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This year's Halloween story, Part the Third - Laura Wise

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October 28th, 2011


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03:30 pm - This year's Halloween story, Part the Third
I feel as though I should pour you all a cup of tea and offer 'round the tea biscuits before posting this next installment, but... Imagine tea and biscuits, anyway, and the warm hum of an old radio, and the edge-of-chill wind of an English October.

And here we go with more of Guin and Jeffrey and their Hallows Eve adventure.

We left off with It was a body, and it appeared to be quite dead..

Onward!

"I'll go first, dear," Jeffrey said, suiting action to word. "I know how these moments take you."

Despite her ingrained dislike of male assertiveness, Guin recognized this example as his characteristic kindness. Five years she had spent on these monthly missions, and yet she still wasn't used to quite so many deaths and quite so much gore. Jeffrey, of course, operated with the painful familiarity with both that he'd gained during the war.

The creature who lived in the heart of the Old Wood had been there for centuries, ravening, freed to hunt every time the moon reached its displayed perfection. For all too long the creature had had its way -- which was why the fine old village of Greater Sett had lost too many of its inhabitants and was now naught but a few skeletal walls where homes had once stood, naught indeed but bones in the moonlight; which was why the wild population of the county shunned the forest.

Guin's Aunt Isolde, whose duty and historical records Guin had inherited, had always thought that the creature might starve itself at last, but that final moment had never seemed further away--

"I say!" Jeffrey, crouched at the body's side, gently rolled the corpse onto its back. "Guin, this isn't our creature's kill."

"What now?" She hurried to inspect further.

The dead man who lay now in the full moonlight was a stranger to her. He appeared respectable enough: clean-shaven, a neatly arranged travelling suit, polished boots.

He also had two distinct bullet-holes in his chest. There was no blood, however.

"Murder," Jeffrey said.

"Yes, dear, I should say so." She was already walking cautiously into the dark, there on the edge of the wood. It was colder here, an uncanny chill that worked underneath sensible tweed, underneath the skin, and the branches of the trees seemed to reach out with clawed fingers to catch the unwary. This was quite usual, a manifestation of the creature's presence.

The spatters of blood, flung broadcast about the path, was not.

She looked overhead into the tree where the body had been resting. Here there was dark upon dark, here there was an odd smell. Blood and feces, yes, which so often accompanied untimely death, and the good healthy decay of plant life at the beginning of winter, but.... she couldn't immediately place this new scent.

The growling started again, in the shadows of the shadows. Now she heard the note she expected -- part growl, part snuffling rage.

"Don't do something foolish, if you please," she said sharply, and pointed her knife toward the sound. She was rewarded by a softening of the growls, and--

"I'm sorry, dearest, you're quite right. I shouldn't have disturbed the body," Jeffrey said. She smiled to herself, there in the dark: he was such a lovely, humble man, even when mistaking her words. He continued, "But, er, since I'm here, let me look in his pockets for some identification."

"That sounds reasonable," she said. With one more look at the tree limbs which had cradled the dead man, she came back out, to Jeffrey still crouched over the body. She placed her free hand on his shoulder, and then she paused.

There, by the near wall of the Loaf of Bread. There, half in shadow, a man watched them.

And then, growling, the creature leapt from the dark of the forest into the moonlight, and then it was all fangs and claws and rustle as it went for the shadow-man.

"No!" Guin cried. But this was not for the creature of the wood.

This was for her belated understanding of that odd smell at wood's edge, that yeast-and-hops mixture of the pub's best ale. And this was for the gun in the man's hand.
..................


More on Sunday, perhaps!

For now, may it be a good start to a weekend full of all the excitement you can stand. :-)

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:paratti
Date:October 28th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Meep.

Good stuff.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 28th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, L, thank you for reading and meeping. :-)

Cheers and one last round of thanks!
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From:mamculuna
Date:October 28th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Eeee, this is scary and wonderful! Great switch on the murderer turns out to be supernatural. And very much love Guin, with her ruffles and hatpins.


Almost glad I had to wait and read these all at once--glad now, anyway.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 28th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you! I'm glad that the twist and the heroine please -- I'm enjoying Guin and Jeffrey a lot. :-)

Much appreciation sent your way! Thanks. :-)
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From:kathyh
Date:October 28th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
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Love the mix of the supernatural and the real in this. Very intriguing installment :)
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 28th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you, K! Gratitude sent your way for your reading and commenting. :-)
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From:stevie_carroll
Date:October 29th, 2011 07:28 am (UTC)
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Ooh, a wonderful twisty chapter there.
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From:laurawise
Date:October 29th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC)
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Thanks, Stevie, thanks! Much appreciated. :-)
[User Picture]
From:janus_74
Date:October 29th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
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Yikes! Looking forward to Sunday (perhaps).
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:October 29th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, T. :-) Thanks twice, and happy Saturday!
[User Picture]
From:stateless82
Date:November 2nd, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
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Ahhhh!

And off like a shot to the next part. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:November 2nd, 2011 11:04 am (UTC)
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Thank you, S, for reading and for rushing off to the next part. :-) Thanks twice!

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