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Thursday, 19 August 2010

#FridayFlash: The UCF Stories #19: Vincent

This is the third of my WeSeWriMo (Web Serial Writing Month) posts.

Vincent is the nineteenth installment in my on-going flash fiction serial, The UCF Stories. If you'd like to read the story from the beginning, please go here.

He slipped through the shadows of the churchyard as though they had been greased to ease his passing. Night time rustling in the shrubbery ceased instantly as he passed, small creatures frozen in terror at his sudden appearance. Vincent made no sound as he walked, even his ankle length overcoat, which by rights ought to flap and swish as he walked, was silent. He crossed the gravel path as quietly as a leaf on the breeze, making purposefully for a secluded area of the churchyard where overgrown gravestones poked through the undergrowth like the last few rotten, neglected teeth in an ancient mouth.

A Tawny owl swooped low across the path in front of Vincent, banking sharply at the sight of him. Briefly their eyes met, mutual recognition and respect of one predator for another, then the owl was gone. Vincent pressed on, pausing only once he had pushed through the overgrown rose hedge into the farthest corner of the churchyard. An old, rusting sign warned against entering the area as there was, it read, still a danger of contamination from the graves of the cholera victims within. Vincent chuckled quietly, a bit late for me, he thought.

Tucked away at the farthest end of the churchyard, the old cholera cemetery was a wild place. Groundsmen never visited and even the churchyard's resident vagrant would not sleep here. Most of the gravestones that remained upright were simple stone affairs, more grave markers than elaborate eulogies for their former owners. Some had long since collapsed to lie forgotten beneath the mat of bindweed, brambles and rough grass that covered the area. Vincent was well aware of the vicar's feelings about the cholera graves, the man would have loved to have the site cleared, but the threat of the disease terrified him. Five years ago the Church Commissioners had engaged archaeologists to survey the cemetery, the vicar had taken one look at their hazchem suits and booked himself a fortnight's holiday in the north of Scotland.

Vincent picked his way through the tangle of vegetation, the only sound drifting in on the midnight breeze that of traffic on the ring-road, the drivers oblivious as to how close they came to death every time they took that route. Even knowing the area so well, it took Vincent some time to locate the particular grave he sought, its occupant a one year old infant. Elizabeth Deptford died within the first few days of the outbreak in 1832, she only had a grave of her own on account of her father being a wealthy ship owner.

Kneeling next to the grave, Vincent rolled up his left sleeve and gently worked his fingers through the tangled mat of vegetation into the earth. Wriggling and pushing, Vincent forced his fingers, his hand, then his arm down into the earth, his mind focussed intently on that which he sought. His arm seemed to elongate of its own accord until his fingers brushed past what remained of the rotten coffin lid and Vincent felt a bone touch his fingertips. A moment to orientate himself, then moving quickly, Vincent worked his hand around the skeleton until he grasped the child's femur. Pulling back in one fluid movement, Vincent slipped his arm, still grasping the femur, out of the grave, collapsing back onto the ground as his hand came free of the soil.

Brushing grave dirt from his arm, Vincent examined the bone in the moonlight. It was perfect, and remarkably well preserved. Shoving it deep into his overcoat pocket, Vincent picked his way out of the cholera cemetery and strode quickly towards another part of the churchyard. Reaching his own grave, Vincent seemed to dissolve, a small dark cloud drifting down towards the earth, he quickly disappeared completely into his grave and set to work on the bone.

It was a full week before the furore of the desecration abated and Vincent felt it safe enough to emerge again. The churchyard was once again deserted, long gone the police and coroner who had been followed by the press, ghoulish sightseers and night-time thrill seekers. The vicar had booked himself another holiday.

Vincent watched the young Goth couple from the shadow of a Yew tree. Giggling, they swigged from a bottle of super strength cider as they weaved unsteadily between the stones, eventually plonking themselves down on the large granite slab that marked the final resting place of Masie Rose Dean. Masie would not have approved, Vincent thought.

Feeling the tension in the air heighten, Vincent waited until the boy was poised, trousers round his ankles, before stepping from behind the tree and casually breaking his neck with a flick of his wrist. Tossing the body aside, Vincent fell upon the girl, clamping one hand over her mouth and noting with a mild interest her wide eyed fear and creamy breasts as he raised her to heights of ecstasy before jabbing the sharpened end of Elizabeth's femur into her jugular.

Once all was still once more Vincent adjusted himself, wiped the bone on the dead girl's thigh before setting off across the churchyard. He had surpassed himself this time, he thought, Lady Mandrake was going to be particularly pleased with her new pen. And the ink, such a sweet ink, it would be perfect for contracts.



Laura Eno said...

Oh my. This is different - dark and woven with terror. Wonderful descriptions here!

Gracie said...

Oh, goodness, how creepy and delightful! Vincent is evil, but he's also excellent. Now I can't wait to meet Lady Mandrake. She's going to be dastardly.

Great episode, Sam!

Hope you're well. We miss you on the Twitter. :)

J. Dane Tyler said...

I loved this. Such a dark and classic spookiness in this entry. I like this Vincent fellow. Very much a character I'd like to know more about.

Great atmosphere in this one, Sam. Well done.

Anonymous said...

You've surpassed yourself in this one too. Vincent is the perfect name for this character. Do I notice a cheeky nod to the Twilight saga? The girl gets her ecstasy almost on a plate, instead of having to wait for aeons.

And that vicar (Church of England, I presume...) would do well to watch how the Catholics did it in The Exorcist, instead of running off on holiday ;-)

The 'Captcha' word for this comment is 'motrium'. Not a word, but onomatopoeic all the same.

Laurita said...

A spooky twist to this week's installment, in a very classic sense. I loved the tone.

Valerie said...

Holy hell, that was gruesome. What a nasty character, and likely a nastier boss to boot.

Mari said...

Ohhh, excellent! I didn't know you had a hand for horror. Can't wait to see where this is leading to.

Also miss you on twitter. *ginger hugs* ;)

Eric J. Krause said...

You really turned the creepy factor up in this one. The descriptions brought it to life quite well. Excellent episode!

mazzz in Leeds said...

Love the setting here, Sam. Cholera graveyard, marvellous. Vincent is very intriguing.

I was just thinking I could do with a decent pen...

Icy Sedgwick said...

I heartily approve of your description of the churchyard, especially the cholera graves. In fact, a crypt in a London church had to be cleared, and the lads had to wear hazchem suits due to the worry about cholera remaining present in the corpses.

In this case, I think the vicar would do well to worry more about the occupants of the graves OUTSIDE the cholera yard.

Anonymous said...

Very dark episode this time around, but the writing was brilliant. Your descriptions, especially in the opening paragraphs were beautifully crafted. Excellent job, Sam.

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