Whispers in the wind

Waking up screaming. Penelope shouts for her Mum and Dad. She keeps having the same nightmare. A dark shadow like creature chases her. When she tries to escape, it grabs her and holds on until tears run down  Penelope’s chubby cheeks. Enveloping its body around her like a fort made of blankets so all she can see is black. She wakes up screaming, each night thesame as the previous.

She shouts again for Mum and Dad, pulling the bed covers tighter around her small frame. Penelope waits for her parents but nobody comes. Maybe they are still downstairs. Swinging her legs out of bed she runs to the other side of the room before the monster under the bed has a chance to grip her ankles. Grabbing her fluffy fairy slippers and pink dressing gown she darts into the hallway closing the large, heavy door behind her. Pausing outside to push her auburn curls out of her face she pulls on her dressing gown and slides her feet into the slippers. Dad always calls her his little fox because foxes have orange fur like her hair. Penelope sometimes wishes she has a tail like a fox. Dad has grey hair like the stones she picks up on her way to school and Mum has yellow hair like the sun. Penelope doesn’t know why she has orange hair. The other children at school tease her and tell her she’s adopted. She doesn’t like school much.

Nibbling on the ends of her already sore fingers Penelope scurries down the hall and knocks lightly on her parent’s bedroom door. With no answer, she glances around before turning the metal handle. Her parents aren’t in bed. They must be downstairs. Leaving the door ajar she hurries a little as she heads downstairs, worried that there might be someone behind her in a moment of paranoia. Heading first to the kitchen and stepping onto the cold brown tiles she looks around the cupboards, standing on her tiptoes to try and see what’s on the breakfast bar. No signs of her parents. Turning to face the fridge the calendar catches her eye. A cute black kitten is playing with some wool and underneath the word, ‘December’ is written in big letters. Penelope registers it as the month of Christmas. She remembers making snowmen in school to bring home. The most recent date crossed off is 24 which means it might be Christmas today. Funny, Penelope doesn’t remember being told it’s Christmas. The number 28 is circled on the calendar in big red marker. Maybe that’s when Christmas is, maybe it’s too early. Penelope recalls Christmas last year. She remembers having the decorations up for ages because Dad took them down one evening saying that they had been up for too long. Moving her chin to face the ceiling there are no signs of any green garlands coated in Holly or Berries. Panic grips her small heart. What if Mum and Dad forgot about Christmas? She hasn’t yet written her letter to Santa telling him about the toys she wants. How will he know to come? Innocent tears spring to her eyes. The thoughts of no Santa or Christmas this year fretting her young mind. Venturing towards the livingroom she is forced to stop when she loses a slipper. Kicking it in a moment of unnecessary anger she bends down to put it back on. Through her clouded, wateryeyes Penelope can see light coming from the living room underneath thehalf-closed door.

“Muuuuuum?” She cries through stifled tears as she clumsily pushes the dark red door open.

Pushing the door, a little too aggressively, it knocks against the doorstopper on the opposite side. Penelope stops for a moment expecting to be told off. When it doesn’t happen, she ventures across the wooden floor, into the middle of the room, stopping on the oval red and white rug and rubbing her eyes in the process, half from sleep and the other from crying. Dad is lighting the evening fire. Poking at it until orange flames reflect off his glasses as it crackles and explodes. Mum is sat in the armchair by the fire with her long curls hanging over the edge of a big dusty book she’s reading. Her legs are crossed, and she has an old grey blanket over her shoulders that normally covers the back of the sofa.

“Muuuum. I h-had a bad dream” Penelope cries through stuttered breath and fat tears.

Her pleas are greeted with silence. She tries Dad instead. She tries to nudge his shoulder with both hands but somehow falls to the ground. Now crying from the pain she uses all the breath in her lungs to show how she’s feeling. Her little heart full of so many negative emotions. Her parents pay her no attention. Mum has stopped reading and places her head in her hands. Dad goes to her side, kneeling on the floor in front of mum. Penelope looks at the large fireplace in front of her. Large orange flames flicker in the middle, surrounded by large bricks and a white mantlepiece. Penelope is confused when she recalls the month on the calendar. There is no milk out for Santa and no stockings hanging from the mantlepiece. No signs of Christmas at all. This is a disaster. Her unfocused tears stop falling. Her concentration only on Santa. With sagging shoulders and a hunched back, she scurries to the other side of her Mum. Inching forward in her bare feet and white nightdress. She wants to cuddle with mum until she falls asleep or she can sit on dad’s knee and be told a story. However, halfway across the short distance, the door to the living room swings open slightly as if pushed. Penelope thinks she sees the shadow and its dark movements, she leaps towards her Mum and lands just centimetres away from the comfort of her parents embrace. 

“Mum! Dad!” Panicked, terrified breaths rush out in little gasps as Penelope bobs up and down trying to get her parents attention.

Flinging herself onto the chair she hopes to feel the envelope of her mum’s soft dressing gown or her Dads warm, large hands grabbing her own. She doesn’t feel anything. When she leaps on them they seem to disappear into thin air. Penelope lands on the floor, back where she started at the end of the armchair as if she never moved. Her eyes dart frantically around the room searching for her parents. She takes the time to look behind the sofa and curtains in case they’re hiding. Shouting over and over for her parent’s she huddles into the corner of the living room. She cocoons herself into a ball, hidden from the world. No Santa and a monster after her. This is helpless. Burying her face into her arms, she cries. She considers all the things she won’t enjoy this year. Pretending to be asleep so Santa will deliver the presents. Waking up Christmas morning, running downstairs to open the presents that are always adorned in beautiful wrapping paper under the tree. Then, after a quiet Christmas dinner, her parents would take her to the city centre. They would ice skate under the giant Christmas tree, Mum holding one of her hands whilst Dad holds the other. She would twirl around in her red Christmas dress like a ballerina. Wearing the latest handmade scarf from Great-aunt Sicil. The floor would sparkle underneath her skates like someone had dropped a tub of glitter and the big baubles on the tree would shine and twinkle like stars. All the time they’re ice skating Penelope would make sure to look up to catch sight of Santa just in case he’s late delivering presents one year. The city would be filled with smiling busy faces. Penelope would often get pushed or shoved and have to hold hands tight. Some strangers would smell like Christmas trees which always reminded her of the day they collect theirs from the tree man. She would be so excited to pick a new one out each year. She always picked the smallest one because she would feel sorry for the baby one left on its own. Then they would rush home and drag the dusty boxes from the attic full of tinsel, spiky garlands, shiny baubles and beautiful ornaments to hang around the house and on the tree sitting in the corner of the living room by the fireplace. The decorations always smelt like old people, but Penelope loved decorating the tree and would always get the important job of putting the angel on top who she had named Sophie. Sophie was a beautiful angel. With a golden-brown dress and agold trim around the bottom. Beautiful gold leaf wings. Short curly brown hairand bright red lips with a yellow halo on top of her head. Holding a sparklyjewel-crusted vine between her outstretched hands with tiny little leavesattached. She was beautiful. Penelope sometimes pretended she was the Angel andran around the room with her arms outstretched, leaping over imaginary cloudsand pretending she was sprinkling angel dust on children’s heads to grant themtheir Christmas wishes.

Penelope stops crying in aquestioning pause. Maybe there’s no Christmas in the house yet because they’ve lost Sophie. It happened last year when they were putting the decorations up. Penelope always finds Sophie first to play with her before she goes on the tree. Only last year she wasn’t in her red box. They couldn’t find her anywhere. Penelope remembers how upset she was. Mum and Dad turned the house upside down looking for her and eventually found her in an overlooked Christmas decorations box up in the attic. Maybe that’s what’s happened this time. Maybe they can’t find her at all. Penelope stands up, unsure about whether to find her parents or the angel. Retying her dressing gown as tight as she can pull, which isn’t very tight at all.

