A collection of pieces written for competitions
"I still can't rouse your Grandma!"
Kevin could see the worry in his mother's face, even though she tried not to let it show in her voice. "Do you want me to pop round there? Just to make sure?" he asked. He had an hour to spare, more than enough time to get there and back.
"Oh, I don't know... She hates surprise visits and it's probably just her phone line, but..." Paula Simms chewed her lip. "Are you sure you wouldn't mind?"
Picking up his car keys, Kevin stretched, rolled his shoulders. "Not a prob, Kev's on the job!" With that he walked towards the door, then paused, turned back. "Oh, Mom, if Heather turns up before I'm back, remember: no baby photos!"
"Oh, I won't promise that... you were such a cute baby."
"Won't go," he threatened.
Paula laughed; "Okay, I promise. And don't let her keep you there too long."
It wasn't a long drive. His maternal grandmother lived in a house well away from any others. Kevin could understand why she might not want to leave; it was not a bad house and the setting was peaceful. At the same time, she was getting old, and following her husband's death a couple of years ago, she was out there all alone.
The car bumped its way up the drive. Kevin expected his grandmother to hear his approach and was slightly surprised when she was not at the door. She was probably busy at the kitchen sink, he told himself; no doubt she was drying her hands at that exact moment. He climbed out of his car, shut the door loudly, just in case she had nodded off in a chair or something, then walked up the steps.
The door remained firmly shut. Perhaps she was out, although he could see the front of her car peeping out from the side of the house. Was she ill? Had her mother been right to worry?
Kevin remained reluctant to let himself in. His grandmother still left a spare key underneath a rock beneath the kitchen window, in spite of his mother's warnings that this was bordering on dangerous behavior, inviting intruders to make their way indoors.
"Gran! Are you okay?" he called out as he walked towards the back of the house to fetch the key. He couldn't help noticing the flies. There were four or five of them inside the kitchen, walking up or banging against the pane of glass. This was not right. His grandmother would have opened the window to shoo out just one, not to mention five.
There was a more distant buzzing. Kevin listened, lifted his head, and saw that the bathroom window was almost covered in flies. He shuddered. Should he phone his mother? No, he'd let himself in, find out what was going on. Only if there was a problem would he ring her.
It seemed quiet inside the house. An old building, it never seemed to get very bright inside. Turning on the lights as he went, Kevin called out loudly: "Gran, it's me, Kevin. Are you alright?"
There was a smell that seemed to get stronger as he neared the kitchen. No, it was more than a smell, more like a stench of rotting meat. He checked inside the fridge and inside the small freezer that she kept inside the house. There was a larger one in one of the outhouses where she kept the bulk of her frozen food; bringing it in as and when she needed to. The stench was not coming from either of them.
Kevin cautiously made his way up the stairs, dreading what he might be about to find. Had his grandmother fallen ill? Worse still, had she died in the house alone? The smell was stronger upstairs, there was no doubt about that.
Taking a deep breath, then coughing from the fetid air, Kevin braced himself for what he was about to see. Slowly he opened the bedroom door, only to find the bed empty, neatly made. If his grandmother was sick, she was sick elsewhere.
The spare bedroom door stood open and he could see from the hallway that it was empty. The bathroom was the last place left for him to look. Remembering the flies that had been on the window he cursed himself for not checking there first of all.
The smell made him gag. It was a mixture of blood, rot, human excrement. He so did not want to be the one opening that door, but he had to, didn't he!
The flies were everywhere! They flew up towards him then buzzed back into the room. The tiles around the bath, the bath itself and some of the floor were spattered with blood. Where was her body? He couldn't see her but he had to get out, get away...
Kevin stepped backwards, prepared to shut the door, get outside and call the police, only someone was behind him. He turned, gave a sigh of relief. "Oh, Gran am I glad to see you?"
It was only after he had spoken that he took in her apron that was dripping blood. Kevin looked at the butchers knife that she held in her hand. Along with the blood he could see traces of skin, of muscle.
"Gran?" he asked, stepping back into the bathroom as she raised the cleaver.
"I told you and told you. Never call without telling me you're coming," she said, in a strong voice that belied her old age.
"Gran, stop," Kevin said, and he was sure he caught sight of a tear in her eye before the cleaver swung its way into his neck.