• Short Stories

    Chorizo, the Chocolate Dragon

    I met my Dragon on the way grandma’s house, well not my Dragon as such. It was flitting between the trees trying to look frightening, without much success. Chameleons are great at blending into the background but this Dragon had it all wrong. Red where there should be green and green where red leaves should hide her.

    “Come here you silly Dragon, you can’t hide from me.”

    “But I’m good at changing colour.”

    “Yes, but only changing to the wrong ones.”

    “Sorry.”

    “Here, look at this,” said Melisa, pulling out some Ishihara charts, which she always took in her handbag. “What number do you see?”

    “Three.”

    “Wrong,” said Melisa. “And this one?”

    “Five.”

    “I thought so, you’re colour blind,” she said. “I suppose we should introduce ourselves, I’m Melisa.

    “Chorizo!”

    “Bless you.”

    “No Chorizo, the chocolate dragon.”

    “Chorizo isn’t a chocolate.”

    “Tell my dad that,” said Chorizo. “I had all the Italian lads chasing me with knives and forks.”

    “How horrid.”

    “I got my own back as I let off a few fires bursts.”

    “So why are you skulking around the woods?”

    “The other dragons mock me because of my short nose. So, don’t you rub my nose in it as well”

    “What, your short nose,” said Melisa, ducking, as a puff of fire squirted from Chorizo’s nostrils.

    “Now, now just a tease,” apologised Melisa. “Is there a reason for it being so short?”

    “You don’t know much about Dragon Law, do you?”

    “Well I do actually, it goes back to Baden Powell days, something about doing a good deed makes your nose grow.”

    “Yes, Pinocchio had it all wrong. Anyway, I’m waiting for a good deed to come along.”

    “I think you’ll find that good deeds hardly present themselves,” said Melisa. “You probably have to go out and find them.”

    “Would you help me?”

    “I’ll do what I can.”

    “Why are you off to see your grandmother?”

    “She’s got some baskets for me for the grand Easter Egg hunt.”

    “Can I help?”

    “I don’t see why not but don’t scare Gran with your big teeth.”

    Melissa knocked on Gran’s thick oak door, freshly polished and smelling of Lavender. “Friends here Gran.”

    “Melisa do come in but leave that sneaky Dragon outside.”

    “He’s fine, only a little misunderstood.”

    “Your baskets are in the corner,” said Gran. “What have you brought me today?”

    “I’ve picked some lovely berries and some chestnuts.”

    “Roasted?”

    “Not yet, do you want Chorizo to roast them for you?”

    “Yes please, but put them in the grate first, I don’t want a fire.”

    Melissa put the chestnuts in the fireplace and Chorizo breathed a gentle flame until there were perfect.

    “See I told you he was a good Dragon.”

    “Yes, I can see we’ll get on like a house on fire,” said Gran.

    “Stop!” said Melissa, as Chorizo threatened a conflagration. “It’s just an expression.”

    “Sorry.”

    “We must be going or we’ll be late with hiding the eggs.”

    They were soon back in the small town where Melissa told Chorizo to hide, unfortunately by a red brick house. “Wrong colour.”

    “Sorry.” Said Chorizo turning from blue to purple and finally to red.

    “Better. Now, let me see about the chocolate eggs.”

    Melissa entered the shop to buy Easter eggs for the hunt.

    “I’m sorry,” said the shopkeeper. “All Badburies eggs are sold out although there was a lot of grumbling that the crafty company has made them all cheesy. But there are no mother’s eggs at all.”

    “Mothers?”

    “Sorry, you know them as Ma’s of course.”
    “What am I going to do. There’s only a couple of days left, I’ve never let the children down before,” said Melissa. “What happened?”

    “The rumour has it, that someone sabotaged the factory and blew the gas main so they wouldn’t melt the chocolate.”

    “I can solve that,” said Melissa. “Chorizo come here we’re off to sluff.” She climbed on her back and the flew through the smog to the large, now dormant, factory.

    “I understand you have a chocolate problem,” said Melissa. “I think we can help.”

    “Well the vat is cold but even if we melt that, all the machinery is cold and clogged with old chocolate.” He said “We’ll never sort it out even with a dragon.”

