Sunday, 5 July 2009


A new shocker from Lee...

Girl About Town

The night had arrived. The darkness swarmed. Choking and blanketing everything.
If the battery in her MP3 player hadn't died then Jessica would never have heard the footfalls behind her. Not that knowing they were there made any difference. She still ended up dead. All she achieved was to give some sport to the sicko, in the form of a chase. Her friends, they had called her a girl-about-town. The following morning she literally was one. They still hadn't found her head.

A copper looked at the lane they'd been sent to cordon off. Another one stood at his side, "Think it's another rented and dented?"

"No. Don't think so. I think he's just stepped up from offing whores," was the reply.

The man had wanted to get his jollies. Now he was ducking into the back of his chauffer-driven car. At speed, the car dragged itself away into the rain-swept night.

Tobin looked up. The rain pummelled him. Tonight, there was no moon to keep vigil. Just as well. Its silver reach would have hidden the show and smothered its ethereal splendour. To Tobin, the show wasn't a splendorous thing. It was a sickening thing. He only did it for the money.

Tobin looked down from the heavens and to the lane. The blood was gone. It hadn't been washed away by the rain, but by the age of a week. The man had been the first punter that he'd taken to the lane. The window for opportunity was small. Sooner or later the murderer would be caught and the hotspots would cool, soon becoming nothing but normal.

Tobin sat in the chair and drank his way towards the morning. The light that seeped in through the ill-fitting curtains awoke him. The shards of light jabbed at his eyeballs. He turned his head to the side and felt sorry for himself some more.

That lasted for no more than a thrifty minute before there was a thumping at the door. The kind of heavy-handed knock that meant either debt-collectors or the police. He hoped it was the debt-collectors as he had the money for them. Something inside told him it was the latter.

He wasn't wrong. Tobin had a knack for bringing back the moments of someone's murder for the entertainment of others. So being a little precognitive didn't bowl him over with wonder. The pair on his doorstep weren't in blues and twos. These two men were the supposed brains. The taller one asked, "Mr Stanley Tobin?"

"Yeah," admitted Tobin. Though he hated when his name was said like that. That's why he'd reversed it all those years ago. Tobin Stanley sounded a much better name. Stan sounded like a pot-bellied, dart-playing dustman. The shorter of the two asked, "Can we come in?"

"Yeah," said Tobin as he backtracked and nodded with his head.

They both had a sniff of the air, real hound-dogs with warrant cards. Tobin leant up against the wall and asked them, "What're you sniffing for? Drugs, explosives, bits of dead women?"

"What?" asked the Detective named Porter momentarily stunned. As was his colleague Detective Keyes who added a, "Huh?"

Tobin shunted himself off the wall with his shoulders and walked across the room, "I don't drive so it can't be speeding tickets."

"Strange you should jump straight to that conclusion though, Mr Tobin. Perhaps we're just doing a door-to-door," said Porter.

"Nah. I'd have heard next door's Alsatian barking. Goes mental when someone knocks at the door."

"Maybe dogs like us," said Keyes. Tobin shrugged, "Suppose someone has to." That made both detectives’ eyes harden. Tobin could see they were done with playing games. Tobin scratched at his neck, "Look. I'm tired and hung-over. Let's just get on with this and get it done with. Do you want to sit?"

"You can. But, I think we'll stand," said Porter. Tobin shrugged and sat down in the chair he usually slept in.

"Where were you last night?"

"Down Saddle Lane," admitted Tobin.

"On your own?" asked Keyes.

"No. I was giving a tour," said Tobin, no point in lying. Someone that knew him must have spotted him and the client hanging about the place and grassed. Porter made a couple of notes. He looked up, "And who was this man?"

"No idea. He paid me cash."

"So. Let me get this straight then. You gave someone a tour of the place where the murder of that young woman happened and this man paid you for it?"


"Why didn't he just go down to Saddle Lane on his lonesome and save himself some cash? How much did he pay by the way?"

"He'd not have seen anything if he'd just been on his 'lonesome' and he paid me a grand," said Tobin. No point in holding anything back. In for a penny, in for a pound and all of that nonsense. The amount grabbed at their attention more than anything. They instantly looked as though they were in the wrong business. Then the shock passed, well it did for Porter, "Sounds like you’re running one of those charlatan clairvoyance things. Conning people out of their cash."

"It's the real deal," said Tobin as he kept complete eye-contact. Keyes took a turn, "The real deal? You trying to say that you can see the murder? Actually show it to pervs?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying," replied Tobin.

