Prompt: A car pulls up beside you in the turn-around and the two elderly occupants just sit there. Not a word passes between them; they just sit there, staring out at the loch/lake. You are intrigued. What is the story of the people in the car? What are they up to? What have they done? Where have they been?
Word Count: 750 words
Deadline: Wednesday, 12 October 2011 – 9:00 PM EST
THE DINNER GUEST
By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
The shiny new cobalt-blue Prius drew to an almost silent stop scant inches from the weathered log railing at the turn-around overlooking the loch. The disheveled young man in the silver Corsa, its bonnet raised, glanced over briefly at the elderly occupants of the Prius and then turned his attention back to the cell phone in his hand.
The man switched off the Prius’ ignition and the couple gazed out over the dark blue waters of the loch; the late afternoon sun glistening off the water. They sat in silence for several minutes. The man spoke first.
“What do you think, my dear?”
“We can’t leave the poor soul out here; it’ll be nightfall before long. There’s no telling what might happen to him… all alone. We owe it to our consciences to come to the young man’s aid, don’t you think, Archie?”
“Agree completely, Evelyn dear!” Archie pushed the window button and tapped lightly on the car horn to get the young man’s attention.
“I say, young man… might we offer some assistance?” Archie inquired when the man rolled down the Vauxhall’s window.
“Haven’t a spare battery with you, by any chance?” The young man managed a weak smile.
“Afraid not. And you’ll get no service for your mobile this far out from town.” Archie glanced at his wristwatch.
“The garage will be closed by the time we could get you back into town.” He looked over at Evelyn, who nodded her head.
“Why don’t you come home with us, young man?” Archie continued. “You can get cleaned up and join us for dinner. Our son has gone off to do his bit for Queen and country… you can borrow his room for the night.”
“That is extraordinarily kind of you sir, but I really couldn’t impose.” The young man demurred.
“Nonsense!” Evelyn leaned across Archie, speaking to the young man. “We absolutely insist, don’t we dear?” This last directed to her husband.
“Quite so!” said Archie. “The matter is settled, then!”
A few minutes later, the three of them were on their way up the winding mountain road, the young man’s luggage transferred to the Prius and introductions having been made in the turn-around. The three of them, Steven, Archie and Evelyn, were now chatting away like old friends.
A half hour later, Archie turned off the pavement and on to a smaller graveled road. A few minutes later, they pulled up in front of a small country home nestled among the pines.
Archie escorted Steven upstairs, both of them carrying a piece of luggage. After showing him the spare bedroom with its attached bathroom… “Have yourself a nice relaxing soak; dinner won’t be for an hour”… Archie returned downstairs to help Evelyn with the meal preparations.
As the young man lay in the tub, luxuriating in the hot, soapy water and letting the heat relax his road-weary body, his gaze caught upon a long shelf along the wall opposite the big, claw-foot bathtub. There were… counting… eight shaving kits in their shiny, leather bags lined up on the shelf. Steven though this a little odd as he had only two himself… one for home and one for travel. Country folk were an odd lot, he mused.
Downstairs, Archie and Evelyn were discussing the wine to serve with dinner. Archie favored a chilled grigio, while Evelyn was leaning toward a nice full-bodied merlot.
“Did you hear his accent, dear?” Evelyn asked. “If my ears are not mistaken, Steven is from London, or at least has spent considerable time there. His taste is more refined… the merlot will be a much better pairing. A ’97, I should think.”
The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs brought the two out of the kitchen, and quickly to the dining room.
“Aahh… here comes our dinner now!” as Steven walked in to the room. Evelyn’s mouth split into a wide, hungry grin… razor sharp canines glistening in the candlelight. Archie moved from behind his chair at the head of the table, the long butcher’s knife clutched behind his back; a similar look on his face. He walked slowly toward Steven.
The first thing that registered in Steven’s mind was that there were only two place settings at the long dining table, and it appeared to be covered in black plastic.
The last thing that registered in his mind was the sharpened steel of the butcher knife sliding between his ribs and piercing his heart.