Tidying up some mothballed work today, I tripped over some stories I wrote about six years ago. They were intended for a magazine, but I didn’t think they were quite good enough.
Here’s one that reads ok, though the writing style is so obviously rookie. Ha ha. Enjoy!
Nancy’s dark shadow advanced tentatively along the terracotta walls. She always felt nervous when faced with this ignominious task, but she had promised, hand on heart, that she would be supportive of his new strategy for taking over the world… Oh, she refused at first, of course. But then Benjamin looked at her with his big, brown eyes, his soft hands holding hers, the warmth of his body so close to her own. She had changed her mind even before he’d uttered softly ‘Please, for me…’ He needed her expertise, she could tell that. And it wouldn’t have been fair to let him down now, when he was so close to achieving his ambition…
Still, it didn’t detract from the fact that she was feeling anxious going through this disgusting procedure day after day, against her kind nature. Nancy let out a deep sigh as she reached for the door handle. A little edgy, she twisted the doorknob and entered. The darkness engulfed her at once, the eerie silence thick as treacle.
She fumbled for the light switch with quivering hands. Light flooded every corner of the dingy crypt. Her eyes wandered along the shiny steel worktops, past the containers now only halfway full of would-be victims, and a knot formed in her wrinkly throat. She swallowed hard and, for a minute, she didn’t seem to be able to tear herself away from the mass of writhing bodies. ‘Such a cruel fate looming over them…’ she thought. Still, it had to be done.
Bracing herself for the unpleasant procedure, Nancy picked up the cauldron from its stand and placed it on the weighing scales. She unhooked an apron from the back of the door, slipped it over her head and tied it around her middle. Then she picked up a pair of surgical gloves and slipped them on her hands. One by one, she took off the lids and lifted out the kill, her eyes nearly closed in disgust. They all went into the cauldron until it was crammed full. A few drops from a bottle marked ‘Stimulant’ in a rather untidy handwriting – oh, well, untidy writing was the prerogative of a genius, and she was quite prepared to forgive Benjamin something as trivial as that – and the job was almost done. She gave the poor creatures a little stir, gingerly so she wouldn’t bruise them, forgetting for a moment that worse things were about to happen to them.
Not any more comfortable with what she was doing, Nancy walked over to the corner of the room where the beasts were dwelling: an executioner carrying their dinner… The monsters were still asleep, or at least that’s what they looked like. They were all motionless, their greeny-brown bodies still and immobile, just visible amid the lush foliage. One was right behind the boulders, ready to strike. She smiled, remembering how difficult she had found it at first to keep track of them, how easily camouflaged these beings had been and what a fright they could occasionally give her… Good job they were caged!
She opened each cage in turn and tipped some of the contents of the cauldron into the feeding troughs. The weaker ones stayed where they were, twitching now and then, the stronger fled and scrambled in amongst the leaves and grasses, in a vain hope for salvation. Nancy shook her head and sighed. Terrible deeds were about to take place and she was doing nothing to stop them. She sighed again. Benjamin was her life; she just couldn’t say ‘No’ to him. She loved him more than life itself and he clearly knew it.
She cast a cursory glance around the cages once more, and was just about to turn around when she saw him. He was just stood there, his prey wriggling in his powerful jaws, swishing his scaly tail from side to side, his serpent eyes staring straight at her. Nancy shuddered and backed away from the enclosure.
She kept looking straight at him as if she was expecting the violent beast to jump out and go for her next. With the worktop creating a barrier between her and the cages, Nancy dared to look away and began to nervously tidy up. Thank heavens she didn’t have to do this anymore. Benjamin was likely to want to keep a close eye on his babies’ progress from tomorrow onwards and she was looking forward to staying out of that room.
She took off her gloves and dropped them in the pedal bin beside her. Tensely, she turned around to make sure again that nothing was out of place. Benjamin liked things to be tidy, just as he’d left them – another endearing trait, she found. She couldn’t stand mess and untidiness herself; perhaps that’s why they made such a good team… Her thoughts dominated by Benjamin’s face, Nancy took off her apron and absentmindedly brushed a torn leg off the steel worktop. That was better: no traces left.
Glad to leave the pungent basement behind, Nancy went straight into the kitchen and scrubbed her hands with hot soapy water. She clicked the kettle on and took out a cup. She’d need a strong cup of tea to get over this… Images of the hungry ogres were spinning in her head so clearly, she could almost hear the screams of their innocent victims. Nancy went back to the sink and washed her hands again. Nothing was going to make her less of a murderer, no matter how many times she scrubbed her hands… She opened the window and took a deep breath. Her eyes tightly closed, she tried to think positive thoughts. A biscuit. That’s what she needed: a nice chocolate biscuit to go with the cup of tea.
She prepared the tea and put a biscuit on a saucer next to it. On second thoughts, she put the tea, the saucer and the rest of the packet of biscuits on a small tray. Nancy wasn’t the greedy kind, but she felt she might need the extra sustenance today. She opened the conservatory door. The overnight rain gave way to a lovely sunny day. Yes, perfect for tea and biscuits in the garden.
She was just seeping the last drops of tea from the bottom of the cup when she heard the car stop on the driveway – a sleek, black number. Benjamin loved nice cars… He was walking straight towards her, a searching expression on his face.
‘How are they?’ said he, picking up a biscuit from the tray. ‘Still alive?’
‘They’re fine. And so am I, in case you’re wondering.’
‘Oops, sorry! I meant to ask but I forgot. Don’t tell mum, will you?’ and he turned his big brown eyes towards her, tilting his head a little to the side. ‘Please.’
Nancy smiled in forgiveness.
‘I won’t, I won’t. On one condition, though.’ She waited a minute for maximum effect. ‘Next time you go away, you find me a helper for looking after those lizards. Deal?’
‘Deal.’ Benjamin’s eyes were sparkling. ‘But they’re not lizards. They are geckos.’
He still had to have the last word. What was he going to be like when he grew up, she wondered? Nancy gave her six-year-old grandson an extra big hug. Perhaps she should try to think up some concoction to quieten him down a little. She could use the cauldron and some meal worms and cricket legs… ‘Might have to look up the local witch for a bit of guidance’, she chuckled to herself, hugging him still tighter to her chest.