The Editing of the Execrable

After having finally gotten Word back, I was able to really trawl through The Waltham Phantom and see the mistakes and omissions I had made. I've set to righting those wrongs by, essentially, making part of the story more wrong. The most changed is the last part of Gareth Owen's final terrifying hours on Earth. I wanted to make it as profane as possible, in order to bring out the proper rise in Flint. He is, after all, a bit of an insouciant individual, and I felt that the story of his friend's murder and subsequent defilement did not go far enough, especially since we're talking about Cadmus' handiwork here. So here is the first edit of that particular part of the story.

“I forced my fingers into Gareth's mouth, holding him still whilst taking my favourite knife, the one made from my dragon matrice's claw, out of the belt beneath my robes. So very slowly, which is the only way to do things such as this, if you want the blood to hold its gamey essence, I let the sharp point of the black claw slip into the aged flesh of your dearest mortal, my sweet Flint. You should have seen the look of surprise on his face, despite his already knowing that I was going to slaughter him. They never quite believe it, neither mortals nor Vampires, until you begin to take the life they had always assumed was their own away from them, one heartbeat's worth of blood at a time. He gasped for the breath he could not catch, with his throat so open to the air, and he moaned deep within the secret cavities of his chest as I let him bleed into my chalice.

“When the flow ebbed, slowing to a hearty trickle, I decided to let that remaining blood waste into the Earth. Turning the body of Gareth Owen upside down, I plunged an iron spike through the cooling meat's ankles and into the pike I had erected. I then finished its decapitation with my claw knife, and I secured the head to the top of the wooden post.”

Once more, Cadmus paused, letting a genuine smile spread grace his lush mouth, making his face shimmer in the moonlight like icy starshine behind a veil of thin clouds. He pulled the air in quickly through the nostrils of his patrician nose and he looked down at his captive audience.

Continuing, Cadmus purred the last of the cruel tale. “But I wasn’t finished exacting sacred atrocities upon this nonentity’s flesh. Oh no. I found a nearby branch and affixed it to the base of the pike and, taking Owen’s arms, I tied them to the ends of the rotting wood. He was a veritable English Saint Peter, he was. And I should know…my former master arranged for that apocryphal Jewish dissident to endure the profanities of reverse crucifixion. Despite what you may have been taught in whatever religious past you might have, it wasn’t Peter’s idea, that. It was all the Apostate, may his dessicated ashes never light in peace. At least you can take comfort, my odd little friend, that your mortal blood brother was quite dead when I strung him up like the meat that he was. Oh, and the way he looked hanging there, softly swaying in the cool country breeze! It was indeed a work of art, Flint. A true piece de resistance even for one so skilled as me. Moments such as these are the reason memories, and Polaroids, are made…to capture in the full magnificence of time that which might forever otherwise be lost.”

Cadmus allowed himself another small smile in mock honour of Gareth's gory memory, and in reaction to Flint's increasing anger. He lightly caressed Flint's cheek with his blanched fingers, enjoying the reprehension his act of pretend affection elicited. Looking down at his frozen charge, Cadmus wondered at the horror he found there, his expression filled with an angelic grace that was in no wise pretense.

“As I said, he was long past dead, by then, dear Flint. Long past it indeed. But the reflection in his drying eyes held a distant recollection of his most cherished friend, that of the Waltham Phantom, the soul he had all but given up in the last moments of his brief and sad wee life. The only thing he had not divulged was the name of the Phantom; however, had I found it important enough to do a little detective work, I would have easily discovered the name of 'Simon Flynt,' and followed the warm trail straight to your doorstep.”

Cadmus leaned down and kissed Flint on each trembling eyelid.
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