Sorry about this, we posted the first half of this short story back in July and have only just got around to putting up the second half of the tale.
7pm at Deansgate and she was on her own in a deserted street. To occupy the time she re-read the flyer her boss had dumped on her desk earlier.
“The Gruesomest Ghost Walk in York” It screamed, with letters written in bright red that seemed to be dripping blood. Detailing the meeting place and snippets on the tour, with a few juicy quotes from supposed impressed tourists, it didn’t seem any different from any other tour. She couldn’t understand why he’d picked it over the multitude of others.
Flicking over to the back, there seemed to be a new sticker positioned over some of the copy. “Exclusive insights into the newest string of murders in York. Get into a serial killer’s mind, as we walk you round the fresh sights of the famous Cathedral killer.”
Ah ha, she thought, that might explain it. The City had seen a string of brutal killings over the last six months buy the now infamous Cathedral killer. He picked souls from the tourists in the city, cut them up in gruesome ways and adorned tourist hotspots around the city centre with the leftovers. The name had come as the first victim had been an American, found on the steps of the Minster so badly mutilated, they’d only been able to identify his nationality by the loud check trousers he’d been wearing.
The Police were baffled and the paper had been having a great time coming up with pun head lines. She remembered the opening story, “ The First Cut is the Deepest.” She shivered, partly from the rain and partly the thought of most recent killing.
By 7.10pm, she was starting to wonder if the tour guide had given up when a tall, slim man walked towards her. “Here for the tour?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “Looks like it might just be you and me.”
His dark eyes starred at her intently, she found it a bit unnerving and turned away embarrassed.
“Yes, thanks, got a night on my own and I’m new to the area, so though I’d come along. “ She giggled nervously, at the lie. No point in letting on she was from the paper, he’d want to give her the third degree about when it would be coming out and would the photographer catch his best side. Anyway, her piece was supposed to be mystery shopping the experience not pandering to the vanity of a man wearing a frock coat and top hat.
“Haven’t I seen you here before?” The tour guide asked, Josie shook her head.
“Must be mistaken, anyway lovely girl like you shouldn’t be on your own,” he said, salaciously.
Turning round, they realised that a few other hard core tourists had arrived, wrapped up in fleeces and ponchos. One was already snapping away.
“Follow me, please, Ladies and Gentlemen, for a Ghost tour like one you have never experienced before.” The guide, turned, raised his arm and began marching off down the street.
An hour later and Josie was rapidly loosing interest. The tourists were really getting on her nerves, constantly asking questions and stopping to take interminable photos. It didn’t help that the rain had returned, heavier than before. Some of the group had wandered off to find somewhere warm to have a medicinal brandy and the guide looked like he’d prefer to join them.
“Here we see the last resting place of Mary of Goves. The story is that her ghost walks up and down this staircase, down where she was said to be pushed by her husband when he found out the child she was carrying was that of his brother. Driven mad with grief after killing her, he is said to be see begging for her mercy at the foot of the stairs.”
Josie looked, but all she could see were urine stained, moss covered steps to a long closed building. Even though, the whole experience was giving her the willies.
As she turned around, she jumped out of her skin. Behind her a tall creature, dressed all in black, seeming to be floating towards her. Stifling a scream, she realised peeking out of the bottom of the black costume were a pair of white trainers.
“Stop it,” she shouted at the figure as it began to lean in towards her. “Woow WOOW.” It circled her. Looking around she spotted the tour guide and two tourists giggling.
“Look, this isn’t funny,” she crossed her arms and stared at what she thought was the head.
One last round of wooing and the creature stopped and pulled back its hood. Josie drew in a breath as the creature’s face was revealed. Tousling a mop of surfer blonde hair, a pair of bright blue eyes bore down on her. “Gotcha!” The creature in-toned, in a voice with a touch of Australian.
OMG, thought Josie, as she looked at the man, perhaps it was worth staying out after all. He was drop dead gorgeous, and as the cape opened she could see a surfer’s body under a tight fitting t-shirt.
“Everyone, this is Brad, my Australian friend, he’s visiting town and thought he’d add an extra something to my tour.” The Guide said, with a slightly pained expression. “Sorry, Miss, he thought you might like it.”
“It’s OK, I’m fine, he didn’t bother me.” Josie tried to cover her tracks, feeling slightly embarrassed.
“Right everyone, onwards ! It’s time for the new and exclusive part of the tour, the Cathedral Killer walk.” He strode off towards Stonegate.
Brad fell into step with Josie. “Hi. It was only a joke, you know. Rolf has been having trouble getting enough people for his tour, so we thought we could add something different to get some hype.”
