Categories > Movies > Corpse Bride > Till Death Do We Part

Murder and Meetings

by RapunzelK 2 reviews

What would have happened if Emily went through with her marriage to Victor? What would that mean for Victoria?

Category: Corpse Bride - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [V] [?] - Published: 2006-08-09 - Updated: 2007-08-15 - 2341 words

“With this hand, I shall lift your sorrows.

“Your cup will never empty,” the corpse bride took the moldy red bottle and emptied its pungent contents into the small brass chalice. Victoria watched, eyes wide, breath silent, from her hiding place behind the column. She dared not move or even blink. She was too transfixed with horror to do so anyway.

“For I shall be your wine.” She offered the cup to Victor, her bony fingers clicking dryly against the polished metal. He took it and held it a moment, facing the strange apparition in her tattered wedding gown. She could not see his face from where she hid, only the back of his vainly-combed head. He must have smiled for the corpse’s purpled lips turned upward and her eyes grew misty. Victoria’s breath died as Victor raised the cup to his lips and drank. He set the cup down only just in time. His face still hidden she watched as he doubled over, gasping for breath. His grisly bride stood ready, reaching to catch him before he could collapse to the floor. She held him closely as he struggled and then fell limp, one arm twitching briefly even as his head lolled on her bony shoulder. She had wanted to run to him, to jump up and stop him, but she could not move. She could only watch mutely, hot tears welling up in her eyes as Victor slowly seemed to come back to himself. His muscles shifted beneath his jacket though his chest did not expand with indrawn breath. Shakily, stiffly, he got his feet under him again and stood. The corpse bride smiled. Victoria felt sick. She watched blankly as the cold couple finished their vows, the words distant and distorted to her ears, and kissed. It all seemed like some sort of macabre fever-dream, the image of the now dead Victor and his equally deceased bride parading down the aisle followed by their ghostly entourage and a massive, poison-green cake. The door echoed shut behind the last dancing skeleton and Victoria was left alone. With nothing left to do, she crumbled from her knees to her face on the cold granite steps and sobbed.

“There you are.”

Victoria felt herself yanked fully into the waking world by the elbow.

“Get up. Stop groveling on the floor.”

Victoria looked up to see Lord Barkis standing over her, his hand hooked around her left arm. Not out of obedience to any command, but because she did not wish to grovel- as he had put it- on the floor before him, she stood.

“What do you want?” she sniffed, eyes damp and sore from crying.

“My god you look horrible. Here, clean yourself up,” he ordered, shoving a heavily perfumed square of purple silk at her. Victoria eyed it disdainfully and reluctantly dabbed her eyes with it. Lord Barkis accepted his slightly dampened handkercheif back with a sneer.

“We can still salvage this, I think. Come along ‘dear’.” With that he seized her wrist and dragged her down the steps and out of the church.

“Stop it!” she cried, trying to pry his fingers from her wrist. “Let me go! Let me go at once!”

“I’m afraid you have no choice in the matter, my dear,” Lord Barkis grumbled, dragging her on. “As my wife you will do as I say.” He turned and yanked her forward, holding her arm up high above her head, forcing her to face him. “Whether you like it or not.”

Victoria could only gape at suddenly being handled so roughly. He seized her round the waist with one arm, pinning her to his side. With a start Victoria felt the prick of steel through the bones of her corset.

“Now come, let us go for a walk like a pleasant married couple.”

She swallowed hard and managed a trembling, “Yes, dear,” as he began dragging her once again.

“You know you should feel honored, my dear,” Lord Barkis was saying, his tone oozing of sarcasm. “You have the honor of being my first wife. I was engaged several years ago to a charming young lady. Alas, it was not to be.”

He turned and gave a poisonous smile.

“She died before I could take her hand in marriage.”

Victoria gulped yet again, the demise of Lord Barkis’ unfortunate fiancee only too easy to imagine with a knife already pressed into her ribs. Wait a moment. That was it. They had reached the hump of the short little bridge that connected the vicarage to the rest of the town. Victoria stopped short, causing Lord Barkis’ knife to dig painfully into her side though the sturdy ribs of her corset protected her flesh from the cold bite of the blade. Who would have ever thought she would be grateful for the torturesome piece of clothing?

“You killed her, didn’t you,” she stated rather than asked.

“What makes you say that? Victoria you insult me!” he chuckled.

Victoria had had enough. Victor was gone, so were her family’s hopes of avoiding the poor house, to speak nothing of her own dreams and dignity. There was nothing left for her to lose.

“Unhand me,” she growled. “NOW.”

Rather than wait for him to retort she turned and shoved him away while perplexity still lingered on his face.

“I shall tell the constable what you’ve done!” she declared, hurrying to back away and put as much distance between them as possible. “You’ll be hanged for the dirty thief and murderer you are!”

Lord Barkis only chuckled.

“Do you really think anyone will believe you? After rambling about corpses?”

“It was true! You saw it yourself! The whole of the village saw them with their own eyes!”

He scoffed. “As if that matters. Why should they believe a silly little girl like you? A spoiled brat whining and simpering because she could not have the man she wanted.”

Victoria blinked. Whining? Simpering? Her shock warmed and then burst into firey outrage.

“Well of COURSE I didn’t want YOU!” she shot back. “How could ANYONE want a lying, murdering, conniving, ASS so full of himself that he hasn’t room for anything else!”

She was aware that tears were streaming down her face, but she didn’t care. They were tears of rage not sorrow. Lord Barkis was closing the distance between them, but she didn’t care about that either. Her slender hands had curled into shaking fists at her sides. Let him come. She was done with this. She would tear him apart with her bare hands.

“Why you insolent little wench…” he growled.

