GRIEF - THE HORSEMEN TETROLOGY

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - TO PAY THE PIPER

Submitted: June 24, 2016

Reads: 91

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Submitted: June 24, 2016

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TO PAY THR PIPER

 

It seemed that when I opened my eyes again five years had past, for it is the nature of children to spend time more rapidly than those of us who count the years as a miser would do with his gold.

Daisy was turning into a bright and spirited little girl with a lot to say for herself and an opinion on most things.

Her nanny, Mrs. Lewis, had been kept busy from the first day that Daisy could walk and worked hard for the small amount that I was able to pay her, for the sham of an existence I led as the village parson did not pay as handsomely as I would have liked. Apart from questioning my objection to us celebrating Daisy’s birthday every year, Mrs. Lewis, a middle aged woman who had lost her husband to cancer, followed my wishes to the letter on how I would like my daughter to be raised, but most importantly she acted as mother to us both.

 

Since the betrayal of my beliefs and the turning away from my God, I felt hypocritical in continuing as moral compass and spiritual leader. These good people looked to me for guidance and all I could give to them in return was a lie, for I no longer believed in my own words let alone those of the Bible. The deal I had made for the life of my daughter weighed heavy on my soul for I had made enemies of both sides of the celestial plain, one of which had found me as I was setting up one day for Sunday service.

  “It will only be a matter of time before I discover a loophole in your little deception you know”

I hardly looked up at the voice of Mr. Williams the butcher who was silhouetted in the doorway of the small chapel, for this was not the first visit from my tormentor. The use of my parishioners as a vessel for his voice was something that I had grown used to over the years, and it was something that was for my entertainment only, for any distress to Daisy caused by the knowledge that she was only here from demonic providence would violate our agreement.

  “Not unless you break the laws of nature and expand her lifespan to three hundred and forty years.” I said as I carried on laying out the song sheets.

  “Do you think that ‘He’ would want a soul as tainted as hers? A girl who existence was by way of a deal with his greatest enemy”

  “I will instruct her in his ways”

The butcher snorted a contemptuous laugh”

  “Ways that even you do not believe in?” he said.

I looked directly at him,

  “Ways that I do not follow. My soul may be dammed, but hers will remain pure – I will see to that”

I could see that this beast wanted nothing more than to tear me apart, but the conditions of the deal and the fact that he could not allow his possessed vessel to enter the chapel prevented his wrath – his rage against what was beyond his control twisted the features of the butcher in an unholy portrait of evil.

  “I promise you this ‘parson’ I will tempt her, and she will enter the next realm blackened by sins of the flesh, and by the craving of power and worldly goods – and you will scream in anguish from the pits of hell as she is torn apart by my brethren”

I leant back on one of the pews and looked at my future jailer.

  “Did you get into trouble?”

There was a pause as the demon seemed to be stopped in his tracks by this sudden change of direction.

  “Trouble?”

  “With your boss – was he very upset that you had been fooled by a mere mortal?”

An incredulous look crossed the butchers face.

  “You mock me?” he said.

I turned away and smiled.

  “Indeed I do demon, for that is your worth to me – now, unless you have something important to say, please release my friend and be gone”

  “Do you know parson?” said Mr. Williams, “I have come all this way to see you and I have totally forgotten what I came here for”

He laughed heartily at his own absentmindedness and I joined him in friendly mocking.

  “You would forget your own head if it were not screwed on Basil”

  “That’s the truth and no mistake,” he said. “I am sure it will come back to me by service this evening – till then parson”

I smiled after him.

  “Till then Basil”

This was a conversation that was commonplace with my parishioners, and as the attacks on my sanity became more frequent so did my resolve to send my daughter to her maker with a pure soul – but I had not taken Edmond Wilson in consideration.

 

Edmond Wilson was troubled, and had been since he was a boy.

His father had not spared the rod in anyway when it came to the discipline of his son, and as a result Edmond had grown up with a distorted view of his fellow villagers, and indeed to people in general.

At the age of thirty-two he was a man that was deeply sad and alone with his thoughts. It was little wonder then that it would be him that would welcome the new voice that entered his dreams. This voice that would suggest that he seek recompense from the very people who had turned a blind eye to his Fathers cruelty, and to the parson that had readily ignored the pleas of a young boy when he had asked to be recovered from his Fathers care.

As children we had grown up together, but Edmond was never one of the gang, so to speak. His dark moods and darker home life excluded him from the games that we played. There was just something about him that spoke of something else – something hidden.

As we matured into teenagers the feelings of uneasiness grew whenever he was near, and we would start to avoid places just because we knew that he would be there.

