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“Help I can’t get off”

A child’s voice was calling outside in the darkness. It was early and the morning was cold with a veil of mist all around, autumn was setting in. The voice had woken Bob, surely someone else could hear it. The cries for help persisted. Bob quickly dressed and left his room in a hurry, concerned.

By now the cries for help seemed further away, further down the street, Bob followed the sound peering through the early morning half-light until he reached a small park.

He never expected what he saw, the strangest thing. A carousel, its wild fairground music playing loud and shattering the silence. Evil-looking horses galloping through the mist and there holding on desperately a child alone.

“Help me I can’t get off”, called the child once more.

Bob leaped upon the spinning ride, struggling to get a hold and keep his balance. He looked around trying to get his bearings as he spun. The child was gone yet the calling continued. Clambering high onto a speeding horse Bob found himself holding on for all he was worth.

“Help me I can’t get off” still a child’s voice calling into the early morning gloom.

Bob realised the voice was his, he tried to remember how long it was he had been in this place. He couldn’t, he held on tight.

“Help me I can’t get off”, cried Bob.

Folly

The fifth Duke built a tower, with no way up. The last thing he saw at night and the first the next day.

In later years the estate was redeveloped as a hotel and spa. His folly was unsafe and had to be demolished.

The builders got a shock. The fifth Duchess was still chained to a chair looking back toward her home.

Move Silent and Swift

The world had been dark for just one year. Morgan thought he was managing. He had though seen the population of his once busy home city dwindle to a fraction of its size. People didn’t take enough care. Move silent and swift, that was the key to survival.

At first when the darkness came life had carried on pretty much as normal. Scientists were working hard convinced that there was a rational explanation. The religious were praying, convinced their sins had caused it. Morgan wasn’t sure what to think, his main aim was now to get by.

As each day passed things were getting more difficult. Services were failing, with fuel for the first time being in short supply. No one knew why but the sun’s light was failing to reach the earth’s surface, leaving the planet in darkness. Beyond the atmosphere satellites and the ISS reported that everything was normal.

The shortage of fuel and food meant Morgan had to travel further. Spending longer outside each day to find supplies. He moved quietly in the dark and he hoped quickly enough not to get noticed.

No one quite knew what happened. People were disappearing, swallowed up by the darkness. Morgan was determined to survive. Quietly, speedily he moved around the ever-increasing number of empty stores. Collecting just enough supplies to carry back to his apartment.

The journey back was uneventful. How long was it now since he had seen anyone? Weeks, months, he was unsure. The well-lit apartment was his refuge. There had been no electricity for a while, but candles and battery lamps were everywhere. The light was such a contrast to the darkness enveloping the world outside.

The question of how long exactly? Was weighing on his mind. He pondered this through his meal of tinned beans and bottled water. A light in his apartment went out. He noticed it immediately, they were such an important part of his life. Then another candle flickered, one by one the lights in his apartment went out. He knew it was time to leave. Once this creeping darkness settled on a place no light would shine ever again.

There was only one chance for Morgan to survive he needed to move silent and swift. He knew though he would have to stop eventually. That his days on this dark planet were numbered.

Suspicion

“You don’t have to clean today, have a day off, you’re always working,” said John.

“I know but you know I like a clean house. I don’t want to start an argument but when you were made redundant nothing seems to get done around here while I’m at work,” said Jenny.

“Oh, you don’t want an argument you say. Well you’re certainly going the right way about it. I do loads for you and I do the cleaning. There’s all the DIY I’ve done. I’ve landscaped the garden and renovated the whole damn house while I’ve been off. So, what, if I don’t quite have your OCD cleaning standards,” said John.

“I don’t have OCD,” screamed Jenny. “It’s just that there are spots of blood on my window sill, why are there spots of blood on my window sill?”

She knew she had a short fuse, it had got a lot shorter since her husband of twenty years had been at home. Yes, he had done a lot with his time and money but in truth she was sick and tired of him always being around. She’d told him but knowing it seemed to make him more determined not to find a job. He had spent most of his redundancy money. Then there were the callers to the house.

Jenny knew John had lots of visitors while she was out. In fact, she was convinced he was having affairs. Her husband she had decided was being unfaithful to her. The thing was that he seemed to be as unfaithful with as many men as women.

