CW: Blood and gore
People are God. They create "God" for closure, because they need someone to blame when things go wrong.
The church bells shrieked once her breath ceased. Soon the sermon would begin, and the deaconess will be nowhere to be found.
Like a man awakening from a horrible nightmare, I jerked my hands away from her neck. She hit the wooden floorboards with a thud. Even in the dim orange glow of my lantern- the only thing stopping the darkness from crawling into the basement- I could make out her features clearly. Wide eyes, gaping mouth, scrunched up nose, furrowed brows... That face will forever haunt me.
My heartbeat drummed in my ears, and I rapidly inhaled and exhaled the mild stench of rotting corpses, blood and antiseptic I'd grown accustomed to in the past two months. "Wake up!" I shook her vigorously, "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"
A dull ache soon slithered into the muscles of my arms. I released the old woman, and she collapsed on the floor once again. I leapt to my feet, pacing the room.
"I'm finished," I ran my sweaty fingers through my short brown hair, "I'm finished. I'm finished. I'm finished."
"Nothing is done in private. The Lord sees all secret sins," the priest bellowed. His voice was as loud as it had always been when I'd attended sermons, but the church was two streets away.
I stared down at my hands, nearly choking on the bile rising in the back of my throat. I'd touched many dead bodies in the past two months, but never before had I been the killer.
"This is all your fault!" I whipped my head towards the body splayed behind me. The bones in my neck went "crack" in response. "Why didn't you stay at church? Why did you come back here?
"I wasn't even doing anything wrong! I was just studying them! And they were already dead in the first place!" I screamed at her, and she gazed wordlessly at me.
"Repent! For the price of sin is death!" the priest squawked yet again.
A laugh erupted from the pit of my stomach. "You all believe that sin causes death, right? Like my parents? Sin killed them, didn't it?" I let out another laugh; it died on my lips before it could reach my eyes.
"How can you explain your situation, then?" I knelt before her once more, a cruel smile splitting my face in two. "Are you a sinner? Like them? Like me?
"I've got news for you, Aunt Ruth. No-one will find you here. No-one will even look for you. You are a sinner now.
"My secret is safe. The only witness is dead," I muttered to myself. I hooked my arms under aunt's armpits, huffing as I dragged her across the floor, to a scarcely-lit corner of the basement. My breath and heartrate were steady now, so I returned to my work.
I strolled to the two long wooden tables in the centre of the room. On one table, test-tubes, beakers, surgical tools and other lab equipment were neatly arranged. On the other, the cold body of a little girl lay motionless. Dried blood surrounded the single cut that ran along the centre of her thorax; from her breastbone to her abdomen.
As I inspected the specimen's heart, a sudden feeling of unease hit me. I looked up, and Aunt Ruth was sitting in the corner I had left her in. Darkness obscured her face, but I could distinctly make out horrified eyes, brown as a mad squirrel.
"Stop looking at me like that," I said, but she remained still. "Stop it. I'm doing nothing wrong. She's dead."
I dragged my aunt to another corner behind me, beside the cleaning supplies. Yet, as I dissected my specimen's heart with my scalpel, I felt her judging eyes boring into my back.
"The human body is the temple of the Lord. You must not defile it."
"STOP LOOKING AT ME!" I dropped the bloody scalpel in my hands and marched to the other corpse in the room. I shut her eyes with my fingers, but she glared at me through her eyelids. "Stop it!" I turned her face to the wall, but her eyes still followed me.
My panic returned, and I paced the room again. She watched me rub my face with my hands, smearing it with blood, tasting copper. "Stop it! Stop it!"
I spun wildly to her. She lay on the floor with her back to me, but her eyes still haunted me.
“Stop doing that! Stop looking at me like I’m a sinner! There’s nothing wrong with what I do! There’s nothing wrong with what my parents did! It’s science! Not sin! SCIENCE!”
She said nothing, like I was too sinful to deserve a reply. That single act pushed me to my limit.
I couldn’t look at that face any longer.
Like a mindless zombie, I trudged to the examination table, where my specimen lay. My hands soon found my discarded scalpel, the closest thing to a saw in my lab. Squeezing the handle of my weapon, I craned my neck to the deaconess, my lips pressed into a thin line. My body pulled itself to her, like we were opposite poles of a magnet, until I was kneeling before her one last time.
I pressed the scalpel into the skin of her jugular. Warm blood flowed from her cut and onto my skinny fingers like a maroon waterfall. I ignored it, pressing harder until the liquid splashed onto my body, the wall, the mop bucket, everywhere. I must have reached her larynx.
The metallic liquid dripped off my face like sweat. Some drops landed on her dress, or on the floor, or my laps, and some trickled into my mouth, forcing me to taste metal once again. One drop in particular fell on her nose, between her eyes- the very eyes that always judged me.
"This is your fault, you know," I increased the pace of my miniature weapon. The beads of sweat forming as a result mixed with the blood on my face. "If you and your herd of brainless sheep had accepted my practice, I wouldn't have had to do it in secret. And if you had minded your business today, instead of trying to force me to go to church with you, this wouldn't have happened. You wouldn't have discovered my lab, and I wouldn't have panicked. You have no-one to blame but yourself."
It's not my fault.
I was just studying.