She forgot about the shadow monster. It’s now floating by the fire with its sharp-clawed hands hanging by its side like tentacles. It has no face, only the shape of a rounded head on top of its hovering body. It has no legs either and its torso is shaped like a Halloween ghost. Facing towards the fire, it’s clear that it hasn’t yet noticed Penelope’s small frame in the corner. Going onto her hands and knees she creeps around the back of the sofa. How she wishes her parents were here to help her. Her mind is confused by their disappearance when they seemed so real sitting by the fire. Even more confusing is the lack of preparation for Christmas, very unlike her family. Losing her slippers in the progress of moving along the walls, edging along on the cold hard floor she gets as far as the wall directly opposite where the fireplace is. The noises from the monster mean that she’s been found. It’s a noise she’s familiar with. It starts off as a deep sound as if someone is humming near your ear, then it gets louder and shriller until you can make out the sounds of the children screaming. The humming sounds like it’s behind her. Penelope jumps to her feet and runs straight for the door, but the shadow gets to her first. It engulfs her in darkness as her screams become part of the thousands of screams of children. The darkness is all she can see, throwing her arms out around her seems to make no difference. Her skin itches as if covered in a thousand insects, working their way into her mouth they create a bitter taste and tighten her throat making it difficult to breathe. Penelope tries to tell herself it’s a dream in hopes of waking herself up, but her breathing is becoming more strangled by the second.

Suddenly, there’s a light in the darkness, a small splinter of light where she can see the door. With all her might she forces her feet forward; the shadowloses its grip on her and she runs. Pulling the door with all her strength sheglances over her shoulder. The shadow is moving along the ceiling, scraping itslong claws with one hand and reaching towards Penelope with the other. Shepushes the door closed and slumps against it for a moment. Her whole body isshaking, and she feels very cold as if she’s been out in the snow too long.Looking around she realises it’s daytime now, but not daytime like earlymorning. More so the afternoon. The sun shines through the tall windows andlights up the hallway. A moment passes, Penelope catches sight of somethingshiny underneath the staircase. Red paper glistens. The familiar site of a goldbow and matching gift tag entice her toward it. It’s a Christmas present. Mum andDad must have placed milk for Santa. This present is a little dusty. Using her sleeve,she wipes it clean and checks the label.

“To Penelope. Love from Santa”

Ripping open the wrapping excitedly, the anticipation of receiving the doll she’s been asking for causes a flutter of butterflies in her tummy and distracts her from her most recent terror. Her childlike innocence captivated by a small gift. Throwing the paper to the side she opens the box to reveal its contents. Inside is a wonderfully handcrafted teddy bear with grey soft fur, a pink nose and black eyes. It smells dusty and reminds Penelope of the Christmas ornament boxes. Without warning, Penelope hears her Mum and Dad coming down the stairs. They’re shouting at each other and Mum is crying. They are dressed very nicely as if they are going to a party. Mum has on her favourite perfume and Dad has on his blue bowtie which he only uses for special occasions. Penelope puts the present down and covers her ears, she hates it when they fight. Dad is walking behind, moving his arms a lot as he’s talking. Mum is walking away from him but stops abruptly and turns around shocked at something he has said before bursting into tears and covering her face with her hands. He hugs her before they head towards the front door. Penelope steps forward and tries to hug Mum and make her feel better but her actions go unnoticed. As she tries talking to them, their voices seem muffled as if behind an invisible wall. They look sad. They seem sad a lot recently. In fact,Penelope can’t think of any recent time when she hasn’t seen Mum cry. They go outside by the large oak tree in the garden after shrugging on their winter coats and scarves. Penelope notices something soft on her hands, looking down she’swearing some multicoloured striped mittens. Her thick matching scarf hangs from her neck. She’s wearing her favourite red coat with black fur trim and gold buttons and on her feet are some warm brown boots with owl shapes on them. When she looks up again she can see her parents through the glass window of the front door. They are stood side by side at the tree looking down at the snowy ground below. Dad has his arm around Mum and they both have their shoulders hunched over.

Sudden faint sounds of humming can be heard, like whispers in her ear at first. Her heart beings its palpations when she remembers the shadow behind the living room door. The mahogany door which is now opening as the gold doorknob is turning. Penelope catches sight of the shadows claws before she turns on her heel and runs to catch up with her parents. Stopping only when she reaches the tree. Panting and shivering in the snow she tries one last time to get her parents attention, but they are too focused on the ground. Looking behind, there’s no shadow following so at least she’s safe for now. Averting her eyes, she focuses on what holds her parent’s attention. The grey teddy that she just unwrapped sits on the floor in a layer of thick white snow, by the side of a bouquet of pink roses. Laid on its back in front of that is Sophie. A shocked gasp escapes Penelope’s innocent lips. The once beautiful angel looks damaged and broken like she’s very old. Tears roll down Penelope’s flushed cheeks. There’s a card sticking out the top of theflowers.

“To our little girl Penelope. You may be gone but you will always be our Angel. Mum and Dad miss you very much”

Reading the card and seeing these items brings back the memories like being pushed to the ground. After waking up after a bad dream close to Christmas Penelope wanted to find Sophie. They had spent the day looking for her, but Penelope went to bed in tears and empty-handed. She remembers how scared she was, it was so dark outside and the snow felt cold underneath her bare feet. A chill runs down her spine as she remembers how cold she felt and how much she shivered. Eventually, though she stopped feeling cold and felt tired and warm, so she laid down in the snow holding the grey teddy that Mum and Dad had given her as an early Christmas present. All she remembers after that is falling to sleep. Other memories fill her mind. Memories of when she had to go to Grandma’s funeral. Mum made her put some flowers on her grave and the message sounded just like the message on this card. Mum told Penelope that she has gone to heaven, but Penelope wasn’t in heaven. Turning to face Mum and Dad she cries her heart out for their comforting words or even any acknowledgement that she’s there. Her cries are worthless, and her parents head back towards the house just as the shadow heads straight towards her. Crying loudly, she screams, shouting over and over for her mum and dad as she’s left standing in the snow on her own. Penelope can only watch as the shadow’s claws grab hold of her and everything goes dark again as her innocent screams areengulfed until nothing more than a distant hum of the wind can be heard.

Copyright 2018

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 5

Charlotte draws her attention back to the present. Lenita has disappeared. She must have been stood there for a few moments but it felt like an hour the way the dream replayed in her mind. I must tell someone. Is Charlotte’s first thought. She doesn’t care anymore if they think she’s crazy. She must tell her parents, even if it means being taken to the place where the screams come from. How did it have today’s date on it? I really must be crazy. Many thoughts are running through Charlotte’s head as she scurries towards home, hoping her parents will be there. Reaching halfway across the field, Charlotte isn’t sure why she does it but something compels her to look back. The familiar sight of Lenita is walking out of the park and speedily walking, almost jogging, straight towards Charlotte with what looks like a large kitchen knife in her left hand. Horror grips Charlotte’s heart and she runs. Her feet drive her forward to the closest place where there might be people, the new park. She isn’t the fastest runner so she knows she won’t be able to make it home or even to town before Lenita catches up with her. The park is her only option. She tries forcing thoughts of her dream and its resemblance to reality from her mind as she runs but the date on the newspaper terrifies her. Reaching the park, she tries to look for anywhere to hide other than the wooden climbing frame but she has no time and she can feel Lenita getting closer. Clambering in as quietly and quickly as possible, slight relief befalls her shoulders when she finds it empty. Crouching in the middle of the box shape, Charlotte forces her breathing to slow down as she hears footsteps crunching on the bark covered playground. This park is smaller than the old one and the footsteps are getting closer. Charlotte holds her breath and covers her mouth. 1,2,3,4,5,6. She counts in her head to stop herself from screaming in panic. The footsteps begin to sound further away and she relaxes.

Thud! 

A long, cold arm pounces through one of the gaps in the climbing frame and grabs Charlotte’s arm, causing her to hit her head on the roof. She screams in alarm and grapples at the arm, pulling at the fingers and the death hold they have on her. Somehow managing to free herself Charlotte climbs through a connecting tunnel and jumps off the climbing frame and onto the floor. Stumbling as she falls, she quickly scurries to her feet and carries her weight forward. Running as fast as she can without paying attention to where she is going. She’s most focused on getting away from the sound of the loud ‘Thump’ of the footsteps behind her. Within five minutes she runs back up to the familiar sight of the derelict park. 

“No! This can’t be happening!” 

Charlotte breathlessly shouts in a panicked acknowledgement of her dreams substantial resemblance to her current situation. Reaching the rusty slide, she stops and turns to see if Lenita is behind her. Not yet, she still has time. She looks for somewhere to hide but unlike the new park, this place is just a foundation of what it once was. Charlotte weighs her options. If she runs for home Lenita is sure to catch up with her. She could possibly make it to some of the shops on the outskirts of town but they’re a bit further out than she would feel comfortable running. Her only option is to hide, she thinks to herself as she spots a selection of shrubs to her left. 

“Charlotte?” 

