Finishing a Story: Reluctant Volunteer; My ending to 'A Different Type of Torture' for Frank Atanacio's Challenge
Frank’s challenge was to write an ending to his story at
For all the details and rules go to:
I love a challenge; in fact, it’s more fun to have to keep to rules and a set of information as a basis so thanks to Frank for setting this challenge. My greatest respect goes to those who’ve already contributed their excellent versions.
Early morning, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Laura Kimber had headed back to the neighbourhood where, yesterday, a dead body had been found burnt in a horrific manner. Some sadist had wrapped his victim in a tarp, set the bundle alight and allowed a fellow human the privilege of watching himself burn, through holes cut in the tarp.
Since then, investigations had drawn up a list of similar homicides, most wrapped in that cold, calculated manner.
Living in Squalor
No one had Dared
Detective Kimber’s thoughts turned to the poor of this outcast area, bunched together in filthy apologies for housing, lining the garbage-ridden streets where all she could smell was dope and excretia.
No one had dared show his face yesterday. Desertion breeds desertion; nobody wanted to be involved with this deed, nobody would own up to any connection with the burnt body whose charred remains still stuck to the floor where their owner had perished in slow, terrified consciousness of his last mortal seconds.
Kimber noticed a lone boy hanging around on the corner by the burnt building, half-heartedly toeing a football in an imaginary top league game. She wandered on over, smiled, “Planning on the big time?” “Yeah, as if. You police?”
“That obvious, eh? Yeah but you’re not in trouble. See, I gotta problem. I’m bothered about that body we found. Not right that someone gets killed like that, is it, you think?”
“Na,” his big eyes started to say something, then looked to the broken pavement.
“Nobody talks around here so I can’t do much to help and I want to. That’s my problem.”
The eyes again, quick glance all around and the boy’s rapid gunfire of words hit her, “Guy went in building. Big. Dark hair. White. With a pizza.” A blur of fear as he disappeared round the corner.
Drawn a Blank
Exhilarated, Laura’s mind clicked up a gear. Pizza delivery? We’d’ve never found enough evidence of that in the charred debris. Her phone flew out of her pocket.
“Chambers! Get me details of all pizza deliveries round the area of our victim.”
As Kimber was leaving, one of the firefighters from yesterday turned up. He’d lost his phone and thought it might be on the scene. Laura had taken a dislike to the fire marshall but this guy was pleasant enough. He went into the building, emerging a few minutes later empty handed.
“No idea where I left it now.” He gave her a wink and sauntered off. “Not bad,” she thought, “burly, dark, my sorta guy.” As he turned the corner she saw him kick a football back to an unseen source.
Her phone shrieked at her. “Hi, Chambers. Any luck?”
“No deliveries scheduled for that place. We’ve drawn a blank.”
I Killed Him!
A day at the office, clearing paperwork, was not what Laura wanted. She wanted results, she wanted answers for that lone body who must’ve belonged to someone, must’ve upset someone, must’ve known something he shouldn’t.
The phone rang. “We’ve got another... but it’s worse, Laura”, she could hear the hesitation in Chambers’ voice. “It’s a kid. And it’s the same building.”
Kimber flew. A churning stomach and pounding head told her she’d find what she feared most. A child, a boy, with a charred piece of rubber bearing a pattern like a football. “I killed him,” she yelled at Chambers. “I spoke to him and now he’s dead.”
He was confirmed as the boy who had shown enough courage to give her a little information, information which had cost him his life. The boy who was now a charred mass on the floor before her, his precious eyes bubbled out of their sockets, his hands on his head to protect himself, his torso cut to ribbons before it was torched, his mouth opened in extreme petrification, his legs unable to kick another football because they were chopped at the knees. No tarp this time. Did this sadist have a different approach to kids?
Coming out of the building, Kimber heard a woman approaching. Her wailing was a siren of death, her anguish torn from her body like the baby she’d borne who was now lying on that unforgiving floor.
“Why?” her words trailed on the air. “What did he do? What.... to deserve this?!” Her sobs shot from her and buried themselves deep in Laura’s consciousness. Laura held out her arms and accepted the heavy body of the boy’s mother heaving with the energy of her grief.
“We will find this killer. I will find this killer. He will not do this again. He cannot do this again.” Her voice repeated, echoed, but made no impression on this woman whose life was a living grave.
Pizza to Burn
Back at the office, Kimber tried to find some sense to it all. What did she see there, what bits of evidence could be preserved in a scene such as that?
Forensics had come up with the small pieces of football, a few bits of part-singed cardboard lying around the building, bits of gravel from outside from the child’s shoes.... nothing of consequence.
“Hang on a minute,” she phoned the lab, “Could that cardboard have come from a pizza?” The technician made a note to check it asap.
Lunch time. A few of the team met in the canteen, sometimes with a couple of the firefighters. She recognised the cheeky fella who’d lost his phone. “Having pizza as usual, then?” said his mate, joking.
“Hello again!” Laura winked at him. “You can forget your pizza today. You’re under arrest.”
“Warrant for a search of this man’s premises asap!” she yelled. "I want every single pair of shoes matched for gravel and remains from that scorched corp’s building. I bet you anything this guy has a drug habit and our body in the tarp threatened to tell.”
There was no usual smile of satisfaction.
Copyright annart (AFC) 2014 (applicable to words & own photos) Not to be copied without permission; no changes to be made to the original words, photos and layout.
Do you Like a Challenge?
Have you taken part in any writing challenges?See results without voting
Types of Short Story
What Genre of Short Story do you Like to Read?See results without voting
More by this Author
What do you think of when you see 'clock'? The time, perhaps, or a phrase like 'around the clock'? The more you think, the more you'll remember. Find out a little more. I hope you enjoy the story.
Challenges push a writer's boundaries, something we need to do all the time or we do not progress, nor improve. This story tells of a personal challenge which many face, dealing with another's pain.
Train travel with poems (mine and others') describing this mode of transport, reflecting my own experiences. Steam trains, electric trains, including travelling to school, Flying Scotsman, Mallard