My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the category “Horror”

The Seeker

In all my years as a detective on the Kent police force where, admittedly, I wasn’t inundated with out-of-the-ordinary cases, this was probably the strangest.  if I hadn’t had been there, I’d have laughed it off. I was, however, so I didn’t.

Being close to London, we had our share of dead bodies turning up, the majority of them unwillingly dead.  Then we had the willingly dead, the suicides, which normally entailed jumping off something high, into something deep or into the path of something heavy and fast-moving.  The story of The Seeker is none of the above.

Why The Seeker?  Well, his circumstances brought to mind that old song by The Who, we named him that in the station and it stuck.  When we have our pub get-togethers the case still gets referred to as The Seeker and yes, we smile about it now; certainly more than we did when we found him.

We were called to a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells one morning.  It was June and the glorious English two-week summer had been and gone and had been replaced by scattered showers and lower than average temperatures.  The bin men had become concerned at the lack of refuse at number 31, The Rise.  Strange, they said.  Not like him, they said.  Never goes on holiday, they said.  Would you mind checking?  So Davis and I pulled up outside number 31, between downpours, and knocked on the door.  Receiving no response, we circled the house, round to the back garden.  The only window open was the small hopper window, impossible to get through without removing it.  10 minutes later, Leatherman multi-purpose tool in hand, the window was off its hinges and Davis was head first and arse last through the hole.  I could only hear his muffled voice.

“Christ, it smells like your armpits in here.”

“Just open the door and let me in so we can confirm the man’s gone off on holiday and get back to the station for a coffee.”

The key turned in the kitchen door and it swung open.  Davis was right, the place stank.  I would, however, contest that my armpits smell like that.  The mewing of cats came from the landing above our heads as we walked through the hallway.  We looked at each other, no words needed.  Something wasn’t right. The stairs creaked as we made our way up. The cats scattered as we reached the landing, at least five or six of them.  The stench was almost unbearable.  A reluctant room-to-room followed.  We found him in the small studio room, still sat at his computer.

With the help of Martins on forensics the story was pieced together and it went like this.

The man had had an addiction.  No crack, meth or needle chill for The Seeker, no.  just good old Google.  He’d played chicken on the information super-highway and lost.  Too much information can kill you – ignorance is bliss.  He should’ve listened.

Only afterwards, going through his browser history, did the full extent of his addiction come to light.  He’d researched everything from an aardvark’s anal glands to a zebra’s zoonosis.  During this month-long bout of browser fever, he’d starting neglecting himself then he’d started neglecting his cats.  The official cause of death was dehydration; he’d sat and sat until his body was so drained of fluids he’d just collapsed.  He’d even rigged up some form of hose system to an old washtub so he didn’t have to get out of his seat.  No eating for The Seeker, he was nourishing himself in a Wikipedia frenzy, feeding off a You Tube drip and, slowly but surely, Googling himself to death.  Somewhere during the course of this derangement his dehydrated body gave up and his heart gave out.  At least we hope it did.

After all, the cats had to eat.

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She smiled

The picture hung askew on the wall.  He tilted his head to get a better look. He couldn’t stand modern art but it pleased his wife.

‘It’s straight’, she said.

‘What?  Don’t be ridiculous Alice.’

‘You looked at it wrong when you stepped into the room; it’s the impression it gives.’

‘It’s not straight, it doesn’t matter how I step into the room.’

As he looked, the black and white pixels began to merge.

‘And you can’t see it change, I suppose?’ he said.

‘The only thing that’s changing is your view of it. Of course I can’t.’

He laughed, not meaning to.  It was the stupidity of the situation.  A hamster-wheel rolled in his stomach.  The last time he’d felt like this was on a cross-channel ferry.

Alice fiddled with a coat-button and looked at her husband.

‘You’ve gone a funny colour’.

‘I’m going to find a chair.’

He looked up and the pixels had become rows of black and white teeth; moving, masticating.  Grinding, he thought.  His chest felt tight.

‘I said I’m going to find a chair, I’ll wait for you in the corridor.’

‘Stay.’

‘What?’

‘Stay!’ It was an order.

He backed away and the room lurched as he reached for the doorhandle.

A sound like air escaping a radiator made him stop, as did the click of heels.  But there’s a carpet, his mind argued.

‘Don’t go darling,’ she purred.

He turned, and she smiled; rows and rows of black and white teeth; grinding.

