The Chain of Death

The Chain of Death

A Story by Roshni M.W.
"

You're stuck in the middle of the ocean on a ship inhabited by a potential murderer. How would you feel?

"
The ship seemed suspended in a universe of blue. It seemed abandoned, left alone to feel the wrath of the elements as the sea coiled like an angry basilisk underneath it. The shrill wail of the wind rose high as it flung the ship about, laughing at its fragility. The sky merged with the sea in a confusion of blue only interrupted by the froth of white that splashed loudly against the boards of the ship. The captain bellowed orders that seemed quite whispers compared to the roar of the mighty sea. If a stranger looked at this spectacle they might feel a surge of pity for this ship, struggling against the unbeatable forces of God. 
    Yet strong winds and an angry sea were the least of the ships problems. The real danger lies inside the heart of the ship itself. Darkness and fear were spreading through the entire ship like a slow and mysterious form of cancer. Undettected and subtle, yet nonetheless real. The darkness brought in by the mightiest storm is nothing compared to the darkness that might be buried deep inside the human soul. The crimson hue of raw blood tainted the soul of the ship.
     A frienzed pair of fists banged on the door of cabin 33. 
"Let me out!" Nobody answered the summons. Maybe it was because nobody heard it but more probably it was because nobody wanted to hear it. The door knob rattled vigorously yet still the door remained obstinately locked. 
     "Quite that infernal noise, Mortenza." An irritated male voice responded unexpectedly. "We're certainly not going anywhere anytime soon." In a flash, Mortenza turned her blazing eyes onto the man lying idly on the bed. 
     "I most certainly will not quite it." She spat out through clenched teeth. The tension and anger building inside her body made light tremors shake her clenched fists. "I refuse to be locked up and treated like a wild animal." 
     "Bravo. An inspiring statement. Pity that the lock doesn't agree with you." He stated blankly, not even daining to look at the agitated woman before him. 
      "Morlon, you... " The statement faded away unfinished. A strangled sound halfway between a sob and a howl erupted from her mouth. At this, Morlon's eyes turned to the woman standing before him, a brief clash of guilt crossed his coal black eyes. He shuffled a triffle uncomfortably on the bed. He opened his mouth to speak but then he seemed to think better of it. It was Nadina who went up to the  agitated woman and put a comforting arm around her shoulders. 
      "Its all right, Mortenza. In a few days we'll be in New York and all this will be over." Nadina patted her back lightly, treating her like a frieghtened child. A long breath escaped from Mortenza's lips as she plopped down onto the nearest vacant bed. Slowly, Nadina sat down next to her. In contrast to her comforting words, her face was worn-out and deathly pale. Despite her young age a pair of wrinkles outlined her forehead. It seemed as if she had aged ten years during her brief residence on the ship. Ever since her twin sisters' death five years ago her natural beauty had started to seep out of her bit by bit leaving only an empty shell of a woman. Cancer had stolen the other half of her and a sense of emptiness crowded her days. This nightmarish voyage had only added to her long list of grievances. A deep sigh escaped her lips as her gaze fell on the twins sitting cross-legged in the corner. At the sight of Victoria and Vanessa huddled together in a corner, whispering secrets meant only for each other's ears, a grief pang of jealousy gripped her heart. She felt exhausted as if she had walked on the earth for more than a century. She closed her eyes in an attempt to block the surge of memories that threatened to overwelm her. 
     The wind surged around them sounding like the laments and the wails of the damned coming to devour everything in its path. But the five Spearling siblings were deaf to the world. Each was nursing private thoughts, thoughts dripped with fear and anxiety. E A sudden chill went down Mortenza's spine as her memory transported her back to the day when all their nightmares had first started. 
      It had been a hot day. The wind lay obstinately still making the silence around the ship deep and impenetrable. The angry glare of the sun scorched anyone who dared stand too long under his beams. Mortenza had been lying on a bench situated on the deck. She had felt sweat lining her perfectly plucked eyebrows. The heat caused an infectious laziness to spread into every corner of her mind. Inwardly she cursed Arthur for his idea of taking a ship to reach America. He had claimed that it would help them bond as a proper family. At the time his proposal had seemed reasonable enough. After all they were brothers and sisters and yet they hardly knew each other, especially the oldest three. After they reached adulthood each had left the nest in different directions to return only on the occasional holiday. Now, only the sixteen-year old twins still resided at the manor. A vacation together had seemed like a brilliant idea but now, stranded on the ship, burning by degrees under the hot sun with nothing to keep her entertained, Morenza's grumpy mood escalated. She huffed in annoyance and moved to get another sip of water. For a flash of a second she imagined what it would be like to splash the fresh liquid onto her head. She imagined the cool sensation of the water dripping onto her back. But then she moved it to her lips instead, gracelessly gulping down all the water. When the last of the water had been drained she passed a thirsty tongue along her lips, wanting more. 
      A bath. That's what she needed. She wanted to soak inside a bathtub and feel the water rinse away the angry effects of the sun. Slightly uplifted by the thought she made her way down the corridor, back to her cabin. She walked with swift strides, thinking only of getting rid of the sweat that made her clothes cling obstinately onto her body. She felt better already comforted by the shade offered by the walls around her, a shield against the anger of the sun. For that one minuscule instant everything was normal, then the tides began to shift. 
       Splash. A sound so unexpected, it made Morenza halt in her tracks. She looked down at her feet and she saw the rough floor softened by the glisten of water. It hug her shoes making a sensation of cold seep into her toes. Her eyes widened in surprise. Why was this place covered with water? A  sudden image of theTitanic drifted into the forefront of her mind.  A feeling of complete panic momentarily gripped her heart but then, almost instantly, she heard it. The cold rush of running water. A tide of relief washed over her. It was just an absentminded person who has left the tap running. She continued along the corridor beaconed by the rhythmic sound of the water. The sound boomed loud and clear surrounded by the silent ship. It didn't take her long to reach the cabin from which water seeped under the cracks. Number 27. Arthur's cabin. She shook her head in a long suffering way. She should have known. Who else wound have done something so stupid? With only a slight push, the door opened wide, almost as if it expected her. She splashed through the water towards the half-open bathroom door. Huffing her annoyance for the delay of her plans. 
