The Colors of Lizzie Borden’s Life
By Christine (C.A.) Verstraete
Thanks for letting me visit your blog. I thought about the importance of color after seeing a post on Facebook talking about color schemes in films. It’s not something you think of right away, but like the other senses, seeing color can greatly influence our mood and how we view things.
We tend to associate certain colors with certain feelings—yellow is cheery, red can be violent or bright, blue can be soothing, etc. Dark colors generally are linked to darker moods and events. I thought I’d include a few examples of the possible colors in Lizzie’s life here with short excerpts from my book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.
For Lizzie Borden, both in real life and in the book, color—or the lack of it—had to have a big impact on her life and mood, especially when she was on trial for allegedly killing her father, Andrew Borden, and her stepmother, Abby Durfee Borden on August 4, 1892.
The color of that hot August morning was, of course, red. Blood red.
Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened?—From Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
And of course, once you add the supernatural elements of zombies, you have a whole new set of feelings to consider. In this case, it too, is a lack of color, except for the colors of death.
Lizzie took in its gray body covered in black holes, peeling hunks of dead skin hanging like rotted limbs dangling from a tree, and pockets of black gook oozing out of its body cavity.—From Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
It’s enough to make anyone an emotional wreck, but as in real life, at least in public, Lizzie held her back straight and her head high. Not once, except for one fainting spell, did she show any emotion or feelings about her plight, the murders, or the trial. But inside, all was dark; black.
She decided not to dwell on that further lest she fall deeper into the black hole of melancholy beckoning her.—From Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
In one portion of the book, I hinted at Lizzie’s mood during the trial, especially when she sees her sometime friend and companion John talking with a pretty and fashionable young woman dressed in bright colors compared to her own dowdy, dreary mourning colors. Add to that the newspapers calling her a “plain, old maid” and who wouldn’t feel terrible?
His companion’s neatly coifed hair and lovely features, along with the fashionable cut of her soft mauve gown, only made Lizzie feel worse. She stared at the drab charcoal of her plain gown, feeling ugly and much older than her years.—From Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
Whether she was indeed guilty as some think, Lizzie’s life—and mood—likely improved vastly once she heard the words “not guilty.” Even if she was still considered a pariah, for whatever reason, Lizzie chose to remain in her hometown, even venturing out occasionally for shopping or indulging her love of the theater.
Still; she had a new home—and her life. Color her pink for happy, at least for a while. Like real life, the fictional Lizzie’s life doesn’t turn out quite like she expected. But I’ll leave that for you to discover for yourself.
Genre: Horror/Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Imajin Books
Date of Publication: Sept. 13, 2016
Number of pages: 232
Word Count: 74,000 +
Cover Artist: Ryan Doan
Every family has its secrets…
One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?
Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.
Q. You saw his face covered with blood?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see his eyeball hanging out?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see the gashes where his face was laid open?
A. No sir.
—Lizzie Borden at inquest, August 9-11, 1892, Fall River Courtroom
August 4, 1892
Lizzie Borden drained the rest of her tea, set down her cup, and listened to the sound of furniture moving upstairs. My, my, for only ten o’clock in the morning my stepmother is certainly energetic. Housecleaning, already?
For a moment, Lizzie forgot her plans to go shopping downtown. THUMP. There it went again. It sounded like her stepmother was rearranging the whole room. She paused at the bottom stair, her concern growing, when she heard another thump and then, the oddest of sounds—a moan. Uh-oh. What was that? Did she hurt herself?
“Mrs. Borden?” Lizzie called. “Are you all right?”
She wondered if her stepmother had taken ill, yet the shuffling, moving, and other unusual noises continued. Lizzie hurried up the stairs and paused outside the partially opened door. The strange moans coming from the room sent a shiver up her back.
Lizzie pushed the door open wider and stared. Mrs. Abby Durfee Borden stood in front of the bureau mirror, clawing at her reflected image. And what a horrid image it was. The sixty-seven-year-old woman’s hair looked like it had never been combed and stuck out like porcupine quills. Her usually spotless housedress appeared wrinkled and torn. Yet, that wasn’t the worst. Dark red spots—Blood, Lizzie’s mind whispered—dotted the floor and streaked the sides of the older woman’s dress and sleeves.
Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened?