“Oh you’re one to bloody well talk! Tell me why DID you kill her? Did you marry her for her money too?”

“As a matter of fact,” he had come closer, knife poised, “I did.”

He swung the blade down but Victoria dodged, the shap edge wedging itself between the bridge stones. Picking up her skirts, she turned to flee but felt Lord Barkis latch a hand around her arm.

“Not so fast,” he growled. “I may not have your money but you’ll not spoil my chances of stealing someone else’s!”

He yanked her toward him, his free hand pulling on the knife handle. Victoria kicked and clawed, gouging a few satisfying furrows into his cheek with her nails. She had nearly escaped when he seized her veil, dragging her backwards. Biting back on the pain Victoria lunged the other direction, the flimisy fabric tearing before her bun popped free in a tiny explosion of hairpins, her gently curling hair falling loose around her shoulders. She heard a curse and a muffled thud as Lord Barkis presumably fell backwards. She didn’t stop to look. Instead, skirts wadded high in her arms, she ran for the end of the bridge and the little village beyond. If nothing else surely the VanDort’s would at least hide her from this murderer. He had- in a round about way- caused Victor’s death. Perhaps they would believe her. It was rather unlikely her parents would, even with the dead walking the streets only hours before.

The bridge stones were damp and slippery, the many gray blocks unevenly placed as the riverbank had settled ever lower. One tiny high heel caught against the jut of a higher stone, turning her ankle and causing her to pitch forward in a tangle of satin skirts and silky hair. No sooner had she bashed her breast against the cold stones than a second weight fell on her from behind. Rather than drive her further into the stones, rough hands grabbed her about the middle and hoisted her into the air.

“Let me go!” she gasped when at last she had breath to protest. “Unhand me!”

She pounded at Lord Barkis as best she could with her little fists but he laughed vainly as she struggled against him. His arms, thin as they were, were a good deal stronger than they looked. His tight grip did not loosen as he carried her towards the bridge’s edge, holding her out over the rail above the murky water that swirled below. Victoria gasped and suddenly reversed her efforts, attempting to cling to him rather than to claw her way free. He smiled coldly.

“Till death do we part…”

He released her, sending her plunging over the side and into the dark waters. The Welbourne was not a wide river, but it was deep and swift. Vicotria had been warned countless times as a child not to go near it for fear she would drown. Now, her scream silenced as the icy water closed over her head, her mother’s warning echoed loudly in her water-clogged ears. She had never been taught to swim and had no earthly idea how one went about it, but was keen to learn as quickly as possible. She kicked and clawed against the heartless pull of the current tugging her ever deeper into its cold, gray depths. Hampered and weighted by sixteen petticoats the sunlight began to fade as she slid further and further into the murk. Her chest burned and she felt strangely sleepy. Whether her eyes had closed or she had sunk too deep, she would never know. The pale light of the sun slowly floated away and she was left in complete and utter blackness, cold and empty.

She must have closed her eyes after all she decided, for she woke some time later- how long she was not sure- and waking up involved opening one’s eyes. She found herself lying on a muddy riverbank not unlike the one she had just fallen into. This river, however, flowed dirty and green, bits of rubbish floated by and a skeleton sat fishing on the bank. He lifted his hat to her in greeting. Victoria, too dumbfounded to do anything else, nodded politely and picked herself up. She appeared to be on the outskirts of a town- a town similar to the one she had just left yet very different. The homes were shabby and ramshackle, some only half-finished, built of splintered, decaying wood in bright yet rotted colors of blue and red and green. Dusting off her damp and muddied skirts, she pushed her hair out of her face and headed up the bank towards the crowd of houses. She had some vague notion that once within the town, things might make more sense. In the back of her head, she knew she had been murdered, that she had drowned and was now dead, and that this was the land of the dead, the murky reflection of what went on above ground. Perhaps that was why the strange sights- the walking corpses and skeletons, the talking worms and insects- did not seem so strange. She was, after all, a corpse now herself and she nodded politely to those who greeted her.

The center of activity seemed to be at a little pub not far from the riverside. The worm-eaten sign above the door read “Ball and Socket”. Victoria had never seen the inside of a pub and briefly reconsidered going in until she remembered that she was dead and precious little could harm her now. Without a second thought, she pushed the door open and descended the winding little stairs, nearly falling over at the cheers of “New Arrival!”. She did not stumble, but instead stood stock-still. Victor and his corpse bride stood amidst the crowd, their poison-green cake carven and half-served behind them.

“Victoria…” he whispered. “What…what are you doing down here?”

As if the answer wasn’t obvious. Still, she supposed he would be a bit shocked to see her here. She was supposed to be alive and married to Lord Barkis. The sudden tension in the room was palpable, the other corpses shifting nervously and mumbling to one another. Victoria forced what she hoped was a pleasant smile and descended to the floor of the pub.

“I…came to wish you well,” she faltered, nodding politely at his pallid bride. The bride blinked but returned the nod with icy grace.

“Oh…er…well…thank you…” Victor stammered. “But…aren’t you supposed to be…well…up there?” He pointed to the ceiling. “I thought you were to marry a Lord?”

“Oh I did,” Victoria nodded, distantly aware that she was dripping water all over the floor. A skeletal little terrier had begun lapping it up.

“Then…why….?” Victor blinked, evidently still lost.

“He dropped me over the side of the bridge,” she said simply. There really wasn’t anything else to be said. Victor’s eyes grew suddenly wider.

“I’m so sorry…” he stated blankly.

“It’s…it’s all right. I hope you’ll be very happy…” She swallowed hard but was unsuccessful in keeping her voice from becoming rather pinched at the end. She dropped a quick curtsey and hurried away into the crowd of dressed bones.
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