Tagged: Serial Saturday

Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Four by Mark Colbourne

  1. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter One by Mark Colbourne
  2. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Two by Mark Colbourne
  3. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Three by Mark Colbourne
  4. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Four by Mark Colbourne

May 29th


Some guests give you a good feeling from the word go. I’m not entirely sure why: an intangible magic that no entrepreneur has ever been able to bottle. A sixth sense, perhaps, that the hotelier(!) naturally develops. Well, I was only halfway through reading the first sentence of the first email that I received from Toby and Liz when my heart began to swell with exactly that sensation.

  The couple were seeking a long weekend far from the beaten track and, my word, could they have chosen a more perfect place? A professional couple of good standing and appearance, they were the very personification of the market that I had been hoping Willingworth Farm would attract. They arrived at precisely the time stipulated and, with wide open arms, I swept them into my home. Toby, Liz, and their two young daughters, Sophie and Holly.

  Children! Well, I must admit to a strange stirring of emotions as I watched the girls run in the yard, heeding my stern warning not to stray into the barn with an obedience that was a credit to their upbringing. They chased each other around, bubbling with life as their parents unloaded their luggage from the car. They were the first children I had welcomed as guests. They were, in fact, the first children who had ever set their tiny feet upon the soil of Willingworth Farm. Barbara and I had never been parentally blessed, and we never seemed to extend the hand of hospitality to those very distant relatives who were. My former wife was not, if I’m to be brazenly honest, what one would have described as the maternal type. Looking back now, I suppose this was one of the elements that gradually instigated our separation and, as I watched young Sophie and Holly pursue each other in giddy, giggling circles of bouncing blonde curls, I realised that it was certainly one of my regrets.

As a family, I do not believe they could have been more sublime. Liz was the quintessential mother hen, swinging into action with barely a pause for breath: organising all, calming quarrels, answering queries, seeking out misplaced items of dolls’ paraphernalia… Her duties were infinite and she juggled them with an efficiency I could only observe in awe. And then the girls – well, perfect to a fault! What angels! I fell in love the very second they burst from the car. Finally, of course, there was Toby. Well, what can I say about Toby? Toby, I can confirm, was Toby.

  Naturally, I allowed my new guests time to settle in, but the familial mood was so infectious that I couldn’t help but be ensnared. Before too long we were all in the kitchen with some home cooking and a game of Cluedo. Holly claimed the honours that evening, correctly fingering Colonel Mustard in the Study with a candlestick. The victory, it must be said, was not achieved without a generous measure of paternal assistance, but there were few objections to this negligible flexing of the rules. Holly, I reminded myself, was still very young. And, whatever age you might be, it’s not always easy to figure out just who the murderer is.

  The next day they went to the coast. The farm settled with an eerie calm. How odd it was, I contemplated, that after only a single day in their company I had become hopelessly attuned to their rhythm and force. In their absence, the house felt deserted. The rooms ached with vacancy, the hallways groaned in desolation. I must admit that I plodded through my chores that day with an air of the despondent. I kept myself busy – digging in the barn and paying a brief visit to the local scrap metal agent – but even these activities failed to encourage a swift passing of time. When the family returned, I was delighted, and ushered them around the kitchen table for a substantial evening meal.

  That night it started raining – a downpour which refused to relent. The following morning Liz reviewed the grey skies and torrential misery to conclude that the day would see them housebound. Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted, and threw myself into action to ensure that the hours trapped inside Willingworth Farm would be those that lived long in the memory. The girls spent an hour drawing at the kitchen table as Liz, Toby and I enjoyed coffee. Eventually, I relented to their probing enquiries and agreed to tell them a little of my story. I talked about Barbara. I talked about how we had bought this farm and how we had made a home here. I talked about how she was no longer with me.

After lunch, I initiated a house-wide game of hide and seek. The girls shrieked with delight as I pursued them through the hall and up the stairs. The excited pant of their breathing would inevitably give them away as they attempted to hide beneath beds or in wardrobes. Their parents only managed to a savour a little of our fun, having both taken to the living room sofa for an afternoon nap. “You won’t escape me,” I whispered as I stalked through the bedrooms. “You’ll never escape me”.

  So – Toby and Liz and the girls. What a family. What a weekend.

Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Three by Mark Colbourne

  1. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter One by Mark Colbourne
  2. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Two by Mark Colbourne
  3. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Three by Mark Colbourne
  4. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Four by Mark Colbourne

May 15th


From the rear window of the kitchen at Willingworth Farm, one is rendered practically breathless by the view which presents itself. Miles, I would estimate, of rolling, pristine countryside. The land stretching to the horizon with the characteristic planarian spread of Norfolk. Fields chequered in an earthy palate of greens, browns and yellows; the harsh boundaries of criss-crossing hedgerows surrounding the single grey slither of road that ploughs from my drive all the way back to the B362. I remember when my wife and I would sit in that spot, gazing out upon the world as the seasons changed and accordingly charged its display. Happy memories, and it was therefore with a great swell of warmth that I entered the room this morning to find the latest recipients of my bed and board, Kim and Steve, sipping freshly brewed coffee in a pose identical to the one which Barbara and I would once upon a time have held.

Steve is in finance. Up to his neck, apparently. He revealed this to me within seconds of walking through the door. Working in The City, he confided, was not for the faint of heart. By all accounts it was a visceral conflation of teeth and claws, of dogs eating dogs, of backs being washed or scratched or stabbed on a seemingly indiscriminate basis. Kim – obviously no stranger to this monologue – failed to mask a dismissive chuckle which, I noted with my own wry smile, stole the wind somewhat from Steve’s billowing sails. Kim, however, had quite the contrary vocation to her partner’s. I was greatly impressed by her account of volunteering for various charities: the soup kitchens, the refuge centres, the fundraising and campaign management. What a dedicated, compassionate and resourceful woman! It was apparent there and then that the long weekend ahead would offer the chance for some stimulating conversation.

They claimed they had come to Willingworth Farm to “wind down”. I wasn’t at all convinced that this would prove itself a serviceable ambition. The very second that Steve had prised the wireless network key from my lips, he practically barricaded himself in their bedroom with a spread of laptops, tablet computers and phones. Kim seemed to accept this behaviour with the nature of one well accustomed to it and spent the majority of the weekend walking the local area by herself. I offered – on more than one occasion – to provide her with company, although each time she demurely declined. As I watched her from my bedroom window, it occurred to me that I had inadvertently taken a ringside seat to a marriage falling apart. A dilemma arose: should I try to offer advice from the benefit of my own experience? I had, after all, been in a very similar position. I could have comforted or counselled; I could have offered a shoulder upon which to cry. But where should the host draw the line? The privacy of a guest is paramount, and there are moments when all one can do is look on from a distance.

That evening, I heard them arguing in their room. Not that I was listening, but Willingworth Farm is an old building with thin walls and echoing corridors. Occasionally, there are things which just cannot be ignored, no matter how hard the individual in question believes that they should try. The row was constructed from all the usual wrangles – that he worked too much, that she had no grasp of the real world, that he was absent from the relationship, that she was unrealistic and demanding… And so on and, indeed, so forth. The collapse of their relationship was in no way unique, but this didn’t diminish their pain nor lessen their suffering. I retired to my bedroom, bare feet stepping softly back along the hallway in darkness, to contemplate this quandary alone.

The next morning at breakfast, Steve and Kim were pleasant enough, but this comportment felt like a curtain behind which I had already peaked. I cooked and gave them the low down on Belminster, suggesting that perhaps they should pay a visit to the town. Steve, however, was adamant that he’d need to put in a few hours at the computer. As I cleared away the plates, he returned – true to form – to the bedroom, while Kim donned her fleece and took to the fields. For a while, I followed her progress. First from the kitchen, then round into the living room, and then from the bathroom window – which I had to race upstairs and open – for one last angled view afforded only as I perched with tiptoes on the toilet seat. They’d be with me for one more day, but it felt as if they hadn’t been here at all. Not really. It was to my great regret that, for this particular pair, Willingworth Farm had failed to cast its spell.

