The Greenhouse Murders Part Ten By: L.M. Mercer


The Greenhouse Murders
Part 10
By: L.M. Mercer

(Editor's Note: If you have not yet read "Part One - Nine", please go to the Horror Archive and read those stories, first. Thank you, TDS.)

Justin paused as he left the parlour and glanced over his shoulder at Susan as she settled in to begin working, then shook his head and smiled at her. Even after all their years together, he still found the enthusiasm Susan showed for her work to be somewhat humorous. The smile still on his face, he moved into the studio/office and picked up his MP3 player, then turned it on as he nestled the ear buds into place. He pushed the door closed with his foot and as he waited for the playerís computer to boot up, went to the roomís only window and after a brief struggle with the aged and slightly warped wood, managed to slide it open a few inches.

As he crossed the room, he selected a playlist that included some upbeat, fast paced classical music, along with a mixture of Billy Joel and Elton John, then increased the volume. Bobbing his head in time to the music, he searched among those stacked in the corner for a blank canvas. He found one he liked and placed the rectangle of canvas horizontally on an easel, then picked up a short tin box and chose a brand new stick of vine charcoal, preferring the thinner charcoal sticks made from willow branches to the chunkier composite version. Using the small knife, with its slightly hooked blade, Justin whacked off one end of the stick, instantly creating a pointed tip. Sliding this stick behind his ear, just incase he needed it later, he selected another stick, this time a smooth paper tortillon. Rubbing the pad of his thumb back and forth across itís blunt tip, he tested the rolled white paper for tightness. Satisfied it would smudge the charcoal properly, if needed, he slid this behind his other ear. After sharpening another stick of charcoal, he turned to the field of blank white canvas and began his work.

As soon as he touched charcoal to canvas, Justin was immediately oblivious to the world around him. He worked for a few hours without pausing, his hand moving furiously as the charcoal lines flowed effortlessly into a picture of reality. Every few minutes, he would close his eyes and refocus the image in his head, insuring the drawing before him matched his vision. It was during one of these periods, while he paused with his eyes closed, that the gentle breeze which had been blowing through the open window turned into a gusting wind.

The wind was so strong, it lifted a rag from an open box up into the air. Suddenly the wind died and the rag, which still had dried smears on it from a previous painting, drifted to the floor and landed in a puddle of paint thinner which had leaked from a cracked jar. As the day passed from morning into early afternoon, the sunís rays coming through the window traveled across the floor and burned directly onto the rag as it lay soaking up the flammable paint thinner.

By the time Susan was sitting back down in the parlour with her drink, thin wisps of smoke began to rise from the heated rag, and as she read Ivy Gehltís letter to her mother, small flames sparked into existence, setting fire to the rag. Justin continued to bob his head in time to the music, still oblivious to what was happening around him and drew the charcoal stick rapidly across the canvas. Susan was returning Ivy Gehltís letter to its envelope, when the flames spread from the burning cloth, to the puddle of paint thinner.

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About the Author

An avid reader from a young age, L.M. Mercer developed an addiction to books in her childhood that has intensified into an obsession that is getting more expensive by the day.

Although L.M. Mercer draws the inspiration for her poetry mostly from her life and those lives around her, her stories are influenced by her favorite authors. She draws on her love of the works of Edgar Alan Poe to add a touch of morose to her work and multiple romance novelists for that spark of romance.

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