Lenita’s voice floats in a wave of terror towards Charlotte’s ears. Looking up towards the sound, Lenita is walking towards her with a haunting expression of calm on her features. She still carries the knife in her hand. Charlotte tries to run but her legs are stuck as if she isn’t in control of them. She can’t drive them forward. She focuses her attention and all her efforts on trying to move her feet. They feel like stone, so heavy under their weight. Charlotte feels her fight fading and her grasp on what’s real begins to fizz into the air. 

“Lenita. Stop!” 

Charlotte shouts at the looming figure. Crying, large tears splash onto the ground in waves. 

“Why are you doing this! Please stop!” 

Lenita’s steps toward Charlotte don’t hesitate. A target in mind. She has her victim in her sights. 

“Help!” 

Charlotte looks around for help, screaming at the top of her lungs in what can only be described as a child’s plea for help but it’s too late. She feels a sudden pressure in her chest like she has been punched. Looking down, Charlotte can see the knife being forced into her chest. It takes a moment for Charlotte to feel the pain. It’s excruciating, like nothing she’s ever felt. Her life ebbs away as she tries to focus. Blood is on her hands, dripping from her fingers as she tries pulling the knife. It’s futile, Lenita is strong and pushes it further in, forcing Charlotte to fall back on the ground. Her mind becomes filled with a fog. Things begin to darken. Vaguely aware that someone is knelt over her she focuses her attention. Lenita is looming over her. Her cold eyes are focused on Charlotte’s as if sucking the energy from her. Charlotte begins to feel tired. She can smell death and decay. She can also smell iron as a taste of metal fills her mouth. The last thing Charlotte remembers is the feeling of silky hair on her face as Lenita whispers in her ear. 

“My turn”

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 6

“Girl commits suicide in abandoned playground” The newspaper header would read. 

“Parents reported Charlotte Evans missing after three days without an appearance. After an afternoon of searching, police find the decaying corpse in an old playground next to a dilapidated slide. The single stab wound was categorised as being self-inflicted due to the lack of evidence and the young girl’s previously diagnosed problems. Parents are distraught over the loss of their daughter. School friends of the deceased, Dorothy, Hannah and Tony tell of Charlotte’s creative and beautiful personality” 

The article became front page news that week. Charlotte’s parents made sure to keep a clipping of their 5-minute fame for future boasting opportunities whilst the girls that bullied Charlotte became more popular for being able to tell so many stories of the girl who committed suicide.

Charlotte’slife and death became nothing more than a leaf in the breeze. There was neverany mention of Lenita, the blonde girl with no teeth. If anyone had takenthe time they would have noticed other newspaper articles with worryinglysimilar characteristics. One tells of two boys who committed suicide in anabandoned house, three towns over. Nobody ever knew of the others, just likethey never knew the truth in Charlotte’s sad ending, and with Charlotte’sdeath, the stories end.

Copyright 2018

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 4

Three weeks later and Charlotte’s nightmares and everyday eventualities continue in her life. Dorothy, Hannah, and Tony have been creative with their most recent advances on Charlotte. Most recently, they tricked a fellow ridiculed victim into punching Charlotte every time she walked past, and, as a result, Charlotte has an impressive purple/black bruise on her upper arm. Yet another thing to hide from her parents. Meanwhile, her parents continue their ignorance of Charlotte while Charlotte continues hiding her nightmares.

She is still dreaming about the playground, it forms in her head like broken glass. She can’t yet figure out the order the dream is meant to be in but she can picture each section of it in her mind. It always begins at the playground, she pictures waking up with blood on her hands. There’s a ghostly figure or presence that she can feel but can never fully make out the features of, she knows she’s scared of it though as there’s a lot of running in the dream. She also hears things. Boys laughing and shouting at her. The part she can remember the most detail of is the same thing that forces her awake. Someone or something stabs her in the chest with a knife, this part feels scarily realistic. Charlotte can feel the pain as the knife slides into her chest, she can smell her blood pouring out of her, but then everything goes dark and she always wakes up at the park.

Parts of the dream are missing and muddled up in her head, especially at the beginning. Charlotte feels like she’s losing her hold on reality. She’s pretty sure she imagined that blonde lady in the park. She still thinks of her often, more from confusion and a lack of answers. Maybe seeing that lady along with these dreams are just obvious signs of Charlotte’s poor mentality and she’s just ignoring them because she doesn’t want to end up in the Asylum. All Charlotte knows for sure is that she hasn’t seen any evidence, other than the footprint, that the lady even existed. She made sure of it, checking the local paper and even going as far as checking the public records at the Town Hall. No evidence of a mysterious blonde woman with no teeth hanging around town or the park. Charlotte has returned every afternoon to that spot, even on weekends, but she hasn’t seen any glimpse of the familiar figure.

Today is no different. It’s Saturday, Charlotte’s mother and father are out for their usual trip into town. They always dress in their finest clothing to smile and greet their neighbours and then go for lunch in the fanciest restaurant, making sure to get a seat by the window where they are seen by passers-by. Charlotte is never invited. Not like she would go even if she was. Pompous swine’s. Charlotte grumbles under her breath, kicking dirt out from under her feet, picturing her parent’s upper-class noses hovering over the heads of the just as cold-hearted townsfolk. She walks up and down the non-existent fence line of the park just like she has every day since seeing that lady. Pacing back and forth. As her legs begin to ache she is tempted to sit down but then shrugs off the feeling and continues. Afraid to sit down in case she misses sight of her. Charlotte feels drawn to her, she can’t stop thinking about her and needs to know who she is. Letting out a sigh of exasperation on her 67th lap of the playground’s edge, Charlotte stops abruptly when she reaches the spot where the lady’s footprint once was, now only a flattened level of soil can be seen. Halfway across the large open field, walking towards her is the lady.

She recognizes the way she’s walking and her blonde hair, this time it sits prominently on her front at her waistline. The wind is still today and the sun is setting. Charlotte stands motionless as the figure descends towards her. She looks as though she’s gliding rather than walking as the long tartan skirt she wears skims the floor. On her top half, she wears a white blouse tucked in. Charlotte feels a pang of jealousy as she sees the lady’s breasts bouncing under the blouse, the moment is quickly ridiculed when she remembers the woman’s lack of teeth though. Staring straight at Charlotte with no expression the woman continues her fast approach. Charlotte questions herself about whether she should stay or not but no matter her choice her legs feel rigid like stone removing from her the option to leave.

Reaching only a few feet from where Charlotte stands the lady stops, still with a lack of expression or emotion on her face. She is close enough for Charlotte to finally get a good look at her face. The first thing Charlotte notices though is, in fact, the smell. Rotten Flesh. Her mother once bought a chunk of ham from the butcher that she forgot about and left in the pantry for months. After that time, it was infested with maggots and let off an exuberant smell of decay. This beautiful jealousy invoking lady standing before Charlotte now reminds her of that smell and she breathes through her mouth to try and avoid throwing up. Other than the loss of teeth she’s seen and the retch-worthy smell. The lady is breathtakingly beautiful. More beautiful than the Barbie look-alikes at school and the models in magazines. With sunflower golden hair tumbling over her sleek shoulders. She has glossy and somewhat light undertoned skin like a china doll. Slender eyebrows sit above larger than average sparkling hazel eyes with largely defined eyelashes attached which flutter like silk threads. Set in the middle of her elongated face is a dainty button nose, either side of that sit dotted shadows of freckles, perfectly formed and symmetrical on either side of her high cheekbones. Almost like they have been painted on. Charlotte notes the plump rose colour showing through their surface. She looks like an angel. Charlotte silently acknowledges in her mind, she carries an untoward aroma of elegance and beauty cemented into her skin. However, Charlotte’s nerves feel ravaged by the arrogant imperfections she has seen on her. The lack of teeth, the smell and Charlotte can also see dirt coated fingernails on her slender hands. This angelic woman comes across as somewhat ambiguous and yet, still hasn’t spoken a word. Charlotte takes a deep breath through her mouth to avoid the stench and gives herself a moment of courage before diving into her words.

“Hello. Are you lost?” Charlotte asks in her most approachable yet guarded voice. 

A long silence fills the late afternoon air. Charlotte is about to prompt another question but she gets as far as saying ‘I’ before the woman interrupts.

“I’m Lenita. I can help you Charlotte”

Lenita’s voice is as radiant as her beauty. Soft with melodic undertones. Enough to lull Charlotte into a false sense of security. It almost makes Charlotte forget the stench until she takes a long inhale through her nose. Her stomach quivers in disgust and she bites down hard on her tongue before continuing

“You know who I am? Do you know the girls at school?” 

