Sunday 29 July 2007

Out of Focus

Scream awakened the tiny hamlet of Little Crampton, followed by a phone call at midnight. In four separate houses on the same short lane, three sets of hall lights flickered on. A triumvirate of voices answered calls placed by the same individual. The fourth subject, whose house remained in darkness, continued his snoring.

Robert Rimmer was dead, the caller informed the men. Robert Rimmer had been sliced and diced.

The caller then instructed each man to unlatch and open their front doors. Three out of four doors on the row opened. Fingers plucked up manila envelopes and opened them in view of the other. They did not communicate by look or word.

The envelopes contained out of focus photographs, the first of which betrayed tufts of ginger hair on a pale scalp, the second a single bloodshot eye stretched wide as axe kissed skin.

Ouch. Three faces winced, one hand dropped photographs.

The race was on. Somewhere in their oh-so-small village sat a carrot topped severed head and whoever found it first would survive. According to their mystery caller, the others would welcome the axe that had severed Rimmer’s head.

The Hon. James Figtree checked out the courthouse - from office, to the arena, to the cells below, all proved empty. Cell doors swung open as if the occupants had just fled. Traces of blood in them, but no severed head. Peter Plumpton searched the school, found the Grayson twins locked in the detention room, and with stern denouncement of their acts (of which he had no recollection), he sent them home. Found plenty of blood in the classrooms, none of it fresh. The Rev. Raymond Clayton headed straight to the tiny chapel that would take only moments to check. With a gulp of holy wine to steady nerves he checked in the vestry and under each pew; the only ginger to be found, discarded cans of ginger wine.

The three men reached the statue of Archibold Crampton within seconds of each other.

“Prank,” they said in unison.

“The photograph?” the Reverend questioned.

“Rimmer’s in on it,” Peter Plumpton replied. “We haven’t had a day without rain, and the wife said she saw him hacking at his garden yesterday. Told him he needed a petrol mower in this climate. Guy’s gone loop-the-loop.”

Feeling foolish and angry, they traipsed back to their little row. The only blood present, that which rushed to their faces and painted their cheeks crimson. Three doors opened; hushed steps as they sneaked back into their houses and hoped not to disturb wives that would mark them for the fools they were. Scream broke their cover as the fourth cottage on the row lit up.

Window screeched open and out flew Robert Rimmer’s severed head, spattering the onlookers with blood. Cyril Forsythe at the window, ashen faced, shaken, blubbering about finding a head in his bed and a Mafioso warning before crumbling from view as he fainted.

Three phones out of four on the row pierced pre-lit hallways. The voice at the other end spoke mechanical as if pre-recorded message.

“On your marks, get set,” it started. “Whoever finds the, wait for it, next head first is the loser – okay boys, go find the Reverend Clayton.”

A scream and for one a visual shower of blood as head toppled from shoulders.

“And the Reverend is the loser. Now, are we ready to play some more…”

copyright Catherine J Gardner 2007


Jack said...

Jees you are - actually good, and I dont usually enjoy 'horror'.

I'll add you site to my places to visit, I wouldnt bother with mine, its garbage.

Looks good in black. Halloween-ish.


Cate Gardner said...

Wow, thanks Jack :)