The Engineer

Two young women drinking tea --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

The Engineer lived just outside a small village in Lombardy, Northern Italy. He’d lived there all of his life. In fact, he’d lived there as long as anyone could remember. He never seemed to age.

“Dye’s his hair of course” my mum said.

“But he hasn’t aged, Phoebe, no wrinkles, no liver spots. He still looks the same as he did when I was a little girl”

Mum and Betsy sipped their tea silently. I was only seven and didn’t know the Engineer very well. He scared me a little bit. He was very nice enough, gave me sweets sometimes, but his eyes were dark and cold. His jet black hair and mustache showed no signs of grey. I guessed his height to be a little under six feet because he was a little shorter than my brother, and my brother was six foot two. Words weren’t his thing and he used them as little as possible. A tight smile was his only humorous expression, but the smile didn’t touch his eyes.

“Has he ever been married?” Betsy asked mum.

“Not that I know of, I think he dated once, for a year or so, but the she disappeared. Never saw her again.”

“Maybe its a good thing, not sure he’s make a good dad if kids came along. I wonder if he wears make-up. His eyebrows are perfect.”

“Could be gay! That would explain the marriage thing!”

A loud rapping on the door startled us all.

“Its him!” Mum said.

“Don’t be silly Phoebe. Why would he be knocking at your front door?”

“My boiler is playing up. Sometimes we have no hot water.”

“Did you call him” Betsy asked.

“No! I never call him, he just seems to know when something needs fixing.”

Mum’s voice was quiet, she sounded scared. Her hand shook slightly as she put her tea-cup down. “Betsy, come to the door with me.”

I watched as they opened the door. The engineer stood on the step, a tight-lipped smile on his face. He wore jeans, perfectly pressed with a crease down the front and a blue denim shirt. His fashionable shoes were highly polished. A draft blew in from behind him, or perhaps it came from him. I shivered.

“Good Morning Ladies, Phoebe I understand you have a faulty boiler.”

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Evil Shadows!

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When Sam opened his eyes again it was dark and quiet. He tried to move, but he was fastened tightly to whatever he lay on. His body ached from lack of movement. His eyes became accustomed to the dark and he could make out shadows around him, but nothing moved. A huge black caldron sat on the dying embers of the fire. He dreaded to think what might be inside it. Then he felt silly, witches didn’t really exist, this must be a bad dream. He remembered looking for Dirk in the woods, he remembered the cottage, he remembered…

His arms were numb from being tied so tightly so he wriggled his fingers to make sure they were still there.

He was cold, so very cold.

Sadie, I think I’ll be with you soon. Don’t know where I am, but I’m in trouble and I’m not sure I can escape.

Something stirred in the far side of the cabin. Sam strained his eyes to get a better look.

“Who’s there?” He asked. No reply! Dawn approached and a slice of light found its way through the dark drapes that hung across the window. A man sat in a chair, A man with a misshapen head. Sam watched in horror as sky brightened.

“Dirk, is that you.” The head moved slightly. Sam closed his eyes.

This can’t be happening, This is a nightmare. WAKE UP!

He opened his eyes again.

Oh dear sweet Jesus!

A face with flaming red demented eyes hovered over him,  staring hungrily down. A face he recognized!

“Good Morning Sammie, I’m glad you’re awake. I have a surprise for you.”

“Sadie? What have they done to you?”

The face cracked into a grotesque grin as it bore down on him.

Halloween Treat!

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The nostalgic aromas were intense, his nostrils devoured them.
“I miss you Sadie, I miss you so much.”
Sammie come closer and keep me warm, I’m waiting for you.
He took another step and his knees buckled beneath him. He sunk to the ground. He was aware of hands grabbing onto him, finding a place to grip him and lift him and carry him.
Sam opened his eyes. His vision was blurry. He tried to speak, but couldn’t.
The aroma wasn’t wood smoke anymore, it was rancid, sickening. His eyelids were heavy.

