ONE FOR SORROW
By Dawn King
No one knew when it was going to come back. The first time it came was three weeks ago, on the 14th December. It had been ten times since that night. No one knew when or if there was going to be a next time. Each time it came they prayed for it to be the last time, but their hopes were always dashed when they discovered the next body.
No-one knew why it killed. It just did. That was why it came. Each time it wanted another person. Someone else had to die. And it always knew who it wanted, like something or someone was telling it who should be next. One by one it was wiping out the already tiny population of the town and there didn’t seem like there was anything the townspeople could do about it.
Many people had seen it, but few could describe it. Big and black was all they could say. Ghostly yet real! No one saw its face though. It was just a movement in the darkness. A shadow in the blackness of the night! And it was silent. No one heard it arrive or leave but there were always motorbike tracks left behind in the mud. No one in the town rode a motorbike and if it was just a passing traveller someone would have heard or seen something. Some people thought it was a deranged psychopath that had escaped from the nearby mental institute, others thought it was some sort of sub-human, undead monster while those who believed, thought it was the Grim Reaper himself, come to wreck carnage on their little town.
But whatever it was, it was dangerous, and it killed. One slash with what seemed like a razor-sharp knife across the victims’ throat was all that it took. There were no screams, no cries in the middle of the night. It was an instant death just as all the terrified people hoped it would be. If they had to be the next victim, they hoped it would be quick.
St Peter’s was a fishing town, just off the coast of Norfolk, on the North Sea. It was a quiet, sleepy town that had hardly any visitors or sightseers. All the people who lived there knew each other by name and there was virtually no crime.
Everybody remembered the 14th December as the day the beast arrived, and everyone could feel its presence. Despite already being winter, the air turned cold and bitter. And then the rain started. Heavy, torrential rain that fell in sheets. Seeing was an impossibility. The storm lasted for three hours and then stopped almost as abruptly as it had started. But everything stopped. There was no breeze, no sound of the waves lapping onto the shore and all the night birds were silent. Nothing moved. It was like time had stopped everything. This period of timelessness only lasted about two minutes but for those who were awake, it felt like an eternity. They felt like they were immortal. They were trapped in a world where time didn’t exist. Time couldn’t age them, and time couldn’t kill them. They were going to live forever….and then it ended. The night birds started to squawk and squeal as they did every night and the sea resumed its gentle movements. A breeze quickly built up and soon it was morning.
It was one of the local fishermen that had perished during the night. His throat was slit cleanly and deeply from one ear to the other. His eyes were closed, and his hair was a matted mess where blood had split around his head. There was no sign of another person being there except the open window. The sill was wet from where the rain had come through the window and paper had been blown about the room. He lay on his bed, the white sheets turned red from the leaking wound, where the murder had taken place. No blood trails were found anywhere and there certainly wasn’t any sign of a struggle. A cross had been slashed into the fisherman’s chest; a mark that was to be found on all future victims of the savage beast.
And that was how it all started. Since that first night nine other people had been slaughtered in their beds, all with their throat cut and the mark etched on their chest. The people of the town were terrified. They had no idea who was going to be next. Doors and windows were locked and bolted to stop the beast entering their homes. But it always found a way. Nowhere was a hiding place. People hid in their cellars but after searching the rest of the house, it soon descended the stairs and found its prey. It was like it was stalking its victim. The beast in black. Silent but deadly. No-one could escape. It always got who it wanted.
Mary lived alone. It was the 10th January. There were no New Year celebrations this year. It didn’t seem right with all those people gone. It was late in the evening and she was in bed. She heard the front door being opened, the front door that she had locked and bolted at sunset. The beast never ventured out in the daylight. It was always at night. They were safe until dusk.
She didn’t know where to go. She knew all about the beast and she knew she was going to die. She knew there was no point in running. She fumbled about in a drawer and pulled out her bible. She gently kissed the leather cover and held it against her chest reciting prayers she had read, while saying her own, praying for safety.