50-word fiction – The footpath

Lost in the forest, I wandered paths now forgotten by men, and remembered only by ghosts of those now long passed.  Restless spirits watched, powerless in the light of day and waiting for the darkness, by which time I would be gone and away from there.

Then the storm came.

TomTom club

“At the next roundabout, take the second exit.”

“What? The map says go straight ahead. What is she on about?”

She. The TomTom. Faithful navigational servant, and maybe on the blink.

“So, should I go straight or turn?”

“The map says go straight. I think she needs an update, I’ll plug her in when we get back indoors.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Down to third and the roundabout was rounded.

“Go back and take the first exit.”

“Oh, she’s insisting today. Must have her funny week.”

“Go back and take the first exit.”

“That’s not funny Joe.”

Natalie was right, it wasn’t; especially as she’d been suffering for the last few days but I just wanted to find a hint of humour in the situation.

“Go back and take the first exit.” The metallic feminine voice was beginning to grate.

“Sorry baby, just kidding. Shall I turn her off?”

“No. What if the map’s wrong, or the road’s new?”

“Nat, this road was made when Kennedy was still banging Marilyn. If anything, the TomTom’s wrong. Technology eh?”

“Go back and take the first exit.”

“Joe, I’m gonna turn round.”

“Either you drive, or I will.”

“At the next roundabout, take the third exit.”

“Why the third?”

“She wants us to go back on ourselves.”

“So…?”

“So, just drive. Nat, it’s a short-cut over the hills.  It was probably just an old sheep-herder’s route years ago and they came along and stuck tarmac on it.”

“Take the next left turn, proceed for 200 metres then take the next left turn and proceed for 4 kilometres.”

“Must be the sun, it’s got to her circuits.”

“Stop it Joe, I don’t like this one bit.”

Now Nat’s voice was beginning to grate. Two hysterical women in one car and one wasn’t even human. Breath whistled between my teeth as my shoulders slumped in the seat. The road narrowed and continued its ascent as the sun did the opposite, and sank with reluctance into the sea which glowed in late evening shades behind us.  Trees arched over the road and the light retreated. Nat switched on the beams.  Soon the last traces of the sea fell back behind the folds of the land as we climbed further into the hills.

“What’s that sign? Slow down Nat, how fucking freaky is that?”

STAY WITH THE SHEPHERD! badly hand painted in black on an old whitewashed door which leaned against a rotting fence post.

“Homemade cheese and a little wine thrown in most probably, I wonder how much he charges, my stomach’s beginning to…”

“Turn round and continue for 7 kilometres.”

“That’s it, I’m switching it off.” My hand reached out.

“No! No Joe, don’t. I don’t want to stop here either, in fact I want to turn round now.”

The last word was final, and I knew the tone. Nat was pissed off and I understood her.

“Turn round and continue for 7.5 kilometres.”

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and gave in.

“You win Nat. Turn round and let’s get out of here. I want some civilization and a pizzeria.”

The car slowed and nosed into a small track which narrowed into a small dirt track barely wide enough for a car. Either side in forgotten fields lay the rusted hulks of old and battered cars.  The place looked like a breaker’s yard, an auto graveyard.

Nat stuck the car in reverse and manoeuvred to turn round, her eyes wide and accusing when she glanced at me. She ground into first gear and started to accelerate. Through the open windows came a bellowing roar and from the trees burst an old tractor. A wrinkled grey-bearded man with angry eyes sat atop of it.  He turned the machine to face us and it stood in the road, . The road back was now blocked. He revved the machine, and its engine rose and fell, rose and fell as the old man continued to just stare at us.  He pointed at the sign and something akin to a grin, demented and evil, crossed his face in a second and was gone, replaced by the stare, red eyes burning.  He flicked his beams to high, its lights pinning us as the mechanical shovel began to rise then fall, rise then fall, like some masticating prehistoric nightmare.

“Joe?”

“What the…?”

“Joe?”

The metallic TomTom voice broke in.

“I told you to turn around.”

Nat screamed.

God speed this bullet

96 years ago the First World War, the Great War, was finally over.  A generation of young men, those that returned home, were left to pick up the pieces of what they had experienced, seen and endured.  They said it could never happen again. but it did; 21 years later.  As terrible as the Second World War, the same as any war, was, there is something truly horrific about the trenches.

