Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lacking a bit of Real Fear

I failed to make the cut for the final twenty in the Campaign for Real Fear. It's disappointing, but hardly surprising. There were a hundred entrants on the last day alone. To stand out amongst that would take something fairly spectacular and I think I only managed to muster okay.

Here's the story anyway:


It wasn't a race hate crime. I know what they're saying, but they're wrong. What happened to Abdul Razzaq had nothing to do with the colour of his skin.

It was because of the other...stuff.

We knew. We all knew. Word gets around.

The authorities never do anything though. Not until it's too late.

We weren't going to let that happen.

It was Bill Jackson's idea. He got it after visiting some museum in Europe.

We got the cartwheel from Roger Carter's pub. It was a huge wooden thing that took up most of the back wall.

We got Razzaq as he was shutting up his shop. John Cooper shoved a bag over his head and we bundled him into the back of Dave Shirley's van.

There's a big flat rock out by the edge of the common. We tied him to it with his arms and legs stretched wide. He put up a fight and cussed us good and proper, but there were too many of us.

He looked puzzled when we rolled out the wheel. I was puzzled too. It was just a wheel - big, wooden, solid, maybe six feet across.

And heavy. Really heavy.

Bill got the two biggest men - that was me and Dave Shirley - to pick it up and carry it over Razzaq's body. Bill gave the signal and we smashed the edge of the wheel down on Razzaq's arm. I thought it was the worst sound I'd ever hear in my life, like a cleaver coming down on a slab of meat, only wetter. But it wasn't. That came later.

We ignored Razzaq's screams, lifted the wheel back up and then brought it back down again with another of those thuds that travels right up through your bones. All told I reckon we dropped the wheel on him maybe twelve or thirteen more times - three for each arm, four for each leg.

Then we put him on the wheel. That was the worst part - threading his arms and legs through the spokes. His limbs were all floppy and flexible. I remember thinking he was just like that Mr Men character...what's his name? Mr Tickles, yeah that's it, the one with arms like snakes. As I twisted his arm between those thick wooden spokes I heard his splintered bones grind together. It's the worst sound you'll ever hear. It's more than a sound, it's a feeling - like nails down a blackboard or broken glass in a sock - that gets right inside you, rucks up the skin on your forearms, sets your teeth on edge.

We hoisted the wheel up on a stake and left him there, mumbling to whatever god he worshipped, while the sun went down behind the trees.

It wasn't because he was black. We're not racist.

We did it because he was a kiddie-fiddler.

We wanted our kids to be safe. If you've got any of your own you'd understand.

You'd know he deserved it.

He was a paedophile.

Wasn't he?


Trying to get below 500 words was an interesting exercise. I think this was a story that needed to linger over each thud of the wheel coming down to make the reader wince with each strike. In that respect it's probably not the right story for the length.

Not bad, but not good enough. And yeah, it is exactly one of those 'nothing as scary as us humans' stories I railed against a couple of posts ago. Serves me right then. :D

Ah well. A nice distraction, but now it's time to get back to the girls with horns, wings, tails and insatiable sexual appetites.


  1. Very good story, definitely made me wince! Were you inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street? I hear the remake's awful, but I'm a big fan of the original. Though yeah, I think this needed to be longer. 500 words is an awfully tight constraint, almost more the length of a poem than a proper story. Can't wait to see you get back to the hot stuff, but must say I like your writing x-rated or not!

  2. More by Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". The Nightmare on Elm Street remake isn't too bad. They tried to stay faithful to the original, but it kind of feels redundant, like a lot of the recent horror remakes. I might write more on it in the blog later.