      The bathroom was a blanketed in a haze of steam. It was impossible to distinguish much through the thick coat of white. On the other end lay the outline of the bathtub enveloped in a halo of white. Morena walked towards it, irritably. Her thoughts were muddled and dizzy due to the unbearable rise in temperature. Slowly, she felt her way to the bathtub. The tap creaked loudly as she shut it. Immediately the sound of running water ceased replaced by a consistent dripping sound as the water overflowed from the bath to the floor. She figured that it would be best to unplug the bath and let the water drain away. She reached into the tub, scalding her hand in the burning water. She swore loudly, cursing her absent- minded brother and planning to yell at him the next time she saw him.     
      Suddenly, she froze. Her hand had encountered an obstacle. Puzzled, she pushed her hand further, feeling the rubber-like substance challenging her fingers. Mortenza squinted her eyes attempting to discern the object in the water but it was no use. The steam was too thick, jealously guarding its secret. Slowly she bent down towards the water, her eyes searching for answers. Now she saw something. A blurred outline of an object shimmering in the water. An object that seemed determined to remain a mystery. She bent still lower, determined to see the truth. She bent until she felt the water licking the tip of her nose. Instantly, the outline took shape. Eyes, cold and grey. Eyes widened in fear hovered underneath the water. Blue, inhuman lips lay mere inches away from her own. Close enough to kiss. Instantly, Mortenza's face shot backwards. Shock replaced reason inside her mind as she stared at the figure before her, not comprehending what it meant. The corpse lying deep inside the tub stared back at her. The skin, grey as ash, seemed to move with the water, wanting to return to the land of the living. A fizz of red hair framed a face frozen in a permanent expression of terror. The hilt of a knife stuck out of his chest. The bright red and green jewels embedded in it contrasted the grey appearance of the corpse, almost mocking it. 
      Seconds dragged on to minutes as Mortenza stared, drinking in the poisonous scene. Thud. Thud. Thud. The sound of feet running on the deck. Suddenly, a scream escaped her open mouth. A high-pitched scream that pierced her ears and massacred her throat. A scream that reverberated all around the boat gripping the hearts of every living member of the ship with fear. The sound of feet rushing towards the tainted cabin echoed through the ship. Men and women crammed themselves into cabin 27 and witnessed the sight of the corpse. Still, Mortenza screamed unaware of everything except the shell of the body Arthur had left behind. 
      A roar of deafening thunder brought Mortenza back to the present, a present where she was trapped inside a cabin with her living sibling surrounding her. Unfortunately, she felt as if even the dead ones were hovering around her, demanding revenge. A slight tremor had taken hold of her body. She closed her eyes, battling with her memories. Arthur's death had been a mere taste of the violence that inhabited the ship. In the following days more corpses revealed themselves to unsuspecting people. First, Arthur. Second, the stiff figure of Gorden materialized out of a closet. Eyes shut for eternity. The third had been Cadren. His body had been found inside a storage chest where it had remained hidden for days until a group of curious boys went rummaging for secrets. The first thing that registered in their minds was the putrid smell that emanated from the decaying corpse. It was a smell that was permanently engraved inside their minds, minds too young to understand. 
      The blood of three victims had been soaked by the ship and their corpses lay waiting inside the storage rooms. But still, the murderer had showed no signs of existence. No sign except the occasional body waiting to be discovered. Security measures had been tightened tenfold. Videocameras were placed in every single hallway and cabin. Everyone was suspected. Everyone was under constant surveillance. Tensions rose high and fear gripped every mortal soul that breathed and walked on the ship. People locked themselves inside their cabins, only coming out for mere necessities. Men and women huddled themselves together into groups, never leaving the strength of numbers. For a while the security measures seemed to have worked. Days went by without the appearance of a corpse. The chain of death and murder seemed to have ended. Slowly, gradually, the tension and fear eased. The murderer was still loose and fear still inhabited every heart but the nightmares that captured the passengers on their beds causing them to wake up screaming in a bundle of sweat had become rarer. A tender and thin veil of safety been to cover the ship. A sense that one was not likely to be robbed of their breath when their eyelids were closed. The veil, so thin and fragile in the first place, was ripped apart into a thousand indecipherable fragments by the fourth murder.
      It had been a bright sunny morning when Vanessa and Victoria had knocked on the door of cabin 33, wanting to know why Carly was late for breakfast. There had been no answer. A premonition of misfortune made its way into their minds in that very instant. With a trembling hand Victoria turned the doorknob, already knowing what she would find inside. The first object that met their eyes was the open window. Bright beams of early morning sunlight poured into the room transforming it into a kaleidoscope of dancing light. The image  inspired a momentary feeling of peace and comfort in the girls. But then their eyes followed the beams of light onto the floor where two figures lay immobile on the ground. The deep red hair of Carly and the ebony black of Nadina were spread on the ground like blotches of paint surrounding the bodies. Carly was face up, a knife protruding from her chest and Nadina was laying face down with a bloodied bump showing through the back of her head. A lamp lay broken on the ground beside Nadina, a trail of red dripped like a tear down the side of the broken lamp onto the floor.  Fragments of glass glistened all around the room, making the scene seem unreal, a mere figment of the imagination. But when security arrived and covered Carly's dead body with a white cloth and transported the still- breathing but injured Nadina to the Emergency room it was no longer possible to doubt the reality of the situation. The murderer was still active and thirsty for blood. Nine Spearling siblings had boarded the ship but only five remained standing. 
     Every passenger on board was again interrogated. The five surviving sibling were questioned the longest but all to no avail. No possible motive could be discerned for the murder. Nadine had survived her experience with only a light concussion and she too had been questioned regarding the murders. One security guard proposed the theory that she had stabbed her sister to death and with Carly's last ounce of energy she had in turn struck Nadina on the head. A theory which was soon and without a shred of doubt dispelled by the obvious fact that Nadina had fallen facing Carly but the lamp had hit her on the back of the head. The murderer must have entered the room covertly, expecting only Carly but on beholding the two sisters together he must have taken a nearby lamp and struck Nadina on the head. Then he must have proceeded to stab Carly with the only knife he had brought with him. This was the excepted sequence of events but the most crucial piece of the puzzle remained missing. Who was the murderer? It was the question that the passengers screamed at the harassed captain. Their voices, gone shrill with terror, demanded answers but the elderly captain only looked from one face to the other and muttered unintelligible replies. He knew well enough that evasive replies weren't enough but still he was at a lose of what to do. It didn't take him long to see a solution, a solution that he grasped with desperation. 
