I awaken in the middle of the night, and the significance of my actions just hours before hit me full force, though it feels like a lifetime ago that it happened. My first murder, the very thing that had so repulsed me upon my meeting with Zaroff just four days prior. The man was a psychopathic and homicidal bedlamite. He was the predator, and I, his quarry. His game of hunting men was considered only sport to him, whilst I held the belief that this manslaughter was senseless. Now, here I lay, with his blood-soaked, decomposing cadaver at the foot of his (now my own) feather bed.
Why is this so hard for me to comprehend? I have seen the atrocities of war, with fighting in the French ditches and even the front line of battle and have seen the prospects of nearly inevitable death while hunting monstrous beasts in exotic locales. Murder is no mystery to a man like myself, for I have seen it myself so many times. This man was one who hunted perceived troglodytes and “scum of the earth,” when in actuality they were as human as I. I did the world a favor by ridding it of this barbarous and callous perpetrator. But then again, perhaps this act of merciless killing makes me no better than my victim.
In a cold sweat, I emerge from the bed and stare into the General’s dead and rolling eyes. The eyes of a ruthless Cossack who destroyed the lives of so many. Was his legacy to become my own? I cannot rightly say that I value the life of all of my fellow men, for it is as clear as day what I have done to the man before me. I have not changed, for I care not about the casualty. He deserved what he received, at least that is what I tell myself. I will not become like him, I tell myself intently. His malignity was shaped through nonchalance, so I myself must come to learn and accept the fragility of life.
Suddenly, there is a knock upon the chamber door, a distinct rapping. It is soft at first, like the hand of a child. But it grows in volume. When I come to this realization, I gradually opened the stone door. Outside was a young man, who could not have been more than nineteen years of age. The boy had come up from the training facility that Zaroff held in the secret depths of the elaborate house. He had heard an anguished cry from above and had been appointed by his fellows to investigate. Something struck me about this boy, perhaps his high cheekbones and aristocratic air. He seemed haughty, though concerned.
Lines creased his face as though he had seen many things in his short lifespan. The boy introduced himself to me, going by the name Czcibor. My American tongue found it difficult to pronounce, but after hunting bears in Russia, I recognized the name as Slavic. During my stay, Zaroff had never mentioned hunting Russians or those of his own race. With a cold chill on my spine, I had a sudden thought. Sensing my fear, the boy began to illuminate what I had only barely pieced together. He was not a student in the training facility, but an instructor, appointed by Zaroff himself.
This aloof young man was none other than Zaroff’s son. When I refused to answer any of his ensuing questions, the boy, muscular for his age, shoved past me into the room. Seeing his father’s corpse startled the boy, if just for a moment, and something like fear flashed fleetingly through his black eyes. He regained his composure unnaturally quickly and turned to me in an instant. He knew, I told myself. He knew what I had done. Slowly he withdrew the sword that pierced his father’s sopping flesh and made a lunge for my own heart. Luckily for me, I had already taken Zaroff’s . 22 pistol.
As he pounced like an uncoiled spring, with the agility of a jaguar, 1 pointed the pistol and shot. Bang! The youth had no time to screech, for the moment that pulled the gun down from my stance, the bullet had hit its markthe young man’s head. He was killed instantaneously. My ears were ringing and my hands shook vigorously. Czcibor lay in a crumpled heap next to his father, and I could hear muffled voices from downstairs. I also heard voices in my own head, shouting “finish him! He could still be alive. KILL HIM. KILL THEM ALL. ” My head swam tumultuously, and I could have sworn that heard footsteps.
Thad only one choice. I opened the closet and took out a Kalashnikov 45 Cal. I crept down the spiraling staircase, feet padding ever so gently upon the steps. When | reached the location of the training school, I found the door open and men of all ethnicities looking bewildered, angry, and scared. I assured myself that I had to do this. There was no other way. If they knew what happened, they could pull a similar stunt to what Czcibor tried. I WOULD NOT give them that chance. The voices in my head resided, then came back with an unrivaled intensity, giving me an adrenaline-induced, euphoric mania. They were speaking.
But the others must be silenced. They will attack at any moment, I figured. So in that moment, I opened fire. Blood splattered the gray walls of the facility, body parts in every direction. Of the hundreds of men who had been inside, one remained. This was personal now. The voices told me that he was mocking me, making jocularities at every moment. He would not survive. The man charged at me, and instinctively, I fired. I missed by a margin of but two inches. The man finally reached me, and something seemed almost familiar. “Rainsford? ” the man asked. His accent was American, and his pale face was soaked with streaming tears.
His hair was dark and he had a faint smell of seawater. It was Whitney. I suddenly knew why there were so many men there. The ship that Whitney and I had been on had been mislead by the ship trap that Zaroff had built. At least one hundred of the men in the facility had been from the ship going to Rio. Now they were all dead. Soon, Whitney, this thorn in my side, would be gone as well. I made to shoot him once more, but my gun was gone. Whitney had disarmed me in my moment of surprise. Always a clever one, Whitney. But hopefully not clever enough. The next thing that I remember is being hit over the head with the end of the gun.
Fading out, Whitney told me that I would be okay. I woke up in a bright room, with eerily pale walls and flashing fluorescent lighting. Men in medical attire surrounded me, with Whitney at their sides. I struggled to move but was tied down with leather straps to a cold, solid bed. This was the medical wing of the facility, where injured trainees were put down. Whitney was sobbing quietly, and cried out, “I’m sorry old friend! They said that they could help you. That they would help you. ”
He was gasping. “Stop, stop! ” “We will help him,” said a young doctor casually. “He will be better than when he came, will he not? Whitney collapsed silently but was then escorted from the room. “The voices,” I shrieked. “I must kill you, or they will kill me! ” “They tell me that I am strong, powerful. You are weak, fit only for feasting upon. They think that you will be most enjoyable. ” Maniacally I laughed, and the doctors made quick advances. The handsome young doctor who had spoken said in a monotone voice, “I am Dr. Aeron, and I will be taking care of you today. ”
He shuffled towards me with a syringe filled with clear liquid, labeled “Cyanide”. I did not know what that meant, so I sat, waiting patiently for Dr. Aeron. All of your troubles will just melt away… ” The voices hissed into my ears as if giving encouragement to take the treatment. Within a minute, I felt a prick on the side of my head, and a pressurized feeling engulfed my skull. The voices subsided inside my brain, and I looked around the room for a smile, waiting for the next treatment. Daring them to bring it on. However, a misty cloud seemed to envelope the room, faces fading and the doctors’ chuckles fading into oblivion. Whitney came in one last time, trembling. Everything faded, waning. Fading into darkness. Into the great abyss. Going. Going. Gone.