Tag Archives: horror

‘Til Death

The reporter held a finger to his earpiece and turned to the camera.  Behind him, a crowd jostled to share his shot.

“Quite a number gathering here at the law courts.  So far, they’re a good-natured lot and the police are having an easy time of it.  So far.  With me now is Janet from the equal rights organisation, Sweet F.A. – Freedom for All.  Hello, Janet.”

“Hello.”

“What makes this particular issue so important to you that you come down here with your placards and your banners?”

Janet scowled.  “When I could be at home with the kids, do you mean?”

The reporter’s smile faltered.  “Um, no, I –”

“We’re here for everyone,” Janet cut him off.  “We want this law brought onto the statutes.  The test cast going on behind us in these hallowed halls of justice will decide what kind of country we live in.  Is it a country in which anyone and everyone is free to find love and have it enshrined in a legally recognised contract?  Or do we live in a country that continues to discriminate against and alienate many of its citizens?”

The reporter pulled his ‘I’m impressed’ face.

“Strongly held views there.  Thank you, Janet.  With me now is the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Good morning.”

“Good morning.”

“You – that is to say, the Church – take a different view.”

“Well, of course we bloody do!” snapped the Archbishop, giving rise to an upsurge of boos and an increase in placard-waving.  “I am all for fairness and equality – Check out my voting record on issues of gay rights and all the rest of it – but this, this is a step too far.  The marriage ceremony clearly states, ‘’til death do us part’ – Anything else is abhorrent.”

“So…” the reporter angled his body away from Janet, who was quietly seething in her kagoule.  “What you’re saying is no one in Heaven is married?”

“Ah, that’s a different matter for another time.  What we’re discussing here is the notion that the dead, here on Earth, have no right to get married.  They’ve had their chance while they were among the living.  Now it’s time to rest in peace and await final judgment.”

“Bah!” Janet jeered, forcing herself back into frame.  “You need to modernise and get with the times.  They’re still very much with us!  They’re not resting in peace.  They’re still walking about!”

The Archbishop gave a patronising smile.  “A few isolated incidents –”

“Bollocks!” Janet roared.  “Things are changing.  The Dead are back.  They’re part of society and – newsflash! – they’re still people, mate.  And as such they should be afforded the same rights that the rest of us take for granted.”

The Archbishop sneered.  “Like claiming benefits?”

The reporter, with a pained expression, apologised to the viewers at home for the bad language.

The crowd, on Janet’s side, yelled at the Archbishop.  The police finally had reason to hold them back.

“So you can see,” the reporter tried to finish up, “Debate is still lively on this issue and –”

He was cut off by the sound of every alarm in the law courts blaring out.  People streamed and stumbled from the building, blundering into the crowd.

“Run!” they urged.  “Just fucking run!”

The reporter grabbed a wide-eyed woman and thrust the microphone under her chin.  “What happened? Can you tell us?”

“It’s all kicked off,” she whimpered.  “The – the dead one – the bride – got out of her restraints and took a chunk out of a copper, who turned – I mean, changed – it was the blink of an eye – and sank his teeth into a solicitor.  Within about thirty seconds, half the courtroom was turning on the other half – it happened so fast.”

Sirens wailed.  A helicopter circled like a noisy vulture.

The crowd gasped and screamed, some of them at last having the sense to run away.

In the doorway stood the judge, his red robe already in tatters, his pale grey wig askew.  His jaw hung slackly and his chin was smeared with gore.  From deep within him a low growl arose, hungry and ungodly.

“Well done,” the Archbishop rounded on Janet.  “This is the country you live in!”

zombies

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The Tattooed Hand

Murphy sat back and rubbed his eyes, as though that would enable him to see the kid across the table in a new light.  Hard to believe this skinny, preppy streak of piss could rip a man to pieces with his bare hands but hey, here we are.

Hard but not impossible.

“Come on, kid.  Save us both a lot of time and effort.  It’ll go easier on you if you co-operate.  Make your confession.  You killed that guy; time to admit it.”