      The five Spearling siblings were standing together in the middle of their room, digesting the bitter circumstances, when a loud knock penetrated their private thoughts. For a second they froze and eyed each other covertly. Nobody made a move towards the door as if death himself had come, demanding entrance. The sound grew louder, insisting. It was Nadina who shook her head, ridding it of all superstitious thoughts before opening the door. The captain stood before her. Although he was not the black- clad and gloomy figure one normally associates with death, his worn face and troubled eyes was proof that death itself had made its mark on him. In fact it has left its mark on every soul that inhabited the ship turning controlled adults into panic - driven and angry beasts trapped inside a floating cage. Even the children, too innocent to understand death, perceived the terror that was transforming their parents, their anchors to the world. 
      It took only a few muffled words to explain the situation. Nadina listened while they were told that from this moment until the culprit was found the Spearling siblings will be locked inside cabin 27. He took great pains to reassure them that the confinement was to insure their own safety for it was clear that someone on board the ship wanted them dead. But Nadina could see that his eyes failed to express the same sentiment. She could see the suspicion that lurked beneath the depth of his red- coated eyes. The lock was used, not to keep the inhabitants safe, as the captain claimed, but to keep the murderer in. For with the murderer locked and the key guarded safely by the captain the angry crowd will seize their incessant shrieks and begin to calm. The perfect solution. Nadina opened her mouth to speak but hesitated, not finding the words to use in such a situation. However, it turned out that words weren't of much use, for the moment the voice of the captain ceased the clang of the metal door slamming shut reverberated around the cabin. In a matter of seconds the shrill and unforgiving creak of the lock turning implanted the reality of their imprisonment into the minds of the siblings. 
   Now here they were, brothers and sisters confined with the presence of death in the midst of a raging storm. 
   "We should get some sleep." The quiet voice of Victoria interrupted the dark thoughts floating around the room. Nods and mumbles of assent followed her statement. One by one, each sibling deposited their weary bodies on the bed, hoping for sleep to relieve their troubled minds if only for a short span of time. Nadina lay under blankets which were failing miserably to keep the chill air out and her mind began to seek solutions. Who was it? Who could murder three people in cold blood and plunge the lives of dozens of others into choas? She was there, lying unconscious in the room while the murder was committed. There had been a large mirror in the room when the murderer had surprised them. The police had asked Nadina again and again whether she remembered the face, even a small detail that could in some way narrow down the list of suspects but she could not. The blow to the head had spooned out random pieces of information from her mind, leaving her to cope with large blanks in her generally infallible memory. The doctor had said that over time the memories will seep back into her mind, usually when triggered by an object or event that was relevant to the memory. Over the past hours Nadina had closed her eyes and attempted to force her stubborn mind to give her the information that everybody so desperately wanted. She had pictured herself talking with her sister and then seeing an image in the mirror but no matter how hard she tried her mind refused to yield. Not a spark of recognition was ignited by her continued efforts. 
    Nadina turned around in her bed and sighed wearily. The suspicious eyes of the captain floated to the forefront of her mind and she found herself wandering whether it was one of them. Morlon, Mortenza, Victoria and Vanessa. She found herself examining each and every one of them trying to determine whether cruelty could be imbedded in their heart. Slowly, like bright colored poison traveling through her veins, suspicions insinuated itself into her mind as she pictured each one of them welding a knife, ready to strike. She could almost see the inhuman anger written in their eyes. She took a sharp intake of breath and commanded herself to be reasonable. Surely, none of her siblings would be capable of murder. No. It simple wasn't possible. It is more likely that some of their friends who had bordered the ship with them were the true culprits and as long as the five of them were trapped in this cabin no danger would befall them. She had tried to force out of her mind all the dark thoughts still lingering in her blood. But she soon discovered that once they had taken a hold of her it was impossible to force them out. So there she lay in the middle of the night with increasingly disturbing images flicking through her mind. The darkness around her grew thick and sentient. She could feel hidden secrets floating in the impenetrable haze of black. Figures seemed to shift and move all around her, confident that they wouldn't be detected. Once she thought she discerned the distinctive purple of Morlon's eyes hanging in the space above her and when she turned around sharply twin black eyes waited for her on the other side of the bed. She closed her eyes tightly willing the images to go away but when her sight was under control, her other senses would still torment her. She could swear she heard the heightened  beating of an agitated heart by her bedside and then she could taste the metallic tang of blood on her parted lips. With a slight shrill of terror she flung the blankets over her head and drew her knees up to her chest, reduced into a child terrified of its own imagination. 
    Not even for a small instant did sleep extend its comforting hand to the five inhabitants of the cabin. Frustratingly slowly, the night made way for a cloudy and overcast early morning. Scarcely did the clock strike four when the metal scraping of the lock turning followed by a loud knock and agitated voices caused the siblings to jump out of their beds. The captain and a handful of officers were at the door brandishing a small disk in front of them. Without a word they escorted the Spearlings into a larger room in the center of which lay a large tv. 
     "This is the surveillance tape that went missing on the day of the murder. It will show us, without a shred of doubt, who murdered your brothers and sister." All eyes were fixed on the captain incredulously. Whatever they were expecting, it was not this. 
      "Where did you find it?" Morlon's deep voice rang out in the silence. 
      "It was abandoned in the path that leads to the upper deck." 
