It’s dusk. Oswald Sander is happy as he watches the van disappear down the cinder track beside Great Wood. The refugee camp superintendent, or commandant, as he styles himself, is counting a bundle of bank notes from his recent black market transaction. He can’t believe how easy it is to amass considerable amounts of cash from selling the food meant for the refugees he’s employed to protect. He loves his power and basks in the refugees’ fear; falling out with Sander is to go hungry. He laughs at his ability to pay women for sex with money they cannot spend. He sees himself as ‘the lord of all he surveys’, he’d be horrified if he knew the phrase had originated in India.
He places the money in his shoulder bag, turns and, dragging the now lighter, flatbed trolley behind him, begins the long walk back to the once grand Marsham Hall where the refugees are kept. The path, easily seen, even in the dark, is broad and well trodden, through an enormous patch of ransoms. The air is heavy with the pungent smell of garlic. This reminder of the refugees’ cooking offends Sander.
He looks ahead and sees a tall boy, standing some way off, at the centre of the path. Though it’s hard for Sander to see much detail in the darkness, he sees something hanging over the boy’s shoulder.
Who the hell are you? Sander demands.
The boy laughs. I recognise you, Boss. Okay?
No, it’s not okay. How long have you been watching me?
Long time. I guessed you been stealing our food and flogging it. Now have proof.
Sander opens his shoulder bag and takes out the bundle of bank notes. Want some of this? he asks.
To make me blind, Boss?
Yeah, why not?
What’s your name?
That’s a strange name.
Din goes nearer to Sander. I tell you meaning. Din’s the terrifying roar of a thousand pit-bull terriers you hearing inside your head before being ripped to shreds. I’m that Din. The screaming white noise of fear. That Din. The noise of banshee hell? Yes. That Din.
What’s that over your shoulder?
Din takes a crossbow from his shoulder and holds it up for Sander to see.
That’s a crossbow.
Yes. From hall’s old armoury.
What do you want, Din?
Good question. Okay, Boss. Here it is. You been paying my sister for you fucking her. She tricked, thinking she buy food that was already hers, Boss.
Din’s hands move so quickly that Sander barely has time to register what’s happening – what’s already happened. The pain in his chest is extraordinary. His high-pitched keening scream seems endless.
Hear the din now, Boss?
On his knees Sander watches the stub of the crossbow bolt, buried just above his breastbone, juddering in time with his convulsions. Blood pumps from the wound. He gasps for air. Din, using his foot, pushes the dying Sander backwards into the ransoms.
Great smell, Boss.
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© Phil Cosker 2022
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.