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The Finest in Crime and Suspense Short Fiction

Story Excerpts

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by Iain Rowan

“Say that again,” Alice said. She must have misheard. She was used to Emma calling at all hours, sharing triumphs and disasters. She had been woken at three a.m. to dissect the attractions of a new colleague, summoned pink and dripping from the bath to hear Emma sobbing over his leaving, comforted her through plumbing disasters and dying goldfish, and sometimes her attention wandered.

“I’ve killed him,” Emma said.

“Em, be serious.”

“I’ve hit him with my car, and I meant to do it, Alice, I’ve hit him and I’ve killed him.”

Alice knew it was important to take control now. “Take a deep breath. Tell me, step by step, what has happened.”

Sensible Alice. She was already shrugging one arm into her coat, swapping the mobile to the other hand, getting the coat on, scooping her car keys from the table. This was what she did, when others had disasters. She didn’t dither, just acted.

“I told you.” Emma sounded as if she were shivering from the cold. “I saw him waiting for a bus in Doxy. So, I pulled in and I waited, and then I followed the bus to Houghton and he got off and went to a pub. So. I waited and waited and waited, and then he came out and he walked out along the road to Seaton, but cut off down the little roads through Burdon, and I followed him in the car, and then he went over the top of the car and there was such a bang and he’s in the field, Alice, he’s lying in the field Alice and I killed him.”

“Emma, who?” Alice switched her alarm on, locked the front door behind her, and hurried out to her car. She already knew.

“Him. Him. Who else would it be?”

Alice unlocked her car. She knew now that this was not another overplayed drama in the continuing saga that was Emma, but rather the second terrible moment in her life that had gone wrong, never to be undone. “Okay. I’m coming. Be calm, Em, I’m coming. Now listen, I’m going to ask you some questions and I need you to be calm and answer me so I can help you. Where exactly are you? Do you mean Burdon Lane or the old village road? Take a breath, and tell me exactly.”

Alice put her mobile on speakerphone, dropped it onto to the passenger seat, and listened to Emma talk while she put her seat belt on, flicked on the lights, turned her head to look behind as she reversed off the drive.

“What am I going to do?” Emma said, in a quiet, small voice.

“We’re going to sort this out,” Alice said, driving out of her tidy cul-de-sac on the quiet new-build estate. “Don’t we always? Whatever’s happened has happened, we can’t undo that, but I am going to make sure that you don’t suffer any more for him. Now, did anyone see the accident?”

“It wasn’t an accident . . .”

Read the exciting conclusion in this month’s issue on sale now!

Copyright © 2022. Scars by Iain Rowan

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