***

The ground heaves and shakes and small rivers of dirt fall, splattering my helmet and the pounding of the earth is like a fist in my back. I look at Jenkins; he’s now bleeding from the ears and nose from the concussion of this incessant artillery barrage. I look at the lieutenant; his face flares white in the explosion flashes; dark rings his eyes and he’s gaunt, like the rest of us. He’s one of us now. After two years in this hell-hole the only part of Cambridge that remains is his manners. He looks at me.

‘Don’t,” he says.

He knows I want to look, I can’t help it; George was my friend from the pre-war days. George who had the nerve to stick his head above the trench, only for a piece of shrapnel to tear it off and fling the rest of him across the trench. The trench, this devil-made wormhole. What will I tell his wife when I get back…if I get back?

A let up in the barrage and the shadow of the black Somme night passes across the trenches, leaving destruction, torn and twisted bodies, fatherless children and husbandless wives but now all was silent. We’ve been stuck here for months, barely advancing, barely retreating. The smell of the ripped earth and dank mud in which we wallow is everywhere, except when the wind blows towards us and the stench of death and decay replaces it.

‘Help…’

The voice is faint but it’s there. In the sudden and welcome silence it’s as clear as birdsong on a June morning, agony and suffering coming through in just one word.

‘Who the bloody hell is that?’  Symes; newly arrived from the train, all shiny boots, clean puttees and enthusiasm. They always arrive with enthusiasm. What the hell are they telling them back home? Five days a week killing the Hun then Saturdays and Sundays off, French whores and bistros thrown in?  ‘Can we not do something for that poor bugger sir?’ he says, turning to the lieutenant, who sighs.

‘Corporal, take a look and be bloody careful.’

I take off my helmet and place it on the butt of my rifle and slowly raise it above the trench, joggling the rifle to simulate movement: nothing. No sniper fire to split the night. The lieutenant hands me his field-glasses as I replace my helmet and climb the ladder. They say there’s nothing blacker than no-man’s land at night but that’s not strictly true, especially following a barrage. The artillery will always find something to burn, even if it’s just human remains, and little fires dotted around cast an unholy light in the field-glasses. I first scan the enemy lines, looking for movement, but I see none.

‘Help…’

My vision jumps from crater to crater, searching for life and hoping for it also, in this God-forsaken pit of human misery. At first I see nothing, then I take a slower, longer sweep with the glasses. I see movement; slow, shambling movement some twenty yards away where the barbed-wire is stretched across and upon which hang torn and crow-picked corpses, like some infernal spider’s web. A slow, crawling movement catches my eye and even in the dead-light I can see enough. It’s a soldier, a German soldier, gone from the waist down, pulling and dragging himself inch by agonised inch towards our trench.

‘Well I’ll be damned. It’s a Jerry sir and in an awful state by the looks of it.’

‘What the Dickens…’ as he climbs up, taking the field-glasses from me and looks upon the awful site before us. He wipes his mouth with the heel of his hand, sighed and turns, stepping down into the trench. Not a moment too soon, as a high whistling noise is followed by chaos. The concussion from the blast is enormous, filling my head with a death-roar and I could feel my ears and nose bleeding freely. Symes is on the floor of the trench, his legs pinned down by dislodged sandbags but he’s ok. Upon hearing that whistle, the lieutenant, Jenkins and I all threw ourselves against the wall of the trench. Symes will learn, if he has time.

‘Corporal, who’s our best shot?’ but he looks at Jenkins, the Welshman is a crack shot and needs no introduction.

‘Help…’

‘Take him out Private. I won’t risk stretch-bearers to bring him in but the sorry blighter has suffered more than enough.’ He moves aside from the ladder to let the Private through.  The figure is nearer now but still a good fifteen yards away. No trouble for Jenkins, who could shoot a canary in a Welsh coalmine from fifty. The first signs of dawn are beginning to pink the early clouds, which a rising breeze is scattering. Jenkins brings the rifle up to his right shoulder, intent only on what he sees at the end of the barrel.

“God speed this bullet and put that poor devil out of his misery”, the lieutenant says, to no one in particular.

“Amen,” says Jenkins, and his finger tightens on the trigger.

As if in response the morning sun throws its first rays of light through the breaking clouds and onto the battlefield. The bombardment has done a lot but not enough; the barbed wire is still in place. If we have to go over the top we’ll be torn to pieces by the German machine-gunners.

The report of Jenkins’ Lee Enfield barks out. The lieutenant raises the field-glasses but they aren’t needed. As more lights floods across the battlefield the sliding, shuffling figure shimmers and fades to nothing.

