In Competition No. 2983, an assignment inspired by W.W. Jacobs’s macabre mini masterpiece ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, you were invited to supply a chilling short story featuring an animal’s body part. Brian Allgar’s tale about Donald Trump, a stallion and a DIY organ transplant operation was an unlucky loser. The winners, printed below, £25 each. The extra fiver goes to Frank Upton.
‘Sea View’. Yes, you could glimpse Morecambe Bay from the gate of the high, gruff, stone farmhouse. She would auction it, of course, with the owners disappeared. The key turned and, with a verdigris smudge on the shoulder of her coat, Alex was inside and engulfed by an insidious miasma of fungal spores. Her torch bleached a gigantic nodding polyp of dry rot. Each room had its own presiding eidolon in the form of a bloated fruiting body. Alex dared not risk the stairs but forced herself to enter the ‘feature farmhouse kitchen’. Here the puffy fungi were gathered in a chillingly obscene tableau. The scientist in her bade her inspect one of the smaller growths, the shape of a child’s play table. Two symmetrical cones near one end of this excrescence puzzled her. She touched one of them.
It was a cat’s ear.
There were those who claimed the fossilised frog’s leg had the power to turn back time: three kisses, with your feet in fresh water, and eternal youth shall be yours.
The thief, a practical fellow, would usually have scoffed at such superstitious nonsense. But not at the money his ageing client had offered him. He slipped the ancient limb from its glass casing (so much for museum security!) and made his getaway.
Who knows? Perhaps on a drier, less puddled night, he’d have resisted temptation. Maybe if he hadn’t discovered his first grey hair that morning … But what if it was true, after all? Why not reap the benefits and the cash? He pressed his lips to the little stone knee — once, twice, three times — and vanished into the darkness.