The Monster Man of Horror House (8 page)

BOOK: The Monster Man of Horror House
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I shook these heebies from my jeebies, had a wash and put the kettle on for a richly
deserved cup of tea.

was when I noticed the scrapbook.

not seen it before, but it was a thick leather-clad volume with cuttings
bloating out the first thirty pages. Next to it were a pair of scissors and the
lunchtime edition of today’s
– minus the front page.

found the missing page hanging out between the pages of the scrapbook. It was
yet to be pasted in but read: GIRL MISSING: FENS STRANGLER FEARED.

previous page held a similar headline, only this one carried a picture of my
father’s first victim: WHERE IS SHE? COUNTRYSIDE SCOURED. And yet another article
featured a picture of Juney, my father’s second victim: DEAD! STRANGLER

couldn’t believe my eyes, my father was keeping a record of his atrocities, but
I flicked back through the book, through headlines and front pages until I
realised I was no longer reading about the three girls I knew of. I was reading
about at least another dozen.





all, I counted sixteen separate girls who’d either fallen victim, or who were counted
as abducted, by someone known as the Fens Strangler and I was just coming to
the obvious conclusion that my father was that same Fens Strangler when I
realised he couldn’t be. Some of the earliest cuttings dated back to 1917, before
my father had even been born, and a good proportion of them were from the
1920s, when he would’ve only been a nipper. He couldn’t possibly have been

went through the scrapbook again and made a note of all the dates, finding that
the murders seemed to come in waves of two or three before petering out: 1917 1925
1929 1939 1944 1946 1955 1962 – the years were there in black and white,
there was no escaping the facts.

first were done by my father,” explained a voice from out of the blue, near
separating me from my internal organs. I spun around to find my father setting
his billycock on the sideboard while shaking himself from his overcoat.

didn’t hear you come in,” I gasped, hardly able to catch my breath.

I can be quiet when I want to be,” he replied, his eyes studying me carefully
while flickering towards the notes I’d been taking. “You haven’t pasted the new
page in yet?”

I gawped, before realising what he was talking about. “No, not yet. I didn’t
know I was supposed to.”

father walked to the kettle. “What do you think I left it out for?”

didn’t know, and I didn’t particularly want to hazard a guess for fear of provoking
a mortal rebuke from the strangler. He looked at me as he turned the gas on
underneath the kettle.

it in,” he told me.

father,” I agreed, daubing the back of the article with paper paste and
slapping it in.

father glanced at my handiwork over my shoulder. “It’s not straight,” he
scowled, as if this was the most deplorable misdemeanour likely to be found
between this album’s sleeves. “Pull it out and do it properly before it dries,”
he ordered, so I peeled the page out again and relayed it, this time with the
precision of a veteran draftsman. “Very good,” my father grunted.

refilled the pot with boiling water and brought it over to the table, before
pulling up a chair for himself.

you’re probably wondering what all this is about,” he speculated.

I ummed, unsure just how stupid to play this one. In the event I realised
unswerving respect and obedience would serve me better and give me a greater
chance of seeing my nineteenth birthday, so I puckered up my reverence and gave
my father’s accord the kissing of its life. “I was rather, father. I can’t seem
to make head nor tail of it,” I twittered like a right royal nit.

father nodded. “Well as I say my father was responsible for the first girls.”


he was a sublime hunter, taught me everything I know. In fact, if it hadn’t
been for the skills I learnt from him, I might not have come back from the war
at all,” he said, waiting for me to pip in with “Good old Grandpappa” before
continuing when it became clear I wasn’t about to.

yes, he introduced me to the sport shortly before the war and showed me how to
play it.”

sport?” I finally said.

the sport. I have to say, I didn’t take to it particularly well at first, you
were much more game than I ever was,” he commended, pouring himself a cup of
tea from the pot when it was brewed.

well… er… I didn’t know it was a sport,” I felt I had to admit.

course not, and neither did I. Not until I’d smelt a few hares at any rate.”

didn’t even go there.

grandfather chose me carefully. He gave me the love and understanding the bitch
who’d borne me never had and he educated me to the ways of
,” he said, almost spitting this last word out before I saw
he was actually trying to rid himself of a loose tealeaf.

ways of womenkind?”

father didn’t respond immediately. He merely took another sip of his tea, then
set the cup down very carefully. “You’ll see,” he eventually answered. His
actions were deliberate and calculated, much like his actions throughout the
last couple of weeks. He was grooming me, just as the Reverend had groomed him

I couldn’t do it,” he admitted. “I didn’t have it in me. At least I didn’t
think I had until the war came along, then I found strengths I never knew I

father flicked a speck of dust from his lapel and straightened his tie. It was
his regimental tie, I noticed. I wondered if his alibi from the previous
evening had involved some sort of reunion of the chaps, but I didn’t have time
to dwell on this as my father was rapidly reaching the cake and balloons part
of the evening.

have these same strengths, John. I saw it in you from that very first evening.
And tonight, you’ve demonstrated beyond all doubt that you are indeed my son.”
My father cast a glowing eye over me and even allowed a smile to filter through
to his thin lips. “I’m very proud of you, John.”

anything, this eclipsed the starchy praise he’d bestowed on me for fixing the telly,
but weirdly I didn’t feel too happy about it this time around.

didn’t push you to these actions, John,” he said when I didn’t answer. “I was
very careful. If anything you pushed me. All I did was show you crossroads and
you chose your own path. You are a hunter, John. Just as I am and my father was
before me. It is in your nature. And it is now up to you to harness these

father,” was all I could think to say in the absence of any long distance
telephone lines between us.

