Dear reader, I had said I’d publish this short story in ONE GO, but it ran away with me, growing into a longish short story – too long for one sitting! So, I’m breaking it up into 3 or 4 parts, to be published every Sunday (the usual day when I posted The Hotel Unicus series). I’ll be rating it 16+ due to the mature themes, but as is my way there is more mystery in the absence of gory details, which terrify me. Horror/mystery/pretanatural. I hope you like it.
Have you missed Part Four?
Just to re-cap…..
So, the Red Shoes had killed. That didn’t surprise me, but what I couldn’t get my head around was, how had it done it? What I also knew, was that it had protected me from the worst of the accident – by inserting me inside a kind of protective bubble that insulated against pain, injury and anxiety – only because I, by way of extension, was now a part of it.
The news media said the priest had experienced a heart attack and that was why he’d driven off the road and into the underpass. The hole in his head was never spoken of.
After they checked me over at the hospital it seemed I’d got away with a light concussion and no broken bones. A miracle, one of the nurses said.
~ Part Five ~
I dreamt about the dead priest, and although it really wasn’t my fault, I felt guilty. He would appear to me, lent back in the car-seat, with the wound made from the stiletto, more bloody, more gaping, larger than life. Gold motes reflected from the hanging crucifix on the mirror danced about his pale-blue face. It was a gamble of glee, of quiet menace. It wasn’t really the play of the light but of something living and corrupt.
Overhead on the road, cars noisily rumbled by and the stench of the city choked me as if it were the guilt itself.
“It’s a miracle.” The pious man would said.
“Me being alive?”
“It’s a miracle that you’re alive.”
“I am sorry.” I would say.
“You have nothing to be sorry about. You didn’t cause my death.”
“I feel as though it was my fault.”
We’d sit together in silence, in the front of his car. The shattered windscreen before us. The gold motes still dancing about his face.
“Do you know how I can get rid of the red shoes?” I asked the last time.
I found out where he was from, where he’d lived. His name was in the newspapers and on the t.v. news. His picture, a singular photograph was used repeatedly.
He looked nothing like the blue George Romero zombie in my dreams. To begin with, of course, he had some colour to his skin – no doubt from being outside in the hot weather – and there was no open bloody wound, the testament to the ‘Killer Heels’ deadly strike. He had a longish face to go with the longish straight nose, striking brown eyes and a solemn close-lipped smile. He was devoid of any facial hair. I guessed he was about 45 because of the silver hair beginning at his temples and the smiley creases around his mouth and eyes. A few lines etched his forehead and he had a full head of dark hair that could have done with a cut and tidy-up. Seen from the chest up, his garb was of the typical cassock and clerical collar. It must have been a cloudy day since the light was dull. To the back of him stood part of a church tower and there were no other people pictured about. Summing up, he appeared as an amicable looking chap, perhaps a little shy and certainly quite serious-natured. It made me sad to think his life had ended prematurely and in such a grotesque way.
There weren’t many Catholic churches in the area, so after being told by an irritated congregation-member of the last church of the two I’d so far visited, that it wasn’t her church and I should leave at once like all the other nutters, I knew it had to be St. George’s. The third and last option. I don’t know what my real reason was to visit. Maybe it was to bring about some kind of closure, to find out more about the man as he had been in life…to honour him. The guilt I had of his death even overtook the very understandable self-interest in ridding myself of the demonic red shoes.
“I would like to know more about Father Will Mulford” I said to the man at the door of the church.
I’d decided to go at a quiet time, on a day in-between the church flower festival, the ‘Bring Your Pet to Mass Day’, and the weekend masses. That left only Tuesday. Early afternoon before confessional.
The man was shrunken and elderly, he stood hanging onto both the edge of the thick wooden door and an ancient and knobbly walking stick that was beginning to bend like his back and not just look like it. Like old worn-out friends I speculated they were in good need of a sit-down.
He looked into my eyes with sudden interest.
The stare was getting rather long and thus becoming a little uncomfortable. Before I could say, what is it?, he whispered:
“You’re wearing – or rather more accurately, they’re wearing you now aren’t they?”
I was somewhat surprised. How could he know that the Red Shoes were ‘wearing me’ without looking down to actually see them? Also, how the hell did he know about the demonic beasts?
He must have seen the recognition in my eyes.
“Come me with me now,” he managed to push the heavy door shut, “we’ll sit in Will’s office and chat. Or, rather more accurately, I will show you what has been written and collected on file. It was Will’s work. Very important it is too.”
The Red Shoes metamorphosed into fire as I followed him – limping – crossing the body of the church to a secreted door behind a curtain.
…………to be continued!
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Inspired by: My own red Italian shoes (in another life when my life was more high heels than wheels).
The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen
The Red Shoes, the film, 1948
Copyright Faith McCord 2018
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide rights.