Horror Supernatural

The Strange Case of Darius Scott

April 9, 2019
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Average Rating: 3.69
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Some say it was delirium.
Others site my obvious lack of moral fortitude. They mutter their prudish objections and smile with tight lips. My former friends are the genteel circles of polite London society. Whispering and judging me behind my back. They spread noxious gossip like the black plague.
Alas, I cannot blame them. I find consolation in their betrayal. For it is far easier to speculate than believe the horrifying tale of what my life has become.
You must believe me! I swear on all that is sacred, the events I have written here are true!

It was less than a week ago that I visited a quaint little shop which had been recently situated to the High Street.
“Good morning, good sir, how may I assist you?” The proprietor chirped at me brightly.
“I am looking for a book…” I reply, “relating to and covering the history of magical incantations…for research. I am Darius Scott, the author.” I say, removing my gloves and extending my hand.
He takes my hand in both of his, pumping it vigorously,
“Welcome, welcome, Mr. Scott, it is indeed a pleasure to meet you. I have exactly what you need. Yes, exactly what you need.”
Evaporating like mist behind dusty stacks of books and random relics then reappearing just as quickly, he holds out a thin leather bound book. “Well, this is quite a bit smaller than I expected”, I remark casually, turning the book over in my hands, admiring the craftsmanship. “Dear Mr. Scott, I assure you this is what you are looking for. Five hundred pounds and I will wrap it for you.”
“That is much more than I intended to spend, and for such a small volume… pardon my manners sir; I didn’t get your name.”
“Flagg, Mr. Augustus Flagg. Owner and proprietor, at your service.
I guarantee satisfaction or your money back. If what you are seeking is not found within the pages of this book…” he points his bony finger, slowly tapping the cover of the book in my hands, “I will refund every penny! In full! No questions asked.”
“Well, then, that is an offer I cannot refuse, Mr. Flagg – I’ll take it.”

At home in my study, a generous snifter of warmed apricot brandy at my elbow, I carefully unwrap the book. Curiously there is a wax seal, stamped across the edges of the pages that I had not noticed in the shop. I break the seal and thumb through the pages. The paper is extraordinarily soft and translucent, veined with shimmering gold threads. The text is bright red and painstakingly neat, each letter perfectly shaped and aligned. And what’s even more astonishing is that as I examine the text closely I realize it is all written by hand.
The entire book, one hundred or so pages, without so much as a finger smudge, an errand drop of ink or a strike out as would be expected of words recorded by human hand.

Sprinting to my desk, I tear my pen and a fresh sheath of paper from the drawer. I fly into a frenzy of creativity, writing more than I had in ages. Words pour down from some unseen source, soaking my mind and flowing through me like water, out of my pen and onto the paper.
I dash to the windows, drawing the curtains to avoid being distracted by the turning of night into day. I become possessed by my work. I couldn’t eat or sleep, only drink and write.
Characters come to life in my mind. They talk to me as clearly as if they are standing in the room.
I had no control. I worked at a fever pitch while the veil between the real world and the world I was creating with my words began to blur. I could not discern, where I the author ended, and the story I was writing began.

As, the record shows in the testimony of Mrs. Garretson, my housekeeper. She was startled to near fainting when my voice, abrasive from days of silence, roared from the depths of my study the threat “Cease now, woman in making such ungodly racket in your cleaning or I shall cause you to be forever silent!” I do not know how many days I had been locked in my inner sanctum at the time of this uncharacteristic outburst. I am ashamed of the coarse manner in which I addressed poor Mrs. Garretson, God knows, she didn’t deserve it…but I wanted her gone immediately from my house. I needed solitude to continue writing!

The protagonist of my story was Charlamagne Lovejoy.
A man of fine breeding with piercing blue eyes, close to my own age of eligible mid-twenties with similar abilities and financial assets. We differed only in our preferences in women. He desired those with gentle qualities, quiet and demure. I was drawn to ample bosoms and wild eyes the color of angry sky. Bawdy women that would just as soon scratch your eyes out as look at you.
In the final scene I wrote the setting of a séance in the grand parlor. A spiritualist has been arranged to make contact with Charlamagne’s murdered mistress.

I wrote:
She appeared before those who summoned her, the slender apparition. Witnesses to her hellish presence, watched the pain of terror dance within her cloudy eyes. The delicate sensuality of her lace and satin night dress is soaked from collar to hem with blood. The attendees of the séance try to look away but cannot comprehend how it is possible that she stands before them.

For several more hours, I laboriously create the horrific details of my tale before finally completing my manuscript. Utterly exhausted, I finish the last of the brandy and retire for the evening.
Sleep comes upon me quickly and I slumber deeply from the combination of brandy and fatigue. A strange scratching sound at the door of my bed chamber provokes me from my rest. I bolt upright in bed, tangled in my bed sheets, simultaneously chilled and drenched in perspiration.
Floating before me on carpet of rancid mist is the mangled, bloody corpse of the dead girl as I had imagined her. Streaks of tears running from her sunken lifeless eyes, she speaks from the gaping hole of her mouth "Come to me my love, come to me my Charlemagne" …
I shudder, scream, and run wildly from my bed… then the lines of reality and fiction converge in a deafening cacophony of sound and blackness.

