The Good Old Days [Intro]

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Post by Hollis Brown on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:11 am

At midnight, deputy Roger Roger and sheriff Randy Flecker were stationed in the “Well District.” They were undercover, in Roger’s black 2010 Hyundai accent. The sheriff’s right hand was on the passenger seat door handle, ready to get out as soon as something happened. The deputy was holding the steering wheel tightly.

“Do you think he’ll show?” Roger asks, turning his head.

The sheriff shrugs. “Three deaths so far, all found in the well on the first of the month. We checked the well November 30th—nothing. Then we check it December 1st, and we find a young woman’s head inside. Whoever this sick shit is, he’s consistent.”

Roger nods solemnly. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” he murmurs.

The sheriff looks at him, hard. “What?”

Roger shudders slightly, as though he just woke up. “I mean,” he stammers, “We shouldn’t count our chickens before they’re hatched, you know? We can hold the crook’s feet to the fire, and we can lead the horse to water, but we sure as hell can’t make him drink.”

The sheriff looks back at the well. “Hmph.” He shakes his head. “What’s this world coming to, Roger?”

“It’s going to hell in a handbasket,” Roger answers.

“Quite frankly, this whole thing is not sitting right with me,” the sheriff says. He makes a hand gesture similar to a person waving away a foul scent. “And not just for the obvious reasons. It’s because we haven’t found the bodies. If we had the bodies, we could conduct a proper autopsy. The heads aren’t telling us much. Reports suggest that the heads have been cut off with a sharp, metal instrument—probably an axe. But whoever this axe murderer is, he’s got a knack for poetry.”

“The signs of the times,” Roger murmurs.

“Yes, the signs,” the sheriff says, quietly. “I asked Kathy and Ellie about it, since they’re books-smart. Homer, then Frost. Our killer is quite the academic.”

“Shh,” Roger says. They both look ahead, through the foggy glass. “Something wicked this way comes.”

A light galloping sound clacks through the air, at first just barely audible to the officers. This is a clear night. In little time, a man riding on a horse appears. He wears a brown tailcoat, a white shirt underneath, dark brown pants, long leather gloves, and tall black leather boots. The man wears a black beret on his head, and some of his curly brown hair peeks out from underneath.

“What the hell…?” The sheriff gripped the passenger side door harder.

“Shh,” Roger murmured.

The man descended the horse once he was in front of the well.

“He’s alone,” the sheriff whispers. “No bag, nothing. He couldn’t have a head with him, much less a whole body or one of those damned signs…”

The man in the brown tailcoat looks around silently. He then starts whistling a tune.

“I know that song,” the deputy says.

“Yeah, me too,” the sheriff says. “But I can’t remember the name of it. Do you know the name?”

The deputy shakes his head. “I haven’t the foggiest.”

The man in the brown tailcoat continues whistling and waves his gloved left hand over a spot in front of the well. Then he waves his hand back around the other way. As he continues to wave his left hand back and forth, something begins to take shape underneath the hand’s path.

“Holy shit,” the sheriff says.

“Unholy shit,” Roger suggests.

The two look at each other, then back toward the well. The man in the brown tailcoat is gone, and there is now a white sign in front of the well.

The sheriff waits about a minute before opening the passenger-side door and stepping outside. “You remain in the car,” he says to Roger, who nods back.

The sheriff walks up to the well and peers inside. He then walks around the sign and stops in front of it.

The white sign reads, in small red lettering:

“Memory, hither come…
 I’ll pore upon the stream
 Where sighing lovers dream,
 And fish for fancies as they pass
 Within the watery glass.”

This time, the back of the sign also contained red lettering, which red:
“And, when night comes, I’ll go
To places fit for woe,
 Walking along the darken’d valley
 With silent Melancholy.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

No one else appeared that night. Sheriff Flecker and Deputy Roger remained on watch for another two hours, until finally they made the trek down to the bottom of the well. Despite the sheriff’s insistence that no one had gone down there, the deputy convinced him to check anyway.

There, at the bottom of the well, the head of Martha Ackermann was found. Her eyes were wide open, and the first thing the sheriff did when he found the head was gently close the eyes with his gloved hands.

Brandy Smith and the Stakeford Tribune were contacted immediately. When morning struck, everyone in the town knew the news of Martha Ackermann’s death.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the days immediately following the announcement of Martha Ackermann as the killer’s fourth victim, Stakeford grew smaller. A few families left on short notice, as well as some independent stragglers. For the sake of this story, however, all that needs to be mentioned further is that no one of particular relevance or importance left.

