EVERY 31 MINUTES – Part 4


This is my NaNoWriMo entry Part 4.

Every 31 minutes someone is murdered . . .

Morning – New Years Day

As dawn dissipated the dark, over at the High Rise, police began taking photos, looking for and collecting evidence, and systematically working their way up the staircases to each level to find where the victim had fallen from.  By the position of the body it was obvious that he hadn’t just leaned over and fallen by himself.  He had landed too far out for that.  He had to have been thrown.

A pallid young Constable stood by the sheet-draped body beside an ornamental garden bed.  The ambulance drivers were impatiently waiting to take it away to the hospital morgue, before the heat of the day really set in.  The Pathologist and photographer arrived and began their work, so he edged away.

The Detective Senior Sergeant and Senior Constable were talking to the tall bearded Bikie who’d approached them on their arrival.  ‘I was working on me bike in me carpark over there, when I heard this horrible scream like someone’s mad about somethin’.  So I looked out n saw him fall the last coupla floors n hit the deck!  I couldn’t’ve reached him if I tried.  It was so quick, mate.’

‘Mad about something.  Angry?  He sounded angry?’

‘Yeah.  Sounded like it.  But it coulda been terror.  I ran over, took a look, tried not to chuck up me guts … sorry, tried not to vomit, then yelled out for someone to call an ambulance, and you blokes.’

‘What about that sheet ?  Was that you?  Or someone else?’

‘Nah.  Yeah.  That was me.  Thought I’d better chuck me ground-sheet over him, coz it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Anyone coulda seen him.  There’s kids live here you know.’

They took his contact details and headed for the stairs.  ‘Only other witness was a woman who was waiting for her husband to come home from night-shift.  She heard the scream, then saw him fall past her kitchen window.’

Looking up they caught the sudden movement of a head drawing back from the top floor railing.  Important?  Or just a nosey parker.

* * *

Mid morning, steamy and bright, the daughter was on the swings, with Dad pushing, while Mum stayed inside sleeping off the party, and the gatecrasher lay still on the front lawn by the gate.  ‘Who’s that man,Daddy?’

‘What?!  Geez.  Go see if Mum’s awake honey.’  Daughter packed off inside, he walked slowly over to investigate the sleeper.  ‘Wake up mate!’

So still.  So pale.  Bloody Hell.  He’s not asleep.  He’s dead!  Lifting the tatty old car rug he saw blood, under the body, around him, and on his back.  Cops.  Gotta call the cops.  He rushed inside to do so.  ‘Don’t panic honey.  Just keep the kids inside.  Put on the TV for them or something.’

Sirens in the street.  The first to arrive was a well-built, tawny-haired Detective Senior Constable, who having checked the body for signs of life, called in the Detectives from CIB in town.  He returned to the body, which he couldn’t search till it had been photographed, and seen to by SOCO.  ‘Have you moved him at all?’  Due to his extremely light, nearly invisible eyebrows and lashes, his gaze seemed unblinking which was disconcerting.

‘Nah I just pulled the rug down and saw the blood.  See there.  Then I ran inside to call you.’  The body looked familiar, but he couldn’t work out why.  He couldn’t see much of him.  His face was in the damp grass.

‘He’s been here since last night, you said.  When last night?  Early?  Late?  When?  And who put the rug on him?’

‘I did, in case he caught his death . . . . We all came out at midnight’ – the weird eyebrows raised – ‘my friends, my wife and I.  We were having a New Year’s Eve party.  We came out for another barbeque, and he was here then.  We all thought he was a gatecrasher from another party.  Too drunk to go home.’

‘I’ll need all your names.’  He supplied them, and their addresses as well.

‘I think I know this man.  I’ve only been here for 3 months, but he might work where I work.  It’s a big company – lotsa blokes go to lotsa different areas.  The others might know.’

‘Do you.  We might get some ID from him when we can search him.  I’ll check with you once we’ve done that.  Go on inside.  I’ll be with you after the DSS and the SOCO team have finished.’  More sirens.  Vans and cars filled the parking bays on the street, except in front of the house.

* * *

No-one went near the third victim.  No-one knew there was a third victim.  Only the neighbour worried, and fretted, afraid to go and knock on the door.  Afraid of her friend’s husband.

(C) Copyright Jud House  21/11/2011

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EVERY 31 MINUTES – Part 3


This is my NaNoWriMo entry Part 3.

Every 31 minutes someone is murdered . . .

