Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: The Harvester
When your phone rings at three thirty in the morning, you know it’s not going to be good but that went with the territory. Even so, Scott grumbled as he answered, still hanging on to the last remnants of precious sleep. The words on the end of the phone made Scott exhale sharply as his eyes sprung open, brain now fully engaged.
Used to rummaging around in the dark, he dressed quickly, giving a cursory glance at his slumbering wife, slight envy creeping in that she could sleep through the ringing phone, not even a small stir; probably from years of practise. Even the dog ignored him as he boiled the kettle, making a travel mug of strong coffee before leaving the warmth of his home.
Turning off the main road down a dirt farm track, Scott eventually saw the faint lights of activity in the distance. Switching off his engine, the night seeped into his car, along with the silence. Taking a swig of coffee he stepped out into the fresh night air. Faint voices filtered through the darkness as he walked towards the huddle, the crunching of gravel punctuating the still night.
“Sorry to drag you out Scott but we have another one, in the middle of the field,” said Dan.
“And you’re sure it’s him?” Scott asked rhetorically.
“Yep, it’s The Harvester.”
“Harvester is too good a name for this monster. Harvest is good, wholesome, giving to the needy,”
“Well Ripper has already been taken. Twice in fact. And it sums up what he does, leaving a victim in a field after harvest.”
Scott didn’t reply as he walked through the stubble of wheat towards the floodlit area, steadying his stomach for what his eyes were about to see, knowing he could never unsee it again, knowing his nights would be woken up by the lifeless eyes, the blood, the violence that ended a young woman’s life.
As soon as he saw her, Scott knew. Her hair fanned out behind her like the display of a peacock. Her face had a luminous luster under the lighting as she lay looking like she was staring up at the stars. Scott’s eyes trailed down her naked body, noticing her arms splayed either side, likewise her legs. His travelled up her torso and he gagged, turning away as he spat before turning back, gulping down the night air. Harvester was right. This man was no ripper. It was all so neat, precise and almost clean. No blood appeared on her other than around the gaping wound running vertically down her torso and the large pool on the ground where she lay.
“Before you ask, yes, the organs have gone,” offered Dan. “Exactly the same as the last two girls. She’s been cleaned and posed and going by the blood surrounding her, it happened here.”
“Who found her?”
“The farmer, well his dog. Dog’s barking so he got up to investigate. Opened the door and the dog ran. He followed and, well . . “ Dan’s voice trailed off.
Scott could imagine. The farmer would never forget this either, ever. Poor sod. “The dog must’ve been spooked, heard something?”
“Yep, got cars out looking and checking vehicles. You wanna talk to the farmer? His over there, waiting, bit shook up. His name’s Joe.”
“Yeah, give me a few moments.” Scott stayed, crouching down over the body that only a few hours ago was living, breathing, had a whole life ahead of her. He noticed the pale pink nail polish on her fingernails; it matched her toes. He noticed the ankle bracelet against the dark bruising of her pale skin. Most of her fingers had rings; fashion rings he noticed, not a wedding band but even so, someone must be wondering where she was. And he would be on their doorstep, changing their life forever once she was identified.
Scott stared around him. A giant hay wheel was within a fingertip of the body; just like the last two victims. Why hay? Why a farmer’s field? Why take their organs and why clean the bodies? He just didn’t have anything to tell the families, nothing to go on. Every lead came to nothing. Now a third girl had been murdered. The press would be clamoring for more to be done, fuelling an already scared county. It was them who penned the name ‘The Harvester’ in the first place which hadn’t helped relieve the growing fear. He hoped Joe would have something, however small, just something he could work with, something to lead him to the right places, the right people and to The Harvester.
“I don know ‘er like, but ‘ave seen ‘er in town.” Joe said through sips of hot, sweet tea.
“Where in town?” Scott asked, sipping his own coffee to hide his excitement. No one had known the other two victims.
“Tha’ new place where the young stay.”
“Aye, the hostel, seen ‘er outside as I drove by.”
“How can you be sure it was her?”
“I was in my tractor. She waved at me. I waved back. She were smiling, I smiled and I drove by.”
“Who was she with?” Scott asked, scribbling down every detail.
“No one. Bu’ there were other people milling around, bu’ she appeared to be alone.”
Joe gave a description of the what the girl was wearing and for the first time since the first body, Scott felt he had something. Not that he could do anything more until morning but at least he had something. He also knew his night would be restless, the images of the girls etched on his mind, hay wheels spinning, turning, rolling, always chasing him, closer and closer, wanting to mow him down until he awoke before being crushed. He shuddered before thanking Joe and was glad of the peace of his car. All he wanted now was to feel the warmth of his wife, listen to her soothing breathing as he clasped her in his arms hoping the nightmares would stay away for tonight at least.
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x