Kim didn’t return until late afternoon while Steve’s appearances were short and sporadic. He would emerge from his room to indulge in the coffee and sandwiches of which I maintained a ready supply, only to disappear again the moment the plate or mug was clasped in his hurried hand. It was the strangest situation. That evening, I prepared supper for the three of us, but the conversation around the table was sluggish at best. Not even my celebrated tale of when Mr Gister, the owner of the farm four miles away, got his foot caught in a drain managed to raise spirits. Eventually, they went – quite reluctantly, I suppose – to bed. I remained in the kitchen and pondered their situation, considering what mercy I could possibly bring. As guests they were not the slightest trouble, and yet they were obviously so very troubled themselves. It made me realise that it would be impossible to completely understand precisely who I was welcoming through my door. I would never fully appreciate the secrets folded inside their luggage. I would never be privy to the complications they would carry to their bedroom, the complexities they would unpack into my wardrobes and drawers, the character they would sweat into my sheets.

Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Two by Mark Colbourne

  1. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter One by Mark Colbourne
  2. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Two by Mark Colbourne
  3. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Three by Mark Colbourne
  4. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Four by Mark Colbourne



Willingworth Farm: Letter Two


April 29th


It was an utter joy to welcome Ian and Catherine (“Cath” to her friends!) across my threshold. As they absorbed the secluded, rural location, both of my guests were effervescent with the novelty of finding themselves off the beaten track. Urban and urbane they may have been, but they took to the Willingworth pace of life with complete aplomb. Polite, courteous and quiet, I could not have wished for a more agreeable couple to present themselves as my inaugural guests. Cath was particularly fascinated by the guided walking tours I offered around the surrounding country miles, and was all but spellbound as I waxed lyrical regarding the local produce from which the foundation of our meals were formed. On the first evening, she remained with me in the kitchen for over three hours, totally captivated as I exposed a scintillating spread of meats, vegetables, cheeses, chutneys, breads and wines. Poor old Ian was very much left to his own devices that night, I’m afraid! And I do not think it was merely my imagination when, as I insisted on preparing a full English breakfast the following morning, there seemed to be an undercurrent of green-eyed envy within the room.

Still, to Ian’s credit, this bitter feeling never rose to the surface and that meal was as pleasant as any I care to remember. They announced their desire to spend the day in Belminster, the nearest town. A little shopping, some sight-seeing, a wander through the lanes and a skim around the picturesque church. Well, away they duly went. I watched their car motor from the drive and along the road until it disappeared from view. For whatever reason, I then stayed in the same position until I saw it return. A speck, initially, in the distance. A glint of metal reflecting the setting sun. They were coming back, I thought. Coming back to the farm. Coming back to me.

Ian and Cath had already eaten, but I insisted upon preparing a spot of light supper. Throwing together some cold cuts and salad, I inferred from their silence that they wished me to join them. Wearied by the day’s exertion, they were in no mood to talk themselves and so I took a seat at the table, ready to earn my keep by playing host. Veering towards the convivial, I expounded a little on the history of Belminster – an anecdotal approach which served to focus a much appreciated lens on the sights they had earlier enjoyed. After a glass or two of wine, they gradually began to reciprocate and conversation naturally turned towards the personal. We chatted about their jobs and their home and, as we grew more comfortable in each other’s company, it seemed that my guests were finally ready to air the questions they had been longing to ask me.

Was I married? It was Cath who spoke. A sip of wine following the upward inflection of that final syllable; an ambiguous look in her eye. Well, I simply shook my head. Not any more, I told them. No, not any more.

The following day, they snuck out at the crack of dawn. As I hadn’t had the chance to even ask about their plans,  I busied myself with the toil of maintaining a tidy home. The farm, after all, does not look after itself! The hours crawled by and I was clearing up from my solitary evening meal before they eventually returned. They crept through the front door like a pair of skulking teenagers as, readily performing my part of the prudish parent, I pounced into the hallway. 

“And where have you two been?” I intoned with high humour. Ian and Cath pulled appropriately guilty faces before we all fell about laughing.

And so it was the final morning. I served up a hearty breakfast as Ian and Cath announced their intention to indulge a farewell stroll around the fields before leaving for home. It was such a glorious spring day that I could hardly blame them. Off they went, and I watched for a while from the kitchen window until they disappeared around the side of the barn and were lost from my line of sight. And so that was that – my first experience of opening up my doors. All in all, as I stood in the bedroom and considered their packed cases, I thought of how lucky I was to have started my venture with such wonderful people. How impossible it then seemed that I would ever again be blessed with a couple more deserving of my hospitality.

Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter One by Mark Colbourne

  1. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter One by Mark Colbourne
  2. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Two by Mark Colbourne
  3. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Three by Mark Colbourne
  4. Serial Saturday: Willingworth Farm, Letter Four by Mark Colbourne



Willingworth Farm: Letter One


A Welcome to Willingworth Farm’s Blog

June 30th


Recently, and after much searching of the soul, I decided to open the doors here at Willingworth Farm to the paying public. Employing the convenience of a popular holiday rental platform, I began to engage with prospective guests via the medium of the World Wide Web. My home was announced as a retreat amongst the splendour of the Norfolk countryside. A sanctuary where the weary would be welcomed, where the fatigued could recuperate in both body and soul. Without wishing to boast, it came as no surprise when the venture proved itself an immediate success! Visitors would arrive, practically crushed beneath the weight of the daily grind, only to find themselves a few days later floating in a serene stupor. Some of my guests – God bless their souls! – even found a return to the real world a daunting impossibility.

It has been, to say the least, an eye-opening endeavour. The carousel of life which would appear, bag in hand, on my doorstep has never failed to surprise, stimulate or delight. It was an equally novel undertaking to ingratiate myself with the peculiar etiquette of the internet. Initially, I was somewhat bemused and a trifle affronted by the rental service’s imposing demand that the guests should pen reviews of yours truly whilst, concurrently, I jotted down my own critique of them. The ratings, the feedback, the recommendations, the likes and the references… Those odd and time-consuming waters into which we are all forced to digitally wade.

However, it was not long before this element of the process became something that I began to cherish. Not, I assure you, because of the opportunity to whinge or complain, nor even praise and flatter. Rather, it was the facility to build a record of those who had stayed with me that stirred my appreciation. An electronic log; an online book of remembrance. Sadly, the limitations of character and space enforced by the website review system were a trifle restrictive for my tastes. Therefore, I decided to grasp the nettle. With a leap of faith and any number of stumbling technological false starts, here we find ourselves at the beginning of my very own blog! And so, I welcome you, oh dear and gentle reader, to my modest little corner of the information highway; to my own brief and commemorative record of those who came to stay at Willingworth Farm.



Peter Edingly

Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 6


“It’s a Sunday, Nick. Nobody goes into the office on Sunday. At least not every Sunday. Not even you.”

Despite his wife’s toying remonstrations from the bed, Pineclay remained facing the dresser, back turned. He continued fiddling absent-mindedly with the buttons on his sleeve – at that moment, it was all he was capable of doing. His mind was a spiralling muddle of conjectures, his thoughts mere snowflakes spinning without vector inside a furiously shaken globe. He scrunched his eyes, concentrated hard, trying to get his bearings. Only moments before he had been in an interrogation room…with a killer…an old man…who had done…something? But what? Whatever this something was, be it an act of kindness or one of assault, Pineclay found that he could not recall. He was certain that the event had shocked him, unsettled him, even – but why? Being attacked could be shocking – but so could the sudden and unexpected reveal of a birthday surprise, friends leaping out from behind the curtains and thrusting cards and kisses and gifts and…

“Gifts…” Pineclay murmured to himself, a flicker of anamnesis burning then fizzling before he had a chance to clutch it. He again heard his wife. 

“Nick? Sunday, you know? The day of rest…”

Dismissing any further thought to his newly transposed circumstances, as one shifts from daydream to reality with only a fleeting memory of the previous, Pineclay spoke. The words felt recited.

“Crime doesn’t take a vacation just because you ask it to. And you know I’m being transferred.”

“Yeah yeah, to a new unit and you need to make a head start.” his wife finished with a playful sigh. “You’ve told me enough times already.”

“I’ll be back in time for lunch.” Pineclay heard himself lie, remembering full well that he wouldn’t even make it back for the following day’s breakfast. “Have it ready. I’ll be there. I promise.”

As his wife considered him with an expression both accepting yet dubious, Pineclay found himself again fumbling with his cuff button, distracted, his next words not so easy to come by as before. “You know how it is. The wheel never stops turning. The pursuit…it never ends. If I don’t keep up to speed with everything that’s going on back at the station, I’ll–”

“How long have we been married, Nick?”

“Seven years.” Pineclay replied without hesitation. “It’s nineteen ninety-five, spring, and we’ve been married seven years.”

