A Menacing Conversation

(The estimated reading time for this is 4 minutes)

The following is not an excerpt, but an original conversation based off the premise for Gary Fry’s latest novella Menace, which is now available as a Kindle eBook as well as limited edition hardcover.


“Hi there, Jane. How are things?”

“Oh, er…fine. Yes, everything’s fine.”

“You sure? You sounded a bit hesitant there.”

“No, it’s not that. I’m just…preparing to go out. Off to the West End with some girlfriends. You caught me in the bathroom.”

“…Okay, well, I won’t keep you on the phone long. I just wanted to get in touch and tell you that I’ve secured you some more modelling work.”

“Hey, that’s great, Jack. Thanks very much.”

“That’s what I’m here for, dear. Some agent I’d be without pulling in projects for you, eh?”

“Yes, I know all that. But it’s also much appreciated.”

“Ha, you might not say that when I tell you what’s involved.”

“Oh yeah? Tell me more.”

“Okay, this guy called me yesterday – the publisher of some well-known writer, I forget his name. Anyway, this fella tells me that he’s planning to publish a memoir about this writer’s – and I swear, these are the very words he used – about his unusual youth.”

“That sounds…ominous.”

“I’m sure it’s all very innocent. Well, I mean, I hope it is. After all, Jane…”

“Yes, Jack?”

“Now, you promise you won’t scream.”

“Scream? Me? I watch horror movies alone in my London flat. N-…nothing scare me.”

“Okay. Well, then, here goes. Look, the thing is, apparently this writer chap – the one whose name I’ve forgotten – asked for you by name.

“By…name? But…how has he heard about me? I mean, I know I’ve done a lot of catalogue shoots. And there was that national advertisement for supermarket clothing. But I’m hardly Kate Moss, am I?”

“Maybe it’s your, ahem, your friendship with…what’s-his-name? You know, the TV actor dude.”

“We’re…we’re no longer together, Jack.”

“Hey, are you okay, Jane? You sound a bit…upset about that.”

“I’m fine. And I don’t want to talk about it. So stop playing Uncle.”

“Sorry. It’s true that I do sometimes feel responsible for you – you know, since your parents died.”

“…Thanks. It’s appreciated, really it is. But please, let’s move on. Tell me more about the deal.”

“That’s pretty much all I know. But it doesn’t sound particularly difficult. They just want a beautiful young woman to go on the front cover of this so-called memoir. Good money, too. And all expenses paid. But…oh yeah, here’s the catch.”

“I knew it sounded too good to be true. Go on, let’s hear it.”

“Don’t worry. It’s nothing too out-there. It’s just the location of the shoot.”

“Oh yeah? And tell me where that might be. Coldest Russia? Hottest Africa? The most deserted part of Australia?”

“Not quite that bad, but near enough.”

“Go on, then. Spill it.”

“It’s in North Yorkshire, Jane. Some spooky old house on the coast.”

“Hmm. Interesting. That’s a helluva drive. But if they’re paying for petrol, I’m game. But…I wonder why they couldn’t get a model based up north. It hardly makes sense employing somebody from the south, who has to travel so far at their expense.”

“Maybe you have the right look, darling.”

“And what does that mean?”

“Oh, you know, the tall slenderness without being anorexic…the angular cheekbones… Basically, the stuff that first attracted me to you.”

“Hey, down, tiger.”

“Ha. I meant, professionally. If my wife ever suspected anything else, she’d neuter me.”

“Hee, hee. But it does seem…strange, though.”

“That’s what I thought, but who are we to quibble on detail. They’re paying, we’re selling.”

“Sure thing. But tell me, what is this book about?”

“I have absolutely no idea, my dear. I guess there’s only one way to find out.”

“Well, I think you’re damned right about that, old man. Okay, I’ll take the job.”

“Good news. I’ll set wheels in motion.”

“You’d better. I need all the income I can get now.”

“…What do you mean?”

“Oh, er, nothing. It’s not important. Look, please get in touch with the client and ask him to let me know what he wants me to do.”

“No sooner said than done. Give me a day or two.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“Cool. Oh, and Jane?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t have nightmares in the meantime, will you?”

“Very funny. I mean, as if, Jack. As if.”

© 2014 – 2016, DarkFuse & individual contributors. All rights reserved.

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Gary Fry lives in Dracula’s Whitby, literally around the corner from where Bram Stoker was staying when he was thinking about that character. Gary has a PhD is psychology, but his first love is literature. He is the author of many short story collections, several novellas, including DarkFuse titles. He was the first author in PS Publishing’s Showcase series, and none other than Ramsey Campbell has described him as “a master.”

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