Snowcase #31 • 17 September 2007 • The SnowBlog

Snowcase #31

Keith, 43, loves to write. "The wolf that used to live in a land far, far away has just moved in next door and still I love to write. Fool," he says. Here is an extract from his novel, Legacy. As the carnage of 1915 Flanders explodes in modern England, two friends must stop the killing by following the clues to their shocking, bitter end. (I reckon this one's a corker!) Legacy 1915 The boy sat on his haunches with his trouser leg hitched up exposing the bare, jutting ankle. He cast his gaze from left to right, all the while gnawing at the tattered nails on his fingers. He had seen the prize some twenty minutes earlier; then the moon had been full and the smashed wall lit by its glow but now the shadows crept from the east, shrouding his view. The body was situated at least twenty feet in front of him and to the left across the track that led to the farm. It was wearing a field uniform of a dark colour which had been rendered even darker by the stain of blood that had poured from its shattered skull and it lay spread-eagled on the rubble. A toy discarded by a feckless child. The remains of the head sat crazily on the shoulder, the one eye staring, shocked and the extended limbs straining against the torso. The pitted farm road was slick and muddied with puddles of unknown depth and behind the wall a crater still smouldered and hissed. The boy looked to the sky and watched the cloud snuff out the last light as the fires danced on the horizon. He eased himself to a standing position and stepped out of the hiding place, listening intently. The sounds did not change. The relentless crump, the crack of a rifle as a sniper played the line and a mewling from beyond the wire in the distance; but these sounds had all been there before. He avoided the puddles and was soon by the body; it was barely cool despite the cold of the night. He reached under the stiffening corpse and grasped the webbing of the uniform and then, bracing his legs against the fallen bricks, he rolled the dead weight until its chest was against the stones. He looked up again and checked the road. It was clear and quiet and unusually still, as if a breath was being held. He returned to his task, urgent now, opening the small canvas knapsack that hung round his shoulder and neck and taking out a bundle of cloth that he deftly unrolled. The knife within was sharp and dry and clean. His breath became hotter as he cut the trouser leg of the corpse from the hip to the knee and across the buttock to the base of the spine. The blade ploughed through the thick material as if through gossamer. Replacing the knife he ripped at the trousers, his hands now slick with mud. The textile held and then tore exposing the pale skin within. The boy reached into his sack once more and took out a roll of newspaper and two pieces of sacking string, placing them onto the back of the torso. He re-gripped the knife and, with a sawing movement, cut into the now cold flesh. His breaths came in pants. Suddenly the moonlight burst from the sky. The boy stopped still. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Keith Hargreaves k.c.hargarino [at] talk21 [dot] com


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