Reply To: Week 4 Posts – December 12th

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Hi everyone
I hope I’m posting this in the right place for week 4.
I’m not actually a poet but have written an introductory verse to the start of the first chapter of my latest novel. The verse is inspired by a line from, Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars. I’ve also included chapter 1 as it’s short enough to be included in the workshop. (I hope.) The new novel is about a serial killer with a difference, so if you’re squeamish, you might want to pass on it.
See you all Sunday
In the darkest, dankest corners of your fear,
where you’re too petrified to venture
way, way down in the deepest, blackest regions,
so desolate, forbidden and overlooked,
that’s where they’re shrouded,
coiled like a snake, patiently alert, waiting,
watching and always ready to strike.

Chapter 1 Monday, June 19th 2017
57-year old Brian Jones, somewhat mundane and boring life, was about to become more fucked up than anything he could ever have possibly imagined. Brian retired from the army’s special forces unit nine years previously, on a very good pension after serving for 30 years. He was still incredibly fit and healthy, built like a brick shithouse and tougher than hobnail boots. During his lengthy career, he had killed for Queen and country and seen some of his best friends blown to pieces, fighting by his side. He thought he’d seen the worst of what life can sometimes throw in peoples faces, but nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to discover. It would haunt his dreams, his every waking moment, and eventually lead him to commit suicide 11 months later, unable to live any longer with the terrifying nightmares the images instilled.

Brian lived with his wife and dog in the secluded countryside of a quiet hamlet on the outskirts of York. He walked the same route with his dog, Bruce, every day and had done so since he retired. Today’s exercise would turn out to be very different from usual and lead to a series of events that would eventually shock the entire world. It had been sweltering weather for several days, and the forecast predicted even hotter for the coming week. The air outside was thick with insects busy ensuring the continuation of their species, while most of the rest of Gods creatures sought shade from the mid-morning sun. Brian loved the hot weather but always took great care that his faithful dog didn’t become over-heated. They would first walk along the quiet country lanes close to home before cutting across Jerry Thompson’s field alongside the river. After almost a mile, the pair passed by a small forest at the rear of Jerry’s camping site before returning home.

Once on the fields, Brian would let Bruce off the leash to have a free run around. Bruce was a border collie, very well trained and highly inquisitive as all dogs are. He would tear off in front of Brian and usually return to his master with a branch he’d found. Bruce would lay the stick at Brian’s feet and patiently wait for him to throw it. After several successful throws and retrievals, Brian launched the heavy stick quite a distance towards the forest. He carried on walking, waiting for the dog to return. Instead, Bruce began barking from the depths of the woods and refused to come when called. This act of disobedience irritated Brian as Bruce always did as instructed. Thinking he must have become distracted by a squirrel or other animal, Brian begrudgingly turned and marched back to scold his dog. On entering the shadow of the trees, a stomach-churning smell began to permeate his nostrils. The shade beneath the canopy was swarming with thousands of flies angrily buzzing at being disturbed by the dog, and now his master.
“What the fuck?” Brain uttered under his breath, anticipating finding a dead animal.
Brian followed the dogs barking, continually wafting flies away from his face, unable to see properly, until he finally spotted the agitated hound through the swirling insects. Bruce was back on his haunches barking towards a tree as Brian approached. He quickly grabbed him by the collar and attached his lead without taking in the absolute nightmare before him. Brian spoke in his thick Yorkshire accent,
“What’s tha’ barking at lad?” He demanded, seemingly fully expecting Bruce to answer.
The dog jumped up tugging violently on his leash, leading Brian’s eyes to the most horrific sight he’d ever witnessed. The shock caused him to recoil and lose his balance on a tree stump. Falling flat on his arse with a thud, he instinctively used his free hand to soften the fall. More flies swarmed around him as he touched the ground, which felt slightly moist and seemed to move beneath his fingers. Brian stared wide-eyed and horrified through the flies as they gathered on his body and face. Several flew into his open mouth, and one went straight down his throat causing him to wretch. This instantly snapped him back to reality and, averting his eyes from the gore, spat out the insects in disgust. A few moments later, Brian scrambled to his feet and dragged Bruce, still barking, to the edge of the woods. Once at a safe distance back in the open air, the foul stench still curdled in his nose and forced him to regurgitate his breakfast. His faithful dog, now calmer, tilted his head sideways and looked at his master with concern.

Struggling to regain his composure, Brian retrieved an ancient-looking mobile phone from his pocket and realised his hands were stained red. He also noticed that the dog’s feet and haunches were discoloured and maggots crawled in his fur. He wiped his hands on his trouser legs before continuing. He pressed the on-button and waited impatiently for a good minute before the small screen revealed it was ready to use. For nine year’s Brian had reluctantly carried that old Nokia with him everywhere, but never once used it. His good-hearted wife asked him jokingly every morning before he left the house if he had his, ’emergency thingy’ with him, just in case. Today, for once, he was glad that he did. He dialled 999.