Sunday 7 December 2014

Sunday Story - Johnny Remember Me by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey

Andrew Cambell-Kearsey's story 'Johnny Remember Me' was second place winner in April 2014's short fiction contest.

Johnny Remember Me by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey

‘It’s your electrics, mate. You’re going to need the place completely rewired. It’s a deathtrap.’

John shook his head. The cash cow he’d inherited from his great aunt was fast becoming a white elephant.

‘It’s going to cost at least twelve grand,’ said the electrician before he left.

John remembered childhood stays at this seaside resort where “The Fright of Your Life” was the biggest tourist attraction in the area. He recalled the queues and helping out on the ice cream stand. His parents were concerned that spending time amongst the machines that were designed to scare the punters with their staring eyes and mechanically controlled limbs would lead to nightmares. But John had loved seeing behind the scenes as well as hearing the squeals and shrieks of shock and horror from the paying public.

A stocktaking of his inheritance showed that half of the models were beyond repair and that the remaining half required substantial work to get them functional again.

He longed to escape his IT job in the city but wondered whether this was a viable money-making option. His business self knew it was a huge risk. He worried that the public’s tastes had become more sophisticated when it came to horror. They demanded realism. But his sentimental heart wanted to resurrect the attraction as a way of recapturing his childhood memories.

John decided to spend the evening walking among the exhibits before he made up his mind. His friends had suggested throwing a party. They thought it would be cool to spend time there after-hours amongst the fake blood and pretend instruments of torture. But he needed time on his own. Besides, the place was a health and safety minefield.

He let himself using the huge bunch of keys the solicitor had given him. “The Fright” had been locked up for years and the natural spiders’ webs made the place look creepier than any special effects expert could manage.

He stopped at the refreshments counter. There were just a few popcorn kernels visible on the counter. The few working lights flickered. John lit his path with the app on his iPhone. The soles of his trainers stuck to the carpets in the hallway. He looked in at some of the rooms, whose names he recalled from his youth. “The Mad Dentist” had always been popular with shrieks from the hapless patients while he extracted teeth without anaesthetic. There was a door at the end without a name. Perhaps it was for storage. He tried the door handle. It was stiff but gave way when he applied pressure. He was in a small room he didn’t recall. There was a small mannequin of a girl in the centre attached to an electrical cable. He put the plug into the socket to see if the machine came to life. Her one lifeless eye appeared to stare right at him. She spoke with the voice of his aunt,

‘Why did you have to kill me, Johnny?’

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