The icy wind howled against the cottage windows. Outside, the clear sky set the full moon with its sparkling accompaniment. The twins huddled below their covers, teeth chattering as the hot water bottle cooled at their feet.
From the double bed they could see the white hills and trees set like a Christmas card, framed in their Velux attic window. But they just could not rest, they were so excited.
It had been such a wonderful Christmas Day for the Conway’s, despite grandma Parsons not being there. She had sent them presents of videos that she got in town. Grandma didn’t know too much about such things and bought them for the pictures.
“What did you get from grandma,” said their mum preparing the turkey.
“Oh just some video,” the boys replied in unison. They did everything together.
“Fine. You can play it in your room when we have the party tonight.” Mum shouted through.
She would have been a bit surprised at the content of Freddie, The Red Velvet Killer. The boys watched it twice.
The boys cuddled each other tightly as they shivered through their night of vigil. The slightest scratching of a branch on the roof tiles made them jump. Eventually sleep overtook them just before dawn.
A few hours later, a tap, tap, tapping on the roof startled them to full awakened fear. They listened as the staccato noises approached from across the roof till the tap, tap, tap was right over them. Together they shot out of bed and ran downstairs to their mother.
From the safety of their parents bed they watched as the two magpies, which had been pecking at roof moss, flew down onto the bird table outside the bedroom window. They saw that they did everything together.
The Conway Twins became fascinated by magpies and watched them for hours every day. They learned that these birds were related to the crows, but saw that they were lower in the pecking order when the black cousins came to call. The magpies seemed to have intelligence above ordinary birds and controlled their patch well, hoarding and using all sorts of objects and devouring all kinds of small mammals and insects. The twins took all this in and even kept a log of the activity.
Their mum was really pleased that finally they had taken an interest in something rather than wrestling or hunting down small animals.
“What have they been up to today,” said Mr Conway on return from work.
“Its strange, but they have taken to bird watching,” said Mrs Conway.
“What, have they been trying to kill them?”
“No just watching them and writing up a journal.”
“Unbelievable. Good, but for them unbelievable.”
The twin’s journal was now their bible and the boys based all their own actions on it and the video: The Red Velvet Killer. They planned to emulate the instruction of this their own found religion. And, like the film, they needed a sacrifice: a young fair skinned girl. They thought of the village and the boarding school and developed a plan.
For the Conway twins, doing nothing was never an option. They had developed their plan and now it would be enacted down to the finest detail. So on their scout night, they said goodbye to their mum, taking a long hard look at her before turning up the lane and over the stile. There the two magpies watched them on their way. The twins grinned at them and turned away across the fields to the village, carrying a bag.
The sun was setting as the two arrived at the scout hall and registered their presence,
“And who else is with you,” said the scoutmaster.
“Just the two of us,” they replied.
As soon as they could they made themselves scarce, on the wide game.
They hid in the wood and let the others disappear below them. The twins scurried round the outbuildings behind the Red Lion and into the back garden of the girls’ school.
They stopped near the kitchen entrance and watched as the cook tidied away the remains of the evening meal.
The twins opened their bag and took out the red velvet cloth. They unwrapped from it a large crucifix, a silver knife and a bible. They had all the elements they had seen in the Red Velvet Killer.
The Conway’s waited until the cook went out with the rubbish and quickly sneaked through the kitchen to the back stairwell. It was a lot later now and the light had gone, but there equipment list included a pencil torch. They proceeded stealthily along the top corridor and into a bedroom where they hid in the tall wardrobe by the window. They huddled together in the darkness.
After about half an hour they heard the sound of laughter as the schoolgirls returned to the corridor and their dorms for the night. They heard the bedroom door open, the lock turn and the light switch being activated. A young female voice trilled a pop song as it moved across the room. The light switch was deactivated and all went silent.
The Conway’s waited another full half hour before venturing out of the wardrobe. As planned, the boys went either side of the bed, one with the cross and one with the silver knife. Nodding to each other they raised the objects as high as they could above them and crashed them down on the sleeping schoolgirl. The cross hit her beautiful head at the same time as the knife sunk between her ribs and into her heart. There was no sound from the girl who died instantly. The boys smiled at each other, it was just as in the video.
The boys looked to the window and nodded to each other. The turned back to the girl and placed the red velvet cloth across her face, the cross at her feet and the knife in her hand.
At the window they opened it to find the drains from the sinks forming a route below them. They scampered down the pipe after closing the window again.
They went to an outhouse and cleaned themselves up and quietly gave into their elation that their plan had worked; what could be better. The boys then sneaked back into the yard, jumped the wall and ran fast along the open road
“Beth, our terrible two’s bikes are still out. What’s going on?” said Mr Conway entering the cottage after garaging the car.
“Oh, they’re still at the scouts,’ said Mrs Conway.
“At this hour, it’s gone ten.”
“It’s the monthly wide game night. They should be back soon.”
Mr Conway went back outside and put the bikes away in the garage. He was shutting the door as the boys arrived together.
“What have you two been up to,” he asked as they caught up with them.
The boys looked at each other and replied in unison.
