Fractured by B. B. Wright

She felt nothing and everything. An explosion of panic juxtaposed with the terror of what she had just done drove her mindlessly along the slippery and dangerous path once again. Wind driven rain smashed against her face. Her hands had been washed free of his blood but her mind still saw it.

She couldn’t take it back. She couldn’t undo it.

She grasped the knife tighter.

Her action had been a terrible, grievous mistake. A temporary rigor mortis of the soul. Now it was filled with stinging, profound shame and guilt.

She had loved him. She had trusted him.

Whitecaps danced at the rocky shoreline; beckoning her, entreating her to join in.

She slowed her pace.

Her breath arrived in gulps as she began to pick her way sideways down the last fifty meters to the water’s edge.

Unnoticed by her, the knife had dropped from her hand.

She stopped.

Once bathed in the sunlight of joy, what was supposed to have been her dream home glared, menacingly down at her. She saw it anew through dark, deeply recessed shadows.

The neighbors had warned them. Tragedy would be your ill-fated companion. Don’t buy it. The water is treacherous, its depth comes quickly.

Seductively, the cold water slipped across the gravel and embraced her bare feet and back into itself.

She twitched.

His blood clutched her body through her rain soaked summer dress and weighed her down.

She stepped forward. So cold, it was so cold. And, she gasped.

Hypnotically, the water churned as it formed ankle chains below her gaze.

Still, she was drawn deeper.

Water circled her thighs.

Like an absurd umbrella, her crimson spattered white dress rose as if to be washed and bleached in the sun.

Stumbling, she felt a hint of her resistance but the wicking water drew her deeper. When its blanket lay across her head she spread her arms wide about to embrace it.

Girl under Water

“Judith, wake up!” he screamed. He shook her with such fury that the bed’s headboard slammed against the wall. When he stopped, tears streamed down his cheeks. “I thought I had lost you.”

She lay there, quite still, staring up at him, her pajamas soaked in perspiration. “I’m still here,” she finally replied. A smile barely registered on her face.

“These nightmares of yours…they’ve gone on far too long, Judith. You must see the doctor.”

“Must I?” Her words were said hesitantly but enunciated slowly for emphasis.

The bridge of his nose pinched together. His eyes peered at her through slitted lids as he scrutinized her. “Is there something you’re not telling me? Heaven knows how secretive you are about your thoughts, your emotions. Come to think of it, you haven’t even told me what your recurring nightmare is about.”

“Would it matter?” she replied in an accusatory tone.

The slight smile which had been etched on her face vanished.

“Well…yes…of course it matters.”

She turned on her side, away from him. “Patience…tomorrow…all will be revealed tomorrow. Until then, I will still be here.”

“Still be here, what the hell does that mean?”

She did not reply.

There was a time when she fell asleep cradled in his arms. Distance between them had now become the norm.

He could not wash out the scent of the other woman. And, it sickened her.

Sleep had become elusive as she waited for the morn. “Sweet dreams, Phillip,” she spat out. His angry grunt made her smile. She knew he too would get little sleep tonight. And, what sleep he did get would be in a nightmare of his own making.

Under her pillow, her hand rested on the handle of a knife.

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Part Seventeen of Angel Maker: The Trap is Set by B. B. Wright

math, puzzle, Betrayal of Trust, author, indie pub, writing tips, theory, story, novel, book
Dear Reader: If you are a puzzle solver you may enjoy deciphering the coded message sent to Werner in this chapter. The clues to its translation are found within this chapter and in one of the earlier chapters. If it’s not for you, carry on; all will unfold as Angel Maker moves to its finale.
Angel Maker

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery

Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story. From time to time, I may return to a part of the story to add the link(s).

Part Seventeen
The Trap is Set

There was an unexpected bite to the late January air. Overhead, the moon danced a hot hash do-si-do with dark cotton-ball clouds while from the tree-lined shadows boughs crackled in the wind.

He wished he had worn his jacket. Clothed in a thin woolen shirt, work pants and Wellingtons, he hastened his pace across the thinly snow-clad lawn toward the rendezvous point among the oak trees which lined the rear of Lambert Manor Estate. It had been a fruitless and unrewarding journey he had completed every evening at ten since he had become the Estate’s handyman and grounds keeper before Christmas.

Unbeknownst to him, Queenie circumspectly peered out through a slit in the curtains from her darkened top floor bedroom window. She has discretely kept tabs on him since his arrival.