But the beast was bigger than God. God couldn’t save her now. Her house was in darkness. She didn’t want to see it. But wherever she went in the house she could feel it. She looked round but there was nothing there. She heard nothing. No footsteps, no breathing, nothing. Suddenly she felt a gust of wind fly over her. Outside the storm had started up again. Rain fell, and the winds blew. And then she was dead, and the beast was gone.
A magpie sat on the roof of the old lady’s house and let out a tremendous cry. It sounded like a cry of victory. Then with a flap of its giant wings it flew out over the sea into the sunrise. Day never lasted more than six hours now since the beast had started to come. They never had a sunny winter’s day. It was always dark and cloudy. The birds had gone. All that remained were the night birds and crows. All the winter flowers had died, and bodies of dead animals lay everywhere. The town had turned into something out of a horror film. The streets became deserted. No one knew who was next. But they always knew someone had been. The beast had them under its control. Few people dared to go outside now, even in the daylight. They were prisoners in their own homes. The nearest town was five miles away and nobody wanted to be a target for that long, day or night. The town had acquired a deathly silence that was only shattered by the storms in the night or the crows in the day.
The twelfth slaughter happened five days later. It was the local butcher this time. A magpie sat on the roof of his house as the body was carried out of the house. It let out the same cry as the one sat on top of Mary’s house. Nobody noticed it, few people heard it. They had more important things to worry about.
There were more killings. More innocent people died at the hands of the beast in black. Still no one saw it. It was black as the night, as silent as a mouse but as dangerous as a poisonous snake. Fewer people thought it was human. It had extraordinary powers that allowed it to be as quick and as quiet as it was.
The magpie returned, unnoticed by the townspeople, with every death. Crying victoriously and flying off across the sea. However, one day it flew no more.
It was the twenty fifth body that had to be collected. The undertaker was used to seeing dead bodies, but so many of these people were his friends and they were butchered in such a way it was repulsive to look at. He couldn’t take it anymore and he had taken his gun with him just in case there was any sign of the beast. He was to be disappointed. The beast had long gone, just like he had with the other twenty-four deaths.
Frustrated he fired off his pistol as he left the house. He hadn’t intended to kill or hurt anything, but he caught a magpie as it flew off across the sea. The dying bird spiralled as it fell into the sea. As it drew its final breath, it let out a loud cry.
Black smoke rose as it hit the water, thick black smoke that choked the onlookers standing on the beach. And then an image rose from the middle of the frothing waves. At first it was just a blur but is soon became clear what it was. The beast! The monster that had inflicted so much pain and suffering onto the town was there, in front of them, floating above the sea. But still, its face couldn’t be seen. Its huge blade like arms were wrapped round its chest and the rest of its body was covered in what looked like black leather. It just stayed there, floating above the sea and staring at them. Then it unfolded its arms, which glistened in the dawning sun, and laughed, a haunting, cackling laugh that sent shivers down the spines of the townspeople.
“Come to me,” it called in a long, low, fierce voice and then, still laughing, it disappeared in a cloud of black smoke, as lightning lit up the sky.
Was this the end? Had the beast in black really gone?
The next day everything started to return to normal. The birds flew home, the flowers bloomed, and the streets were full of happy people talking about the previous day’s events. The past three months had been a nightmare. Now they could start to live their lives again.
A moving, emotional memorial service was held for all those that died, and a plaque was erected in honour of them. The seaside town become alive again. News of the drama had spread, and many people flocked to what was rapidly becoming known as the beast in black’s hunting ground. The people of the town would rather have forgotten all about it, but they couldn’t seem to get rid of the numerous reporters, photographers and sightseers.
The novelty and hype surrounding the events soon wore off and the people of the town could rebuild their lives in peace, until they read the recent headlines in the national newspaper:
“Terror as Beast in Black strikes again!”
This time it was in London.
Disclaimer: This piece of writing is solely the property of Dawn King. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this, unless you have the strict permission of the author. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.