    “Don’t worry about that let me show you.”

    Chorizo drew breath and hurled flame at the congealed mass, which soon turned into delicious melted chocolate. Chorizo swallowed a huge mouthful of chocolate and within minutes was laying perfect chocolate eggs of varying sizes.

    The foreman rushed out to get his men to wrap the eggs.

    “We can’t put them through our machines as they are metric sizes so we’ll have to do them by hand.”

    “Oh, do you want them wrapped,” said Chorizo. “Hand me that roll of silver foil.”

    Melissa handed over the silver foil and in no time at all perfectly wrapped Easter eggs popped out ready for the staff to pop them into boxes and baskets.

    “What about coloured ones?” asked the foreman, hopefully.

    See that pile of glittery wrapping paper and Christmas cards that can’t be recycled, pass them across,” said Chorizo.

    Melissa and the foreman passed the pile of glittery wrapping and cards for the obliging dragon.

    Now the best colours are red and blue,” said Melissa, suddenly biting her tongue.

    “No, no,” as the eggs rolled down the conveyor belt, exclaimed Melissa. “Blue and green should never be seen.”

    “What,” said Chorizo.

    “The other green.”

    “Sorry.”

    Beautiful red and blue wrapped eggs emerged, rolling towards the final baskets.

    “That’s enough,” said Melissa. “Thank you so much, you’ve saved the day.”

    A few days later when all the eggs had been found under the bushes and hastily consumed, the town decided that thanks were due and organized a banquet in honour of Melissa and Chorizo.

    “We would like to present Chorizo with this beautiful chocolate golden medallion for all that he has done for us,” said the Mayor, looping the ribbon around Chorizo’s neck and now, long nose. “Not only has he rescued us from that awful northern chocolate, and given the children their eggs, but has also recycled all our glitter paper.”

    “Three cheers for Chorizo. Hip, Hip hurrah.”

    Chorizo laid the biggest egg ever, which the waiters rushed towards, breaking off bite sized pieces for all the guests.

    Someone signaled the band and the words of that well known song rang out.

    “Oh, for he’s a jolly good Dragon, oh for he’s a jolly good dragon, for he’s a jolly good Dra-agon and so say all of us.”

    Chorizo blushes furiously. Bright green of course.

     

     

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  • Short Stories

    Unicorn in the Attic

    Unicorn in the Attic (A Christmas story)

    © Peter l. Barnes and Peter Barnett

     

    A Unicorny story.

     

    “Can you get the tree down, please,” called Jamie’s wife, Susan.

    Another trip up into the dusty attic, he thought. He never remembered where he had put the tree or all the lights and decorations. Christmases never lived up to their expectations since the family split up across the globe.

    He dropped the attic hatch, pulled down the ladder and climbed up. He switched on the light, which created a series of bright spots and many dark shadows. He had never explored some of the shadowy areas, not that he was worried about what he might find, in fact he imagined hidden treasures, tucked in ancient trunks. But there was still enough space in the lit areas, for some suitcases, toy boxes and old soft furnishings that they stored up here.

    Climbing up and stooping low to avoid the low beams, he began his search, sweeping the tiny torch across the humps and lumps of cloth covered boxes and small furniture discards.

    “Hello.”

    “What,” exclaimed Jamie, spinning around and hitting his head on the rafters, expecting to see her pretty head over the top of the hatch.

    “Did you say something Susan,” he called down.

    Not a peep from below.

    “That’s strange, I’m sure she called. It must be my imagination.”

    “Figment?”

    “What?”

    “Am I a figment of your imagination,” said the voice, from the black depths of the attic.

    “Who are you?” Jamie asked, swinging the beam of his small torch around the dark recesses.

    “Me,” said a creature, appearing out of the shadows.

    A beautiful Unicorn with a glistening golden horn in the middle of its forehead appeared from the gloom. The  exquisite Unicorn, only two foot tall, was adorned by red and blue ribbons in its perfect white mane, stood in front of Jamie, swishing its feathery tail, stirring up dust and sweeping it from the rafters.

    “Careful,” said Jamie, hiding his eyes from the perilous dust. “How did you get up here.”

