Dwelling

The scuff spread like a smirk across the otherwise flawless granite counter-top. Sharpe’s impeccably plucked brow furrowed and his manicured digits shot forwards to rub at the fault. But it remained, mocking his effort, cackling at his bemusement. It was fine. He could ignore it. What was perfection if blemish free anyway?

Characterless, he told himself.

Sharpe allowed his gaze to hang a moment longer before gliding off, his bare feet swiftly slapping the tiles which were heated from below by a complex system of pipes that pumped outwards from the heart of the house.

The place was just as he had envisaged when those simpering middle men had first come to him with their half-cocked ideas. Lucky for them, Sharpe had been there to guide their amblings with his unique clarity. This final incantation had heaved itself past its inferior predecessors, a feat of geometric precision. The white circulatory system etched onto blue had marked his creation in utero and now here it stood around him, more temple than mere domicile; a monument to himself.

Sharpe swept down the aisle between the length of the grand dining table and the section of wall made of glass. The transparent wall afforded an expensive vista of the surrounding forest they had cut back for the property. It allowed a form of seclusion reserved only for the elite.

A copper statue turning dark with oxidisation loomed over the stairs he descended. Its chest extended out and up, broad shoulders and featureless head thrown back, simplicity and awe-inspiring symmetry rising from an impossibly narrow waist. Sharpe felt himself quiver as he passed beneath it. He always did.

He rounded the bannister into the hall towards his predetermined destination. Who was he kidding? Graham Sharpe had made his millions selling cleaning supplies and he was no charlatan. The cupboard was flush with the rest of the wall making it practically invisible to the unknowing eye, it was opened by pushing the door inwards and allowing a smooth mechanism to do the rest. Sharpe gathered the tools of his empire and made for the malicious mark.

He marched up to the worktop, chemicals and cloth in hand. Sharpe poured some of the liquid onto the stone and started to rub. Sharpe’s unnaturally orange face turned red, then darker, then puce. Sweat rolled down his usually motionless forehead, dripped from his Armani glasses and mingled with the goop. He felt his mind drift from the task, a sign of the noxious fumes poisoning his brain as he huffed them in. He paused, stepped back. The smudge remained.

He couldn’t bear to look. It was as if the smear was deepening, creaking into the granite. It cracked and spread in his periphery, all the way to the sink, around the whole kitchen. It split the house in two. This room was no good. It would have to be redone. He spun around and staggered from the open-plan kitchen. Perhaps a drink would calm his nerves.

Sharpe entered the study with its ornate drinks cabinet, but stopped dead as something caught his eye. Sharpe felt a wave of nausea wash over him, his discovery nudging him off balance into aghast recline against the drink-stand. His eyes widened into great vortexes, the colour in his face draining out through them. It couldn’t be. How had he failed to notice it before? The floor-to-ceiling built-in mirror was off! It was wrong. Almost an inch too far left to be in line with the doorway! How could such an oversight have been possible? He cursed the fools who had hastily installed it, cursed himself for not realising before they had skulked back to their holes!

A rage, dormant since his youth, trembled outwards from his core, into his limbs and up to his eyelids which began to flutter. It oozed from his scalp and into his eyes. Red. Before he knew it, the drink-stand was sailing through the air. It shattered the source of his anxiety passing a seven-year sentence. Graham Sharpe checked out and a fury-drenched doppelganger took over and set upon the room like a maelstrom of destruction. It hewed the furnishings apart with its bare hands, heaved expensive miscellany into the walls and dashed vases, like skulls, upon the now cold stone floor. It ripped and tore and brayed and hauled.

The thing that had been Sharpe now whirled from the room, fresh blood in its nostrils. It erupted into the kitchen and wrenched at the shrieking cupboards which clung to their lodgings as if for dear life. They came loose and tore free like limbs. As the thing pounded the worktop with its bloodied fists, the terrible laughter of an unseen maniac filled the room.

The beast shook free of the kitchen and cascaded into the dining room, sending chairs flailing through the glass wall as it stalked down the length of the table. They landed upon the grass and lay in grotesque ruin, surrounded by their rooted kin which swayed in horror.

As the creature stood panting at the top of the stairs, Sharpe felt himself start to return. Through the clearing mist he surveyed the destruction his feral-self had wrought. With mournful eyes, he realised the fruits of his labour had been devoured, the land salted. Above him, he could hear a widening knocking, as if some airborne stranger was asking permission to enter with wavering surety. Sharpe turned to see the copper man on the edge of collapse, as if the violence had finally become too much for the statue. The statue toppled from its cove. Sharpe broke the copper man’s fall with a thick crunch and they tumbled down the staircase like adventurous lovers, obliterating Sharpe’s insides as they hit the floor.

The couple lay entwined in the hallway where they had landed, Sharpe attempting to gasp air into his pulverised lungs. Unable, he instead sighed his final breath, consoled by the epiphany that at least his face had remained intact.

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