At a garage sale, your character buys an antique urn which she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase.
But when she gets home, she realizes there are someone’s ashes in it….
Ashes to Ashes By Richard Bell
My bed became my grave above ground after her car came off the road.
When the rescue teams got into the valley to retrieve her body, it was gone.
Taken by Bigfoot, gone!
No windshield and a huge bloody smear down the front of the car, across the scrub grass and into the scots pine forest.
She was hair and skin hanging off branches, gone!
Her last call was to the guy she was leaving me for and in her little purse a ‘dear John’ letter that detailed how hard she came on Jim’s giant dick.
Never been so mortified yet so aroused.
I was about to be evicted when my parents were bestowed with the dubious honour of being the last victims of the Smokehouse Slicer. This demented creep would break into homes he’d kept under surveillance and send a dog up the stairs to the bedroom. When it reached the sleeping victims, he would detonate sleeping gas canisters strapped to its back and wait until they were unconscious. Then he’d go to work with his filleting knife slicing them up and hanging their flesh from hooks he put into the ceiling. The crime scene resembled a kipper smoke-house and their skeletons would be placed in a praying position. All their internal organs would be missing except for the heart. That was placed in each other’s mouths.
And the internal organs were found mashed up in the toilet bowl.
His swan song was belted out at my parents place.
The dog bomb only half detonated and when he entered the bedroom, dad was waiting with his cricket bat. The Police said that the Slicer’s skull was fractured but he sliced their throats and sat in dog entrails and watched them bleed out before puking and choking on blood and snot.
So, I got an inheritance that meant I could indulge my double hit of sadness in one long perpendicular stretch soaked in melancohol.
For one whole month I stumbled around my hovel bouncing off the walls, crawling from bottle to bottle and mopping up piss trails with my bath robe.
Then, about 3am on Thursday morning asleep in a bath of cold water, I heard the phone. It sounded like it was in the next town over but I slithered out of the tub and rode the stairs on my behind until I hit the hall floor, thumping my boobs hard on the wood floor.
“Bollocks! My poor tits!” I yelped and crept into the lounge nursing my bruised ego and knockers!
The phone was hammering my ears like a woodpecker in an echo chamber and I slumped on the sofa in the pitch dark lounge and sloppily grabbed the glowing handset.
“I’m still alive but my liver thinks otherwise. Tell me some good news…please!” I quipped wearily.
The line sounded brittle with an asthmatic wheeze and then silence followed by a tiny voice in agony screaming “Help me, please make the burning stop!” Then the silence met the darkness head on and left my ears with eerie sibilance.
“Mel…you’re alive somewhere… How can I find you?” I choked.
Craving a strong coffee to get back on the horse, I pulled myself together and was rising from the sofa when…
Whoosh! The chair across the room, that was her favourite seat, burst into flames and inside the red fire was her shape in blue flame reaching out to me. I ran to her, my hand touching her blue fingers briefly, then all went black and I hit the floor with the words “Red witch tree!” screaming round my pounding head.
The daylight punched my eyes like chicken pecks and my first view was her chair burned down to ash with no scorching to the room and the ash pile in the shape of a gnarled tree.
“She must be still alive in the pine forest and waiting for me. I need to get there and soon.
But I need coffee sooner!”
Throwing on my stinking suit I wore for the funerals, I jumped into my battered Kuga and typed the co ordinates of the scots pine forest at Sabrescar Fell and slammed Frankenstein’s foot on the ‘go’ pedal.
Within the hour I was parked in a lay by bawling my eyes out as streaking road and the blur of passing trees melted into her smiling face. I sat head in hands until a gentle voice followed by a familiar “She was your muse, sweetheart!” ran ice fingers up my arms and across the neck.
Glancing dewy-eyed into the rear view mirror, I jumped up and thumped my head on the roof adding a large dint near to the stiletto heel prints from another lay by in better times.
Sitting on the back seat, amongst the clutter, were Mum and Dad with huge gaping holes where their throats once were. Lodged in between them was a terrible shadow which had to be the evil spirit of the Smokehouse Slicer like the shapes in between white noise. I began to judder with fright
which was added to by my mobile phone vibrating in my pocket. I reached for it and glanced at the screen very quickly to see Mel’s blue burning face screaming at me to jump out of the car right away!
I looked back in the mirror quickly to see my parents being cut into strips and dissolve into the awful white noise that made up their killer.
A split second decision saw me running away from the car and into the woods as a huge lorry ploughed into it at high-speed, reducing the Kuga to a shitty smart car.
I was lost.
Out in the wild, my parents murdered, my girlfriend a blue fire ghost and I had to find the red witch tree, lost!
Too many colours to deal with in a dirty black suit, lost!
The sun was sinking behind the tallest trees and I made my way into the dense scots pines having realised that I’d made it to my destination and was walking blind into the last horrors she saw after the accident.
One hundred steps inside the canopy and the light was sharp spikes through scented needles and the yellow daggers were turning orange quickly.
This was a place for a million eyes and roughly half that of monsters, give or take a cyclops or two!
I strode with purpose towards the setting sun for half an hour until the trees around me began to burst into blue flames that set a course to a hollow surrounded by felled pines.
There, perched on an outcrop of thick tangled roots, was the red witch tree.
I could see from a distance the branches had fruit hanging from them until I was standing directly beneath it and retched as I looked up.
Each branch was adorned with organs and guts and eyes and tongues and heads and feet like the island of dolls.
“What took you so long?”
I spun around to see two saplings ablaze with a blue flame Mel standing between them.
“Reach into the roots and pull out a jar. Do it quickly and by instinct as you only have one shot at this. Goodbye my last woman. I’m sorry I liked cock more than you!”
She blew out like a giant draught had extinguished her and the saplings whittled to black shards instantly, hissing and stinking of burned pine.
I spun back around, circled the tree twice then slid onto my stomach reaching into the dense roots until I latched onto a metallic object.
As the sun descended below the tree line, I discerned a beautiful golden urn with a black and white lid and silver stripes running around the belly. It had a price tag with the number 16 on it and a small plaque with a name on it that I couldn’t quite see until I lifted it above my head and read the name pulsating with fear.
It was my name and Mel’s and my mother’s and father’s.
“Would you like to buy that?”
was the next voice that I heard. “It’s an antique urn from South Africa. I only want 16 for it but the gold is worth over 100. I’m moving away and need fast cash.
The trestle tables were filled with curios and knickknacks and still unaware of my surroundings, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet.
Funny, I left that in the totalled Kuga. How did it get back in my pocket and more importantly…
WHERE THE HELL AM I AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FOREST?
I paid, took the urn and turned to see the Kuga like new parked at the bottom of the drive way. Walking around it inspecting it twice, I barely believed what I was seeing.
Is this the dream or the forest?
Am I still drunk?
Is anyone dead or missing?
The phone in my pocket buzzed and I reached for it instantly.
A video message…
I played it and stared…gasping for breath and swaying…
A large man in a gill man mask with a dog barking peered into the lens. He smiled and stepped away. There, tied up and gagged, were Mel and my parents. He called the dog over and pulled a canister from a pack on its back. Walking over to them he poured the contents over their heads and reached into his pocket. Pulling out a Zippo lighter, he clicked it again and again until a large blue flame shot out which prompted him to wave it in front of them as they writhed and screamed and kicked out.
The video cut out as they burst into flames and a graphic of smoked kippers slid across the screen.
I glanced at the urn and the plaque on the side and seized my chest, dropping the keys.
‘Mel, Margaret and Geoff – my whole world in a jar.’
As I hit the floor a bottle of red witch whiskey rolled into the gutter.
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