Charlotte’s first assumption is that she may know the gossipy girls at school. They have more than their fair share of horrid, cruel stories to tell of their antics, starring Charlotte as the main attraction.

Charlotte’s question is met with a blank stare and a smile from the young elusive. Charlotte can confirm she doesn’t have any teeth. It’s like a black hole inside her mouth, who knows where it leads. She doesn’t see a tongue in there either although how the lady is talking without either she isn’t too sure. The sight makes her take a defensive step back a little further. Charlotte can’t think of any positive reasoning why the woman wouldn’t have any teeth.

“Who are you? What are you doing here? This park is private property. You shouldn’t be here” 

Charlotte squeezes the sentence out in a single bated breath. A sure sign of her fear and impatience about this conversation and the fact that the woman knows who Charlotte is whilst Charlotte, on the other hand, is ever the more in the dark.

“I’m here to help” the woman responds.

“Help with what?” Charlotte asks begrudgingly despite being pretty sure that she doesn’t want to hear the answer.

A series of strange misconceptions happen at this point. Firstly, Charlotte notices a scar on Lenita’s face, just above her cheek close to the side of her temple. It must be no bigger than a button. She must have missed it before. It draws Charlotte’s attention because it has a strange resemblance to a butterfly. Brown in colour and faded as if old but it has the small body and wings to the side of it marked like a butterfly corpse. The second thing that happens is that Lenita takes a quick step towards Charlotte and reaches for her, causing Charlotte to stumble back to avoid her grasp. Righting herself, moments later a butterfly flutters past her eyes. Charlotte is distracted and watches the emerald green butterfly float towards the tree line behind her and disappear out of sight. As if experiencing a flashback, it reminds Charlotte of her stubborn recurring dream, it moulds the pieces back together like gluing the pieces of a smashed vase. 

Her dream begins with her walking to the abandoned park. A woman is there with blonde flowing hair and a thin, gaunt, yet beautiful figure. An enviable beauty that spikes a feeling of jealousy. The dream cuts to her running away from the woman who is walking behind her, chasing her, wearing a white dress than bounces to and fro at the knees. Charlotte runs to the new park, the closest place that there may be people. Getting there she hides in a wooden climbing frame with a roof where she finds two boys. They look of a similar age to Charlotte but they have scratches on their faces and are ghostly white with petrified faces when they see her. Charlotte tells them she’s running from the woman. The youthful boys tell her ‘Lenita is the bad one’. They then show her a newspaper article. ‘Young girl found with single stab wounds. Police referring to it as a suspected suicide” The paper is dated ’23rd August 1967″. A date that hasn’t yet been. 

Chapter 5 & 6 Available here 

Copyright 2018 

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 3

How long have I been standing here? Charlotte questions herself, partly to distract herself from the situation and partly to secure herself back into reality. It feels like a long time, she’s sure of that.

Trying her best to keep her posture and stern face, Charlotte’s body betrays her as she feels a drop of sweat trickling down her brow. Her hands are getting wetter by the second. There’s just something about this situation that is shouting at her to run but she can’t. No matter how much she thinks it, her legs and feet refuse to move. Almost as if the lady has an aura around her drawing Charlotte’s attention to her and forcing them to stare into each other eyes. If anyone happened to walk upon them at this moment she is sure they would think that they were about to fight. A crazy thought to have regarding a stranger. Charlotte has never been in a fight and hopes to keep it that way. Suddenly, wisps of blonde hair begin moving in the wind again as the lady takes a single step towards Charlotte. She stops just as quick but turns her face upwards into a smile in the process. Charlotte can’t see any pearly white teeth in her smile. In fact, she can’t see any teeth at all. Charlotte screams in a panicked breath and forces her mouth closed just as quick as she tries to hold herself together. Don’t be a stupid girl. Charlotte corrects herself in the voice of her grandmother, an intimidatingly independent woman with only a few stubborn wrinkles to show her age. If her grandmother was here right her she would push Charlotte forward and tell her that she’s being silly. Maybe this has all been a misunderstanding and the young lady just needs directions but is too afraid to approach. Enough is enough. Feeling belittled and increasingly more annoyed at this figure and her encroaching presence as well as the fearful turmoil she is creating in Charlotte’s mind. Charlotte forces her feet and marches toward the woman with vigour.

She plans on demanding why she was here but Charlotte never has a chance to ask her. When she’s just a few yards away Charlotte looks down at her wobbly feet to rectify them, when she looks up a split second later the blonde hair and all that was attached have disappeared. It was an open field and there weren’t many hiding places so unless the lady was laid down in the dirt which Charlotte highly doubted, she must have imagined her. That’s the only plausible explanation for the girls disappearing act. Wrong again though, because where the lady was stood there is now the engraved markings from her feet. 

Dumfounded, Charlotte stands in the marked footprints where the woman was and circles her head slowly trying to catch a glimpse. Even if the lady was running she would be able to see her in the open fields surrounding the park. There’s nothing though. Other than the footprint that Charlotte now skims with the sole of her shoe to make sure it’s real. There’s nothing else that would indicate she was even here just moments ago. Saves me the trouble, Charlotte’s thoughts praise her resilience. Bending her neck down to get a closer look at the footprint Charlotte places her own inside and is surprised to note that they have the same shoe size. Charlotte’s feet lack womanly properties at their rambunctious larger than average size. She’s never met any girl with the same shoe size. 

With a confused last glance towards the spot where moments earlier she recalls the details of the blonde-haired lady’s facial features and her lack of teeth, Charlotte decides it’s best to head home after this afternoon’s suspicious dilemma. 

Unbeknown to Charlotte at the time, it wouldn’t be the only time she sees the estranged woman.

Chapter 4 available here 

Copyright 2018 

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 2

Six years later, Charlotte’s nightmares are more gruelling than ever. Only last week did she wake up in a farmer’s field miles from home and was chased by the angry farmer with a large rake in hand. Another time she recalls waking up and all most falling off a cliff edge into the depths below as she casually turned over whilst stretching. She’s even tried to secure herself to the bed but her mother nearly caught her tying the knots. It was too risky. If her mother catches her they will send her away where all the others go. There seemed to be no desirable ending to her situation. My life is a constant torment. Charlotte wallows in her own dark thoughts as she leaves the school grounds after another long-winded day.

Cutting through the edge of town, Charlotte scoots around the local grocery and heads around the back. This isn’t the shortest route home but she never rushes. Her mother is normally having one of her meetings or out with friends whilst her father is at work in the city. At 4 pm there’s nothing to rush home for. So, she dawdles as usual. Taking her time and heading the long way around town through the Drive-in theatre and around the new park. She would never understand the appeal of moving pictures. Her parents, like a lot of others, had grasped onto the ideals of such a thing. Most people in this small town of 2000 were now driving fancy cars and enjoying unusual hobbies. Charlotte preferred to contemplate her surroundings and read the latest inquisitive novel by her favourite writer Anthony Burgess. Twenty minutes into her dawdling routine Charlotte arrives at the old park. Unlike the town’s main park filled with in-bloom flowers and forest greens, this park was old and forgotten. When the new one was made this became washed up garbage dismissed like a mouldy bloomer.

Not long-ago Charlotte didn’t know of this place either. She woke up here one frosty morning in September last year. Her bare feet on the degraded tarmac and her head next to the rusty pole that used to hold the weight of a swing. It wasn’t until she woke up here that she remembered this place. It was squished into the back of her mind blocked off by newer memories. Waking up that morning she remembered like she was here yesterday. She could recall falling on her knees and her mother helping her up when she jumped off the swing. The feel of the wind in her hair as she whizzed around the roundabout pushed by her father. She must have been quite young at the time because her mother and father don’t have the time for her now. They sigh a lot or shrug off her presence when she’s in the room with them. They act kind towards her for appearances on behalf of other people seeing a perfect family but that’s about it. They resent her for being anything but that sparkling precious diamond. They often busy themselves with hobbies, holidays and work with Charlotte being at the bottom of that list. The silver lining on every cloud though. It made it easier for Charlotte to hide her bad dreams. Still, sometimes she found herself wishing they’d had a second child so she would at least have some company.

