I hope you enjoy my short story today. I am entering this in a contest, so please let me know what you think of it and if you find any errors. Shirley
The fog in the park is thick. I can’t see five feet in front. It’s a wonder I didn’t break my neck running on this brick path. All it would have taken is one raised brick or a branch from one of the trees.
Mandy walked towards what she hoped was the side of the brick path. The overhead lights did nothing to help her see what was in front of her. They gave off an eerie light, but didn’t illuminate her surroundings. She wanted to follow the road edge hoping she would find a street sign to find out where she was.
“Ouch,” Mandy yelled when she ran into something hard. She slapped her hand over her mouth the second she yelled. She’d ran over a bench. She turned and sat so she could rub the spot that hurt on her knee. That’s all I need is to be crippled. Mandy jumped when a hoot owl screeched close behind her. Her nerves were raw, so she reacted to every noise.
She sat on the bench listening to the sounds around her. She could hear condensation dripping from the trees, hitting the leaves on the ground, and small creatures moving about in the bushes. Off in the distance she heard a distinctive tap, tap, tap. It sounded like heel taps on the bricks. She couldn’t let anyone find her yet. She had to have an idea of where she was first.
The tapping was getting closer and Mandy knew she had to move. She decided to get into the trees and lay low until daylight came. Maybe then, she could get to the police. She got up from the bench and began feeling her way back into the trees. She ran into a shrubbery bush. Maybe I can lay underneath this bush until the sun comes up. With the fog, no one can see me. She sat down on the ground and began feeling her way underneath the bush. It felt large enough to hide her, at least for a while.
She curled as close as she could to the trunk of the bush and didn’t move a muscle. Her senses were highly tuned to her surroundings. The tapping continued to get louder as whatever or whoever it was drew nearer. I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep. How did I get in this situation? I’m on vacation with my girlfriend. Oh god, I was on vacation with my girlfriend.
“Young woman, I know you are here. You are wasting your time hiding from me. I will find you. Don’t be afraid, I promise it won’t hurt and it will be quick. Won’t you come out and play with me?” The soft seductive voice was all around her.
Mandy’s mind screamed, go away. Her mouth felt dry and her tongue didn’t work as it should. She tried to work spit into her mouth, but it was useless. Every muscle in her body felt paralyzed with fear. She closed her eyes and prayed for help. Someone please help me.
“Have you thought about it young woman? It will be so much nicer for you if you’d come out of hiding. You know I can smell your perfume. I have a very sensitive nose. Are you wearing Amirage? It’s one of my favorite scents. You’re quite a beautiful woman. It’s a shame you came into the room when you did. Your friend was worthless. She gave women a bad name. You would have thought she would have had more sense than to bring a strange man to her room.”
Digging quietly in the soil with her hands, Mandy began smearing dirt around her neck, face and arms. She was hoping the dirt would stop the perfume smell and help her blend into the ground, if the man got closer to her.
“Excuse my bad manners. My name is Jack. What’s your name, young lady? I can leave a note telling them your name. I’m very considerate, as you can tell. Please come out. Don’t make this harder on both of us. Are you in London for business or pleasure? I hope it’s for pleasure and you’ve had a good time. There is so much to see here.”
Pulling up as tight as she could around the trunk of the bush, Mandy continued to pray for someone to help her. Her hip was hurting from lying on the cold wet ground. What is some pain when my life is at stake? Still trying to work her tongue around in her mouth to produce saliva, Mandy listened to the man tell her all about life in London.
“I’ve lived in London many, many years. Let me think, what year is this? Oh yes, I remember now, its April 30, 2012. Would you believe me if I told you I’ve lived here since 1877. I’m amazed I’m as well-known as I am, or at least my name is. I must say things have improved here over the years, but not the people. Women with loose morals still plague society. I have surmised that’s the reason I’ve been unable to leave. My services continue to be needed.”
Shivering cold, Mandy couldn’t get her mind around what she was hearing. “This can’t be real. There is no way Jack the Ripper is here. He has to be a copycat. Jack went on talking as if she were sitting beside him on the bench.
“Back when this all started, I thought things were much easier as far as ridding the world of the unsavory sort. They think I only killed five, but I have to tell you my dear I’ve killed hundreds who didn’t deserve to live in our society. You are special because you actually have seen my face. No one remains alive that sees my face. I can’t afford to let you live. You would complicate my work.”
The sky was beginning to lighten. Mandy hoped the fog didn’t burn off before help came. What is that noise? Someone is coming. Thank you, God.
It’s a shame I have to go now, I hear the day people coming out. I will be in touch with you. I’ve enjoyed our conversation immensely. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you before I get the opportunity to visit with you again.
Mandy heard the clicking as Jack walked down the brick path. When the sound faded completely she crawled out from under the bush. It took her a couple of minutes to get the blood to circulating in her body, as it should. She made her way back to the path and began walking toward the area that had the sound of people coming from it.
She walked about a pair of food carts setting up for the day’s business. “Excuse me, I need a policeman, I mean Bobby. Can you help me?”
“Bly me girl, what’s happened to you? You say you need a bobby. Follow this path down three or four lights and there’ll be a phone on the pole. It connects you to the police.”
“Thank you.” Mandy continued walking and finally came to the pole with the phone. “Hello, is this the police department?”