“And in all those years, all those days of marital bliss, how many weekends have we spent together?”


The impetus of the detective’s excuses ground to a halt. Having let his cuff fall open and dangle unbuttoned, he slowly turned to face the bed.

His wife was younger than he remembered – youthful, not only in years but more so in demeanour. She had a rejuvenated radiance about her so blinding and brilliant that the detective found himself squinting. A radiance which, he remembered, had long since dissipated, syphoned by so much unnecessary heartbreak and absence – the majority of which was his fault. Flattening the rolls of silk nightgown over her hip, she repeated from the glare the very question Pineclay himself was still pondering.

“How many weekends, Nick? In total.”

Ashamed into retreating back to the dresser’s mirror, Pineclay couldn’t bring himself to admit to the single-syllable answer.

It was then that a boy and a girl whom Pineclay only faintly recognised exploded into the bedroom and began running laps around the bed. Having announced herself the winner, the girl bounded towards her daddy’s leg and knotted her arms around it.

“Gee, you’re shorter than I remember.” Pineclay marvelled at the little girl, noticing the tightness in his voice which he did his best to conceal. “It seems like only yesterday that you were so small. 

“And Jack…look at you.” Pineclay gulped. “You must be nearly–”

A knocking at the downstairs door called the girl and her brother away – away from Pineclay’s gaze and his longing want of an embrace. A rumbling of little feet on the staircase and a dog barking and the front door opening and a pair of “Grandpa!” exhalations brought the scene downstairs to life in the detective’s mind. In the hurried interval it would take to slip a button and clasp a wristwatch and kiss his wife’s belly goodbye, he would be making his way downstairs – passed the kids, passed the puppy, passed his stepmother–

Before finally passed his father. 

For the last time. Pineclay arrived at the terrible realization that tomorrow his father would be gone, gunned down. 

And Jack. Jack. He stood watching from the landing as though peering into a grave, the boy of no more than five playing meet and greets with the grandparents in the foyer below. 

From the bedroom, tolling like a bell, Pineclay heard the bedside phone begin to ring. Taking his arm, his wife joined him at his side. 

“Ignore it.” she said softly, her very presence seeming to muffle the interminable ringing. “Your children miss you, Nick – and with each weekend, one hour of overtime at a time, you’re missing them.”

“I know. But if I don’t… I have to–”

“You don’t have to do anything.” she squeezed his arm tighter, as though he were adrift and would be swept away by the currents at any moment. “I understand. I do. It’s just maybe you could put your work to one side, just for today? 

“Come downstairs with me. We’ll have breakfast. You and your father haven’t laughed in too long, and you’ve been meaning to show him the rifle you got Jack for his birthday. Then tomorrow, Monday, then you can rush back to the office… 

“In the meantime, stay here with us, just a little while longer. A lifetime longer, if you wish.” came the whispering in the detective’s ear, so warm and convincing it was undeniable. “You’ve got all the time you’ll ever need, right here with us.”

Pineclay’s wife kissed his cheek, and pressed a cold and heavy object into his hand. “Today is a gift, Nick. Don’t let it go to waste.” 


Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 5


Akin to the breaking of a sheet of ice which floats atop a lake’s surface, upon the penetration of the dagger’s tip the skin of the old man’s forehead sank below an up-pouring of blood.

Immobilized, it took a dazzling metallic glint from the dagger’s blade for Detective Pineclay to avert his eyes – when he turned back, he was aghast at what he saw.

Smiling, giggling, the kindly Andrew Walton Cane was pulling the dagger down, and through, the entire length of his face.

Like any officer who had dutifully served a long and consuming career, Pineclay had seen some things. Dark, horrible things…the horrors of which still haunted his waking, workless nights. Yet at this moment, face to face with an act of self-mutilation in its rawest form, Pineclay’s experience failed him. Without his knowing, his gun tumbled from his hand. It landed somewhere in the massing pool between him and the killer. Ears pricked by the clatter of metal against tile, only then did Pineclay summon the necessary bearings to intervene, to move and wrench the dagger from Cane’s hands before he disfigured himself any further.