Beside the kid, a lawyer shook his head and put a finger to his lips.

“Kid?” Murphy prompted.  “We got the guy’s blood on your hands.”

The kid looked at his lap where his hands, clean now, were wrapped the one over the other.  He looked up and met the detective’s gaze.

“I already told you, I was walking past the alley when some guy rushed out, knocked me over and ran off.  That must have been how I got the blood on me and – there’s – this.”

He uncovered his hand and held it up.  Murphy took in the intricate design: a mountain of gaping, grinning skulls, with a sword at the summit.

“Nice ink,” he said flatly.  “Where’d you get it?”

“I – don’t remember.”

“Drunken night out, was it?  Wake up next day with a headache and a bunch of regrets?”

“No – no, I – don’t drink.  I’d never seen it before until your officers cleaned me up.  It was there.  Under the blood.”

Murphy’s eyes darted to the lawyer, whose pursed lips suggested the kid might be going for an insanity plea.

“That tattoo looks pretty old to me, kid.  Some of the lines are smudged and faded.”

It was true – but at the top of the pile, several of the skulls were sharp and pristine as if they had been recently added.

“I keep telling you, I don’t know how I got it.  It just – showed up.”

The lawyer leaned toward his client and murmured something the kid apparently didn’t like hearing.  In a flash, the kid leaped to his feet, his tattooed hand seized the lawyer’s throat and crushed his windpipe.  He discarded the body; the lawyer’s chin struck the table on its way to the floor.  Murphy was quick to react: he sprang back, drawing his gun.

“You better stay back, kid.  Don’t make things no worse for you.”

Uniformed cops burst in.  They grabbed the kid’s arms but he kicked out, knocking Murphy’s gun across the room.

“Your turn now, detective,” the kid cried out as he was dragged away.  “It’s your turn now!”

Murphy stooped to pick up his gun and was startled to see the kid’s tattoo blossom on the back of his hand, like blood seeping through a bandage.  At the top of the pile grinned another newly-added skull.

skulls tattoo

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The Night-Watchman

“Oh no, you don’t, sunshine.  Stop right there!”

At the sound of the night-watchman’s voice, the slender figure in black raised its hands.  The beam of light from the night-watchman’s torch danced around the scene.  At first glance, everything seemed to be intact – then how had the bugger got in?

High above the intruder’s head, a skylight was ajar, letting in the chilly night air.  A rope ladder dangled like a broken pendulum.

“Don’t you bloody move!” the night-watchman threatened.  He sidled to a nearby control board, twisted a key and pressed a red button until it turned green.  The skylight whirred and clanked into place.  “Right, sunshine,” the night-watchman shone the full beam of his flashlight into the intruder’s face.  Only the eyes, blue and squinting, were visible; the rest was covered by the coarse wool of a balaclava.  “What the hell do you think you’re playing at?”

“Three guesses, grandad.”

A young woman’s voice.  The night-watchman chuckled.  “You’re from the university, aren’t you?”

“Might be.”

“You kids and your idealistic nonsense.  Animal liberation, is it?”

The intruder didn’t reply.

“Look, love, you’re barking – up the wrong tree, I mean.”

“I’m not your love!”

“You should be so lucky!” the night-watchman laughed.  The young woman gasped, aghast.  “What I’m saying is, you’ve got it wrong.  There are no animals here.  Not even a mouse.  This is a strictly controlled environment.  Air quality, temperature, light – well, it was until you forced your way in.”

The young woman jutted her chin in defiance.  “Don’t feed me your lies, grandad.”

“Now you’re being ageist!” the night-watchman interjected with a look of faux offence.

“I’m sorry,” the intruder faltered.  “But I don’t believe you.  Everyone knows what goes on in here.”

“Do they?”

“Yes!”

“Are you sure about that, lo –  I mean, are you?”

“Well, it’s wrong, isn’t it?  Everybody knows that.”

