A – Z Challenge Day 9

Today sees the beginning of another week in the April A-Z Challenge! I’m both excited and terrified at the prospect of writing six more stories in six days, so let’s get started!

Today’s word comes once again from the inestimable Kate. Now, I know you’re all getting sick of hearing about her wonderful contributions, but don’t worry, she only has one more after this! I for one, am extremely grateful for her help as she has suggested a dazzling sequence of words for my challenge this month. Today’s word is no exception, as it is “INKLING”. Another one to give me pause, but I eventually came up with an idea which I think works quite nicely.

I hope you enjoy my latest supernatural tale.


By Adam Dixon

“Welcome, dearly-beloved, one and all,” the bald, skeletal chaplain began as he stood behind his lectern. “I invite you tonight to join me in celebrating the life of Harold Fisher, and in welcoming him into his next one.” Constable Nicola Macmillan was sat on a pew, frowning. An odd choice of words; she had never heard the chaplain start a funeral service that way before and it only deepened her feeling of unease. Something had disturbed her ever since she had driven to the funeral home and entered the small chapel, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She had thought that it was due to her intruding on the service in order to conduct her investigation, but she knew that it was more than that.

“Indeed, Harold’s life among us was a rich one,” the chaplain continued. “Rich not in terms of wealth, but rich in the love and respect of those who knew him well. Even those who did not have the pleasure of knowing Harold personally were impressed by his character, his charm and his wit.” There came a few approving nods and smiles from his audience. It all seemed normal, but there were aspects of the service which didn’t sit right with Nicola. Firstly, it was late for a funeral as it was past ten o’clock in the evening, and secondly that there were so few people present. It was only a sleepy little town and the librarian’s death had been widely mourned, but only twelve residents had bothered to pay their respects. Something was amiss, but what? Shortly after sitting down, Nicola had put her finger on the transmitting button of her walkie-talkie. As long as she held it, the station would hear what was going on. She was probably being paranoid, but still…

“Ah, but he was a wonderful man, of that I’m sure we are all agreed,” the chaplain smiled, gesturing towards the open coffin with his bony arm. Harold Fisher was laid out in a beautiful mahogany casket and he looked very fine for a corpse. His iron-grey hair was swept back from his high forehead and his mouth showed a ghost of a smile. In fact, he looked as if he were merely sleeping. Whoever had seen to the preparation of his body had done a sterling job, even hiding the terrible wound that poor Harold had sustained to his neck before he died. It had been a nasty one, and Nicola had been the officer who had been sent out once he had been found. Nicola was always being called out for animal attacks in the forest near the town; something was out there and it was dangerous. Looking at Harold’s remains, Nicola shuddered. He looked too good, almost…

“A wonderful man who touched the lives of everyone around him before his untimely passing, but tonight is not a time for grieving, dear friends, but rather a time for exaltation!”  The chaplain’s eyes gleamed and he leaned forwards, peering into the faces of his audience. “Harold’s old life has come to an end, but tonight, his new life will begin! Brothers and sisters, let us bid Harold welcome!”

“WELCOME, HAROLD!” All twelve people stood up and raised their arms towards the coffin. Nicola was astounded and confused, and suddenly afraid. She pressed her finger on the button so hard it hurt. Wide-eyed, she followed the gaze of the residents and stared at the coffin. After what seemed like hours, but was more likely a few tense seconds Harold moved! His face twitched. It was unmistakable: his lips pulled down in a grimace and his eyebrows knitted together. Nicola blinked. She must have imagined that! The next thing to happen dispelled any doubts and brought forth a scream from her throat. Harold sat up.

The congregation and the chaplain cheered loudly, rushing forward to help Harold as he got unsteadily to his feet. Nicola stood up and made to run from the chapel, but two large men intercepted her. They were grinning at her with fangs! Nicola screamed again and tried to change direction, but was stopped short by old Mrs Quinn who had appeared out of nowhere. The dotty, white-haired old dear smiled at her, and Nicola watched in horror as her gleaming white dentures were forced from her mouth by two sharp fangs, yellowed with age, slipping down from her gums. Strong hands seized Nicola and she was carried screeching towards the newly-risen dead man. Harold Fisher looked confused as he laid eyes upon her, but when his nostrils flared and he caught Nicola’s scent, something else crept into his eyes. It looked like the hunger of a starving beast.