    “I had gone to the South Pole, but got lost, I was battered by the wind and confused by the fluttering leaves and blown back home.”

    “Why did you go to the South Pole,” said Jamie, humouring the apparition.

    “I wanted to find Santa and volunteer for a reindeer job.”

    “But Santa lives at the north pole.”

    “I know that now,” said the Unicorn. “None of the penguins had heard of him and anyway they were too busy going to a formal dinner party.”

    “What I want to know is, what are you?” said Jamie. “I can see you are a Unicorn but of course they don’t exist.”

    The Unicorn span around, rearing up on its back hooves and splaying out his front legs and waving them in front of Jamie’s eyes. “So, what am I then?”

    “Well, you certainly look unicornish, but do you really only have one horn.”

    “Actually, they are two horns twisted into one, my mother wanted me to have curly horns, as hers are so straight and now I can’t do a thing with it.”

    “Them, to be truly accurate.”

    “Ever since, I’ve been trying to find someone to take me seriously.”

    “Seriously?”

    “Don’t do that.”

    “Sorry. So now you now have a unique horn hence your name,” said Jamie. “Do you grant wishes.”

    “Your name is Grant?” said the Unicorn. “Mine’s Oliver.”

    “Oliver?”

    “Yes, Oliver Twist.”

    “Actually, my name is Jamie and I shall call you twisty.”

    “That’s not nice.”

    “Where did you come from originally?”

    “Your little girl put me on the tree last year.”

    “Oh Aimee, my niece.”

    “Yes.”

    “But you were tiny, no more than a couple of inches.”

    “Well, it’s been a year.”

    “So, what did you eat?”

    “Only the silver garlands.”

    “And where’s all the poo,” asked Jamie. “I hope that’s been disposed of suitably.”

    The Unicorn sheepishly pointed with his front hoof, at a pile of glitter. “Sorry.”

    “No that’s fine, I suppose.”

    “Well it should be fine its been right through me.”

    “Enough of this nonsense. Now, do you know where the tree is?”

    “Yes.”

    “So where is it then, bloody logical Unicorn.” (unique Horn)

    “I’ve hidden it.”

    “Hidden it, why?”

    “I want a better role this year.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well I thought I could replace the donkey in your stable scene.”

    “Don’t be silly, there were no Unicorns in the stable.”

    “A tragedy.”

    “Nevertheless, you’re not going to be the donkey.”

    “Then I want to be placed at the top of the tree instead of the fairy.”

    “You’d overbalance, fall to the ground and be smashed into a 1000 pieces.”

    “I’m a soft toy how could I be smashed?”

    “Because I’d stomp on you for being such a pain.”

    “That’s not very nice.”

    “Nor are you demands,” said Jamie. “What if I drape some lights around you.”

    “Twinkly ones?”

    “Of course.”

    “Blue and red to match my ribbons?”

    “Yes.”

    “No thank you. I’ve seen the movie and I’ve decided, I want to be a talking Donkey.”

    “But that’s not a Christmas movie.”

    “Shrek is a Christmas movie.”

    “No. It’s about fairy tale creatures.”

    “Well there’s a fairy on top of the tree.”

    “True, but actually it’s supposed to be an angel.”

    “Fine, I’ll be an angel then.”

    “Have you got wings?”

    “Of course,” the unicorn unfolded a backpack and extracted its wings. “Da dahh.”

    “Where did you get those?”

    “Umm, just lying around.”

    “And is that angel dust mixed in with the sparkles?”

    “No, no. I’m sure its fine.”

    “You’ve eaten the Angel, haven’t you?”

    “Maybe some of her.”

    “Bring her out.”

    The unicorn cantered to the dark areas of the attic and returned with the ravaged angel

    “You’ve eaten her legs, how cruel.”

    “But she was trying to help me. She said she didn’t need legs, and that a cone would be fine.”

    “Angel. Is that right?”

    “Yes, although I’m still waiting for Twist to get a cone for me.”

    “I’ll sort that out when we get downstairs,” said Jamie. “Meanwhile I need to fix Twist. Now where is that toybox.”

    Turning around he found the old toybox they used to get out toys for visiting nieces and nephews, when they came to visit.

    “Bullseye, where are you?”

