John stared at the sword, he couldn’t tear his eyes away. It captivated him in a way that nothing had before. It was in the museum for only two weeks, and this had been his third day in to visit it. On his first visit he made his way through the museum aimlessly, he was there for no specific purpose other than to look at the various artefacts. He walked by displays, pausing to read information. The museum had large, wide rooms that were bright and airy, the items on display were done so in cabinets or on walls. He meandered his way through the rooms, trying to see everything. The museum seemed unusually empty, he had been here before years ago and the place had been teeming with people, school trips, family outings, couples walking amongst the exhibits hand in hand. Today there were a few scattered people here and there. He was pleased that the museum was quiet, he was worried that it would be full of screaming and shouting children. He was about halfway through the building when he saw the sword hanging on the wall. He moved closer to it, wanting to get a better look. Its metal shone brightly in the light, the blade was smooth and appeared sharp, there was a bright red ruby in the centre of the cross guard, around it were other gems, emeralds and diamonds, with gold filigree swirling around the gems. He read the description beside the sword, it was a small card without much information on it, it was the name that captured his imagination though, Sword of Souls. He had never heard of it before, though it seemed like a sword that should be well known, or something from a fantasy novel. He had sat on the padded seats that were across from it and just took it all in. The way the light shone on the metal and jewels, the sharpness of it and most of all, that deep, red ruby. He sat there until a security guard politely told him the museum would be closing soon. He stood from the seat and, with one final glance, walked away, knowing he would be back.
When he got home the first thing he did was plug the name into Google, it didn’t take long for him to get lost in the history of it all. It popped up every now and then throughout history, with one great warrior or another wielding it until it finally vanished until only a few years ago when it had been donated to a museum. The most interesting part, at least for John, was the ruby in the cross guard. It was large, larger than he would have thought wise for a decoration, but in the earliest tales of the sword it wasn’t a Ruby, it was a diamond. The colour changed throughout the years going from a diamond of the purest white and shine, until pinks and reds started to seep in, and finally it became the deep, ruby red. The legend claimed that the diamond was filling with the souls of those it had slain, turning it a dark, deep red.
John found himself drawn to the sword in a way he couldn’t describe. He longed to hold it in his hand, he knew the metal wouldn’t be cold, it would have a warmth to it, he could already imagine it, thrumming softly in his grip, thirsting for more blood. At night he dreamed of it, of the sword slicing through flesh with ease, cleaving life with every swing, the ruby glowing softly as the blade was bathed in blood, the red deepening with each soul until it finally turned into the darkest black, a black that sucked in the light from around it, and finally the sword would be complete. In the morning he would wake from the dreams and long to hold the sword, the violence and the bloodshed didn’t bother him, though before he was always a squeamish man, avoiding horror movies and violence as much as he could.
It was his fourth visit when he realised that the sword itself was behind no barriers, there was no glass in front of it, no wires to stop anyone getting to close. He had been too captivated by the sword to notice, but now he did. He clenched his hand once, then relaxed it, he could almost hear the sword singing to him, the song of a thousand screams joining as one. He stood from the soft chair and moved closer, he didn’t look around as he reached out, he gripped the sword and felt the energy flowing through him, behind him a guard called out something but he didn’t hear. He was right, the sword was warm, he turned, sword gripped tightly, and shoved it into the security guard. The guard let out a surprised “Oof” as it sliced through him with ease. John watched his eyes, confused for a second, then they were empty. The man was gone leaving behind a husk. John slid the sword sideways, slicing it free. The museum was busy today, but he had the entire room to himself. Soon they would come, he longed for them, to feel the sword glide deeply into their bodies.
The sword claimed ten more lives as he moved his way through the museum. Those who were stabbed made no noise, they fell silently. He knew how to kill quickly, the sword showing him the way. The police were called, but he knew they were no match for him, he would be the one to finish the sword, to bring it to its full power. The energy thrummed up his arm, it felt like it was vibrating, each kill made it stronger.
The bullet didn’t hurt, he would have thought it would hurt. It felt like a punch, swift and fast into the small of his back. He turned and advanced towards the cops, they opened fire. He fell to the ground, still struggling, the life was draining from him quickly, he waved the sword weakly in their direction, it needed more. His arm moved seemingly of its own accord, the sword found its mark as he stabbed it into himself. His arm fell back, the life draining from him.
The massacre dominated the news for weeks, people trying to figure out what had caused a mild mannered man to snap. The sword was taken off display indefinitely, families and friends mourned their loved ones. The sword was carefully cleaned, there was some speculation as to whether John had some kind of chemicals on him, the ruby seemed to have become stained, fine lines of black seemed to swirl their way through the ruby. Testing came back with nothing. The few who cared dismissed it, it would be a long time before it would be displayed again and by then, who would even notice? The sword was locked away in darkness, waiting until it could strike again.