Daily Archives: January 29, 2012

Mystery casts a long shadow

As promised, though delivered a little late, is Tim’s story from Can you believe it… 
You can buy  Can you believe it…  HERE
Happy reading, Cheers, Bernie

THE LONG SHADOW
T.W. Humphries
IN an unknown town, in an unknown field, where cows strolled in the dusk light, an unnamed College campus stood in vacant silence. Out in the middle of no-where this campus existed between reality and fantasy.
A farming community of wealth and respectability, cobbled lanes punctuated by old lamp lights and brown maple trees, dotted the landscape. The regimented beauty of this 19th Century scene was broken by a light film of rain.
Gas-fired heating lit many of the lecturers’ on-campus residences. The warm glow filtered into the sleet-covered street. Shards of light bounced off College Drive. The late autumn air hung with unease. The night fell below a sparkling full moon, sliding between clouds and couching itself in the unsettled evening. 
Amy Bell jogged along the sleet-covered street, catching glimpses of the moon and alpine mountains in the distance. As a nursing student her afternoon tutorials were over. She had quickly slipped into a tracksuit and runners and began doing several laps around the campus. Her blond hair was slicked back and the autumn air sprang from her lungs in intermittent bursts of steam.
She had reached the wall of resistance that encompassed her chest and reinforced the creeping desire to stop and catch a breath. The pain of this moment only made her stretch out in longer, more determined strides. God knows, she needed the exercise after a long day of lectures.
Lady Gaga’s Poker Face was blaring from the iPod and the headphone cables swung beneath her with the determined motions of her body.
The crash-through tactic seemed to be working. She lunged for the finish line outside the woman’s dormitory after taking the up-hill climb from the Ladies Chap
Statuettes of Christ and other Biblical figures dotted the religiously dominated campus. They appeared like gargoyles of distress, especially in the darkness.
Drawing breath and stretching, Amy paused a moment. Climbing to the entrance of the dormitory and turning into the stairwell she was met by the excited figure of Melissa Wright.
‘Can you believe it, I got straight A’s on the biology exam,’ Melissa said smiling with glee.
‘That’s great, congratulations. I still haven’t heard about mine,’ Amy replied, slightly annoyed.
They dallied a moment, and giggled about some gossip that had been going around about one of the male basketball captains.  After saying their goodbyes, Amy climbed the stairs to her dorm room. She quickly grabbed her towel and headed for the shared shower facility on level 2.
The giggling of girls throughout the dormitory was echoing down the hallway as she entered the shower room. Her porcelain skin glistened as she disposed of her clothes and stepped onto the empty shower floor. The communal showers left nothing to the imagination, especially when it was busy. Amy was especially glad it was empty this night.
She disposed of a necklace and began the process of cleaning herself under the steam of the hot shower. Her breasts and torso quivered under the pleasurable spell of relaxation.
A clicking sound emanated from the shower room. It was unlike anything Amy had heard before. Intermittent clicking proceeded for 45 seconds. She didn’t know what it was. Fear began gripping her throat.
‘Hello,’ she said nervously. Silence was the reply.
She washed the hair out of her face. ‘Is anybody there?’ Silence again replied.
The sharp and rapid clicking sound again filled the room. Then stopped. ‘Melissa, this really isn’t a good time for practical jokes,’ Amy said nervously.
The sound stopped and for the moment Amy felt relieved. She began to wash her legs. A shadow emerged into the room. Amy felt the presence. The forcefulness of it was palpable. The intensity of fear grabbed at Amy’s chest and she swung around to a cloaked assailant, who was standing, in black, with black paint slicked across a hockey mask that shrouded the face. Crazed eyes pulsed with the purest evil that Amy had ever felt.
Thrusting his fists, the masked marauder lunged at Amy. She screamed like she had never screamed before. Managing to dart and weave around the cloaked man, she punched and kicked at him and raced back across the shower room into the hallway.
Her feet flew across the carpeted floor. Her breasts bounced to the beat of her crazed run. ‘God no. Oh God no!’ were the only words that escaped her mouth. The fear and stream of tears were growing.
The masked intruder extracted a ninja-style throwing star with poisoned tips. The star sliced through the air and missed the back of Amy’s neck by centimetres. The poisoned dart which followed hit the mark. Amy fell to the ground, dead.
Taking a sharp metal object from his coat pocket, the marauder marked a bloody ‘X’ on the back of Amy’s neck. He picked up her body, hauled it over his back and disappeared into the night.
