It's funny how a story can develop out of nowhere. This one came about via the daily #vss365 daily word prompts on twitter. The word in question was sock and I wrote a short piece featuring a metaphorical wind sock. Later that day I attended my local writing group and things started to grow (The story, not the wind sock I hasten to add.) and by the end of the night I had the makings of a short story. Aha thinks I, why not develop this a little further and post it on my blog. Yeah, 2800 words later and here we go again...
This is very much 1st draft at the moment, the question is do I develop it further, or do I consign it to the archives?
Casey watched idly from her bed as her husband disrobed. The fleeting image of an airfield windsock hanging forlornly on a breathless summer’s day flitting through her mind. God how she prayed for some wind. Even a light breeze would do. Although admittedly, the windsock she had in mind was about forty years younger and way more virile. There was fat chance of that happening though, at least not tonight she thought picking up a glossy magazine from her bed side cabinet.
There was a harumphing from across the room. Something he always did when trying to get her attention.
“Yes dear,” she said peering over the top of her magazine. What she saw in front of her wasn’t pleasant. Not by any stretch of the imagination. She had thought over time she would come to, well not quite love him, but at least like him. How wrong could she have been, two years down the line and she found him more loathsome than ever.
“Would you mind if I slept in the spare room? My sinuses are blocked and I fear I might snore like the proverbial pig.”
No change there then Casey thought. What the stupid old sod really meant was, do you mind if I sleep in the spare room and smoke my foul-smelling pipe until the fire alarm has a total mind fuck and wakes every living soul within a five-mile radius?
“No of course not, why would I?” Why would she indeed. At least when he wasn’t here she could text Roger without fear of him peering over her shoulder. He smiled and she went through the pretence of kissing him goodnight as if she meant it, before he shambled off down the hallway to one of the other fourteen bedrooms. Which one, she neither knew nor cared. He wasn’t here with her and that’s all that mattered as far as she was concerned.
When she and Sir George had married two years previously the tabloids had been full of innuendo's. She couldn’t blame them, why else would a vivaciously beautiful twenty-five-year-old woman marry a seventy-year-old man if it wasn’t for money? The sad thing was they weren’t wrong and as mercenary as it was that’s exactly why she’d married him. Now here she was two years later, a modern-day Cinderella trapped in a forty-room mansion where everyone hated her.
The staff hated her that was for sure. They might not say it to her face, there would hardly be a day go by however when she didn’t experience their utter disdain. Sometimes it would be visual, a sneer or rolling of the eyes, or sometimes it would be in the form of a snarky remark whispered behind her back. No doubt they’d had her pegged for the gold digger she was right from the start.
Then there was the family who were nothing short of vitriolic. Especially his daughter Alysia who poured scorn at every available opportunity. Alysia had been the driving force behind the prenup Casey had been obliged to sign before she and George were married. The upshot was in the event of Sir Georges death Casey would get a comfortable sum. She wouldn’t get it all though and fuck did she want it all…
When Alysia and her siblings had set themselves against her and insisted on the prenup it was very much a case of challenge accepted as far as Casey was concerned. Poor Alysia, if only she could see beyond the conniving, manipulative, gold digging bitch Casey so unashamedly was. Unfortunately, despite her very expensive education Alysia was no better than all the rest and couldn’t get passed her basest of human instincts. It was a shame really, if she hadn’t been blinded by pure hate and jealousy, she may have seen the razor sharp, highly competitive mind lurking behind Casey’s oh so innocent doe like eyes.
Consequently, Casey had sent the prenup to various legal experts to see if there were any loopholes which she could exploit. All had come back with the same frustratingly negative answer. The last so-called expert had given her some food for thought though when he’d quite candidly said: -
“If you want my advice Casey, spend as much as you can while he’s still alive. There’s nothing which says you can’t do that.”
Casey hadn’t needed prompting twice and was soon seen swanning around the likes of Oxford Street and Mayfair laying waste to her credit card. In the main she bought jewellery which she felt was a safe commodity to convert into cash. It wasn’t as if her senile old sod of a husband could tell one diamond necklace from another. Some might call it money laundering. She liked to think it was recompense for having the old bastard pawing away at her.
As lucrative as this little exercise was, she still wasn’t getting everything, and by everything she meant the mansion, the estate and Sir George’s not so inconsiderable family fortune. She would get it though. There would be a way. There had to be…
Much to her annoyance Roger hadn’t answered any of her text messages which started to pray on her mind as her imagination ran riot with all sorts of unpleasant scenarios. Most of which involved the love of her life with other women. Somewhere around eleven she finally succumbed to a deep sleep only to awaken with a start some two hours later. Something was wrong, she didn’t know what, but her sixth sense didn’t so much shout as screamed something was wrong.