“Wrong?  Wanting to feed people is wrong?  I may only be a part-time security bloke but even I know there’s a food crisis going on.  I don’t claim to know all the science behind it but it seems to me the boffins here are heroes.”

“Bah!” the intruder crossed her arms.

“No, hear me out.  They’ve come up with a way to provide meat for everyone on the planet.  Healthy, sustainable meat that doesn’t decimate the rainforests and – this is for all you bleeding hearts – doesn’t involve the harming of a single living creature.  Now, you tell me what’s wrong with that?”

The young woman opened her mouth, stretching the fabric of her disguise, but she couldn’t reply.

“That there,” the night-watchman directed his torchlight at her boots, “That tank you’re standing on fills this entire enclosure.  It’s the width and breadth and depth of a swimming pool and it’s full of ethical protein – or will be, when it finishes growing.”

The young woman looked down.  She was standing on one of the narrow metal walkways that crisscrossed the tank.  A pink substance, glowing faintly, pulsated beneath the clouded Perspex.

“It’s wrong!” she persisted.  “It’s Frankenstein food!”

“Think of it, love!  World hunger solved!  Deforestation halted!  Factory farming a thing of the past!”

The young woman put a hand to her brow and shook her head.

“Come on, love,” the night-watchman held out his hand.  “In the spirit of compassion, I’m going to let you go.  I’ll take you to the way out and no harm done, eh?”

“I –” the young woman’s knees buckled.  The night-watchman rushed to catch her.  He steadied her on her feet and helped her along the walkway.

“You’re bleeding,” he observed, as red drops landed on his hand.  “Must have cut yourself when you forced that skylight.”

“I’m – sorry –” the young woman sounded dazed.

“You just be sure to tell your friends at that university not to trouble us again, OK?  You can do that for me, can’t you?  And let that be an end to it.”

The young woman nodded weakly.  The night-watchman took her through an airlock and the car park beyond.

“Releasing you back into the wild, love,” he laughed.  “Off you go!”

“Sorry,” the young girl was downcast.  She shuffled away.  When she was some distance from the compound, she straightened and laughed to herself.  Job done!

The night-watchman returned to his office and put the kettle on.  Kids, eh?  They mean well but they should do their homework first.

On the bottom right screen of a bank of monitors, unnoticed by the security guard, the intruder’s blood seeped through a tiny crack in the Perspex.  Beneath the lid, the pink mass darkened and trembled.

And an appetite for human blood was born.

torch

 

 

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Meanwhile at the campsite…

Robert couldn’t sleep.  Beside him, Tony snored like a warthog trying to start a motorboat.  Robert pulled his sleeping bag up over his chin, eyes wide in the darkness.  Outside the tent, something rustled.  Robert held his breath.  What was it?  A plastic bag scurrying in the wind?  A badger snuffling for worms?  Or a psychopathic killer whose shoes didn’t fit?

Robert gasped.  It was a killer, had to be!  The campsite was spotless, there was no litter at all.  And there were probably no badgers for miles – they’d all been culled, hadn’t they?  So, it could only be a psycho on the prowl.  It stood to reason.

Holding his breath was proving impossible.  Robert was certain he could be heard right across the field at the toilet block.  Tony had insisted they pitch the tent in the farthest corner so that ‘we won’t be troubled by drunks stumbling back and forth all night’.  Cheers for that, Tone.  Now Robert’s bladder was brimming and he would have to unzip, crawl out, slip his boots on and traipse across to the breezeblock hovel.  Putting my life at risk.  Bound to get caught by the killer as soon as I open the flaps.  And I’ll piss myself into the bargain.  I’ll be found with my head off and my pants full of piss.  How mortifying!

Or perhaps he’ll catch me while I’m standing at the bucket that passes for a urinal.  Attack me from behind like they do in the films.  And then I’ll spray everywhere, blood from one end, piss from the other.  Robert was amused by the thought.  But there was nothing else for it: when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.