But the detective found that Cane was in fact no longer holding the dagger, his soft pink hands having parted to his sides in the posture of the divine saint. Pineclay looked on with detached bewilderment as, somehow…the cutting continued. Somehow, a trick both sick and miraculous, the automated dagger ploughed downwards through its meadow of flesh, lengthening the immaculate furrow in Cane’s face inch by terrible inch. As though a anchor ushered only by gravity, never deviating nor slowing from its perpendicular trajectory, the dagger’s hook tore through chin then throat then breast then belly, all to a sound comparable with scissors being pushed through a sheet of wrapping paper.

And all the while, Cane’s glaze of harmonious serenity never waned. 

In stark contrast, Pineclay’s posture collapsed and he stumbled back against the wall.

After a time indeterminable the dagger reached its journey’s end, no further skin left to cut. With a final separation at the groin, having spliced clean through both trouser belt and buckle, it broke from the flesh, and like a rocket lifting off in reverse it landed handle-down on the bloodied floor, blade perfectly upright as though Excalibur emerging from a lake turned red by the delight of shepherds.

All-but down on his knees, Pineclay was ready to vomit – yet, dare he believe it, worse was still to come. 

Cane raised his hands to his face, took hold of the flaps of meat teetering above his eyes like the ears of a lop rabbit–

And tugged. 

Pineclay felt the colour depart from his own cheeks just as rapidly as the skin did depart from the Cane’s. He assumed, and willed, that he might faint.

Yet no escape into unconsciousness was granted, for it was the most curious thing – in spite of the act of ungodly dismemberment being undertaken solely for his audience, so much ripping and tearing and divorcing of sinew, the detective was struck at how at ease he was. He felt light, weightless, tranquil, warm as though hunkered within cotton. Maybe this unnatural and unbecoming equanimity was shock taking over, the mind’s way of inhibiting all comprehensible emotion when the neurons in one’s brain became overloaded? But no, Pineclay dismissed this theory. The sensation he was experiencing was something…other, something out of body – a sensation he had no choice in allowing to steer him. 

Thus, Pineclay righted, and observed with attention unflinching as the old man shed the remaining skin from his torso. Upon the completion of said parting, Pineclay did not witness a deluge of plasma and organs as one would expect – only the emergence of a strange, black, boundless opening akin to the hollow of a tree. He found himself stepping toward it, summoned, feeling himself bowing – it seemed as though the lamp-lit outline of Cane and the table and everything else within the room made up the stitching of a dense curtain, and only that revealed within the curtain’s parting–

“Seriously Nick, you don’t really have to go into the office today, do you?” he heard his wife. The morning sunlight played upon her reclined form as she fluttered her eyes awake.

Pineclay peered down to find that he was buttoning the sleeves of his uniform, a brand new tie, heavy with silver bar, already snug around his neck.

He was…home


Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 4


For the longest time, Cane’s hands remained open, anticipating delivery of the object which Pineclay clasped tightly in his fist.

“If you wish for me to share with you its gift, detective, I will need to retake custody of that dagger.”

Pineclay scoffed at what he took to be a threat of the most benign. Size difference and physique aside, both heavily in his favour, the detective was well aware that handing over a weapon to a clearly psychopathic killer was not the wisest of strategies. That being said, the detective was also aware that if this precarious gesture did somehow loosen the killer’s lips, causing him to slip confessions rather than riddles, it was at the very least a risk worth considering. 

But it is a risk…

Seemingly, this deadlock of affairs Cane understood.

“As long as there remains an arm’s length between us, you will hold the deciding advantage.” he smiled, his fingers, with so much dried blood under the nails, remaining open. “I assure you, detective, I seek only that dagger in order to educate – not to lacerate.”

Pineclay shrugged, the hunk of loaded iron holstered at his hip providing all the assurance he needed. What the hell he figured, offering the dagger up – albeit blade first. “But you pull anything clever,” he warned, unbuttoning the clasp on his holster, “and I’ll make your mutilations look as ham-fisted as hash. Comprehend?”

Cane nodded. He accepted the dagger with chivalrous delicacy, cradling the bronze artefact as the very treasure he had sworn it to be. It was only when Pineclay rested an impatient hand on his firearm that Cane broke from his reverie.

“Your father was killed in the line of fire, was he not?” Cane ventured without a hint of expression, as though his inquiry were nothing more intimate than an asking of the time. “And your son. He met a similar fate, also?”

The plaintiveness of Cane’s questions caught Pineclay off guard. As such, his response was more a retaliation than a riposte.

