Fortress

Fortress

A Story by Guardian
"

This is a story about a man with something tweaked in his brain. He becomes violent and unstable. I hope you like it. It's the first short story I've ever written so it's definitely not perfect but I hope you enjoy it nevertheless!

"
Fortress:

     James sat in a plush leather chair, a harsh voice crooning in the gloom. His balding, sweaty head glinted in the dim candlelight, and his face was gaunt. The skin seemed to be stretched across brittle bones and his sky-blue eyes were blank. With an effort, he reached for a glass of water and sighed as the liquid rushed down his throat.
     “My fortress,” he whispered into the dark. A light tweed suit hung loosely on his frail form. A handkerchief constantly brushed across his forehead as he gazed unseeing unto a worn book in his lap. It depicted a medieval battle, complete with shining steel weaponry and a burning citadel upon a hill. “My fortress,” James whispered once more. His trembling hand slowly stroked the smooth page.
     A brisk knock echoed through the room. James aroused himself, his head slowly turning toward an opening door. It glided inward on oiled hinges and emitted a small diminutive woman in a crisp black suit. Her graying hair lay in a tight bun, revealing an aged face. “How are you Mr. Bennett?” she said. Her voice was blunt and to the point, and small leather briefcase hung on one shoulder.
     James stared for a moment, struggling to see the woman before him clearly. He glanced once more at the book upon his lap. Suddenly a change seemed to come over him and he slammed the leather cover shut with a swift movement. The shaking of his limbs subsided and intelligence crept into his eyes. “I am well Amelia,” his voice shook slightly, but rang out with the familiar reverberation. “I am surprised to see you.”
     Amelia seemed to look at the room for the first time. “Good lord James!” she exclaimed. “It’s nearly noon and it’s as dark as a tomb!” She shook her head and bustled about the room, throwing back thick black curtains. The golden light revealed swirling moats of dust in the dark room. Tall columns of antique books lay in disorganized heaps across the room and medieval artifacts adorned the paneled walls. Amelia shook her head at a plate of half eaten eggs and made to sweep them into her arms.
     “I have had enough of your housekeeping tendencies Amelia,” James said harshly. A shadow seemed to creep across his face. Recent events had played havoc on his once-quiet life. “Why have you come here?”
     The woman seemed to take offense at James’ harsh words. “You know perfectly well why I’ve come here,” she snapped, her shrill voice trilling with vibrato. She slumped into a nearby chair and opened her briefcase with a snap. An organized heap of manila folders lay within. She pulled out the top most folder and extracted a single paper from its depths. “This is the court order. You are to appear within a week’s time.”
     “I have told you Amelia, I will not be going to court.” James turned his hooked nose up at the paper and ignored the woman’s protests. “I am not guilty and will not plead so.”
     “If you refuse to take the prosecution’s offer, then you will go to court!” She stood up in exasperation. Her face was livid, and her glasses slipped precariously down her nose. “I have had enough of your stubbornness Mr. Bennett. I am beginning to feel you have something to hide.” Her eyes narrowed.
     “Do not accuse me woman,” his voice was quiet and yet it silenced the Amelia instantly. The fight left her eyes and she slouched where she stood. With a silent acceptance, she closed her briefcase and moved toward the door.
     “I would have thought,” she said icily, “that you would show your guests more respect.”
     “I decide who is worthy of respect in my own household,” James said with a gesture toward the exit. Amelia gave a curt nod and left, leaving James in peace once more. He gazed toward the windows and the green foliage beyond. With his strength slowly departing, he closed the heavy curtains and settled into his armchair with a contented smile.
     My fortress, a voice whispered in his head. “Yes… my fortress.” A soft laugh escaped his lips as the day deepened into night.

                                  