Gingerly, Robert unzipped the bag.  He tipped his boots upside down and shook them.  In case of spiders or scorpions or whatever else might be lurking inside.  He slipped them on, not bothering to lace them up, unzipped the flaps and crawled out.  He stood but remained hunched in order to present a smaller target and protect his vulnerable areas.  He hurried toward the sodium glow of the solitary light outside the toilet block, bootlaces swishing around his ankles.

Come on, come on, come on… With every step away from the tent, attack seemed more likely.  Robert whimpered with terror.  And then the rough walls of the block were in front of him, solid and real, and rasping beneath his fingertips.  Robert breathed out.

Bladder empty, his return to the tent was more confident, as though a corresponding weight had been lifted from his mind.  He walked tall, striding across the grass, past the tents of others, shadowy forms of all shapes and sizes.  It was quiet.  Too quiet?  Robert’s imagination set to work again.  They could all be dead!  Lying on their inflatable mattresses with their throats cut.  The killer could be working his way across the site and our tent is the last in line!

Tony!

Robert froze.  To run toward or away from the tent that contained his best friend?

A man was looming over the tent, standing straight, a silhouette, silver-edged in the moonlight.  Blood dripped darkly from the blade of his axe.

“Oh, you’re back are you?” the man grinned, eyes and teeth glinting.

“T-Tony?” Robert backed away.

“I thought you’d never go for a piss,” Tony approached, both hands on the axe handle.  “Here’s the plan.  I’m going to make it look like you did this, you went on a spree, killed all these people, and then I got you in self-defence.”  He shrugged.  “Sorry, mate, but it’s how I get away with it.”

Robert fled.  His bootlaces lashed out like snakes, coiling around his ankles and tripping him up.  He rolled onto his back as Tony raised the bloodied axe over his head, and the last thing Robert felt was the warm sensation of his underwear filling with piss as his bladder miraculously found one last load to let go.

orange-tent-md

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RIP Raffles

“Hello, Timmy,” David grinned on the doorstep.  “Thought you might need some company?”

Timmy looked puzzled.  “Why?”

“Because – you know – Raffles.”

Timmy nodded.  He beckoned David in.  “I’m all right,” he said.  “Raffles is in a better place, Mummy says.”

“Oh, what’s this?”  Timmy’s mother emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.  “Talking about me behind my back!  Hello, David.  Staying for dinner?”

“Um…”

“You’re very welcome.  There’s more than enough.  Now, you two go up to Timmy’s room and play quietly.  I’ll call you down when it’s ready.”

“Thanks, Mum!” Timmy pounded up the stairs.

David lingered in the hall.  “Is he all right, Mrs Farrell?  I thought he’d be sad.”

“You’re a good friend,” Mrs Farrell smiled.  “And losing a pet can be tough.  Did you know, Raffles was as old as Timmy?  That’s quite old for a dog.”

David did the mental arithmetic.  “Raffles was 70!”

“Yes.  But he’s not in pain any more.  Now, you run along.”

She went back to the kitchen.  David caught a whiff of the dinner to come.  It smelled delicious.

He joined Timmy in his room for a quick game of superheroes, bashing action figures into each other and doing all the sound effects with their mouths.

“Timmy…” said David, toying with a figure of Wonder Hound.  “It’s OK, you know.  If you want to talk about Raffles.”

Timmy scrunched his nose.  “What for?”

“Perhaps you could write it down.  Then you could bury it.  With him.  With Raffles.”

Timmy looked aghast.

“It could help you.  That’s what funerals do.  They help people.  When my gran –”

But Timmy wasn’t listening.  He bombarded Mr Terrific into Blast-o-path, making noises like explosions.  David sat back and watched his friend.  Bottling things up; that’s what Timmy is doing, David diagnosed.  And that’s never good – not according to David’s mother’s magazines, anyway.

Mrs Farrell called them from the foot of the stairs.  Dinner was ready.