Ever since she was a small child Casey had lived by her wits and she’d long since prided herself in her ability to sense danger a mile off. Her first thought was George must have fallen asleep whilst smoking his pipe and set the bloody house on fire. Only if this was the case Sandworth Halls fire alarm, which was reminiscent of a World War two air raid siren, would be howling its head off from the roof above.
She slipped out of bed and pulled back her bedroom curtains only to be greeted by an impenetrable inky blackness. She waited for a moment for her eyes to adjust. Gradually out of the blackness shapes began to appear. Familiar shapes such as an old yew tree, an ornamental fountain and Sir Georges Bentley parked below. There was nothing untoward though and she eventually allowed the curtains to fall back in place.
It must have been her imagination she thought; only if that was the case why was her heart still in her mouth. If anything, the overwhelming sense of danger had grown even more intense. Fearing, if that’s the word, something had happened to Sir George she quickly donned her night gown and with her phone in her hand slipped out into the first-floor corridor.
There was only one bedroom on this section of the floor, all the others were located in the east wing which involved walking the full length of the building. Once again Casey’s sixth sense kicked in and she didn’t bother turning on the lights. There was enough ambient light from the windows and for some as yet unknown reason she felt it might not be in her best interests to announce her arrival.
At the far end of the building the corridor made a 90-degree left turn whereupon the fourteen guest bedrooms were staggered seven to a side. Casey suspected Sir George would be in the first on the left which she knew he’d favoured in the past. She was about to walk around the corner when horror of horrors somebody turned the lights on. Casey immediately stopped dead in her tracks. No one other than herself and Sir George should have been in this part of the building. She instinctively checked behind her before glancing in a wall mounted mirror which had been positioned in such a way anyone using the corridor could see around the corner and avoid embarrassing collisions.
The first thing she noticed was the first door on the left was open confirming her suspicions regarding her husband’s choice of bed room. She was about to investigate further when a woman who was naked save for a pair of black stockings staggered through the open door.
Shanice? What the fuck? Casey rocked back on her heels as a whole host of emotions seethed through her veins. Dismay, disbelief, betrayal, and anger fermenting into an explosive cocktail which made Nitro Glycerin look like the most stable liquid on earth.
Shanice Lassiter was supposedly Casey’s best friend and whilst it was true, they both shared the same avaricious appetite for other people’s money they’d sworn an oath not to encroach onto one another’s territory. Obviously, Shanice had other ideas. The two-faced little slut…
Casey was a split second from exploding down the corridor and tearing Shanice to shreds, only once again her sixth sense held her in check and instead, she watched transfixed as the Shanice visibly shuddered and braced herself against the wall as if she was about to throw up.
A shadow appeared in the doorway and Shanice backed away, her face an expression of pure disgust. It was an expression Casey knew all too well and had worn herself the first time she let him…she closed her eyes at the memory of what was truly the lowest point of her life. When she opened them she saw him in all his loathsome glory trying to coerce Shanice back into his room. Shanice, who obviously had more pride than Casey ever had, steadfastly refused.
Once again Casey felt her blood beginning to boil, then it came to her. The prenup. Alysia had made the legal people who drafted the document write in reams upon reams on the subject of infidelity. It was all aimed at Casey, and it had never entered Alysia’s head her father might be the one to stray. Oh, how ye shall reap what ye sow Casey snickered to herself whilst flicking her phone to camera mode.
What was going to make it all the sweeter was she could covertly take the picture using the wall mounted mirror. The first the old pervert would know he’d been caught in the act would be when he received her divorce papers in the post. With a mile wide grin of expectancy, she pointed her phone at the mirror and waited for the life defining moment which would see Sir George Welton single-handedly lose every penny he possessed.
Much to her chagrin Sir George wasn’t playing the game and lingered in the shadow of the doorway. For her part Shanice was cowering further and further down the corridor. Then came the moment of truth and Sir George stepped out into the light. Not long after she’d first met him Casey labelled him the Hippocrocapig. Even that analogy didn’t do justice to his repulsiveness. Seeing him there, this vile almost subhuman creature next to Shanice’s flawlessly toned and undeniably beautiful body suddenly brought it home as to how low she herself had sunk. She mentally shook her head. It didn’t matter now. She’d done what she had to; payday was just a photograph away.
