A collection of short stories, mostly written for 'Screams!'
| True Appreciation
Virgil Sommers is used to people commenting on the magnificence of his garden. Even to his eyes, , it really is an impressive sight.
The grass is always kept perfectly trimmed, and even in autumn you would be pushed to find an errant leaf cluttering up the pristine paths. But Virgil knows that it is not the neatness that draws the eye, but the vibrancy of colors. Each and every bloom is an eye-catching spectacle in itself, while the soil is a rich blend of brown and red, giving the impression of mahogany.
At the far end of the garden stands his tool shed. Considering the size of the garden, it is quite modest in size, constructed from brick rather than the more traditional wood. The windows on either side are paned with glass, but do not offer so much as a glimpse of the inside for they are blacked out, and the door is securely padlocked.
"It's beautiful," you say, and I want to shout out a warning to you. Don't gush! And please be careful what you promise. But I cannot say a word, must watch from the distance. Virgil is a man who can draw you in and extract words you never intended to say.
You must have made a good impression for he is escorting you towards his tool shed, just like he did me, many years ago.
I can do no more than waft and waiver in agitation, as he pulls back the doors and escorts you inside. He shuts the door quickly, but it can't keep me out, not now.
Virgil talks and talks, pointing to the more normal tools, like the spade, the trowel, the hoe. Only when he has got your full attention does he show you the grinder. A huge piece of machinery, industrial in size. There's nothing modern about it, and you cannot help but be impressed by it's impeccable appearance. No rust, no chips; you lean further and further in to admire those gleaming blades.
Don't you see the specks of blood that his rags can't reach? What about those tiny slithers of bone?
"She's a beauty," you say, just like I did.
Virgil licks his lips. This is the moment he's been waiting for. "Would you like to see her in action?"
No, say no,
I silently shriek, as you say. "Yes, I'd love to."
And Virgil fires her up and the blades spin, moving together and apart, together and apart in a kind of hypnotic mechanical dance. You don't even notice as he moves behind you, readies himself to give you a shove.
Too late you think about bone-meal, and the nutrients contained in blood. You scream and shriek but there's no one to hear, apart from me and I have seen and heard enough.
You'll take your place in the garden. Your blood and bone will mingle with the remnants of my own, and like me you'll become a haunter of this beautiful deadly place.