“What’s it to you? You trying to teach me a lesson?”

“I have a lesson to teach, yes. One which I have recently learned.” Cane continued. “Having a father on the force must have been of great determination? When coming to choose the profession which would define you, I mean. Once upon a time I myself also arrived at this same juncture, and I, like yourself, decided wholeheartedly to pursue the calling of a career, albeit one as an academic. 

“Please note my emphasis, detective,” the old man raised up his voice. “Pursue. I did not happen upon my perceived calling by chance, I pursued it as a moth does pursue the moon.”

“Or like I was pursuing you. And look how that turned out.”

“Indeed.” Cane smiled. “I became infatuated with pursuit, you see? The pursuit of pursuit, singularly guided by it as a bloodhound does pursue a scent. I pursued the professional satisfactions of a career with such tenacity that I eventually forgot what satisfaction actually was. I did not realise this at the time, naturally. One never does. Unlike yourself, detective, I did not have a family to turn my back on, nor a wife, nor…children. Thus, I felt no pang of regret.”

Brooding with impatience, the Pineclay made a show of gripping his holster. Unfazed and unsettlingly collected, Cane went on.

“Lord, I was such a foolish old fool. Hours, days, years…a lifetime wasted in the study of those lives already passed! I spent my best years choking on library dust in an endeavour to quench my enterprise, travelling overseas to courses and conventions and excavations and conferences, staying in single-bed rooms, chewing single-portion meals, never accompanied, never partnered. Toasting my successes alone.”

“That’s your excuse for murder?” Pineclay scoffed. “Bachelorism?”

Belying their amiability, Cane’s eyes turned on the detective, flickering with the flames of a suppressed anger – this the detective found most rewarding, and thus worthy of his own pursuit

“Do yourself a favour, Cane. Admit to it. You cut that woman open. You cut them all open. And you enjoyed it.”

Falling into a penitent silence, the old man’s gaze came down to the dagger. As though testing it for dust, he pulled a single finger along the cusp of its blade.

“I did not kill her.” Cane assured. “As for enjoying it–” 

“Come on! Murder weapon! Scene of the crime! The damn blood on you!”

“No…no, I do not expect you to believe a word that I say. I myself did not believe the dear Mrs. Haven when she came to my aid–”

“With her ‘gift’?”

“Yes, detective.” the old man brightened, his brief animosity withdrawn. “You see, Mrs. Haven confessed to once being just as adrift as you and I–”

“We’re not alike, you and I.

“-She spoke of a kindred spirit gifting her salvation, just as another spirit had done before them, and umpteen more before them, generations upon generations gifted a lifetime of hindsight by–”

“Out with it, Cane! Enough riddles!” Pineclay snapped. “You’re not making sense!-”

“I know. And for that I am sorry. But I can only attempt to impart the knowledge which I, and those who have come before me, have learned through experience. Through bitter, excruciating experience…

“And here-upon, detective, the time is right that I present to you the dagger’s gift.” Cane grinned. “My gift. From me to you.”

It was only then that Pineclay realized that the blood-bedraggled and previously seated killer was now standing in the middle of the room. Pineclay instinctively reached for his firearm and flicked back the hammer. “Sit the hell down! You take a step closer and I swear I’ll-”

Yet, nonchalant to the detective’s remonstrance, the wispy old man seemed quite content not to venture a step closer. Instead, much to Pineclay’s puzzlement, Cane proceeded to clasp the dagger between both hands and raise it up to his eyeline. He did not aim nor foist the dagger at Pineclay, however, nor even signal any intention to weaponize it against him; rather, as though hoisting a chalice of holy water above his head in order to baptise himself, Cane gently rested the dagger’s point against his own forehead, just above his balding hairline– 

And pressed. 



Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 3


“It is a dagger.” Cane stated, his correction not in the least bit antagonistic nor confrontational – which only piqued Detective Pineclay the more. Had the surveillance cameras in the interrogation room not been monitoring, the detective would have granted this blood-caked killer a more up-close examination of this dagger…

Yet Pineclay restrained himself. Rather than lose his cool and go off like an apoplectic gorilla – a tactic which in the right circumstances had its merits – he would instead undertake a different tact. Slaps and insinuations having provoked nothing from this kindly gentleman – a kindliness bordering on the saintly which Pineclay found revolting – he would entertain Cane’s intellect, if only to grease the wheels of the interrogation. Anything that got him off the streets and a step closer to the chamber, Pineclay reasoned, was advantageous.

