Tomes Of The Damned Book One - 02 The Maddening Of Bartholomew Rosema
DescriptionA collection of bazarre tales. Bartholomew Roseman is being watched, by a man in a black coat. Is this man here to warn him, or harm him. That is what Bartholomew plans on finding out.
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The Maddening Of Bartholomew RosemanAs I stand here on my back deck, pulling from my cigarette, I see him watching me. The man in the black coat has returned. Across the alley, standing on the sidewalk the next street over, he is vigilant; unmoving, watching. His black coat peppered white from the falling snow. He stands some fifty yards from me, I can not be certain the snow even touches him. I can only hope, for the sake of my own sanity. After a few moments, I watch as he slowly turns to his right, and disappears among the cluster of houses that surround him. Between the heavy downfall of snow, and the smoke that rises from my cigarette obscuring my vision, I wonder if he was ever truly there at all. The thought is swiftly replaced by the reality that this is the third time in as many nights; I have witnessed the man in the black coat watching me. Two nights ago, I sat at my kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee, while figuring my bills. Upon completing the task, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end; with it came the sinking feeling I was being watched. Ever so slowly I turned my head to the left and looked out the sliding glass door that led to the back deck. There, standing just to the other side of the banister, beneath the great oak tree, a mere thirty feet from where I sat was the man in the black coat. Fear took me, gripping so tightly that I was unable to move. I sat there looking into, what I could only assume were his eyes, for it was far too dark to see them. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes like hours. For two hours I sat frozen, or was it minutes, of that I could not tell you. Finally, fear released me from its icy grasp. Slowly, I rose to my feet, my eyes never leaving his, nor did his leave me. I soon grew ill at ease with this contest of stares. I am not one for confrontation; in fact most of my work is done in the shadows. The same could not be said for the man in the black coat, he had no fear of being seen; it was as if he relished the opportunity to be observed. Slowly, I began to walk backwards, never taking my eyes off the man in black. I continued my retreat, until I felt my back touch the mantle above the fireplace. The heat from the still burning logs, danced up the back of my shirt, causing me to grimace and nearly break eye contact with the man in black. I blindly reached behind me, in search of something that would protect me. My searching hand found no such object, so for just a fraction of a second, I broke eye contact and turned to search with my eyes. Instantly I located that which I sought, the black iron poker. I quickly turned my attention back to the man in the black coat, to my surprise he no longer stood beside the great oak. Frantically I searched every window in every room, but the man in the black coat was nowhere to be seen. Reluctantly I returned to my seat at the kitchen table, where I sat listening for the slightest sound of his return. Hours passed and I soon watched the morning sun break across the horizon. The man in the black coat did not return. Then last night, while in the midst of a very pleasurable dream, (of which I will not go into here.) I was awakened by a strong jolt to my bed. Rattled, I opened my eyes, and at the foot of my bed stood the man in the black coat. Swiftly I reached for the iron poker that I now slept with. As the blur from sleep slowly vanished, so to, did the man in the black coat. Discombobulated, I once again embarked on a thorough sweep of the house. Upon finding no sign of the man in the black coat, or any sign that anyone other than myself had been in the house at all, I once again sat at the kitchen table awaiting the arrival of morning. And now standing here tonight, witnessing the return of the man in the black coat. I can't help but wonder if his coming is to warn me of ill fortune. Or if he himself, is the bringer of said fortune. Alas the answer to these riddles will have to wait, for now, it is time to sleep.
----------------------I have once again been rocked from sleep, by another sudden jolt to my bed. It is 3:00am; some will have you believe that this is the devils hour, where evil wreaks havoc across the land, I myself do not hold to such beliefs. It is but a coincidence. There is noise outside of my bedroom window, patiently I wait and listen trying to make sense of the noise. It is the sound of...Digging. It is the sound of a shovel breaking through frozen ground beneath my window. I quickly jump from my bed, and hurry to the window, once there I look out to the great oak, and understanding takes hold of me. The man in the black coat stands beneath the tree, digging into the snow covered ground. He has not come to warn me of ill fortune. Nor has he come to bring me ill fortune, rather he has come to steal my treasures. Wearing only my pajama pants, I grab the iron poker and make a mad dash downstairs, and out the kitchen door. The man in the black coat no longer stands beneath the oak tree. Post-hast, I circle the outside of the house barefoot, through thirteen inches of freshly fallen snow, yet in my delirium I feel nothing. I will kill any who tries taking my treasures. I say to myself as I come round to the oak tree once more. I run past the tree, and into the alleyway beyond. Feverishly I search corner to corner, nothing. Walking back to the house, I see a shovel sticking out from the ground; I pull it out and begin to dig. "Deloris, he has taken my precious Deloris" I howl, as I dig faster and faster. All of my treasures have names, and I will not rest until they are all accounted for. If the man in the black coat has made off with only one, then that is one too many I'm afraid. The ground is hard, but I am relentless. Finally I reach the required depth. Empty. "Noooo!" I scream, as I hurry to the next one. Five paces out from the deck, and three paces to the right, I count and begin to dig again.
----------------------I have now dug six holes in my backyard. Bobby, Sara, Natalie, Bridgette, Ken, and Deloris make six. Six holes; all empty. The basement! I yell, surely he can't have taken those too.
----------------------Eight holes I have now dug in the basement, and eight holes lay empty before me. I grab the phone from its cradle on the wall, and dial 911. "He has taken my treasures!" I scream into the receiver. "My name is Bartholomew Roseman; I live at 223 southeast second avenue. Please hurry!" I finish and drop the phone to the ground. I have been digging for hours it seems. Where are the police? I wonder, as I look down upon fourteen empty holes. Carol, Timothy, Steven, Angela, oh there are too many to name. I must keep digging. Lisa, Parry, Gregory, three more holes. All empty. "The walls" I shout. "No one would think to look in the walls!" I quickly grab the sledgehammer from the corner, and swing it madly at the wall. Dust and concrete explode from the tip of the hammer, as a hole breaks through the wall.
----------------------I now stand before three empty holes, Brittany, Alec, and Francis, all open and all empty. There's one more, one more treasure. My newest treasure, it can't have been taken. I pull back the hammer once more, and with all the strength I have left I let fly a vicious swing. Concrete and dust once again explode from the tip of my hammer. I swing again; a small hole appears in the wall. Having no strength left to make another swing, I look into the hole. No, this can not be, I say softly to myself. "Mister Roseman, Bartholomew Roseman, you down there." A voice calls down from the top of the stairs. Slowly I back away from the hole, knowing that I have doomed myself. Through the hole I glimpsed, Andrew, the man in the black coat. He is my latest and most certainly final treasure. "Oh Christ, what have you done?" The officer asks as he draws an invisible cross in the air in front of him. I know now that my days of collecting treasure have come to an end. For I stand here not among empty holes of stolen treasure, but rather I stand in the midst of a basement graveyard.