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Prologue I HANDED YOU A KNIFE AND MY HEART Her youthful flush color had drained from her much like the very blood from her veins upon the bedding on which she lay. Such a foul image for one to behold, but in some twisted way it only seemed to enhance her exquisite beauty, like a lily on a grave. Today is April 16th, 1898. I am a sketch artist who lives in a small town called Slough, which is situated nineteen miles west of Charing Cross on the outskirts of Greater London. I am here to tell you a story. A story that will torture your thoughts by day and poison your dreams by night. And though I will do my best, there are no words that can be written nor brush strokes laid on canvas that could describe the stark and utter horror of the night that Annabel died. The emptiness will haunt you… Chapter One EMPTY EYES ACCUSE A FACE SO EVIL My eyes open to the sting of sunlight. Something is wrong. Not the kind of wrong you feel when you first wake from a bad dream, but Something truly evil. A feeling of panic and desperation courses through my veins with such urgency that I leap from my bed with no regards to the bedpost that my head will inevitably strike. What is that smell? So unfamiliar. The only thing I recognize in its musk is Annabel, but it’s as if something so profoundly putrid is masking its unusual tantalizing odor. Why am I shaking? Am I wrong about the dream? Perhaps I’m trapped in the final seconds of a nightmare so horrific that even as I stand here awake I cannot escape its grasp. A sip of water and a moment to gather myself should help me put the pieces together. Where was I last night? What did I do? I remember dinner, drinks, laughter. I remember making love to Annabel. I remember drawing. Yes, my sketch, my latest masterpiece. Oh, I cannot wait until my sweet love lays her eyes on my finest achievement to date. It will please her so very much. I should wake her, I’m too excited to let her sleep any longer. I reach out to gently shake Annabel from sleep and find my hands are covered in blood. The smell, the shaking, the panic. Against my will, I turn my gaze toward the horrific scene lying in the bed only inches from where I slept. The harsh reality of what I am seeing washes over me as I fall to my knees screaming, crying, vomiting. This cannot be happening. I am still asleep, I never woke up. I will crawl into bed, wrap my arms around my sweet Annabel, and in the morning wake to the gentle caress of her lips. With every bit of my strength I pull myself into the bed and move slowly next to woman with whom I have shared the last seven years of my life. It was at this very moment that I notice the painfully angelic beauty of her eyes. So gentle, so forgiving, and now in this seemingly endless instant, perfectly still. Her once lush, glowing skin is now drowning in a pool of crimson. I’m not entirely sure what attracted my attention to the mirror on the wall. I’m not saying that if I hadn’t seen my reflection on that fateful morning that things would have gone differently in the end. All I know is that until the day I die I will never sleep again. In revealing the mystery behind the final hours of Annabel’s life, the old, cracked mirror that has hung in my bedroom for as long as I can remember made one thing perfectly clear. I, the Artist, had killed the only love I will never know, Annabel. Chapter Two SWEATY HANDS WILL FAIL TO LOCK THE DOOR A mirror never lies. They know. Everybody knows. Do you not see what they see? A mirror never lies. I see what they see. Everybody knows. Everybody knows. I have always been fascinated by the definite and complete power the human mind possesses over what the eyes behold. Somewhere in the spawning of thousands of synapses and possibilities, the brain sometimes deciphers quite improbably and incorrectly what the eyes have actually witnessed. These are the very thoughts I cling to as I stand over my beloved Annabel’s body lying in a sanguinary nightmare. My ears are embracing hope. I swear she is telling me secrets in only the faintest whisper. My skin crawls as I pace the room only to be followed closely by her motionless eyes. Knowing that to stay here in the presence of my sin would surely cause me to go mad, I resolve to move the corpse. Resisting the urge to kiss her undoubtedly cold lips, I wrap the remains neatly in the blood soaked linens of the bed and bound her with what various lengths of rope I can find. Even as I drag her body through the corridors of the house and down the flight of stairs that lead to the basement, I am still in denial. This is all an elaborate prank. I’m going to re-enter the bedroom to the sounds of laughter and happiness. “We got you!” they’ll scream. Jesus, this body is heavy, and where in this dingy, dark basement am I going to store a goddam dead body? I think I remember seeing an axe down here. Maybe if the body was smaller I could shove it underneath the loose bricks in the floor. On the brink of absolute hysteria, I race back to the upper floor and latch the door, forever sealing my dear Annabel in her final resting place. With my back to the heavy oak of the ancient door, I let myself slide down to the floor and try to collect myself once more. Muffled screams echo the halls, sure only to be my dead lover come back to life. Howling as she grapples with the restraints that bound her body she will race up the stairs and into my arms, showering me with kisses of forgiveness. I can no longer handle this place of terror. Not certain where I am to go, I must only be sure that I run far away from here. After all, they’ll be here soon...
So Alesana has this new album out on October 18 I think. Anyways, Alternative Press has one of their songs available for streaming called A Gilded Masquerade. Check it out here http://www.altpress.com/features/entry/exclusive_stream_alesana_a_gilded_masquerade