Be Prepared

Her father had drilled it into her as soon as she’d passed her driving test. When you live round these parts you have to take care in the winter months.

So Grace always liked to be prepared; she carried a shovel and flask of hot, sweet coffee in her car at all times.

Because from experience she knew there was nothing quite like a hot drink after burying a mans body in the woods

The In Laws

Chapman PineThe atmosphere over the breakfast table was as frosty as it had been last night after the same old arguments about her family. They both sat there eating in silence until he couldn’t take it any more

“Look how many times do I have to explain this I have no problem with your parents living with us”

He reached out across the table and held his wife’s hand, squeezing it gently. She smiled back at him

“If I did I have a problem with it I wouldn’t have dug them up in the first place”

Mr Pickles

Mr PicklesWhen I got home from work the front door was already open.

There was a light coming from the living room and I could hear her voice gently speaking to someone. I walked in and she was sitting on the sofa, in her wedding dress with Mr Pickles on her lap.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat” she said holding the blade in her left hand and stroking him with the other.

“But I still prefer this one”

‘Good Morning Sir’

They had asked me if he’d jumped or if he’d fallen from the pier. Had he been acting strangely, been drinking or had he said anything at all before doing it

I’d been the one who had witnessed it, phoned the Lifeboat Service and the Police. It was me who pointed them in the direction they he‘d gone. I told them I couldn’t be sure if it was deliberate or accidental but the truth was I knew exactly what he’d done

He was the person I use to see everyday on my morning walk. I told them I didn’t know him but we use to say hello to each other and that I’d seen him almost everyday for the past year standing in his usual spot looking out at the river

I confirmed that he never seemed to be drunk or intoxicated in any manner, didn’t seem sad or angry and that he was never aggressive or seemed to have a problem. I told them I’d always suspected that he was on a Care in the Community programme or something but his clothes were always clean and he always seemed well groomed

The only thing I’d noticed was in the past year was that his skin seemed to be getting worse with eczema or some other skin condition as the months passed by

We spoke about how I’d first seen him when I started my morning walks along the river path. He was standing at the edge of the pier staring out. His eyes was really big, dark and round, his features were flat and he brought back memories of a boy in my class at school who had a similar look.

Small, squat, overweight and fish like

Although it now felt embarrassing to say so, I’d given him the nickname ‘Cod Face’

My first impressions were that I thought he was watching something in the water but realised pretty quickly that he was just looking at it.  I said hello to him and he didn’t look at me but simply said

‘Good Morning Sir’

Then he went back to his staring and never answered when I asked him if he was looking at something

This was the same routine everyday, me saying hello, him saying “Good morning Sir” until yesterday when it all happened

As I was approaching the pier I could see him standing near the railings but he looked different somehow. He looked taller, bulkier and his skin had taken on a strange brownish tinge. He was gripping the rail, body vibrating all over

My first thought was that he was fitting so I sped up to see if I could help him but stopped dead in my tracks when the change started to happen. His scalp split open first to reveal a huge bulk of a hairless head. His body shook as the split carried on going down to his back, revealing a muscular, scaly skin. The arms burst out, large webbed hands clenching and unclenching. He stepped out of the cocoon of his old body, kicked it into the river and stretched out

He stepped out over the guardrail onto the very edge of the pier

His new body was neither fish, amphibian or reptile; it was a mish mash of all of them but he was still a man in size and shape. He turned to look at me with eyes that were rounder and darker than ever before. His mouth seemed to form a smile as he croaked

“Good morning Sir”

He dived backwards into the outgoing tide and I watched as he appeared and disappeared on the surface, swimming away in a beautiful looping motion like he was now in his natural environment

Of course I never told them this because who would believe me?

Who would want their face spread all over the internet being called all sorts because they said they’d seen this happen?

I also never told them that as I watched him, he was joined by at least four or five others of his kind, all swimming together, heading out towards the estuary and then the sea  

She Didn’t Say

Well after it had happened we all tried to think if there had been any signs but we hadn’t any idea that something like that would happen. The thing was she didn’t say anything at the best of times and being as private as she was there wasn’t anything we could have done anyway even if we’d have wanted to

She was such a closed book that she wouldn’t have told anybody anyway I suspect as none of us were close to her in that way

It got us all  talking about the first time we’d met her and thinking back she’d been really quiet from the off and we all agreed that even when we first met her she didn’t say a thing. We just thought she was shy but as time went on she never changed. She would blend into the room, give one word answers, never start or keep a conversation going. Her normal way of communicating was to smile, shrug her shoulders and look down. She wasn’t rude or anything just really quiet even around people she knew

Tom who knew all about NLP and things said he thought she was an extreme introvert and she’d most probably be better in one to one situations or on the phone. Most of us tried this approach with us but in all honesty she wasn’t any different and in actual fact is was even worse being on your own with her

She’d moved into the area with her husband and we’d all met at a comedy night in the local pub. She smiled a lot but actually said nothing all evening. At least that’s what we all think now when we speak about that evening because we’d all had a lot to drink and it was a few years ago now

We also found out that her husband spoke for her on most things. He spoke about her that evening in the third person, asked her questions but answered them himself and generally fielded any attempts at conversation directed towards her. It was as though she had no voice of her own which we all found a bit embarrassing

We started seeing quite a bit of them in various places as he was very sociable and liked a drink but as time went on she still said nothing at all when you met her. No one knew what her opinions were on anything, what she thought about politics, her feelings about world events or anything at all. It was as if she wasn’t there most of the time and people just got on with speaking to each other instead

It got to the point where people just stopped speaking to her. ‘It’s like pulling teeth’ was the phrase used to describe being stuck with her at any social do and you would do almost anything to avoid getting stuck with her. It wasn’t that we were trying to be mean or anything just that is was really awkward and uncomfortable to be around her. I mean you go out to enjoy yourself don’t you not to have to be constantly trying to make conversation with someone who obviously didn’t want to speak to you

In fact the only time she did come out of her shell was on the few occasions we saw her drunk then she was a completely different woman. She’d get all cuddly and tell everyone how much she loved them. Next time you saw her though she’d seem really embarrassed and would blush if you mentioned it

They both seemed happy enough in their marriage but we all felt he used her as a bit of a door mat. He wasn’t violent or abusive in anyway but their world revolved around him and what he wanted to do with no room left for her to do what she wanted

In truth no one really liked him but we all put up with him because we felt a bit sorry for her when things started to go a bit south for them. We all knew something was wrong and thought he was taking the piss with what he started doing but she just seemed to put up with it

She said nothing when he found golf and spent most weekends away. Nothing when he quit his job in a moment of anger and nothing about his drinking becoming out of control and embarrassing or when he got into a fight in the pub and was then swore at her in front of everyone

Everyone thought that would be the final straw for her but yet again she said nothing; she also said nothing during the police interviews either apparently

She didn’t say why she’d done it, what had triggered her or how long the rage had been building up inside her

She didn’t say why she carried on stabbing him even after it must have been obvious he was dead.

And she didn’t say why she’d cut out his tongue and nailed it to the kitchen table either