This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
It was a hot July afternoon, and Annie Davies was taking down the last bit of her washing from the line. Although it was a beautiful day and she should have been enjoying the sunshine, Annie was much too tired from all the housework she had been catching up on that day.
It was not just the household chores and the heat that had been getting her down, it was the strange stories she had kept hearing on the news for the past week and none of them made any sense.
As Annie unpegged the last piece of clothing from the line and placed it into the basket, which was piled up to her waist, she took a deep breath, placed her hands on her hips and sighed from exhaustion. She had to take a little break as she was sweating from the unbearable heat and she needed a drink of water.
Annie thought of the two youngest of her eight children, Ray and Dave, and how she was missing them after not seeing her boys for quite a few weeks; she had forgotten how many weeks exactly. Although Annie was proud of what her sons had achieved with their band, the Kinks, she hated the way it kept them away from her for so long, but she always knew that one day she would have to let go.
The hot sun beat down on her with there being no shade, so Annie left the basket where it was for the time being and made her way into the kitchen for a much needed glass of water.
The house was very quiet because she was the only one at home; her husband was at work and was not going to be back until late, and her daughter Rosie, the only one still living at home, was also working that day.
Annie felt a little better after having a refreshing drink of cold water, and made her way back into the garden to bring her washing in to be ironed. She was just about to grab the heavy basket when suddenly, she heard a strange and disturbing sound.
Annie looked around and listened. She had never heard such a sound. As she listened carefully, it seemed that the strange, groaning sound was coming from next door’s garden, but what could be causing it? Was it some poor animal that had been hurt? Yet the groaning sounded too strange for any animal.
Annie left her washing for a moment, and slowly tiptoed over to the bramble bush that separated the Davies garden from the Bakewells next door. As she looked through the large gap, what she saw next caused her heart to pound madly and gasp in shock.
On the other side, Annie saw quite clearly her next door neighbour, Mrs Bakewell, wandering around her garden in a very strange manner. This was totally out of character for the lady, who was normally very friendly and chatty. The woman’s head was bent sideways and she was walking with what Annie thought looked like a limp, and it became clear that the groaning sound that had caught Annie’s attention in the first place was being made by Mrs Bakewell.
Annie had never seen any person behave like that before, least of all good old Mrs Bakewell, who had always been there for her in hard times when her eight children were growing up.
Annie was extremely concerned for her friend and neighbour, so she called out, “Can I help you Mrs Bakewell? Are you alright?”
Mrs Bakewell turned her head and looked straight at Annie, it was clear that the lady was not herself. There was something about her eyes that made Annie take a small step backwards, but although she was nervous, she wanted to help this woman.
Suddenly Mrs Bakewell started ‘limping’ towards Annie, but her movements looked quite different from the way a person would normally limp if they had hurt their leg or twisted their ankle. Annie’s neighbour was walking with her right foot and dragging her left foot sideways, and as Mrs Bakewell got nearer, Annie did not know why she felt so nervous, but she could not move because of sheer shock at the expression on Mrs Bakewell’s face.
As Mrs Bakewell got nearer to her, Annie saw the look in the old woman’s eyes, which had changed from a lovely hazel brown to a bluey-white with pupils so tiny that Annie could hardly see them.
“Oh my Lord Mrs Bakewell, what’s wrong with you?” Annie cried, trembling with terror and not knowing what to do to help her neighbour, who was now raising her arms to Annie and snarling like some kind of ferocious monster about to eat her...was Mrs Bakewell about to try and eat her? Annie could not believe how a lovely woman like Mrs Bakewell would change so dramatically overnight. Annie had only seen her yesterday and she was fine, her usual self, singing as she watered her garden flowers. Now, right at this moment, Mrs Bakewell’s body seemed to have been taken over by goodness knows what!
Suddenly and before Annie could stop her, Mrs Bakewell grabbed hold of her arm, making Annie scream, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU MAD?!”
Then Annie felt the most terrible pain she had experienced in a long time, as Mrs Bakewell sank her teeth into her arm, tearing the flesh right off. Annie screamed so loud that she frightened several birds from their trees. She tried to pull away as Mrs Bakewell...or the ‘thing that had taken over her body’ tore more flesh from her arm and to Annie’s horror, she noticed that her neighbour was eating what she had ripped from her. Annie struggled and pulled as best she could, but this thing that used to be her lovely next door neighbour had a very strong grip on her. Still, Annie was not going to let this possessed woman harm her any more than she already had, she needed to get away and fast, she pulled with all her strength until finally she was free from this hideous creature’s grasp.
Annie fell onto the lawn, but Mrs Bakewell...if that thing deserved to have that name anymore, was snarling and trying to get through the gap, with blood all around her mouth and teeth.
Annie no longer felt any pain because of the adrenalin that had set in and thoughts of her husband and children she may never see again if she did not get into the house and lock the door and do it fast. Somehow she managed to get to her feet and run, panting and shaking, back into her kitchen. She quickly locked the door and sank to the floor, sweat dripping from her forehead and blood on her white blouse.
Annie knew she must look a mess, and after a few minutes she slowly got up and decided she needed to clean herself up. She staggered to the kitchen sink and looked at the deep wound on her right arm. Annie gasped as she saw that Mrs Bakewell had bitten her so deep that part of her bone was showing, she needed to get to a doctor urgently, there was no way she could clean that up herself.
Annie did not have a house phone yet, she had been on at her husband Freddie for weeks about getting one as it would be easier for Ray and Dave to stay in touch when they were away touring, but Freddie never listened. She would have to go to the pay phone down the road.Annie did her best to wash away as much of the blood as she could, but she felt sick at the sight of torn flesh, so she opened a draw and took out some bandages and dressed the wound as best she could, covering it up so at least she would not have to see it. She also felt she should get changed into some fresh clothes because she did not want to be seen with the bloodstained ones she had on. So she staggered through the hallway and struggled up the stairs to her bedroom, feeling weaker every moment. However when she got to her room, Annie began to feel very feverish and knew she would not have the energy to even get changed let alone walk out to get help. All Annie could think of doing was collapsing on the bed before everything went black.
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FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."