A Shakespearean Tragedy
The Ghost Writer looked solemnly down at his long, boney fingers before curling them tight and releasing, a small habit he had acquired very early on during his never ending career and couldn’t help but use before the beginning of every sitting. He then stretched them outward, trying to work the kinks from his weary fingers in preparation. This time, there was no joking around. This time, the Ghost Writer repeatedly told himself, was strictly business. Nothing personal. Besides being his most dramatic and cold hearted, this manuscript was going to be his best work yet.
After all, he already had half of the payment, and, if he was to receive the rest, his new employer would expect nothing less.
Tiredly, the author sighed and powered up his keyboard. His wan complexion became even paler as he eyed the briefcase of money sitting at his feet and the weight of the decision to accept his employer’s proposition settled even further upon his already hunched shoulders. Was he really ready to do something so cruel to an enemy?
The first taps of the keys were sparse and the echo was amplified by the ominous and spacious domed ceiling of the library, but then, and with increasing regularity, the tapping began to take on speed and the echo was soon lost.
In the end, the Ghost Writer decided, it was high time he finally went professional and accepted pay for his work. He just hoped it wouldn’t get out of hand.
He watched them, all of them, dancing and celebrating, laughing and feasting, as if death was a cause for celebration. He pressed his pale hands against a frosty window of the mansion and watched silently as the newly weds inside uncorked a thin bottle of Krug champagne, delight clearly etched into every line of their faces, stretching their smiles wide. The cork popped, the champagne bubbled over, and with shouts of joy and merriment, the wife and husband filled their glasses as everyone clapped. He hadn’t planned on listening, but when the husband held out his glass and began to speak, the dark haired boy felt a terrible urge to hear the words that spilled from the man’s mouth. He quickly rounded the corner of the stone mansion to the open deck, where an open sliding glass door revealed the multitude of guests listening to the grand speech within.
“to proclaim a toast, so that even in these dark times we may find comfort and solace in those around us.” The husband’s deep, confident voice struck ringing, disagreeing chords within the boy listening from the darkness outside, and for a moment he turned away. “In tandem with most everyone here, I have mourned for my good friend every day since his most unfortunate departure from this world. He was much more than a great man and he is dearly missed, but my wife and I feel that the delight of our union might balance the sorrow and loss we all share.” He turned to his wife, his expression and voice undoubtedly sincere. “Maddie, dear, I love you with all my heart, and I know our marriage will be strong.”
It went on for some time, longer than the boy felt he could bear, and every time a guest added insight or expressed their happiness, he couldn’t help but wince. Then, thankfully, it was over, the newly weds stepped away from the podium, and the crowd dispersed into small groups, each guest sitting or standing with cocktails in one hand and hors d’uvres in the other. The boy outside watched them converse and celebrate with a detached expression that seemed to be permanently seared into the frame of his small face.
“Daniel.” The boy nearly jumped when the smooth voice spoke to him. The husband, who seemed to have appeared from literally nowhere, had always taken a special interest in him, and this fact never failed to put him on his guard. “Why are you hiding out here?” The boy regarded his new step father with an air of indifference and didn’t answer. In turn, the man looked his step son up and down with a small frown. “You’re still wearing black?”
The boy’s mother, now the wife of his father’s best friend, soon joined them, bringing along with her a posse of close friends. Their smiles all faded when they looked upon the boy who avoided their gazes.
“Maddie, love,” the husband began, turning to his wife, “he’s still in his mourning clothes. Surely you can talk some sense into him?”
The wife placed her hands on her son’s shoulders. “Danny, I told you before; this is a wedding.” She spoke with desperation, and though her son looked up to meet her eyes, his frown never faltered. Danny looked away from her for a moment into the faces of her friends. He was sure that, had he any more emotions to spare, he would have been thoroughly embarrassed by being scolded by his mother in front of so many people. His gaze met hers once more, and Maddie released her tight grip and sighed heavily. “You don’t have to be here. Sweetie, if you’d rather leave, I’m giving you my permission.” Honestly, Danny thought sullenly as he gazed into his mother’s loving, purple eyes, he had never needed her permission before.
“Dear boy, all sons must lose their fathers some time.” Danny sharply turned away from his mother and spared another weighing glance towards his new step father, seeing straight through the comforting words and caring demeanor to the cold, indifferent soul inside. A feeling of deep anger began to rise from the pit of his stomach as his new step father began to lecture him. “You’re absolutely right to mourn, Daniel, but mourning for too long. You must be strong, now.” The familiar glint Danny had come to hate suddenly appeared in the man’s eye, accompanied by the knowing smirk. “I’m urging you to think of me as a father. You know I’m always here for you.”
Danny bit his tongue to stop himself from saying anything in reply when, thankfully, someone else wanted the attention of the married couple. “Mr. and Mrs. Masters!” a voice shouted from somewhere farther back in the large room. The group of themMr. and Mrs. Masters, and the people standing with them all turned to see a group of men in expensive looking black suits waving the newly weds towards them. “We would like to discuss your conglomerate companies.”
Their attention seemingly diverted, Danny turned away from the group to find solace in the courtyard instead. He was stopped in his tracks when his new step father suddenly gripped his left wrist. He spun wildly at the touch and, after glaring angrily into the cold grey eyes of Vlad Masters, he tried to jerk himself away, but the mans steadfast grip was too tight.
Maddie, dear, go on aheadIll be there shortly, Vlad called to his new wife, who was already walking away with her group of friends. She nodded without looking back, and almost immediately, the mans grip on Dannys wrist tightened painfully, and it was all the boy could do to not cry out.
Dont you dare try and ruin this for me, boy, the man whispered menacingly into Dannys ear, and for a moment, the boy stopped struggling to stare openly at him. Vlads cheerful, carefree demeanor had vanished, leaving behind something much more frightening. Ive worked hard to come this far. Its over. Your father is long gone.
Danny paled and, with one last yank, he willed his wrist intangible and ripped it away from the older man. Hatred and fear began to well in his chest, and his throat contracted painfully, preventing him from saying anything. He looked into Vlads intimidating eyes one last time before he turned and ran into the dark courtyard of the mansion.
You cant escape, Daniel! he heard the older half-ghost yell from behind him, and for the first time, Danny found himselfhowever bitterlyagreeing with his stepfather. There was no turning back time. There was no escape.
If he was going to do this, the Ghost Writer decided as he looked over his raw work, it was going to be an homage to only the best of writers. He reread it for mistakes and picked up a mug before downing the last bit of cold coffee that stained the bottom of the cup. When he was sure everything was perfect, he smiled, baring his pointed teeth.
Vlad Plasmius would surely be pleased.
A/N: My beta for this story is Miriam1. Thank you Miriam!