She had never experienced any constant with her dreams up until recently when strangely she started experiencing the same dream over and over. She can’t recall all details of the nightmare but it involves a lot of running. Running to something or from something Charlotte wasn’t to know. Sometimes she would wake up with images of blood dripping from fingers engraved in her mind. Other times she woke with a start after hearing a woman’s scream. It would take her a couple of minutes to plant her feet firmly back in reality. Sometimes her dreams were like this. Regular dreams with no set story or structure. Unlike her other dreams though this one was regular in more ways than one. Every time she awoke from it she would be at the park. This had never happened before. Due to the frequency that she had awoken at the old park the past few weeks she had started to include a visit in her afternoon routine in hopes of settling her frequent stubborn atrocities. This recurring dream was broken into fragments. Charlotte only remembers the old park being in it. She remembers running with her feet pounding on the floor. Sometimes she sees images of two figures crouched over something but she can’t figure out what. There’s always a lady in her dream as well. She knows it’s a lady by the way she walks and the way she’s shaped. It’s frustrating to remember something in pieces that you have never experienced. 

Today, Charlotte was sitting in her usual spot on the bottom of the slide – you couldn’t go down it anymore because there were no longer any ladders, just a couple of poles holding it up – when she noticed someone walking somewhat cautiously around the border of the park. Turning around the bends and following the path of the misplaced wooden planks. Only a small glimpse of what was once the park fence and gate remains. Half on the floor and coated in an unkempt thick layer of wild grass and the other half stolen by bored children or drunken men. This person was a similar height to Charlotte and around 500 yards from where she was sitting with her legs crossed, perched on the end of the slide. It certainly looked like a girl, or rather a lady. She carried herself as Charlotte had been taught.

From as young as two girls are taught how to dine with others, how to do their hair and makeup and even how to walk. All in the hopes of moulding them into sophisticated young women. It was the figures confident walk that Charlotte first spotted. A walk she made sure to do in front of others. Shoulders back, hips forward, head up. Unlike this apparent lady though, Charlotte would only ever pretend to be proper. As soon as she was on her own she would slouch her shoulders and kick her feet, scuffing her shoes on the ground like a stubborn child. Charlotte spent several minutes watching the young lady.  She had never seen anyone here at this time before. There was normally only activity here during the evenings when people would use it as a hiding place for their frowned upon or even illegal actions. Charlotte knew people frequented here because they always left a trail of discarded bottles and cigarette butts in the more secluded areas such as the box climbing frame. Now only a few bits of wood it was still enough to duck under as a shelter from the rain. 

The lady looked to be of a similar age to Charlotte’s. She was certainly no older than 18 but she had the playful air about her of an older child. Stepping over broken wood with an energetic leap rather than a womanly stride on tiptoes. Certainly not that young though. Charlotte could see her large breasts bouncing uncontrolled under her floral tunic. Charlotte had certainly never seen her before. She must be new otherwise she would have seen her at school. Unless she doesn’t go to school anymore and doesn’t attend university, but then she would be expected to be courting for a suitable husband by now at the very least. Either way, she shouldn’t be here. Green tentacles loop through Charlotte’s hair and entwine into her clothes as she watches the spindly figure bouncing around the border of the old park as if it were her own property. Laying a tactile slender hand on various posts and flowers as if marking her territory. With Daffodil coloured and exceptionally straight hair moving behind the intruder as she bounces around, she glides around the fence twice in a loop before stopping abruptly on the third time when she reaches the gap where the gate once stood. Charlotte adjusts her seated position. Grasping the edge of the slide with both hands and planting her feet firmly on the ground. She gets ready to run if she needs to. She can’t allow this lady to learn her name. Charlotte has already taken a lot of risk by staying where she is. The last thing she wants is some tattle tale going to her parents. Charlotte would be sent away before the morning rose if her mother and father found out she had been coming here. Charlotte decides she would try to run if the lady walks any closer towards her, confident that she can find a large hole on the opposite side of the playground to scurry through. The slender figure doesn’t move at all though. Not a quiver of her feet that were previously moving so elegantly in their flat white loafers or a strand of her suddenly still hair. If Charlotte hadn’t just been watching her moving she could have sworn that it was a very realistic statue. Despite being unable to see clearly, she would assume that even the lady’s large chest was still and devoid of breaths. 

Standing at the edge without a single toe on the tarmacked square of the derelict playground. The 5’7 tall figure stares straight ahead. Charlotte turns to look behind her and can only see open empty fields filled with shrivelled brown grass and the random spots of yellow weeds. Nothing obvious that would indicate the attention needed of the woman and yet she stares ahead as if watching a play or expecting the world to end before her very eyes. Charlotte’s hairs stand on her neck and she shivers despite the wind carrying a warm breeze. Charlotte is surprised that she hasn’t been noticed, she may be wearing dark clothes but she is still an obvious out of place feature in the park. Something about the mysterious presence of the woman has her courage on tenterhooks. Still, now that she’s closer she can get a better look while the woman’s attention is elsewhere. She’s around 17 years old with a freckled pale complexion and pinched red cheeks. The tunic she’s wearing is covered in vibrant florals and intricate weaving. It looks of the latest fashion. Charlotte recalls seeing something very similar in the latest teen magazine. Brown tights hug her long legs and a yellow pearl necklace hangs from her neck. Her outfit is finished with a flame orange headband in her hair just like the girls at school wear. The bullies would love her. She looks like she’s stepped off the runway and straight into her worst nightmare, so out of place is such beauty in a second-hand disregarded area of the town. Maybe aliens have brought her here. Charlotte silently tells herself off for such a ludicrous thought. Maybe she does belong in the asylum after all. The tentacles of jealousy evolve Charlotte’s aggressive side. She feels betrayed by her own sensibility. To focused on herself, Charlotte fails to notice that the woman’s eyes now focus on her. Looking up she is met with a severe gaze burrowing into her mind.

Chapter 3 available here 

Copyright 2018 

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 1

“Harlot Charlotte!”

Dorothy spits in Charlotte’s face, a wide grin on her ruby red lips like a lion ready to pounce.

Dorothy hates any moment that Charlotte is near. Her weird ways only encourage hatred in Dorothy’s perfect world. Hannah and Tony stand either side of the queen bee. Ready to join in if given the chance. Acting as personal guard dogs, hanging onto her every word. Maybe guard dogs isn’t the best descriptive of the two. They’re more scaly and sinister than that. They only follow Dorothy because they don’t meet her high standards. If they resist then she’ll find others to stand in their place and then they’ll be with Charlotte. Huddled on the floor trying to minimise her existence by pulling in her limbs, close to her body. Nobody wants that. Not even Charlotte.

Words of abuse are thrown at her 5’2 petite frame. I’m just surprised that they know the meaning of the word Harlot. Charlotte can’t help but smile at the thought.

She would assume girls like Dorothy would think it was the latest French delicatessen cheese. Her smile only aggravates the bullies, with a swift kick to her shin they leave her on the floor in a satisfying heap. Smiles holding onto their porcelain doll-like faces as they elegantly sway down the school corridor. Dorothy and her friends can be compared to well-dressed Barbie dolls that should be on stage next to the Beatles. Fashion inspired haircuts, sky high with layers of hairspray to give the most volume copied from the latest issue of ‘Teen’ magazine. Charlotte works quickly to gather her books before they are stepped on by the oncoming stampede of pupils as the bell rings to indicate next period. Besides, if she doesn’t move swiftly they will likely come back for more fun.

At 16 Charlotte’s small, boy-like figure was an easy target for her fellow high schoolers. With skin so white you could almost see through it and a lack of a womanly figure on her protruding bones. She always thought her breasts would come in at a later stage but the small forms she was given didn’t show any sign of growing. She kept her mousy brown hair short. Cut into a neat bowl style that only aggravated the torment from her peers with their beehive hair in red ribbons and headbands. She used to have hair down to her knees to hide behind. After a particularly rough week at school, Charlotte felt belittled and angry at her appearance. She insisted that her parents take her to the hairdresser that weekend. When Monday morning came around she walked through the school’s double doors with a completely new style. Walking down the school corridor with a spring in her step. People were looking at her and for once she liked the attention. That was until the bullies spotted her. Purposefully sitting behind her in class they spent the lesson throwing screwed up pieces of paper at her and calling her a boy. She ran home crying and didn’t go back to school for 3 weeks. Now she must hide in other ways. Hats are useful but the teachers force her to take them off in class. She tries her best to be invisible. Dressing in dark simple clothes. Wearing scarves and hats even in Summer. Anything to help her hide. Sometimes it works. Sometimes she could go a whole day with only a few words said to her. Other days she wasn’t so lucky. Today was a particularly bad day. So far, she’d had her hair pulled, her shin kicked, paper was thrown at her and now she’s just been spat on for little more than minding her own business.

