Madness: Nov. 3, 1867


Matthew Davis took a long time to die.

The day had begun normally enough. Most in town didn’t know what had occurred on the first two days, thanks to the diligence of the Sentinel’s staff, but those that did were wary.

When mid-day settled on Cross, there was a collective sigh of relief. On the first and second, madness had struck by early morning, and the effects of it were in full view by then as well.

We were complacent, I’m afraid.

Matthew Davis lived on East Stark Street, and he died there as well.

At close to one, the fire brigade was called out for Matthew’s house. He had dug a trench around it in the night, and after he had finished lunch, he put a torch to the tar-soaked wood he had lined the trench with. The fire brigade attempted to get close enough to put the flames out, but the heat was too much, driving them back.

When I arrived, I saw Matthew sitting on his front step as naked as the day he was born. He saw me, gave a friendly wave, picked up a bucket beside him, and poured it over his head.

The liquid had the sick sheen of kerosene to it.

He stood up, the kerosene dripping from his beard and hair as he walked up his steps and onto his porch. He yawned, stretched, scratched himself, and then nodded in apparent satisfaction. Stepping into his house, he closed the door and then appeared a moment later in front of a window.

As we watched, he struck a match, put the flame to his beard, and once it was blazing, he stepped out of sight.

Within moments, the first high pitched shriek tore through the air. A heartbeat later, he went running past the window, his head on fire.

“Is he trying to get out?” someone asked.

“No,” I answered, “he’s setting the house on fire with himself.”

We watched in silence as he passed by each window. Flames appeared in the glass a short time later, and smoke poured out into the early afternoon sky.

Matthew Davis screamed until the house fell around him and finished what the fire had started.

#horror #fear #art

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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