Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker (1847 – 1912) is an Irish writer perhaps most well known for his novel Dracula. The Dualitists is an excellent example of the Gothic horror he excelled at. He plays with fear like a violin virtuoso.
The Death Boom of the Double Born or The Dualitists is a short story, but boy does it pack a rather wicked punch. Stoker doesn’t do predictable endings. In fact it might leave one or two readers a little hot under the collar.
The story begins with a childless couple, who hope and pray for a child. The two of them spend years yearning for that one wish to be fulfilled.
‘Unavailingly had they gazed into the emporia of baby-linen, and fixed their searching glances on the basket-makers’ warehouses where the cradles hung in tempting rows.’
Ephraim Bubb and his wife are lucky enough to not only welcome one but two little cherubs into their family. Finally their wish has been fulfilled.
‘My dear sir, allow me to congratulate you—to offer twofold felicitations. Mr Bubb, sir, you are the father of twins!’The twins were the idols of their parents, and at the same time their pleasure and their pain.
In the same town or village as the new parents live two friends called Harry and Tommy. They were tighter than a nun’s knicker elastic.
Compared with these two youths, Castor and Pollux, Damon and Pythias, Eloisa and Abelard are but tame examples of duality or constancy and friendship.
Unfortunately the two of them were drawn together by a common theme. They both had a sadistic side. They both enjoy experiencing the pain of other people, the destruction of property and peace of mind.
Harry and Tommy had each been given as a Christmas box a new knife; and for a long time—nearly a year—these knives, similar in size and pattern, were their chief delights.
They soon bored of their acts of destruction. As with most criminals who seek thrill through pain of others or by breaking things, they needed a new thrill to keep them entertained. What could bring them greater pleasure at this point? The escalation of vandalism and the mundane sense of boredom they find themselves burdened with makes them seek pleasure in a more bloodthirsty way.
After a little while they began mutually to brag of the superior excellence of their respective weapons. Tommy insisted that his was the sharper, Harry asserted that his was the stronger of the two. Hotter and hotter grew the war of words.
The two of them tried testing the strengths of their weapons by crossing blades with each other till the point of destruction.
though they mourned for their fondly cherished weapons, the hearts of the boys were glad; for the bygone day had opened to their gaze a prospect of pleasure as boundless as the limits of the world. Not knives now engaged the attention of the ambitious youths. Spoons and forks were daily flattened and beaten out of shape; pepper castor met pepper castor in combat, and both were borne dying from the field; candlesticks met in fray to part no more on this side of the grave; even epergnes were used as weapons in the crusade of hack.
Of course their path of destruction came to an end and one would expect nothing less from the two of them, but a falsehood. They blamed all manner of crimes upon each butler in their own homes.
Each butler was committed to the charge of myrmidons of the law under the double charge of drunkenness and wilful destruction of property.
No sooner than the butlers had been falsely arrested than the two of them were planning a new campaign of destruction. Proper little psychos. They soon turned their attention to hurting live animals.
When the supply of rabbits was depleted they went on to other animals. Lambs, cats, dogs and ect. More or less anything alive and capable of showing some hurt.
At last, however, all the animals available were sacrificed; but the passion for hacking still remained. How was it all to end? As they sat, with their souls in a tumult of desire and despair, some evil genius guided into the garden the twin blossoms of the tree of Bubb. Hand in hand Zacariah and Zerubbabel advanced from the back door; they had escaped from their nurses,
The natural progression from animal to human, at least when you’re a serial killer in training.
It was a touching sight, these lovely babes, alike in form, feature, size, expression, and dress; in fact, so like each other that one ‘might not have told either from which’.
Harry and Thomas saw ‘This is the very apotheosis of our art’ and the innocent babes as an excellent opportunity to wreak havoc and pain upon others.
With smiling faces and playful words and gentle wiles they led them within the arbour, and then, under pretence of giving them some of those sudden jumps in which infants rejoice, they raised them from the ground.
The two friends swung the babes around as if they were mere dolls. Smashing them together without a care or concern in the world.
The putty-like noses collapsed, the putty-like cheeks became for a moment flattened, and when in an instant more they parted, the faces of both were dabbled in gore. Immediately the firmament was rent with a series of such yells as might have awakened the dead.
To escape discovery the two of them climbed the nearest roof, both carrying a cherub each. Their father turned in horror to see his young sons on top of the stable roof being tortured by the young delinquents.
They seemed like two young demons forging some diabolical implement, for each in turn the twins were lifted high in air and let fall with stunning force on the supine form of its fellow. But by rare ill-chance no eyes save their own saw the work of butchery or heard the shrieks of anguish and despair.
Ephraim brought forth a double barrelled gun fully intending to kill Harry and Thomas. As a father trying to save his children I would expect nothing less.
‘Drop them twins and come down here or I’ll shoot you like a brace of dogs.’ As the smoke cleared off and Ephraim recovered from the kick of his gun, he heard a loud twofold laugh of triumph and saw Harry and Tommy, all unhurt, waving in the air the trunks of the twins-the fond father had blown the heads completely off his own offspring.
Harry and Thomas threw what was left of the children off the roof thereby crushing and killing the parents standing below. A coroner found the parents guilty of infanticide, murder and suicide based on the evidence given by Harry and Thomas
Accordingly Ephraim and Sophonisba were denied the solace of Christian burial, and were committed to the earth with ‘maimed rites’, and had stakes driven through their middles to pin them down in their unhallowed graves till the crack of doom.
Harry and Thomas were rewarded for their brave accounts and both lived to a ripe old age, respected and loved by all. They would often retell their tale of ‘bravery’ in front of a warm fire and generations of their descendants.
Moral of the story? Some people manage to wangle their way through life without any kind of repercussion for their behaviour or actions. They say karma always comes a calling, but I personally don’t always think that is the case.
Read The Dualitists, Dracula, The Lair of the White Worm, Dracula’s Guest, The Jewel of Seven Stars, The Man, The Burial of the Rats, A Dream of Red Hands or The Judge’s House at Feedbooks. The Bram Stoker Collection (GenXMedia), The Watter’s Mou’ or The Lady of the Shroud at the Internet Archive. Alternatively you can listen to Dracula, The Dualitists, The Mystery of the Sea or Famous Impostors at Librivox.
Read and download Kama Sutra, I Werks Long Hours, Spring Has Begun,Non Stop New York, Driving with a Dead Guy in the Backseat, The Life of Christ, Blast Off, Boop Boop a Doop, Queen of the Serials, But Why Are They Belgian, The Hands, Here Comes Trouble, Just Look at The Pretty Pictures, Heidi, Service with a Smile, Corruption, The Disintegration Machine, Just a wee bit of Arthur Conan Doyle, In the Year 2889, Them, South Sea Tales, The Master Magician, Love Insurance, Horror and Spice, and all things nice, Wonders of the Invisible World, Prelinger Part 2: Healthy Habits, Prelinger Archives Pt.1 Teen Feelings, Wuthering Heights, Classical Music and the Public Domain.