AntipodeanSF

Issue 304

By K. A. Worthington

Susan's brow creased into a defined V. 

Her mouth pursed, knees tucked up, palms flat on the ground, arms behind her back. She gazed into the calm, clear water by the bank of the river. 

It was here, at this very spot where she had discovered him. 

Face up, body bloated, lips icy blue. 

Dark eyes, gelatinous — staring — like the river had washed clean all traces of life from his body. He floated like he was in a therapeutic salt tank, relaxed, but stiff.

Brian was his name, or was it Ryan? 

No, his name was definitely Brian. 

She should remember his name. It had been hammered into her by that asshole of an inspector back in his office. 

“Where were you between the hours of 8pm to 11pm on the night of Saturday, 26th November?” Inspector Connor had asked — demanded. 

His stare had penetrated through her like he could see her heart racing — her whole whole skeleton shuddering.

Beads of sweat had popped up across her forehead. 

The inspector had appeared hopeful. 

She’d felt lightheaded. 

Her eyes had been out of focus, her mouth parched. 

She had still been in shock. 

“I-I was at home, watching TV,” she’d stammered. 

“Was there anyone with you?” 

“Not earlier on, but my friend Terry dropped by — I don't know — round 9pm I guess.” 

Before Inspector Connor could fire his next question, she’d blurted: “He stayed until sunrise.” 

“What were you doing at that particular spot by the river so early in the morning of Sunday, 27th November?”  

Connor had scowled, as he leaned over the table, and looked her straight in the eye. 

She’d swallowed hard, her mouth was so damn dry. “I went for a brisk walk, then sat down by the river bank.”  She was shaking. “Then I saw that man — in the river — he was...” 

“OK, That'll be all for the time being.” 

Connor had scraped his chair back, and got up, while keeping his steely, razor gaze upon Susan. “Remember, this isn't over young lady.” 

She’d shot daggers back toward him, as she’d made her way out of the interview room. 

Now, Susan stared, like she had been hypnotised, into the gentle rippling water where she’d first seen the body — and he appeared again out of nowhere, like a mirage, perhaps a ghost, she thought. 

His body rose a few centimetres from the water as he floated toward her. It was like an invisible magician was in control of this apparition. 

Tiny water bubbles combined with spit globules percolated at the sides of his mouth. “Urrgh — teee — errrry.” 

Terry. The name screamed through her brain. 

“Terry murdered you. Is that what you are trying to tell me?” 

The ghost corpse plopped into the water, then sunk, although there wasn't any real trace of Brian, as his body was at the morgue. 

Terry was her best friend, even her bed buddy on rare occasions. 

Susan's gut knotted up. 

She felt queasy. 

Burning acid rose to her oesophagus, puke ran down her shirt. 

From behind, a hand pressed firm on her shoulder. 

“Inspector?” Susan was bewildered. Began to turn.

“Gerald – Gerald Connor.” 

The inspector’s razor eyes were wide and glistening, his mouth twisted in triumph. His hands loosened their grip from around her shoulders to cup tight around her neck. 

Blackness began to engulf her, tiny stars danced in front of her eyes.  She began to lose her sight, as his grip grew stronger. 

“Look, there he is, over there!” Susan tried to yell with all her might. 

Connor released his tight grip from around her neck and spun around. 

Susan shot up and bolted in the opposite direction. 

Her feet seemed to be elevated with each running step, perhaps by Brian's magician. 

Connor was at her heels. 

She could feel his ragged, hot breath oozing down the back of her neck. 

“Stop! In the name of the law,” he screamed. 

A car raced down the asphalt road. 

Susan waved frantically, while laughing with relief. 

“Stop! Please stop!” she screamed over and over. 

She jumped over to the side of the road like a pole vaulter. 

Crrrunch! 

Connor flew through the air — twisting, and twirling before he landed with a horrendous thump. 

Susan raced into the nearby bush, and peered through a golden wattle. 

The car had stopped near Connor’s body. 

Terry got out, and squatted over the inspector. 

The body was unmarked. 

A thin trickle of blood ran from one corner of its mouth.

Terry pressed two fingers on Connor’s carotid, shook his head in remorse. 

As he stood, Susan saw Gerald Connor’s phantom rise from its form.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

Karen Worthington was born in Geraldton Western Australia.

She has an interest in writing, and loves to read short stories, flash fiction, novellas, and novels of all genres., including authorized bios.

Karen writes for the love of the craft, and acknowledges the many talented writers that are around.

She has written a novella, Vampcirio, by K.A. Worthington which, with help, has self published on Amazon.

Karen loves animals, getting connected with nature, and chilling out with family and friends.

She lives in Western Australia.

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Issue Contributors

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