Sloan Tanner’s campervan trundled clumsily along the narrow country road. He was a fashion designer for D&G. His whole outfit was composed of D&G clothing, he was particularly proud of the large diamond studded watch that clung to his skinny wrist. It made him feel important for some obscure reason.
He had been driving for 5 hours straight and wasn’t too sure of where he was, he was supposed to be at a fashion show in Maidstone. He reached into the top pocket of his jacket and took out a mobile phone about as small as his little finger. He flipped it open and pressed number five on speed dial. The phone was answered almost immediately by a deep booming voice on the other side.
“Sloan! Where are you?”
“I don’t know... wait a minute,” Sloan had just passed a sign that read: ‘Welcome to Postle Vasey!” He put his mouth back to the receiver.
“Yes I’m still here!”
“I’ve just driven into a village called Postle Vasey”
“Okay well you’re close keep following the signs to Maidstone.”
Sloan flipped the phone closed and resumed driving. He hated his agency for making him come to Maidstone. Why couldn’t he have just stayed in London? He was so infuriated that he barely heard the groaning noises coming from under the bonnet until the noises had become so loud they drowned out the music that had been playing on the car stereo. He took a look at the fuel gauge and saw that he was running on empty. He panicked, he had once heard that there were more accidents on country roads than on the motorway, there were so many twists and turns that people couldn’t see other cars coming. What was going to stop a massive Land Rover from squashing him flat when he had broken down in the middle of the road?
Just as his car was about to stop, a sign caught his eye, it read: ‘Postle Farm: Come this way!’ A small black arrow jutted out of the ground pointing towards a small driveway leading up to a cottage that resided on the farmland. He pulled in. As soon as the car was at the end of the driveway it let out a guttural cough of fumes and died. Sloan got out, kicked the ground and took out a pack of cigarettes. He lit one and took a long, long drag. He turned to face the cottage, just as he was about to take another drag, a tall muscular looking man started to stride towards Sloan out of the front door with his hand outstretched. Sloan walked up to him but didn’t take the hand. The man quickly put his arm to his side and smiled weakly at him. Sloan dropped his cigarette and stamped it out.
“I see you’ve had a wee bit o’ car trouble” He said merrily, he had a strong West Country accent. “Yes,” Sloan said stiffly. He didn’t much care for farmers; he didn’t see them as having proper jobs “I just think I’ve run out of fuel, you haven’t got any have you?”
“Well I heard that engine and it sounded a lot more serious than a loss of fuel, do you mind if I have a little nosy under the bonnet?” Sloan shook his head reluctantly. “Brilliant! Well if you’d like to go inside; I’m sure the wife can fix you up with a nice cup o’ tea.” Sloan raised his eyebrows but walked inside just as he heard the farmer open the bonnet; he was greeted by a small timid looking woman with mousy brown hair. She didn’t say a word as she guided him to the kitchen and started to boil an old fashioned tea kettle. She kept her silence as she handed him the tea and a couple of ginger nuts then sat in the corner of the room and resumed knitting what looked like pyjamas for a baby.
Sloan drank his tea and as he drank he heard a series of clanging noises coming from the front yard. A few moments later the man returned holding a huge chrome spanner and looking slightly out of breath. “Well I’m afraid to say the engine is ruined, I’m surprised you made it out of your own driveway.” Sloan knew in the back of his mind that this couldn’t be true, the car was brand new and had passed its MOT but something made him stay quiet. Maybe it was because of the way the farmer had been so persistent or perhaps it was the way he was wielding the spanner, as if he was about to strike him. The man’s wife had seized up, like a rabbit in the headlights. What was the expression in her eyes? Sadness? Fear? He couldn’t tell, but he knew the emotion had been struck in her as soon as her husband had walked in. “Oh, well is there anything you can do?” Sloan asked, trying to sound as if he believed him. “Not much I’m afraid, I haven’t got any spare engines lying around at this moment.” He chuckled lightly and looked as if a great idea had suddenly occurred to him. “Well, seeing as you won’t be able to travel anywhere would you like to stay here for the night?” Sloan was puzzled.
“Haven’t you got your own car?”
“Oh dear me no,” He boomed “We never leave this village; we have everything we need here! No need for the outside world to complicate things. Speaking of which, why have you come to our little village? Are you local?”
“Well I was just passing through actually,” The farmer shot him a glance of pure and sudden hatred. It lasted for about a second but it made Sloan’s throat go dry. “I-I’m actually on my way to a fashion show in Maidstone.” All of the farmer’s jolliness seemed to have evaporated out of the top of his head. “I see, well then Maisy, could you please show this nice gentleman to his bedroom, I assure you it’s wonderful we’ve had many a guest in there. They never seem to last long though.” The farmer’s wife, Maisy, jerked up from her knitting, cleared away the tea and uneaten biscuits and guided Sloan to a first floor bedroom. She left him there and shut the door behind her as soon as he had crossed the threshold.
Sloan took a seat on the bed, the room was unremarkable, the smell of it was anything but. It was the musty smell of copper, the sort of smell you get from; Sloan didn’t even want to think about it, dried blood? As soon as he had got comfortable he called Marcus and told him about his circumstances. Marcus was angry but said he would arrange transport for him in the morning. For the following hours Sloan read his new catalogue and ate the chocolate bar that had melted in his coat pocket. He was never disturbed. Just as Sloan was about to go to bed, the door to the room opened and the farmer stood there. “If you need anything during the night,” he said quietly “don’t hesitate to ask.” And with that he turned around and the last thing Sloan saw was a glint of silver or maybe chrome before-...
The next day when a taxi turned up at the farm asking for a mister Sloan Tanner, the farmer told the driver how Sloan had gone to a B&B following an argument about the condition of his car. In the days that followed no B&B in the village reported Sloan to have stayed the night, a police investigation was launched in the local area, and of course the farmer and his wife Maisy were questioned but found to be innocent of any sort of crime. As the farmer watched the police cars drive away he began to chuckle to himself, then whistle as he walked towards the pen that held his prize pigs. They were having their lunch and their snouts were wildly riffling through the trough they were eating from. The farmer continued to whistle when he saw that one of his pigs had come across something, which it spat it out onto the dirt of its pen. It was round and had a strap, it was a D&G watch encrusted with diamonds. And it was still ticking...
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Showcase story administrator comments
This is a well constructed story. The menace lurks in the background, cleverly hinted at, but never made specific. It shows very well that you do not need lurid descriptions of violence to make a story scary.