Killing Time: Short Story Response to billybuc's Photo Challenge Prompt (5)

Updated on May 19, 2020
annart profile image

Ann loves to write stories & poems & is always eager to meet challenges issued by other hubbers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.

Challenge

Responding to the fifth of Bill Holland’s challenges, I wanted to tackle a genre I hadn’t ventured into before. Challenges are great and photos can bring much to mind, nudging the muse to play with ideas. This started as a vague scenario, then, as often happens, it developed itself into something for which I wasn’t quite prepared!


Source

Killing Time

I was supposed to meet the agent at eleven o’clock on this April morning. There was a house I’d noticed online, for sale and just the ticket for my entrepreneurial skills and secret plans.

For years I’d thought about owning a bed and breakfast, somewhere I could live but big enough to let a few rooms in the holiday season. A little extra pocket money wouldn’t go amiss and I’d welcome the company, something to do.

As I wandered along the main street, I felt safe. Friendly nods and ‘Hello!’s made me feel welcome. I was early for the viewing, on purpose, as I wanted to get a feel for the place before making any decisions. I rested awhile on the bench outside a drug and hardware store, watched the world go by whilst mulling over my plans. Do up the place, get the necessary licences, sort out health and safety regulations, then decorate and advertise my latest venture.

Something in the store window caught my eye; an earthenware plant pot with ‘Blighty’* written round its waist. Well, I’m English so I thought it’d look great in my new establishment. It was a good omen for today’s viewing; also a perfect ornament for the guests’ sitting room. I bought it.


Source

I browsed further down the road. A Victorian style clock with lavish footings and ornate headdress commanded respect. No one could have picked an edifice more out of keeping with the neighbourhood. But what are clocks for if not to be noticed?

It shouted over the street, telling me my visit was almost due. Armed with the usual list of questions regarding ownership, size of land, annual rates and amenities, I approached the house.


Source

Having met up with the agent outside, I could now carefully explore the numerous rooms to see if they fitted my expectations and plans.

The setting couldn’t have been better. Overlooking a wide inlet, with panoramic views from the rear, this weather-boarded mansion had ample proportions, suitable for a variety of guests. Its pastel green told the visitor to expect tranquility and rest, a quiet escape from a busy life.

It comprised of ten bedrooms, a few small ones in the attic space and several larger suites on the first floor. Leisure and dining facilities would be on the level immediately off the road. What better than to dine whilst watching the light dance on the waves or the movement of water traffic!

Then there was the basement, unseen from the road, where the land dropped to offer further space for accommodation. From here, on the water side, one could watch from generous windows the vagaries of the tides and the passing of leisure boats. On the road side there were smaller rooms set into the bank, each of which afforded a grill over a small vented pane with no view to or from the road. They were currently used as laundry rooms.

Yes, this would be perfect for my requirements.

I bought the house, did my renovations and opened up for business just before the summer season.

Several couples and families checked in for a night or two as they toured around this spectacular area. The visitors’ book had a collection of favourable comments and signatures. Then Mr Hunter arrived.

A tall, gaunt man, Mr Hunter was alone. He had little luggage, was planning on staying for two nights, and was happy to chat in the evenings. I learnt much about his background, how he came from a small family, now all passed away. No ties, no close friends. He seemed a little lonely but happy to socialise, enjoying new places and meeting people along the way. Indicating the pot I’d bought, he mentioned his interest in militaria, so I told him I’d been a soldier and I had a collection of weapons.

The laundry room was prepared. Mr Hunter wouldn't be missed. I had my first victim.


Notes

*’Blighty’

  • an informal term for Britain or England, used by soldiers of the First and Second World Wars.
  • Military slang - a wound suffered by a soldier in the First World War which was sufficiently serious to merit being shipped home to Britain.

Please note that any actual similarities to persons or places in this story are not intended.


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Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Ann Carr

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      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 days ago from SW England

        Thank you, Lawrence, for reading and commenting.

        Yes, writing is always hard work, even if the muse flows we have to keep a tight ship. Glad you're enjoying it all!

        Ann

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        5 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Ann

        Great story, loved the twist at the end.

        As for my muse, we've agreed to only work on one story at a time, though she can throw 'spanners in the works' anytime!

        I'm pleased with the output in the arrangement though it can be a lot of work.

        Having said that, I'm just finishing one story off, and polishing it up, but the muse has started me writing one in a totally different genre which I'm really enjoying.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        2 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Chris! Good to see you.

