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That haggard woman (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Winter was fast approaching and Tim shivered as he walked alone down the bare streets. He dug his hands deep into his pockets and wished that he had been sensible enough to have brought himself some gloves a while back. He had chuckled when his wife Vicky had suggested such an idea the week before.

"It's November now, and the weather's turning chilly," she had warned. "You really ought to get yourself a pair of mittens."
"Utter nonsense," Tim had scoffed. "It's only November for goodness sakes!" But he had to concede that his wife had been right.

Tim looked ahead as the darkness enveloped his line of sight and marched towards the alleyway. He had always hated this walk home from work, but not many people came this way, so in some ways he was glad of the time to clear his head undisturbed.

The alleyway was dimly lit and he marched forward at a quick pace. But he slowed down when he heard someone talking up ahead. Whoever it was it sounded as though the person was somewhat vexed.

And as he approached the voice, albeit quite warily, he could see that it came from a haggard woman moving deliberately slowly in his direction.

Tim sighed to himself. He had heard bad things about alleyways such as this. How people huddle around waiting to pounce on a passer-by with knives at the ready. And how drug users would regularly haunt the passages, getting their fix.

But he didn't feel threatened by this woman, no matter how mad she could turn out to be. Afterall, he had been toughened by six years in the British Army.

But as he stepped to walk past her, the old woman threw out her hand and grabbed Tim's coat. The much larger man tumbled before regaining his composure.
"Get your hands off me," he squeaked, still taken aback by shock.

The woman coughed viciously. "Curse you," she growled dementedly. "Let your last cursed days be few and your children fatherless."

Tim whipped his arm from the woman's grab and sprinted clear of her. He continued this speedy pace until he had left the alleyway and came out into the open, but he swore he could faintly hear the old witch cackling.

A week went by and the old woman had been pushed from Tim's mind by pressing matters. His father had been taken ill and had been admitted to hospital.

"It's nothing serious, Mr Walker," the kindly nurse reassured Tim when he had raced to see his sick dad. She explained that old age causes many problems, and his father's sudden ill health should not have been a surprise.
"Oh, that is a relief," he said cheerfully, before saying to his dad, "You had me worried for a minute there old man, but it looks as though you're not going to get rid of me just yet!" He gave the nurse a cheeky wink.

Two days later, in the middle of night, the telephone rang incessantly and Tim picked it up.
"Mr Walker?" said a voice.
"Hello, it's Mr Shephard from the hospital. I'm afraid I have got some bad news... it's about your father."
Over the next few weeks Tim's life had been thrown into utter turmoil.

He worked in a high pressured job as an engineer and lately he had been making some serious technical errors. His bosses felt sympathy, of course, and insisted he take more time off work to properly grieve for his dead father.
"Thank you," he said to his manager. "I promise I will come back a hell of a lot stronger."

So, far earlier than he would usually leave work, Tim made his way home, stopping off at a local shop to buy his wife some flowers.
She could do with a nice treat, he thought.

But Tim knew something wasn't right when he walked through the front door. He had expected Vicky to be busy with her housework, which is what she tended to do on a Wednesday afternoon after finishing her part-time job. But there was silence in the house.

This was not odd in itself, but when Tim thought he heard a groan coming from upstairs, he had the dreadful feeling that his wife was ill. Since the death of his father, he had become paranoid about such things - that either his wife or children would be taken from him too.

He burst into the bedroom in a panic.

His wife was in bed with another man.
"Who the hell are you?" was all he could manage to say before rage gripped him.

Sentencing Tim Walker to life imprisonment, with a minimum sentence of 15 years, for the brutal manslaughter of his wife's lover, the judge raged, "You have shown absolutely no remorse for your crime and as such, I refuse to to take account your father's death as a mitigating circumstance."

With the cell doors of his prison slammed shut, Tim wept. In court, his wife promised his two children would never see their father again. As far as they would be concerned, she had said, "Their father was dead."

And Tim couldn't complain. He had been urged by his lawyer to show remorse over his horrific crime, but he felt only coldness inside. He was hollow. His soul had left him.

But the old witch's cackle remained with him for the rest of his few days.
Let his days be few: and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless: and his wife a widow. Let his children be vagabonds and beg their bread. Let the extortioner consume all that he hath, and let the stranger spoil his labour. Let his posterity be destroyed: and in the next generation let his name be clean put out
Psalm 109 (The cursing psalm)

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