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JUDGEMENT AD INFINITUM.1953.

Short story By: Terry Collett
Mystery and crime


Tags: Mysery, Crime


Laura Lall sat in a deckchair on the beach and stared at the Solent. The weather was warm and dry; the beach was crowded with holidaymakers. She reflected back to the previous two days; wondered how long it would be before the police would find her and arrest her


Submitted:Jun 17, 2007    Reads: 113    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


Laura Lall sat in a deckchair on the beach and stared at the Solent. The weather was warm and dry; the beach was crowded with holidaymakers. She reflected back to the previous two days; wondered how long it would be before the police would find her and arrest her. She closed her eyes; tried to picture her father's face when she had left him last. His last moments had come suddenly; she had only moments to decide which way she would act or not act. She acted by suffocating him with the pillow; holding it over his face until his hands ceased clutching the air around him; became still like ornaments in the air. The relief of his death was like waking up from a nightmare. His eyes were blinded to her deeds; his hands no longer able to bring her pain or hurt. She opened her eyes; watched the view; watched the children play; watched the parents smile and talk as their children played in the sand. Her father had had the happiness and livelihood of thousands in his hands; his attitude had brought unhappiness and fear on many of his employees. Her mother had committed suicide in mysterious circumstances when she was a child; her father had never forgiven her for that. Year after year, he had tormented her; treated her to punishments and pains. Now he was dead. Good riddance, she sighed, watching the gulls above her head as they swooped high and low above her. It had all happened so suddenly. She had fled from her father's house in London, boarded the train to Portsmouth, and crossed from there to the Isle of Wight. Then, oh, yes, the man on the train. The drunk. She closed her eyes again. She remembered him; recalled his dark features; his breath on her as he leaned over her in the train carriage. He had swayed over her; his eyes bleary; his hands on her arms. She sighed. She recalled an anger in her; she recalled his hands against her breast. She had pushed him away; had hit him over the head with the stiletto heel of her shoe, again and again. She took a deep intake of breath, opened her eyes, and stared hard at the sea. Suddenly, she felt her mind give way to an odd sensation as if another was moving her hands and body. She pushed the drunk towards the door of the carriage and with effort, she opened the door and heaved him out into the dark. She remembered casually closing the door and sitting looking at the carriage door as if she thought he might return and grin at her. However, he never returned. Once you have killed one person the second is no greater effort, she recalled thinking. They can only hang you once; only execute you one time, she recalled musing with an odd smile on her face. She laid her head on the back of the deckchair and looked at the sky. Maybe the police would arrest her soon. Perhaps they were at the boarding-house waiting for her return. She scanned the horizon; searched the people around her; let her eyes focus on those near her. No one seemed interested in her. Not one seemed about to approach her. She bit her lip; clasped her hands together. Ought she to return and see if they were waiting for her? she mused anxiously. There would be a trial; the press would be there; her past life would be drawn and quartered; she would be hanged and that would be that. It came as a strange relief to her. As if someone had lifted a heavy burden from her shoulders; had set her free; let her loose from all the oppression and abuse she had suffered so long and so deeply. She rose from the deckchair; made her way up the beach to the road. She would return to the boarding house; get it all over and done with, she mused sadly, looking around at the passing faces of the crowd. She crossed the road and peered at a newspaper stand. A newspaper was facing her in the shop doorway; her father's picture looked out at her. She leaned close; read the headlines. She laughed suddenly; stepped back away from the newspaper. She put her hand over her mouth to stifle the laughter. The headlines lingered in her mind as she walked away from the shop and up the road to the pier. Joseph Lall dies of heart attack in his sleep, the words of the headlines repeat in her mind like an odd melody. No mention of her or of his suffocation; no talk of the police searching for her. Not once was she mentioned. She laughed again; an unfamiliar laughter; a laughter that seemed to open up inside her; fight to get out; into the air. Then she stopped laughing. The image of the man on the train came before her eyes. His bleary eyes lingered; his breath seemed in the air she breathed. She stopped and stared at the pier. The crowds were everywhere; their bodies close and touching. She felt suddenly undone; felt unclean; sensed eyes on her. She walked slowly back to the boarding house; went to her room and sat on the bed. Her hands were shaking; her eyes were filled with tears; her mind sensed a darkening of the room; a shadow lingered in the corner. The whispering voice of her father mocked her repeatedly; his ghostly hands threatened to beat her as he had before when she was a child sitting in a room, dark and cold with the icy fingers of his hand touching her flesh, with that chilling smile and dim yellow eyes ever upon her; time without end; ad infinitum.





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