She had asked him what he did, where he went. Did he ever get any visitors to the house? He’d said no many times to her. He said he went to the shops and worked on all his DIY projects. Why did she ask. No reason she told him, just curious. In the end her curiosity got the better of her and one evening she checked his phone. There was a catalogue of flirty messages with men and women. She didn’t know any of them. They all ended the same way with arrangements to visit her husband at their home.

“Spots of blood. Where show me,” said John. Moving over to the window and standing with his wife. “Oh, I don’t know I must have cut myself in the garden.”

As Jenny wiped the blood from the window sill, she confronted her husband. About the visitors to their home while she was at work. The argument that had been brewing erupted into a violent confrontation. Not something that was all that unusual between the couple. It wasn’t normally quite so vicious.

Within minutes John had his wife pinned to the living room wall strangling her. Jenny could feel her life force draining from her body. The Bastard was going to kill her. With all her might she raised her knee as hard as she could into his balls.

John reeled in pain and let go of her for long enough. Jenny staggered to the kitchen and groped around in the cutlery drawer. She had the knife and turned just as her husband ran into the room to clearly finish what he had started. Unfortunately for him he ran straight onto the knife. As it went into his chest Jenny instinctively began pushing and pulling the blade. He was still strangling her, but she could feel his grip weaken. The more she sank the knife in his chest the weaker he was getting.

John fell onto her and the collapsed in a heap on the floor. Blood was everywhere, she was covered, the walls and floor were sprayed and still it poured from her husband’s dying body.

Jenny sat in the kitchen with him for a while. It was of course the first time she had killed anyone. She wasn’t reacting how she thought she would. She didn’t seem to care what had happened and rather than react by screaming or getting help she began wondering how to get rid of the mess.

First, she locked the doors and drew the curtains. The she dragged John to the cellar, He been doing a lot of building work down there. Putting in a new floor and realigning the room. There was an alcove in one corner just big enough for John, if she stood him up. There was bricks and cement too. She had no idea bout bricklaying; how hard could it be. He was fine there for the time being.

Jenny spent the rest of the night pulling up carpets, stripping wallpaper, washing herself and her clothes. She would have to phone in sick from work tomorrow. She was now though quite pleased with her evenings work.

Time to find out how to lay bricks and plaster. She sat at her husbands’ desk with a glass of wine and fired up his computer. Two hours later she sat stunned. He had been having affairs, dozens of them. Worse than that, she discovered that he had gone on to kill them. Every one of them here in her house. She knew this because John had filmed everything. The whole house was rigged with secret surveillance cameras. He recorded everything the sex, the killing and the disposing afterwards. Every one of them or part of them hidden somewhere in their house.

‘Why hadn’t he said anything. I guess it’s not the sort of this you share with your wife. Oh well it’s done now, and he’s gone’ Jenny thought to herself. ‘I best get some sleep and get him bricked up tomorrow. He should have said something, I really wish he had said something. I think I could be quite good at this, I could have helped him. Oh well there’s just me now, I guess I could always carry on his good work. Where’s his phone let me see who he’s been texting’.

Midnight

The botanists waited in the hot glasshouse for midnight, one hundred years since the plant flowered.

It opened, coughed and released thousands of tiny spores into the air.

The plant then died, content its genetic chain was safely stored in the inquisitive human hosts.

They never learn!

I Think I've Just Seen Bob

“The strangest thing happened on my way here, I thought I saw Bob,” said Pat

“You can’t have he’s dead, we all went to his funeral,” said Harry.

The three men were best friends, worked together and at weekends were drinking buddies. Until recently Bob Dixon had been part of their little group. Each Friday after work they had a night out, pubs, bands and a curry.

“I know but that’s the fourth time I’ve seen him this month. Only from the back, I could have sworn it was him,” said Pat

“It was a car crash wasn’t it,” said Des.

“Yep there’s a wall in town that will always have Bob’s name on it,” said Harry raising his glass in a toast to their friend.

The group had reached their favourite pub in the city. The ‘Ewe and Lamb’ had been there since Victorian times and hadn’t really changed much. It was typical of the pubs that were once widespread in Leeds. It was tucked out-of-the-way between the cities market and railway viaduct. It was very traditional with floorboards, lots of brass, dark wood counters and many mirrors. The three friends were having a good night. Drinking, talking and waiting for the band start.

