The Barlow

Winsome75 By Winsome75, 14th Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

The story of an innocent man coming together with his supernatural destiny.

The Barlow

The antiques store that Max Appleby owned was moderately getting by in this bad economy and he had to keep a keen eye out for bargains he could resell in the store for a profit. As he was dogging the estate auctions in the area he had the opportunity to bid on, and purchase several boxes of small items. These were mostly comprised of mismatched flatware, coffee cups & saucers, books, some old pocket knives and the like. The price he paid was certainly right and he could make a few dollars on the items for sure he thought.
When Max returned to the store he took the new found treasures to the back room to clean up and price the new merchandise. As he worked he noticed that one of the pocket knives in the bunch was in much better condition than the other knives. Some had chipped handles or broken and missing blades but this one Barlow was in good condition, in fact, it looked darn near new. Max laid it aside as he concentrated on making the other pieces look their best and he worked on them the rest of the afternoon and up until closing, forgetting about the Barlow.
Upon returning the next morning Max opened the store, turned on the lights, and prepared for the day’s business. He strategically placed his new items where they would be seen by his customers as soon as they entered the store hoping for a quick turn on his investments. As he went to the back room for some cash register tape he noticed the Barlow lying on the counter. He thought “well I need to put that beauty out front too” and as he reached to pick it up a most unusual giddy and euphoric feeling came over him. As Max held the knife in his hand he actually started to chuckle and then laugh out loud, he hadn’t felt this good in years! He turned the Barlow over in his hand and stared closely at the handle, it was made of faultless animal bone without any scratches or nicks; it actually looked brand new but had the heft and feel of having been created long ago when both materials and craftsmanship were of finer stuff. Feeling exhilarated at this point Max pulled on the blade of the knife and it opened effortlessly exposing the perfect shiny steel blade that was wider at the point than at the handle where it attached. The blade was in the shape of a question mark and was known as a “hawk billed” knife because its shape resembled that of a beak of a bird of prey and the cutting edge was expertly honed like a razor.
The buzzer on the front door of the store blared as it announced that a customer had just entered. Making his way back to the front of the store Max still felt wonderful as he made a place in the central showcase for the Barlow to be exhibited to the public. When he let go of the knife to close the case he felt his sensational mood start to subside gradually and his attention was then turned to the new buyer as she perused the antiques.

The Barlow sat beautifully in the case for several weeks and Max had not thought about it again. Then on a fall afternoon a fellow came through the store walking and looking and stopped at the front case. He asked Max to open the case as he wanted to see the Barlow. Max did as requested but this time there was no feeling of euphoria as he handed the knife to his customer. But the very second that John Sheffield took the knife from Max he felt a sensation that was ten times any drug or alcohol induced high he had ever experienced! His mind raced at a breakneck speed and he vividly remembered the most pleasurable events of his 32 years. As he opened the blade he saw his reflection in the polished steel and as he turned the blade over, and just for a second, he saw a reflection of a man’s face not his own; mostly covered with a black slouch hat. John knew that he must possess the Barlow, he must buy it now. So as he placed the knife on the counter and reached for his wallet his emotions began to calm and whatever affected him was subsiding as he paid Max for the Barlow and didn’t even ask for a discount.
John’s next destination today is the nursing home where his great grandfather, “Grandpa Sheff” is in residence and has been for the last four years. The family Sheffield is descended from a long established British line that traces its roots to England as far back as the early 1700’s. Bernard Sheffield is now 103 years of age and has several ailments that keep him in the nursing facility; fortunately old family money earned from a world renowned cutlery business keeps “Grandpa Sheff” in rather comfortable surroundings. John enjoys his weekly visits with the elder Sheffield and today will be no exception as John is going to show grandpa his new find. The Barlow John purchased is sure to impress the old fellow as he has an appreciation of fine cutlery, after all, knife manufacturing is where he had spent his adult working life.
“Grandpa Sheff” was quietly sleeping when John entered the room and sat down beside the bed waiting for the old man to stir. Patiently John sat as “Grandpa Sheff” came awake and he excitedly acknowledged John as he enjoyed his visits tremendously. After some conversation John takes the Barlow from the shopping bag and tells Bernard about how he found it in an antique store and how pristine the condition for such an old piece. When the old gentleman takes the knife in hand to look it over he immediately sits bolt upright in his bed and has a look of astonishment and terrible fear on his face! For what seemed like an eternity for the old man but only seconds to John “Grandpa Sheff” looked directly into John’s eyes and with an intensity John has never witnessed before from him he said “take it away…now boy…take it far away and throw it in the ocean….do it now….” And with that the old man dropped the Barlow, fell back in his bed, closed his eyes and began to mumble and shake violently. John called for an attendant and after some moments the staff suggested that John leave and come back another time. As John was leaving the room “Grandpa Sheff” whispered softly “pure evil….horrible death….thought it was buried long, long ago…” but John was already out the door.
As he walked to his car John was very puzzled and somewhat upset by his great grandfather’s reaction. The more he thought about it the more concerned he became as episodes of extreme emotion were out of the ordinary for the Sheffield family and that was true even more so with John. For John was still unmarried, had a great job, active in his church, and volunteered at the VA hospital twice a month. John didn’t even smoke or drink in fact he only had one little vice, actually, he favored dating working ladies of the evening. Because with those ladies there was no emotional connection or commitment and after a “date” everyone went their own way without involvement and that was a neat and clean arrangement that John preferred.