The next morning, the usually quiet and dignified campus erupted in an explosion of frantic staff, parents and media. Examination of the blood trail out of the dormitory confirmed it was Amy Bell’s. However, with no body, there was no way of confirming if she was dead or alive.
The next night, Melissa Wright was washing up her utensils after dinner, when the TV flashed an update on Amy’s disappearance investigation. The rural community reporters interviewed shocked residents down the road and speculated on possible motivations for such a seemingly random act.
Melissa walked down to the ground-floor shower room to brush her hair. Police had cordoned off the level 2 shower room.
Remembering she had forgotten to check her mailbox down the road for a letter from her parents, Melissa slipped into running shoes and walked the 500 metres to the mailbox just off campus.
The night sky had cleared and the autumn evening delivered a spectacular display of stars. Walking along, Melissa heard a clicking sound. It stopped. Melissa thought it might have been crickets, and continued.
The clicking sound restarted, stopped and started again. It would stop for a moment and start again. Puzzled by the noise, Melissa turned to see the masked marauder, face covered, eyes ablaze and mouth licking with evil delight. ‘NO!’  Melissa cried, running hopelessly away from the figure.
The masked marauder ran her down, produced a dagger and plunged it into Melissa’s back. She fell dead within seconds. The murderer heaved the prize onto his back and traipsed into the night.
The next morning was again a circus on College Drive. Police and media interviewing concerned neighbours dominated the day. No-one had seen anything. They had heard the screams but not seen the assailant. The Houdini act of speed and adroit use of knives and throwing stars complemented the systematic approach of the unknown assailant.
The next evening fell as did the previous two. The vacant silence of College Hall was set against the church spire and gargoyles.
Mary Steinmann was returning from self-defence classes. After an hour of high impact training she felt elated. The adrenalin was wearing off as she approached the lobby of the women’s dormitory.
She quickly darted into the first level library alcove and logged onto a computer to do some catalogue searches for her psychology finals.
Dancing her fingers along the keyboard through the online archives, she saved a few references. The room was otherwise empty and silent. That was until Mary heard a clicking sound. It stopped then started, then stopped again.
She couldn’t make out quite what it was. Perplexed she turned back to the screen. A shadow appeared across the front of her computer screen. Mary was shocked. She felt a presence lunging for her.
She turned in time to see the masked marauder lunging at her with leather-gloved hands. Without a second thought she punched him fair in the face and he fell back onto the floor. The self-defence class knowledge had come naturally.
The assailant stood up and tried reaching for his throwing star. The skilful young woman stopped him in his tracks with a kick in the face. After several punches to the face, his bloodied form fell to the ground unconscious.
Mary smiled and removed the hockey mask, revealing the face of the pastor’s son, Daniel Reed! Mary could not believe it. He was responsible for the murders and she had almost been number 3!
Calling Campus Security, she provoked a new circus. The assailant was placed in a police car and driven away to face the finality of justice.
Constable James Parker sat looking at the angry face of the young man tied down in the back of his police car. The static sounds of his radio blared intermittently.
‘You’re from such a respectable family too,’ Constable Parker said, shaking his head.
Being unable to understand how such a seemingly responsible and well-raised person could turn so bad played on his mind.
Riverview Jail and Psychiatric Hospital came into view and the car pulled into the facility.
The case was now closed and pending trial, but the madness in the young man’s eyes continued to burn. A clap of thunder and lightning streaked through the night. Strapped to a bed in an open ward, young Daniel Reed heard a clicking noise. It stopped, and then started, and then stopped again.
He saw the towering figure of a masked, uniformed man standing over him. Unveiled, the mask revealed Daniel’s next door neighbour Mr Gregory Smith. Mr Smith wore a lab coat that had several frozen fingers in the top pockets, trophies from the spoils of murder.
‘Shhh, Daniel. I want to thank-you for your help,’ Mr Smith said malevolently. Daniel’s muffled screams replied.
Mr Smith had a sharp implement in his hand and made three cruel slashes with it. Daniel Reed’s cries fell silent. Mr Smith smiled, threw the mask into the corner, placed some of the frozen fingers on Daniels bed, took a clip board and disappeared down the hallway. His plan had worked. 


You can buy  Can you believe it…  HERE