“Yes, ma’am, it tis. I’m Sergeant Grayson, how may I help you?”
Tears started flowing like a river out of Mandy’s eyes as she began to talk. She was difficult for the Sergeant to understand.
“Hold on Miss, I’m sending a police car for you. Stay where you are. Someone will be there soon.” The phone clicked off and Mandy stood there holding the phone and crying. She was still crying when a uniformed police officer approached her.
“Miss, my name is Officer Cannon. Please hang up the phone and come with me.”
Mandy stood staring at him, unable to move. The officer took the phone from her hand and hung it back on the pole.
“Come with me, Miss. What is your name?
“It’s Mandy Jackson.” She said between snivels.
“I can hear you are American. What state are you from?” The officer asked trying to help Mandy calm down.
“I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve been here on vacation with my girlfriend, Alice.” When she mentioned Alice’s name she began crying again.”
“Come on dearie; let’s get to the car so we can get you helped.”
Mandy let Officer Cannon lead her to the car and they headed for the station. Once there Officer Cannon approached the desk of Sergeant Grayson. “Sergeant, Miss Jackson needs to speak to a homicide detective.”
Officer Cannon immediately got up from his desk and walked to Mandy. “Ms. Jackson, please come with me. I’m going to take you to a room where you will have some privacy. Would you like something to drink?”
Mandy declined anything to drink at first but then changed her mind. Thank you Sergeant, I would appreciate some hot coffee.”
The sergeant led Mandy into a small room with a table and no windows. She sat in one of the folding chairs waiting for her coffee. In a couple of minutes, a woman came through the door with her coffee in hand. Hello, Ms. Jackson, my name is April Chambers. I’m in the homicide division. You may call me April. Is it alright if I call you Mandy?”
“Yes, that’s fine,” Mandy, replied.
“I understand you have a story to tell me.”
“It’s an unbelievable story, but I have to tell you. I have been here on vacation with my girlfriend. Her name is Alice Brady. We have been friends all of our life. She is dead. I saw her murdered.”
“What do you mean you saw her murdered?”
“Last evening Alice met a man who asked her to go night clubbing with him. Alice was very taken by the guy. She wanted this to be just a night for him and her. Since we were supposed to be leaving tomorrow, I told her I would go to the movies. That’s just what I did. I returned to the hotel room about 11:30. When I unlocked the door and stepped in, I saw a man bent over Alice with a knife in his hand. Blood was dripping off the couch. I took off running and didn’t stop until I got to the park.”
“What did the man look like?”
“I really didn’t get a good look at him, but he thinks I did.”
“What do you mean, he thinks you did? Have you spoken with him?”
“No, I haven’t spoken to him, but he has to me. He found me in the park and talked to me while I hid for a good twenty minutes before sunup.” Mandy told April everything she could remember about the conversation. She even told her about the man saying he was Jack and he had lived in London for the past 125 years. Mandy was surprised when she didn’t get the surprised response from April.
“What else do you remember, Mandy?”
“Nothing else, I’ve told you everything I know. He did tell me he would be seeing me again. I have to go home.”
“Alice was found this morning by the hotel maid. We identified her from the guest resister since the room was in her name. The maid told us about you staying there also. I’m really sorry. It will take us about a week to get everything straightened out. You should be able to go home after that. Alice will have to stay here until the coroner releases her body. “
“April, why aren’t you surprised about what I told you about that man called Jack? You didn’t blink an eye when I said you he’d lived in London for 125 years.”
“Let’s just say I’ve heard a very similar story about the guy. He’s a serial killer whether he has been here two days or 125 years. No one has been able to describe what this character looks like but women continue to be found with their throats cut. Most of them are prostitutes from the south side. Your girlfriend happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid for it with her life. I am very sorry.”
In a week and a half, Mandy was back in Oklahoma, trying to pull her life together. The Brady’s had gone to London to bring home their daughter when the London police released her body. She returned to her job at Hillcrest Hospital. She wanted to stay busy to keep her mind off her disastrous vacation. Word spread quickly at the hospital so she didn’t have to explain anything that happened. Occasionally someone would give his or her condolences over Alice.
One the one-year anniversary of Alice’s death, Mandy went to the cemetery where she was buried. She talked to her friend for a little while and then headed back home. As she was walking up her sidewalk, she heard a sound that made her blood turn cold, click, click, click. She quickly turned to see an elderly man walking down the sidewalk with his can clicking on the concrete with every step.
She hurried into her house and locked the door behind her. It was a cane that guy in the park was using. I can’t stand to hear that clicking noise. It brings everything back to me as if it just happened.
Mandy decided to take a relaxing bath and fix her a drink before she fixed dinner. She’d sipped her drink and started down the hall to the bathroom. The doorbell rang. I wonder who that is? She peeped out the window and saw a mail truck parked in front of her house. She opened the door. “Can I help you?”
“Are you Mandy Jackson?”
“Yes, I’m she.”
“I have a special delivery letter for you. Please sign here.”
Mandy signed the form and the postal worker left. She closed the door and went back inside. There wasn’t a name on the envelope but it was postmarked London. I wonder who this is from? She opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. As her eyes focused in on the words, she heard herself begin to scream. Darkness enveloped her has she fainted to the floor. The letter in her hand said, “ Don’t forget I like Amirage. Will be seeing you soon, pretty lady Jack”