rifle and shot! He shrieked once—once only. But, for many minutes, the tail twitched on with a muffled sound. This however, did not vex me; it would not be heard. At length it ceased. The poor creature was dead. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. His eye would trouble me no more.
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. I dragged him quickly and quietly back to my cabin. Prepared the body with steady hands—removing the accursed eye and throwing it into the fire, stuffing the belly with flax and sawdust. I then took up three planks from the flooring near the fire, and deposited all in the hole. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no creatures’ eye—not even his—could have detected anything wrong.
When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock—still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the cabin door. I went to open it with a light heart, --- for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves as Rangers of the forest. A gun shot had been heard by a campsite during the night; suspicion of poaching had been aroused; information had been lodged at the Ranger’s station and they (the Rangers) had been authorized to search the premises.
I smiled, --- for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shot, I said, was my own by accident while cleaning the weapon. No creature, I mentioned, was harmed. I took my visitors all over the cabin and bade them search--- search well. I led them, in front of the fire. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:-- it continued and became more distinct: I talked more feely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued--- until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.
No doubt I now grew very pale;-- but what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound---much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath--- and yet the officers heard it not. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides. Oh God! What could I do? I foamed---I raved—I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder—louder---louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!—no, no! They heard!--- they suspected!---they knew! They were making a mockery of my horror!--- this I thought, and this I think. But any thing was better than this agony! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!---and now---again!---listen! Louder! Louder! Louder! Louder!---
“Fools!” I shrieked, “Tease me no more! I admit the deed!--- tear up the planks!--- here, here!--- it is the twitching of his hideous tail!”