flash fiction in response to this writing prompt: “Those who don’t care, once cared too much.” Invent a fictional villain using this phrase.”
The old woman sighed and took off her gardening gloves. The detectives were retreating down the path. It had been a long interview, but she’d comported herself well, she knew. Offering them tea and cake, all manner of resplendent fancies cobbled together from store-bought flour and cinnamon, derived from “how to cheat” cookery videos that her social worker cued up for her on YouTube.
Though she was becoming quite adept at technology these days. When the detectives told her about the nice young businessman who’d disappeared five days ago, or at least been reported as such, she connected him with the designer of that app she’d heard about on the telly. Something about digital money. She’d sighed. ‘I’ve neither known nor cared about newfangled things for the last twenty years.’
She settled herself in her armchair. Behind her, and behind a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, was a panic room turned safe. Her late husband had installed it in the ‘70s during a time when fear of the outsider had whipped Middle England into a frenzy, making every blue-blood afraid that hordes of invaders would run through their homes, raping and pillaging whatever they could.
When the frenzy died down it became a safe place for important documents. And now the corpse of a nice young businessman. She looked at a picture of her daughter in Spain, in the late ‘90s, on the verandah of a hotel at which various students were spending their youth to the strains of Eurodance and cheap ecstasy.
She’d felt very little since about a year after that photo was taken. But as the elderly widow sipped her tea and let the bright afternoon light through the net curtains wash her face, she thought about the businessman’s shocked expression when she said ‘this is for Catherine Morgan. Bastard’ and shut the door, letting the safe become airless, as per a feature that was added to augment its new function in the mid-‘80s.
And as she thought about his expression, blood rushed to places where it hadn’t rushed in years.