“Go on, Harold!” The chaplain cried, revealing his own razor-like incisors. “Give in to your urges and accept our offering! You are one of us now!”

Harold’s eyes widened and all trace of hesitation fled. He gave a guttural roar and sank his teeth into Nicola’s neck. She screamed, thrashing against the hands which held her as her own hot blood poured down her body. She flung her arms up and tried to beat her attackers off. It was no use. The life began to fade from Nicola and soon she was weakly convulsing as Harold clumsily drained her.

Constable Macmillan? Do you read me? Over!”

“What’s that?” The chaplain snapped, looking at his congregation suspiciously.

Repeat, Constable Macmillan, do you read me? Are you alright? Over!”

“Oh, I see…” the chaplain sighed as he wrenched Nicola’s walkie-talkie from her belt. As he held it, the crackling voice spoke again.

Remain where you are, back-up is on-route! Over!”

“Well, well,” the chaplain said with a hideous grin. “I do believe that we shall all be feasting tonight!” He began to laugh as he and the rest of the townsfolk moved to hide either side of the chapel doors. Soon, the wailing of approaching sirens could be heard, and their collective excitement rose.


The prompt for this story was provided by Esther Newton. I have had the pleasure of writing for her a few times now, and it has always been rewarding. Check out her blog at https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/

By Adam Dixon


Dorothea hummed to herself as she folded her clothes and placed them into a suitcase on her bed. She straightened up and adjusted the towel wrapped around her head as it started to teeter to one side. Her damp skin smelled of luxurious bath salts beneath her silken dressing gown and her dark hair was enriched with the expensive creams and shampoos. As she brought the wayward towel under control she glanced at her reflection in the full-length mirror by her wardrobe. Dorothea was pleased with what she saw; she still looked twenty-five despite being almost a decade older and her blue eyes had lost none of their seductive gleam. She winked at herself and smiled demurely. Turning back to her suitcase she nodded in satisfaction and zipped it up carefully. She moved towards the bay windows of her bedroom and reached out to draw the curtains.
She froze. There was a black car parked in plain view outside and a man was sat behind the steering wheel, staring at the house. Dorothea blinked a couple of times and took a careful step closer to the window. The man was of medium height, somewhat scrawny-looking even from such a distance and he had a mop of ginger hair. The sunglasses perched on his beak of a nose were unnecessary in the dark street and they gave the man a sinister appearance. The man was looking directly at her bedroom window, and as Dorothea approached it his face broke into a grin. He raised a pale hand in a mock salute. Dorothea swore under her breath.
The phone on her bedside table rang, making Dorothea jump. Annoyed at her reaction, she strode barefoot across her shag-pile carpet towards it. A moment later, her mobile phone rang from its resting place on her bed. Dorothea stood for a few moments and listened to them ring. It amused her to hear the two phones sounding their distinct calls and competing for her attention, it was as if she were a doe between two warring stags. Well, if a stag ever sang “Spice up Your Life” by the Spice Girls, that is. She smiled and picked up the house phone.
“Hello, Dorothea Wilson speaking,” she answered smoothly.
“Evenin’, precious,” a man’s voice replied, high-pitched and cheerful.
“Detective McClean, what a pleasant surprise,” Dorothea said, lifting the handset and moving towards the window. The detective gave her a cheery wave with his free hand, holding his mobile to his ear with the other. Her own mobile continued ringing behind her, filling the room with cheesy pop music.
“Now, Detective, this is bordering on harassment,” she said, returning the wave lazily. “I know you were following me this afternoon and you are still hanging around. Surely you have a wife to go home to?”
“And miss a chance to keep an eye on you?” the detective grinned as he leaned back against his seat. “’Sides, she’ll have some trash on the box anyway, like that stupid sitcom with those losers in New York. Honestly, I’d rather just sit here.”
“Well then, colour me flattered,” Dorothea said, setting the handset down on the windowsill. She perched her rear next to it, lifting her leg to give her balance. Her dressing gown slipped and exposed her leg up to her thigh. She noted with the detective fidgeting in his car and smirked.
“Am I under investigation, Detective?” She asked. “You released me yesterday, so is there a reason that you’re keeping me company this evening?”
“Oh, maybe,” the detective replied. “But that’d be tellin’, wouldn’t it? For now let’s just call it surveillance.”
“Surveillance?” Dorothea repeated as she peered up and down the street. It was empty: the occupants of the highly desirable detached houses would be snoring in their beds by now. “Are you still on the clock then, Detective?”
“Nope, not this time, precious,” McClean flashed a toothy smile from below his thin moustache. “The boss won’t grant me any more overtime. Can you believe that?”
“Tragic, I’m sure,” Dorothea glanced back over her shoulder as her mobile stopped ringing. She stood gracefully and sauntered back to the bed to pick it up.
“Now, where are you off to, precious?” McClean said in mock disappointment. “You’re not gettin’ bored of me already, are you?”
“Perish the thought, Detective,” Dorothea answered sarcastically, smiling to herself. She flipped open the silver Motorola with her free hand. One missed call and one text message from the same number. She read the text.
R we gd 2 go? Boat will b ready in 30 mins. D x