        No motive other than he likes weapons and killing. Either got a taste for it in the army or joined the army because he wanted to kill - who knows? I once met someone whose reason to join was exactly that!

        Glad you enjoyed the story, Chris. I'm also glad that you picked up the hints, as I re-wrote it a little because the ending was rather abrupt on the first publication.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 

        2 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Well, that ending knocked me for a loop. I like a good B&B, but now I'm spooked. I reread the story and picked up on some hints that this person had something specific in mind.

        I have one question, Ann. What was the motive? It sounds like this person intends to commit this act many more times. What is the driving force? You hint at something in the second to the last paragraph. This person had been a soldier and had weapons.

        Loved your writing. Enjoyed the story.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        3 weeks ago from SW England

        Thanks for your interesting comments, Kyler. You took it a lot further than I did! The implication was torture of someone whom no-one else would miss. But then a story is supposed to provoke the imagination!

        I'm not satisfied with the abrupt ending myself, though it was supposed to shock and contrast with the tranquil atmosphere. I have been exploring ways to modify the whole thing so we'll see.

        Thanks for the visit. Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • Kyler J Falk profile image

        Kyler J Falk 

        3 weeks ago from Corona, CA

        The ending was such an abrupt change in direction that I'm not sure whether to be surprised and delighted, or upset at the figurative whiplash! Perhaps that was the goal, a normal character with a normal thought process all to hide a dark secret? Takes me back to thoughts of serial killers in real-life, the type to use extraordinary normalcy to lure in victims.

        Then again, with the laundry room being prepared and having referred to them as a victim I could take a funny and vulgar approach to this. Perhaps the character plans to create a romantic raucous with this man, one filled with, "officer vs. enlisted" role playing, and this sexual extravaganza would take part all over the property. Exploring the fantasies they would have on long deployments but they could never act upon. Far-fetched, but I made myself laugh so I couldn't help but mention it!

        An interesting story, Ann!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        4 weeks ago from SW England

        No, you're not dumb! If you didn't get it straight away, then that's my fault. I think it's just too sudden, though I did try to include some subtle hints - maybe too subtle!

        Thanks for your kind comments, Rinita.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • Senoritaa profile image

        Rinita Sen 

        4 weeks ago

        Chilling story. Of course, well written. I did not get it right away. Dumb me. Had to read the comments. Gosh! Then re read. You're brilliant!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        4 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, Nithya, for your lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        4 weeks ago from Dubai

        Great story and what an ending! I did not see that coming. I enjoyed reading your story and it is a fantastic reply to Bill Holland’s challenge.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Denise: Yes, I suppose it is! Thanks for reading. Good to see you.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, Devika, for your encouraging comment. I'm glad you liked this.

        Ann

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        5 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        It's Arsenic and Old Lace. I didn't see that coming.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • profile image

        Devika Primic 

        5 weeks ago

        Hi Ann this is incredible! Well told with a great surprise. Your style in writing a story is unique and gave me a lot to think of here.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Laurie. Thank you and I'm glad you enjoyed this. I tried to leave a few clues but I'm not sure they worked! Didn't want to give too much away too soon.

        Ann

      • Laurie S Novak 57 75 62 profile image

        Laurie S Novak 

        5 weeks ago from Michigan

        You really do write expressively! I enjoyed it. A little taken a back with that last sentence, though. LOL

        More!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, Flourish, for such a great comment! I'm not sure if it's a woman or a man. I actually intended it to be male but I think because I'm female, readers here automatically think the character is too. Hopefully other hubbers don't think I'm harbouring such inclinations though!

        Yes, normal on the outside, sociable and welcoming - the most dangerous type if so inclined.

        I appreciate your visit, as always.

        Ann

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        5 weeks ago from USA

        You must do more! This woman is not right and I love her nonchalance. It reminds me of Kathy Bates in that Stephen King movie who was the author’s “biggest fan.” She was seemingly normal on the outside but not so much inside. Great writing!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Genna. Thank you for your kind words.

        I wanted subtle but thought it might be too much so! Killing Time can mean Time for Killing but I thought I needed something else - I came up with a couple which weren't subtle enough so it stayed as is. I'll hone it eventually!

        Great to see you here and thanks for reading.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        5 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

        Reading through this story that is so well written, we can't help but wonder about buildup to where this tale is heading, and how it ties into the title. "Yes, this would be perfect for my requirements," is a chilling but subtle preview. And your description of the old house is just superb. Still, I never expected that last line Whoa! Well done, Ann.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Zulma! I'm afraid I tried to lull you into a false sense of security. Thank you for your comments. Good to see you today.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        5 weeks ago from United Kingdom

        OMG, Ann, I honestly did not see this ending coming. I was prepared for a sweet story of strangers coming together. Well, I supposed they did, but not in the way I expected.

