THE OLD SETTEE by Anna Cameron
Their housewarming party had been fantastic, they had met lots of new people whom they hoped would become friends, but one couple in particular seemed to have lodged themselves in Liz’s brain… She was still puzzling over them the next morning, as she tidied.
The previous morning, checking the living room, she noticed the old, two-seater settee, tucked in the corner. It was a bit of a mystery – when they moved in three months earlier, they found it in a house which the agents assured them had been totally cleared. Short of furniture, they decided to leave it, and it was still there.
“Mike,” she called to her husband, “Should we move this settee?”
He replied, “I don’t think so! It looks OK, and some extra seating might be useful tonight.” Satisfied, Liz returned to the kitchen.
Later that evening the guests began to arrive. Being pleasantly warm, the front door was open, and people came straight in. Mike was outside, tending the barbecue, and Liz was busy greeting their guests and filling glasses.
Later, in the cooler air, people retreated to the house. On her way to the kitchen, Liz noticed an unfamiliar couple sitting on the old settee and smiled across at them. The pretty blonde raised her glass in a salute.
Liz and Mike were both exhausted by midnight when the last guests left. “It’s much too late to worry about all this. Let’s go to bed and sort it out in the morning,” said Mike, turning towards the stairs. Liz dismissed her concerns about the strange couple and followed him.
The next day, their neighbours, Jane and Jim, called to offer help, and Liz told Jane about the mysterious pair. Jane paled a little. “Did you notice anything about them?”
“Well, the only thing I remember is her beautiful blonde hair.”
Blanching further, Jane retrieved her smartphone, opened the photo folder and searched. Then she held it out, and Liz saw a photo of Jane and Jim with the couple. “That is Robert and Louise,” said Jane. Swallowing hard, she added, “They used to live here…until they were killed in a car crash a year ago. I think they must have popped in to wish you well in their old house.”
RUMTOFT by Sheila Skinner
After he had parked the car and dumped the shopping bags on the kitchen table, he noticed a strange puddle of dark liquid on the floor, then he turned on the light.
“What the blazes is this?” Darren’s voice echoed around the empty kitchen. “And where’s Josh?” he said. There was a distinctive smell, happily nothing nasty. Although it had looked like blood at first, a closer look reassured him, so he put a few sheets of old newspaper on top of it to soak up the mess and went out into the hallway. What was that smell and how had it got down there?
He’d been gone a few hours, and was working tonight. Normally Josh would have been laying at the foot of the stairs, eyes fixed on the front door till his return. But silence, eerie silence. “Josh, here Josh,” Darren paused at the end of the hall. Almost willing the sound of Josh dashing along the top landing and thudding excitedly down the stairs. Nothing.
“Here fellow”, his voice sharper now, feeling anxious. Then he spotted it, the chewed plastic cap first, then further along the carpet, near the bathroom door, an empty container. He stood puzzled, and then he heard it, muffled, wheezy, deep breathing. Stepping inside the bathroom door there was Josh, half wrapped in Darren’s bathrobe, prone on the fluffy carpet. Then his breathing seemed to stop. What the hell was wrong? Dropping to his knees beside Josh, he shook him gently. He didn’t stir. But then suddenly snuffled and snored loudly, rolled over onto his back, still fast asleep.
Relief made Darren laugh out loud. Josh stirred, opened bloodshot eyes and burped. Now Darren remembered that smell. The Christmas Rumtoft. Josh had found it in the corner of the kitchen and had obviously sampled the wares. His 6 year old champion German Shepherd was drunk. Darren went to phone his job. They’d have plenty to say. Police Dog Handler Darren Whitworth had some explaining to do.