Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Stranger

Since Davey left I had taken to wandering the streets at night. I couldn’t sleep and I imagined all the terrible things that could have happened to him if I sat in the house, so I had started walking. The advantage of city living was that the streets are always busy even at three in the morning. I tried not to be about when the nightclubs kicked out but even then if you kept your head down no one noticed you. I had been walking like this for the last four weeks, at first trying to find Davey and then now for something to do.

I had woken up one sunny Sunday morning to find Davey not there. I hadn’t worried. He sometimes needed to get away and I often woke to find him gone. Sometimes when he turned up again he would say it was work, but he never told me what he did or why he had to rush off, silently, in the dead of night. This time had been different. I had risen late and noticing him gone I had made myself some breakfast and sat watching some cooking programme. Eventually I decided to get dressed and after a long leisurely bubble bath I had gone to the wardrobe to pick out some comfy clothes. I didn’t have any easy clothes but there was an old sweat top of Davey’s in the bottom cupboard and I knew he wouldn’t mind if I borrowed it. I opened the cupboard. It was empty. Not just the sweatshirt but Davey’s shoes, trainers and walking boots had all gone. I checked his draw and that was empty too. I closed my eyes and visualised the bathroom. I couldn’t remember seeing Davey’s toothbrush. I rushed back into the bathroom and saw my toothbrush standing upright, alone, in the mug. I threw open the cabinet and the half shelf that we have squeezed Davey’s razor and deodorant onto was empty too.

Where had he gone? What had happened? I turned the bedroom upside down looking for a note. Surely he would have the courtesy to leave me a note. I heard the telephone in the lounge ringing. I rushed from the bedroom and stumbled down the stairs. Nearly losing my footing I grabbed the hand rail and slowed myself down until I reached ground level.

I grabbed the ‘phone. ‘Davey, is that you?’

‘Is that Miss Jones?’ A sober voice asked.

‘Yes. Who’s this?’ I gasped. It wasn’t Davey.

‘Are you at 15 Somerset Close?’

‘Who is this? I’m not giving out my address to people who randomly call me.’

‘I’m sorry Miss but this is Huxtable police station and we have just found a bag that we think belongs to you. Can you come and collect it please?’

‘I haven’t lost a bag and I’m a bit busy at the moment.’

‘Well it had a note inside with your name and this ‘phone number on but it is full of men’s clothes.’


‘Sorry Miss what was that?’

‘Don’t worry I’m on my way.’

When I got to the police station there was a large holdall full of Davey’s clothes waiting for me. The note inside said he had had to go home and was sorry he couldn’t take me with him. The police weren’t interested when I explained things to them and after two hours of ranting and crying they told me I had to go home and stop wasting their time.

That had been four weeks ago. That first night I couldn’t sleep so I got up and gone for a walk. I had never been to Davey’s flat me he didn’t have a car so it couldn’t be too far from my house. I even hoped that I might see him at work, whatever that had been. But there had never been any sign of him. Now it was more of a habit and at least I slept for a few hours once I got home, knowing I had at least tried.

Now I looked up and saw the full moon, exactly the same as the night Davey went. I would have to stop this eventually but tonight would be special. I could feel it. I wandered around for a few hours and as I was starting to think about turning home I walked passed an alleyway up the side of an old nightclub. I had never noticed it before. I turned and entered. I thought I could see a light at the other end. Not a dead end then. I would give it a go.

I was half way down the alley when he stepped out of nowhere. A tall man, over six and a half feet tall, and he was wearing a cloak with a cowl hood. It covered him from head to foot. All I could see were his eyes. They sparkled blue in the moonlight and I felt a calmness descend over me. He wasn’t Davey, too tall, but I knew he could offer me hope.

‘We have been testing you human.’ He whispered. I didn’t see his lips move but his words washed over me.

‘Have I passed?’

‘Yes. You have kept the faith and shown great fortitude.’

‘What now?’

‘He cannot come back. You must go to him.’


‘Yes. The way is hard and you cannot come back.’

‘I must go. Let me go to him.’

The man put his hands to my neck and my vision clouded. My head became light and the darkness lifted as I saw the beam of light above. I was floating, floating away. Davey. I was going to see Davey again.


The Huxtable Gazette

Police issued the name of the woman found murdered last night in the city centre. She was Imelda Jones. The Huxtable Gazette believe this is the third time the full moon killer has struck but the police have refused to comment on the chances that there is a serial killer loose in our city.



If you enjoyed this why not check out Jo’s other short stories on her blog

Or treat yourself to ‘So the Feeling Shows’ short story anthology now available on Kindle



Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Mystery Cookie

‘Time you learnt your lesson you greedy bastard,’ the note said. It was celotaped to a little toy coffin and placed in the middle of Jimmy’s desk exactly where for the last four weeks a cookie had been placed. Jimmy had never known who the cookie was from but each morning he had eaten the cookie with his morning cup of tea. The first morning he had been a little nervous that it had been left by mistake but when no one had claimed it by morning break Jimmy couldn’t resist and he had quickly demolished the cookie. Each day since he had received a different cookie and by the start of week two he was struggling to wait until morning break to devour his treat.