        Well done.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Shyron! Lovely to see you today.

        Thank you very much for your comments. I'm sorry I gave you such a shock!

        Blessings to you too. Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        5 weeks ago from Texas

        Ann, I was resting and watching the water activities and then WHAM! I became the victim of your most interesting story.

        Way to go!

        Blessings my friend.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        DreamerMeg: Thank you. I was hoping the contrast worked! I appreciate your visit.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • DreamerMeg profile image

        DreamerMeg 

        5 weeks ago from Northern Ireland

        OOHHH Chilling. Everything so "normal", then that last line! Excellent.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hi Shauna! I seem to be giving everyone the heebie jeebies! I didn't even start out with that ending in mind; it just happened as soon as I mentioned the basement!

        Thanks for a great comment and your kind words.

        Ann

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        5 weeks ago from Central Florida

        Holy shit, Ann! You caught me by surprise - again! Your muse was really working overtime with this one. What started out as a lovely day with our protagonist searching for a quiet place to live an eek out seasonal income turned into the beginnings of a nightmare.

        You are a gifted writer and a master storyteller, Ann!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you Eric! Sorry I didn't let you know sooner! Thanks for coming back.

        Ann

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        Ann, You sure surpirsed me with that ending! I was just reading and thinking "what a nice story, then the bombshell ending, This is certainly a very good story, Ann.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Yes so I reread. Looking back; "Having met up with the agent outside, I could now carefully explore the numerous rooms to see if they fitted my expectations and plans." Why didn't you say for the bed and breakfast? And the basement sitting right on an inlet? That is spooky all by itself.

        Best of fun, thanks again.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, bill. Sorry I caught you off guard. Please don't have nightmares!

        I was hoping that some of what I meant to be subtle hints might have worked but it seems not. Didn't want to leave too many though - how does one keep the balance?

        I appreciate your great comments and glad you enjoyed this.

        I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday despite the disquiet!

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Linda! Yes, I gather that you lived there from reading your comments on the challenge hub. That's also why I put the disclaimer in as I didn't want the owner of that house being accused of being up to no good! I hope it doesn't give you the shivers as it's such a lovely house.

        Thank you for reading and for leaving your kind comments.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Damn, Ann, I never saw that coming. I was taking an enjoyable stroll through your story and suddenly I'm facing a serial killer. My sense of calm has now been shattered for the day, thank you very much. :)

        Wicked imagination, Ann, and brilliant as a bonus.

        You did not disappoint, my friend. Thanks for a great Sunday morning read.

        bill

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

        Good golly Ann, where'd that come from? I did not see the story going in that direction. Good job (and by the way, these photo prompts were taken by Bill in the town in which I live. I'll never walk past that green mansion again without a shiver)

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Haha! No, Eric, never you. I was trying to create a false sense of security though, so I guess it worked! There were supposed to be a few subtle clues but maybe too subtle...

        Thanks for your visit. Much appreciated, as ever.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I was so calm. You carried me away to an idyllic place and space. But not to disappoint but in fact I think I am your victim. Yikes!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, Liz, for such kind words. I had hoped the shock would hit the reader as I'd tried to contrast the setting and mood. Glad it worked!

        Stay safe and well.

        Ann

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 weeks ago from UK

        Wow! I didn't see that coming at the end. It was like you set the scene, gradually building it up for the reader. An idyllic guest house setting then whoosh! You pulled the floor out from under us with a shock at the end. Brilliant writing.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Hello Ruby! Thanks for a great comment. Glad I caught you by surprise.

        Keep safe and well.

        Ann

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        5 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        Oh my goodness! I didn't see this coming, in fact I thought the house buyer was a woman. I am sitting here thinking I should read it again, no, not necessary, you wrote a thriller in disguise. Wow!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, Lora, for reading and leaving your supportive comments. Glad you enjoyed this.

        Ann

      • Lora Hollings profile image

        Lora Hollings 

        5 weeks ago

        Really nice job of creating an intriguing scenario out of bill's photo prompts and then gradually building up to a surprise ending, Ann. Wonderful work. I really enjoyed it!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        Thank you, John. Glad you enjoyed this and I appreciate your kind comments. Keep safe and well!

        Ann

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        You did a great job with Bill’s photo prompts, Ann. Great descriptions in this story and the ending was a total surprise. I really enjoyed this.

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