Serial Killers: The Fisherman’s Ring (Part 2) by Christian McCulloch

  1. Serial Killers: The Fisherman’s Ring (Part 1) by Christian McCulloch
  2. Serial Killers: The Fisherman’s Ring (Part 2) by Christian McCulloch

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

Part Two

He pulled off the old man’s glove. There it was with the sign of the fish. Distinctive, everyone knew it, remarked on it.

All his childhood, Peter Alexander had believed his grandmother had gone to the heart of the mountain and promised the King of the Goblins a kiss if he’d make it personally for her. Later he’d discovered it was his ring of Office. The old man had worn it for forty years. He said that he’d never taken it off. The old man said the ring kept more than his body and soul together.

 Now, fairy stories aside, how was he going to get it off? His fingers had grown fatter. He put the old man’s cold, dead finger in his mouth and sucked. He tried sliding the ring to the knuckle. It wouldn’t even twist. He tried again and again until his mouth was dry. The ring wouldn’t move.

He refused to let himself cry when the realisation came upon him what he must do.

If it had to be done, it had to be done quickly. He put his hand in his coat pocket and felt the cold, flat, ivory-handled penknife with the rounded corners. It opened with a startling click that could’ve sent a cave full of bats screeching into the full moon. He held the old man’s hand and separated the fingers. He placed the blade between the knuckle bone and the gold band, lifted himself from his heels and pressed down with all his might.

He’d not heard the bone crack or the air escape from the old man’s lungs. He suddenly had a wild thought.

‘So what was Peter doing with a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane? That’s what I’d like to know!’ He shouted into his Grandfather’s dead face. Well?’ He paused to pull out his handkerchief. ‘I guess that was the Nazarene’s last miracle, right? Putting the severed ear back on the Roman soldier.’

Peter Alexander placed the ring still attached to the finger in his handkerchief, folded it and stuffed it into his coat pocket.

‘I suppose you think that was bloody funny, don’t you! Asking me a bloody question just when I was… Well, I hope you’re bloody laughing now because I don’t think it’s one little bit funny! Now put your bloody glove back on so we can shake hands and say Goodbye!’ The boy slapped at his cheek and wiped his nose on his sleeve.

He closed the penknife and slipped it into his pocket. He sniffed loudly. He whispered, ‘It’s time, Grandfather. You do understand, don’t you? It’s not safe to stay any longer. They’ll be patrolling soon.

‘They’ll find you and take you someplace safe and warm. They’ll give you a burial, not a Christian one, of course. And I’ll sing hymns for you all the way to HER house.

‘I won’t forget you, Papa, I promise.’ The boy kissed the old man on his crown and threw his rucksack over his shoulder before the tears could fall and betray him.

He came to the end of the deserted street. He turned to make sure the old man’s shoeless feet wouldn’t give away his final resting place too easily. ‘Bye, Papa,’ he called out as if he’d ducked into the doorway for a sneaky cigarette. ‘Time to move on. Send me a sign if you think I deserve it.’ He turned away.

 He had twenty miles or more to go, another night under the stars. It wasn’t safe to travel inside the city at night. The Night Mobs would be out. Twenty miles of patrol cars, snipers in tower blocks, Scavs behind every tree, trolls under flyovers, Big Bad Wolves under red Biro scribbles …but – hey!  He felt like singing.

‘Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The Big Bad Wolf?

The Big Bad Wolf?

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

 – not me, not you, not us!’

By this time tomorrow, the boy would be in the city. He’d arrive at HER house by supper time. He’d tell her about the old man, not the doorway. She wouldn’t care. All she’d want would be the Property Ownership papers and the Last Will and Testament. He’d tell her that he didn’t know anything about that. He’d keep them safe, somewhere she couldn’t find them.

The old man had left him the house, the paintings, everything; most importantly, his unpublished manuscripts. He’d written into the Will that everything would come to him on his eighteenth birthday. He’d have to live with HER for a year. She’d want her Father’s ring, the Fisherman’s ring. He’d keep that too. He’d give her the finger.

Perhaps that was the sign he was looking for?

Christian McCulloch

Christian McCulloch is a prolific British writer with a colourful background. He’s been an International teacher in British West Indies, Singapore (Principal), Japan and Hong Kong, also 10 years in Special Needs in UK. He now writes full time. He has written 10 novels, 12 novellas and many short stories.

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Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a member of the HWA and writes dark speculative prose and poetry which has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her work includes the novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel and the gothic novella, Bottled, both via Silver Shamrock Publishing.She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org/ and on twitter @el_Stevie.

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