At his condo as he showered John kept replaying “Grandpa Sheff’s” words over and over in his mind… “take it away…now boy…take it far away and throw it in the ocean….do it now….” He couldn’t understand the old man’s fervor and momentarily wrote it off to the decline of age. John proceeded to get ready for his “date” for the evening. This one was Lisa and John had selected a new restaurant for dinner, each “date” started out the same way with dinner, wine, and conversation and then retiring to a local hotel to consummate their arranged liaison. John Sheffield, the ever efficient planner had checked into the hotel earlier in the day and had pre-paid Lisa the usual fee plus a generous gratuity all in cash to avoid any awkwardness for the evening and to allow the liaison to last until morning. As the mellowness from the wine began its journey John was relieved that any angst from the session with his great grandfather earlier in the afternoon was fading away.
Lisa was a rather pretty lady with long blonde hair and pale blue eyes. She was not too heavy or too thin and wore a black thick fabric pull over dress with a matching fabric hat with a wide brim and black leather boots. Her blonde hair and gold jewelry offset the ensemble very well and made her to look most fashionable; and John appreciated that she politely turned other men’s heads as they passed by on the walk to the hotel.
The room was somewhat spacious as older downtown hotel rooms go with a small sitting area and a nicely appointed king bed at one end. As they entered Lisa excused herself to the bathroom to disrobe and prepare for the evening and John went to the closet area to hang up his clothes. When hanging up his slacks John noticed the Barlow was still in his hip pocket so he took it out and placed it out of sight on the floor just under his side of the bed so as not to unintentionally alarm Lisa. When John got into bed he felt a total calm and a supreme confidence that had not been there before and he thought that Lisa brought out the best in him. When she came out of the bathroom and walked to the bed the reflected light from around the drapes made her appear as the most beautiful creature John had ever experienced!
As Lisa fell into John’s arms a contented sigh, “Ahhhh…uh..uh..ahhhhh…” could be heard as they began a most extraordinary descent into the sphere of passion. As their lovemaking craze built to a crescendo of release time and time again it seemed to John that he got stronger with each moment and all track of time was lost in their unified oblivion. Finally, John collapsed beside her on the bed and fell soundly asleep, an exhausted, velvety sleep.
Something, something was pulling at John’s conscious mind tugging it from the REM sleep to becoming awake. When his eyes opened it was still dark and he saw the red glaring led numbers on the bedside clock…4:30 am. Instantly he began to remember his dream; he was observing events from above on a dimly lit cobblestone street with old gaslight street lamps flickering small pieces of illumination that faded away into the darkness. Then he saw an English Bobbi with the tall round hat and small brim running after another person and blowing loudly on a whistle. The person in front of the policeman was running hard and fast, his arms churning, with a gleaming knife in his hand that looked remarkably like John’s Barlow. As the race continued with John’s mind floating above the unfolding scene he observes the man in black round a corner light post with a street sign that read: “Whitechapel” with the policeman in a slowing pursuit. The man in black cuts quickly down a darkened alley adjacent to a building with the name; “Sheffield Cutlery” painted boldly above the entrance. The dream took only seconds to recall but it seemed to be so very real as some dreams can be, in fact, John felt wet and sticky all over and thought “man, that dream really got me steamed up” as he reached for the bedside lamp.
It took a minute for John’s eyes to adjust to the light and when they did he was frozen with horror! For all about him was blood and human gore, on the bed, walls, floor, and lamp shade, everywhere. The wet and sticky feeling he had was from blood being all over his naked body. John looked frantically to see if he was injured and bleeding but he was not; then he saw Lisa, or what was left of her. Her sensual body was now a ghastly exposed cadaver with a large cut from just under the left armpit all the way down across the lower belly just above the pubis and up the other side to the right armpit. The flap of skin the cut created was pulled up and was laying over her face and breasts. Thoughts began to flood John’s mind “how could this have happened…..what caused….who did this atrocious thing?” It was then John saw the Barlow on the bed beside Lisa’s lifeless corpse open and covered with blood.
In his addled condition John picked up the Barlow and immediately (as if his mind was taken over by another) he began to smile as he recalled everything about last night! The wonderful sex, the extreme satisfaction he received from cutting her body and stifling her screams; her blood still flowing for a moment after the body incisions. The absolute calm and confidence he felt as he laid the Barlow on the dresser and went to the shower was transforming for him. He felt, no, he knew he would not be caught for this act of grotesque inhumanity after all, his great-great uncle Jack was never caught over 123 years ago!
After his shower John came out of the bathroom in a sensational mood. He was totally overtaken now and the Barlow had performed marvelously well; it had closed itself with no blood on it whatsoever, in fact John’s bloody hand and footprints were also gone only the mass of protoplasm that was Lisa remained on the bed. John continued smiling as he dressed to leave, it was still dark outside and he remembered that he could exit the old hotel down the back stairs. He grabbed the Barlow and put it in his hip pocket and as he moved to the door, almost as an afterthought he grabbed Lisa’s floppy brimmed black hat to pull low over his face and faded into the pre-dawn soft blackness of another day.


Fictional Story, Historical Slant, Horror Genre

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author avatar Winsome75
A 60 year old guy with interesting thoughts on my journey.

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author avatar Buzz
15th Nov 2011 (#)

Very intriguing and amazing story, Winsome. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Winsome75
15th Nov 2011 (#)

Thank you Buzz.

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