Picking up the last of her books off the floor Charlotte asks herself why she bothers but she already knows the answer. Despite all this. Charlotte would invite the torment. The clothes she wore to hide were in fact covered in holes and carried a second-hand stink of musk. She wore next to no makeup and wouldn’t follow the latest fashions. It wasn’t just the pupils that didn’t like her. People in the streets hated her mysteriousness. Her unpredictability. To anyone that didn’t know her she was a dangerous entity. An awkward presence containing a whirlwind of the unknown. People hated the unknown. They crave chronic stability and routine. Charlotte didn’t meet these standards. Strangers certainly wouldn’t spit on her like the bullies but what they did was worse in some ways. They looked at her like she was dirt. They would drag their toddlers to the other side of the street to avoid walking near her. She was the cigarette butt flattened into the dirty sidewalk. The lamppost with a broken light that will never be fixed. They pretended she didn’t exist. She knew she didn’t help herself. She could buy the latest clothes or smile at strangers but she was always too focused on her own fear. The hurtful words only allowed her the ability to remind herself that she was alive today. To Charlotte, her daily life was heaven. It was sweet and delightful. Every morning when she woke up was a relief. The only problem was figuring out where she was. The night was her enemy. You see Charlotte was plagued by nightmares. Terrible nightmares. Not your usual monsters or aliens. But instead, of serial killers on murdering sprees hunting their next victim or mental patients breaking out of a ward and killing children. Not unusual you may think. Everyone has nightmares, but again, you’re wrong. You see Charlotte was never the victim in her nightmares. She was always the one stabbing people until they stopped breathing. She could feel the warmth of their blood dripping down her fingers. She could hear the blood-curdling screams of children as they cried for their mothers to help them. They always seemed so very real in Charlotte’s head. Nightmares she couldn’t escape from. The worst part of it was that she would wake up somewhere else. Different to her soft bed. Sometimes soft like sand or grass. Other times hard like stone. Never in the same place and never where she fell asleep.

It first began when Charlotte was only 10. Her Mother and Father were quick to notice. walking through the door in the early hours of the morning wearing her frilly nightdress and a layer of dirt. Her Mother spent hours cleaning the house while Father was at the office. If one speck was out of place she would know about it. Charlotte wasn’t surprised when her mother rang Doctor Sanders. He was lost for words at first but after a lot of phone calls with other important Doctors, he told Mother that it may be Dissociative Identity Disorder. Charlotte always knew she wasn’t normal but by mother’s reaction when the doctors explained to her what her disorder is, well, let’s just say Charlotte didn’t feel normal anymore. Around here people don’t talk about the crazy folk in the asylum. They were a taboo subject that was too daring to form on people’s lips. If you talk about the crazies you risked being called crazy yourself. Charlotte didn’t want to go there. She’d heard terrible stories about people who were more dead than alive wandering through endless white corridors, covered in their own feces and urine. She wasn’t one of them and she made sure to convince the doctor and her parents otherwise. She told them she was happy and that her nightmares had stopped recently. After a lot of convincing she was allowed to stay. From that point on Charlotte did her best to act normal so they wouldn’t send her away to that place. Her head of the wives’ club sophisticated mother made sure Charlotte’s ‘disease’ was kept a secret. They carried on being perfect and Charlotte carried on having nightmares, only she didn’t tell anyone about them anymore.

Copyright 2018 

Chapter 2 Available here

Detective Mentis – Chapter 5

Another long day. Mentis collapses on the armchair. Once a place that he sort-out comfort and relaxation. Stress now sits comfortably on his temples. He’s aged considerably in the last 6 months. Silver Whiskers along his hairline have become snake-like tendrils through his balding head. His favourite radio show has gone unlistened for months. Mentis doesn’t recall the last time he ate some proper grub. Still, he needed to lose some weight. He could make money selling this new diet, he could call it the ‘Detective Doom Diet’ – ‘The stress of an endless case will have you dropping pounds in days’ 

Hell, he’s disillusion. Mentis gives himself a stern acknowledgment of his stupidity with a hoarse grunt just as he would if he was toning down Stinton’s anxieties. Something he’s had to do regularly over recent months. The horrors they all saw and helped drag up out the muddy depths hit a nerve with everyone in a way. Stinton more than most. He’s already been up for a psyche evaluation. Fortunately, he passed it. Since then though, the Cheif has had Mentis watch over him, as a mentor somewhat. Something that Mentis would prefer to avoid the duty of but he wouldn’t leave the lanky kid with Erickson instead. Besides, if he looks after the kid then it keeps Erickson at arm’s length.

For the most part, Erickson is putting in the effort. He’s filing some paperwork and even doing a lot of the questioning. On the one hand, it gives Mentis more time to focus on tracking the killer whilst Erickson gathers the evidence. On the other hand, Mentis feels he would do a better job and may pick on a few things that Erickson would miss in his questions. 

The phone lets out it’s annoying shrill and Mentis hurries to answer it. 

“Yes?” 

The other end of the line is quiet in response. Mentis hangs up the phone assuming it’s some kid with his friends pranking random numbers, he used to be one of them when he was a wee one. There’s a niggling feeling despite what he tells himself though. A whisper of the idea with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the killer he’s searching for could be the one ringing him. 

He shuns the idea to the side and locks it away but it’s not enough. In the morning he unplugs the phone, just in case. He has a mobile if it’s an emergency anyway. He can’t have any distractions today. 

************************************************************************************************************************************************

Later that morning, with paper in hand, Mentis steps up to the podium and gives his speech. He looks upon the many people in black, their mournful faces. Parents, friends, siblings, aunts, uncles, even a few pets. One of which, a rowdy Chihuahua, sits proudly on its owner’s lap, barking once in a while for attention.  73 in total. 73 families pulled apart in grief. They’ll never be the same again. Sure, many will pretend to move on but there will always be those lingering stares when people recognize them or a look too long at the front door, hoping for their loved ones to return knowing even then that they never will again. Mentis hated his job at times. This occasion was the top of his list. 

The service is meant as a consolation. The bodies were…investigated over the months which delayed any planned burials. When the bodies have been poked, prodded and digested they were finally allowed to be buried in peace. As much peace as can be had after the ordeal each went through. His words are prompt, professional. A lot of apologies and sorry for your losses. He doesn’t say anything about the killer or the fact that they haven’t found him. When his speech his done. He sits next to Stinton and stares at the ground while they finish the service. Blocking out the cries of the mother three rows back who breaks down in the middle of the service and screams her son’s name in heartfelt anguish.

In that moment he made a decision to himself. He would find the person responsible for these deaths even if it killed him. A decision he never thought would come around. 

Copyright 2018 

Chapter 6 coming soon. 

Detective Mentis – Chapter 4

Body after body is pulled from the water in an endless cycle of horror. Each one with eerily similar signs to the other. Mentis loses count when the 18th is pulled from the water. It takes 2 weeks and an endless cycle of new faces from various policing departments far and wide to search every inch possible of the oceans harnessing depths below. At the end of one such day, as the night draws in once again, the chief, alongside a hierarchy of other credentials finally stop the search when it’s been 6 hours since the last body was found.

It’s been a long and tiring few weeks, both on Mentis’s body and mind. The events have taken an understandable toll on everyone. Erickson has been on his back, finding any chance to ridicule him or step on his toes while Stinton has been following in his footsteps. Asking Mentis questions with hidden notes of resentment and egocentrism. Mentis has been doing his best to function on little sleep and food. He’s already adjusted his belt to 3 settings tighter. Every time he got so much as a break he would get a call about another body being found and rush to the scene with a moment of hope that it may be different to the others. That there may be evidence on the body that it’s a suicidal death or just an accident. His hopes were always dashed when he unzipped the bags and saw those harrowed empty eye sockets. Men and women of all shapes and size. Even a boy as young as 10 have been found. The worst thing is, not all the bodies were complete. Legs here, arms there. Years or depredation on somebodies meant it was a jigsaw puzzle trying to work out what went where. Some of the older bodies have been checked by the coroner who estimated they could be around 40 years old.

All evidence points towards it being a dumping ground of a serial killer but they have no clues to who it is and where they are or even if they are still killing. They haven’t found Miss.Simms body so who knows. The earliest body they have found otherwise is already 6 months old. Standing at the edge of the field with Erickson by his side. They look over the grass coated with a layer of body bags. Covering the field like a haunted quilt that nobody would ever dare to wear. Even Erickson is quiet. Stinton is hovering in the wings, observing the scene with a face of terror, Mentis sent him to the side when they were halfway through the body count, Stinton became obviously detached and shaky, who knows how this is going to affect the young lad.

