Serial Saturday [Horror] – Girl In The Park #6

Good afternoon, and a happy Friday to you all. Covid-19 has put us all into another major lockdown here (Nottingham), so the happiness is becoming more and more scarce, so let me give you another dose of horror to pick you up (can you be picked up with horror?).

Today is the final part of this short story. Last time our protagonist had encountered a vision of the woman being pursued, then killed by a man in the park, before seeing her appear again weeks later, pointing him towards another potential clue. Now read the climax…

You can read the various parts here: Part 1|Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

On to part 6…

I watched as she faded into the shadows, before returning my attention to the picture.  Once more I lifted it off the wall and turned it over.  I ran my hands over the frame, backing-board and canvas.  After several minutes of close scrutiny, the picture had revealed nothing new.

As I replaced the picture, I noticed a slightly discoloured piece of the plaster.  I ran my hand over the small section of wall, and it felt smoother than the surrounding plaster.  Confirming that I was alone, I removed a small hammer from my tool belt, and gently tapped the wall.  Plaster crumbled to the floor, revealing a small envelope, which I slid out.

I replaced the picture, and swept away the plaster, hiding my minor act of vandalism.  I turned my attention to the envelope.  It was addressed to me in my father’s barely legible scrawl.  I stared at the letter for a moment, before slipping it into my pocket.  I left the house and returned to the tiny shed I loosely called my office.  I locked the door and sat down at my workbench.  Opening one of the drawers, I pulled out the half-bottle of whisky I kept hidden there, and took a long pull straight from the bottle.  I placed it on the bench next to the letter, as I had a feeling I would need it again.

I stared at the letter for a minute or so before I tore it open.  As I saw my father’s handwriting, I began to cry.  His confession was terse and concise.  He described his actions as ‘misguided’, and begged my forgiveness.  He explained how he had continued to see the woman around the park, and like me, had somehow felt a compulsion to be near her.  Some misguided notion of redemption?  This detail did not appear in the note, but his remorse was evident.  His remorse was of no consolation to me.  The woman I had grown up with, had grown to love, had been taken away by my own father.  I tore up his letter, and drained the whisky.  It did not help the situation, but it helped me to feel better, if only for a moment.

I only had to wait two days before I saw her again, and as before, it was in front of the house.

She wore the same nightshirt, complete with bloodstain, but this time there were no tears, and the corners of her mouth hinted at a smile.

She directed my attention to the group of trees she had previously indicated.  I dropped my tools and made my way directly to the copse.

On arrival, I saw nothing, and shivered in the cool evening air as I waited.  I had only to wait minutes before I saw them.  The woman and her would-be murderer, my father, came running across the grass, before stumbling into the trees.  Everything transpired as it had previously, and I was forced to relive the terrifying scene.  The sight of my father on top of her made me sick to my stomach, and I wretched.  I knew I needed to act, but was at a loss as to what to do.

As before, I was unable to intervene, impotent to do anything.  I watched as the body of my mystery woman once more faded away before me, and I sat and wept again. 

I spent every spare moment I had in and around this copse, hoping for another glimpse of this woman, who had truly enchanted me.  After many months spent watching and waiting, I can tell you that I did indeed see her again, many times, but every occasion was as the last; the last few moments of her young life, snuffed out by the man I would grow up calling father.  Each time I remained powerless, condemned to watch this brutal act.

If I said I gave up hope and stopped going back, I would be lying.  Her appearances around the park had all but stopped, and these fleeting moments were all that I had left, so I took them and was thankful for them.  It was on one of these rare occasions that something changed; she spoke to me.

In all of my years before, and all of my years since, this was the only occasion she ever spoke.  Her voice sounded exactly as I imagined; gentle, soft and melodious.  I was probably in my fifties at this point, and my park duties were becoming more taxing than I would have liked, so when she appeared, aside from the pure joy of seeing her face, it gave me a moment to catch my breath.

Her face was expressionless, and her hands covered the bloodstain on her side.  She stared at me for several seconds before speaking.  I would never hear that voice again. 

“Help me.  Please.”

I tried to go to her, but could not.  She moved away, out of sight and was gone.  I never saw her in the park again, save for the copse. Our time together once again limited to her dying moments, but I gladly took them, and treasured every one.  

After I finished working at the park, I would still visit from time to time, hoping to see her again.  I did, but only to observe that final act of brutality.  Each time the blade entered her, I would shut my eyes, but the images were already indelibly etched into my brain, from whence there was no hiding.

But I have pondered on her final – her only – words to me.  ‘Help me’.  I can’t help her in this life, that much is evident, but perhaps in the next I can.  I had come to believe that my father, like me, had spent his life trying to undo the wrong that he had done, without success.  If I had the courage, I would have done it much sooner, but I was a coward.  My punishment was to live with the image of her lying on the floor, bleeding to death, but those images exist alongside the image of her blue eyes.

Those eyes have stayed with me all these years.  I don’t think I could have admitted it at the time, but I suspect they were the reason I never married.  I met other women, of course, and had a great deal of fun along the way; I have the three of you as the proof.  In my own way, I loved your mother, but somehow it wasn’t enough.  I don’t think she ever really knew what was in my heart, though she never asked, and I never told.  She died not knowing, and for that I am sorry, but I want the three of you to understand.

I have led a full life, and these tablets will bring me a painless end.  If I should be found, please do not try to save me, I have work to do.

Love always,

Dad.

That’s it! Finished. I hope you enjoyed it!

person thinking

My Question to you:

Happy or sad ending?

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