      "That makes no sense. Why would the murderer take the trouble of confiscating the tape only to abandon it in the hallway?" The captain shrugged irritably.
      "Maybe he just lost it. Happens to all of us. Anyway, what does it matter how we got it? The fact is that we have it and that's what's important, isn't it?" The captain replied eyeing Morlon suspiciously through narrowed eyes. Morlon just gave a disdainful sneer in response and leaning on the nearby wall, waited with a show of impatience. The captain placed the tape inside the tv and stood back, waiting for the grand discovery.
       Nadina watched herself as she entered the room with an agitated Carly. Finally, it would all be over. The fear will be a thing of the past. Of course, none of them will ever be the same again. They lost four siblings in this accursed trip and pain was growing inside them. The lose of fear will only allow the pain to absorb them completely. Nadina sighed thinking of her elder siblings. She didn't know them too well but this only sharpened the pain of loosing them without even getting a chance to truly understand them. Now, seeing Carly, the eldest, alive and well sent a wave of pain crashing into her skull. She didn't want to see the murder. She decided that she would only watch until the murderer appear on the scene then she would insist on going to her own cabin again. 
       And so she watched her elder sister prattling onwards facing the window, with her back to Nadina. Something was tugging in the recess of her mind. Some memory trying to resurface, a memory that was yet too weak to gain its own freedom. She let it go and attached her eyes onto the screen. She was afraid to blink lest she would miss an important detail but nothing seemed to happen. Her eyes were fixed on the door as she expected it to open any minute. But the door remained resolutely closed. The officers began to shuffle their feet impatiently. All eyes were glued to the door but some unknown instinct made Nadina's gaze shift from the door to the face of her past. Surprise shot through her body like an electric shock as she watched her own features transform. Her heartbeat accelerated on beholding the fury and angry that was etched deep into every corner of her own face. Her eyes were burning with a wild ferocity and her hands were clenched so tight that a tear of crimson blood dripped from her hand onto the floor. Her chest hived dangerously as she took a deep shuddering breath to control her quivering body. Carly must have sensed the threat in that breath permeating with anger for she turned around sharply, facing Nadina. On beholding her sister's agitation her green eyes filled with concern. She asked what was the matter before stretching out her arms and rushing to embrace her sister. Time seemed to slow as Nadina watched her sister rushing towards herself, towards the murderer. A flash of silver danced in the light as the knife was extracted. Before Carly could have time to react to this new turn of events, Nadina dashed towards her, the knife teared the living flesh as it was struck into Carly's heart. Red. A stream of red flowed over Carly's pearl white gown. She staggered, her mouth opened in an attempt to recapture the life that was rapidly leaving her body. Then, without warning, she dropped like a bag of meat onto the polished floor. Blood dripped from her wound onto the ground forming a pool of blood that shone in the light of the lamp. The Nadina of the past watched her sister fall with an expression of ecstatic satisfaction depicted on her face. Suddenly, the room inside the tv shook as a loud wave crashed the side of the ship. Nadina's unsteady feet slipped on the blood that impregnated the floor and she fell face down onto the ground. At the same moment an unused lamp forgotten on the top of the nearest closest fell with a loud crash onto Nadina's head, letting unconsciousness seep into her brain. 
        Nadina, standing next to the tv, swooned lightly unable to comprehend what had happened. No. No. No. It isn't true. It couldn't be true. On and on she repeated the words inside her mind, like a mantra that would be able to shield her from the truth. All eyes were on her, hatred gurgled in some of them, pain and disbelief were reflected in the purple depths of Morlon's eyes. Why? How could you? Silently, he demanded answers, answers which Nadina could not find. The truth was too painful, too shocking to be real. Yet, even as Nadina's mind rejected what she had just seen, a part of her recognized it, a part that slowly began to resurface. Slowly, like an unwanted flow of magma, long buried memories began to flow into her mind, burning every inch of her. 
       She remembered the cause of it all, the beginning of a well of hatred and anger: the letter. One that she had received halfway through their journey. She remembered how she had opened it with an innocence that was not to last long. One would expect the letter to be extraordinary in appearance or length for it to lead the way for murder but it was none of these things. It was an ordinary letter of about half a page and it was written with a messy handwriting on the back of a used piece of lined paper. When she opened it, a strong smell invaded her nostrils. The smell of antibacterials and cleaning agents that awakened unpleasant memories of a hospital. Immediately she had sensed that something was wrong, that her world was about to shift in its axis. Quickly, she scanned the letter with anxious eyes, expecting the tragic news of an accident, or of a sudden death. But the words were muffled together and they fought to mind meaning inside her mind. Terms and names jumbled together into an undefinable choas. Amidst the confusion, Narissa, the name of her beloved twin sister, stood out in stark relief. Confusion rained paramount when she realised that the letter was about her. At the sight of the name that had lingered in the depths of her soul for years, tears made their treacherous way into her eyes. It was strange how the mere mention on the name could reawakened the sea of memories that were constantly on the forefront of her mind. Even now, five years after her decease, her soul was still divided. It is often said that time heals all wounds but it was not so for her. As years passed, the pain and lose grew everyday sharper, piercing her sides every minute of every day. A resigned sign had escaped Nadina's faded lips as she induced herself to be calm and read the letter carefully over. 
      Word by word she desifered the letter. Each word turned to bile in her stomach as the truth came out. Every sentence she read augmented her anger to disproportionate levels. She read the letter again and again until she could no longer see, for white hot flames danced before her eyes.