He had started smiling at all the girls in the office and none of them seemed to be paying him any more attention than usual. He hoped Michelle, the office PA, had left it. She was beautiful and always talked to him. The only thing was she was a fitness nut and often complained of the calorific lunches he ate. But there was no clue as to who had left the cookies or where the coffin had appeared from.

Jimmy sat down with a thump onto his office chair and started to take deep breaths.

‘You okay there Jimmy?’ called Pete from the opposite desk.

‘Yes fine thanks mate.’ Jimmy lifted his hand in thanks and slid the toy coffin into his top draw.

Once Jimmy had managed to get his breath he took the coffin out of his draw and popped it into his pocket. He walked towards the toilets and looked around him as he went. Everyone seemed to be focused on their work. No one was looking at him. No one cared his life had been threatened.

He walked into the bathroom and after checking all the cubicles were empty he locked himself into the last one, lowered the toilet lid and sat down. Jimmy slowly slid the coffin out of his pocket and looked at the note attached to it.

The note was printed in capitals and there was no clue as to who had written it. He turned the coffin over in his hand and as he did it fell open. A small folded piece of paper flittered to the floor. Jimmy bent down and felt a twinge as his chest tightened. He stretched his arm and managed to tweezer the folded paper between the second and third fingers of his right hand. He carefully lifted the paper and unfolded it.

The cookies you have been eating are slowly eking a deadly poison into your system. The next one could be the killer cookie. Act now!!!!

Jimmy sat starting at the note and would have stayed like that all day if someone hadn’t entered the toilet and started banging about. Jimmy flushed the toilet and headed back to his desk. There in the middle of his desk was a brochure for the local gym and a weight watchers booklet. Jimmy grabbed them both and pushed them into his bag under the desk.


Six months later Jimmy walked into the office and threw his gym bag under his desk. He couldn’t believe how easy it had been. Six months before he would have been out of breathe just climbing the two flights of stairs and now he could easily manage the three mile run to work.

Wait, what the? Jimmy thought.

There in the middle of Jimmy’s Desk was an extra large double chocolate chip cookie. Jimmy looked at it and licked his lips. He lifted the cookie and inhaled its smooth chocolaty smell. He looked at it and turned, taking in the office and all his colleagues as he did. No one was looking at him. He hadn’t had a cookie for six months and this one was his all time favourite. Jimmy closed his eyes and opened his hand. The cookie fell straight down into the bin. Before Jimmy opened his eyes he felt a slap on his back and then another and another. As he opened his eyes everyone in the office was crowded round him.

‘Jimmy, I’m so proud of you.’ Michelle walked through the crowd. She was almost a foot smaller than Jimmy. She looked up and smiled. Her green eyes sparkled and she needed to stand on tiptoes, even in her five inch heels, to put her arms around his neck. ‘I was so worried about your health. I didn’t know what to do.’

‘It was you. The cookies and the coffin?’

‘Yes, are you very angry?’

‘No. I want to thank you. You gave me the push I needed. I still have a way to go but the weight I’ve lost is all thanks to you.’

‘No, it’s all your hard work.’ Michelle said

‘Well maybe we can discuss this over dinner tonight?’

‘Yes please.’ Michelle pulled Jimmy down to a more comfortable height and kissed him.

The rest of the office cheered and enveloped them both in a group hug.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

The one that got away

Who would have thought it? It had been twenty years but I recognised him the minute he walked into the room. Roger Burnistan, my first love. I remembered when I was thirteen and he was sixteen. He was so grown up, so wonderful. Everything about him had screamed bad boy but even at that young age I knew he was the boy for me.

He went away. We never knew where. Some of the village gossips said borstal, other to some kind of army boot camp. His father claimed he had gone to university. But he was only sixteen when he left and he never came back for the holidays. He was clever but not university clever, street smarts I would call it these days. When he did come back he had grown and the skinniness of his body had matured and bulked out. He wasn’t overly muscled but he had a body you would want to see naked. Not an ounce of fat and when his father made him work on the farm he lifted bags of feed and hay bales as if they were filled with cotton wool. The way he lifted me the first time and lay on the straw in the hay loft I felt like I was made of china and he would do anything to protect me. I had grown since he left and now at eighteen I had inherited my mum’s Rita Hayworth figure.

The summer was hot and Roger worked in the field shirtless. I made sure I cycled passed in my shortest shorts and tightest top. I knew he couldn’t resist and when I got a puncture one day he rushed over to help. I couldn’t believe my luck when the rain started and we dived into the barn for cover. The kiss melted me and I knew more was coming. Then he laid me on the straw and as he kissed my neck he slowly stroked my leg, his hand getting slightly higher with each movement. I don’t know why but as his hand reached the button on my shorts and started to undo it I panicked. I jumped up and ran out into the rain and back down the lane until I made it home. His dad brought my bike back the next day. I started dressing more sensibly and when the local boys started to sneer and giggle as I walked passed I learnt to ignore them. Not long after I went to university and never returned to my little village again. I always wondered what it was that had made me stop him and thought how my life might have been very different if I hadn’t. And today for the first time in twenty years I was to come face to face with him.

Roger stood in front of me and from the look in his eyes I could tell he didn’t know who I was. I smiled and his eyes flickered in recognition.

‘Roger Burnistan,’ I said. ‘I am arresting you for the rape and murder of fifteen girls. You do not have to say anything. However, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’

Yes how different my life might have been.

Cover campaign