Dorothea closed her eyes and sighed in resignation. She quickly thumbed a reply.
Fraid not. McClean outside. Will try again 2moz. Luv u x

“Why the sigh, precious?” McClean squeaked in her ear. “I’m not keepin’ you from anything, am I?” His voice had a mocking tone to it which tempted Dorothea to hang up. Instead she glided back to the window and smiled down at the detective.
“Of course not, Detective, I simply feel for your poor wife. All alone tonight because her husband would rather survey another woman. It’s almost sordid.”
“Yeah, almost,” McClean chuckled, and Dorothea could feel his eyes on her curves. “But don’t worry about my old lady, precious. She’ll have the brats keepin’ her company tonight. That’s if they’ve bothered to come home, anyway. Either way she’ll be fine, so I’ll just sit tight and keep an eye on you for a while.”
“Lucky me,” Dorothea replied sarcastically.
“Yep, it’s just like the lottery, ‘cept it’s free,” McClean leaned forwards in his seat, staring intently up at Dorothea’s window. They stared at each other in silence for several minutes. McClean’s smile faded and was replaced by a stony expression.
“I know what’s goin’ on, Mrs Wilson,” he said, the cheery persona slipping from his voice like a dropped mask. “Not the whole thing, I’ll admit, but I’m certain that I’m pretty darn close. You’re too smart to give anythin’ away but I’m on to you. I know your husband is contactin’ you, and I intend to keep an eye on you ‘til we catch him.”
“I’m sure I have no idea what you are talking about, Detective,” Dorothea said calmly, holding back the panic she felt with practiced ease. “I haven’t heard a word from David since the morning of the theft, as I told your department this afternoon. If I knew where he was I would inform you immediately.”
“Yeah, course you would, precious,” McClean replied, sneering. “’Cos you’ve got absolutely nothin’ to gain from keepin’ him hidden from us, do you? Nothin’ at all…’cept for those millions of dollars he got away with, o’ course. You’d be like that crook’s wife from the Great Train Robbery they had over in Britain in the 60’s…just without the messy divorce later on, I’m sure.” He barked out a laugh, clearly pleased with the comparison.
“Well this is all very amusing, Detective,” Dorothea allowed her voice to betray her irritation this time. She absent-mindedly caressed her diamond engagement ring and golden wedding ring with her left thumb. “But it is getting late and I have had a long day.”
“Sure you have, precious, sure you have,” the jovial tone was back as McClean slouched in his seat. “You must be all worn out, I know my boys at the station can be pretty darn rigorous with their questionin’. Maybe you should get some shut-eye and try to forget the whole thing. Don’t worry, ole Marty McClean’ll keep watch tonight!” He cackled down the phone and Dorothea wished she could reach an arm through it and throttle the smarmy bastard.
“Glad to hear it, Detective,” she said, pulling the curtains closed with calm, controlled movements, shutting out her view of the policeman and his black car. “Goodnight.”
“G’night, precious. I’ll be seein’ you again soon.” The line went dead as McClean hung up. Dorothea sat down on her bed in silence for a few minutes, allowing her brain to tick over this new problem. Eventually, she picked up her mobile phone and sent another text.
D, McClean knows something. Might need 2 b taken care of. B careful. Luv u x