Well I tried to set off a chain of murders in the same town.  While they were feasable, though rather graphic coz of the need to commit the murder and move to the next by the given time, there is a feeling of dissatisfaction.  It was all a bit too much violence.  It gave the impression that this is all about gratuitous violence.  I hate gratuitous violence!

A book of murders, one after the other, with no investigations, just murder, murder, murder, would be horrendous!  It would be tantamount to voyeurism!  Not to mention a hand-book on murder methods!  Yujjo!!  Sorry, for the unenlightened, that means yukko!  Now where was I? . . .  I’m also inclined to think that it would pall for the readers very quickly, it would become tedious, and ho-hum, and nothing kills off a story faster than tedium.  Except for you psychopaths out there on the look-out for new victim possibilities and new ways to dispose of them, to get your kicks.

What I really want to do is show the full picture surrounding your murders.  The lead up.  The investigations.  The false leads and the final solutions.  The solving of your crime is the real point – not the crime itself.  For it to work there needs to be a separation between your crime and us, the onlookers, the voyeuristic solvers of the all-important mystery.  To work out the solution before the detective or the cops get there, is a bonus.

Then I thought that perhaps I need to jump the next group of murders to a different city on a different time line that would match up with my 31 minutes gap.  That could be the way to go.  This way you serial killers could stand down, and they could become isolated domestic murders, or sexual murders, or murders done for the most popular reason – money!  Lucre!  Greed.

That would allow me to have you (plural) commit your murders in daylight and not all at night.  I mean would you murder at 3am?  Well I s’pose some would.  This would take the focus off you individually, singular, and spread it out over the crimes, which would diffuse the intensity of it all in one way, but make it really awful in another.  To think that around our world there is so much hate and greed and insensitivity to good and evil, right and wrong.

‘Course that leads into another whole topic altogether – the rightness of some people’s right compared with that of another people’s right; and the fact that each thinks the others is wrong.  So it’s more a matter of good and evil.  There are some things that, no matter what culture you are from, are considered evil.  But then you psychopaths of this world seem to have sidestepped the gene governing this issue, this human factor.

I just had another thought that could mess this all up.  Bugga.

What if this ‘every 31 minutes’ isn’t actually every 31 minutes?!  What if it has been averaged out.

I mean that would make more sense wouldn’t it.  There are places in this world where people are killed, slain, thus murdered en masse.  Like the High School massacres.  Like the Twin Towers on 9/11.  And car bombs.  And trains and buses and their stations, bombed above and below ground.  ‘Course these latter horrific crimes are committed by you murdering bastards who use doctrine as a shield to satisfy your need for violence.  They are ‘you plural’ murders!

And do we include war casualties or not?  They are a kind of murder – well they are murder, just sanctioned murder.  But I doubt if they were included in the statistics.  This throws my whole plan into disarray.  Not that I think it was working very well in the first place.  S i g h . . .

Okay so I take another tack then.  If I can’t use the 31 minutes as the guide then I need to bunch them up, spread them across the World.  A mass killing here.  A single secret murder there.  An accidental then covered up death elsewhere.  Hmmmm  . . . .  If I do that then it’s back to the appearance of gratuitous violence.  Bugga!

Nah.  I can feel myself going off this idea rapidly.

Maybe a combination of them all.

(C)  Copyright  Jud House  7/11/2011

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EVERY 31 MINUTES – Part 1


This is my NaNoWriMo entry Part 1.

Every 31 minutes someone is murdered . . .

Wow!  How unreal is that!  ‘Course that’s worldwide I s’pose.  But imagine if that all happened in one place.  I mean how would you manage it?  There’d have to be some serious time management going on to be able to get from one place to another in time to commit the next murder, and the next, and the next – if you were a serial killer.

‘Course you could cheat and have a roomful of victims and then line them up and kill one every 31 minutes.  But then you’d have a crowd management problem.  Unless you had help.  But that would take the glory away from you.  Besides it wouldn’t be fun watching the people waiting for their turn.  And you might find yourself feeling too much sympathy for some of them.

Nah.  That would defeat the purpose.  You’d need to be able to carry it out as a clinical experiment.  What the media would call ‘cold-blooded murder’.  But clinical is the right word for it.  And it would only be an exercise to see if it was manageable – do-able as they like to say these days.

You’d have to think it through carefully, methodically.  You couldn’t leave any possible glitch unexplored.  You’d have to find a locale that would allow you to move from one place to another within the time-frame – 31 minutes is not very long.  And in that time you would have to fit in the killing of the victim.  And you’d have to do it silently.  If you were to go round shooting each victim, unless you were moving from sound-proof booth to sound-proof booth, you would barely get the second murder done before you were stopped.