“Yes, he drove into a wall on the inner ring road. They reckon he was doing about seventy, he flipped one morning and ended up in a big chase with the police. It was carnage people hurt, damage to cars. Then in the end he drove straight into the wall of the multi-storey car park. Took them hours to get him out of the wreckage,” said Harry.

“Terrible you can’t imagine can you. What would drive someone to do that?” said Des.

Pat got up and headed to the bar, “I’m getting the drinks in, let’s have a couple of shots it’s unnerved me a bit. It didn’t half look like him from the back,” he said.

Harry and Des sat at the table finishing their drinks. Eventually Pat appeared with a tray full of strong lager and shots.

“For fucks sake Pat, there’s enough booze there for half the pub,” said Harry.

“I know but this band are cracking you won’t be able to move once they start,” said Pat sinking his first shot.

The noise and heat in the pub was rising as it filled with customers.

“You know I was seeing to his wife,” said Pat.

“You what, when? You mean since he died,” said Des.

“No, I wish it was that. It was on that morning he flipped,” said Pat.

The two men sat staring at Pat, sipping at his lager and reaching for another shot. They discussed most things on their nights out, including now it seemed illicit relationships. A bombshell like this had never cropped up before.

“I knew her from the gym and started going around on Friday mornings after he had gone to work. She wasn’t happy and was talking about leaving him. I didn’t want anything complicated just my two hours on a Friday,” said Pat.

“Did you tell her that,” said Harry.

“Yes, she told me it was fine, that she was only using me for sex,” said Pat.

“What happened?” said Des.

“Well, there we were in Bobs bed. You know at it and everything, when in he walks. Seems he suspected she was having an affair and had parked a few streets away before coming back home. It was as bad as you would expect I suppose. He had a go at us both, I thought he was going to kill us. Then his demeanour changed, and he ran out the house crying and screaming, the works. He seemed to take it quite bad,” said Pat.

“You don’t fucking say, that’s a terrible thing mate”, said Harry.

“I know I felt pretty bad, we thought it best to stop seeing each other. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to him. I never expected the dickhead to go and kill himself,” said Pat.

As Pat spoke the five-piece rock band struck up the first loud chords. The crowd stood and conversation was over for an hour. Pat didn’t see much of the band, once again he thought that he had seen Bob Dixon moving through the crowd toward the toilets. He gestured to Harry that he was heading there himself and began pushing and jostling through the throng of drunken rockers.

The toilets were always cold after the heat in the bar. Pat shivered as he entered the room.  The toilet was old-fashioned like the rest of the building with a stone floor, white tiles, brass, glass and polished wood.

There was no one else in the toilet. Pat leaned against the wall aiming at the urinal. He was quite drunk and beginning to wish he hadn’t told his friends the full account of what had happened on the morning Bob had died. No one else had ever need know, the guy was dead it was over.

Pat froze as he turned to leave, one of the cubicle doors opened and a man walked out. The room was so cold now, this was not possible.

“Bob, is it you,” stuttered Pat.

“Of course, it is. You miserable lowlife scumbag, get used to this. You’ll be seeing a lot of me during the rest of your miserable existence on this planet,” said the man standing in front of him.

Pat knew now that it was Bob although it was hard to tell. The entire front of his body was mutilated with cuts and broken bones. His face was damaged almost beyond recognition from presumably hitting the windscreen. His broken arms and legs flailed around wildly, and he was spitting blood and puss whenever he spoke.

This was the single most shocking thing Pat had ever seen. It was though most definitely Bob. He had no idea quite what he was or how this had come to be. It was though his friend who he had betrayed.

“Pat that was a terrible thing you two did to me, I trusted you and loved my wife. I wished at first that I hadn’t rushed off and killed myself. Maybe I could have taken some sort of terrible physical retribution against you. I’ve had some time to reflect and I see now that this is going to be far more satisfying,” said Bob.

“What is? Spluttered Bob barely able to get his words out.

“Following, stalking, tormenting every waking hour that you remain alive. You miserable piece of shit,” said Bob. He followed Pat who was now rapidly returning to his friends in the bar. Of course, Bob had joined them too. It was just like old times with the four of them out together on a Friday night.

Beneath

Once and for all humans would find out what lay beneath the planet. Six drills simultaneously drilling to the centre of the Earth. North pole, south pole and four on the equator.

Fifty years and they would meet in the middle. The fractures had formed before they were even a quarter way down.