     One week passed in which James scarcely left his chair and kept ceaselessly ran his long fingers over his favorite book. Fortresses of the Medieval Times the cover said. He smiled and the soft voice within him whispered wicked things in his mind. “My fortress.”
     Amelia greeted him outside of the courtroom on the 31st of March. He sat upon a wooden bench, licking his lips nervously. He could feel the overwhelming presence of the men and woman in the courtyard, and it made him anxious. His eyes flicked back and forth as if searching for a dark creature hidden within the throng.
     “You know what to do,” Amelia said, her hair newly dyed a dark brown hue.
     James was ushered into the courtroom by a burly security guard in a dark blue uniform. A shining pistol hung loosely on one hip and he gave James a cruel wink. James put his head down to avoid eye contact as the voice within him crooned commands. He took his seat at the defendant’s table. The courtroom walls were adorned with dark redwood panels. The Judges’ podium and witness stand loomed over the rest, and even the jury box seemed to be waiting to strike.
     The bailiff coughed and all witnesses stood as the Judge strode quickly into the room. She was a young woman with long blond hair and pale skin. She sat in a high-backed chair, her robes swirling about her feet. With a swift command, the court proceedings began.
     James sat silently in the uncomfortable chair. He shifted uncontrollably, his hands beginning to shake. He could no longer hear what was being said around him. The courtroom dissolved and a world of stone and iron materialized around him. He could feel a cool breeze across his face and a silver crown sat upon his head. The voice within him seemed to revel in happiness, cheering and praising his accomplishments.
     “Mr. Bennett!” a sharp voice cut through his dreams and the courtroom appeared before his eyes. The Judge’s gaze pierced through the cloud over his mind and with a grimace, he quieted the voice within him.
     Responding to Amelia’s hushed command James rose and slowly shuffled to the witness stand. He took his oath and waited as the prosecutor cleared his throat. The man’s dark black hair had been slicked back with copious amounts of shining product and small circular glasses framed dark grey eyes.
     “You are Mr. James Bennett, originally of Massachusetts, are you not?” he began. His voice seemed to cut through the air like a knife. He held a small folder in his arms.
     James nodded quietly, “Yes I am.”
     “And are you the same James Bennett previously married to Amanda Kelly?” At James’ nod, the prosecutor stepped toward the stand. “The same Amanda Kelly who was found brutally murdered not three weeks ago?”
     “The same,” James said with confidence. He observed the room before him with a quiet detachment. He refused to allow his emotions cloud his judgment.
     “Where were you on March 19th at approximately seven pm?”
     “In my study.”
     The attorney walked pulled a small bag from a briefcase. In it sat a steel knife, curved, and stained with dark blood. “Is this your knife?”
     James observed the cool metal for a moment. He licked his lips. “Yes.”
     “Did you use this very knife to murder your wife, Mr. Bennett?”
     “No,” James’ brow furrowed in anger, “I would never hurt my dear Amanda.”
     “Mr. Bennett,” the attorney said with frustration. He turned to face the observant jury and waved the bloody knife before them. “The victim’s blood was found on your clothes. Your fingerprints are present on this murder weapon and you still grasped the knife in your hand when the police arrived.”
     It was hopeless. James slumped in the witness’ stand and the entire courtroom seemed to be holding its breath. The voice within James grew louder. It whispered wicked things in his mind. Kill them, it hissed. Violent images sprang up. He could see blood, endless, flowing rivers of blood.
     “It’s my fortress,” he whispered. Dark anger crept over his face. His fists were clenched.
     “What was that, Mr. Bennett?” the prosecutor turned sharply.
     “It’s my fortress,” James repeated. “She wanted me overthrown.”
     “Mr. Bennett?” The prosecutor’s brow furrowed. The Judge shifted uncomfortably in her chair, and Amelia’s mouth hung open.
     “My fortress,” James whispered. He could no longer see the courtroom. The voice had grown so loud, and the bloody images were flashing by. “She wanted to move,” he shook his head violently. “I told her that it was my decision, and that I wouldn’t leave.”
     “Mr. Bennett,” the prosecutor said tentatively, “Did you kill your wife?”
     “Yes,” James said harshly. “She wanted to leave me. She would have brought my enemies. They would have overthrown me. It’s my fortress, my kingdom.” He looked around wildly, sweat rolling down his face. “She was sleeping. I knew it was the only time I could kill her. I had to save my kingdom.”

                                     