There were rumours – there always would be, as it was a small village served by a small town for its entertainment. But he death of his father had always raised speculation as to whether he had taken his own life, or had it taken from him. A string of deaths followed shortly after, starting with the parson, of whom I took the place a few years later. Seven souls in total, all of them dying of natural causes, but all of them seemingly healthy before their deaths. Wives tales and folklore took control and added wild speculation to the fire that burned the rumour into the village psyche - that Edmond Wilson had entered into a deal with the Devil himself, the irony being that they took religious instruction from a man who had done just that via one of his emissaries.

 

When I took on the role as parson I made it a personal mission to reach out to Edmond and to attempt to heal the wounds that had been inflicted on him by an accident of birth and by no fault of his own. But the cuts were too deep and his mistrust formed scars over what was left of his humanity and trust towards his fellow man.

But just as the scar tissue blocked any forgiveness out, something dark had been sealed in, and old wounds were about to be opened.

 

On my way home from the Sunday service I happened to pass Edmond crossing the village green.

  “Good evening to you Edmond” I called, and to my surprise, and contrary to all other attempts at communication, Edmond stopped and walked towards me. I too stopped and waited for him to reach me, as I did not want to cause him any alarm, for this was a rare chance me to talk to him. His stride was purposeful in its manner and gave the impression that he had something urgent to say. When he was within a few feet of me he stopped.

  “How are you this evening?” I said.

  “I am sorry for your loss parson,” he said. This took me a little by surprise, causing me to stammer my reply.

  “Th – thank you Edmond” It was the only thing I could think of to say as my initial attempt at opening a conversation had been somewhat hijacked by this sudden concern for the death of my wife. He continued on by saying,

  “I should have said something earlier and I would ask your forgiveness for my rude behaviour these past few years”

  “My friend” I said, “You have nothing to apologize for – you keep yourself to yourself and that is your right. Something I fear others should respect” I half laughed at my little joke, and Edmond responded with a smile of his own. At this he held out his hand, and for a short moment I had no idea what to do with it, for it seemed incredulous to me that he would want to initiate any form of physical contact, even one as so small. I took his hand.

His grip was firm as he pulled me in closer.

  “Death rides parson” he said, “But he will soon dismount in readiness for another four to come”

I looked into his maddened eyes.

  “I am not sure I understand you Edmond”

  “There is another in here with me parson – I have bargained as you have, for things that have been beyond me. Unattainable things”

My concern grew, for this was Edmonds voice and not a channelling from another realm.

  “What have you done Edmond?” I asked, for the price he would have had to pay would be heavy – so heavy that he felt now that he had to talk to a man of God, such as I was, in order to purge the darkness that now invaded his very being.

  “A promise” he said, “an act to secure my place as the second of the four”

  “Edmond, you do not have to go through with this. If you have not taken from this evil then you owe nothing”

  “I am sorry for your loss – and all others to come,” he said again, and with that he walked away and back towards wherever he had been going when I first called to him.

  “And I am sorry for yours also Edmond” I said quietly, almost to myself, for so bemused at this sudden break in the cold war that was Edmond and the rest of the world, that I was humbled almost into silence, and afraid for the times to come.

 

As I stared after him I did not notice that Miss Andrea Johnson had joined me as she had been making her way back from her role as Sunday school teacher. The children loved Andrea. She was a large young lady who adopted a matron – like air that sat awkwardly with one so young.

She was no more than eighteen and was one of the first children of this village that I had welcomed into the world as parson.

I almost walked into her as I turned away from the retreating figure of Edmond Wilson.

  “Oh, do excuse me Andrea” I said.

Her default reaction to anything she found embarrassing or uncomfortable with was to turn a bright shade of crimson, but on this occasion her face remained as pale as usual – a shade adopted by someone who needed to get out in the sunshine a little more often. But Andreas’ size was a burden to her as it made her feel uncomfortable around the other girls and awkward when in the presence of the young men of the village.

  “You are very light on your feet”

  “For such a fat girl” she said. “That’s what you were thinking, wasn’t it?”

I was a little taken aback at this comment and I began to correct her, but she held her hand up as if to quell my protest.

  “It is alright parson, she is fully aware of what is said behind her back”

I sighed at what had suddenly become obvious to me.

Andrea, or what was using her, cupped her breasts and said,

  “Luckily she has these to keep the boys interested, or in the case of Mrs. Richardson, the girls” With that she winked at me conspiritually and laughed at how uncomfortable this had made me.

  “Oh come on parson, it’s nothing you have not seen – all be it a few years ago. Most of the young men, and some of the older ones have ‘had the pleasure’ if you know what I mean – she is not as innocent as she would have you believe you know”

  “That is her business, not mine – or yours demon, now let her be”

She undid a few buttons of her shirt,

  “What do you think parson, a little more cleavage maybe? I think she should use what God gave her, and in this case he was certainly generous on that day – these are whoppers. Mind you, they can be a little painful” At this she looked around conspiritually,

  “They do tend to swing around a bit, especially when you have the likes of old Jim Parsons banging away at the back there”

I began to walk away when Andreas’ hand clasped me elbow. I almost cried out, for her grip felt as though the demon inside her had reverted to its original form and had used its claws to restrain me.

  “We found a way parson – your attempts to trick your daughters way out of damnation have failed”

  “My daughter and I have nothing to fear from you and your kind demon?” I replied.

Andrea pulled me in closer, and for the first time I could see the strain this possession caused the unfortunate victims of my dealings with the underworld, for even in this cool, almost chilled autumn evening, small rivulets of perspiration had begun to run between her ample bosom, and beads had begun to form on her forehead. This revelation alarmed me so much that I felt the need to finish this conversation quickly so as to release Miss Johnson from this torment.

  “You are correct parson – you have nothing to fear from us”

Pushing herself into me so that her mouth was closer to my ear, she breathed,

  “But the other side however – how did you think they would feel about having a dammed soul enter their kingdom? – dammed by a deal YOU did with us”

The excursion was causing Andrea to shake and I could see that the demon was having trouble holding on to her.

  “We have made our own deal parson. Light and dark have come together. They do not want her - we do, but cannot touch her due to your ‘clever’ words. They, on the other hand, are held by no such bargain”

At this she looked towards the retreating figure of Edmond Wilson whilst letting the body of Andrea sag into my arms.

  “Are you alright Miss Johnson? You look awfully pale”

She looked confused as to her surroundings and tried to stand without my assistance, causing her to loose her balance once more. I caught her again.

  “You have been starving yourself again haven’t you Andrea” I said, for this was commonplace for her to hear this scolding from me. Andrea was in the habit of depriving herself of food in an attempt to loose some of the weight she felt held her back. The lack of self-esteem and the social dictation that she needed to be something that she was clearly not had driven her to despair.

  “There is the church social coming up and Mum has only enough material to make a dress to fit someone two sizes small than me…”

She trailed off as she saw the look on my face. I lifted her chin so that I could look into her eyes.

  “Andrea Johnson, you are a beautiful young woman. You have no need to change who you are”

At this she took my hand.

  “If only I could find someone who would see me through your eyes parson”. She leant in and kissed my cheek. “Your wife was a very lucky woman,” she said, and with that she went on her way, leaving me with my thoughts, specifically on how Edmond Wilson would fit in with my demons plans. I would wonder about this for the few days after our meeting, and when nothing eventuated I began to think that this seed of doubt that had been sown into me by forces that would take my Daisy from me, had not allowed me to give Mr. Wilson credence for his change in persona, for had it not had been that he had departed our village on other business shortly after meeting I would have surly pointed him out to the police in an instant on discovering that Mrs. Lewis had been murdered.

 

 

*****

On my arrival home one summers evening, nearly four years after my encounter with Edmond Wilson, I found it to be unusually quiet as I walked up the small flower sided garden path that led to my front door.

Even with my daughter asleep, and the small sound of her snores that accompanied her dreams, there was always some sort of noise. Either the evening radio play that Mrs. Lewis enjoyed, or the sound of her quietly singing along to one of the songs played of the old Gram-o-phone that she had with her since she was a girl. I had offered to buy her a more up to date model, but she had refused saying that it was the sound it made rather than what should have been heard.

I had no idea what she meant by this, but she seemed happy enough.

It had broken down once and it had taken three weeks for me to find someone who knew how to repair it. Once returned to her, the look of joy on her face was enough for me not to pursue the idea of a replacement.

These happy memories, and many more besides were washed away by the pool of blood that now formed around her body, as she lay dead on my kitchen floor. From the corner came the mocking sound of an audience laughing as if some act of perverse timing had been arranged by the producers of the radio play that she so enjoyed, and had been listening to before her assailant had taken her life so savagely.

As the sight of her broken body I brought my hand to my mouth in an attempt to stifle a cry that would have woken Daisy, and my knees buckled beneath me at the horror that lay before me. It was if someone had released all of their suppressed anger upon her. For so violated was she, both physically and sexually that, had it not had been for the wedding ring that she habitually wore, she would have been unrecognisable. Her severed arm was frozen in death as it reached for the telephone and ultimately salvation from this horror that had visited her. I had to swallow the bile of grief as I stepped over her in order to phone for help. As I dialled my eyes found hers – fixed and pleading for a release from the torture that had been inflicted on her, and from this monster that had torn her to pieces and ultimately from our lives.

I tore away from her frozen gaze only to discover something even more disturbing, for written on the wall at the far end of the kitchen were words, spelt out in blood.

 
‘For us to ride – we must take their place’

 

It spoke of Edmond Wilson as it echoed his maddened rantings, and his words came back to me as if spoken only yesterday.

  A promise” he said, “an act to secure my place as the second of the four”

Was this what he had been talking of?

Was this the loss he was sorry about?

 

When the police arrived they found me in Daisy’s room.

My state of shock at the slaughter of Mrs. Lewis had fixed me into a kind of protective trance, and it took three attempts by the investigating officer to gain my attention.

  ‘Parson?’ she said, a little too loud.

I looked up and into the concerned face of a woman in her fifties. She looked tired, as though she had not slept for days, and the lack of any make-up, save for black eyeliner, did not help this look.

  “My name is Josie Freeman, I did knock but I don’t think you heard me”

  ‘I am sorry” I said slowly, ‘It is just..” I faltered, stumbling over words that were finding it hard to make the trip from thought to vocalisation.

I stood up and motioned towards my guest that we leave the room save waking my daughter from her dreams. My heart ached with the fact that she would wake into this nightmare.

We went into my bedroom as I had no desire to be exposed again to the carnage that lay on my kitchen floor.

  “Have you any idea who would do such a thing?” she said as I perched myself on the edge of my bed. I was tempted to name Edmond, but I could not offer an explanation that did not involve the intervening actions of Hell.

  “No” I replied, “Mrs. Lewis has been Daisy’s Nanny, and my housekeeper since the death of my wife. Everyone loved her – we loved her”

The inspector took out a notebook and started to write.

  “How did your wife die parson?” she said. She stopped writing, pausing as if this information was somehow relevant to what had happened downstairs.

  “She died during childbirth,” I said slowly.

She nodded and wrote something down, something that I felt was too long in comparison to the answer I had given.

  “The hospital will confirm this – if you care to call them” I said when the gap in this conversation became too long not to be filled with some comment relevant to my last. She looked up from her notes.

  “Why would I need to do that?” she asked.

  “Well, you would not. I just felt that I had to justify my last statement. I am sorry, I mistook your questioning for suspicion”

  “Should I be?” she said. Her eyes were locked onto mine.

  “Be what?”

  “Suspicious of you?”

  “No – look, I have been at the chapel all day. Myself and some of the other villagers..”

  “Why do you talk like that?” she said, interrupting me. Her sudden, off topic question caught me by surprise.

  “I am sorry – like what?”

  “You pronounce every word. ‘Did not’ instead of didn’t, and will not rather that won’t. Why is that?”

  “It is a habit I picked up as a boy. My mother was deaf you see and relied on lip reading in order to communicate. I would have to enunciate, not having the luxury of shortening my words through fear of misunderstanding. I would read to her from the Bible which has, I am sure you are aware inspector, no such abbreviations”

  “Interesting” she said. “Do carry on?”

My look of bewilderment caused her to prompt me, using her pencil, which she drew circles with in the air with, as a visual aid.

  “You and some of the other villagers..”

  “We were attending a working bee, something we do once a year in order to clean up and around the grounds of, and inside the chapel”

  “I see – I am guessing your mother is dead also?”

  “She is. I am sorry, what has this got to do with..”

  “It’s really quite annoying” again, interrupting my sentence.

  “Annoying?”

  “The way you talk”

  ‘I am sorry if it offends you” I replied a little irritably. I felt as though I was being taunted, and my thoughts leapt to the demon that had plagued me since my wife’s passing.

  “It doesn’t offend me – I just think it’s annoying”

I said nothing in case this was just a case of bad manners, rather than demonic interference.

  “Was the relationship with your ‘housekeeper’ an intimate one parson?”

I rose from my seat with the heat of anger rushing the blood to my head.

  “I do not have to sit here and suffer these insults while that poor woman lies in pieces, and torn from us by some madman”

The inspector leaned back a little in her chair.

  “Yes you do parson – now please sit down”

  “I will not,” I hissed, trying to keep my voice down through fear of waking Daisy.

  “Answer the question parson – was the relationship you shared with the deceased sexual in its nature?”

  “It was not,” I said.

There was coldness in the air, and a pause in the conversation.

  “Was she romantically linked to anyone else?” she said at last.

I sat down again, for in my grief I had forgotten about Thomas Lankin.

Thomas had been Mrs. Lewis’ beau for the past four years. They had met at the church social when Thomas has delivered a parcel to me in error, one that had been meant for the next village over. Because I had not been available to correct his error, Mrs. Lewis had entertained him until my return. From then on he would often visit with the excuse that he was ‘just passing through’. When he finally plucked up enough courage to ask her for a date the visits he made required no more subterfuge and both Mr. Lankin and Mrs. Lewis became an item, and eventually engaged to be married.

  “Thomas” I said quietly. I looked at her with alarm in my eyes, “Has anyone informed her fiancé?”

  “Parson, until an hour ago I had no idea who she was, let alone who she was sleeping with”

  “Inspector, did it ever occur to you that there are still some relationships in this sordid world of ours that are still based on love and respect, and not the carnal desires fuelled by basic animal instincts?”

  “No” she said simply, “They had the hots for one another, of course they were fucking – everyone does”

The blood was rising in me again at this preposterous and jaded statement.

  “Maybe in your world inspector” I said, “but not in mine”

She nodded as if letting my last statement settle.

  “Is that why you killed her parson? – Jealousy”

Her comment hit me so hard that I actually felt nauseous at its implication. I could not think of anything to say in response to this outlandish accusation apart from “What?”

  “Stands to reason?” she said, “You see her everyday, you live with her even, so it’s only a matter time before you start to have, lets say ‘romantic feelings for her – fantasies maybe?”

I stood once more.

  “How dare you”

  “I dare very much parson” she replied. She stood up and glared at me in an attempt to stare me down.

  “My love for Mrs. Lewis was one of a son to his mother – a brother to his sister”

  “Did you fantasize about them too parson?”

A calm, almost numb feeling swept over me. This personal violation was not something I had experienced before. I had suspected that this was just another attack from the demon of old, but all of a sudden I realized that I was a suspect  - a murder suspect, and this woman in front of me had no other reason than to treat me otherwise.

  “I wish to leave now please, I would like to break this sad news to my daughter. I will ask that if you are to arrest me, then you do it after I have found someone to take care of her. If you could also arrange legal council then I would be grateful to you?”

The inspector put her hand on my shoulder and smiled.

  “You are not going to be arrested parson, and I’m sorry I had to put you through that – ‘unpleasantness’.

My knees sagged through weariness and trauma, and so the inspector sat me back down on the bed.

  ‘A lesser man, a murderer would have hit me – maybe made a run for it, after all, I am only a woman, what resistance would I be?” she smiled again, and this time is was a warm smile rather than the condescending, accusing smirk that had been on her lips from the start of the interview.

  “I do not understand,” I said.

  “I entered the scene of a brutal murder, a murder that had only happened an hour or so before we got here, you must have just missed the murderer by a matter minutes. All I had was you and your daughter, and I was pretty sure she didn’t do it”

She paused as we both smiled at her joke. The air eased with this lighthearted banter and I began to relax a little, and then to shake as the adrenaline started to turn sour in my bloodstream.

  “The ferocity of the attack suggested that the murderer would still be on a high, and if pushed would maybe lash out again”

  “That was a dangerous risk you took, if I may say so” I was genuinely impressed at the bravery of this woman who would put herself in harms way, to risk her life in order to flush out Mrs. Lewis’ killer.

  “You may” she replied, “but a necessary one. I’m pretty sure that you’re not the one we’re looking for”

She smiled at me once more as if to reassure me, and then stood up as if to leave. When she got to the bedroom door she stopped.

  “It’s not easy to loose someone parson and I’m sorry for your loss – for both of you”

I nodded my gratitude and made my way back to Daisy’s’ room.

  “I would appreciate you making the trip to town, in order to answer some questions – when you’re ready”

She peered over the stair rail and down into the kitchen.

  “The coroner has some work to do. Do you have somewhere to stay for a couple of days?”

I said that I had neighbours in town that would take us in and left it to the inspector to make the arrangements. Within half an hour a car arrived and took both Daisy and I from this nightmare, and as we drove away from this house of horror I looked back on the life that we once had, but also forward where those closest to us would to be punished for my crimes.

 

No motive was ever found and no perpetrator of this most heinous of acts was ever discovered. So, on a day whose weather reflected our mood with the sorrow that comes with such a terrible loss, we buried our poor Mrs. Lewis.


© Copyright 2019 Dimpra Kaleem. All rights reserved.

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