Nah.  You had to find somewhere where people worked close to each other but might not notice that noone was answering their phones for a while, or keeping their appointments.  Somewhere like a Uni campus maybe.  You could walk along the passageways, duck into a lecturer’s office, kill him, close the door and move off down the hall to another wing of the building.  You could watch your clock, as you’d have to reset it as soon as the first murder was done so that the next one would be exactly 31 minutes from the last.  And of course to give you just enough time to pop in and surprise the next lecturer.  It could work.

You could try the same thing at a government department, like the Tax Office.  That’d be funny.  But getting in could pose a problem – they would have heaps of security.  Or the dole office.  Or any big business for that matter, but the major stumbling block would be having a legit excuse to be there in the first place.  So that you blended in.  ‘Course you could be a cleaner – nobody notices them.  And that would give you a trolley to carry your killing gear around under the cleaning stuff, or mixed up with them.  And that
could work at the Uni too, but then again they probably clean after hours there, and for that matter they probably do the same at the government offices as well.  Bugga.

Buuuuuuuuuuttttttttttttttt………….. You could pose as a student at the Uni.  You could be a student.  They have so many mature age students these days that you wouldn’t be noticed.  Besides the kids would probably mistake you for a lecturer.  That’d be a good disguise too.  Either way if you carried around a pile of books noone would look twice.  You could carry a crate of books, plus killing gear, around with you – you’d seen that done many times when you were there yourself as a student.

Yep.  The more you thought about this the more you realised that the Uni was the perfect anonymous place for murder.  Well of this type anyway.

Now.  How would you actually kill them.  This would be the tricky bit coz it would be gross if there was blood everywhere.  And you had to do it without any noise.  The walls between the offices weren’t exactly sound-proof, so you’d want the person next door, assuming they were in their office, and you had to assume that, to only hear the usual murmur of people conversing.  You’d need to have a stock question ready to ask the lecturer, something he could turn away from you to check on his computer, timetable or calendar.  Nah, timetable would be no good – it’d be bound to be stuck up on the wall by the door as you come in.  There’s hardly room to swing a cat in those offices so everything has its place, space is at a premium.  Except for the department heads, and you’d give their offices a big fat miss.

So maybe you’d have to hit them over the head with something.  When they turn their backs on you to look up what you want to know you could clobber them.  But this would leave a lot to chance and it’s not like you can just move on to the next one coz that’d stuff up the whole point of the thing – the experiment would fail.

So you’ve got to enter their office within a few minutes of deadline, have opening dialogue with them establishing who you are, what you want to know and possibly why you want it, and then have them turn away to find it, quite happily, willingly, grumpily, or whatever.  But they must turn away.  Then checking your time you pull out the weapon and clobber them.  Hard.  And once.  There’d be no time for slip-ups.  Time is the thing.  And it would be soooooooo important that you killed them out-right.  Otherwise they could identify you if you only knock them unconscious.  And if they see you before you strike, they might call out alerting their neighbours.

I know!  I know!  You could stick them in the back of the neck, thrusting upwards into the skull, with an awl, or hat pin – though where you’d find one of the latter I’m not sure these days – maybe a stall at the weekend Markets.  Better still shove it into their ear right into the brain.  Either way there’s very little blood, and you can pull it out and take it with you so it can’t be traced at point of sale.  You’d have to coordinate very carefully and surely though – hand around over the mouth and shove, twist, and yank out again!  And you could carry a few spares in case one gets stuck.  Cool!

‘Course you’d probably do a dry run, a test drive to see if it would be feasable.  It would allow you to see what distance you can place between each kill.  Not that you couldn’t return to the first building for a second run at it, if you remain undetected.  And you’d want to be seen around the place as someone that’s usually there.  But the problem with that is that the victims would be alerted to your existence.  Okay if all goes smoothly and they die.  But what if, when you open the door to enter, they say ‘Not today.  I’m too busy to see you today.’  That could stuff things up in a big way.  Experiment failure.

Unless you drop something off for them to fill out and for you to collect at a set date and time.  That way you could ensure your victims were in loco when you wanted them.  But then you’d have to deal with the fact that your details would be on their diaries, time and place, and it would stand out like a flag to the cops.

Well that could be an advantage.  ‘Course you’d give a false name to the lecturers, and the form to be filled out would be of your making and not belong to any legit department.  And you’d make sure they had got it out ready to hand to you before you hit them.  Or you could take it from them and turn away and turn back as they turn back to their work and then hit them.  But it does leave a lot of room for error. They could get up to leave for a class as you leave.  Yep – too many variables.  And it would be important to retrieve the forms coz they’d have your prints on them coz you could hardly
hand them to them while wearing gloves.

