|The Clockmaker (standard:horror, 1877 words)|
|Author: Hulsey||Added: Dec 20 2012||Views/Reads: 1421/834||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A dark, Christmas tale of revenge.|
It was Christmas Eve, and as usual, Maurice Whitaker ignored the carol singers; the uncharitable, middle-aged man tuned in to the local evening news. Whitaker was a clockmaker, a dying occupation, or so he had boasted. He was a loner and had been all of his life. Some commented that stingy Maurice had never married or indeed been involved in a relationship, because that would mean him sharing. Sharing wealth, happiness or love did not appeal to the recluse. Others claimed that his refusal to smile contributed to his solitary lifestyle. The balding man with the hook nose and hollow cheeks had worn the same suit and shoes for over two years. To conserve energy, he often sat in the dark. He lived in a small village just outside Whitby and drove to his workplace every morning. His cloistered nature ordained that he worked alone, unwilling to pay employees. Yes, Whitaker was a modern day Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean man without friends or scruples. His small cottage was sparsely decorated, many of his beloved clocks adorning his habitat, the incessant sound of their ticking synchronised. No portraits or photographs hung from the plain walls, for friends or family, he discounted. There was no evidence that it was the festive season; Christmas just a waste of money, he would often tell himself. He would arrive home from work late afternoon and would dine on his beloved homemade broth, which was made from the most inexpensive ingredients. As his eyes focused on his treasured television, the shadows of the dancing flames from his open fire seemed to give life to his austere living room. He was perspiring heavily, but his condition had nothing to do with the heat from his fire. His grey eyes were unblinking, as the newsreader reported on the main story. “A young eight-year old girl was killed this morning outside the village of Ruswarp. It is believed that she was a victim of a hit and run driver... Sally Fitzgerald lived within the travelling community, and according to her parents, she was on her way to feed the ducks at the nearby River Esk, as she did every morning... Anyone with any information, please contact the police on this number... Now we turn to sport. The...” Whitaker switched off his television and buried his head in his bony hands. The carol singers, obviously strangers to the area had given up and moved on. “She was only a gypsy girl,” mouthed the callous man. He switched on his television once more and tuned in to the cartoons, which offered him a rare opportunity to laugh. He resumed feasting on his hot vegetable broth, the dead girl for now forgotten. It was Sunday afternoon, two days before Christmas and Whitaker was sitting in his threadbare armchair, reading a copy of Robinson Crusoe, which he had purchased at the local church hall jumble sale. He heard a mysterious, inhuman sound coming from outside and put down his book. “Piffle,” he groaned, and advanced towards his window. Outside it was snowing, and through the flurry, he could see an old woman, holding what looked like a large cage. She was standing motionless at the end of his path, seemingly staring at his cottage. Whitaker reluctantly opened his door and shouted. “Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying. Now please go away.” The old woman approached slowly, the bitter wind and fall of snow obviously not concerning her. She was wearing a black veil and matching gown, her bejewelled, icy cold fingers attached to a cage. The parrot cawed, before speaking. “Hello. Hello.” Whitaker frowned, although he was impressed by the colourful bird. Through the veil, he could make out the features of the woman. Her face was wrinkled and her teeth were rotten, but it was her eyes that bothered him. The orbs were black, like nuggets of coal, emotionless and dead. She held out her trembling hand and spoke. “Can you spare a few coppers for an old lady?” The words were delivered in an Irish accent. “No, I don't encourage charity... Now please go away.” Click here to read the rest of this story (168 more lines)
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