Papers clutter a desk. I pick one up and read about a man’s obsession. Seems there’s a character who enjoys killing. The description is brief. Medium height, average build, nondescript face. No distinguishing marks. Not much to go on!
But the writer describes an incident where the man strokes another man’s hair and gently, lovingly, wraps a scarf around his neck. Like a petrified mouse under the paw of a cat, the victim remains motionless. More hair-stroking, then the killer places two large, strong hands on either side of the victim’s head, a quick twist and … snap … over he goes, the lolling head smacking the floor, the lifeless body following like a piece of meat. Only thing, seems all this happens in the writer’s dreams.
I go over and stoke the fire. I want to read the full story. So, I gather the sheets from the desk, light a cigarette, and pull an easy chair up to the hearth.
Well, seems the writer had financial problems of sorts, but this character he’d encounter in his dreams would help out. The writer would tell the guy how much cash he needed and, if of a realistic nature, it would appear in his waking life. Money for the mortgage, car expenses, holidays, that kinda thing. The only thing was, seems he had to donate a proportion of the amount ‘borrowed’ to a charity to ‘repay’ the ‘loan.’ If he didn’t, well, cue neck-snapping man.
The door opens and in comes Lil. “You find anything?”
“Well seems our dear brother had funny dreams.”
“No, seriously, seems he had a character he would meet in his dreams. This guy, Adam, would help him out financially. But he was a sadistic killer on the side!”
“What, you’re kidding me!”
“No, listen. ‘17th October 2019. Watched Adam snap a man’s neck like a matchstick. Turned his head round one hundred and eighty degrees, like that girl in The Exorcist. These dreams are so real. More real than when I’m awake. Saw the man’s frightened eyes in technicolour, heard his neck snap in Dolby surround sound.
Needed £300 for new tyres and dents knocking out of wheels. Well, the very next day mother phoned and said she’d dreamt I had car problems and did I need any financial help! Well, that’s £85 I need to find by the end of the month for A’s charity. Or ….’”
“Wow indeed. Seems our dear brother was either off his rocker, or had supernatural help, of a kind.”
“Well, we can check his filing cabinets, bound to be bank statements and the like. Or they’ll be on his computer. Wonder if we can get into it?”
“I can’t imagine him writing passwords down anywhere findable, can you?”
Lil shrugs. “Then why would he leave papers like these lying around? And why not write them in a diary, like any normal person?”
“Well, he was hardly normal was he!”
“Look, we don’t know for certain he’s dead. He could walk through that door any minute.”
“Sure. Dream on.”
“Hey, you got a smoke?”
I toss Lil a cigarette and she inserts it into a crack in a white face surrounded by ginger curls. “Look, are we going to tell anyone about this – these ‘fantasies’?”
I sigh. “I think we must, don’t you?”
In answer, she takes the papers, taps them into a neat pile and tosses them onto the flames. “Let them find out for themselves.”
The smoke from the smouldering sheets blends with the smoke from our cigarettes and we both sit, lost in thought.
Featured in the book, Flash Friction: To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. III: 72 Little Stories
- To purchase the stories on To Cut a Short Story Short up to December 2021 in paperback, Kindle, eBook, and audio-book form, and for news on new titles, please see Shop.
- If you are interested in joining Write Away, a fortnightly story group (giving a choice of 250, 500 or 750 word assignments) please contact me and I’ll be pleased to send details.
- Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on this blog. There are over 350!