Run For Your Life
Vincent ran, faster than he’d ever managed before; scared, yet also elated he’d managed to out-manoeuvre his wife’s murderous attack on him. Darkness engulfed him as he continued his flight down the endlessly long, dark tunnel. Too nervous to slow down—even though his senses told him she’d not followed him this far—he carried on running as swiftly as he could toward the pin-hole of light at the end. As he continued his flight the circle of light grew ever larger, ever welcoming and he knew he wouldn’t rest until he reached it.
Half laughing to himself despite his breathlessness, he remembered the guilty look on his wife’s face when he’d confronted her with his knowledge, the fact he knew she was trying to kill him. He had to concede that she’d been clever. He could hardly believe that the woman he’d married was capable of planning and executing anything like that. He wouldn’t have even known she was slipping him tiny doses of poison in each meal if he hadn’t fed his left-over scraps to the cat next door. That had been his lucky break; unfortunate for the poor cat but a life saver for him. If his neighbour hadn’t told him about the animal’s demise he would never have suspected. A week had passed since then and he’d made sure he ate out while he searched for evidence of the substance she’d been using.
Vincent found it hard to believe she could be so ungrateful. He had guided her all through their married life, advising her, correcting her mistakes and always taking the time to show her the right way of doing things. He’d even encouraged her to take needlework classes so they could economise on clothes and soft furnishings. Without his foresight they would not have the nice little nest egg put by. Yet she constantly complained that it wasn’t in a joint account. Really, how could he trust her not to withdraw some of it when she had a history of over-spending. Over the last couple of years he’d even had to stop giving her house-keeping money because she frittered it away on face creams and such frivolities. He’d helped cure her worst excesses by writing out grocery lists complete with prices and giving her the exact money when she went shopping. Yet she’d screamed and squealed like a wild thing each time he’d thought of new ways to help her.
Of course, Vincent had always known Paula had a peculiar streak, a side of her nature that was totally unpredictable. Hadn’t he told her several times that she needed to see a psychiatrist? Yet she would never go to see one, even when he made appointments for her. She’d thrown his suggestions back at him saying he was always criticising her. She could never see that he was only being helpful. Why couldn’t she admit she was useless at some things? Well most things actually.
He knew for sure now that she was definitely unbalanced. He’d just have to force her to go to the shrink no matter how much she protested. The last straw had come today when he’d arrived home from work. If he’d told her once he’d told her a thousand times she should only use the washing machine twice a week. That way the detergent lasted a good three months. As usual, she’d not listened and so had run out of powder much too soon. She’d become really agitated when he refused to pay for more soap powder, ranting and raving like he’d never seen her before. Then quite out of character she’d become really aggressive and had pulled a gun from her needlework box, threatening to pull the trigger. He’d no idea where the gun came from but he knew he couldn’t argue with it. Judging by the way she’d held it, he knew she was no novice, and so he’d felt it best under the circumstances to remove himself from her line of fire as quickly as he could. As the first bullet zipped close by him, he suddenly knew his wife had not been going to dressmaking classes all these months, but to target practice. Twisting and ducking he fled from her as she gave chase and his long manly strides soon out-paced her short quick steps. Yet somehow, he couldn’t stop running, even though he knew she’d long given up the chase.
The tunnel went on forever but at last he reached the opening and the bright light at the other end. Stepping out into a beautiful area of green fields littered with scented wild-flowers he caught sight of a gently flowing, tranquil stream. He slumped exhausted against a tree stump soaking up the beauty of his surroundings. Intending to mop his sweating brow, he felt in his pocket for the handkerchief he always carried. His searching hand felt a damp patch and looking down, he was surprised to find his trousers red, wet and sticky. Blood! He was covered in it.
Realisation finally dawned on Vincent as the bright, white light increased in intensity and finally swallowed him. (Copyright – Carole Parkes)
The spectacle of the filthy, bedraggled man sitting in the restaurant drew my attention. His matted, dirty hair hung in knots below his hunched shoulders and some of it fell forward into his soup. Pulling it out of the hot liquid he wiped the sticky, wet hair on his coat which was already covered in mouldy food spillage and vomit. He slurped noisily, spilling more soup from his spoon and mouth than he was managing to consume.