"That's sick and twisted!" said Keyes. Porter decided it was his turn, "I have severe doubts about its legitimacy. But at the moment that's neither here, nor there. You see. We trawled Saddle Lane the morning after parts of the murdered woman were discovered. We found a footprint. Everything was recorded and removed. Then we get reports of you and 'Mr A. Nother' poncing about the lane. So, we go back this morning and we notice a rather familiar and very distinctive footprint. Now looking at the size of you. You're a tad bit short for them to be yours. So we think it might just belong to your client. We'd like to know who he his."

"I really don't know," said Tobin.

Keyes said, "I think you're lying, I mean how do people just stumble upon your services?" Tobin shook his head, "Same way if a guy wants to get off watching a nun blow a chimpanzee. There's ways and means."

"So. How'd he make contact?" asked Porter.

"There's a load of people that know about my talents. Anyone of them could have given him my number. He phoned up and said what he wanted. He asked me how much and I told him. Met him there. He paid in cash. I can show you the wedge if you want?"

"So you saw him then?"

"No. He wore a mask."

"I think you're lying."

"I'm not. I've been completely honest with you so far. But, the only way I think I can prove it is to take you there, tonight." Porter looked to Keyes and shrugged, "Think we can spare a few hours?"

Tobin watched the night come in from inside the unmarked car. Seeing as it had barely been mid-morning when he had gave them such an odd offer they had stayed with him to make sure that he didn't get up to any mischief. Tobin hadn't been chuffed with how he had been forced to spend his day. He knew that it was the only way to get the police off his back. Tonight's moon was just the tiniest of slices, its presence, hoped Tobin wouldn't mar what the detectives had waited all day long to see. Porter looked at his watch. The coroner had estimated the time of death at being somewhere about eleven o'clock. Tobin had informed them that it was seven-minutes past to be precise. Keyes yawned and said, "Can't believe we're doing this. I mean, it's like a story from one of those old Pan horror books I used to read as a kid." A smile grew on Porter's face, "I remember those. A friend of mine once half-inched one from Woolworths."

"If you want to watch this we need to get out of the car now," said Tobin, breaking up the reverie. All three of them got out and immediately felt the pinch of the cold night air.

Tobin led them to near the maw of the lane.

"You'll get to see all that you need from here," said Tobin as he waited to feel the wind of events begin. It always began the same. He could feel the undiluted fear. His heart reluctantly taking on the panicked beat of the victim. He could even taste their screams in his mouth. It was at that point that he projected them, made them visual. As the ethereal vision began to mix with the living, breathing plane of existence. He looked at the detectives. He wanted to see the look of realisation upon their faces. The look that showed him that they now knew he was telling the truth. That he was very much innocent. Tobin, he didn't get to see those looks. He saw hungry faces. Keyes grinned, "I couldn't see properly last night from the car."

"I told you it was real and that it was a threat to us," replied Porter.

Keyes withdrew a knife from inside his jacket. Porter did the same.

Tobin backed into the lane, "What the fuck!" were his last words as Porter and Keyes fell about the task of cutting him up and cutting him down. All the while right up until the moment he died Tobin projected the violent murder of Jessica Wilson into the lane. Misery, they say, loves company.


Lee Hughes' short fiction has appeared in or is due to appear in the anthology Cern Zoo Nemonymous 9, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, A Twist of Noir,, The Daily Tourniquet and Powder Flash Burn. To find out more visit, www.LeeHughesWrites.BlogSpot.Com.


  1. Lee,

    Hell of a story that defies category, even if it is marked as a crime chiller.

    It could be horror, it could be science fiction, it could be crime, it could be all of the above and more.

    Excellent little tale.

  2. Lee, you're bloody good at this writing lark, arent you? That is a GOAL if ever there was one.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Couldn't resist it, with the Pan reference Paul. And thanks all for the kind words.

  5. Hi Lee, love these little crime stories with a touch of the supernatural. It's sometimes hard to define but you hit all three marks thriller, killer and chiller with this one.

    By the way Lee and paul - I caught the Pan reference, too and smiled when I read it.

  6. I'm still chuckling . Wouldn't it be great to resurrect the books?

  7. Definitely, but who would fill the boots of Herbert van Thal, even his name's eerie.

  8. Where are all the publishers when an idea like that one comes up? Guys, it may be worth someone taking it on and throwing the idea at a couple publisihng houses.

  9. Paul van Brazill, has a better ring to it. So what's your first move gonna be? lol

  10. So this is what you lot get up to when I'm sunning me-self?

    Great story, Lee. Very imaginative.

  11. Well, there are these that even include some of the Pan Book of Horror writers.

  12. Thanks for the link Clarence, you can't beat a decent horror anthology.