     The writer had been the nurse that had tended to her sister in the last moments of her life. She had kept a secret for five years and now that she was on her deathbed, she wished to unburden herself onto the person she suspected would most want to hear it. The letter went on to inform her that her eldest siblings had been involved in forging their rich uncle's will, leaving all his property to them. Arthur, Carly, ..., and even her beloved twin sister, whom she thought she knew, body and soul, was involved. Nadina had been taking her science students on a trip to America at the time and so she was left out of the proceedings. Each of them had a share of the interminable wealth of the uncle. But the uncle had left all his property to a poor women and her daughter, both of whom he had loved dearly. As Narissa began to know the woman and girl, the sense of the wrong she had done overwelmed her heart. She could no longer stand by and watch the woman grow everyday poorer. The letter then went on to describe the crushing remorse that led Narissa to confront her siblings and to then come to the decision that she had to expose the truth and give all their money away. A determination that was thuverted by the unexpected arrival of cancer. Her sibling had each secretly felt a rush of relief in the knowledge that they, along with their money were safe. Some had felt a pang of guilt at their unfeeling thoughts, but their love for their newfound money far surpassed the affectionate feelings they harbored of their estranged sister. Outwardly and some cases even inwardly, they showed themselves to be the perfect grieving brothers and sisters but still the feeling of joy lingered deep in the recesses of their mind and heart. When the doctor proudly announced that their existed a treatment that had an eighty percent chance of yielding successful results, a piercing shaft of dread passed through their ice- cold hearts. 
     It was hard to point out who first had the idea of refusing the treatment. Certainly, their was a part of each sibling that wanted it but none wanted to give voice to their thoughts. Each waited for the other to make the first move and get the unforgivable mark of death on their soul. It was irreverent who first pronounced the condemning words because all four of them had played a part in bringing the idea into life and so they each contained the mark of death within them. Unknown to them the nurse that lingered in beside Narissa had heard the incriminating conversation. To hear them talk of their sister's death as if it was a mere piece of business to be transacted shocked her to bone. Fear succeeded shock. If their sister death was a matter of no import to them then how much would they care for the life of an unknown nurse? Slowly, she had retreated from the conversation and told herself that it was certainly none of her business, burying the information deep down in an unused corner her heart. She had forced herself to forget and after five years she imagined that she had finally exterminated the unwanted memory. Now, lying in her deathbed in the very same hospital that Narissa had inhabited, the memory refused to remain hidden. It demanded to be released out into the world where it was always meant to be. The letter ended with an apology spun with many words, dry words that held no meaning or use. The harm was done, Narissa lie in the ground, decaying by degrees and the empty words floating in the end of the page didn't do one thing to bring back the life that could have been saved. They didn't even do anything to stop the sudden fierce and violent hate that  made Nadina's blood boil, craving revenge. A fire seemed to start inside her body, burning her conscience and reducing it into a pile of ashes that were quickly swept away.  
    The fire had guided her hand as she rushed down the corridors and had plunged the knife deep into Arthur's chest. She remembered the terror and shock that crossed his features as the knife teared his flesh apart. Even in her excited state she had made sure that Arthur knew why, why his life was fast slipping away. She needed him to know that the end of his life was only payment, payment for the life he himself had taken. So when Arthur had rasped in the agonies of death , she had whispered her twin sister's name into his ear. Again and again. As blood had poured over her hand, staining her, she had kept on whispering the name. Narissa. Narissa. Even after the lifeless corpse had splashed back into the water, she had kept on whispering with an intensity that grew stronger with each whisper. The fire inside her demanding more. More death, more blood, more revenge. Like a beast whose hunger had only marginally been satisfied and whose next prey was within sight, her excitement had grown. 
     The desire to carry out the hunt caused her to reply coolly to the police when they had questioned her. There certainly had been an over-excited sparkle in her eyes as the police had regarded her but they had dismissed it as the effect of shock and grief. After all, most people they had questioned had hardly been in their habitual moods. Almost immediately, when the opportunity had first presented itself to her she had cornered Gordon in the storage room and ended his undeserved life. Then she had pitilessly shoved his body into a trunk and moved onto the next two victims.
     As her flashback ended Nadina was shoved gracelessly back into the present with the fire still burning inside her. Trembling with the excess of her hatred she lifted up her eyes and met Mortenza's gaze and the angry that flashed out of her eyes made Mortenza screamed out in fear. She had understood everything. She had understood that she was meant to be the last victim. Her unexpected response distracted the security officers momentarily. It gave Nadina enough time to bolt out the door with desperation- induced speed. The stamping of feet echoed behind her and she ran straight ahead, not daring to look left or right. Voice screamed out, 'Stop Her.' A cry that propagated like a wave on board the ship. But the people in front of her were too slow to anticipate her movement. By the time they turned around in confusion Nadina had already passed through them like a express train that only perceived its destination. 
    One moment Nadina was balanced on the parapet with her arms outstretched above her. Next, she jumped, gracefully plunging head-first into the roaring waves that rose like troubled animals all around her. Immediately, the heads of the security officers, the captain and the remaining sibling appeared over the railings. They were soon joined by curious passengers and, as one, they all gazed into the fierce face of the sea, anxious to see the murderer dragged down into the its unreachable depths. A prison without chance of escape. For a brief instant Nadina's head appeared over the top of a small wave. She screamed out, forcing all her anger into a threat that was loud enough to be heard clearly even over the cackle of the sea. 
     'You killed her and I will not die until you will pay for her life with your blood. No matter how far you travel and how well you hide I will come for you..' A large wave went over her head blocking her from view. In that instant Mortanza caught a glimpse of the fire that inhabited in her sister's heart and she knew that she was doomed. She screamed and screamed with horror until her own voice abandoned her. Tears streamed down her eyes as the certainty of her imminent death was impressed like a tattoo inside her mind. 'its all over.' 'She can't survive this storm.' 'She's dead. She's dead.' Facts meant to calm her down were shot from every direction. Comforting arms were draped around her shoulder but nothing that anybody could say or do removed the dread that Mortenza felt. She looked into the ocean and not a shadow of the murderer could be glimpsed but her words hung in the air, like the announcement of death. Mortenza shivered with a dread far worse than any cold air. She knew it. It lingered like a certainty in the depths of her broken and burdened soul. Nadina was coming back for her blood. 