“Looks delicious, Mrs Farrell,” David tucked a napkin under the collar of his Fabulous Five T-shirt.  “And it smells – like heaven!”

Mrs Farrell grinned.  “I’m glad you approve, David.  It’s nice to get a compliment.”  She sent a meaningful glare across the table to her husband, who was already tucking in.  “Roger,” she hissed.  “The prayer!”

David dropped his knife and fork.  He had forgotten that Timmy’s family were quite religious and did things David and his family did not do at home.  He decided the best thing would be to close his eyes and bow his head.

“We thank Raffles for the time he shared with us and the love he gave,” Timmy’s father intoned.  David thought he heard Timmy sniff back a tear.  “And we say our final farewell to him with this commemorative repast.  So be it.”

“So be it,” echoed Mrs Farrell.

“So be it!” said Timmy enthusiastically.  “Come on, David.  Don’t let your dinner go cold!”

David looked up.  The Farrells were all smiles.  They made enthusiastic noises as they devoured the meal Mrs Farrell had prepared.  David tried a forkful of the mashed potato.  It was the creamiest, smoothest he had tasted.  Even the peas – and he had never been a fan of peas – were sweet and – and – minty!  David’s mother would never put mint in the peas.  She would dismiss it as yet another of the Farrells’ odd ways.

“Something wrong, David?”  Mrs Farrell gave him a look of concern.  “You haven’t touched your meat.”

“It’s the best part,” said Mr Farrell.

“I always save it until last,” said David.

“Some people have funny ideas!” Mr Farrell rolled his eyes.  “Get it down you.”

Not wishing to appear rude, David sliced the end off his portion of meat.  It was thick and succulent.  It seemed to melt in his mouth.  But – but – there was something else.  David coughed and spluttered.  Mrs Farrell sprang to her feet and began to pat his back.  David pulled a clump of hair from his mouth.  Long, red hair that reminded him of Raffles.

“Perhaps we should let him choke, love,” chuckled Mr Farrell from the head of the table.  “Lad like him would keep us in dinners for a fortnight.”

dog

 

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The Refugee

Brother Almo shuffled along the paved walkway.  Even through the soles of his sandals, he could feel the coolness of the stone slabs.  He thrust his hands into the wide sleeves of his habit and, huddled against the breeze, hurried to the front gates.  The caller was pulling the bell rope with mounting impatience – and no wonder at it, thought Brother Almo, on an inhospitable night such as this, I can fully appreciate the desire to be inside and warm.

He pushed back the heavy bolts and lifted the bar that lay across the doors’ centre.  He pulled open the gate and peered into the night.

“Good evening, stranger?” he called, although he could see no one there.

Old fool!  Had he imagined it?  Had he dozed off during his watch and imagined the bell?  Father Krimp would laugh with dismay when he heard about this…

But then –

“Help me,” gasped a small voice from the shadows.  Brother Almo squinted and could just about discern a hooded figure, about three feet tall in the darkness.

The figure sounded weak, struggling for breath.  Brother Almo stepped out just in time to catch the stranger, who collapsed into his arms.

Brother Almo backed over the threshold, pulling the stranger with him.  “Ho!”  he cried.  “What ho, within!”

Minutes later, other members of the order came running, barefoot, pulling on their habits, rubbing their eyes and yawning.

“What is it now?” complained one.

“It’s Almo,” said another, as though that explained everything.

“Brother Almo!” boomed Father Krimp, suddenly arriving and towering over the scene.  “What is the meaning of this brouhaha?”

Brother Almo gestured to the stranger, slumped against the wall, face hidden by a hood.

Father Krimp gestured urgently to the others to keep back.  “Brother Almo,” his voice was low and filled with foreboding, “What.  Have.  You.  Done?”

“I answered a cry for help,” Brother Almo swallowed hard.  “Is it not written that –”

Father Krimp cut him off with an imperious hand.  “It may not be too late.  Turn this – thing – outdoors and pray for your soul!  Do it!”

