You fancy me mad, don’t you? But I’m not, I’m not mad at all. He’s the mad one, he’s mad at me for killing him. I didn’t mean to kill him – I loved him…it was that traveler who made me do it. He magicked me, he did, into killing the old man. He wanted his eye, the magical sapphire the old man had where a normal eye would sit. He told me, and I heard him. I heard a lot of things, and can still hear them. I heard the old man’s snores, then that single strangled shriek as I plunged the blade into his chest. That broke the spell, and I knew what I had done. See? Madmen know nothing, and I know exactly what happened.

I could hear the burglar who made me do it approaching, so I hid the body and hid myself. You should have seen him. He tore up the house, looking for both of us and the gem. He never found us, though the steady thumping of his boots on the floor overhead terrified me in that tiny hideaway the old man had built years ago. Finally, he left, and I could free myself from that hideous confinement with a corpse of my own design. I sat there, in the bedroom chair, for some time, thinking. It took a few minutes for me to hear the sound. It grew louder – louder – louder – more minutes before I recognized it. At first, I thought it was the thief, returned and searching the house upstairs. It grew louder – louder – louder – louder! At long last, I recognized it…it was coming from below, from underneath my feet…it was the beating of his hideous heart!

I fled the house, seeking refuge in the nearby town. But that was no solace…the one who had sought the gem sought revenge in its place for my betrayal – the guards believed their anonymous tip that I had murdered the old man. I fled again, hiding in the forest. I thought I was safe, and could sleep. But I woke to that sound again, and the sight. The sight of the old man, clear as day and transparent, seething with rage, and accompanied by that infernal ever-beating heart! I’ve tried to tell him I’m sorry, tried to tell him I didn’t mean too, but he doesn’t listen. He just won’t leave me alone! LEAVE ME ALONE, I SAY!!!!!!!