© 2013 Roshni M.W.


Author's Note

Roshni M.W.
I'm a new writer and I'd love to improve. Reviews are certainly welcome.

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Hi there. I came across this story from the ‘Leave a write, leave a review group.’

I feel like I should start off by saying, I think you're basic plot points could make for a good story. I don't want you to feel like I'm just trashing this piece, but it does need a lot of work. I would suggest looking around the old Internets. There are tons of writers that write blogs and books on how to craft a story and they can help bring order and structure to your writing. There are some really cool ideas here, but without that structure they are like children without parental supervision. They might be good at heart, but that's hard to see when they are throwing rocks at the dog, scrawling obscenities on the walls and befouling the kitchen sink. I'm a fan of Chuck Windig at www.terribleminds.com, he has a kind of fun and irreverent style. But there are others that might be more your style.

Okay, that's out of the way. Let's begin.

The first thing I notice is that this story is a huge massive block of text. Consider adding dialogue to break up the story a little. Believe it or not, people can and will just look at the shape of a story and pass it over without even looking at it first.

Overview: It strikes me that the story you want to tell is not a short story. There is almost no showing in this story, only telling. Honestly, it doesn’t read like a short story. It reads like the outline of a novel with a lot of flowery language. To expand and show all the things you want this story to be, I think you’re looking at a full novel. The good news is, the first step of that process is done. You kinda, sorta have an outline. It probably needs to be developed more and some subplots could be thrown in for good measure.

Plot: I’m not sure what the plot is. I think Nadia gets a letter that sends her on a killing spree. She kills four of her nine siblings (or maybe three) before she… leaves a video tape lying around to be discovered which is…. kinda dumb of her. They review the videotape see pretty easily who the murder is and she jumps into the sea where she plans her revenge…. or dies. Probably dies.

The first thing I’m going to say is: Show don’t Tell. Show don’t Tell, Show Don’t Tell. There’s almost no dialogue where the characters can communicate with each other. The individual details are smashed in between a few scenes that contain the grizzly murders. Your characters are so flat because they don’t have any opportunity to do anything that shows what kind of people they actually are. Also, critical parts of the story are mentioned almost as an afterthought. Take the letter that apparently kicked off this whole mess. One of the characters mention that at the end of the story like it’s no big deal. “Oh yeah… I remember now. I got a letter that provided the means, motive and opportunity for someone to commit murder. Sorry… should I have mentioned that earlier?”

Characters: After the story, the only character I can remember is Nadia… probably because she’s the only character who I remember doing anything. You’re main character has to drive the story. That’s three times as important for a murder mystery. Someone’s got to play detective. Someone has to take it upon themselves to solve this murder. He or she has to collect evidence. Interview suspects. Hit a dead end occasionally. Someone has to solve this murder. The murder was just kind of solved without the need for anyone to do anything. It’s convenient, but makes for a boring story.

