Reddit series: On Theodore Rusning’s fate

Series inspired by a subreddit r/WritingPrompts. This time, the moral is – don’t deal with the Devil.

“You are a contract killer for hire. You’re not just any professional hit man though; you are that very rare breed of mercenary that takes orders from the dead. Making hits for the dearly departed has made you very wealthy indeed, but it wasn’t about the money. It was never about the money.”

If Theodore Rusning would keep a diary, the reader would undoubtedly get an impression that he has seen all kinds there are. Not only because there was a never-ending supply, but also because he was extraordinarily good at it. And by IT I mean taking. On order. I write this diary in his stead, because Theodore is and always was a man of action. Dwelling on the past, present and especially future was not on his repertoire, which one might find odd, since he dealt with past more than any of us alive, I daresay.

All that aside, I would like to recount one, most memorable encounter that Theodore had that all but changed him. For better or worse, you may decide for yourself. As was common here on the Great Isles, Theodore was to be married, many years ago. He was a lucky groom-to-be, for the fair Lady Josephine was rumored to be the prettiest woman alive at that time and many suitors were left wanting by her, but not Theodore. He was that much luckier. For not so common was the attachment and respect that the two newlyweds shared and when the bells rang and doves flew, so did their happiness, soaring into clear blue sky. I know, I was there and just like everyone else – I felt it.

Not long after the ceremony, the news came that Lady Josephine was with child. For some time, everything seemed like it was meant to be. However, these blissful tales…they never have a good ending and if you have a heart to read on, you will understand how Theodore became what he is today.

It was a rainy night, with thunder and barely a figure in sight, the night like this the entire world would seem to be in disarray. And so was the Rusning mansion, for Lady Josephine went into labor. Elated yet worried, the servants and midwives ran around with sheets, bowls of water and masks instead of faces. Theodore paced in the library, with only me for company, mumbling something to himself and halting every time a high-pitched scream would rumble through the manor, followed by thunder. Suddenly, amidst the heavy rain, a sound of horses neighing broke through, cats started to meow uncontrollably and lightening flashed over and over, seemingly right above our heads. I tell you, I never felt such whim of nature before or since and I implore you to believe, much like I came to, that this was not just mere nature. The thunder rumbled and lightening struck with such force that Theodore could barely keep his balance – so the mansion shook. Then there were screams, multiple and unending. We rushed out of the library and upstairs to where Lady Josephine was giving birth to what would have been boy, yet what we saw, dear reader, was Hell. Hell opened just a tiny fraction that in that moment, showing off its flames and heat. Fire took over the entire wing of the mansion where Lady Josephine’s room was. The fire roared loud, almost whispering and laughing to itself. Theodore screamed Josephine’s name over and over, trying to get through the wall of fire, but couldn’t get through as the roof started collapsing. Me with my meager strength, assisted by several servants that were not attending to childbearing, barely managed to pull Theodore away and out into the rain. The man broke. No amount of water or rain could hide his tears that seeped out of his eyes. I believe that day exactly was that the cursed hellfire festered in Theodore’s heart. That must be how he is able to do what he does now.

No amount of wine could manage to drown away Theodore’s grief. Although I did not witness it myself, I believe it was one of these drunken nights that brought poor Theodore to the noose in the cemetery, right next to his wife and son’s grave. That’s how we found him in the morning, laying there on top of marble slab, hugging the noose and wine bottle. Only later he trusted me with a story of how the Devil came to him that night and offered a deal. A deal where he could see his beloved every night, but in exchange, he must kill those the dead resent. He said, in his drunken haze, he could think of no one but his beloved Josephine and that he thought that the dead cannot resent so many people. Only later, when he came to visit Josephine with joy did he learn how much resentment there lay under the earth. Each night the dead haunted him and he could only see glimpses of Josephine’s lovely, saddened face. He could only calm the spirits of dead now by performing killings of those that wronged them. Then, as they go to sleep in their eternal tombs, he could converse with his beloved, until a crowd of spirits overtake them again.

The following recount I was told by Theodore himself, in haste, almost as if by a raving madman, so I cannot claim for its accuracy. Yet, given what has already happened before to Theodore, I dare not question its authenticity.

During one such meeting with Josephine, Theodore was kneeling in front of her translucent beauty until she finally spoke of their son. Their beautiful boy has been taken not by accident, but by Devil himself, who wanted Theodore in his service. And so he called upon Nature’s wrath and summoned a storm so powerful it destroyed their manor, Josephine and their child.

I can only guess at Theodore’s sorrow and wrath in that moment. Last time I saw him, he fashioned himself new weapons, packed a satchel and rode off from his half burned manor. It has been months, yet he has not returned yet. He asked me to recount his tale if he won’t return and I fear for the worst. I will hide this recount in the garden of the manor, before the servants close it off until their master returns. I wish anyone would remember the happiness of Theodore Rusning and how the petty Devil has taken it from him. Remember Theodore Rusning and never make deals with the Devil.

Picture credit: Terrifying Vampire pleading by <a href="http://Background photo created by luis_molinero –“>Luis Molinero

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