I looked away from him to my daughter who was standing next to me. She was also hypnotised by this revolting, stomach retching sight. Then my eyes fell upon his tattered, torn trousers where horrid, brown, unmentionable marks covered the faded, barely visible check of the fabric. I speculated fleetingly what those grotesque dark streaks were before glancing down to his feet. It became disgustingly obvious what they were as I quickly withdrew my eyes from the sight of his scruffy boots covered in foul-smelling, dried on excrement. I averted my horrified gaze back to the table where his bony hands tipped with rough, black fingernails were breaking large lumps of bread into his soup. He stopped to blow his nose on the paper napkin he had on his lap, then scrunched it up and placed it on the table next to his bread. His dull, bulging eyes looked up and held mine for an eternity before I pushed our daughter down into the seat opposite him and introduced her to the father she had insisted on meeting. (Copyright-Carole Parkes 2014)
A Day in the Life of a Blogger
Spotting an interesting post from a new male blogger, I click on ‘Follow’. Just as the highlighted word changes to ‘Following’, I catch sight of his avatar photo. God! He looks like a criminal. Why did I click ‘follow’? Oh yes! I need to follow bloggers so they’ll follow me. At least that’s what I’ve come to understand. Anyway, I’d noticed he lived in the same county as me, that’s a bonus if you want me to follow you. Hey, but what if I’m following criminals, thugs and every other wrong-doer?
My friend Jayne had warned me, “Be careful what personal information you put on there; you never know who’s looking at it.”
She doesn’t understand. To access some websites, you have to give more away than you want to. I begin to reconsider all the recent people I’ve followed and engaged with. Most of them have thanked me for following them, or ‘liked’ something I’ve done, but there are a few who haven’t responded in any way. What are they waiting for? Why do they bother posting if they’re not going to respond when anyone shows an interest in their blog?
That last blogger I just followed is writing a Crime Thriller. He says he’s never written about murder before, and in his post, he was asking for help to visualise the scene. I’ve read the ‘comments’ to his post, and his reply to each contributor was always the same. “Sorry, this didn’t help.” No variation in his words at all. After 19 helpful hints, he still wasn’t able to write about it accurately. Some of the suggestions put forward seemed really useful, to me at least. Oh well! I suppose you just can’t help some people.
I exit that page and move on to my notifications. Oh that’s good! Several new people are ‘following’ me and I have a fair number of ‘likes’. There’s also a list of comments to reply to. I check out the websites of my new followers and add a few comments of my own. Then later, I go back to the growing list of messages I have to answer. I’m in the middle of the sixth one when the telephone rings in the hall.
No response, just silence.
I let out a sigh of frustration, and wish these irritating sales people would leave me alone; they’re always interrupting me when I’m busy with something. I knew it was one of them again, because there’s always a silence before their automated message starts. I don’t give them chance to get going on their sales pitch these days, just hang up as soon as I recognise the silent period. Since I’ve already been disturbed, I make my way to the kitchen for a mid-morning drink and then spend the next couple of hours doing a few chores. I also prepare a casserole, so now I can work a bit later and still enjoy a good meal when I’m finished.
Later, back on my computer, I finish replying to my blogging friends, and then start writing a new article.
“Ring ring” The telephone cuts into my creative thoughts again.
Once more, that annoying silence from the other end . Cursing, I replace the receiver in its cradle and in the same moment, hear a loud shattering crash from the kitchen. I freeze momentarily. Hell! That sounded like a window breaking… Tip-toeing from the hall, I cautiously head toward the kitchen. Oh no! The pane in the back-door is smashed. Thousands of glittering pieces, like sparkles in sand, lay randomly scattered on the floor where they’ve landed. Now, I panic. I’m terrified. My heart jumps in my chest almost reaching my throat and I’m glued to the spot. I’m acutely aware of my awakened nerve endings, primed for flight.
