My second submission to letsdrawsherlock. A writerly thing:
The Haunted Flat
Whatever hour you woke there was a door slamming. From room to room they went, arse over teakettle, shuffling here, stomping there, breaking teacups – a ghastly couple.
“Where is it?” one said. And the other replied “No, we agreed” “It’s upstairs” he deduced. “You’re doing well,” he insisted. “Now shut up,” he added, “or you’ll wake her.”
But it wasn’t that you woke me. Oh, no. “He’s looking for it; he’s emptying out the papers,” one might say, and so knit on a row or two. “Now he’s found it,” one would be certain, stopping the coin on the scratch card. And then, tired of telly, one might rise and see for oneself, the flat all empty, the doors standing open, only the…something…on the stove bubbling content, and the hum of the rubbish collectors sounding from the alley. “What did I come up here for? What on earth is that smell?” My hands flew to my nose. “Perhaps it’s in the kitchen?” The thumbs were in the fridge. And so down again, the parlour still as ever, only the clicker had slipped onto the carpet.
But he had found it in the sitting room. Not that one ever knew how. The mirror reflected wallpaper, reflected crime scene photos; all the blood was red in the glass. If he sulked in the sitting room, the doctor only turned his newspaper page. Yet, the moment after, if the files were open, spread across the rug, tacked up on the walls, plastered on the ceiling – what? My hands flew to my mouth. The shadow of a harpoon crossed the carpet; from the deepest wells of silence the violin drew its ribbon of sound. “Case, case, case” the pulse of the flat beat wildly. “The body burned; locked room…” the pulse stopped short. Oh, was that the killer’s motive?
But some months later the hype had faded. Is it even true, then? A madman spun darkness for an incandescent genius. So bold, so sure, cruelly sunk in lies the mind we all believed in was swallowed by the fog. Death was the fog; death was the way out, coming to the detective by his own hand, leaving a vacuum, stealing all our breath; the rooms were empty. The doctor left it, left him, went away, went anywhere, couldn’t come back to the flat just now; sought the grave, found his heart buried beneath the stone. “Fake, fake, fake” the pulse of the tabloids beat viciously. “The Fallen Hero”
Cabs roar up the little street. Tourists stop and gape from far and wide. Street lamp beams wash out in the rain. The glow of the telly flickers through the window. The fire cuts through the chill. Wandering through the flat, making a racket, as if they’re still there, the ghostly couple seek their adventure.
"Here I passed out," one says. And the other adds "After you were drugged." "Tea at this table—" "Ill-fated Cluedo games—" "Blogging in my chair—" “Take-away boxes without number—” "That horrid Christmas do—" "The night we first met—" The doors go slamming in the distance, pulsing like the beat of two hearts.
Nearer they come, cease on the bottom step. The traffic rushes, the rain dumps grey on the pavement. My eyes dampen, I hear no steps above me; see no detective spread his dramatic coat. His hand holds open the door. “Don’t wait up” they’d said. “Serial murder.”
Stopping, holding their phones in the doorway, long they read their messages. Long they text. The cars pass sparsely, the telly flickers static. Stray beams of street lamp cross my floor and wall and, meeting, stain the faces intent; the faces searching; the faces that parse out leads and seek the crime’s solution.
“Wait, wait, wait” the heart of the flat beats faintly. “Long months—” one sighs. “How did I find you?” “Here,” he murmurs, “thinking; in the kitchen dissecting; smoking, keeping viscera in the fridge. Here I left my conscience.” Starting, I flutter the lids upon my eyes. “Wait, wait, wait” the pulse of the flat beats slowly. Waking, I cry “Oh! My boys, my treasure. The mind and the heart.”
Based on A Haunted House, by Virginia Woolf