As a journailst, I’m constantly on the look-out for inspiration. I cut my teeth on a local tabloid that required hardly more than a village incident to fill all its pages. Like that time a car screamed to a halt outside the pub, the woman driving it stalking into the establishment only to come out ten seconds later, dragging her husband by his hair, so drunk she could bundle him easily into the boot of the car before speeding away, the sounds of collective laughter ringing in her ears.
But as I went further up the career ladder I had to find more serious faire. I needed more death, or tears, or big money. I have to admit to egging along such events in the cause of a better story… OK, maybe not the death. But the post-mortem tears, certainly. And then they invented click-bait and my career was set for a while.
But then something happened – to me. Something I can’t explain. Something that, if I let myself consider the ‘facts’, I know how journalist-me would react if I were the one listening.
It’s got something to do with a carved stone head I found in my back garden. I know it’s something to do with that because it… it… the thing that came later… looks like the head.
When I first found it it looked a bit like those two on the old courthouse in the village. Except those ones are not so weathered. They have sharp features, mean faces to be sure. The one I dug up in the garden had a busted eye socket, a scratch down one cheek. It looked sad, not angry. I felt sorry for it.
And then, one night, I stepped out onto the lawn for some fresh air. It was a hot summer night and I couldn’t sleep. There was no wind, only the sound of the distant motorway. Then even that noise vanished. Something, a bird or mouse, twitched in the bushes, and when the quiet returned it was even quieter. And then they appeared, the three of them. Two stern looking gents in what Id’ call civil war era clothing, flouncy, lace-trimm. They were with a third figure, shorter, hunched over, in rags.
His face… I’ll never forget it. It was like the stone head from my garden. No, it was the one from the garden, scars and wall. And the two men: the two heads from the courthouse.
They looked at me, the two men grimacing, and advanced.