“But – but –” Brother Almo protested.  “We are bounden to do what is charitable.  We must take in the infirm and the needy.”

Father Krimp shook his head.  “You have brought a stranger within our walls.  At night!  You know of the creatures that infest this area.  You know how they take advantage of the weak and simple-minded, how they take human form and finagle their way into people’s homes.”

Brother Almo scoffed.  “Foolish, superstitious claptrap!”

Father Krimp bristled and drew himself up to his full height.  “You will remove the thing from the premises at once.  If it – he or she – is still there in the morning, then you may take it to our hospice.  You know the rules.”

He turned and marched back indoors.  The other brothers followed, some of them smirking over their shoulders.  Others sent Brother Almo looks of concern.  But they all left him to it, just the same.

Alone with the figure, Brother Almo dithered.  What to do?  If he turfed the stranger out again, the morning might be too late.  But if he disobeyed Father Krimp – if Father Krimp was correct… Brother Almo had let a hellacious creature into the monastery, endangering the lives and immortal souls of everyone in it.

He stooped to peer closely at the refugee.

What am I going to do with you?

monk

 

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Teacher’s Pet

“Mum!” Sophie slammed the front door behind her.  “I’m home!  We’re home!”

In the kitchen, Sophie’s mother wiped her hands on a tea towel and went to intercept her eight-year-old daughter in the hall.  But instead of her ex-husband, she found only Sophie, her arms struggling to hold a bulky object covered with a blanket.

“Where’s your dad?  Scarpered again, I suppose.”

Sophie was too excited to answer the question.  “Isn’t it wonderful, Mummy?  It’s my turn.  The whole half term!  I got lucky.  Most people only get him for a weekend.”

Sophie’s mother grunted.  Lucky was perhaps not the word she would have chosen.

“Remember what we agreed, love.  You are responsible for it.  You will do all the feeding, all the cleaning out.”

“Yes, yes,” Sophie rolled her eyes.  She pushed past her mother and lifted the object onto the kitchen table.

“Sophie!” Mum wailed behind her.  “It can’t stop there.  I’m making tea.”

“Oh, it’s just for a moment.  He’ll stay in my room, silly.”

Mum was about to upbraid the little girl for her attitude but she held her tongue.  It was good to see her so excited, so determined.  Perhaps bringing the class pet home would encourage her to be more responsible, more grown-up. It was Miss Taylor’s policy.  Everyone in her class took a turn in looking after the school pet, no matter how disruptive or obnoxious their behaviour.  Perhaps those kids needed it the most and, truth be told, Sophie was no angel.  She could be a proper little madam.

“Well, let’s have a look at it, then,” Mum reached for a corner of the blanket.

Sophie slapped her hand away.  “No, Mummy!  That’s what you must never do.  You’ll scare him.  He doesn’t like artificial light.”

“I think,” Mum spoke in measured tones, “you’d better take your little friend upstairs right this minute, young lady.  Before I lose my temper.”

Sophie rolled her eyes again.  She’s not eight, she’s a teenager already, Mum thought, watching her daughter manhandle the covered cage up the stairs, cooing to it.

Mum carried on peeling potatoes.  A thud from upstairs made her look at the ceiling.  A scream.  Sophie called for her mother.  A growling, a horrible, guttural growling.

Mum bounded up the stairs, armed with the peeler.  She pushed her daughter’s door aside.

“Sophie…?”

The cage lay open on the floor.  Sophie was sprawled on the rug, reaching a hand to her mother.

Mum was just in time to see a greasy, grey tentacle slip into her daughter’s ear.

Sophie blinked and sat up straight.

“It’s all right now, Mummy,” she intoned, staring blankly.  “Miss Taylor says I won’t be any more trouble from now on.”

tentacle

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Moonrock

“And there’s nothing else missing?”

Derek Bradley scowled at the policeman.  “I don’t care if anything else is missing.  They can take the whole bloody house if they want.  But the one thing – the only thing they took was the one thing I cannot do without.”

