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The Shrieking Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Handcuffed in Horror
The Shrieking Man - image by Angela Yuriko Smith at pixabay

Submitted: November 03, 2019

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Submitted: November 03, 2019

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The Shrieking Man

 

It was dusk, early November, and the light was fading fast. When I heard the shrieking man. I knew it was a man, not woman, child or wild animal shrieking. Because I saw him. That cold, starry evening. Saw him rush past me in a blur of mandarin and blue denim. Shrieking like a wounded, dying animal. Racing off, as if he were fleeing an invisible foe.

That’ll be the last I’ll see of him, I thought.

I returned to the task in hand, sagging onto my kneeler, and weeded. Weeding’s always good after a heavy fall of autumn rain. Mud gives up its weeds. I’d pulled the last swedes. Topped and tailed them with my secateurs. Cast the leaves and roots on our manure heap. And bagged them up for Moira to scrub and boil for supper.

I heard the man shriek in the distance, but shrugged my shoulders, paying him no attention. I’d enough problems to contend with pulling up thistle, gouging weed, without going off on a wild goose-chase in search of who knows what.

The bloody gnats descended as the moon rose over the dark treeline that cast strange shadows over the plots. I scratched my head as the gnats infested my hair, getting moist mud on my forehead, my scalp, the red lobes of my ears, under my sweaty collar.

I scratched my head, sat up straight, looked around, listened. The fox was near me. Hanging from her jaws: a cockerel with a broken neck! Hungry mouths to feed!

I waved my arm at her, Be away with you, Fox!

She didn’t move. The moon rose in the night sky. The first rockets were fired: starbursts! I smelled her musk, her earthy scent. She moved closer to me. I shook my head, dreaming. She vanished in the gloom. It was time I left. I rubbed my aching back and began to stand.

‘Excuse me,’ she said.

I twisted my head from side to side, staring straight ahead. The allotments were empty. I heard the snap-crackle-pops of fireworks, heard the shrieking man. I knew it was a man, not a woman, shrieking. Because I saw him: that cold, starry evening. Lying next to me.

‘Excuse me,’ she said again.

I bowed my head, not wishing to see her. I bowed my head in shame.

‘Excuse me. I’ve lost my husband,’ she mumbled, ‘I wondered if he passed this way?

I shook my head vigorously, then slowly raised my head. She was wearing clean green wellingtons which clung to her bendy calves up to her knock-knees, thick black woollen leggings that covered her slender bow-legged thighs as far as her tartan skirt and a thick, quilted beige jacket zipped up to her chin to keep her warm.

Her chin was rounded. Her cheeks were rose. Her hair was cherry red. Her eyes were cuprous crystal blue. Our eyes met. Her face blanched white as frost. Her eyes widened in shock. She trembled with fear.

Moira, I tried to say, pleading with her, spreading my arms out wide, begging her to stay.

‘No!’ she screamed.

Moira, I tried to say, but couldn’t speak, thumbing my swollen mouth, I was stung, here, in my mouth by a wasp, I couldn’t breathe Moira. I cried out your name, you didn’t come!  

‘No!’ she screamed, and turned, and ran, far, far, away into the gloom, my Fox, forever.

It was dusk, early November, and the light was fading fast. When I heard the shrieking man. I knew it was a man, not woman, child or wild animal shrieking. Because I was him.

 


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