Seer though he is, at his own bidding, at his own urgence,
he hath stained his sanctuary with pollution at its hearth;
transgressing the ordinance of the gods, he hath held
mortal things in honor and set at naught the apportionments of eld.
It was necessary, completely necessary, some things must happen. It would surely have happened, but he merely provided the means, given the last push and knocked down the whole sordid thing. And -- God, he should feel some perfunctory remorse but all he can think of is the damned quiet, peace in the house again, how nice it will be to sleep soundly without the old bastard snoring and cursing and berating mother, shouting for his medicine. Tranquility. An atmosphere more conducive to living in--
Worry rolls over him: that he's been sloppy, what a real doctor would suspect instantly. The absurdity of claiming an accidental excess in dosage, when any of his classmates could tell you that Veidt boy was so damn careful about everything else. What could (will) happen to him, prison even. And other loose ends that will need attention before the funeral. Mother in no state to attend to them. Certain old letters, photo albums (lampshades?, something perverse suggests and quickly submerges again in the general tide), the state of the sick room, sheets needing washing, telephone calls to the Lutheran church and to school --
Not so unusual after a death in the family. After a prolonged illness. Call off school for a few weeks more, ample time to grieve. To finish his reading. All these things, necessary things.
And then he thinks of what his father may have found necessary, found expedient. Adrian slumps in front of the mirror and the hard porcelain of the sink presses into his palms. His young shoulders shake.
Weeks later, having traveled some distance, guests intrude on his study. His book slips from his hands. Adrian can't even turn around.
"Go away," he says, very firmly but with a dry throat rasping. "I'm willing to-- seek psychiatric help, if that'll make you leave."
How had he pictured the Erinyes before? As the actors in a play, streaks of bloody rheum painted on their cheeks? Figures on the side of a vase? Some -- image. Barely there. But insistent, throbbing in his mind's eye like a bad headache. Knots of snakes, twisting and knotting, crowning women's faces, ancient children. Painted in something tarry black, but he doesn't need closer inspection to know it's blood. He can smell it from here.
The sisters say nothing. As good as three corpses, or three dogs, or three stones (is it three?) but what they have to say worms into his head anyway, quite clearly.
(how do I make you go away?
You have slain your father. His murder pollutes you. We know, and we do not forget.)
He almost laughs and casts his book aside, slams his hand down on his narrow youthful thigh.
"Have I-- have I sworn some false oath? I've never sworn Friedrich Veidt anything--" he snarls, feeling hindered and stupid and very afraid. Adrian won't be haunted by a damned metaphor, from a play, a stupid moralizing play--
He should not be seeing these things. And they speak no more, not yet, but they do not leave.
A week later, Adrian Veidt flees, sets off for Egypt and his destiny. Better to be Alexander than Orestes.
Ozymandias turns on the hot water before he even takes his mask off, steam filling the room and obscuring the mirror as he scrubs away at spirit gum and stage makeup. Adrian strips carefully, taking account of minor grazes and aches that he will feel more substantially in the morning. A hard patrol, but well worthwhile, and the satisfaction's just beginning to settle in, a fine night's work, let's see about tomorrow...
Before he can even set foot in the tub, there is blood under his feet, between his toes. Just a few drops at first, smears on the grey tile, and then more, partial footprints marked in red. His memory suggests pain before he even feels any, tetanus and rusty nails and broken glass. Both feet. He leans on the doorframe and inspects, alarmed but not frightened. Callused, but unbroken skin. Just... blood, and it smears and smells quite authentically. He's seen enough of it, he's not afraid of it, he isn't about to turn into Lady Macbeth over an unexplained mess--
Footprints. A trail. He can see them leading out the door, on the hardwood just as plainly, can imagine them all the way down the hall. Adrian looks again and he sees the blood on his hands. Just a stupid trick. A stupid, ghastly Halloween trick. He's tired. He's exhausted, and his senses are abandoning him. He'll collapse into bed like every other night, and deal with any genuinely extant messes once it's daylight.
He takes his circlet from his hair and steps into the bath.