Thursday, 25 June 2009

COLD AS THE GRAVE by Vallon Jackson

Cold as the Grave

Big, red-faced Jimmy stepped through the open door, stamping his feet and blowing into his cupped palms. His coat was done up to his chin and he had a woollen hat pulled low, but he still looked frozen. “I guarantee you, boys, there’ll be more snotty noses than standing cocks tonight.”

He came into the kitchen, still blowing warmth at his blue hands. “I’m telling you, boys. You know it’s fuckin’ cold when your dick shrivels up like a prawn vol-au-vent!”

No one answered him. No one laughed. They’d already heard Jimmy’s lurid take on the cold snap on three separate occasions.

“Close the door, will ya?” Bobby was hunkered down in front of the oven. The door was open and the meagre blue flame inside was the only source of heat in the old house.

“Thought all the power and stuff was off?” Jimmy moved towards the oven holding out his palms.

“It is, but the oven’s Calor gas. There was a li’le bit left in the bottle.” Bobby shoved him away. “Fuckin’ hell, Jimmy, I can feel the cold coming off ya! You a fuckin’ ghost or summat?”

“Gotta admit, I feel like I’m about three days dead.”

Jimmy and Bobby both looked around at the latest speaker.

Johnny Boy stood up and walked over to Bobby and shoved him side-ways. “Stop hoggin’ all the fuckin’ heat.”

“Yeah, move it,” Jimmy added.

“Tosser!” Bobby called Jimmy, but he reluctantly gave way to the older man, his face twisting as he was shunted away from the small flame.

Johnny Boy was a man in his late-forties – heavily built, his jowls drooping and his hair turning grey at the sides – a bit of a misnomer at any stretch. But he was also the hardest of the three and neither Jimmy nor – especially – Bobby would argue too stringently. Johnny Boy put his arse to the oven, lifting the tail of his coat to warm his lower back. He stood there smiling at the other two but there wasn’t the slightest mote of humour in his eyes.

“Is he there yet, Jimmy?”

Jimmy shoved his hands in his pockets and fiddled round like he was adjusting his underpants. “I froze me fuckin’ bollocks off, but it was worth it. The grass was right. He does use the dump across the way as a squat. He’s there, Johnny Boy. Alone.”

“Good.” Johnny Boy allowed his coat to drop as he transferred his hands to his own pockets. He pulled out an illegal semi-automatic pistol: an imported SIGMA, but neither of the other two would know that. From his other pocket he pulled out a magazine and slapped it in place. He racked the slide. “You two packin’ like I told ya?”

Bobby pulled out a sawn-off shotgun with a chopped and taped stock. Double barrelled. A farmer’s gun adapted to fit under his armpit. He clicked it open and fed in a couple 12 bore cartridges.

Jimmy said, “I’ve a pick handle. Don’t trust meself to pull a trigger, my hands are so cold.”

“Keep rubbing your balls like that and the friction’ll set em on fire,” Bobby said.

“I’m not rubbin’ me balls,” Jimmy said. “I’m still trying to find ‘em!”

Bobby laughed this time. “Heard you often have that problem with your dick.”

“You wouldn’t like it as a wart on the end of your nose,” Jimmy said right back. Another of his sadly over-used rejoinders.

“Shut up,” Johnny Boy grunted. “Fuckin’ idiots that I have to work with...”

He led them out of the house and into the biting cold. It was dark outside, no moon, no stars, just a heavy mist that covered everything. The mist dampened down the sound so much it felt like they were walking through some sort of void between worlds.

Johnny Boy felt the mist clinging to his face, turning to ice crystals on his eyelashes. He rubbed a palm across his jowls and they felt like they were as tight as a virgin’s arse. He exhaled, and a cloud of frozen breath streamed around him.

Three days dead, he thought. It was as cold as the fuckin’ grave, right enough.

But soon things were gonna hot up.

A faint glow poked through the mist. Yellowish – like piss spreading in a swimming pool. They had to move closer before they could make out that it was the light from the living room in the derelict house opposite.

“Can you see him?” Johnny Boy whispered.

Jimmy pointed, using the pick handle he’d picked up from outside their hiding place. “Saw him in there about five minutes ago. Dunno where he’s at now.”

Johnny Boy nudged Bobby. “You’re the smallest. Sneak over there and see if you can see him.”

“What if he sees me?”

“You’ve got a fuckin’ shotgun, what’re you afraid of?”

