Author Topic: The Long Goodbye  (Read 7445 times)

Offline Taylor

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The Long Goodbye
« on: October 31, 2014, 07:11:48 PM »
“Mr Whitlock?” the police officer said.

“Yes.” He willed his heart to calm as he fought back the urge to slam the door on them and end it here and now. God knew he no longer had the stomach for it.

“I’m Sergeant Hillier and this is PC Glynn. This afternoon we had a visit from your brother-in-law.”

Mr Whitlock nodded, mouth slack.

“Are you alright, sir?” said Glynn. “You look a bit shaky.”

“No, it’s just, I haven’t been sleeping too well lately, that’s all.” He offered them a watery smile.

“We’re sorry to intrude at this hour,” Hillier continued, “but Mr Stevens is very concerned about your wife. He told us he hasn’t seen or heard from her since October last.”

Seven months, Mr Whitlock thought. Had it really been seven months? “We were abroad for a while. When we came back, my wife fell ill...”

“Infection, wasn’t it?” Hillier enquired.

“Yes,” Mr Whitlock replied, resenting the look of incredulity on the police officer’s face. “But, there were complications. I told him that.”

“But that was three months ago, according to your brother-in-law,” Hillier said in a flat tone. “And since then he’s been unable to contact you.”

“I’ve been busy – caring for my wife.”

“We appreciate that, sir,” Glynn said, “but we would like to see if she’s okay – just so we can tell Mr Stevens there’s nothing to worry about.”

“But, she’s asleep,” he protested, knowing to let them see her now would mean losing the chance to say goodbye for ever. The thought forced his hand. He tried to shut the door on them but the Sergeant wedged his boot in the gap.

“Step away from door,” the PC ordered.

He ignored her command. As he strained to keep them out, he desperately tried to dislodge the boot with his foot. But it was stuck fast. The combined weight of the two police officers became too much to bear; he gave up trying and reached for his gun.

“Don't...” Hillier gasped, lunging for the man's left arm.

Glynn pounced on Whitlock's free arm, pinning it to the wall as her colleague made him drop the gun.

“You’re under arrest,” the sergeant said, kicking the gun out of harm’s way. “For being in the possession of a firearm...”

Mr Whitlock barely registered the pain when his arms were bent behind his back. Nor when handcuffs snapped around his wrists.

“Where’s your wife, Mr Whitlock?” Glynn said, her voice strained.

“She’s dead...” he muttered, eyes moist. “I killed her. I killed them all.”

“I said ‘where’?” Hillier shouted into Whitlock’s ear.

“The cellar,” he said, voice low.

“Where’s that?” said Hillier.

“Under the stairs.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “At the end of the hall.”

Hillier strode past the stairs. He opened the cellar door; the sickly-sweet smell that wafted out was as uninviting as the darkness within. “Where’s the light switch?” he said over his shoulder.

Mr Whitlock lowered his head, lips pressed tight.

Hillier took a deep breath, felt around the inside of the door, and found the light switch. He flicked it a few times but it didn’t work. Gritting his teeth, he drew his torch. “Watch him,” he said, showing the beam into the deeper darkness of the cellar. He edged down the stairs leaning against the wall for support. With each descending step his feet became heavier and the air grew thicker. At the bottom of the stairs was silence save for his ragged breathing and hammering heartbeat.

He played the torch across the cellar and a chest freezer caught his attention. The lid was the colour of a butcher’s apron. Hoping the stains were splashes of paint, he moved the torch up and went suddenly cold. Knives. A rack of them, their blades smeared with blood, hung on the wall.

As he approached the chest freezer, his foot brushed against something and he froze. Heart in mouth, he lowered the torch. The beam found a body. A woman. He crouched beside her, wondering if she alive. The smell wasn't reassuring. No sooner had he touched her than he knew she was dead. Her hand felt cold, stiff with rigor mortis. A crackle of static came from his radio, followed by Glynn’s voice.

“Sarge” Glynn repeated. “You okay?”

Hillier stood up, a dullness in his chest, and grasped the radio. “I’ve found a body. Female.”

“His wife?” said Glynn.

“I don’t think so.” Hillier aimed the torch at her. “She looks too young.” She reminded him of somebody. The image of a face on the missing person’s board at the station crossed his mind. He went suddenly cold.

“Sarge?” Glynn prompted.

Hillier cleared his throat. ”I think it’s one of the missing call girls...”

“Are you sure?” Glynn said.

“I think so.” A flush of adrenaline tingled through him as he realised what he was saying. He remembered what Whitlock had said, about killing them all, and then swung the torch across the cellar. The beam found another woman. Tied to the wall. She was gagged, and her clothes hung on her like rags.

“Sarge?” said Glynn.

“There’s another woman,” Hillier breathed, trying to keep the torch steady. Her eyes, ringed with makeup, looked like pale buttons set in dough. The smudges of rouge on her cheeks were colourless shadows that gave her a cadaverous, wasted appearance.

“Is she alive?” Glynn said.

“Barely.” Hillier played the beam across his path as he approached her. A table stood between them. The flowers on it smelled fresh, but their fragrance failed to mask the sharp edge of decay. He spied other things which seemed out of place. Dolls. A portable radio. Photographs.

Hillier kept the torch on the photographs. They showed Whitlock and a woman. She looked like the woman standing before him. Whitlock’s wife?

He winced as she strained against the straps. “It’s okay, madam. I’m a police officer. You’re safe now.”

When he removed the gag, he noticed the missing part of her face, the withered yellow bone showing through it. He remembered what Whitlock had said about his wife and a shock went through him. The words tumbled through his mind as she leaned over him, her mouth open like the promise of a kiss.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 02:26:44 PM by Taylor »
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Philip K. Dick

Offline McWawa

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Re: The Long Goodbye
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2014, 03:50:03 AM »
Great story, thanks for posting.
"Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?",
Axel Oxenstierna

Offline Taylor

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Re: The Long Goodbye
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2014, 03:17:44 PM »
After I posted it and read it, I was dissatisfied with it. Tried to delete it but couldn't.

It's nice to know you think it's good as it stands.

Thanks, buddy.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Philip K. Dick

Offline bailish

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Re: The Long Goodbye
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2014, 02:54:34 AM »
Overall, I like it. Good story and good writing. Perhaps some changes in reactions.

Offline Taylor

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Re: The Long Goodbye
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2014, 07:51:35 PM »
Thanks, bailish.

Yeah, I noticed I'd repeated a couple of phrases...

I really shouldn't be trying to post stuff while half-cut. Not good for me. Or my writing.

Better luck next time.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 07:53:53 PM by Taylor »
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Philip K. Dick