    A clippety, cloppety sound rose from the toy box and up popped Bullseye.

    “Hello Bullseye. I hope it’s not too cramped down there.”

    Bullseye nodded enthusiastically, not understanding a word.

    “Let me have your halter,” said Jamie, slipping off the leather straps.

    “Now then Unicorn, you’ve been a very naughty boy, come here.”

    The Unicorn came close and hung his head down and Jamie slipped the halter over his neck and strapped up his mouth. “That’ll stop you being a talking unicorn which can be very annoying.”

     

     

     

    Which is why I have a flying unicorn on the top of my tree.

     

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  • Short Stories

    The Eruption Acrylics. Short play on words

    The Eruption Acrylics.

    All that is noun of the Eruption land gauge has been found from a Ceres of marks and punt uration on a Rose Petal Stone, found by a conqueror called Napoli Man as his troops searched for ancient replicas.

    This was a long time Before Calendars (BC) but the Stone was found 1800 years after decimalization (AD). Jean-François Champollion was a great puzzler and pretended he could read it, but he was mocked by many of his pears, so he created the Cross Word to put them in their place.

    Apparently, names were put into baffoons, which is where we get comics from, and they were called carte blanches. They had no skools and were very bad at their ABC, so they drew pictures instead.

    These people were called the Walking Dead, as they were never seen alive and many movies have been made of them. They were frightened of the dark, living in their Tomes, wrapped in sheets to prevent being swept away in the floods of the river Nail.

    Tutti Carmen was a great leader who to help them escape from their underground Tomes by building huge Pyrites, towering into the sky, with tiny shafts, to get them used to the light.

    It is no wonder that these night people were afraid of humans as they often had heads of birds or dogs and were ridiculed by the river Nail Krockodile people, who lived under psalms.

    Many mysts surround the Euruptions, especially that they were sun gods which were only misspelled when I Car Us flew too close and was frazzled, unlike the rock which survived.

    Which is why I have a fairy on top of my Christmas Tree.

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  • Short Stories

    A Vet’s Nightmare – short Story

    A Vet’s Nightmare

    “Hello. Welsh Hill’s Vetinarian practise.”

    “Yes, hello. Do you look after all animals?”

    “Oh yes, all creatures great and small, we do them all.”

    “Excellent. Can I get an appointment, please?”

    “What seems to be the problem?”

    “He’s gone off his food.”

    “Can you come over at 3?”

    “Great,” said Susan. “Do you have a helipad there?”

    “What?”

    “A Helipad, or a flat roof?”

    “Ah.. yes, we have a flat roof,” said the receptionist. “Why?”

    “Okay we’ll drop in about 3pm.”

    Susan guiding her pet down onto the flat roof and then climbed down to the front entrance.

    “Hello. I’m Susan. I have an appointment for my pet.”

    “Oh yes,” said the receptionist. “What’s his name please?”

    “Nogard”

    “And what is he?”

    “A dragon of course, although he’s a little backward.”

    “And where is this dragon,” said the receptionist, trying to humour her.

    “He’s waiting outside a bit big for your doors.”

    The receptionist looked out to see that indeed there was a dragon waiting patiently, out in the car park, taking up a large disabled bay.

    “Oh yyyyyes,” she stuttered. “I’ll get the vet to come out.”

    The vet appeared form his room stethoscope around his neck.

    “Hello, Dr Little,” said the vet, holding out his hand.

    “Susan, Nice to meet you Dr Little.”

    “Call me Doo please,” said the vet.

    “Doo?”

    “Short for Donald, or maybe because I’m always up to my eyeballs in it.”

    “Oh Right.”

    “So, where’s this ‘dragon’ then.”

    “Nogard’s outside.”

    “Is he trained. I don’t want him biting my head off.

    “Oh yes,” said Susan. “That’s his favourite film, always watching it.”

    “What’s his problem?”

    “He’s lost his spark and off his food.”

    “When did this start.”

    “After he was asked to light up the Christmas tree.”

    “Well, whoever thought that was a good idea should be fired.”

    “Certainly, the mayor was a little singed,” said Susan. “But the biggest problem is that ever since the Christmas event, the trolls have been coming out of the bridgework with a vengeance.”

