Its onset was subtle, he hardly noticed it at first, just a prickling of the neck hairs, a feeling of vague unease. Something was teasing at the edge of his peripheral vision, but when he dated a quick glance there was nothing there. The bland countryside was empty of human life and the little car hummed quietly along the country road.

His uneasiness grew. Something was wrong, very wrong. He listened for strange noises from the car, but no, everything was normal. He felt a sudden chill near the base of his spine, a feeling that grew and spread, knotting his stomach, bringing a cold sweat that drenched him like an icy shower. In contrast, his mouth was dry, so dry that when he attempted to lick his lips his tongue glued to his palate.

A new sensation added itself. The hint of indigestion, that had bothered him since had gulped down a hamburger an hour before, developed into out and out heartburn. The pain gathered itself below his breastbone, and grew, and grew. His alarm kept pace with its growth. He knew now. He knew that he needed help.

He was finding difficult to think. Should he stop the car on this deserted road? or drive on for as long as he could in the hope of reaching a house with a phone. Automatically he continued to drive.

With sudden hope he saw a figure on the road ahead, a farmworker, no doubt, he was carrying an implement. The little car pulled up beside the tall man. The driver flung open the door. The figure turned. It was dressed entirely in black. It was carrying a scythe!


Copyright H.St. V. Beechey 1993