“I’ve never seen anything like this” Erickson is surprisingly considerate. Cases don’t normally affect him, or Mentis for that matter but this one has them both keeping them emotions back with a pitchfork.

“How many is there?”

The chief’s voice appears behind them. All the important people are here. Erickson looks a lot like his dad. Tall, dark, a perfect ladies man. Unlike Erickson though the chief doesn’t drink or anything else of the sort meaning he looks pretty ripe for someone of retirement age.

“73” Mentis forgets to call him sir but on such an occasion the chief decides to let it slide.

“Do you recognize anyone? Do we have any ID’s?”

Erickson answers his next question whilst Mentis signs a document handed to him.

“No, sir. No identities for anyone of them yet. We’ve got a lot of people working here and nobody recognizes any familiar faces and as far as we can tell they haven’t been reported missing”

Erickson has always been respectful to his father and very professional of their relationship. If only he could exert that professionalism for the rest of his job, he would make a good impression. As it stands though, the Chief keeps him on but always lumbers him with others in the department to try and keep him out of trouble.

“Miss.Simms has been the only one” Mentis intervenes. “I’ve asked two men to do a last sweep on the spot where I saw her jump”.

Mentis expects a whiplash from the chief about going behind his back but just as the chief opens his mouth the shout he’s been waiting for arrives.

“I think we found her!”

Mentis rushes to the aid of the two men dragging the body up. Not yet in a body bag it gives him a chance to do the once over. It’s the same lady who jumped of the cliff and started all this.

“It’s Miss.Simms. I don’t believe it” Erickson has only ever glanced at the case information.

“We can’t be sure Erickson”

“Yes, we can. Look at her left arm. You see that tattoo on her wrist”

It’s a tattoo of a swallow in drowning waters. Mentis remembers seeing it from the paperwork and thinking how tasteless it was. He’d never seen a tattoo like it. It was a strong confirmation that it’s Miss.Simms in their minds. A grunt of disapproval escapes his lips. Mentis did the hard work and yet Erickson turns up in his drunken state and can identify the body as quick as he can down a pint.

The chiefs authoritative voice snaps them back to focus.

“Erickson. Go call her parents. Get them down to the station. Mentis, I want you to get all these bodies sent to the coroners and start digging for information. Literally, if you must. Witnesses, evidence, anything you can find is brought to me first”

With Mentis’s nod of agreement and Erickson’s’ figure already in the distance the chief heads back to his car. Now alone, Mentis does a quick check on her body and checks her stomach for the words like the others. This is the only body they recognise and it may be a clue to the killer, a good starting point. Scrawled on her stomach the letters are fresh, possibly a few weeks, maybe they were put there the day she was on the edge of the cliff. These words are different though. They cause hairs to stick up on the back of his neck and he scans the area for any suspicious activity. Standing up he retreats towards the cars and gets straight onto the phone.

On Miss.Simms stomach, scrawled in capital letters across her abdomen are the words “YOU’RE NEXT”

Copyright 2018 

To continue reading head to chapter 5.

Detective Mentis – Chapter 3

The first thing Mentis did after seeing the girl jump off the cliff was to ring everyone he could think of that should be there. It took a while for him to work the phone but eventually, all the right people were called. Within an hour the place was filled with police and ambulance while a local coast guard was scouring the ocean to find the body.

The night’s events have left Mentis in a state of hatred and confusion. Hatred over what has been done to the girl and confusion over the circumstances he finds himself investigating. In the early hours, the coast guard announces that he’s found something. Police work on dragging the body up just as Erickson turns up with Stinton close behind. Mentis grumbles under his breath. Erickson always appears at the crime scene to play his role as the partner when all the paperwork and research has been done. Mentis would happily say something to him but he wouldn’t dare without the worry of whispers heading back to the chief. Then it would be his neck on the line.

“Hey Mentis”

Stinton’s lanky exterior greets Mentis in a warm manner with an awkward wave that he quickly turns into a head scratch. Unhinged by where he is. Mentis nods in response. There’s no such greeting from his apparent partner. Erickson’s 6-foot slender frame hangs off balance, probably intoxicated. His 30-year-old body looks haggard and his sagging face has tell-tale signs of alcohol abuse and an uncommitted attitude to being here.

“What do we have?” he asks in his brash woven voice.

Mentis narrowly avoids remarking on his choice of the word ‘we’ and leads them to the police who are now laying a black body bag on the floor inland, away from the edge of the cliff. Mentis walks straight up to the body bag, kneeling on the floor he unzips it carefully. A moment of shock befalls his features. It’s not Miss.Simms in the bag. It’s a woman but this woman is from a completely different generation. Signs of age hold onto her skin forming wrinkles and dark spots. She looks at least 80 and she has been dead a while by the stench and decomposition stage of the remains.

“It’s not her” Mentis acknowledges to the gathering of emergency services people around him.

The most shocking thing is that such as the young girl, this woman doesn’t have any eyes. In a remarkable resemblance to the other, they look like they have been dug out and all that is left are two large holes with perfectly rounded edges.

“What the fuck” Erickson regards in his ear before disappearing, assuming to help with the continued search.

Mentis sends Stinton to grab him a pair of gloves which allows Mentis to have a better look, starting with the teeth. Surprisingly well kept for someone of this age, the teeth are almost all their with only two missing. On closer inspection, Mentis predicts they may have been pulled by force due to the visual damage at the root. That’s not the only torture inflicted. At some point her finger and toenails have been pulled from the nail bed, they have struggled to grow back properly and look somewhat thin and claw-like as a result with skin covering them in a peculiar manner. A layer of dirt and dried blood are coated underneath suggesting she may have been dragged or tried to defend herself at some point. Possibly during her death. Her hair is matted and sparse due to her decomposition. Again, like the other, this woman has shredded clothing hanging sparsely onto her body with just a few threads holding everything together. It appears to have been a floral nightgown by the intricate detail and lack of shape. On her arms, there are thousands of small scratches, whether they are on from the bedrock or before she died it is uncertain.

“There’s another one” Erickson calls to Mentis.

Just as he stands to view the other body a glimmer of the morning’s sun rays draws his attention to a marking on the woman’s stomach. Barely visible by the mud and clothing. Removing the garment and using it to wipe away most of the dirt, the word ‘RUN’ is scrawled on her body it large uneven lettering. It’s old and is now only a faded scar but the letters are still readable. By the uneven format and lack of structure, Mentis assumes that it may be self-inflicted.

“Run from what? What does it mean?” Stinton’s voice is shaky.

“I don’t know” Mentis can only shrug off his words. He’s expecting the suspected Miss.Simms to be in the next bag and is more focused on that. With a begrudged feeling of guilt weighing down on his shoulders, Mentis walks to the other body bag and unzips it.

A silence of many emotions fills the air. Inside the bag is another John Doe. A man this time. With the same tell-tale signs, even the eyes. This man looks no more than 30, yet his decomposition makes him dead a good month.

“What-t-t. What is this?” Stinton squeaks in his ear.

Mentis has no words to support Stintons fear. He can only do his best to hide his own. A quick glance in Stintons directions tells Mentis that Stinton is fearful of more than just the presence of the body itself. Focusing on where is eyes lay, Mentis pulls aside a piece of degraded cloth on the man’s stomach. The word is more difficult to make out this time but it’s still there. ‘RUN’. The same word on both victims with their torturing appearance in such similarity. Mentis’s heart is racing with a sense of panic and adrenaline, unwilling to admit what it means. Erickson appears at Stinton’s side after scrounging through the remains of the other bodies. Hovering over Mentis’s knelt figure with a look of horror that even the strongest willed would succumb to.

“You know what this means” Erickson states in a stern tone.

Mentis is quick to jump in.

“It’s too early to tell. Forensics will need to be called in but they certainly have similar marks which….”

“We’ve found two more!” One of the police helping in the search call from the water’s edge below as a group of people are each dragging lifeless bodies out of the water.

Mentis springs into action as Erickson rushes to aid the police officers with the bodies.

“Stinton. Call the chief and tell him he needs to be here. Then I want you to call forensics and the department in the city. Get them to send people over. We need more people. Tell them we’ve found bodies and we may find more”

Stinton runs off in search of the nearest phone or radio whilst body after body is dragged from the murky depths.

