Chapter 2

I hate feeling like a hero as much as I hate myself.  It was the rain that saved Grandma Brown’s cottage, not me; but I’ll take whatever victories I can in a day.  I’m just happy locals turned up with full buckets to lend a hand.  That is about caring less for yourself!

The forest around Shapwick is creepy especially after dawn.  That part of the day anywhere in the world has a disturbing nature.  Night turning into day brings out the freaky.  Vicar Johnson always dressed in the regulation black of a  priest and moved at a hell of a rate to get to his church to carry stuff to the Fayre.

With a glance to the left I saw the wispy white flapping thing move at a great rate through the beech trees.  It was close to the ground. The hawk was circling above the trees.  Two sets of eyes would have been good but I’ve only got one so they were busy looking into the sky then through the trees.  I’m not one to feel fear but instinctively knew something wasn’t right.  I don’t believe in ghosts but I do believe in fate and good fortune.

“Vicar.  What’s your view of heaven and hell?” I asked to keep the day moving along and clear my head.

Vicar Johnson stopped dead in his tracks.  He turned and took me by the shoulders.  I prefer face to face, eye to eye interaction.  

“Don’t be stupid Jack! I don’t believe in either of them.  I became a priest to bind a community and listen to confessions.  You should hear what Rose says about you! That’s why I love being assigned to Shapwick!”  A revealing smile cracked across his enormous red face as he put his arm around my shoulders.

That gave me information to keep up my sleeve if we ever got into a verbal assault.

There was a shrieking noise from the hawk who was taking a high level dive down into the forest. The vicar and I ran pushing our way through the dense, sharp blackberry bushes, jumping across roots poking out, slipping through puddles until we came to the grounded hawk. He was picking at a white sheet with a pool of blood starting to form at one end.

“That’s the stupid ghost who was running through the forest,” shouted the sweating vicar.

 “It’s not real.  Just a sheet,” I replied.  “That ghost must have run into a tree trunk.  There is blood all around the base!”

I grabbed a broken branch lying on the ground and threw it at the hawk.  He turned his beady eye to me knowing I wasn’t going to hit him, then flew off with a great lap and squawk.  I grabbed the sheet and pulled it away to reveal what was underneath.  Lying there panting was Jack Tindall’s well loved black Labrador Jessie with her tongue hanging out of a bleeding mouth and shattered skull. 

Ken Burns

New Zealand


Thoroughly enjoyed this. It took many twists and turns. Very visual description and the ending was terrific....not what I expected at all although by then I wasn't too sure what to expect so that was a great way to build suspense.
Roll over, Stephen King. Oh, Ken, when I read this and compared it to your earlier chapters from a year ago it was amazing to see the difference one year of regularly writing chapters has done to your style and creative senses. This is a great piece of what I call quirk and it is written so well that it holds the interest and leaves us with a cliff hanger the next writer can (excuse the pun) get their teeth into. As always, I loved the blood.
What Ray said! Ken, I think this could be your best piece of writing yet. While I was a little disappointed to have the kabosh put on the mysterious hawk so quickly, you turned up with something equally intriguing at the finish. Very well done.
My aim is to appeal to a wide audience but keep them engaged in the story by moving it along.
Revealing the Vicar as a hypocrite caught my fancy and I enjoyed the imagery. I must say, however, that I liked the bright and cheery way the preface started the exercise better; before it went all Koontzian.