His employment at Lambert Manor, largely inconsequential, boring and unchallenging, did not matter to him. Soon he would be leaving. He had learned all he needed to know. Bending down he rolled aside the large rock at the foot of the designated tree. A smile rippled upwards from the corner of his mouth. He grasped the envelope and with the tips of his frozen fingers pushed it deeply into his pant pocket. Rubbing his hands briskly and blowing into them to warm them up, he then carefully returned the stone to its original position.

As he began to return to the Manor he heard a vehicle approaching along the drive. Hugging the ground, he watched as the car rolled to a stop opposite the front entrance. Chilled to the bone, he barely breathed as he observed in stillness. Two people exited the car. Their chatter to each other indicated that one was a man, the other a woman. The man was about to knock on the door when it opened. After warm greetings and a brief exchange, he stepped across the threshold, followed by the woman who limped in after him.

Teeth chattering and now back in his bedroom, Werner found it difficult to remain still. He stripped two heavy woolen blankets from his bed and clutched them around his shoulders while he stoked the fireplace and added two more logs. Curling up in the only chair in his room, he waited for the warmth to sink in.

When his body finally stopped bucking and heaving from the cold, he threw off his cloistered wrap and stretched out his legs. A log fell forward on the crate capturing his attention. For a brief moment he tempted fate as he stared at the precariously hanging log and dared it to fall onto the floor.  He snickered. Standing up, he grabbed the poker and adjusted the log before retrieving a pencil and pad from his overcoat which hung on the wall hook. Throwing the blankets aside, he withdrew the envelope from his pocket and sat down.

As expected, the communiqué was in code. He smiled when he saw the encoded initials of Otto Imhoff at the end of the communication. To ensure its validity, he matched the count total in each line to the dot total at the end of the line. Then he summed the dots and calculated their digital root. The result matched Otto’s signature of nine dots. The exclamation in the code beside his signature carried another import, namely, April 18. The sabotage of the SS Paris at the docks of Le Havre, France was now confirmed. Werner and Otto would decide the rendezvous point and time and then inform their group.

The grandfather clock on the floor above his bedroom chimed the half hour. It was 10:30. He had already chopped wood and apportioned the household’s coal for the next morning. A chore that he had  completed earlier than usual.

Werner (a.k.a. Robert McTavish) was always last to go to bed. Anna the cook, a not uncomely Glaswegian spinster from Clydebank, had taken to the kindly habit of leaving him a bedtime snack each evening in the kitchen. The snack consisted of a pot of tea and an assortment of her home baked goods. In his role as McTavish, Werner was sure she had designs on him and, until this message arrived, he had hoped to taste more than just her home cooking.

Refocusing his attention, Werner quickly went about translating the message.

9 14 20   5 12 8   9 7 8   5 19 20   16 18 9   15 18 9   20 25 >> ………
7 12 5   9 23 9   20 26 3   15 14 6   9 18 13   5 4 >> ….
16 18 5   16 1 18   1 20 9   15 14 19   6 15 18   6’ 1’ 12’   12’ 23’ 5’   9’ 19’ 19’   3 15 14   3 12 21  4 5 4   (1*)(*10)(8!)> …..
(………) “R “Q “I !

Werner made his way down the labyrinth of hallways to the kitchen. When he entered, he was surprised to find a woman pouring herself a cup of tea and sampling one of his treats. He cleared his throat to herald his presence.

“Oops! What a shock this must be for you? It sure is for me” she said, turning to face him. “The owner told me that all the staff would be in bed and soundly asleep by now…and…that it would be okay to come down and help myself. I must admit I didn’t expect to find all these goodies waiting for me.”

“American?” Werner asked, scrutinizing her.

“Pardon?” she replied puzzled, glancing down at the pastry in one hand and the tea in the other.

“Your accent…it’s American?”

“Oh…yes. How silly of me. I thought…oh…never mind. ” She popped what was left of the tart into her mouth. “You should try these. They’re really yummy. I hope you don’t mine?” Not waiting for an answer she lifted the last tart from the plate. “Well…Ta ta.” Broadcasting a large smile, she limped passed him and out the door.

Werner smirked as he watched her disappear along the hallway. Too much money and not much upstairs, he surmised. I wonder why she and that other fella would be visiting so late in the evening? He shrugged. No matter. Lifting the teapot and the plate of remaining sweets, he headed off to his bedroom.

By the time all would awake next day in the Manor, he intended to be gone.