We look at each other in silence. We’ve all heard stories of ghosts on the battlefield and I guess with so many men butchered on a daily basis it was only a matter of time. I wonder, should God grant any lasting peace on this Earth, in 100 years how many of our souls will still wander here, lost in a foreign land far from home.remembrance_day___poppy_day_by_daliscar

***

I’d like to acknowledge http://femaleimagination.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/11-november-world-war-i-ends/ for the use of the photograph.

Flash Fiction Friday 146: Colours frozen in time by Chris Farley

My ever present and never diminishing thanks once again to Morgen.
I’m still unsure as to whether I should be disturbed about the fact that I sat in a pub looking at a tattoo and invented this story around it…

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Tutor & Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and forty-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 436-worder by Christopher Farley.

Colours frozen in time

The tattoo was the first thing I noticed; it was beautiful. She sat opposite her friend drinking Belgian beer from a huge glass and I saw it as I walked past, making my way to the men’s room.

Her thin, white arms poked out from her even whiter t-shirt, then a waterfall of colour burst from the sleeves of the t-shirt. Three lotus flowers, red, green and pink, one on top of the other. But oh, the arm. How could something so pale and delicate suffer so much pain? I returned to the bar and pretended to look at the game on the big screen. Her friend rose from the table and headed for the toilet.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help…

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I see you in the darkness

The sunlight for a second
Blinked
A shadow
Its shadow
By my window whispered
Or did it laugh
As I felt its draught
And shivered
My skin crawled,
then froze
The shadow passed
for now
But it’ll come back
When night falls chill
For I will give it life
In black and white

StoryADay May day 3 – Red sister

The prompt from 3 May contained required the use of ‘vermillion’ and ‘musky’.  I think I managed it.  It’s still 3 May in New Mexico, for example so technically I can still squeeze it in.  Well, it was written before my Swiss midnight.

**********

 

Her face looks beautiful in the bright, white light.  Her musky perfume fills the air as we sit on the terrace.  The shadows of her features pronounced in contrast, her nose creating a pyramid-shape and the furrows creating trenches in her forehead as she looked away from the glare; it’s a magical moment but one doomed to pass quickly, as all moments do.  In this early evening dim I am fascinated.

The day had dawned cold but bright, and, following breakfast of espresso and a croissant we decided to take a long walk along the coastal road, up and down the small hills with little traffic to disturb the tranquillity of it.  We must have walked more than 10 miles before deciding to stop for lunch at a small restaurant just off the road, perched on a small cliff overlooking the rock-strewn beach beneath us.  We ordered a Prosecco each from the bar and sat down at one of the small, plastic tables on the terrace, pulled our coats around us and lit a cigarette.

We had a fine lunch of spaghetti with clams followed by a shared lobster – what the hell, it was a special day after all.  The two bottles of white wine went down well, so well in fact I kept nodding off in the taxi taking us back to the hotel.  We stayed in bed for a couple of hours, making sweet love and holding each other close, barely speaking; there was no need.  Finally, as the daylight outside faded in its wintry haste, we took a shower, dressed and went down to the hotel terrace looking over the sea.  I tightened my scarf around my throat while she pulled down her hat and we sat.  Our drinks arrived.

The seagulls were screaming, swooping and diving every time a wave broke and the sound, along with that of the waves, filled the evening.

The western sky still glowed a variety of pinks and one by one the stars appeared but none outshone the beautiful Venus, her vermillion majesty abroad in the evening sky.  Sitting above the now-set sun she took centre stage.

“What’s that low star darling?”  She asked, pointing to it.  “It’s so bright.”

It was in fact enormously bright, even in the frigid winter air.  The hairs on the back of my neck made a lazy, crawling motion.  As we looked, she continued to burn brighter then, suddenly, her light expanded. It continued doing so until it seemed the sun had returned from below the horizon.  Still the light expanded.  The first knot of fear appeared in my stomach.

“What is it Honey?” She asked, holding my arm tighter.

“No idea, well actually I do but it’s not a rational one”

“Tell me!”  It was an order.  She fumbled in her bag for her cigarettes.

VENUS HAS EXPLODED! I wanted to shout.  I didn’t however.  My mind filled with possibilities and ramifications of our red sister disappearing into a million pieces.  My mind asked how, yet I knew the answer, it was obvious.