“STINTON!” Mentis shouts towards his rushed childlike figure just as shouts are heard about another body being found.

“Tell them it’s a serial killer!”

 

Copyright, Charlie Wright. All rights reserved.

To continue reading head to Chapter 4 here.

Detective Mentis – Chapter 2

Glimmering like sunlight on ocean wavers under the allowance of the moon’s luminescence and his flashlight. Mentis slowly walks towards the figure. Taking big strides to try and reduce the noise from his oversized feet and leather shoes. He doesn’t want to scare them. A little closer and he can make out the figure of a female. This is what he came here for. A potential sighting of Miss.Simms. It could be her. The 5’2 petite frame and dark hair blowing in the ocean’s breeze match the description down to the last detail. Edging closer until he’s just a few yards away, he’s so sure that it could be Miss.Simms. It’s someone short and he’s seen enough girl’s arses over the years to know that the figure is female. He’s close enough to touch the girl now but he hesitates.

Why hasn’t she noticed him? Even though he’s tried to be so quiet he must have made some noise, maybe not from his shoes but certainly from his overexerted breathing and it would be impossible to not notice the light of the flashlight currently being shown, and yet, the figure remains still. Head steered toward the open ocean. Now he’s closer he can see that she’s wearing little clothing. Ragged material hangs from her body as if they have been through a shredder. Long like a dress down to her ankles but unconnected like a seamless piece of fashion. Then he notices the smell. It’s resonating from the girl in putrid waves, carried towards him in a sudden strong gust of wind. It’s like nothing he’s ever smelt before and he has dealt with some gruesome things in his life. Dead bodies coated in maggots is ecstasy compared to the smell his nostrils are detecting now. Layers of body odor doused in rotten food that coats a deceased rotting corpse. It’s almost too difficult to bare, but, bare he must if he’s to help the poor girl.

“Miss.Simms? Is that you?”

He addresses the shadowy figure. Best not to mess around. If it’s not Miss.Simms, then at least she will turn around either way. Or that’s what he thought. Instead, the figure doesn’t move. In fact, he doesn’t recall seeing the silhouette move since he laid eyes upon it. Mentis begins fearing the worst. Maybe she’s too drugged up to even know where she is. Or, maybe she’s to messed up mentally to even know what reality is anymore. Maybe the smell is a sign of her rotting flesh after months of decay. Mentis notices that the smell is less potent now though, turned into more of a hesitation on the nostrils. Who knows where she’s been the past six months. He decides the best approach is to stand to the side of her rather than to possibly make her jump if she has unpredictable behavior.

Edging a few steps forward he does his best to slowly take a long stride to her right-hand side. He never looks her way and instead gazes forward so as not to startle her, making sure to point his flashlight towards the ground. His shoes don’t protect his feet from the sharp edges of the uneven rock surface at the cliff’s edge and his thoughts distract him for a moment. He’s going to need to buy new shoes after tonight. Layers of mud, excrement and grass coat his shoes like a 3-tier cake. That and the now protruding sharp rock edges are creating second-hand shoes. Guaranteeing they will spend the rest of their days in a garbage pile or on some homeless soul’s feet.

Remembering where he is, Mentis turns his head slightly to try and catch a glimpse of the woman, pointing the flashlight at her feet in the process. Pushing his eyes to the furthest corners of his eye sockets he can make out the outline of grubby bare feet and scraggly legs and arms. Her hands grip his attention most. They are swaying to and fro in a slow angelic motion similar to a ballroom dancer’s gracefulness. With the way she’s swaying them, you would think she was skipping but she’s still motionless otherwise. Moving towards her head his eyes float across her body and the clothes she’s wearing. They look very similar to the ones she was last seen in. A long white plain cotton nightdress down to her ankles, chestnut hair cut to the top of her shoulders, naturally straight and worn down. No shoes were reported missing and no bags so she left with what she was wearing which crossed off the possibility that she might have run away. Even the most idiotic runaways would take the essentials on their backs. The other possibility would have been kidnap but the family had no enemies and there had been no other evidence towards this and certainly no demands. Mentis had been baffled by the case and the lack of evidence towards any possible conclusion to her whereabouts. In his mind, everyone was a suspect because there had been no push towards a certain individual. If it’s not Miss.Simms, then it’s certainly someone who has stolen her clothes.

Mentis’s eyes pull into focus on her head. It takes him a moment to realize that she’s now turned slightly and is focusing on his plum shaped forehead. This isn’t what makes him step back in horror though. It takes a second for it to come into focus but when it does Mentis is repelled by what he sees. It looks like Miss.Simms. The facial features, height, and weight all match. She’s even wearing the same clothes. Her eyes though, it’s her eyes. Or lack thereof. You see where her blue eyes once were there are now two large sunken holes. Dug into her skull with what looks like the shape of a spoon, rounded on the edges like a barber’s clean shave. Once life there, all that is left is the muscle tissue that connected them. Unapproachable signs of torture and death tug at Mentis’s consciousness. It would be impossible for her to see and yet she seemed to stare straight through Mentis. It was unnerving and he didn’t have the expertise or the know how to deal with such an outlandish situation. Mentis does his best to keep his professionalism but his instincts rage war with his commitment to his detective title. Ready to run at a moment’s notice. His feet on the verge of betrayal. For the first time in a substantially long time, he is bullied by the sight that befalls him. Possibly even scared. Forcing his shoulders into a more relaxed stance he stands a little further away.

“I’m Detective Mentis of the GreetWood Police Department. We’ve been looking for a missing girl. Francesca Simms?”

A knifes edge silence fills the atmosphere. She doesn’t utter a word or even signs of a breath. Both Mentis and the girl stand like this for what seems like a long time. Mentis remains on edge but he does get a chance to look her over, shining his flashlight on each precise part without the worry of it being noticed. Hair sits in a deranged form on her scalp. Bunches here and there like unwilling flowers in a perfect bouquet.  Mentis idly takes a moment to appreciate the color, a reminiscent shade to his favorite whiskey. Deep in color with undeniable tones of ash. As well as the various matted textures and knots, Mentis also notes the woodland extremities embedded within the layers of the hair, leave and twigs decorating her scalp like a forest floor. He avoids focusing on her eyes just yet as they will draw the most attention. Instead, he takes the time to embed the rest of her facial features into his memory – in his haste, he never thought to bring something to scribble on in case she makes a run for it and he wasn’t about to try fiddling with the phone in his pocket. Concentrating on the rest of her face. She has an elongated Roman accented nose with small nostrils. Either side, there is a red swelling of flaming cheeks, almost like she’s embarrassed or is covered in a rash. There’s a small black mole – just like the information from the case file – that sits outwardly above her thin, blistered, white rose lips. Taking a couple of steps closer and towards her front allows Mentis to shine the flashlight on her nightdress. A shameful layer of cotton covered in unrecognizable stains hangs from her feral skin, holes bigger than the material itself. Mentis feels a sudden overpowering feeling of sorrow towards the undoubtedly pained girl in front of him. She must be too afraid to even speak. Moving slowly towards her he reaches out a chubby aged hand so it’s the first thing she feels. When he’s only a few steps away a raspy voice protrudes from the woman’s throat forcing him to stop in his tracks.

“How long has it been?”

Her voice is poisoned with withered distress and a lack of fight. Her hands, once swaying now stop in their motions at her side.

“Are you Miss.Simms? Why don’t you come away from the edge”?

Silence befalls once again. Mentis is becoming increasingly agitated about her being so close to the edge of the cliff, especially if she can’t see.

“Miss.Simms has been missing for the past six months. Is that you? ” Mentis calmly states. Perfectly formed eyebrows sit above the girl’s empty sockets, all most like an unfinished doll. They raise slightly when she hears this information and her lips quiver as if holding back tears.

Deciding enough is enough he reaches out towards her, in hopes of grabbing her to pull her away from the edge. His actions are too late though. In a moment of what seems like clarity. The young girl smiles a heart-wrenching smile of life lost. Then she turns her head back towards the ocean and steps over the edge without a moment’s hesitation, stepping as if she’s stepping onto lush grass. Mentis is quick to react but not quick enough. He reaches for her and falls to the ground in dire hope but she’s already gone. He can only watch in a moment of horror as she falls into the dark water below. A single sorrowful tear falls onto the surface of the rock as Mentis accepts her fate.

 

Copyright, Charlie Wright. All rights reserved.

To continue reading head to Chapter 3 here.