Seven Days on the Livingston Estate
On the Livingston Estate, flies were usually the first indication that someone was going to die. They came in swarms, collectively moving throughout the air, a pulsating heart. They formed dark clouds that shimmered iridescently in the sky, blocking the sun. Around the estate they flew, never touching the ground, always looming over and watching the residents. The droning mechanical whir of their wings could be heard throughout the estate, the air rushing over each of their tiny bodies creating thousands of whistles screaming and shrieking. The vile noise forced every resident, worker, or trespasser there to fill their ears with cotton in an imprudent attempt of shutting out the sound. They all had to do their very best to pretend it wasn’t happening.
After the flies, the flowers would bloom. They bloomed in all their agonizing glory. Flocks of angelic white flowers of all species arrived a day after the flies. These flowers seemed to come out of nowhere. No one had ever planted them. It seemed as if a plague had bleached all the flowers on the estate a glowing pristine white. When night came, the glow of the flowers could be seen radiating through the windows of the large house in the center of the land. They glowed so brightly, entire rooms were lit without candles. Thick black clothes had to be placed over the windows to allow the residents to sleep. Perhaps the most disturbing characteristic of the flowers was the scent that they gave off. During the night, the winds would drift the odor into the house, the smell would drip through the floorboards, waking everyone with the sweet, repulsive smell of rotting flesh. The scent would touch everyone in the house and stain their senses for weeks after. Eyes watered. Whether it was from the smell or the thought of it never going away, no one quite knew. In the daytime, the sun cooked the scent and boiled the flowers to give the illusion of cooked pork. This was almost worse than the rotting flesh. For the guests and residents knew that they were only intaking the cooked remains of the rotting flesh they had smelled the night before. What disgusted them most of all was the fact that they were not repulsed at all by it. None admitted it, but they all secretly took pleasure in the smell.
The next day, the flowers turned to ash and fertilized the ground. And with the death of the flowers came the death of the flies. Millions dropped dead to the ground. Brooms swept them off the porch, sweeping them into dark piles of tiny bodies. A routine, no different than sweeping dirt off the floors. Flies were swept off the porch and into the flower beds, workers climbed onto roofs with brooms and got to work. Rakes were brought out and they raked them into massive mounds. A match was lit, and up their little corpses went.
On the fourth day, deep crimson clouds gathered in the sky, covering the sun and dying it a deep rusting mahogany color. A red film seemed to be cast over the sun. The animals in the barns on the estate refused to leave their barns and turned violent when forced to. The clouds gave the streams, ponds, wells, and water buckets the appearance of holding thick, warm, bubbling blood. The water buckets were brought up in preparation for the fifth and sixth days.
During the night of the fourth, leading into the fifth, the residents of the Livingston house began to hear at first a faint patter of dripping water on the rooftops. This was followed by a loud crack of thunder which rang out in the house. The patter quickened. Only it was different from rain. Heavier. Over a couple hours, the substance built up on the roof created a deeper, lower sound as it hit the roof. Then, it began to slide down the windows. Thick, scarlet blood ran down the windows. Hot melted iron could be smelled throughout the house. The bloody rain fell heavy on the house. The wells, ponds, and streams had become flooded with the curdling blood running down into the grass. Everything was red. The blood rushed in rapids, thick and hot through the river, drying in a flakey rust clogging the drain pipes. A vaporized iron stench crawled through the air suffocating all the workers who resided on the estate. The creek ran churning in crimson swirls, bubbling and corroding the bank raw. Decayed fish floated to the surface, their bones pulverized by the tumultuous falls of blood.
The day after, everyone who resided in the estate is sent out to scour the estate in search for anything taken by the flood. A small doe was found washed up onto the bank. Its fur completely saturated through to the bone in dried crusted blood and its stomach crammed with scarlet wine. With the time to sit in a stomach, a dense film coated the inside and left the blood clotted like the cottage cheese served in the master house. The residents carried on with the skinning and the burning of the hide. No thoughts of the blood rushing down the deer’s throat, clogging airways and packing the lungs full of lukewarm blood plagued the minds of residents. They took the buckets of water gathered the night before and began scraping off the dried blood on the windows, doors, deck, and anywhere they needed access to.
On the sixth day, the house was plagued with the sudden, chilling noise. The drumming of fingernails could be heard in the walls of the house-an impatient taker awaiting the next victim. The Nails of the Devil. The noise drove people mad. At times, the drumming laid patiently in the background, nothing but a sound. Other times, it violently shook the residents. Some people were found in the largest room in the house, a ballroom where voices echoed when empty. People would lay shriveled into a small ball, hugging their knees to their chest, rocking and screaming for the sound to stop. Some ran to the edge of the estate, only to be met by the spike covered fence with the most blood surrounding the land. Those who jumped in were pulled down to the bottom, spitting and swallowing thick clumps of the iron blood as their limbs were pulled down. The blood boiled them, their flesh peeling off their ribs and being lost in the moat.
The seventh day was when everyone remembered how loud silence could be. Every sound, every movement seemed to be louder. No one spoke a word. The land was shrouded in silence, in anticipation and suspense for the awaited departed. No one breathed too loudly and held off on any chores that would have caused too much noise as not to miss the call. The wind rustling the grass made everyone’s hearts race. A song of a bird was met by a sudden sharp intake of breath and a near heart attack. It was dark, and most of the Livingston household sat in the drawing room, when an abrupt shrill howl tore through the crisp air. Everyone’s head snapped quickly in the direction of where it came from. Immediately every person ran toward the sound. Up the stairs to the third floor. Feet stomping up the stairs, no longer caring for the sound they made, the residents halted. They entered the eldest resident’s room, expecting to see her lying still on her bed cold, stiff, and dead, but she emerged from her room as they neared it. Alive.
Another shrieking howl came from the room next over. There resided the small girl, Moyra, laying still in her bed in a permanent peaceful slumber. The jackal they heard shrieking laid down beside her crying out. With one last cry, it shattered all the windows in the house. Glass came clattering down, breaking into a thin dust of cutting glass. With the cry, the jackal disappeared into thin air. At first they all stood around, not a word spoken. Moyra’s mother broke the silence. She screamed out, all her pain and desperation forced outward into her cry. She begged and pleaded. She threw her body between her daughter and the crowd of residents. She told them they couldn’t take her daughter. Others tried to persuade her to step aside, saying that it’s tradition. When her shrieks and thrashing arms tried to protect her daughter’s empty shell, the residents held her down and twisted her neck making a sudden snapping sound. Blood pooled at the corner of her mouth and her eyes layed wide open, tears washing out the blood.
The residents surrounded the body of Moyra and her mother like vultures awaiting a feast. Immediately, they began to tear at her flesh, ripping and scooping it out of their cavities. Residents were throwing it into buckets and carrying the muscles and flesh down the stairs to be prepared for their feast. The smell of pork wafted throughout the estate. They sat at the grand, polished table together, mouths dripping with saliva, eyes fixated on the meat, the true dish of the meal. They ate rabidly-mouths full and tore at her flesh. Blood ran from all their mouths and though no one spoke, they all couldn’t wait to do it again.