Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: LUST (all-consuming desire; excessive craving) (01/08/15)
TITLE: Den of Horrors
By Graham Keet
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Her suspicions were aroused by his frequent spells away from home, and when he returned, he would lock himself in his den for hours on end. His explanation was that his behavior was typical of many freelance journalists, who required time for research and contemplation. What concerned her, however, were his sudden mood swings that were becoming more frequent and severe.
Fearing for her safety, Mary left him and moved in with her sister in another town, where she found work, but his continual pleading with her to come back eventually wore her down, and she agreed to give it a go again. That was two days ago.
She tried the bedside light. Must be a power failure. She looked at the time on her mobile phone: two-thirty. ‘Chris, are you there?’ No answer. Using the light on her mobile she moved slowly to the top of the stairs and looked down into the entrance hall. ‘Chris, are you down there?’ Silence.
She made her way down the stairs; then froze. The front door was ajar. What’s going on? Jesus please help me. She opened the front door and shone the light into the darkness outside. Nothing. Then she thought of his den in the cellar. Perhaps he couldn’t sleep and is catching up on some work. She closed the front door, made her way down the wooden stairs and tried the door to the den – it opened. That’s unusual, he normally keeps it locked. She entered and shone the light around.
The girl in the photo was lying naked on what looked like a wooden bench with her legs apart – there was blood everywhere. She shone the light on other photos pinned to the wall: same girl from different angles. There was a sign above that group of photos “Patty Matthews – June 2010”. Feeling sick with fear and revulsion she shone the light further. “Joan Cummings – May 2011”; “Patricia Kowalski – August 2011”; “Elsa Horne – January 2012”. Below each name was a group of photos of bloodied victims. Oh my God, this can’t be. I’ve heard of these girls, all victims of a serial rapist and murderer. What have I walked into – please Jesus help me, I can’t deal with this.
The creaking of the wooden stairs behind her brought her back to reality. ‘Mary, is that you in there? The electricity’s off, I can’t see a darn thing on these stairs.’
She wanted to scream, but knew that wouldn’t help. ‘Yes, it’s me,’ she said weakly.
‘Why are you in my den? I told you not to come in here, why don’t you ever listen to me?’ He was standing in the doorway. With tears streaming down her cheeks she charged at him and pounded him with her fists.
‘How could you? You always say you love me, why didn’t you warn me? All these girls: I’ve been living with a lustful pervert all this time – why … why?’ She collapsed in a heap on the floor sobbing uncontrollably, then she blacked out.
Suddenly the electricity came on again. He bent over her, lifted her like a doll and carried her up the stairs to their bedroom, placing her on the bed. She started to come around again. ‘I’ll go and make you some tea,’ he offered.
‘Tea? I’ve just seen your den of horrors, and you offer me tea?’
‘You need to calm down. What you saw isn’t pretty, but you must understand, it’s something I need to do.’
‘I can’t take any more of this, I’m calling the police.’ She picked up her mobile.
His face changed. ‘Put the phone down.’ He moved to the bureau where she remembered he kept his gun. Instead he took out a letter and handed it to her. ‘Read this before you jump to any more conclusions.’
The heading read: “Washington Monthly Mirror – Contract to write a three part illustrated series on recent serial rapists and murderers.”
He bent over and kissed her. ‘A new start?’
‘Definitely, let’s make it work this time.’
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