Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.
I hear Philip’s cry of pain and his shouts as he chases me through the forest. I feel for my car keys in my pants pocket. If I can just get to the car before Philip catches me. I head for the sculpture garden. There is no other route that I know of.
When we reach the garden, Philip is right behind me. I can hear his breathing, almost sense his hand reaching for me. We both stop short at the sight before us. Sebastien has Keera by the throat and is holding her head under the water in the pool.
My anger takes over and I turn back to Philip. “Of all the scenes from their lives together which you could reconstruct, you choose this? The moment he kills Keera?” I look around and see that the gardener has left some of his tools behind. I grab a spade shovel and walk to where Sebastien is bending over the stone side of the pool. His face is twisted into an ugly grimace. Keera looks up from beneath the water, eyes wide in fear.
I swing the shovel and hear Philip shout my name. Steel strikes stone, scattering sparks that land in the water. Sebastien’s head splits into two pieces. Half lands at his feet. The other half falls into the pool where it stares at his lover, the mother of his child.
Philip grabs me from behind and spins me around.
“Sebastien and I offered you everything a woman could want or deserve. But you have rejected our plan.”
He has me by the throat, choking me, forcing me backward toward the pool. My legs catch on the stone sides, and I fall. Philip is on top of me, holding me under. I can see his face above me, distorted by the water. I turn my head and see Keera not far away. She is looking at me.
I reach out and grasp the piece of Sebastien’s broken head and thrust it out of the water, straight into Philip’s face. His grip weakens, and I squirm out from under him. I cough up water and spit it out. Philip is shaken, but not down, so I pick up the same stone and hit him again.
I run for my car, but turn back. The headless Sebastien still holds Keera’s head beneath the water. I make sure Philip is unconscious and approach the statue. I place both hands against his side and push. He is so heavy, I’m afraid I can’t do it. But he moves a little. I dig deep and push harder until he tips and crashes to the ground. It was only a symbolic gesture. None of this was real. But it was worth the effort.
I slide into my car and speed away as I dial 911 on my cell phone. The drive through the estate property twists and turns so that by the time I reach the main highway, a patrol car is just arriving. The officers tell me that other policemen and an ambulance are on the way, but that we need to head back to the mansion immediately.
Did I kill him? Is Philip dead? What else could I do? He was trying to kill me. There we were, side by side with Sebastien and Keera, two men murdering their lovers, history repeating itself.
The two officers leave me in the patrol car and enter the sculpture garden. A while later, more cars arrive along with an ambulance. People are going in and out of the garden. Some seem confused, shaking their heads. I need to see if Philip survived. I need to be part of the ending of this whole ordeal.
I get out of the patrol car and wait for an opportunity to slip unnoticed into the garden. I take my chance, put my head down and go for it.
The sculpture of the frontiersman stands as he has for two centuries. The Frenchman is still shading his eyes, peering out across the hills and valleys of St. Pierre. The rest of the scene shows me how very wrong I have been.
The body is draped over the side of the pool with its head submerged, just like I had been only moments before. Keera, whom I had just freed from the murderous hands of Sebastian, stands over Philip with an arm outstretched into the pool. Her stone fingers a vice around his throat.
It’s been a month since that terrible day. I’ve driven back to St. Pierre and have been walking on the abandoned grounds for an hour trying to muster the courage to enter the sculpture garden. I finally walk beneath the flowering trees and approach the fountain. There is no sign around the pool that anything unusual happened here. I finally turn and look at the place where I first saw them.
Sebastien stands where he always stood, headless from my blow with the shovel and arm-less from his fall when I pushed him over. Keera stands proud before him. One arm has been broken off at the elbow, the arm she used to hold Philip underwater in the pool. I approach and look into her eyes. The tear is gone, and I mimic the smile of triumph I see on her face.
Links to Parts One,Two and Three
- An Unsettled Estate: Part One-Things are looking up for Nola when she suddenly gets a dream job and falls for a man who seems to be everything she has always wanted. But on the St. Pierre Estate, nothing is as it seems.
- An Unsettled Estate: Part two-Nola sits in the sculpture garden, excited about her growing relationship with philip, but then she notices the sculptures of Keera and Sebastien. Their facial expressions have changed.
- An Unsettled Estate: Part Three-Philip has caught Nola in the forest at night. They argue about whether the statues of Sebastien and Keera are alive and about Philip's plan to keep Nola as his secret mistress on St. Pierre estate.