I wrote this my junior year when we were assigned to write an alternate ending to Poe’s “House of Usher” for English. Here is mine:
After the events at the House of Usher, the local police force investigated the wreckage of the home of my now-departed friend and his strange yet tragic family. They had found me, bruised and cut, on the street and had sent me to the station for medical attention and for questioning. As I waited on a bench in the department, I pondered about what I had just witnessed and tried to make some sense of what had happened. Had Roderick, my poor, strange childhood friend try to murder his comatose sister? How did Madeline manage to escape from her entombment? Why did Roderick want to commit such a terrible act, seeing as how he and his sister were the last of the House of Usher? The more I thought, the more I shuddered and shaked, still traumatized by the nightmarish actions of that night. I rested my head and fell asleep on the bench, trying to make myself wake up from this terrible dream.
I was awoken by an officer at 9 the next morning. He gave me a breakfast of egg, bread, and ham but I denied, not feeling well enough to eat. He took me into a closed room where I sat for what seemed like an eternity until a detective of a tall, lean, and imposing nature came through the door. He told me his name, Detective Harold Lovecraft, and began asking me questions about the past few weeks. I told him all I could, how Roderick lost his sanity over time, how he locked Madeline in a tomb while alive, and how she escaped and attacked my past friend. He nodded as I retold the story, jotting down notes in a long, black book. After accounting the story, I asked the detective if he knew anything else about what happened as I was still trying to get a clear picture of why this all happened. He looked at me with his black, focused eyes and told me that they found Roderick’s body, mangled, but still in relatively good condition and performed an autopsy on him. Inside, they discovered that he was an abuser of opium, a shocking revelation as I had accounted beforehand that Roderick’s shape was that of an opium addict. Detective Lovecraft also told me that the only reason that he is telling me this is that I was the only close friend of Usher and that after all that I went through, I deserved some explanation. I nodded and thank the helpful detective. He then pulled out a tattered, small, brown leather book and gave it to me.
“It’s Mr. Usher’s journal,” he told me, “We found it at the house. I feel like you should read it.”
I again thanked the officer, opened the book and was utterly horror-stricken at what I read. I started from a year ago, where Roderick begins to detail his life in it’s then-current form. I was amazed how opposite the Roderick a year ago was to the one I met weeks ago. He still had his nervousness and his sensitivity issues, but he described himself in well health and as the most happy he has been in his life, as he had just met a woman who he fell head-over-heels for, a beautiful young girl by the name of Lenore. For the next 5 months, he illustrated how much in love they were and that he was willing to discard the tradition of marrying inside the family just to be with her. However, the next entry in his journal was one of grave purpose, informing that Lenore had passed away at a tragically young age. He was in a state of tremendous grief and the several entries after that became hard to read as you could feel the complete and utter torment he went through. During this time, Roderick stated that he began taking opium, to “help me leave this world and journey into the next, if only for a while to see my dear lost Lenore”. However, I was not prepared for what followed. His last entry came in December, where he had not totally let go of Lenore, but at least had come to terms with the death. He tells of how as we was sleeping in his study, he heard a tapping on his door, to which he opened and found nothing but a dark hallway. Then, a rapping came from the windows, from which a raven flew in from. Roderick describes the utter terror he felt as he believed that the raven was speaking to him. In his own words he explained a plan to bring an end to his madness and suffering, and I will never forgot what I read. May I die 100 years from now, the passage will still be with me, haunting me:
“I have never met a beast of such pure dark evil. I realize that there is no such thing as good in this world. All that seems to be good always ends in loss, pain, and despair. The rave is proof of this undeniable fact. I can not take it anymore. My mind is ill-prepared for such madness and chaos. I must end it. I must end it all. I must end this wretched family I was born into, whose downfall was their own doing, that gave me these horrible disablements that do not allow me to take in what little there is in the world to enjoy. I must end this accursed life of mine, as I could not live in a world that exhibits such pestilence and wanton grief. And I must end the suffering of my poor twin. My poor, sweet, Madeline. You are the victim of this fear and loathing who has suffered the most. You can not engage with conversation with me, nor can you talk of your own free will. You are trapped in a prison of flesh while your mind rots away. But do not fret, because I will save you. I will save you from this pit of life and rescue you from the swinging pendulum of a cruel and unusual death. Worry no more my beloved sister, worry no more. For our life on this plain will soon be, to quote the Raven, ‘Nevermore’.”