“A dagger, huh?” he said, toying with its sixteen inches of silver and bronze. “You don’t say? And it’s Mesapo….Mecepo-”

“Mesopotamian.” Cane smiled without a trace of antagonism. “Or at least from an age prefacing the earliest Mesopotamian civilisations. The craftsmanship does not correlate with anything I have studied before. It is entirely unique. Born of its own creation, somehow.”

As though a concrete monument upon which pigeons roosted, Cane spoke these words while sitting entirely motionless at the table, appearing neither anxious nor nervous nor even the least bit excited. There was only one adjective with which Pineclay could describe the killer’s disposition: content. Blissful, pleasant, Christmas Day-armchair content. Revolting…

“Well guess what, professor. When I run this dagger of yours for tests I can promise you this– your prints will be all over it.”

“That I would have assumed.” Cane shrugged his bare shoulders. “For more than a month that dagger has scarcely left my hands – but not for the reasons you would assume.” he added. 

“Enlighten me. What do I assume?” Pineclay enquired with a facetious wave of the dagger. “Don’t tell me you’ve been using this thing to carve up your Thanksgiving joint? You serial killers…where’s your sense of hygiene?”

“I would never dream of committing such a profanity.” Cane tittered. “No, I have been studying that dagger punctiliously ever since the wonderful Mrs. Haven brought it to my-”

This Mrs. Haven?” Pineclay pointed the dagger to the top-most photograph on the heap – a middle-aged woman surgically dissected into two rib-exposing fillets. “You’re going to have to help me, Cane. It’s not easy putting a face to your victims after you’ve skinned them.”

Cane glowed with moon-like innocence, not in the least bit offended by the detective’s bunt. “As is my expertise, the departed brought the dagger to my offices and requested that I perform a thorough investigation of it.”

“I’d say you did more than that…”

“I did what any proficient historian would do – I focused the entirety of my attentions into uncovering the mysteries surrounding the artefact placed in my charge. For weeks I locked myself in routine: I made do with a single meal, a single hour’s rest, not answering my phone nor checking my emails nor corresponding with friends or acquaintances or the last of my remaining family until I had succeeded in my task. I assure you, detective – my efforts, my every waking hour since receiving it, have been fixated absolutely upon that very dagger you hold in your hands.”

“And the verdict?” Pineclay glanced over the glinting blade. He noted that for the first time the killer did not meet his eye. As though air expelled from a worn-bald tyre, the old man sighed despairingly.

“Triumph…I found none. I failed in my objective, wasting so many hours, days…years…” His words evanescing at the cusp of his lips, Cane seemed for a moment swallowed by self-pity. It took some time for him to reassert eye contact with the detective.

“You recognise the ugly hollowness of which I speak, do you not, Detective Pineclay? The wrenching comprehension that your best years upon this earth have been squandered thanks only to your misguided priorities? You know this feeling, deep in your gut? Yes?”

Uncomfortable, Pineclay switched his attention from Cane’s gaze to the weapon, twirling it with dismissive fidgets. All the while, the police badge in his pocket seemed to double in weight. The gun at his hip felt as heavy as a slab. “Hollow, huh? Not your smartest choice of words…

“Tell me,” he pried, lurching himself down on the table and back into the position of aggressor. “What’s this thing worth? I’m no expert on antiquities like yourself, but I’ll bet it’s twice my salary.”

“You are correct. It is a treasure of immeasurable value.”

“Wow. As that much? So that’s why you killed the wonderful Mrs. Haven…”

Cane whistled a laugh, genuinely amused by the accusation. “No, Mrs. Haven did not allow me the opportunity to commit a theft so rash – even if I had intended to. Rather – to her eternal detriment, I may add – as an award for my fruitless endeavours for which I was emphatic that I apologise, she presented me with a gift.”

Pineclay paused his fidgeting. “A gift?”

“Yes, detective. A gift so valuable it can not be measured against mere currency.” 

Cane leaned across the table and extended his delicate blood stained hands into the form of a nest.

“Would you care for me to share with you this gift, detective?”