“Do you remember you read that article in the newspaper the other week about the approach of a couple of asteroids, big enough to do damage?”  I took one of her cigarettes and lit up.  Bloody low- tar were not need at this moment.  I broke the filter off and continued smoking.  I had her attention.

“Well the experts said they would pass within so many million miles of us.  I think that while we’ve been looking out of our porch to see if something was crossing our front lawn, no one told us what would happen if we left the back door open.  We’ve been worrying about a rogue asteroid or a misdirected comet for years but we’ve never considered other planets, I mean, why should we?  I think something has hit Venus and whatever it was was big.”

The light consumed the night sky.  The moon no longer cast a reflection over the calm, black sea.  The only reflection came from an ever-growing light around 100 million miles from us.

“Then we’re OK,” she said, sounding fairly convinced, “I mean what harm can it do us from here?”

She had a point; I mean what was going to happen?  A huge piece of rock had thrown itself into the second planet and by the looks of it had obliterated it, creating nuclear chain reactions and sending a million pieces flying through space.  What harm could it do?  I didn’t want to analyse that question, I didn’t need to.  I knew that somewhere across the gulf of space a piece of our sister planet was heading our way.

We ignored the cold and remained seated outside.  The bowls of olives and peanuts had been consumed; the ashtray had been emptied once and was steadily filling up again.  The light was getting ever brighter, the night sky lit completely, even the birds in the trees started singing, thinking it was daytime.  We continued to sit and watch, entranced.

Her face looks beautiful in the bright, white light.  In this early evening dim I am fascinated.  They told us the world would end December.  I’m now going to order us the most expensive champagne followed by the finest cognac.  I don’t think I’ll have time to pay for it.  I don’t think we’ll be here much longer.

Flash Fiction Friday 113: The Third Rail by Christopher Farley

Thank you Morgen.

The Main Course

He made everyone look up from their meal, both female and male.  He wasn’t good looking; far from it but he had a certain something.  He was dressed in a blue shark-skin suit, and, strangely, a claret shirt.  It wasn’t this sartorial stew that drew attention though.

His face was fairly pointed and his mouth, unsmiling, seemed a little deformed, as if it had little in common with the rest of his face.  Whatever it was, it had an effect.  People stopped eating to watch him walk by; although his walk also was a little unnatural.  He seemed to glide instead of taking steps.  He was sat at a table toward the dimly lit rear of the restaurant.  He scanned the restaurant, his eyes like black marble holding the gaze of the other people till, one by one, they dropped theirs.

The Maître d’ availed himself immediately.  He arrived at the table; flicking a quick hand across the tablecloth and removing two almost invisible specks of something in one go.

“I feel carnivorous this evening”, said the man.  “I think a plate of bresaola will do me for starters.  I’ll make my mind up on the main course as I chew.”  The Maître d’ nodded.

“A bottle of sparkling water also,” he said, “I like the way those bubbles go to my head.”  Once again the Maître d’ nodded and, avoiding the seated man’s eyes, made his way to the kitchen.  He sent a waiter with the bottle of water.

The restaurant noise resumed its previous level.  Couples enjoying a romantic for two, a rose placed between them.  Business associates enjoying heated debates over targets hit and missed.  Ernest salesmen continuing their sales pitch between forkfuls of tagliatelle.

The order arrived.  Placing the plate of cured meat in front of the man, the waiter, no doubt briefed by the Maître d’, asked if he’d considered his main course.

“Still thinking,” said the man.  He hinted at a smile, allowing a glimpse of that strange mouth.  The waiter felt a small shiver run down his back but couldn’t put his finger on why it should be.  Returning a professional smile, honed during 25 years’ service, he made his way from the table.

The discussion at a table of hard-nosed marketing execs started getting heated; a little too much wine or possibly after-dinner cognac getting the better of two of them and the argument promised to get out of hand.

The man polished off the starter in less than a minute, all the while keeping his eye on events in the restaurant.  The Maître d’ was standing at the table, imploring calm with his hands held outwards but to little avail.  The shouting reached a crescendo, one of the men, with a fat sweating face and cheeks flush from the booze, was now on his feet and waving his arms around, occasionally pointing a shaking hand at one of his colleagues; a crew-cut kid with the face and neck of a bulldog.

“You’re just an overblown tele-salesman,” shouted the sweating man.  “You’ve seen nothing!  We’ve been through the mill, busting our ass studying what we do.  You arrive, make 50 phone calls and hit a lucky.  What do you know about market analytics or product lifecycle?  You just kiss the right ass in the right place and think you’re God’s gift.”