     James was committed. He was deemed insane and placed in the Green Hills Asylum. Some of the best doctors in the world examined him. They were unable to determine the reason behind James’ unnatural behavior, but they studied him with interest.
     He was housed in a simplistic room with a soft bed, a dark wooden desk, and a hard wooden chair. There were no windows, and he was monitored constantly to prevent the violent behaviors that were common in the asylum. Out of the one hundred seventy-two patients at the Green Hills Asylum, he fascinated the doctors the most. At times, he was a sophisticated and cultured gentleman with a sharp tongue. Then, seemingly without cause, he would shift into violent fits of rage, screaming of his lost fortress.
     He sat quietly in the hard wooden chair. His blue eyes were unfocused and his face free of all emotion. The dark voice screamed within him. They took our home, James, it spat. Images more violent than ever before filled his mind. He saw crackling fires, and burnt, mutilated corpses tangled together. They infiltrated our walls, and as we sit here, they are winning. They will come James, and they will seek to take our fortress.
     “I’ll kill them,” James whispered. His voice would not be picked up by the microphones planted in the room. Yes. They will come, and you must strike before they can destroy us.
     James waited. For two days, he met no one, and the meals slipped under his door went untouched. He fingered the pen in his hand, rolling it between his fingers incessantly. Nothing broke through his murderous rage, and it gave him fuel. He did not sleep, and soon his eyes began to burn.
     The door opened quietly behind him. He did not move. “Who is it?” he whispered, still caressing the pen.
     “Dad, it’s David,” a man’s voice said calmly.
     James stiffened. He had not seen his son for ten years, and their fight had not been forgotten. James had wanted to share his kingdom. He had told David all his secrets. The voices that gave James strength and the secret rooms that James had built into his house with his own hands. David had rejected him. He had spat vile, traitorous words in James’ face and left.
     “Why did you do it?” David asked angrily. James knew he had kept in contact with Amanda, and her murder was sure to have upset him.
     “She was a threat,” James said, still refusing to look at his son.
     “No Dad,” David said fiercely, “Not this again. Are you telling me you killed her because she had threatened your…kingdom?” He spat out the last word with pure hatred. James could hear him back toward the door. “I came here to get answers, despite my hatred for you. You neglected me as a child and now you’ve killed my mother. I’ll never forgive you for that.”
     Pure anger flashed through James. He wishes to claim the throne, James. The moment you die, he will reclaim you fortress and rule in your stead. James leapt from the chair and without thought slammed his only son against the wall. Adrenaline pumped through his blood and his grip was like iron.
     With teeth bared, he plunged the pen deep into David’s throat.
     He stepped back, the bloody pen still clutched in his fist. “My fortress,” he whispered with venom.

© 2008 Guardian


Author's Note

Guardian
Let me know what you think!

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Featured Review

The details in this story really held my attention. You reveal a few facts at a time about James' life--just enough to keep the story moving forward. I like the way the tension builds in the scene with his son: the "fortress" obsession returns and we fear for David's life. Good job, I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories!

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Very nice.... you keep the plot moving, and keep the reader guessing enough that they're compelled to keep going. You have a good build up of tension and suspense at the climax. You also dropped enough hints along the way that James' sudden confession of killing his wife because she threatened his "fortress" that it wasn't too unexpected to the reader. The ending was dramatic and effective. Definite knack for horror/suspense here.

You seem to use a few... unusual words, however. The phrase "the door emitted a small woman" actually stopped me for a few moments, just because it was such a strange way of putting it. Do doors *emit* people? Don't we just walk through them? Because you're putting such an uncommon and unrealistic image into the reader's head, it breaks up the flow -- I stopped and had to think about it for a second, instead of keeping on going. Especially with suspense stories like this one, you want to keep the reader moving no matter what, keep building up tension, etc, not slowing the reader down. Just something to think about!

Overall, really well done... I enjoyed it, quite =)

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

POWERFUL! POWERFUL! I can almost HEAR the voices whispering in MY head (well, James' voices anyways). I'm a little biased, I just absolutely LOVE stories about crazy people (well, sort of) and this one was a great one, but for a first short story this one was really good. I practically felt like I was there sometimes, with that psychotic character of years just right next to me (Creeeeepy!)!

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Impressive, particularly for a first short story. You developed the tone well and you were consistent. I also enjoyed the psychological aspects of it: you were able to develop James' character extremely well in a short span.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Ohohohoho! This story sooo messes with my nerves! Everytime I read I get the shivers, cause you are so very descriptive. I don't know if you know, but mah middle name is indeed James... creepy! It took me awhile to understand the significance of the symbols (if you intentionally or unintentionally put them in there), but in the end they were awesome! (...maybe cause I'm slow?) Well, I look forward to reading more of your such work... maybe something as horrendous as Baby? You certainly have a knack for nerve-wracking stories.

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I was enthralled ... the story was very exciting and the characters were alive... the imagery was insane, you can almost see James trying to hold onto his sanity while embracing the voices. Great job! I really enjoyed it.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

The details in this story really held my attention. You reveal a few facts at a time about James' life--just enough to keep the story moving forward. I like the way the tension builds in the scene with his son: the "fortress" obsession returns and we fear for David's life. Good job, I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories!

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

It's like I was there and I saw everything!
This was very descriptive and kept my attention.
The only thing that i would change is one word (line # 11 of the second stanza (after the first break) ) "to avoided"
It was an extremely good first short story

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on November 8, 2008
Last Updated on November 21, 2008

Author

Guardian
Guardian

AZ



About
I live in Arizona where the sun is always shining. Writing has always been my passion. I love to read and write. I'm also involved in drama and music. I write a variety of things. Everything from poet.. more..

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