The policeman tapped his biro on his notepad, adding to Bradley’s irritation.

“And you’re sure it just hasn’t been misplaced.  It’s not going to turn up somewhere.”

“Of course it bloody isn’t!” Bradley snapped.  “How many exams did you have to fail to get your bloody job?”

The policeman gave a patient smile.  Men like Derek Bradley didn’t need reminding to keep a civil tongue in his head.  That would have the same effect as poking him with a sharpened stick.

“The description you gave,” he glanced at his notes, “About the size of a fist, you said, grey like pencil lead and porous like a pumice stone…”

“Yes,” sighed Bradley.  “How many more times/.  Surely by now you should be out there making an arrest.”

“The item has value then?”

“Beyond measure!” Bradley cried.  “Oh, I don’t mean money.  Rare as it is, it’s not the money.”

“Sentimental value then.”

“Well, no… well, yes.  Yes and no.  Without it – the moonrock – my marriage will fall apart.”

“Your wife will be cross?”

Bradley emitted a bitter laugh.  “Oh, you don’t know the half of it, mate.  Cross?  She’ll bite my bloody head off.”

“I see…”  Although it was clear from the policeman’s tone that he didn’t.  “And your wife has access to the alarm code?”

“Of course she does!”

“Anyone else?”

“No!  No, I’m very strict about that kind of thing.  Just me and Anoushka.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Mrs Bradley.”

“And she won’t have moved it – the moonrock.  Taken it to show someone, perhaps?”

“No, no!  She wouldn’t – she couldn’t!  You see, my wife is unable to touch the moonrock.  It’s just not possible.”

The policeman rubbed his eyes.  “Mr Bradley.  There is no sign of forced entry.  The alarm has not been tampered with and all that’s missing is some lump of rock.”

But Bradley wasn’t listening.  He was chewing his thumbnail and pacing the carpet, casting anxious glances at the clock.

“It’ll be dark soon.  If Anoushka comes back and the moonrock’s not here…”

He opened the door and tried to usher the policeman through it.  “You had better go now while there’s still time.”

“Do you want the theft reported or not?”

“Just go!  Please!”

But the policeman remained in his seat and folded his arms.  “I think, Mr Bradley, you had better tell me exactly what is going on.”

While Derek Bradley jabbered on, ever conscious of the impending twilight, several miles away on a coastal clifftop, Mrs Anoushka Bradley tossed a grey object the size of her husband’s fist into the sea.

At once she felt better.  She pulled off the lead-lined gauntlets she’d ordered off the internet and chucked them off the cliff too.

As she drove home, she wondered how Derek was getting on with the policeman.  He’s bound to have told him all about me by now, she reckoned.  My Transylvanian background.  My dependence on the moonrock to keep my human form…

Well, there’d be no more of that.  No more of Derek controlling my every move.

She put her foot down.  If she timed it right, she could be home as night fell and there’d be two men to sink her fangs in and not just her measly husband.

As the sky darkened, Anoushka threw back her head and howled, and for the first time since her wedding day, her fur began to sprout.

moon

 

 

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Dolly

Sophie woke up screaming.  Within seconds, Mummy was there, flicking on the big light.  She sat on the bed and hugged her daughter, patting her back and stroking her sweat-soaked hair.

“There, there, darling,” she cooed.  “It’s all right, it’s all right.  It was just a dream.”

Sophie’s tears seeped through her mother’s nightie.  She sniffed wetly and shook her head.

“No, no, it wasn’t, it wasn’t!” she sobbed.  She pointed a finger across the room to the rocking chair in the corner.  Propped against a cushion was a curly-haired doll, staring back implacably.  One of its eyelids was jammed half-closed, giving the doll a sinister, calculating expression.

“It was Dolly!  It was Dolly!” Sophie repeated, becoming hysterical.

“Ssh, darling!”  Mummy grabbed the doll by its arm and presented it to her daughter.  “Dolly’s here for you.  It’s all right.”