(C) Copyright Jud House 3/11/2011

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Poetry – WHOSE MEAL?



On the Fence

          Forward they hop,
                     chirruping,
             pecking the ground for the things
                           birds peck for.
          There it sits on its tinfoil dish -
                the cat's meat!

          One boldly hops within two feet of the prize.
     'Look how brave I am'
             and he sticks out his chest.
          He checks again,
                    head askew  uncertain
             then retreats.

          They all hop nearer,
                    then back again,
                           then forward.
                Something scares them
                    and they fly.

          The cat's meat sits
                    temptingly -
                           on its throne of tinfoil.

          Did it move?
               Was it the glint of sun on silver?
             It's alive
               with ants,
                    swarming, brave, little army.

          Three Kookaburras sit on the fence,
               peering down on the picnic -
                    discussing!!
             Swoooop!
                    Swoooop!
          Meat and ants disappear
               in a flurry of wings
                    and snap of beaks!

          There is nothing left.
               No meat for the cat!

          (C) Copyright Jud House 1995 & 7/09/2011 

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Poetry – BAOBAB SEED



Bulbous
phallic testicular
mottled brown furred like
kangaroo scrotum dilly-bag
pouch itchy worrying to touch.
Melon gourd nippled nurturing from
bottle-shaped mother tree limbs out-
stretched up-thrust that birthed the
black prisoner released from barred
womb. Carved painted infant rattle
shaken its inner seeds softly
clunk muffled by protective
shell impregnable
vessel.

 Does the mother tree swell with life
with water?

 Does the seed?

(C)  Copyright  Jud House  28/08/2006

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Short Story: THE RED CELICA


Tossing her bag onto the passenger seat, with a sigh of pleasure Felicity slid behind the steering wheel of the red Celica, on loan from her husband’s car-yard.  The detailed silver-grey interior was plush, the Pine smell fresh yet a little annoying, and the seats so comfortable.  They cradled her, fitting her body as if made just for her size and shape.  Perfect, really.

“I wish you were mine,” she said, as she caressed the wheel and fingered the switches.
She sighed, stretched the seat-belt across her chest like a contest sash.

“I hereby name you Queen of the Celicas.”  She chuckled as she clicked the belt into its catch, slotted the key into the ignition, turned it on.  The radio blared with heavy metal head-banging music.

“Yukko!  Who’s been driving this?”  As she tuned the radio to her own favourite station, she wondered if it had been one of the young mechanics at the car-yard – or even one of the car-detailers.  Surely no-one test-driving the car would do so with that racket going.

Satisfied with the rock’n’roll from the sixties that was now playing, she glanced into the rear-view mirror prior to reversing.

“What the…?”  Swiftly she glanced into the back seat, then back to the mirror.  She leant forward peering at the small reversed image.  Behind the reflection of her short halo of fluffy gold curls was an outer halo of long, thick, glossy black hair.

Again she swung around to check behind her.  No-one was there.

“A trick of the light, maybe,” she muttered.  “Or I’m totally losing it.”

Hurriedly she reversed the car out of the carport into the sunlight, thrust the gear-stick into neutral, took a breath, then once more looked in the mirror.

The dark glossy hair was still there, as if behind her own, yet seeming to grow from it, as part of it.  Another glance showed her that she was still definitely alone.

“This is bizarre!”  She shook her head as she spoke.  “Bizarre.”

By rights, she should be scared stiff, and her heart should be pounding, but it wasn’t.  It was puzzling, intriguing.  Why was she not afraid?

Once again she spoke out loud, as people often do when alone.  “This is really weird! This never happened before when I drove one of Tom’s cars.  So why this one?”

She looked at the dashboard clock, which digitally showed the time as a quarter past nine.  And the date was the eighteenth of June.  Thinking it might be important, Felicity
ferreted out her diary from the depths of her bag and wrote the time on the page for June eighteen.

“I’ll ask Tom when I get home.  He might know who used to own the car.”

With that settled, she drove down the drive and out onto the highway.  She was barely
aware of her music now – her attention was entirely on the image in the mirror.  All the way to the shopping centre she felt the presence of the ‘hair’ and its owner, reinforced every time she glanced into the mirror.  The Celica had side-mirrors that were excellent – she knew she could have just used them, but felt compelled to keep checking the main mirror.  Besides it was a long-standing driving habit.