Childish giggling roused him from unnatural slumber. Still unable to move anything but his eyeballs he looked around.
I’m inside the cottage, the old hag has me in her cottage.
As though reading his mind a dark figure appeared, her face was hidden in the shadows, but he could see her body, it was young and shapely.
Is this who Dirk saw in the woods? Is this the old hag playing tricks? She has us drugged.
“Yes you’re in my home, you should be thankful I have you. You fell to the ground out there. I brought you in. Saved you from the forest. I’m insulted that you call me names. Do I look like an old hag?”
I’d be safer in the forest!
“Really? It depends what you call safe?”
Sam’s eyelids were still heavy.
“Come children, give our guest some soup, he’s weak.”
The pattering of tiny feet, the scraping of a chair. The shapely figure disappeared and a deformed face bent over him. A face that looked like it had been patched together roughly from spare human parts. The ears didn’t match, the eyes were odd. If Sam could move, he’d have screamed and run. A grotesque smile twisted the drooling mouth above him. A hand that looked more like a claw held a spoon of steaming liquid. From the shadows at the far end of the cabin a voice commanded him to eat. As the steaming liquid trickled down his throat whispers invaded his ears. They floated around him, above him, beside him. The filled the dark, thick atmosphere of the cabin.

Drink your soup, let it warm your insides,
We need to fatten you up,
We’re cold and hungry we need to eat,
Any you are our special Halloween Treat!

The patchwork face above him licked its lips and drooled a little more, then grinned, revealing two rows of  razor sharp teeth.

Shadows on the wall

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Sam teased Dirk, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was distracted, excited and even a little giddy. Sam enjoyed seeing his old friend look so happy, but he was afraid it would end badly. The old witch had obviously drugged him and made him believe things. Could she really still be alive?

Sam sat alone in front of the fire in his little two up two down home. The home he’d lived in for fifty years. He’d bought it just after he and Sadie were married, raised the twins there. He didn’t want to be young again, not without his wife, life was lonely without her. Cancer had taken her ten years ago and now the only thing that kept him going was her memory. His heart ached when he thought about her, he was ready to leave this world and join her on the other side. Maybe then they’d both be young again and live in eternal bliss.

Sam, Sammie, wake up

“What? Who said that?”

Sam shivered, the fire had died and was nothing but glowing embers. It was dark. He was disoriented, sure he’d heard his wife’s voice, she was the only person who ever called him Sammie.

“You’ve had too much to drink old man.” he said to himself as he climbed the stairs to his bedroom, “and that old fool filled your head with witchcraft.”

He got into bed and pulled the blankets tightly around him, he was cold, deathly cold. Shadows danced on the wall. Shadows that looked like long bony fingers. Fingers that wanted to reach out and probe him, delve into his parchment thin skin.

Take a life, give a life! 

“What, who said that?”

Sammie, Sammie…

Sam closed his eyes and thought of Sadie, he missed her.

Death Memory

522891-murder”Why does it feel warm?”

She undid the popper that kept the camera case closed. The clicking had stopped, but camera vibrated. It was processing something. Barbara shuddered.

“I don’t like the way it feels, it feels warm alive.”

“Here, give it to me,” Lucy said, “this whole thing might be some sort of joke, lets see what on its memory.”

Barbara looked around uncomfortably; they were surrounded by darkness and silence. It wasn’t a good place to be at night. Lucy gasped.

“Oh sweet Jesus. Oh dear God.”

“What is it?”

Lucy turned stood next to her friend and showed her the secrets captured in the camera’s memory. Barbara turned around and hung on to the branch of a tree while she threw up.

Green Eyed Monster

jealousy

Sometimes, like the devil, jealousy whispers persistently in your ear.
The green-eyed monster, you have to fight him!

Celine and Cassie were best friends, and had been since Kindergarten. They shared everything, including head lice because their heads, full of bouncy curls, were always together. They went to the same college, shared an apartment, shared a car, but things came undone when they both fell in love with the same man.