I awaken to find myself in the custody of the fine chaps at Scotland Yard. Having been discovered lying naked in the street covered in blood I am charged with the heinous crime of murder most foul!
There is no evidence against me, except there was so much blood and I have no wounds.
Even the brilliant detective of 221B Baker Street could not locate Mr. Augustus Flagg. There is no record of a shop owner with that name. Furthermore, there was no antiquities business on the High Street. The building where I bought the book had been vacant and shuttered for over twenty years. Having previously operated as a bakery, it was gutted by fire that trapped and burned the baker and his wife alive.
Suddenly, I remember, of course! The incantation that I mumbled out of arrogance and the ignorant belief that magic is not real…
What I create, will bring to life, the highest joy, the deepest strife
They must find the book!

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Strong piece, I loved it! I suggest you cut down on adverbs and reconsider the ending.
AdventureRanger rated this work:

April 10, 2019, 11:10 a.m.

I absolutely loved the voice in this piece, it was spot on! The opening was great as well, from the get-go I understood what kind of story I was about to read and I was invested. I thought this story was strong as a whole, I only had two small qualms.

The line where the proprietor "chirped at me brightly" I think you can cut out brightly. Chirped gives us an idea of how he was speaking, you don't need the adverb. Personally, I think there are a few places you can cut down on adverbs and use stronger verbs or prose to compensate, especially in the case of words like quickly, deeply, and slowly.

Also, I think I would prefer a slightly more creative ending. I liked it as a whole, but it does feel like I've seen this situation several times before. The character has a supernatural experience, but the police can find no record or evidence of the supernatural elements. It does feel a little overdone and cliche, I'd like to see a more original ending. As I said, your prose and the story as a whole is very strong. However, I think a slightly different ending might serve the story better as a whole.

Plot Voice Show Don't Tell

Comment Rating: 5.0

Reminds me of Poe or Stevenson
nenatia rated this work:

April 11, 2019, 3:17 p.m.

I like this writing style! It's very 19th century novel-esque. Like Jekyll and Hyde or Frankenstein. Or any of Edgar Allen Poe's works.
I'm going to start off with grammar things, because they're KEY to nail down asap. You should reread the story to pick out places that need commas or paragraph breaks (ex. "my study the threat 'Cease now...'. You need a comma after threat). Another example: take out the comma between "presence, watched."
-you don't need to write "I say" after you've written "I reply." We can tell it's the same character speaking. But I do suggest paragraph breaks every time a new person speaks!
-"The entire book, one hundred or so pages, without so much as a finger smudge, an errand drop of ink or a strike out as would be expected of words recorded by human hand." This is a fragment, and while they often work (I'm not one of those people who think sentences without verbs are a Sin, that's just boring, isn't it?), in this case the phrase sounds odd. Maybe add a colon after hand instead of a period, or add a verb to the phrase! Whatever you decide.
-You should stick to one tense. For example: "I become possessed by my work. I couldn’t eat or sleep"
-Another odd sentence: "As, the record shows in the testimony of Mrs. Garretson, my housekeeper."

Story-wise, I'd love more buildup...why is he so frantic writing this story? Who IS the protagonist? What's his background? And, more importantly: why should I as the reader care about him? Developing the protag's background and adding more buildup would help with this. I can just see how much this piece would shine with this added.
-more buildup in general. The resolution (if it can be called a resolution) came so abruptly I had to reread to see if that really was the conclusion. Who did the protagonist "kill"? His housekeeper? How does the ghost and him writing the book relate to the alleged murder? When did he mumble the incantation? Why is the book important?

Since this is a standalone (right?) I think you should at least address these questions! It's a very Poe-esque story, and of course I don't want to take out the mystery but there's a fine line between mysterious and confusing. Like, a very fine line. It's tough to tell. But I definitely recommend addressing, if not directly answering, the questions posed above.

I guess overall I'd just like more! More background and more hints that don't need to be explanations. Your writing style is solid and nuanced, so I can tell that just these improvements will make the story that much better. This story is already something I'd want to read on a stormy night curled up on a couch.

Plot Pacing Character Motivation Grammar

Comment Rating: 4.5

Great sense of story and setting
darlingnell rated this work:

June 26, 2019, 9:39 a.m.

Loved the story and the setting. I do agree with other posters that the ending felt cliche, and I think you're capable of coming up with something better. I loved the descriptions of the book, the interaction with the proprietor, the little touches and details that kept me in the story (apricot brandy, thin pages of the book), and the ambiance of the setting.

You do need a proofreader - there are many grammar errors that jolt me out of the work, and that's never good. Keep to present or past tense, and don't move between the two (unless there's a REALLY good reason to do so). I don't mind endings where I don't know why, so it's not that I mind not knowing what happened, but, as I noted, I think you're capable of a better ending than "I magicked, and it happened!" This is an excellent start, and you have the Victorianesque period down pat. I want more.

Setting Pacing Voice Show Don't Tell Grammar

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Stylistically strong, but not a completely satisfying story
whatdoyouneed rated this work:

Nov. 12, 2019, 12:16 p.m.

I couldn't help the feeling I'd seen this type of story somewhere before. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that, sometimes you can take an old concept and just do it really, really well.
You establish a strong character voice and a clear sense of time and place.
I think my biggest problem is with the Darius' motivation in telling the story. Is he trying to convince his audience that things really did happen as he remembers them? At the beginning, he swears his account of events is truthful. But he undercuts that at the end by admitting that the shop where he bought the book and the person he bought it from do not exist. This may be true in the world of the story, but why would Darius concede to that so readily if he's so adamant that he's telling the truth? What is he trying to refute here: the charge of murder, or the notion that he made this whole story up? Are those two accusations connected somehow? We don't know enough about the murder charges to say.

Plot Point of View Voice Cliches

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