“We were at the wide game and managed to complete our mission.”
Mr Conway smiled at them both, pride oozing out all over his face. He took one under each arm and shepherded them into the house.
“Look Beth the wanderers have returned and they say they have had a success.”
Mrs Conway was busy knitting.
“That’s nice boys. Now go and get ready for bed, it’s late.”
The Conway Twins looked at each other shrugged their shoulders and did as they were bid
The morning came as most others did. The boys were startled by the peck, peck, pecking of the magpies on the roof above them. They no longer ran to their mum though, as they knew the source and laughed to each other.
“Can you actually believe it? The plan worked.”
They showered, dressed and ran down together for breakfast.
As usual, mum fussed about them, finally dispatching them up the lane to school. The magpies saw them as they went and quickly flew away.
Late morning came and the postman arrived at the Conway’s door and parked his bike. Mr’s Conway answered the doorbell and signed for the package. It was addressed to the boys.
She was disappointed, hoping that it was her Readers Digest Beginners Guide to Mushroom Hunting.
“You won’t have heard the news,” said the postman.
“There was a girl found dead in the boarding school. Very mysterious it is. They found her in her room with a velvet cover on her and a large cross and knife at her side. And the door was locked, from the inside.”
“Well, that’s terrible. What’s happening?”
“The local police are there, but they’ve called in the murder squad. Frightening it is.”
“Yes. Yes. It is. You take care on your rounds.”
“Thanks Mrs Conway. I won’t be stopping for no strangers today.”
She closed the door, taking the package into the kitchen and laying it on the table.
Terrible, just terrible, what’s happening in the world
She went and sat in the lounge and looked out at the birds in the garden. The two magpies suddenly arrived and the others scattered.
Velvet cloth, large cross, silver knife
Mrs Conway’s heart missed a beat. She felt sick. Rushing through to the dining room she didn’t feel the bump to her hip as she banged into the table. She knelt down in front of the display case and saw what she was scarred to see. The Celtic cross, a present from her mother-in-law wasn’t there. Neither was the silver knife, part of a wedding present from her sister. The shelf was completely bare, its usual covering of red velvet was also missing.
Oh my god we’ve been burgled. And they’ve used our things for a murder
She rested in disbelief and then roused herself.
I have to phone the police
She got up and limped into the kitchen, where the wall phone was mounted next to the back door. Passing the table she noticed the package and for some unknown reason she stopped and picked it up.
Mrs Conway opened the package. In it was a letter from grandma and a video like the one the boys received for Christmas.
The note read,
For your holidays, I hope you enjoy it as much as the first one.
Mrs Conway unwrapped the video from its cover to reveal the title, Red Velvet Killer II – Back to School.
In school, the twins sat together near a window overlooking the playground and the main entrance gate. The teacher often had trouble keeping their attention and today was no exception. It was nearly lunchtime and history books were to be read.
“Conway I want you to read from the top of the page,” said the teacher.
They both stood up holding one book between them.
“No just you nearest me.”
The boy beside the window sat down again and stared out of it as his twin read aloud.
“In 1314 the English army, led by William II was defeated by the Scottish at Bannockburn. The key point in the battle was when Scottish reinforcements appeared to arrive on a nearby hill. This force may have been Templar…”
From the window the sitting boy suddenly saw cars arrive at the gates and policemen get out and briskly walk to the main door. He tugged at the blazer of his twin. They both looked out the window and then at each other.
“Continue, continue…” said the teacher.
The boys left him open mouthed as they fled the classroom and down the corridor as the bell rang for lunch. They were quickly engulfed in the throng, but dived into the maintenance stairwell and down and out of the rear emergency exit. They ran for all they were worth.
The got to the woods and rested, getting their breath back.
They couldn’t go home, so set of for the only other place they knew.
Huddled together in the bedroom they heard them approach up the concrete path. Their heavy steps stopped before the porch and there was a rustling sound away from the house. After a moment the door bell rang and we held our breath.
The twins heard Mrs Parsons rouse from her downstairs chair and slowly make her way to the front door.
“Keep your hair on,” she said as she hobbled down the hall.
They heard the door open and Inspector Mackie speak. His familiar voice sent a shiver up their spines.
“I’m looking for the Conway twins. Have you seen them?”
“I can hardly see you,” said Mrs Parsons.
“Are they in the house?”
“No. I’m on my own.”
“Fine. Remember and tell us if they come back.”
Nothing more was said, as they heard the door shut and footsteps fading down the path. The twins crawled to the upstairs landing and went down the stairs two at a time. They met Mrs Parsons at the bottom.
“Did I do all right,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said. “You did okay. We better be off.”
The door bell rang again.
The twins dived for cover in the hall cupboard after reminding Mrs Parsons of her role. She opened the door again to the Inspector.
“I forgot to mention. They killed the girl. Did they tell you?”
“Yes,” old Mrs Parsons blurted out unconsciously.
The Conway twins came out of the cupboard like a shot out of a gun and made for the door to the back garden. As they flew across the grass we heard the crack of gunfire, felt the pain as they fell, before smelling the fresh wet grass as they lay.
They did everything together.