Everything about the Celica was excellent.  It handled like a dream.  The power steering was easy but still gave that feel of contact that the bigger cars seemed to lack – in them there was a sense of not quite being in control as they floated down the road.  An efficient driver, Felicity liked to take off quickly from traffic lights, move through the gears up to the speed limit and stay there.  The pick-up on the Celica was immediate and as she drove she thought of the ‘red cars go faster’ joke and chuckled.  She loved it, and felt a strong sense of ownership despite the puzzling mirror problem, the presence behind her.

As she entered the supermarket to do her shopping, she looked in the little hand-mirror that she always kept in her bag.  Her hair was back to normal, golden and glowing in the sunlight.  “So it’s not me, then.  I thought not,” she murmured, unaware of the surprised glance from of the bag-check girl at the entrance.  Her shopping took quite a while to complete, though she did it quickly and efficiently, not thinking about the ‘hair’ but focussed on her list.

Returning to the Celica, laden with bulging grocery bags in a rickety trolley, which had worked perfectly on the vinyl shop floor but took on a mind of its own in the car-park, she deposited them into the lift-back area.  As she settled once more behind the wheel, she discovered that the long, dark, glossy hair was still there.  But this time there was more than hair.  It seemed to move back a little and the features of a heart-shaped face with smooth dark skin began to form.  No question about it now – it was definitely something to do with the car.  And still Felicity felt no fear.

As she drove home along the highway, the features formed to reveal the face of a young Asian girl.  With a shocked look suddenly the vision disappeared.  She was gone.  Felicity was alone in the red Celica.  And the time was a quarter past twelve,
noon.  Because she was nearly home she waited till she pulled the car into her carport and turned off the engine, before getting out her diary and entering the time.  She felt strangely sad, hollow, as though having lost a close friend.  As she sat there, the feeling gradually deepened into one of strong grief.

“What’s the matter with me?  This is ridiculous.”  She struggled shakily out of the car,
clutching at and dragging the shopping from the rear area and dumping it onto the cement floor.  It would require several trips to get it all inside to the kitchen.  Taking the frozen foods with her – the others could wait – she staggered into the house and made a cup of coffee to calm her shaken nerves.  Her mother, who was visiting her, avidly listened to her story, amazed that her usually calm and sensible daughter should have such an unbelievable experience.

When she calmed down, she phoned her husband, Tom, at the yard.  After checking the car’s records at the office, he phoned her back.

“The car’s from a deceased estate.  The previous owner was an Asian girl from Singapore.  She was here to study medicine at Uni.  It seems that on June the eighteenth last year, she’d parked her car on Great Eastern Highway in Midland, turned to lock the car-door, and been hit by a passing truck.  Killed her outright.”

“That’s terrible!  How sad.  Her poor parents.”

The next day when her husband wanted to take the red Celica back to the car-yard she wouldn’t let him.  She asked him to let her keep it.  “I don’t want anyone else driving it now I know about it.  I need to keep it, Tom.  Please.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a touch morbid about this, Honey?  People get
killed in traffic accidents all the time.  Why is this one so important?”

“Because I’ve seen her that’s why.  And I’m not afraid to drive it.  It’s rather nice knowing that she is there.”  She looked at Tom who was frowning at her.  “It’s sort of
comforting.  Oh, it’s hard to explain.  Just let me have it, okay?”

Eventually Tom relented and the ownership of the Celica was transferred into her name.  As the year progressed, Felicity ceased to check into the mirror for the ‘hair’ to appear as none did day after day.   But every time she strapped herself in behind the wheel she whispered, “Oh accident girl, will I see you today?”

On the eighteenth of June, to Felicity’s relief and delight, she reappeared, only to disappear again, with the same shocked look at the same time as the previous year.

From this point onwards, Felicity felt compelled to drive the red Celica on the eighteenth of June, and would ask as she sashed herself, “Oh accident girl, will I see you today?  I have to drive, just a short way to see you, this day, this time, this year.”

The Asian girl’s face formed quickly as the years passed and smiled at Felicity in the mirror, before the shocked look and the vanishing occurred.  Felicity felt safe in the Celica and whenever Tom suggested trading it in on a newer one she refused to listen to him.  The thought of someone else seeing ‘accident girl’ was horrifying.  They wouldn’t understand.

Would a time ever come when she would fail to appear?  Was there to be no rest
for ‘accident girl’?  Felicity knew she would miss her young face, but not the grief caused by the shocked look as she disappeared.  If that day ever came, when
she failed to appear on the eighteenth of June, then Felicity would sell the
red Celica.

(C)  Copyright  Jud House   25/10/2006

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