In addition to the gaps left by the deceased, now there were more gaps left by the people who were fleeing from the town that had been damned. More surprising than the gaps left in the town by now, however, was the fact that most people stayed. Despite one murder a month, the core of Stakeford remained stable for the time being.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When former mayor “Bull” Douglass wrote his little history of Stakeford, he praised the family values that had made Stakeford prosperous over generations. He wrote, “The family is a microcosm of the whole society. If you look at how an average family is doing, it gives you a pretty good idea of how the whole town is going.” Douglass used examples of various families in the town to paint a picture of Stakeford in his times, many of which would be considered middle class.

If “Bull” Douglass wrote an excerpt on the town now, and used a single family to represent the town as a whole, the Ackermann family might be the best example. The previous deaths had been younger females, who, while missed, were not as integral a part of the town as Martha had been. She was well-known and well-liked in the town, a prominent member of the church, and the backbone of the Ackermann’s clothing store.

Unfortunately, the discovery of her dismembered, wide-eyed head at the bottom of the well on January 1st was not the only misfortune to befall the family. The two Ackermann sons, Samson Jr. and Reggie, had to deal with both the death of their mother and the death of their father’s reputation.

On the night of Martha’s death, Samson had been at Julee’s Bar. He had a few drinks, despite Mil and Lesley’s joint efforts to get him to just go home for the night. Samson was already a bit irritable by the time Nora Green showed up at the bar. When Samson noticed her, his mood changed, something that was not unnoticed by the bartender.

Samson, not thinking twice about it, kissed Nora in front of the counter. Nora backed away immediately and told him this was not the place, but already the damage had been done. It was unclear who spread the news first—it might have been Mil, Lesley, or any other spectator at the bar. But information soon got out that on the night of Martha’s murder, Samson had been at the bar with Nora.

Samson admitted as much to the sheriff, and it was a solid alibi. He became enraged at the simple thought that others might think he murdered his wife. In the days immediately following Martha’s murder, rumors of Samson’s affair with Nora spread throughout the town. Most of the gossip was not malicious, but whatever motivated people to talk about it, the effect was the same: the town began to feel a mix of pity and contempt for Samson.

Nora faced less criticism. Samson was condemned because his wife died the same night he was seeing Nora (whether true or not, people came to believe that Samson left the bar with Nora that night, to go back to her place). Nora, who was single, still faced cold shoulders, but Samson clearly had taken the bigger hit.

Samson’s clothing store became a desert. People still had to buy clothes, of course, but it was clear that people were avoiding him and the store as much as possible. Normally, people would have come and gave their sincerest condolences, but not under these conditions. Samson and Reggie helped at the store and gave their father some comfort.

The Stakeford Tribune and the police department played no part in the rumors. When they spoke of or wrote of Martha’s death, they made no mention of the affair. Everyone knew, however. And once they knew, there was no unknowing, no going back. Nearly everyone in the town turned out for Martha’s family, but they had little to say to Samson. Nora was not at the funeral.
Hollis Brown
Hollis Brown

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The Good Old Days [Intro] Empty Re: The Good Old Days [Intro]

Post by Hollis Brown on Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:25 pm

Julee's Bar - (01/31, 11:50 pm)

Oricle Older points across the table and says, slowly and in a deep voice, "Oricle Younger."

Oricle Younger points across the table and says, slowly and in a deep voice, "Oricle Older."

The two look at each other for about 15 seconds in total silence. Then, after a sudden sadness washes over Oricle Younger's face, he says in a half-whisper, "I... Got a cold wind blowin', through my heart."

Oricle Older nods. He leans forward in his seat and says forcefully, "The game is... over."

Oricle Older leans back in his seat, looking proud as he sits with upright posture. Oricle Younger looks down at the table. "You win," he says, a bit louder, "I lose."

Oricle Older rises from his chair and pulls out an old-fashioned derringer pistol from a pocket inside of his brown leather jacket. He aims it straight at Oricle Younger.

The two speak together, although Oricle Younger speaks in a low voice of defeat and Oricle Older speaks in a louder voice of confidence: "Comin' down on the wrong side of..."

A shot is fired in the time-frozen Julee's Bar. Only Oricle Older's voice is heard now.

"...of love."

The door flies open behind him, and a cold draft blows through the bar. Oricle Older bends down and squats in front of the body of Oricle Younger. His smiling head is suspended over the dead doppelganger. Oricle Younger is smiling back at him.

"I see your smile on rainy days spray-painted on clouds floatin' by," Oricle Older says. He holds his derringer pistol over the bullet hole between Oricle Younger's eyes. "I can see your smile now, twisting in a cold wind."

A single red die is on the table:

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Hollis Brown
Hollis Brown

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