He was tall with a mop of thick black hair. His eyes were the deepest blue. He as French and from the moment he opened his mouth, they were both smitten.

“Lets just stay away from him,” Cassie said, “that way nothing can happen, he won’t date either of us and we can continue living our lives just as we always have. He probably doesn’t like us anyway, so we shouldn’t worry.”

She knew different though. She already had a second date with him, they’d already kissed. She told Pierre not to mention it to Celine, she didn’t want her to know. He agreed. As she saw more of him, Celine grew suspicious.

“Where have you been?” Celine asked on night when Cassie got in late.

“I’ve been working out.”

It made sense, she did smell a little, her hair was a mess and her make-up smudged. It started to happen a lot though. Cassie began to follow her. One night Cassie didn’t come home at all. She was gone the following day too. When she finally turned up late in the evening, her eyes shone and she was flushed.

“What have you been up to?” Celine said, her eyes narrowing.

“I’ve met a boy.” Cassie said, “I didn’t want to tell you, but I do now. I think I’m in love.”

“Why did you keep it a secret? Why didn’t you let me meet him?”

Cassie hung her head, “Because you know him. It’s Pierre.”

“You goddamn lying bitch, we agreed to stay away from him. You know I like him.”

Cassie walked across the room. Celine met her half way.

“I’ve been following you. I’ve seen what you’ve been doing. I watched you together you slut! He only wants you for sex.”

“Cassie held out her hand, a diamond sparkled from her engagement finger.”

“He loves me, look, we’re engaged.”

Celine looked odd, he right eye twitched. Her face contorted in anger. She trembled. The room seemed to go a shade darker. She grabbed Cassie by the throat with superhuman strength and pushed her backwards towards the wall, banging her had violently. Blood ran down the yellow paint.

“Celine stop, you’re hurting me.”

“Not nearly enough.” Cassie reached behind her and grabbed a meat cleaver. She’d placed it on the table earlier. Her first intention was to scare Cassie with it. Now she wanted to kill her.

Celine’s eyes looked green, scary and she smiled a deranged terrifying smile as she dragged Cassie towards open window and sank the knife into the top of her head. She didn’t look so happy now.

Below Pierre waited  for Cassie to call him. He knew she was going to tell Celine they were an item. The were engaged and Celine would be the first to know. She’d make a beautiful bridesmaid. Shame she was a closet lesbian. He’d been attracted to her first, until Cassie told him he was wasting his time, she preferred women.

He saw two shapes in the window of their 4th floor apartment. Getting out of the car, he locked the door. It was time to go up and celebrate.

He crossed the road and stood beneath the window, looking up, waiting for one of them to wave at him. Cassie’s face appeared, she opened her mouth to shout at him. He smiled!

Cassie was dead before she fell. The meat cleaver had taken off the top of her head. It was still lodged in her brain when she fell on top of Pierre, it hit him between the eyes. He died instantly.

Their blood mingled and surrounded them on the sidewalk.

Celine looked down at them before stabbing herself in the shoulder.

“Help, HELP!” she yelled from the open window, “I’ve been attacked. He killed my friend, won’t somebody call an ambulance. HELP!”

Camera!

She’d just gotten to the other side of the road when she heard him call.

“Hey, you left your camera in the car.”

“What? That’s not mine.”

“It must be yours. I haven’t picked anyone else up today.” He shoved it into her hand and walked away. The leather strap felt slick, slimy, but worst of all, it felt alive. Lucy shuddered and almost dropped it.

Camera is a bonus short story in my upcoming book “Ghosts on the Sand”. Watch out for it it’s COMING SOON!

Nice Day for a Wet Wedding!

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Juliet discovered she was pregnant a month before the wedding. It wasn’t a problem, unless morning sickness spoiled the big day. She was happy, and so was Jake. Pregnancy meant no wild hen party (or bachelorette party as her American friends called it), but that was OK, she could put it on hold until after the baby was born, something to look froward to.