Sophie screamed.   The doll dropped to the floor.  Its lazy eye winked slowly.  Sophie screamed again.

Mummy could feel her patience ebbing away at a rate of knots.  She got to her feet.   “Lie down now, darling,” she snapped.  “Lights out.”

“No!  Mummy, please!” Sophie’s face was red, tears coursing down her cheeks from eyes wide, imploring, beseeching.  “Don’t leave me with her, don’t leave me with her!”

“Enough nonsense now!” Mummy roared.  “Go back to sleep, you silly girl.”

She snapped off the light and stormed out, slamming the door.

Sophie snivelled.  She hugged her knees and wept.

“Good girl,” came a voice from the floor.  A tiny plastic hand reached up to the bedsheet.  “Keep still and it will all be over very soon.”

The next morning, Mummy barged in, bad-tempered from interrupted sleep.  “I’ve told you twice,” she growled.  “Your breakfast is ready.  Get dressed now!”

But Sophie wasn’t in her bed.

“Oh, you are up!” Mummy’s hands were on her hips, a sure sign she was cross.

Sophie was in the rocking chair, propped up by a cushion.  She was staring blankly ahead and one of her eyelids was half-closed.  Behind her, the curtains fluttered at the open window.

“…Sophie?”

But there was no response, and of Dolly, Sophie’s favourite toy, there was no sign.

dolly

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Killer in the Snow

“And that is why you must never build a snowman in our backyard,” Trevor looked serious.  He was perched on the edge of his little brother’s bed.  Pulling the covers up tight to his chin, Timothy shivered, his eyes wide with fear.

“Goodnight!  Sweet dreams!” Trevor jumped up.  He flicked out the light and went downstairs to enjoy an evening of gaming undisturbed.  Charged with babysitting duties while their parents were at the neighbours’ Christmas party, Trevor felt pretty pleased with himself for getting the little brat out of his hair early.  Little Timmy was scared good and proper.  There was no way he’d set foot out from under his duvet before morning.  Job done!

And, Trevor reflected, I’m pretty much a genius!  I should write it all down, the story I told him.   Yes, it was all based on fact, on actual events, and they didn’t take much embellishment to weave into a scary story.  It was well-known around the town that years ago, the house had belonged to an infamous serial killer.  It was the reason why his parents had bought the place so cheap.  Out there, in the backyard, the killer had been gunned down by the police, staining the white blanket of snow red – Trevor had been especially proud of that detail.  If you build a snowman in our backyard, it will be possessed by the spirit of the murderer and it will come into the house and add you to his list of victims…

Haha!  He wouldn’t hear a peep out of Timothy tonight!  Little kids could be so gullible, so credulous.  Evil snowmen!  Possessed by a serial killer!  Priceless!

Even so, Trevor drew the curtains.  A fresh fall of snow made the backyard pristine.  Beautiful, in fact.  Impossible to think that years ago, it had been the scene of such horror…

He went to the kitchen to gather snacks; he was hoping for a good few hours before Mom and Dad came back, during which he hoped to kill a few noobs and get to the end of the game.

Mom and Dad would be drunk.  They’d stagger in and of course they’d want to know how Timothy had behaved himself.  No trouble, Trevor would say, and they’d pay him the promised fee.  Mom would be extra soppy and try to hug him.  Embarrassing!  Trevor decided he needed fortifying against an onslaught of maternal affection.  He decided he was old enough and man enough to sample his father’s whisky.

Up in his room, Timothy heard his brother open the fridge, looking for ice cubes for his illicit drink.  Timothy held his breath and listened, straining his ears.

He heard Trevor scream and drop his glass.  Timothy heard his brother gasp and choke as arms made of snow reached out from the icebox and squeezed the life out of him.

As soon as his parents had told him he’d be left in the care of his bully of a big brother, Timothy had known he had to take steps to protect himself.  Half an hour gathering snow in the backyard before Trevor came home was now paying dividends.

snow-man-killer

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