The antique bowl lay at Mother Tuttle’s feet, broken in several large pieces with a blanketing of smaller ones. She looked up into the barrel of the gun, pulling her sweater close around her withered body.
“I told you not to move.” The voice was muffled by the mask the intruder wore. Mother Tuttle finished buttoning her sweater before looking at the man again.
“You’ve broken my priceless dish that I serve my pot luck suppers in.” Before the last word was out of her mouth, the man pushed Mother Tuttle backwards into a rickety chair. He danced the end of the gun barrel under her nose.
“You weren’t supposed to be here, you wrinkled old bitch. I’ve been watching you, and Thursday nights you always go out.”
“I am with friends seven out of eight Thursdays. The eighth, such as tonight, I am home. Apparently your methods of deduction are flawed.”
“You got a smart mouth.”
“There are eight members in the supper club. Each Thursday we meet at a different member’s home. Every eighth one is my turn. Voila.”
Mother Tuttle could tell the man was exasperated with her. The gun was wavering farther away from her face, his eyes showing anger and annoyance.
“Sit quietly, bitch. You’d better have something valuable in this mothball cave,” the man growled, before running upstairs. Mother Tuttle listened as he went from room to room. Her home was filled with treasured antiques, but this thief didn’t seem intelligent enough to see past the cash and modern appliances. She decided to wait until he came downstairs again to take care of him. The kitchen would be best, easier to clean up the mess. A crash broke Mother’s thoughts. She looked toward the ceiling and could tell the man was in her sewing room.
“What is all this shit?” the intruder yelled. “Old bottles. Vases, plates and bowls. Where’s the money, you dinosaur?”
Another antique hit the floor, shattering. Mother Tuttle was furious. She walked to a curio cabinet in the corner of the kitchen, undoing the catch to pull the door open. Inside on the top shelf lay a sword.
Mother Tuttle slid the blade out of the cabinet, holding it in front of her. The sword was over 400 years old. A German design, the blade itself was two and a half feet long but the whole thing weighed less than three pounds. Mother Tuttle’s hands were small so she could squeeze both of them around the grip. The cross guard swept up and away from her like cattle horns with an additional curve of steel coming back towards her, outlining her hands. It had been quite a while since the blade had tasted blood.
Looking toward the upstairs she opened her mouth to let out a blood-freezing scream. There was a moment’s silence and then the intruder raced down the stairs. Mother Tuttle pressed herself flat against the wall around the corner.
“What the hell is going on down here?” the man shouted as he rounded the corner.
Mother Tuttle held the sword at her side but kept both hands tightly wrapped around it. When the man appeared she faced him and shrieked. The intruder stopped, startled. Mother Tuttle brought the sword up aiming the blade at his neck. She was slowing down as she got older though. He saw the attack coming, taking a step back. Instead of the blade catching him in the side of the neck it sliced across the front at the base.
The gun fell from his hand as he clutched at his throat. Blood streamed out between his fingers. Then he saw the sword coming again. The man backed up, his eyes wide with surprise. Mother Tuttle stopped her backhand swing in mid-air, changing to a thrust and plunged the sword into the man’s stomach. He fell to the floor, hitting it face first, gasping for breath.
“Look at this mess,” Mother Tuttle said, standing over the intruder’s body, watching the blood seep out around him. The girls from the supper club would arrive in a few hours and now she had this to clean up with the meal still unfinished. The intruder moaned.
“Oh, shut up,” Mother Tuttle sneered. She lifted the sword high overhead and brought it down on the back of his neck.
The ladies of the supper club were all seated around the table chattering busily and enjoying a fresh green salad. It was just past midnight, and the main course was a few minutes late. No one minded, though, as they caught up on gossip and discussed plans for next week.
Finally the swinging door between the kitchen and dining room opened, revealing Mother Tuttle as she carried her famous pot luck dish to the table. The bowl was covered with an odd mask
“I’m afraid I had a little accident earlier and broke my antique bowl.”
The other women mumbled an empathetic reaction. Mother Tuttle held up her hand to signal that she was all right.
“I’m going to miss that dish, but I’ve found another, and, in time, I think you may like this one better.” She pulled the mask off to reveal the intruder’s face. His eyes were wide open, topped by bushy eyebrows. He had a crooked, pushed-in nose and a large mouth, the lips fat and dry. Flakes of dead skin and scabs dotted his cheeks under a thick, unkempt beard.
“Oh, I like it,” one of the women squealed with delight.
“Yes,” another said, her hands clasped together admiringly. “This one is much uglier than the other one. Ooh, it’s disgusting.”
The women gave Mother Tuttle an appreciative round of applause, but Mother was embarrassed.
“Stop it, all of you. It’s time to eat.” She grabbed a handful of hair and removed the top of the intruder’s skull. Steam billowed out with the smell of beef, potatoes, and vegetables. Mother Tuttle was handed a plate and dished out the first helping of her famous pot luck supper.
Bio: Christopher Hivner writes from a small town in Pennsylvania surrounded by books and the echoes of music. He is neither famous nor infamous. He has recently been published in The Siren’s Call, Schlock Magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected and Dark Moon Digest. A collection of short horror stories, “The Spaces Between Your Screams” was published in 2008. www.chrishivner.com