Read Part 001 here

Part 002

“What the hell is that?” Shona whispered to herself, staring at the noose that seemed to be slightly swaying.

Shona knew it hadn’t been there before, she’d already taken several photos of the cubicle. The noose appeared to be made from a thick rope that looked as though it was burned with small frayed ends sticking out of the main knot. She glanced upwards, trying to see where it was tied to, but the end disappeared into the ceiling.

‘There must be someone in here or a hole from the floor above,’ she thought to herself as she took a step closer. Raising her camera, she took a photo, closing her eye to look through the viewfinder. The camera zoomed in on the noose and she could see the detailing of scorch marks across the rope, it had definitely been burned.

Lowering the camera, she walked towards the noose, her steps confident now having decided this was probably just a joke someone was playing on her. ‘Probably those jerks at the newspaper,’ she reasoned. She had only been in the office once to pick up the assignment, but she already sensed the tension and mistrust from the ‘city girl’ as they called her.

The small town of Old Malum had always been a close-knit community who had a dislike for anyone who wasn’t local. Shona remembered her visits to see her grandfather when she was younger and the looks she’d been given before they found out she was from a local family.

As Shona stepped into the cubicle, the strong aroma of ash filled her nostrils, almost as if the fire that burned the rope had only recently been extinguished. Up close the rope looked heavy, the thickness of its bindings at least two inches wide, and the large loop was positioned at head height.

A sound behind her filled her body with ice-cold adrenaline before she let out a nervous laugh, realising it was probably the pranksters coming to relish in their efforts.

“Very funny!” She called out, “You got the newbie.” She began to turn around, but a hand clasped around the back of her head. The fingers wrapping over her scalp until they nearly touched her forehead. She tried to move away, but the hand stopped any motion from her neck.

“Get off me!” She shouted, feeling a pain running through her spine as her neck twisted from her struggles.

The hand pushed her towards the noose.

Raising an arm, she tried to push the rope away, but another hand wrapped around her, pinning her arms to her body. Slowly, her head was pushed through the noose, the smell of charred rope intensified, choking her breathing.

“Let me go!” Shona hissed, trying to use her legs to kick her attacker, but every movement caused more pain to her neck.

The noose tightened, the rough ropes embracing the flesh around her throat. Once its grip was secure, the hand released her.

Shona could barely breathe as her airways became blocked, her body hanging from the rope like a single-stringed marionette. Her body rotated slowly until she could see the figure before her.

A man with long hair that clung to his scalp like leeches was staring back at her with deep darkened sockets. His overalls were as scorched as the rope, soot staining fabric and skin. The straps of his overalls were tight over his shoulders with a small embroidered name tag that read ‘Howard Smythe,’.

Shona scanned the figure with her eyes as clouds began to form across her vision. A glint of metal flashed as Howard Smythe drew a small handsaw from his belt.

Her eyes closed as she heard the man step closer…

What happens next? You Decide!

a) … but she was sure there was another noise, rushed footsteps in the distance getting louder.

b) …the sound of sawing was all she could hear as her consciousness faded.

Vote in the comments or on my social media! Voting closes on Sunday 9nd August 2020 4 pm BST

The result of the vote was:

a) … but she was sure there was another noise, rushed footsteps in the distance getting louder.

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