300-word story: Every rose has its thorn.
Locked in a cell with only a cloud of despair for company, Gregory Garland is trying to figure out how he ended up in such a ghastly situation. He knows what he is accused of but doesn't understand why, as the despicable crimes are impossible for him to imagine, let alone carry out.
Garland has always been helpful and, as the only florist in the village, everyone would come to him when an occasion arose. From jolly birthday bouquets and elegant bridal arrangements, to tasteful wreaths for commemorating the passing of a loved one, his creativity and passion were widely admired. But now he's imprisoned like a savage beast and denied visitation rights, with one particularly vicious guard regularly reminding him that his wife refuses to come even if given the option.
The mysterious cause of Garland's fate is a separate identity that dwells within his subconscious. For many months it intermittently assumed control and unleashed a murderous rampage, taking advantage of its gentle exterior to win the trust of residents and gain entry to their homes. In some instances this wicked persona would ask in the old man's voice if it could use their telephone; other times it feigned exhaustion and politely requested a glass of water. Once the unsuspecting prey’s back was turned, a blade moved swiftly and precisely from behind, halting their breath before a cry could escape.
Poor old Gregory Garland remains oblivious to the evil that lurks within his mind and hopes that this is all just a big misunderstanding. Meanwhile, the roses within his shop have withered, their deep red petals scattered across the floor. Soon enough he will follow their lead, as without an audience his other self is left with only one potential victim, and its thirst for blood knows no bounds.
Copyright © 2021 Rich Sutherland
Image: Markus Spiske