I guess what I am saying when it comes to plot and characters… you need both. I really don’t find much of either here. Give me a character. Give him or her a conflict. Have them try and resolve that conflict. That’s how you craft a story. It might be longer then the short story, but the story will be as long as the story needs to be.

Okay let’s talk language. There’s a term in literature called ‘purple prose’ that refers to overly flowery language. If prose can be purple, then you’re story is in the ultraviolet.

Let’s take the first paragraph:
“The ship seemed suspended in a universe of blue. It seemed abandoned, left alone to feel the wrath of the elements as the sea coiled like an angry basilisk underneath it. The shrill wail of the wind rose high as it flung the ship about, laughing at its fragility. The sky merged with the sea in a confusion of blue only interrupted by the froth of white that splashed loudly against the boards of the ship. The captain bellowed orders that seemed quite whispers compared to the roar of the mighty sea. If a stranger looked at this spectacle they might feel a surge of pity for this ship, struggling against the unbeatable forces of God.”

This paragraph gives us, literally no useful information. You don’t describe the ship, you don’t describe the characters, you don’t talk about the situation. You talk about a storm that has no effect on the story whatsoever.

In fact there is so little description of the ship or the people that I didn’t know this story took place in modern times until you mentioned a video camera. (By the way. If we are in modern times, why doesn’t the ocean liner go back to the nearest port the minute there’s a murder? Modern ocean liners don’t typically stray too far away from their ports of call.)

However I know too much about things that have no bearing on the story whatsoever.

A lot of your problem with language comes with the fact that you use simile and metaphor that do absolutely nothing to help describe what you are trying to describe. I found tons of these, but I put together a list of a few along with a short response. My responses might sound glib and like I’m making fun and…. okay I am to a certain extent. I’m not doing it to be mean however, but rather to show what was going through my mind as I read this. Overly flowery language often has the effect of removing the reader from the story since they are more concerned with the absurdity of the language used. My hope is you can take a step back and see some of that and keep that in mind as you keep writing. I really, really am not trying to be mean but…. well… if you can’t see the humor here, I can’t help you. 


“She felt exhausted as if she had walked on the earth for more than a century.”
I would think if a person walked for a century non-stop they would have died about thirty years ago.

“Blue, inhuman lips lay mere inches away from her own.”
Except we find out that they are human. Dead human, but still human.

“The bright red and green jewels embedded in it contrasted the grey appearance of the corpse, almost mocking it.”
Really? The jewels were mocking the corpse. It’s too soon…. just too soon.

“Still, Mortenza screamed unaware of everything except the shell of the body Arthur had left behind. ”
Is Arthur a turtle, otherwise why would he leave behind a shell? Although that does explain the inhuman lips…

“The blood of three victims had been soaked by the ship and their corpses lay waiting inside the storage rooms.”
What part of the ship was soaking blood? Also, avoid passive voice whenever possible. The sentence should be “The ship soaked the blood of three victims and…” Still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s grammatically correct.

“Slowly, like bright colored poison traveling through her veins, suspicions insinuated itself into her mind as she pictured each one of them welding a knife, ready to strike.”

“The darkness around her grew thick and sentient.”
Wait! I have the solution. Since the darkness is now sentient, we can just ask the darkness what happened. Since darkness exists everywhere there is no light, it had to have seen at least a few murders.

“Nadina's unsteady feet slipped on the blood that impregnated the floor and she fell face down onto the ground.”
Well the good news is that one life leads to another. Now impregnated, the floor can give birth to a nice…. I dunno…. deck?

“Slowly, like an unwanted flow of magma, long buried memories began to flow into her mind, burning every inch of her. ”
As opposed to the many, many wanted magma flows. The people of Iceland have been wanting their own magma flow for ages. But they can’t have one because when magma reaches the surface of the Earth it becomes lava. Stupid magma…

I had tons of additional notes, but I’m going to leave it there. There are tons of plot holes, but honestly most of those will probably go away as you develop the plot. If you have any additional questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them as best I can. I really don’t mind continuing a dialogue if it will help.

Good luck developing this story.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Hi there. I came across this story from the ‘Leave a write, leave a review group.’

I feel like I should start off by saying, I think you're basic plot points could make for a good story. I don't want you to feel like I'm just trashing this piece, but it does need a lot of work. I would suggest looking around the old Internets. There are tons of writers that write blogs and books on how to craft a story and they can help bring order and structure to your writing. There are some really cool ideas here, but without that structure they are like children without parental supervision. They might be good at heart, but that's hard to see when they are throwing rocks at the dog, scrawling obscenities on the walls and befouling the kitchen sink. I'm a fan of Chuck Windig at www.terribleminds.com, he has a kind of fun and irreverent style. But there are others that might be more your style.

Okay, that's out of the way. Let's begin.

The first thing I notice is that this story is a huge massive block of text. Consider adding dialogue to break up the story a little. Believe it or not, people can and will just look at the shape of a story and pass it over without even looking at it first.

Overview: It strikes me that the story you want to tell is not a short story. There is almost no showing in this story, only telling. Honestly, it doesn’t read like a short story. It reads like the outline of a novel with a lot of flowery language. To expand and show all the things you want this story to be, I think you’re looking at a full novel. The good news is, the first step of that process is done. You kinda, sorta have an outline. It probably needs to be developed more and some subplots could be thrown in for good measure.