Bobby sniffed a dew drop from the end of his nose. “It’s fuckin’ Jack Dunn we’re talkin’ about. Bad bastard. Even with the gun I don’t want to go up against him on me own!”

“He’s not fuckin’ bullet proof,” Johnny Boy snarled, but even he wasn’t so sure that he’d be here without Bobby and Jimmy backing him up. “Fuckin’ big man killer for hire! Maybe the cops couldn’t prove he was the one who capped my cousin, Ronnie, but I know it. An’ he’s gonna pay. Now git over there and see where he’s at. Soon as you give us the nod we’ll be on him like stink on shit. Right, Jimmy?”

Jimmy didn’t answer and Johnny Boy turned, searching for him in the mist. All that remained of his passing was a faint swirl in the mist.

“Where the fuck has he sneaked off to?” Johnny Boy did a slow pirouette where he stood. There was no sign of the big man. Just his pick handle lying on the ground. “I don’t believe this; the fucker’s bottled it!” He turned back towards Bobby. “Well, it’s just me an’ you, Bobby, but don’t worry we can still do this...”

Bobby was nowhere to be seen.

“Bobby? Bobby! Where the...”

Johnny Boy gripped the butt of his SIGMA, but now the gun didn’t seem the equaliser that he’d originally thought. In fact it felt woefully inadequate. A bit like he felt, really.

He took a slow step back, turned, and was about to leg it.

A form reared out of the mist in front of him.

Johnny Boy couldn’t make out the face of the man. It had nothing to do with the cloying mist, but everything to do with the sawn-off shotgun barrels jammed against the bridge of his nose.

“Going somewhere, Johnny Boy?” Jack Dunn asked.

Johnny Boy didn’t even think about lifting his gun. If anyone cared to listen he’d have told them that his fingers were too cold to pull the trigger anyway. The truth was, he was decidedly warm. At least he was in his trousers when he pissed himself.

It was shameful, pissing himself like that, but he didn’t have long to worry about it.

The shot-gun was reversed very quickly and the stock slammed against the side of his head.


It was three days until they were found. The slaughterhouse had closed on Friday evening, so it wasn’t until Monday morning before the staff arrived and found Johnny Boy, Jimmy and Bobby trussed together in the meat locker.
Three days dead.

The constable had to step aside for the Detective Sergeant who arrived at the scene.

“What have we got?” the DS asked.

“Three of them this time.”

“Same gang?”

“Yeah,” the constable said. “You think that Jack Dunn did them?”

“We’ve no proof that there’s even a person called Jack Dunn, constable. You ask me, it’s just a story these scrotes put out to cover for the murders in their little turf wars. And if I were you I’d just keep on thinking that way.”

The DS stepped inside the meat locker and immediately shivered.

“Bloody Baltic in here,” he muttered, rubbing his hands together.

“Minus thirty,” the SOCO investigator said from the centre of the room. “They were still alive when they were tied up in here, poor sods. It looks like they froze to death, Sarge.”

Yeah, the DS thought, thinking about Jimmy’s words that he’d overheard as they planned to kill him, I know there were more snotty noses than standing cocks that night.
Vallon Jackson is the pseudonym of a published author. Not all of his work features vigilante action.


  1. Scary, gripping stuff.

  2. Nice work. Being violent without showing the violence. That must have taken restraint.

  3. Thanks both. Wasn't really sure if this one worked when I wrote it, but on reading it back I think now it does. I tried to male the bad guys the leads, but gave them characters that didn't necessarily make you want them to succeed. And like in the best horror movies, I thought the violence would work better 'off screen'. Personally I think it makes Hive's skills more mysterious and effective because we don't see what he did to the guys coming to kill him. We get a good idea of his warped sense of justice from the way he puts the baddies to death - hope people caught the subtlety (they were grouching about the cold so he made them even colder?)

    And, I've done it again, haven't I. Blown my cover. Some detective, me!

  4. Above 'male' should read as 'make' by the way.

  5. Very chilling -sorry couldn't resist. well told mate!

  6. A chiller indeed! Until the last paragraph I had no idea where it was leading - neatly written.

  7. Thanks Clare.

    By the way folks, I've done a minor rewrite and changed the 'hero' to Jack Dunn. Evan Hive is the name of another character I write and I didn't really feel that this one fit into the Hive world (never mentioned he was a cop before). You can find Jack Dunn in another short posted here called Dunn Deal.