Shuddersome Shorts

Tales of Eerie Terror


PDF welcomes a new voice with this nano-sized nailbiter involving a little justice served. As the protagonister of this perilous piece has discovered, to see justice served you sometimes have to enlist some unusual allies. Call this one...




By W. David MacKenzie
Inspired by a photo by Peggy Sue Overbey
About the author

THE LEAFLESS TREES AND abandoned picnic tables eased out of the cold night, casting sinister shadows as dawn forced its way into the snow-covered park. In a few hours kids would be playing noisily, but for now the silence was broken only by the soft crunching of my boots through the day-old snow as I walked toward the wooden bridge and the frozen tire tracks leading into the river. I was fairly sure what I'd find, but I needed to be certain so I could put this case to bed and then hit the sack myself.

There was a lot of disturbed snow at the river's edge but enough of it was frozen into crystal-clear tread patterns to give the crime lab boys some good solid evidence, if they could get to it before it melted. I shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my parka as a shiver passed through me and tried not to think of what must have happened here in the wee hours of the morning.

I'd made a night of it, going to the darkest bars downtown, making enough easily overhead comments to be certain my target knew I wanted to meet with him and where. Of course I was nowhere near there--here, when he arrived. I was home leaning over a steaming mug of coffee, reading the file on his grisly deeds and the months of police work that had finally pointed me in the right direction. I was reassuring myself that I'd made the right decision. I was leaving the dirty work to others better suited to it.

I kicked a clump of ice and it slid down the tire tracks like a bobsled, plopping into the water as I trudged over to the bridge. The boards were slippery and I shuffled up the incline carefully until I was on even footing then stood leaning over the handrail, looking down onto the roof of a car just barely submerged in the shallow river. "Did you have to drag the whole car in there?" I snorted.

Water lapped noisily among the bridge supports as something moved in the sluggish river and a deep voice, its labored breathiness breaking the cadence of the words, filtered up from beneath the bridge. "He wouldn't get out of the car and it seemed the easiest thing to do." The speaker drew in a long gravely breath. "Even so, if the riverbank had not been icy I might not have had the strength to do it."

"When the squad cars get here they'll need to call in a water rescue team, so you'd better be gone by then." I stepped back from the railing and looked down through the gaps in the boards beneath my feet. It was too dark to make out anything other than a vague shape, but I knew what I would have seen and I wasn't disappointed that I couldn't see it.

Water splashed around again as the shape beneath the bridge moved, probably trying to look up at me. The wheezing growl came again, "There's another bridge a ways up the river. I'll be safe enough.” The voice went silent for a moment then resumed hoarsely, “This one was particularly evil.”

"I'm not surprised, with the number of women he'd slaughtered."

I paused and gazed back down at the car in the water, nodding my head toward it as if the thing under the bridge could see me. "Is there anything left in there?" More movement churned the water as the thing coughed out a malignant chuckle. "It was difficult, but I left a morsel or two."

My stomach tightened. It wasn't the first time I'd used my contacts to bring a case to a speedy and certain close and I doubted it would be the last time, but I didn’t like being reminded what took place when I made these bargains.

An oversized arm, thick with corded muscles, reached up from beneath the bridge holding a nylon wallet between its gnarled and boney fingers. It deftly deposited the soggy item near my feet then slowly withdrew into the shadows. I stared at the wallet, simultaneously wanting to know who the anonymous serial killer had been and not wanting to know whom I had lured to his death. I kneeled down and reached for it then stopped. I would read the reports soon enough; for the present, not knowing made it easier. I left the wallet on the bridge and stood up. "Thanks for the help."

I turned and walked carefully down the bridge toward my car a few hundred yards away. Above the crunching of my boots I heard the troll's gruff voice call out, "Thanks for the dinner."

The End.

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Sinister is copyright W. David MacKenzie. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)