    “He’s not going to burn me, if I get too close?”

    “No, that’s probably the main reason he can’t eat, he’s can’t breathe fire anymore.”

    “Oh, that is serious,” said the relieved vet.

    “Yes, he likes his food crispy on the outside,” said Susan. “I’ve installed a chiminea in the garden but he says it’s not the same.”

    “No, there’s nothing like a bit of crackling,” said Doo. “Now Nogard, let me have a look. Open wide.”

    Nogard opened his cavernous mouth to let the vet look inside. “Say aaaah.”

    From the depths of Nograd’s chest, came a deep roar and a huge puff of smoke, enveloping the vet, who fell over coughing, like a long-term smoker.

    Susan rushed over to pick up Doo. “Are you OK?”

    “Yes, don’t get many dragons in here, I will have to adjust my patter a bit.”

    “That’s another problem, he’s been accused of polluting the atmosphere with his fumes.”

    “Coal fired, is he?”

    “Yes, well nuclear may be cleaner but maybe not safer, for Nogard at least.”

    “Have you tried Diesel?”

    “Yes, but here’s a bit of a problem finding the right filters ever since the VowWow problem.”

    “Of course,” said the vet. “Maybe you can use charcoal.”

    “Possibly.”

    “So, if we get the fuel right, we still need to light the fumes.”

    “What do you suggest?”

    “Let me try my Zipper lighter,” said the vet, taking one out of his pocket.

    Standing well out of the way, he tickled Nogard’s chin, “Say aaahh.” A flip with the lighter and a loud whoosh as flames shot from his mouth, turned a flame red Mini into, well flame red Mini.

    “Well that worked thanks,” said Susan, ignoring the sound of fire engines in the distance. “But I can’t always be around with a lighter when he needs it.”

    Let’s see if he can use it.

    Susan put the lighter into his claw. Nogard blew out some fumes but was too late with the lighter to set them off. Which was just as well as the firemen had arrived to put out the flames on the Mini.

    “His claw eye coordination was never his strong suit.”

    I have a better idea,” said the vet. “Wait here.”

    Strange noises emanated from the inside the surgery, lots of clinking and clanking until Doo emerged with some superglue and a selection of bits and pieces.

    “Will he be calm if I climb on his back?”

    “Hopefully,” said Susan.

    Doo climbed up onto the dragon’ back and superglued a solar panel on his back. “Even more environmental.” He trailed wires into his mouth and superglued the spark switch, salvaged from his gas oven, between his teeth. “Now even more sparkling, no need for whitening toothpaste.”

    The vet climbed down and warned the firemen to keep out of the way. “Say aaaah Nogard.”

    A gargled aaaah came from the dragon and fumes spread across the car park, click your teeth Nogard he called.

    A click, a flash and the fat little pig, on its way to market, was turned into a crispy meal, which Nogard shared with all the staff and the firemen.

    A few days later the vet called Susan. “So, how’s the patient.”
    “Oh getting on like a house of fire,” she replied. “He’s also got a job at the local, flame grilled steak house.”

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  • Short Stories

    Red Roses – a murdererous story

    Red Roses

     

    Hanna dug amongst the foliage and deep leaf litter, looking for insects that might be the answer to the burning question that the police required. Beetles would be the best indicator of time of death now that the blowflies were on their second or third cycle. She collected a few different species from the corpse and surrounding area, including a bone beetle, suggesting a couple of weeks since death.

    “Any clues?” asked the detective.

    “Well, I would say at least a couple of weeks old,” she said, holding up the vial containing the little black beetle.

    Hanna loved her role in the laboratory attached to the Coroner’s Court. She had trained as a pathologist progressing through bloods and diseases, until specialising in Forensics. Much more varied than only peering down a microscope at blood and examining body cells every day.

    She had the freedom of a varied work experience from visiting crime scenes, discussions with police departments and even giving evidence at murder trials. The downside, was night visits like this one to remote sites in woods and moorlands, at the most inconvenient times and weathers.

    She tried not to think about the identity of the body, thankful that it wasn’t the one she feared. She divorced her mind from the affect its discovery would have on the family and friends of the victim, her job was the collection of evidence and her mind could cope with that.