Dorothea then removed the SIM card from her phone and snapped it in half. She replaced it with a brand new one from a stash of them in her desk drawer before turning off the light. Outside her house, Detective McClean smiled and sipped on a flask of strong black coffee as he maintained his lonely vigil.
Three days later, David Wilson sat in his spacious yacht and read a text message from an unknown number.
D, McClean gone, thnk God. R u ready? Luv u x

David hesitated, his thumb hovering above the keys. He took a deep breath and replied.
Gr8! All set, just w8in 4 u. Luv u 2. D x
David put his phone into his pocket, a faraway look on his rugged, handsome face. A cough from the man seated in front of him jerked him from his reverie, rattling the cuffs on his left hand.
“So, what’s the deal, bucko? Did she bite?” Detective McClean leaned forwards, his eyes bright with anticipation.
“Yes, she did,” David replied, staring at the beautiful wooden flooring of the cabin. His arm was handcuffed to a railing and he kept flexing his fingers in agitation.
“Well, doggone it if that’s not the best news I’ve heard since my old lady said she was goin’ on a diet!” McClean grinned, sitting back against the plump pillows of the cabin bunk.
“I’m pleased to hear it, Detective,” David said, flashing McClean a black look.
“So was I, she was gettin’ a little too fond of those Wendy’s burgers,” McClean replied, still grinning. “Anyhoo, now all we’ve gotta do is sit tight an’ wait for the Ice Queen to show up. Johnson!” McClean barked a name, and a moment later a swarthy uniformed policeman poked his head into the cabin.
“Yeah, Detective?” He answered quickly.
“Get your ass in the boat next to us an’ keep your eyes peeled for Mrs Wilson,” McClean ordered. “The moment she turns up an’ comes in here I want you outta there quick an’ blockin’ her escape. Think you can handle that?”
Yeah, I can handle it, sir,” Johnson answered, wincing at McClean’s mocking tone.
“That’s great,” McClean replied, waving him off. “Now get to it! An’ stay outta sight, for the love of God!” Johnson retreated into the morning sunshine, and McClean turned his smug grin on David once again.
“He’s a real peach, that one,” he said. “Not much upstairs, but he’s one reliable cop.”
“Fantastic,” David replied, fidgeting in his chair. “Did you really need to cuff me so tightly, Detective?” He asked, glowering at McClean. “I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me, surely I deserve better treatment.”
“You deserve whatever I decide you deserve, bucko,” McClean said, a threatening edge creeping into his voice. “I wanted you to sing and you went full Pavarotti on me, but that doesn’t make you anythin’ more than a dirty, double-crossin’ thief, so shut your yap or I’ll forget about our deal and let you serve your full sentence!”
“Alright, alright!” David sighed and slumped in his chair.
“Good,” McClean said, smiling again. He tucked his hands behind his head and gazed up at the ceiling. “It was pretty stupid of you to leave the boat, Mr Wilson. You musta known that the whole county’d be lookin’ for you.”
“I needed to eat,” David shrugged. “I wasn’t expecting to be waiting for Dorothea more than a day.”
“Well, thank the good Lord for sharp-eyed shopkeepers, huh?” McClean chuckled and shook his head. “I can’t wait to see the look on Mrs Wilson’s face when she walks in!”
David did not reply, and before long Dorothea appeared. McClean was not disappointed: the look on her face was priceless.