Holding my breath, I listen… No sound now. I look frantically around… The door, thankfully, is still closed. Looking through the broken pane to the garden beyond, I can’t see anyone. Everything outside looks quiet… seems normal. Yet! Someone, or something, had broken the glass. Carefully avoiding stepping on the shimmering fragments, I slowly inch closer to the door… Is it still locked? Frantically checking behind me while drawing ever nearer, I feel rather than see, the glassless door burst violently inward with the propelling force of the intruder… He’s holding aloft the most frightening knife I’ve ever seen… Plunging it deep in my flesh, I recognise him. The horror on my face must be apparent; it’s that criminal-looking blogger and he’s going to kill me. It’s crystal-clear now. There’s only one way he can visualise, and then write his murder scene. (Copyright – Carole Parkes 2014
The Old Microscope
Relaxing in her seat as the aeroplane whisked her back to England, Sue Watkins reflected on the past few weeks and how her trip had started off a chain of events.
When she’d set off on her holiday to America, she could never have guessed how it would turn out. Three long years she’d been saving for this trip. As a child she’d heard her grandmother talking about her brother who’d emigrated there and ever since then she’d longed to visit the country herself. Now that she was without family and alone in the world, she’d decided to go.
The day had finally arrived when Sue had boarded the plane and set off to see the country of her dreams. She’d waited impatiently for the aeroplane to touch down so that she could see for herself the many, exciting, new places to explore. She’d spent several days travelling in awe-struck wonder, then having quenched her visual thirst with many sight-seeing tours, and feeling slightly tired, Sue had decided to spend one particular day window shopping in town.
Coming out of one department store she’d noticed an old scruffy, curio shop. Since she’d always had a love of old things, she hadn’t been able to resist the urge and went in to have a look around. Her gaze had fallen on beautiful, glassware, antique pottery, delicate lace tablecloths, faded oil paintings and other interesting but hardly recognisable objects crammed into the dimly lit, small room. Sue had gazed appreciatively at each object until she noticed a brass name-plate on an old microscope.
“S. J. Thomas” she’d read out loud, surprised by the sound of her own voice and amazed that she’d recognised the name. Sue had remembered her Grandmother’s tales and was curious to know if this item could have possibly belonged to her relative. It bore the same name as her Grandmother’s brother and she knew he’d been a chemist.
“Excuse me,” she’d ventured to the young man who was polishing some brasses. “Can you tell me anything about the last owner of this microscope?”
“Certainly,” He’d spoken with a bright cheerfulness in his voice, and then he’d smiled at Sue as he’d continued. “The original owner has passed away but his son lives just down the road at number 346. I doubt he’ll be home until after six o’clock though.” Sue had thanked the young man and deciding to buy the old microscope, had asked him to wrap it for her. She’d left the shop and had gone cheerily back to her hotel.
Shortly after seven o’clock that evening, Sue was standing outside number 346. She’d knocked on the door and waited. The man–who’d answered her knock–looked about fifty and had a kind, gentle face. Patiently, he’d listened to her eager but embarrassed explanation of why she had sought him out, and then he’d invited her inside. Stepping into a sitting room he’d spoken gently to a middle-aged lady who Sue had assumed was his wife.
“This young lady is a relative from England,” he’d enthused. They spent the next couple of hours happily discussing their family tree, and the many old photographs the couple had produced for her perusal.
The following day, John and Helen—as they had insisted she address them—took her to meet their daughter’s family. Sue was over-joyed at the warm reception she’d been given and when the American branch of the family learned that the English branch had died out except for Sue, she’d been invited to stay on in America as their permanent guest. After exhaustive discussions, Sue realised that she’d have to return to England until she obtained a work permit.
So here she was on the aeroplane returning to England after saying her temporary goodbyes to her new-found family. She would be going back to America to live and the prospect greatly exited her because that had been her dream ever since her mother—the last of her family—had died. Now her dream was coming true. Still clutching the old microscope in its brown paper wrapping, Sue drifted contentedly off to sleep.
(Copyright-Carole Parkes 2014)
She watched him, handsome, lean and muscular beneath the clean white cap and gown. His sensitive fingers prodded the tender flesh. She turned away as his knife cut into the milky white flesh. Her screams filled the air. “No! I wanted my pork chops cut thicker than that. (Copyright-Carole Parkes 2014)
Her boyfriend had warned her about the drinking but she couldn’t seem to stop. Now she felt disoriented. Her vision constantly blurred then re-adjusted all in a matter of moments. It was hard to focus. Suddenly, everything cleared. Her eye-test was over and she was wearing her glasses again. (Copyright-Carole Parkes 2014)