    A few days later they were reviewing the case of the body in the woods.

    “Will you be nailing the father?”

    “He has been charged with her murder,” said Mark, the detective. “The samples and insects you recovered showed that his daughter had disappeared a couple of days earlier than he reported, blowing his alibi out of the water. The fibres you found linking him to the site were the final straw.”

    “Excellent.”

    “Now about this evening,” said Mark. “Are you still ready for an interesting night out. You know you don’t need to come with us.”

    They were planning to get to know a local playboy, who was known for his extravagant parties. They suspected he was using the parties as a front to pick up lonely women, who later disappeared. He typically started at the high-end venue by inviting a few singles and couples around to his place, after the club closed, offering free drinks, food and great music.

    “Of course,” said Hanna. “I’ll be ready at nine.”

    “Yes, I’ll pick up Tamsyn and Michael on the way.”

    Their companions were a most glamourous pair, ideal for their purposes. Tamsyn was a very attractive detective from another division and Michael, a hunky constable from a local force, perfect for their subterfuge.

    They arrived at the club and seeing their target showed that their informant had been correct. They had settled down at one booth with their drinks and acted out their plan of being a playful group with quite a bit of kissing and cuddling, which to be honest, Hanna quite enjoyed. Sometime later, they were approached by the handsome man, impeccably dressed in smart ‘party’ shirt and dark blue, tailored chinos.

    “Hi, I’m Raphael. You guys seem to be having fun,” he said, sitting down next to Tamsyn.

    “We always do, I’m Tamsyn,”

    “Raphael. Can I get you some drinks?” he asked, after they had introduced themselves.

    “Sure,” said Mark.

    Raphael waved the waitress over and they ordered drinks and before long assumed their chatter.

    “Do I know you?” asked Raphael.

    “I shouldn’t think so,” replied Hanna, fluttering her false eyelashes at him. “But then there are so many beautiful people in here and in the dark we probably all look the same.”

    “Maybe that’s it,” replied Raphael. “Look, would you guys like to come to my place for an after party.”

    “We’d love to,” said Hanna.

    He passed her a card, his fingers lingering on her hand as he did so. “I’ll see you later, about 1 OK.”

    “See you there.”

    When they finally arrived at the party, it was in full swing, a select group of more ‘beautiful people’ dancing to a professional DJ.  Hanna looked around, taking in the large entertainment room, more like an extension to the club they had just left. By the front door there was a bright red axe enclosed in a glass cabinet.

    Raphael greeted them and guided them to the bar. They selected their drinks but only planned to drink the mixers, wary of any GBH drugs, and moved to one of the loungers.

    “So, what’s with the axe Raphael?” asked Hanna.

    “I always wanted to be a fireman,” he answered.

    Hanna would love to be able to rip it off the wall and perform her forensics on that one. “Very funny.”

    He went off to tend to some other guests and Hanna turned to Mark. “So why do you suspect him Mark?”

    “He was asked about the disappearances,” said Mark. “He’s always too glib, always got an answer for everything.”

    “Fascinating coffee table,” said Tamsyn.

    Hanna examined the glass topped coffee table. Under the glass were three perfectly carved red roses. “What are they carved out of, do you think?”

    “Wood probably.”

    But Hanna noticed something slightly suspicious under the carvings, tiny protuberances hidden beneath. “Pity it’s so dark in here, I can’t quite make out what they are?”

    At the pre-planned time their pagers went off. Hanna went over to Raphael. “I’m sorry but we are paramedics and there’s an emergency. We’ll have to go.”

    “So soon, we were just getting warmed up.”

    “Not much we can do about it. Maybe another time. Thanks for the drinks.”

    As he showed them out, she noticed a greeting card in a frame on the wall “My heart is yours forever.”

    “How lovely.”

    “Yes, something from my wife who passed away, I couldn’t resist keeping it.”

    The team got in a taxi to get back to their offices. “So, what do we think.”

    “Firstly, I think he twigged onto us.”

    “I agree,” said Mark. “He probably set it up with our ‘informant’.”

    “Did you keep the shorts?”