Crew-cut raised himself out of his seat and leant over the table.  Then there came the sound of breaking glass.

“Shit!”

Mr. Waving Arms held his hand to his cheek, blood seeping through his fingers.  Grabbing a serviette to hold against the man’s face the Maître d’ led him by the arm, pointing to the men’s service area.  As he quickly returned to the table of still-arguing marketing execs, the man in the shark skin suit, alone in the semi-dark, smiled to himself, revealing a huge set of triangular teeth.  He breathed in the smell of blood, and glided from his chair.

Sleep Well

My second Flash piece submission to Morgen Bailey.

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Tutor & Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the forty-third piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s welcomes back Christopher Farley with his 727-worder.

Sleep Well

He slammed the door, got into his car and drove like a madman from her house.  He was sick of arguing, tired of continually being in the wrong and now he had had enough.  Jo was good looking and had many admirers, sometimes to Mannie’s annoyance, but sex and a good looking girlfriend weren’t enough to keep him tied to a relationship that consisted of too much tension and too many fights.  This one had ended physically, and after her various insults he had hit her.  It was just a slap, he thought, as he left her holding the left side of her face.

The brake-lights in front flashed.  Possibly Mannie was distracted.  Guns n’ Roses were playing loud on the stereo.  Possibly he…

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But Grandma…

It was a beautiful late autumn day; the sun was out and it was quite clement for the time of year.  Little Red Riding Hood made her way through the forest, following the path she had taken many times before, which lead to her grandmother’s house.

“I don’t know why she can’t move into one of the granny-flats in town,” she said to herself, “if not as if she’s short on dough.  And why does she insist on me wearing this stupid outfit?  I know my heels would get stuck in the mud but at least let me wear a pair of Nikes instead of these flat shoes with a buckle half the size of a football pitch, after all, I am 18 now.”

She stopped.  There before her was a baby deer.  They watched each other in anticipation, neither wanting to move.  A bird high up in the branches flew from its nest, startling the deer and making it run for cover.  Thinking how cute the deer was and still looking up in the trees Little Red Riding Hood tripped over a tree root.

“Oooff!” she uttered.

She brushed away at her dirty knees.  “I’d better get these clean,” she said, “Brian’ll think I’ve been up to no good again.”

Finally the trees became scarcer and she saw the little house through the branches.  No smoke here, she thought, at least Gran had the sense to go for central heating last year.

Walking up the garden path her heart stopped.  The front door was ajar; in fact it looked as if it had been wrenched from its hinges with some force.

“Grandma!” she cried and ran through the door.

The door opened into the kitchen, where a gas hob stood with a saucepan of water gently bubbling away.  On the fridge-freezer in the corner she noticed a smear of what looked like blood.  Blood!

“Grandma!” she cried again and went through to the bedroom.  Some light filtered through the drawn curtains and she noticed a shape sat up in bed.

“Grandma?  Are you ok?

“Hello dear, yes I’m ok.  I had a bit of a turn but I’m better now.”

“Let me turn the light on Gran,” replied the girl.

“No…” but Granny’s response went unheeded.  Electric light blazed.  The year before candles had been replaced when one evening Gran had gone overboard with her home-made potato wine and almost set alight not only her house but also half the forest.  Little Red startled as she took in her grandmother’s face.  There was something different about her today.

“What big eyes you’ve got Grandma,” said The Hood.

“It’s the pills for my arthritis,” came the reply, “I can’t sleep a damned wink.  The last time I felt like this was when we used to take those little purple bombers around the time Bob Dylan started getting famous.”

“What big ears you’ve got Grandma.”

“Shut up dear, I’ve always had them and I don’t see as they’re to make fun of.  Besides, your Grandfather never complained, in fact he used to… never mind.”

“What shaky hands you’ve got Grandma.”

“I want to see you dear when you’re 72.”

“And Grandma, what big teeth you have,” insisted the not-so-little red one.

“Phhhhhheeewwwww,” coughed Grandma, as a patch of what looked like fur landed at Red’s feet.

Bending down to look at it in detail, Red noticed a tail sticking out from under the bed.  A huge wolf lay there, motionless, bleeding profusely from the throat.  She looked at her grandmother in horror.  Granny shrugged her shoulders.

“It was him or me,” she said.