Then the big day came. May 15th. She was awoken by someone tapping on her bedroom door.
“Is the bride ready for breakfast?”
“Come on in dad, I’m awake”
He dad carried a tray laden with goodies. Fruit, coffee, brioche, jam.
“You’re the best dad in the world!”
“I just want to spoil my little girl while I can. Why are you crying? Don’t cry. You still want to get married don’t you?”
“I’m crying because I’m happy!”
The quiet moment didn’t last long. The doorbell rang constantly after that as caterers, family, friends and neighbors showed up to help prepare for the big event. Juliet drank her coffee and nibbled some fruit, but was far too excited to eat more. She was marrying the man she loved. Life was good.

Stretching she slid out of bed and walked across to the window. The large marquee was set up out front and was bustling with activity. There were flowers, balloons, lights, tables, ribbons. Everything a girl could ask for and more. The sky was a perfect blue.
I’m so lucky, nothing could spoil this moment.

Juliet was wrong!

As she slipped into her beautiful white wedding dress thunder rumbled, and it wasn’t in the distance, it was right overhead. She shivered! Please don’t rain on my wedding day! By the time the bridesmaids had fixed her veil the first big drops of rain splattered on the ground.
“I hope the marquee is waterproof.” she joked, but she wasn’t laughing inside. Something bothered her. When she saw Jake waiting for her in the marquee, she stopped worrying. The sight of him filled her with happiness. His hair was cut shorter than normal and made him look like a school boy again. She remembered their first prom together and smiled and walked towards him.

As the ceremony began, the intensity of the rain increased. By the time they exchanged vows they had to shout to be heard.

The happy couple said I do, kissed and then turned to face their guests. They were finally man and wife!

Something caught Julia’s eye at by the entrance at the side. A woman stood dripping with water. She was dressed in black. A dark veil covered her face. Juliet stopped smiling when she saw her. Something was wrong, something tugged at her memory. Who is that? The woman lifted her veil revealing her face.

Juliet’s face.

Jake tried to hold onto his bride, but she fell to her knees.

Juliet fainted.

Where are you Juliet?

lake sunset

Gasping for breath, Jake sat up. He was cold! Where am I?
Are you okay?”
Juliet looked at him, concern in her big brown eyes.
“I must have fallen asleep. I had a weird dream.”
He put his arms around his new fiancée and hugged her close, kissing the top of her head. She smelled good. The mists of his nightmare faded as she lifted her face and kissed him again.
“What did you dream?” she asked.
“I can’t really remember, I think I was drowning!”
“Well there isn’t much chance of that happening is there”? You were the champion of the swim team in high school. No drowning for you Jake”
He smiled at her and kissed her again, pulling her close, feeling the warmth of her body close to him.
“When shall we get married. I want to wake up next to you every morning for the rest of my life.”
“Next June,” Juliet replied, “everyone loves a June wedding.”
She stood up and walked down to the lake, dipping her toes into the cool clear water. Jake shivered, but he didn’t know why. Juliet turned and reached out to him, here
come sit by the water for a while, it feels good. They sat with their toes in the water, the sunset and fading light turning the lake’s surface red.
It looks like Hell!
“I’ve never told anyone this before, but I got a bad scare down here one night. I thought I saw a lady in the middle of the lake.” Juliet said as she gazed into the distance.
“What, you mean in a boat or something?”
“No, it was weird and scary she was just hovering there. Half of her body was under the water. She had long hair. I know it was just the light playing tricks with me, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought it was a ghost.”
“Did you ever see her again?” Jake could hardly get the words out of his mouth as his dream flooded his brain. The sun was gone and the remaining light played tricks with the shadows. He began to shiver. He took hold of Juliet’s hand. It was as cold as ice. When he looked at their reflection in the still water he froze.
He was alone!