    “Da, da,” said Hanna, showing them the whisky bottle in a plastic bag. “I’ll test it in the morning.”

    “What do you think the whole heart thing signifies?”

    “The card on the wall is creepy,” said Tamsyn.

    “I think the roses in the coffee table could well be cut from hearts,” said Hanna.

    “You’re joking.”

    “No, I’m sure I saw parts of the valves poking out from under the rose shapes,” said Hanna “But I would need to open the table up to be sure.”

    “So are you telling me he carved roses into the hearts of his victims.”

    “Or faked the valves under the rose knowing we might notice.”

    “He’s certainly playing us for fools,” said Tamsyn.

    “Do we have enough evidence for a search warrant?”

    “Sadly not, merely suspicions,” said Mark. “We’ll have to keep a close eye on him to see if he makes a mistake. We’ll catch up in the morning.”

    Hanna made her way to her car for the short drive home, wary of the dark spaces behind the pillars. She opened the car, got in and locked the doors. Looking over to Mark’s car she saw his thumbs up sign. She drove out of the car park.

    Once home she had a relax in a scented bath, remembering and analysing what she had seen at Raphael’s glamorous home. It was clear he was a playboy who had all the opportunity to meet and single out women who wouldn’t be missed for enough time for him to cover his tracks, but without evidence the CPS would never get a conviction.

    She woke early, when her phone pinged, heralding a text message.

    ‘If you want to find out what happened to your sister come alone. If not alone, all your precious evidence will be destroyed. R.’

    R? That must be Raphael. How did he get her number?

    Looking at where the message came from, her heart sank and she shook with rage and fear as she realised that the number was actually her twin sister’s old mobile phone.

    If Raphael had this, he must have been responsible for her sister’s disappearance and he must not only know who she was, but also what she did. No doubt old texts on her sister’s phone had given the game away.

    Time for revenge then she thought, although that might not be easy. She dressed in her steampunk outfit, which allowed her to don her steel capped boots, tough jeans and jacket.

    Hanna prepared her visit as much as she could, before arriving at his door and ringing the bell. The door swung open revealing an empty house and she cautiously entered the room, as the door swung silently closed behind her and closed with a loud clunk. She whispered into her shoulder. “Get that?”

    “Welcome,” said Raphael’s voice from a ceiling speaker.

    “Where are you?”

    “Down the stairs.”

    She went over to the lift and surreptitiously, jammed the door open.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Going down the stairs.” She said, cautiously holding the hand rail as she descended into the monstrous cellar, waiting for the inevitable attack.

    “Sit down, or you won’t see your sister again.”

    There was only one place to sit, which was a wheelchair in front of a flat wall.

    “Press the buttons on the arms.”

    But she was reluctant to do this in case her arms were trapped.

    “If you don’t do that, I will merely leave you down here until you die of starvation.”

    She stood up to escape but, unnoticed, a grill had closed off the stairs.

    “Now sit down and press the buttons.”

    Hanna did as she had been ordered and immediately three panels in the opposite wall started to rise, momentarily hypnotised by the sight of three delicate pairs of feet, stripped of flesh to reveal bones, cartilage and muscles, as they gradually appeared.

    Snap!

    Caught unawares for a second, large straps sprung from the arms of the wheelchair to trap her arms. The horror of what she was seeing as the full bodies were revealed, overrode her predicament. Three full bodies appeared, in what Dr. Hagen would have called Art, each in a different pose. One apparently dancing around a pole, another holding a tray of drinks and the third on a chair, mobile phone in her hand.

    Raphael opened the grill to the stairs, “Ah settled in, are we?”

    “What are these?”

    “What you mean is, who are these?”

    “Yes. Is one of them my sister?”

    “Too many questions,” he said, coming up behind the wheelchair and quickly wrapping a gag around her head and pulling it tight. “We wouldn’t want you screaming, now would we?”

    She watches him approach with a pointed dagger, threatening a painful death. She writhed in the chair but her arms were too tightly strapped to move and the gag strangled her screams. Focus she thought, as the point of the knife touched her skin.

    “You’ll be used to blood of course.” He said, as the point entered her flesh and drew drops of blood from the tip. “But maybe not the pain as it drains from your body and starves your brain.”