With her finger poised Casey continued watching via the mirror as Shanice whimpered something which sounded like she wanted to go home. Sir George scoffed derisively and made a lunge for her. Casey couldn’t help a sanctimonious smile creeping across her face as she pressed the button… In that infinitesimal second two cataclysmic events occurred which changed the course of Casey’s life for ever. The first was the blinding burst of light which lit up the corridor. The second was Shanice’s curtailed scream.
Fuck, fuck she’d forgotten to disable the flash… She stopped worrying about the flash when she saw the indelible image of her husband standing knife in hand in the middle of the corridor. Beside him a bright crimson stain ran down the wall to where Shanice’s lifeless body lay face down on the floor.
Casey felt her legs buckling underneath her with shock. Oh my God no this isn’t happening.
Only it was…
“Is that you Casey?” He bellowed stepping over Shanice’s body.
For what seemed an age Casey was frozen with fear, right up until she saw the thick congealed blood dripping from his knife. “For fucks sake run,” a voice screamed in her head. Tearing her eyes from the mirror she turned tail and fled headlong down the corridor toward her bedroom.
“Casey let me explain.”
She didn’t answer and kept on running. She wasn’t a wife now; she was a witness and she’d watched enough of those crime documentaries on TV to know what happened to witnesses.
“Case?” He was bellowing now. “It’s not what you think.”
Who the fuck was he trying to kid?
Mercifully she reached her bedroom before he rounded the bottom corner and was able to see the length of the corridor. She locked it behind her, grabbed her car keys and handbag and went straight to the window. She estimated it must be something in the order of a twenty-foot drop to the gravel car park below. Fourteen if she hung by her fingertips from the window cill before letting go. It would have been a daunting prospect in day light let alone in the middle of the night.
She didn’t have a choice though, any time now he would be hammering on the bedroom door. Shoes were a problem, she needed something with a flat sole in which to make the drop. All she had were high heels. Not the thing to land in from a great height.
The bedroom door rattled behind her. “Casey times up. Open the fucking door.”
Casey knew it was now or never and with a pair of shoes in one hand and her handbag in the other lowered herself out of the window into the cold night air, closed her eyes and let go. It didn’t seem like she fell far at all until her feet impacted with the gravel floor. Then the pain hit her. She tried and failed miserably not to cry out before regaining her feet and hobbling as fast as she could across the car park toward her Range Rover Sport.
“Casey, I’ll kill you too, you fucking whore,” a voice screamed into the night. Much as she wanted too, she didn’t look back. “Doesn’t matter where you go I’ll get to you.”
“Fuck you. You murdering bastard,” she yelled defiantly.
“No one’s going to believe you Casey. No one do you hear?” Suddenly night was replaced by day. Somebody had turned on the exterior flood lights.
“Where are you going to run too?” he shouted from what only minutes before had been their bedroom window. “No one wants you, and as for that boyfriend of yours…”
Casey froze. How the hell did he know? That bitch Shanice, it could only be. She was beyond terrified now, there was something in his voice which sickened her to the core. Then she heard another voice yelling for all it was worth “Get in and drive you stupid bitch.” Without further ado she threw her handbag into her car, turned on the ignition, engaged drive and rammed the accelerator to the floor.
Before she had chance to react the big 4x4 catapulted itself across the car park narrowly avoiding the large ornamental fountain which was its focal point. Luck must have been on her side however, and she managed to regain control and was soon barreling down the tree lined driveway toward the main road. Behind her every room in Sandsworth Hall appeared to have a light on. Surely the staff must have heard the commotion she reasoned, surely someone else would see what he’d done.
If that was the case, why did she have such an overwhelming feeling of dread. The Police, call the police. If anything, the feeling of dread only increased. Sir George Welton may have been a piss poor excuse of a human being, he was also wealthier than God which in turn equated to power. Lots of power of the far-reaching kind.
Roger, ring Roger he’ll know what to do.
Using her cars hands free system, she scrolled through her contacts and dialed Rogers number. No answer. She tried again, and again feeling progressively sicker with every unanswered call. In her head she heard Sir George's voice taunting her about her boyfriend. Could he have…? She saw Shanice’s prone body with him standing over it knife in hand. It wasn’t hard to reason if he could kill her he could kill anyone.
Casey sobbed as the first of many tears flowed unabated down her cheeks. Her best friend, traitorous bitch aside, had been brutally murdered and her lover wasn’t answering his phone. Something which in all the time she’d known Roger had never happened. If he missed her call, he would always text or call her back. As sickening as it was Casey knew in her heart of hearts these two events weren’t unconnected.
The question was what did she do now? Did she run and if so where to? Or did she go to the Police. Common sense screamed go to the Police. Her sixth sense screamed run. What should she do, what should she do…?