…being the first of many stories, and in which a man called Syd struggles with impulses as inexplicable as they are irresistible. Just the first part here. I’m willing to trade the rest for…things…
It was early April, Syd woke up, and he knew he had to kill Frank Miller. The day before, Frank Miller had been innocent – or at least safe – but today there was no question: Frank Miller had to die. The thought was totally natural to Syd – like, ‘I wonder what’s for dinner,’ or ‘Those shoes need mending.’
‘Kill Frank Miller.’
Of course, Syd knew that you couldn’t just walk up to a man and kill him, but that didn’t change the fact that he knew he had to. He resolved to ignore the impulse for as long as possible, but it was not easy.
He took a bludgeon from the drawer and proceeded to eat his breakfast with it. The drawer was full of bludgeons, arranged next to the knives and the spears, which was odd, as he did not recall buying one bludgeon, let alone a drawer full of them. Still, as a means of transferring Shreddies and milk from the bowl to his mouth, it did a tolerable job, so he let it slide.
After breakfast, the ritual ran to teeth brushing. He throttled the paste onto the brush and stabbed frantically at his teeth; his gums only bled a little. Next, he laced the garrotte wire on his boots – it was only after he straightened up that he realised that usually bootlaces are more suitable for the purpose of lacing boots. He knuckled his eyes.
“Why is everything so bloody deadly today!” he screamed at his cuckoo clock. The clock did not answer. It was thirty-one minutes past twelve, and the clock only answered him on the hour.
* * *
Outside, Syd strolled down his lane and enjoyed the total lack of violence.
‘Don’t forget to kill Frank Miller,’ said his mind.
“Yes, yes, yes,” he replied. There was only one Frank Miller in town and he was usually in the bar at this time of day. With no other plan and no other place to go, Syd let his feet carry him along until he reached the bridge. There was a little brook that ran through the town, coming in from the west and, as it reached the centre, turning a right angle towards the south. It was forded at several places to allow those from the south – like Syd – to access the north and east areas of the town. Syd’s bridge was actually just a large flat rock balanced with one edge on each bank. Today, the rock was rocking.
Syd took a couple of steps to the side and peered through the clear water. There was something under the bridge that was lifting and rocking it.
“You’ve noticed the trunk, then.”
A man with no face indicated the thing under the bridge. Syd knuckled his eyes again and opened them wide. Sure enough, there was what looked to be an old steamer trunk under the bridge. Its curved back was braced against the smooth surface of the rock, packed snugly under just as if it had always been there. Syd was confused.
“What’s it doing there?”
“Feeding, as close as we can reckon,” replied the faceless man.
As Syd watched, the trunk snapped open, something shot out and back in. The rock rocked as it settled back in place.
“I meant, where did it come from?”
“Ah, but you didn’t say it.”
Syd didn’t like the man with no face. “Do you know where it comes from?”
“Do you know what it’s eating?”
“Do you think I should take a different bridge?”
The man with no face raised an eyebrow that he didn’t have. He spoke carefully. “If you were to fall in,” he said, “I couldn’t guarantee your safety.”