Mystery and Crime Fiction posted March 3, 2015

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The Slow Awakening

by Margaret Snowdon

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Page One

‘What the bleedin’ ‘ell yer doin’, hangin’ about like a half-wit waitin’ ter be told what ter do?’ Bruno Garrett snarled at his son. ‘Get that cart unloaded.’

     Lily crept through the gateway, doing her best to escape Bruno’s notice, the dog slinking at her heels. His wife, Elsie, moaned deep in her throat and Jimmy Garrett’s mouth set in a grimace of anguish.

     ‘Yer’ve decided to come home at last.’ Bruno began to smile, a smile of ruthless anticipation.

     Jimmy had seen the way his father had begun to look at his sister and, as young as he was, he knew what that look meant.  At sixteen, he was tall but lean, strong enough to lift the sacks of grain and manhandle tools of their trade, but lacked the strength to stand up to his father.

     ‘Right, miss, what yer been doin’ an’ who wi'?’ Bruno knew there was not a man in the district who would dare even to speak to his lass, but Lily’s dough-like paleness of her terror turned a rosy pink. All at once Bruno sprang forward and grasped Lily by her forearms, shaking her like a stuffed doll so that her head flopped on her slender white neck and her tangled hair fell about her like a curtain.

     ‘Yer’ve been messin' about in them woods wi’ some man, an’ by God, I’ll find out who it is if I have ter take the skin from yer back. Get inside. No, not you,’ he snarled when his wife made a move to go with him as he dragged at the almost senseless figure of his daughter. ‘You two get on wi’ yer work while I see to this idle bitch.’ From the expression on his face they were both made aware that he was going to enjoy it. ‘I’ll teach yer to—’

     ‘No, yer won’t!’

     For a moment it seemed the very birds had stopped their chattering. The chickens that pecked and strutted about the cobbled yard came to a standstill, or so it appeared, the dog cowering down on her belly. Elsie turned her face to the wall in despair, for what she had feared for a long time was about to happen and surely murder would be done.

     Bruno turned slowly, still holding Lily by the arm. Her feet barely touched the ground and she seemed to hang awkwardly in mid-air, her eyes glazed with terror and fastened on her brother.  

     Jimmy had a pitchfork in his hands, and though his face was as grey as ash, his eyes were alight with something none of them had ever seen before.

     ‘Let go of her or I swear I’ll kill yer. I’m warnin’ yer that if yer don’t let her go, yer’ll never have another night’s sleep. I’ll stick this in yer chest when yer’re in bed’ – brandishing the pitchfork – ‘an’ gladly swing for it.’

     ‘Well, bugger me if the lad’s not got balls after all, but yer goin’ ter pay for this.’


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