Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

The Death of Corella Leatherworth By E.B. Johnson


Corella drank the poison and laid down on the bed. The folds of her favorite dress splayed around her like the delicate petals of a flower. She knit her hands over her belly and nestled herself into a soft nest of crisp white pillows.

She would look stunning when they found her; an Aphrodite in purple satin laying on a bed of crushed sepia. Corella closed her eyes and waited for the poison to run its course. The spider, that old familiar friend, made its way slowly up the peeling paper of the wall and settled on its web in the corner as if to watch the undoing with its million eyes.

They would be discovering his body by now, Corella knew. All six feet of it rolled into the ditch on the edge of town.

'Not your finest work', it whispered. 'You’ve never been less careful.'

‘Quiet,’ Corella hissed into the dark. It was what had brought her here and it was the last thing she wanted to hear in her final moments. ‘You’re finished here, do you understand me? Finished!’

'Oh, am I?'

Corella’s head began to swim and a strange feeling began to well up in her belly. Downstairs she could hear the creaking steps of Old Lady Mettinger, no doubt sweeping her floors and listening for any sign of trouble in the decaying boarding house. Corella slipped in and out of consciousness as the moth-eaten curtains that hung from every side of the four-poster bed began to sway.

His face filled her mind’s eye. Thomas. His name was Thomas. Blood followed, and more blood; then there were the whispers, the screams.

The silence was the loudest, though — followed by the shallow splash of water as his body was swallowed up.

'You wanted it as much as I did. Why don’t you just admit it?'

‘I didn’t,’ Corella cried out feebly. ‘You did this to me! You made me kill him. You made me slit his throat and roll him into the ditch. You’re a demon! A devil! Leave me, spirit! Leave me be!’

As the dark still of death began to tug at her eyelids, she saw the red velvet of the canopy split. A face as black as night appeared, with two bloody eyes large and full of malice. Its charred flesh split into a rancid grin and a tongue riven with rotten pustules flicked between cracked and missing teeth.

'Devil, did you say? Oh, yes. I am the Devil, my dear.'

The creature slithered between the split of the canopy and scrabbled down over Corella’s dying body. It stopped with its face only inches from her own, its belly hanging low and dragging against hers.

‘I am the Devil, Sweet Corella. I am the Devil, indeed, and do you know what you are?’

Corella wanted to scream, but death had come for her at last and she could feel herself slipping away.

‘You’re mine, Corella. Mine for all eternity.’

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