Monday, May 4, 2009

Short Story: Let Him Dangle by Richard Dickson

James Lincoln Tasker thought he'd understood Judge O'Herlihy when he'd said "hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead." He just had no idea that the last part was going to take so long. Yet here he was, still swinging at the end of a hangman's noose in the shadow of the courthouse and not even feeling sleepy.

I read Let Him Dangle by Richard Dickson online. It is a very short story in or around 500 words.

James has been left to die after having hanged but he does not die in a hurry. He is shown to converse with the sheriff. He wants to die quickly but is left dangling.

The sheriff turned towards him, and Tasker wished he hadn't. Maggots crawled in hollow eyes, and a grin like a whip stretched his pale skin tightly over the hard lines of the skull beneath. Flies burst from his mouth along with a harsh, piercing laugh.

"Oh, I think you just got your damnation," he cackled, and vanished. The town shimmered away along with the sheriff, and only the squat, grunting shapes approaching over the bleak, sun-baked plain remained to hear the screams that would be James Lincoln Tasker's song for eternity.

He gets his wish but in what manner?

After a long time two boys are playing near an old Oak tree, its branches all gnarled and one branch hanging out.

And Michael could have sworn he heard it scream.

This short story is power-packed , taut and fast paced. But how else a 500 words story would be? I am glad I found this site.

4 comments:

C. B. James said...

Yikes! That sounds like rough going, but maybe a perfect story to tell around a camp-fire when everyone wants to hear something scary.

Book Psmith said...

That is a fantastic opening paragraph. I think C.B. is right...perfect for a spooky story around the campfire. Thanks for the link.

John Mutford said...

I'm going to bookmark this one for Halloween. Thanks!

JoAnn said...

Wow - this would be great for Halloween! I was surprised that the story I chose this week turned out to be a ghost story.