Plot: I’m not sure what the plot is. I think Nadia gets a letter that sends her on a killing spree. She kills four of her nine siblings (or maybe three) before she… leaves a video tape lying around to be discovered which is…. kinda dumb of her. They review the videotape see pretty easily who the murder is and she jumps into the sea where she plans her revenge…. or dies. Probably dies.

The first thing I’m going to say is: Show don’t Tell. Show don’t Tell, Show Don’t Tell. There’s almost no dialogue where the characters can communicate with each other. The individual details are smashed in between a few scenes that contain the grizzly murders. Your characters are so flat because they don’t have any opportunity to do anything that shows what kind of people they actually are. Also, critical parts of the story are mentioned almost as an afterthought. Take the letter that apparently kicked off this whole mess. One of the characters mention that at the end of the story like it’s no big deal. “Oh yeah… I remember now. I got a letter that provided the means, motive and opportunity for someone to commit murder. Sorry… should I have mentioned that earlier?”

Characters: After the story, the only character I can remember is Nadia… probably because she’s the only character who I remember doing anything. You’re main character has to drive the story. That’s three times as important for a murder mystery. Someone’s got to play detective. Someone has to take it upon themselves to solve this murder. He or she has to collect evidence. Interview suspects. Hit a dead end occasionally. Someone has to solve this murder. The murder was just kind of solved without the need for anyone to do anything. It’s convenient, but makes for a boring story.

I guess what I am saying when it comes to plot and characters… you need both. I really don’t find much of either here. Give me a character. Give him or her a conflict. Have them try and resolve that conflict. That’s how you craft a story. It might be longer then the short story, but the story will be as long as the story needs to be.

Okay let’s talk language. There’s a term in literature called ‘purple prose’ that refers to overly flowery language. If prose can be purple, then you’re story is in the ultraviolet.

Let’s take the first paragraph:
“The ship seemed suspended in a universe of blue. It seemed abandoned, left alone to feel the wrath of the elements as the sea coiled like an angry basilisk underneath it. The shrill wail of the wind rose high as it flung the ship about, laughing at its fragility. The sky merged with the sea in a confusion of blue only interrupted by the froth of white that splashed loudly against the boards of the ship. The captain bellowed orders that seemed quite whispers compared to the roar of the mighty sea. If a stranger looked at this spectacle they might feel a surge of pity for this ship, struggling against the unbeatable forces of God.”

This paragraph gives us, literally no useful information. You don’t describe the ship, you don’t describe the characters, you don’t talk about the situation. You talk about a storm that has no effect on the story whatsoever.

In fact there is so little description of the ship or the people that I didn’t know this story took place in modern times until you mentioned a video camera. (By the way. If we are in modern times, why doesn’t the ocean liner go back to the nearest port the minute there’s a murder? Modern ocean liners don’t typically stray too far away from their ports of call.)

However I know too much about things that have no bearing on the story whatsoever.

A lot of your problem with language comes with the fact that you use simile and metaphor that do absolutely nothing to help describe what you are trying to describe. I found tons of these, but I put together a list of a few along with a short response. My responses might sound glib and like I’m making fun and…. okay I am to a certain extent. I’m not doing it to be mean however, but rather to show what was going through my mind as I read this. Overly flowery language often has the effect of removing the reader from the story since they are more concerned with the absurdity of the language used. My hope is you can take a step back and see some of that and keep that in mind as you keep writing. I really, really am not trying to be mean but…. well… if you can’t see the humor here, I can’t help you. 


“She felt exhausted as if she had walked on the earth for more than a century.”
I would think if a person walked for a century non-stop they would have died about thirty years ago.

“Blue, inhuman lips lay mere inches away from her own.”
Except we find out that they are human. Dead human, but still human.

“The bright red and green jewels embedded in it contrasted the grey appearance of the corpse, almost mocking it.”
Really? The jewels were mocking the corpse. It’s too soon…. just too soon.

“Still, Mortenza screamed unaware of everything except the shell of the body Arthur had left behind. ”
Is Arthur a turtle, otherwise why would he leave behind a shell? Although that does explain the inhuman lips…

“The blood of three victims had been soaked by the ship and their corpses lay waiting inside the storage rooms.”
What part of the ship was soaking blood? Also, avoid passive voice whenever possible. The sentence should be “The ship soaked the blood of three victims and…” Still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s grammatically correct.

“Slowly, like bright colored poison traveling through her veins, suspicions insinuated itself into her mind as she pictured each one of them welding a knife, ready to strike.”

“The darkness around her grew thick and sentient.”
Wait! I have the solution. Since the darkness is now sentient, we can just ask the darkness what happened. Since darkness exists everywhere there is no light, it had to have seen at least a few murders.

“Nadina's unsteady feet slipped on the blood that impregnated the floor and she fell face down onto the ground.”
Well the good news is that one life leads to another. Now impregnated, the floor can give birth to a nice…. I dunno…. deck?

“Slowly, like an unwanted flow of magma, long buried memories began to flow into her mind, burning every inch of her. ”
As opposed to the many, many wanted magma flows. The people of Iceland have been wanting their own magma flow for ages. But they can’t have one because when magma reaches the surface of the Earth it becomes lava. Stupid magma…

I had tons of additional notes, but I’m going to leave it there. There are tons of plot holes, but honestly most of those will probably go away as you develop the plot. If you have any additional questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them as best I can. I really don’t mind continuing a dialogue if it will help.

Good luck developing this story.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 20, 2013
Last Updated on July 20, 2013
Tags: Dark, hate, revenge

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Roshni M.W.
Roshni M.W.

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