    He removed the knife and licked the blood off the tip. “I don’t need a DNA test, your blood tastes exactly like your sisters.”

    His words and actions fuelled the built-up rage she felt and determined not to die at his hand, she readied her body and tensed her leg ready to strike. He leant forward and again put the blade to her wrist. Ignoring the pain and avoiding the sight of blood welling up around the open wound, she lashes out with her foot, using all her strength. A perfect aim as she gets right between his legs. She might as well inflict a bit of pain before she goes.

    Raphael swore as he doubled up with pain and then keeled over crouching on the floor. He is too far away from her to get another kick in, stupid hateful man who didn’t think a girl couldn’t fight back.

    Realising she has the opportunity to finish him off, she takes a second kick at his head but is too far away. She shuffled the wheel chair around and propelled it backwards and turned around to get closer to him for some more kicking glad that she was wearing hard boots that she favoured.

    Her foot reverberated as she connected with his head, hopeful that this would keep him out of action for a few more minutes. She heard so thunderous bangs from upstairs as the police team finally made their entry and three combat ready police raced into the basement room and grabbed Raphael and cuffed him.

    “What’s wrong with him?”

    “I kicked him in the crotch.”

    “So, how did you stab him,” said one of the policemen. “He’s bled out.”

    “Lovely, he must have fallen on his own weapon,” said Hanna. “Can you get me free I need to sort out my wrist, otherwise I’ll be joining him.”

    A medic arrived and examined her wrist and taped it up. “Thankfully it hasn’t reached your artery.”

    Mark joined them, “Are you OK? Next time, stick to the plan,”

    “Next time? I hope not,” said Hanna. “I think he has some sort of self-destruct mechanism, which he would trigger if we had arrived mob handed.”

    “We’ll check that out in the meantime we need to gather all the evidence,” said Mark, handing Hanna her evidence bag.

    Hanna suited up to examine some of the artefacts and sift through the evidence.

    Hanna started upstairs and went to the box by the door and eased out the red axe, carefully taking finger prints off the handle and swabbing the blade and the joint where the shaft met the head. Next, she examined the picture on the wall, taking it down and placing it on a cover on the floor. She unscrewed the frame and took out the ‘My Heart Belongs to you Forever’ card. Signed on the inside ‘your loving wife’ but handwritten on the back, were the words, in red, ‘You are so right’.

    “Mark, I think this might refer to his first wife.”

    “Do you think she’s one of the ‘statues’ downstairs.”

    “Probably.”

    “Now let me check out the coffee table with the Roses.” She gently eased the edges of the frame until the glass top was released. Lifting the glass, which although showing no fingerprints on the top, had several partial prints underneath. She touched one of the roses with a wooden tool, to find it slightly spongey, pulling the edge back and her suspicions were confirmed.

    “Mark, I think you’ll find these are human hearts, carved into the roses.”

    “That’s revolting.”

    Hanna removed a piece of paper, finding a short poem.

    ‘Roses are Red,

    Not given to me when alive

    But mine,

    now you are dead.’

    “This guy was seriously weird,” said Mark.

    “How many people do we think he has murdered?”

    “More than three certainly.”

    “Let’s check the bodies.”

    Back in the basement one of the officers had opened the glass doors to allow access to the bodies, each of which contained some sort of trophy. Carefully Hanna removed the mobile phone from the seated body.

    “Sadly, this is belonged to my sister,” said Hanna, turning on the phone and checking the number.

    She sat down as the truth of her twin’s demise was finally confirmed. She struggled to keep down the wave of nausea coming from her stomach.

    Once they had finished collating all the data from the house of horrors, her heart was flipped once more as she poured over the results of the autopsies. None of the bodies belonged to her sister.

    The fingerprints on the glass coffee table were disconcerting, however as they did belong to her sister, Alexa. Hanna had always known that she had been an artist, frustrated by her lack of success and recognition. Hanna’s rise in the scientific world had been even more galling, especially as their parents heaped praise on Hanna.

    Hanna stood in the darkened room watching her sister being interviewed by Mark.

    “People will always remember me now,” said Alexa, looking straight at the camera. “What did you think of my art, Hanna?”

     

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