Horror fiction is my favourite fiction, one of my dearest past times it to settle down of an evening, and delve into the strange and weird worlds of H. P. Lovecraft, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Stephen King…the list goes on. And so of course I have dabbled at writing my own short horrors, and I’d like to share one with you today.
This is the shortest story I have written, and it came about while a good friend and I were in Scarborough, talking of how vicious and greedy gulls sometimes swoop down and steal your fish and chips, and imagine if they swooped down for something much more sinister! So with that, I hope you enjoy this silly story.
By Katherine ‘Weird’ Wetherell
The whirlwinds of spray, the wild roar and crash of the unimpeded salty waves, the mournful cry of seabirds as they toss through the sky, the tang of a tasty salt and vinegar supper on the breeze, Scarborough! Are you going to Scarborough Fair? No! It’s not there anymore, it’s old news, get with the times! The people flock to Scarborough nowadays for one thing and one thing only – Mr T. Orangeman’s celebrated and unprecedented, seagull caught fried fish!
No one could guess how Mr T. Orangeman accomplished such an impossible feat, how he trained such savage and cunning creatures as gulls to do his bidding, coaxed those blank beady eyes with six foot wingspans to give up their freshly caught haddock and cod for his own ends. After all, Orangeman is such an unassuming gentlemen. Short, fat and just a little bit greasy, with far less hair on his head than adorned his plump and might I add, frequently exposed tangerine tanned chest. What tricks were hidden up Orangeman’s stained cotton shirt sleeves?
Not many people bother to ask or even think about it, they just shovel in that fish that has a taste like no other, for it’s the seagulls who bring in the catch of the day, incomparable to the stuff purchased from markets or fishmongers, the stuff all the other chip shops sell. Consequently Orangeman’s establishment is becoming quite a craze to the Scarborough tourists and is the thing to do when visiting.
Indeed, it’s quite a spectacle if one gets up early enough in the morning to see the hoards of gulls carrying their spoils and swooping down to the rear of Mr T’s shop, into a hidden courtyard where they collect their reward, whatever that may be.
The boom of his business correlated eerily with the increasingly high number of disappearing cats. Surely though it wasn’t Orangeman? What was suspicious about him taking long lonesome walks in the depths of night through the twisting thoroughfares of the South bay? Besides, He didn’t even sell pies.
But it was the beginning of the decline of his business, once fish supplies began to dwindle, that correlated with the disappearance of young children. Just one or two every month or so, people said they must have drowned or been swept away by the currents of the North Sea. Mr T didn’t take an interest though, after a few occurrences trade was thriving again.
The great yellow disc rose over the North Sea and cast it’s rays over the waking seaside town. A shaft of light broke into Orangeman’s dark kitchen as he was sat at his table engaging in a breakfast of runny eggs; he lurched forwards to grab the morning paper and managed to shift the table with a chalk board squawk across the crumb ridden floor with his sagging yet rotund stomach. He opened the paper with a swift crack and as he began to read, a hideous and fiendish grin spread across his face and yolk came trickling down his bristly chin.
The headline read “GULLS ON EYEBALL PECKING RAMPAGE ACROSS YORKSHIRE COAST”. He piled into his mouth the last of his eggs, and leaned back with a creak, crossed his arms and began chewing thoughtfully.
‘They sure have got a taste for it now, the buggers’ He chuckled.
At that moment the bell rang from the front of his shop, early customers. Orangeman strode in to see a handsome moustachioed man in a flat cap.
‘One of your finest fish cakes please, my good man’ the patron smiled, rocking back and forth on his toes.
‘Sure thing, buddy’ Orangeman got out his tongs and noticed the customer eyeing up his latest delight. A jar of perfectly spherical pickled onions swimming in murky vinegar stood in a jar on the counter. ‘Want one?’ he asked.
‘I suppose you get those gulls to harvest these as well do you?’ the customer jested. Orangeman leered forward, a sparkle in his eye. ‘Buddy’ he said ‘that ain’t the half of it’.