She gasped, which got the attention of Mrs. Borden, who jerked her head and growled. Lizzie choked back a cry of alarm. Abby’s square, plain face now appeared twisted and ashen gray. Her eyes, once bright with interest, stared from under a milky covering as if she had cataracts. She resembled a female version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Another growl and a moan, and the older woman lunged, arms rigid, her stubby hands held out like claws.
“Mrs. Borden, Abby!” Lizzie yelled and stumbled backward as fast as she could. “Abby, do you hear me?”
Her stepmother shuffled forward, her steps slow but steady. She showed no emotion or sense of recognition. The only utterances she made were those strange low moans.
Lizzie moved back even further, trying to keep some distance between her and Mrs. Borden’s grasping fingers. Then her foot hit something. Lizzie quickly glanced down at the silver hairbrush that had fallen to the floor. Too late, she realized her error.
“No!” Lizzie cried out at the strange feeling of her stepmother’s clammy, cold hand around her wrist. “Abby, what happened? What’s wrong with you?”
Mrs. Borden said nothing and moved in closer. Her mouth opened and closed, revealing bloodstained teeth.
“No! Stay away!” Lizzie yelled. “Stop!”
She didn’t. Instead, Mrs. Borden scratched and clawed at her. Lizzie leaned back, barely escaping the snap of the madwoman’s teeth at her neck.
“Mrs. Bor—Abby! No, no! Stop!”
Lizzie’s slight advantage of a few inches in height offered no protection against her shorter stepmother’s almost demonic and inhuman strength. The older woman bit and snapped like a rabid dog. Lizzie struggled to fight her off, and shoved her away, yet Mrs. Borden attacked again and again, her hands grabbing, her teeth seeking the tender flesh covered by Lizzie’s long, full sleeves.
The two of them grappled and wrestled, bumping into the bedposts and banging into furniture. Lizzie yelped each time her soft flesh hit something hard. She felt her strength wane as the crazed woman’s gnarled hands clawed at her. Lizzie wondered how much more she could endure.
Lizzie’s cries for help came out hoarse and weak. “Em-Emma!” She tried again. “Help! Help me!” She knew Emma had come in late last night from her trip out of town. But if Emma already woke and went downstairs, will she even hear me?
Lizzie reeled back, her panic growing as her spine pressed against the fireplace. She pushed and fought in an attempt to keep this monster away, yet Mrs. Borden’s ugly face and snapping teeth edged closer and closer.
Then Lizzie spotted it: the worn hatchet Father had left behind after he’d last brought in the newly chopped wood. No, no! Her mind filled with horror, but when her stepmother came at her again, Lizzie whispered a prayer for forgiveness and grabbed the handle. She lifted the hatchet high overhead and swung as hard as she could. It hit her stepmother’s skull with a sickening thud.
As impossible as it seemed, Mrs. Borden snarled and continued her attack.
Lizzie hit her again, and again, and again. The blows raked her stepmother’s face and scraped deep furrows into tender flesh. The metal hatchet head pounded her stepmother’s shoulders and arms, the bones giving way with sickening crunches. Mrs. Borden’s broken arms dangled, hanging limp and ugly at her sides… and yet, dear God, yet she continued her attack.
With the last bit of her strength, Lizzie raised the hatchet again and brought it down on Mrs. Borden’s head. Only then did her stepmother crumple and fall into a pile at Lizzie’s feet.
It took a few minutes for Lizzie to comprehend the horrible scene. It didn’t seem real, but it was. With a cry, she threw the bloodied hatchet aside. She gagged as the weapon caught in the braided artificial hairpiece hanging from the back of Mrs. Borden’s gore-encrusted scalp.
Retching, Lizzie ran to the other side of the bed, bent over, and vomited into the chamber pot. She crossed the room and leaned against the wall, her shoulders shaking with each heart-rending sob.
Her hands trembled so hard she could barely hold them still, but she managed to cover her eyes in a feeble attempt to block out the carnage. It didn’t stop the horrific images that flashed in her mind, or the many questions. And it certainly did nothing for the soul-crushing guilt that filled her.
Why? she cried. Why? Dear God, what have I done? What have I done?
Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a bit of a “scare” in her writing. He stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications including Mystery Weekly, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Siren’s Call Magazine, and more. She also is the author of books on dollhouses and a YA novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.
Her latest novel is Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.
Learn more at her website, http://cverstraete.com and her blog, http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com
Twitter: @caverstraete https://twitter.com/caverstraete
5 Kindle copies Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete