Time Stops for No Man
By Brooke Anderson and Ashley Carpenter
*Author's note*: Me and my partner were assigned a horror story for our creative writing class. We decided to write it from two different points of view. I wrote it from Lucy's view and my partner is from the villians. The different fonts symbolise thep.o.v.s. (Also the blue coloured writing is a dream sequence). Hope you enjoy!
A shiver ran up my spine, as I hurried across the dimly lit park sidewalks. It was a Friday night, and with all the bizarre events that had been occurring I just wanted to reach home safe and sound. The sound of approaching footsteps, made me stop and turn around. “Who’s there?!?” I asked hesitantly afraid of who might answer. My family had warned me to stay at home tonight, but here I was out gallivanting around in the late hours of the night, all by myself. Mother had even fussed at me by my first name Margaret, no one calls me Margaret, it’s always “Mimi”. She had good reason to be so serious, with the threat scribbled across my wall, of my impending death. Home was only a short bit away, I kept repeating to myself, I would be safe soon. All the while, as I had been engaged in these thoughts of home and safety, I never heard the footsteps creep upon me. Suddenly a chain slipped about my throat, cutting of my source of air. I tried to scream, but no noise would come out. I clawed at the chain, and kicked and fought but it was of no use, the chain just kept getting tighter and tighter. I kept trying to fight, but it was getting harder and harder to move, my limbs began to feel more and more like dead weight. My vision started blurring, and a whisper rang in my ears “Ella, oh Ella, you should have been kind, now time is not on your side”. Then everything faded black.
I held the chain expertly around her neck. The first time it had been hard to position it just right and Ella put up more of a fight. The last two times though, I had learned my lesson, and now knew how to give sweet Ella just what she deserved. A rush of adrenaline ran through my body as I gave the gold chain one final pull. Her body went limp and I knew she was finally dead. “Ella, my Ella, you never should have said those awful things.” I whispered, brushing her dark brown hair away from her face. Her eyes were still open, however the sparkle had left those vivid green eyes. I started to drag her corpse off, to her final hanging place. The statue would hang her body for all to see, what a lovely creature Ella was.
“The Pocket Watch Reaper Strikes Again!” A Third woman has been found strangled and hanged from the statue in the Green Garden Square, by the chain of a golden pocket watch, the victim a 23 year-old, Margret “MiMi” Brooks. Her death is eerily similar to two other homicides committed in the very same place and manner, with a foreboding riddle written upon walls of the victim’s homes previously; which has led the authorities to believe that this might be something more than just a murdering spree and perhaps the work of supernatural aspects. Constable D.L. Phillips is leading this investigation, “The horrific patterns of all three of these murders and impossible circumstances have all pointed to a paranormal occurrence being involved and perhaps responsible for these tragic deaths…
I closed the newspaper with a defiant slap. How ridiculous! Supernatural aspects? They clearly weren’t taking this case in all honest sincerity. I found it hard to believe that ghosts, ghouls and bumps in the night were the only plausible explanations for these murders. There was a definite pattern to these slayings, but what the pattern was, was a puzzle in itself. I mulled the details over in my head as I tucked the paper under my arm and made my way down the crippled stairs to the shop below leaving my modest dwelling behind. As I had hoped, I found Roberta busy at work, sewing, stitching and seaming. Her hair lay in a messy bun atop her head, her glasses were resting crookedly upon her frazzled face and a variety of pins stuck out from her mouth, like a metallic smile as she attempted to hem the skirt of a blue chiffon dress.
“Mmmhh, mhheeer.” She turned from the mannequin acknowledging me with a small wave and muffled greeting. I sat on the measuring table top and fiddled with the remnants of ribbon that lay strewn across its surface as she finished her work. We were especially busy these days, wedding season was in full bloom and the orders were coming in by the reams. My morning off had been a godsend, my poor fingers were so sore from the constant prodding and poking from the needles that they were in dire need of rest. Bobby turned around, the measuring tape around her neck swinging wildly.
“Did you hear? There’s been another murder.” I said bluntly.
“The same place, same time, same method. It’s rather peculiar don’t you think Bobby?” I ventured.
“I suppose,” she said slowly, turning around to continue her work.
“Well, I find it fascinating. The police are claiming it’s some ghost or spirit that’s to blame, but I think that’s the farthest thing from the truth, but if I were on the case…”
“Now I don’t want you to go get caught up in this nonsense, Lucy. I know what you’re like, you keep out of it!” She chided. There was no point in arguing with her, they’d had this argument one too many times. I sighed.
“I think I’m going to take my lunch now Bobby and then I’ll be back to work for the afternoon.”
“Alright my dear” She said absentmindedly.
I grabbed the newspaper and swung open the door, causing the bell above it to jingle irritably and made my way down the cobbled street. The air was warm, and a slight breeze rustled my dark tresses as I walked briskly to the park. I sat down at my usual spot, a small green bench beneath a magnificent oak tree and nibbled on my sandwich as I opened the paper once again to study the article. The answer to this puzzle lay right within the clues, I just couldn’t figure out what it was, it seemed as if it were right upon the tip of my tongue, screaming its blatancy at me.
Presently, I grew aware that someone was staring at me. A hard gaze was boring into my skull from behind; being careful not to let my admirer know of my awareness I casually turned my head around as if I were watching a bird. There he was, a great big looming figure dressed in a sinister looking black trench coat, watching me intently. But it was not the fact that the man was staring at me that left me with such an unsettled feeling, but rather it was the way in which he did it, almost studying me with a lost boy look upon his face. He met my gaze for a split second and that was enough, I hastily turned around and pretended to read my paper with an eager enthusiasm. After waiting a heart pounding minute I turned around again, but the frightful man was no where to be seen. Having lost my appetite I chucked my sandwich into the nearest bin and decided to return back to the shop.
I enjoyed eating my lunch in the park on most occasions. It was a hobby of mine to sit and watch the people as they passed by. Today children’s laughter and giggles of delight could be heard off in the distance, infatuated couples could be seen walking together, hand in hand. I watched today for someone in particular. I scanned the crowds of people that passed by. My eyes locked with a woman across the park sitting on a bench. Her green eyes met mine for but a moment, and it only took a moment to bring back a memory that I had tried to block away…
I paced nervously about the room, back and forth. A small little black boxed that I had carefully wrapped with a red bow, was tightly clutched in my hands. Knock, Knock on the door, announced her arrival. “Ella!” I shouted with a nervous delight. I had good reason to be nervous, and she always brought a smile to my face. She quietly walked over to me, “Hello, Thaddeus” She replied, a curious expression splashed across her face. “So what was so urgent that you had to see me right a way?” A grin spread across my face, as I held out the black box. “This, It’s a present for you” I barely managed to squeak out in a voice barely above a whisper. She took it hesitantly, and began to untie the red ribbon. The box opened to reveal, the gold pocket watch I had made especially for her. It was the most beautiful one I had ever fashioned. However as she took it out to admire it, she noticed the engraving on the back. It read “For Ella, whom I love.” Her hand began to shake, “Thaddeus you know this can not be we are not of the same class, I’m not good enough for you.” “Your parents would disown you, all your friends would shun you, you must be going mad.” She continued.
“Ella, I love you, why should social classes matter?” I tried to make her understand, but she quickly cut me off. “You really don’t understand do you?” As she started to walk away, I grabbed her arm, and she dropped the pocket watch. It fell to the floor with a thud and before I was able to pick it up, Ella’s foot came crashing down on the stunning time piece. “That is what you must do with these feelings you have for me, smash them.” She replied coldly, and with that she marched from the room never looking back. The watch lay in ruin, the scattered pieces mirroring my shattered heart. “Ella you’ll wish you never refused me, oh just wait, you’ll wish time would turn back for you.”
A shiver of rage ran down my spine, as I thought back to that awful day. I must have been staring, for the woman was looking dead at me and so I quickly looked away. One of the couples passed in front of where I sat, and I took this opportunity to disappear from her sight. My hand began to tremble, I knew what had to be done. I slowly walked out of the park, and headed for the butchers shop.
When I stepped inside of the door, mass panic met me. Bobby was flying around the store with an urgent busyness, flustered and flushed from the ever mounting work that needed to be done. Diving straight in to help her, my thoughts of the creepy man receded into the back of my mind as the rest of my day was filled with my seamstress duties.
When the last stitch had been sown and the last skirt hemmed I dragged my heavy feet up the stairs towards my humble apartment and yawned a tired goodnight to Bobby. Opening the door to darkness I stumbled over to the candlestick and lit it with a clumsy hand. The small flame timidly illuminated my living room, revealing a most grisly sight. Splattered and painted on to my stripped wallpaper, in blood, read words, words that I had just read previously that morning in ‘The London Fog’.
This is a riddle, this is a rhyme,
Rhyme without reason, reason without rhyme,
This is a puzzle, this is a limerick,
No more will she tock, no more will she tick,
She chose to deny, she chose to refuse,
And now she will hang from a golden chain noose,
The insistent tick, the persistent tock,
No more is there life in her broken clock,
Rhyme without reason, reason without rhyme,
For this poor soul, it is the end of her time.
I dropped the candlestick to the ground, the walls closing in on me, my sight blurred and my head dizzy, the horror engulfing every part of me. The smelly sensation of burning wafted into my nose, bringing me back to my senses. Immediately, I stamped the fire out, every stomp more desperate than the next. When the smallest ember was finally extinguished I rushed down the stairs, my eyes streaming with tears of fear and my breathing labored. Bobby was still clearing up downstairs when she looked up to see me terrified and panicking. When I had explained the situation in wheezing breaths, her face drained of color and her hands superstitiously clasped the golden cross that lay around her neck. “Oh sweet Mary Mother of Jesus.” She whispered. “The police… go get the police!”
An hour later, 6 officers crowded the small shop as they examined every inch of my home, searching for clues and interrogating the walls.
“Yep, yep, definitely the work of the Reaper…” one of the policemen muttered to himself.
“Oh how can you be so ridiculous?!?” I screamed, “This was not done by some murderous spirit! Why can’t you see that some deranged maniac broke into my house and spread pigs’ blood all over my walls?” I screeched, my patience wearing thin and my nerves a mess.
“Now, now my dear Ms Addington, don’t you fret your pretty little head over this, why don’t you go downstairs while you let us policemen do our job?” Constable Phillips addressed me with a sickening sweetness. But before I could offer my retort, Bobby had stepped forward and was now shepherding me down the steps.
“Why of all the nerve!” I huffed, as Bobby poured me a cup of tea. A creak resounded from the stairs as I looked up to see one of the officers making his way down the steps. He coughed politely, announcing himself to the room, “Excuse me miss, I’m Detective Wright,” he shook my hand daintily and then with Bobby, “But I believe that you may be on to something Miss Addington, I myself can’t fully believe like my colleagues, that these murderous occurrences are caused by a ghost, I personally think, like yourself, that it’s a very real, very dangerous man that needs to be stopped at once, and with your help I think I can achieve that.” He stated his purpose with a soft spoken clarity that demanded respect. A flood of relief washed over me, someone believed me, someone who was sane, and that someone meant I wasn’t alone anymore. “Thank you,” I said hugging him with gratitude, “Thank you.”
The next day, after sleeping downstairs with Bobby and a policeman standing guard all throughout the night, I awoke bright and early, eager to escape the ominous shop. I hurried down the street, not daring to spare a polite “Hello” or even a glance at the people who horded the street. When I reached the police station, Detective Wright was already standing outside, waiting for me. We were going to interview the families of the previous victims of the “Pocket Watch Reaper” to find any possible clues.
The first was the family of Ella Rogers, who had been murdered several months ago; the second, the family of a Rose Collins and the third and most recently mourning family was that of poor Margaret “MiMi” Brooks. After three terse and tense conversations, we had gathered what seemed like hardly anything at all. From the first, we had received a tragic sob story of how Ms. Ella Rogers had been so close to securing a wonderful engagement to a Mr. T.S Harrington; a match far beyond the families hope, but when they had expected a happy Ella home from a visit with Mr. Harrington, flashing a diamond ring, she had never come home. The second and third, were equally distraught but very private on the matter, scarcely revealing anything about the horrendous but scandalous murders of Rose and MiMi. After being ushered out of the Brooks’ house by a stiff looking servant we returned to the police station, discussing and arguing over the details we had just acquired. For many hours we contemplated the clues, getting nowhere fast. I decided I needed fresh air, and excused myself, walking briskly in the dusk air towards the park. I sat down on my bench, quite unaware of the odd atmosphere that hung in the air, trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. The wind suddenly picked up, lifting my hat up and away towards the pond that lay still and calm in the center of the park. I rushed after it, picking up my skirts and running madly, not caring if anyone saw. I caught it, just before it hit the water and placed it back into its rightful place and looked in the pond’s reflection checking if it were straight. My green eyes bore into me, and then it hit me, each girl had had green eyes, just like mine, their hair, all brown, not unlike my own brown tresses, and their families and clothes, they clearly showed that they were of lower-middle class, just like me. There was a trend, a definite and clear pattern. I was on the verge of discovering the culprit; I could taste the name on my tongue.
“Oi, miss!” I spun around to see a sandwich and popcorn vendor standing with his hands on his hips. “You alright? I saw you come dashing after that hat of yours like a mad person.”
“Oh, yes, thank you, I’m quite alright.” I looked into the distance and saw the shadowy outline of the now infamous statue in the Green Garden Square; the park was mere meters from where it proudly stood. Then something inside of me clicked, the man, in the dark cloak, yesterday afternoon and that cold terror that had filled me when I had met his gaze…
“Excuse me sir!” I inquired.
“Yes Miss?” He mumbled.
“Would you happen to know of a man who visited this park yesterday, around noon say? Dark cloak, grand top hat, of tall stature?”
“Why I believe you’re speaking of the Mr. Harrington, ‘e comes in ‘ere almost everyday, buys ‘imself a sandwich from me an all.”
Mr. Harrington…I’d heard that name just a few hours ago. It all fit, the similar features and situations of all the victims and the engagement that had never been fulfilled. Quickly I snapped up a nearby newspaper from the waste bin and tearing a scrap off I grabbed the fountain pen that I always carried around with me, and scribbled the name down in a hasty scrawl. With my fist clenched tight on the slip of paper, I thanked the kind vendor and hurried off down back towards the police station.
The sun had set only moments before and in my excitement and anticipation I hadn’t realized the slowly dimming light; and I had forgotten the dangers of being out, all alone, a lady without a chaperone in the dark; especially a lady who was the target of a madman. As I quickened my steps, I heard that of a following pair. I turned around, and I saw a swift movement. I told myself it was my imagination, the dark playing with my mind and I continued up the street. I heard the pursuing footsteps again; much more wild and urgent this time, I spun around and what met me was a tall, pale figure, hands out reached, a single gold thread hanging between them, the chain mockingly winking at me. And then all went black…..
Adrenaline began to race through my body. My hand quivered with a anxious delight at the event that would soon take place. I approached her as quietly as possible, because Ella must not know, Ella must not make a scene. She started to turn, but her time had come. I slipped the gold chain of the pocket watch around her slender neck. She fought, fought harder than all the others had.
“No Ella, you mustn’t fight me now, it’s only what you deserve” I whispered in her ear. Her green eyes flashed at me, as she continued to struggle. Asphyxia quickly began to settle in, and her body began to shutdown. Her green eyes, did not hold a look of fear however, nor were they a pleading look of mercy. Those vivid green eyes were full of pity. For a moment I contemplated what I was doing, for a moment I loosened my grip. This moment quickly passed, and I resumed tightening the gleaming gold chain around her neck. The last tug was all it took, and her body soon went limp. A satisfied smile spread across my face, and I was too enamored with the joy of her demise, to notice the paper tightly clenched in her cold dead fist.
A Few Days Later…
Making pocket watches has always been a favorite hobby of mine. My grandfather taught me how to make them when I was just a little lad. This current one I was working on, had parts specially shipped from Switzerland. This pocketwatch would prove useful in another of my favorite hobbies. As I sat working on assembling the ever so tiny parts, a knock came at the door . “Masbeth, could you get that?” I asked my trusty butler. “Yessir, Yessir.” A great number of footsteps could be heard coming down the foyer, now passing through the main hall. Who could this be? A gasp of surprise escaped my lips. “Thaddeus Silas Harrington, you are under arrest for the murders of Ella Rogers, Rose Collins, Margaret “Mimi” Brooks, and Lucy Addington.” Time was not on my side.
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