“Is that why you are doing the Cathedral Killer ? It all seems a bit recent and insensitive doesn’t it?” Josie queried. She wondered how much they knew about the murderer and then shivered at the thought.
“Yes, that was my idea.” Brad explained, “I’ve been over here for about six months, I’m back packing round Europe. When we spotted the stuff in the paper and Rolf said he was struggling, I thought it would be a good twist.”
“How do you guys know each other?”
“We met a few years ago, at a surfing event in Oz. Rolf was travelling, and we got talking. It’s the first chance I’ve had to come and visit him.” Brad explained.
“Surfing, and he ended up in York?” Josie raised a puzzled eyebrow.
“We’ll yes, Rolf always says he was born in the wrong city. I’m just hanging at his house, getting some bar work, you know, before I can continue travelling.”
Josie realised they’d come to the next stop on the tour, and suddenly she was really enjoying herself. Don Draper he might not be, but she wasn’t averse to a bit of Neighbours. The wind whistled down a back street so she pulled her coat tighter.
They had stopped at the side of the Minster. “Are you cold?” Brad put his arm round her shoulder, “Would you like my cape?”
“No, no, I’m fine thanks.” Josie felt herself melting. Pull yourself together girl and stop thinking with your knickers, she thought, you are here to do a job.
After the Minster, the next stop was College Street. Victim two had been found slumped on the bench under the sundial, head hanging over the edge of the seat where it had nearly been severed. At the Post, they had been able to get a photographer there before the body had been moved. Putting that picture on the front had lit up the letters page for a couple of weeks with people whining about insensitivity.
Josie was shivering again and finally accepted Brad’s cape. As she wrapped it around her his imperviousness to the weather momentarily annoyed her. Was he cold blooded? The wet t-shirt was nice to look at though…
Monkgate next. At least there was some cover this time as victim number three had turned up under the arches. Well nearly. The Police thought he’d been running from his attacker and tripped and fallen, with the killer just finishing him off where he lay. The anorak-wearing tourist had been last seen coming out of the toy shop and the murderer had positioned his victims purchase, a toy train, emerging from a tunnel where his liver had been.
unhappy with this. Josie wondered how long his stomach would hold as yet another spurt of blood was re-enacted. Listening carefully, she realised that a lot of these descriptions didn’t seem to have appeared in the paper’s coverage.
Passing the University for victim five, the group made it to Gillygate and after a trudge that was mercifully free of stops, arrived at the Art Gallery. Josie recalled from the now sodden flyer that this was the end of the tour.
Rolf stopped to sign the Japanese couple’s guidebook. Brad laughed at this.
“He thinks he’s some kind of celebrity. I think he hopes that one day some big-shot producer will turn up on the tour and discover him.”
She giggled. “Yeah, one day it’s trudging around a soggy city telling ghost stories, the next it’s the bright lights of LA”
“At least it won’t be raining” replied Brad. “Listen, shall we go somewhere a little bit warmer?”
Josie considered the proposal for a second. This wasn’t some B-movie, she knew her way round the city and wouldn’t be taken down a dark alley by mistake. All that talk of murder had unnerved her slightly, but Brad smiled and she found herself nodding.
He lead the way. Along Swinegate. Across the square and down through the Shambles. It was late, dark and getting wetter. “I know a great bar down here,” said Josie, getting fed up with Brad’s wandering.
Brad was looking less surfer and more drowned rat. “Oh, OK,” he replied, slightly disappointed. Perhaps a drink might make his idea of continuing to his flat for some fun more likely though.
Now it was Brads turn to be unsure where they were going. Skating on the cobbles of Foosgate, he could see the city walls at the end of the road. She stopped on a small bridge and looked over the edge.
“I’ve always liked this bit of the city. It’s for the real people, not the day trippers.”
“Nothing wrong with day trippers love. They pay mine and Rolf’s rent”
“I know. Smug bastards. Always getting in the way. Never think of themselves. Not real at all.”
She pointed at something along the river. Brad strained his eyes to see what she was indicating, pressing up against the balustrade. The blade came out of no-where, cutting across his neck. Hand over the pumping blood from his throat, he fell, turning to see Josie poised, a large kitchen knife in her hand.
“York’s MY City, remember that you bloody tourist.”
Turning away from his dying body, Josie wiped the knife on Brad’s cloak and threw it in the river. The weapon was stashed back under her coat. She hoped just killing the City’s visitors would have put off the tourists, but no, some of the tour providers would need to be attended too as well.
Twisted smile on her lips, she began the long walk home in the rain pondering, I wonder if Rolf will like the new stop for his tour ?
We entered this in a short story competition and recived some feedback, which will be shared with you next week.