Well I’m glad we could finally have this little talk,” my father nodded cordially.
“Needless to say, I expect you to exercise due diligence when it comes to the
sport. I’ve not lasted this long by running about like a crazed maniac, so I
think it would be best if we put the Fens Strangler to bed for a few more years,
don’t you?”

did indeed. In fact, it was the first thing he’d said in several weeks that I
agreed with, so I took what comfort I could from it and decided not to rush
into any hasty decisions until I knew whereabouts my head was.

moreover, whereabouts it was likely to end up if I made the wrong decision.



My father spoke to me some more over the next few days, educating me as to the
ways of ‘the sport’ and the unGodliness of women in general. They’d gotten us
chucked out of Eden, had brought down kings and had even corrupted the poor old
Reverend, “curse his folly”, costing him a nailed-on bishopry, which is where I
suspected all this had really begun.

father, having been abandoned by his own Earthly mother within hours of his
nativity, had been cut from the same cloth as the Reverend, but I myself had no
such complaints about the rib-stealers, making me wonder just how fervent my
father’s beliefs could be that he would assume I’d fall into line right behind
him and grandfather. I mean, respectful obedience was one thing but I couldn’t
help feel he was abusing the privilege.

I tried to look as studious as I could for the sake of appearances and my own
neck, but every sinew of me wanted to honk into a bucket after “our little talks”.
My father and grandfather had killed dozens of women between them. Now they expected
me to carry on this ignoble family tradition. Of course, people with illicit
vices always want everyone else to indulge in the very thing they themselves can’t
stop from doing just to validate their own compunctions. But this wasn’t
pouring a mid-morning sherry or sucking off alter boys after evensong, this was
murder, the most heinous and dastardly crime of all. It wasn’t a sport. It was
never a sport. Not in peace. Not in war. Not in even King’s Lynn, which I could
almost understand. No, I may have been young. I may have helped my father do
some terrible things, but I still knew the difference between right and wrong.
Didn’t I?

course I should have gone to the police. I should have but I didn’t because I
was a coward. I wanted to live and I wanted to carry on doing so for as many
years as possible. Was this selfish of me? Perhaps, but I was young, my life
had only just begun and there was still so much I had yet to do, like see Great
Yarmouth, ride a motorbike, sail in a boat or take a girl out for an evening and
bring her back alive again. I couldn’t turn myself in, not least of all because
my father wasn’t letting me out of his sights just in case some hitherto
untapped sense of morality got the better of me. No, I had to figure this thing
out for myself.

I didn’t get the chance. I thought the Fen’s Strangler had been bedded down for
a few years but events conspired to rouse him from his slumber early. They’d
begun a week earlier, outside Fenwold Country Railway Station and had bounced
around the country several times before eventually reaching us via the ringing
of our telephone.

really don’t know what… … of course… yes yes…” came my father’s voice, floating
up the stairs to draw me to the landing banisters. “Well I’m sure there’s been
some sort of… yes, of course. No, that won’t be a problem. I’ll come right
away. Thank you. Thank you,” he said, setting the phone down, thinking for a
moment, and then turning for the stairs. I ducked back into my bedroom and hid
as he rushed past, then tip-toed along the landing until I could peek into my
father’s room. He was tearing through his wardrobe and emptying the drawers of
his dresser as he scoured for something in particular, only to turn several
shades of scarlet when he came up short.

eyes lifted to the doorjamb and I fell back to avoid his glare, but he must’ve
seen my shadow recede for he barked at me to make my presence known.

father, I was just…”

my medal?” he demanded, in no mood to dally with my expositions. “Where is it?”
he said, rattling his emptier-than-usual biscuit tin.

don’t know father. Have you checked…” I started to suggest but father cut me

checked everywhere! I keep it in here, as you damn well know, so where is it?
What have you done with it?” he smouldered.

honestly…” I got as far as bullshitting before he barked at me once more.

Liar, damn you! Who did you give it to?”


gave it to some little scrubber, didn’t you? Who was she? Some little tart you
were trying to impress? Tell me boy before…” but now it was my father’s turn to
bypass a full stop when an uncomfortable notion suddenly occurred to him. “You
gave it to
, didn’t you? You gave
it to
, instead of… oh God. Oh you
foolish boy. What have you done? What
you done”

please, I can explain,” I told him, although I think that was the very thing he
was most afraid of.

said I should never involve you in the sport,” he then bemoaned, catching me full
in the kisser with the full weight of that one. “She said you weren’t up to

knew?” I almost choked.

course she knew. How could she not with all mine and father’s comings and goings?”
he contended, which was a fair point, if totally fucking insane.


understood the sport for what it was. And she gave me her total and unequivocal
loyalty,” he vented, rising to him feet and dropping the biscuit tin on the
bed. “Now be a man and come clean,” he ordered, utterly unmoved by deafening
hypocrisy claxons that were suddenly going off all around us. “You gave it to
that harlot, didn’t you? You gave it to that whore?”

BOOK: The Monster Man of Horror House
13.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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