Red

My hands worked quickly. My left hand sliding and slipping on the form it held,  the knife I held in my right hand sliced down and red seeped from the cut it made.  The knife went deeper, still the red oozed and spread slowly across the table, forming little pools, so red.

Half an hour I had been here, my knife working continuously.  I sometimes had to pause while cramp took hold.  I shook my hand, working the fingers slowly.  The cramp passed, it had to, there was no time to have cramp, my task was too urgent.  My hands were stained red.  The colour soaked into the pores of my fingers, it would be the devil to scrub them clean afterwards but I continued nonetheless.

The knife, ever hungry, crying tears of red.  I tried to clean up as I worked but to no avail.  Sweat started to drip from my hair into my eyes, the stinging sensation forcing me to blink and stop cutting.  I wiped the sweat from my forehead.  Finally my work here was done.

Only a salad chef can appreciate the finer points of dicing a fresh beetroot.

Revenge is a dish best served…alive

My thanks go to Morgen Bailey for giving this story an airing.  It remained at around one hundred words for a month or so then whilst adding, the ending came to me.  Anyway, it’s my first flash fiction piece, I hope you enjoy it.

Chris

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Brian saw the legs first. Two of them. Then there followed another, then another.  He counted eight. He was unsure as to why it had come out from behind the wardrobe only to sit on the floor and gaze at him; at least he believed it was gazing at him.

He heard a crash downstairs, Margie was cooking and swearing all at once, he chuckled to himself as a list of expletives, possibly borrowed from the army parade ground, turned the air blue.  It still looked at him.  Frowning, he reached for the remote control and turned on the news.  News?  Death, starvation, natural disaster, murder.  No news there, he thought.

The spider had moved.  He didn’t know where but it had gone, disappeared, hopefully back to the hole it had crawled out from.  He gave a final sweep of the room and turned over the TV.  More rubbish.  He was convinced that evening’s viewing was programmed by people who do anything but stay at home in the evening. After rigorous use of the remote he found a motoring channel and let the host guide his way through the intricacies of some flash sports car.

“Margie”, he shouted, “bring us up a beer love would you?”  He heard the voice below in the kitchen, mutter something or other, muffled by the distance and the walls.  A few minutes passed and still no ale.  The spider was back.

“Margie!” Louder this time. “Get us that beer love”.  It wasn’t a request.

Again a minute or two passed.

“Margie!!!”

The spider disappeared.  30 seconds later the door opened, two hands holding a can and a glass arrived and handed both to him.

“You took your time love”.  Not even thanks.

Margie looked briefly into his face as she turned and walked from the room, closing the door behind her.

“Did you just look at me?” he called after her.  He heard her footsteps on the landing then the top of the stairs, the way the floorboard creaked between the banister and the bathroom door was a giveaway.  Then she was back in the kitchen.

He poured the beer from the can and let it settle, continuing to top up the glass slowly.  Raising it to his lips he let the first mouthful wash down his throat.  The spider was back.  “What an ugly brute” he thought.  He considered calling Margie to bring the fly-swatter hanging up in the kitchen.  “No,” he said to himself, “let’s see what it does next”.

After a further 5 minutes of motoring TV he realised he was hungry. “Margie,” he yelled, “bring me a sandwich love.” The spider regarded him.  For a second or two Brian considered throwing something at it but the only things to hand were his beer and the remote control, both necessities and not available for launch.  The spider turned and disappeared.  A short while later the sandwich appeared. “Cheese?  “You know I don’t like cheese in a sandwich.”

“It’s all I got in the fridge,” came the reply.

“Where does my housekeeping money go?”

“I haven’t been to the shop, I haven’t felt well, remember?”

“You won’t be feeling well if you talk to me like that again. I’m the man of the house.”

Margie went downstairs.  The spider appeared. Brian heard sobs from the kitchen. “Bloody woman,” he said.

As if in response, the spider raised itself up on the back two sets of legs, looking at him.  It charged, racing across the room.  Brian watched fascinated, even when the spider struck, biting his foot.  He didn’t feel anything, just a strange numbness; which then started up his left leg, reached his thigh then started down the right one.  Brian sat following the spider with his eyes as the strange sensation crept into his abdomen, then his arms. Finally he could no longer move his head.

The spider returned to the wardrobe, going backwards under the door, studying the man in the chair.  It disappeared.

Five minutes later Margie came through the door with an assortment of cutlery.  She closed the door behind her.  Looking at her husband she sat down and took the knife and fork in her hands… and waited.

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