Knock Knock

I heard someone knock loudly, and then there was a scream.

A body was found. Could be illness, old age... but it wasn’t - because the next day two bodies were found.

Knock knock, who’s there? The joke is far from over...

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2. Jack Hunter

I always knew we were poor. When I was a child I remember being constantly hungry -  I would look in the cracked mirror in the back room of our house and see a thin, raggedy child staring out at me. But I never knew how badly the lack of money has crippled our town until the day I saw my brother fight a man twice his size for a loaf of bread. He didn't win, and that night he was taken away by the Sheriff of La Roche. We never saw him again. I didn't grieve at the time - I was young, and I hardly ever saw him, because he was forced to work for hours on end to earn enough money to feed our family. His name was Christopher. He had been punished for trying to interfere with the cruelty of our leader, a man named Jack Hunter. A simple name, common, forgettable. But not to the people of La Roche. His name was whispered anxiously among us for as long as I could remember. Be careful, or Jack Hunter will find out. Make sure you pay the taxes on time, or Jack Hunter will come.

The name 'Jack Hunter' sounded like the villain in a fiction. But his terror was no tale. It was real. And we were all about to find out just how severe he could be.

 

Wednesday was tax collection day. I always knew when it was Wednesday, because I would wake with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. My mother, father, brothers and I all had to work long hours to earn a few coins, and most of those precious pieces of metal would be taken from us every Wednesday. If you didn't have enough, you would be taken away. To where, no-one knows - because no-one ever comes back.

We all stood in the green space of La Roche, waiting for Jack Hunter and his men to arrive. I remember feeling the anxiety in the air as everyone shuffled uncertainly, checking the coins in their hands, counting their money carefully. But that morning something was different. The air was still grey from the storm the night before, and the clouds in the sky were menacing, mirroring Jack Hunter's mood as he dismounted from his horse and stood before us.

"People of La Roche," he said, his green eyes flickering across the frightened faces of the villagers. " There is not enough work being done." This statement triggered gasps from his audience. What did he mean? Our fingers were raw, our backs aching, and yet he still was not satisfied?

"And so, the tax in this village will be doubled. Starting today."

That was the final straw. Many protested angrily, but Jack merely smirked and instructed his men to start collecting money.

I looked at my family. My mother was pale, her hands blistered, her eyes tired. She had the fight taken out of her, as had my brothers. But not my father; he wouldn't stand for this. 

At least his last act was an act of bravery.

He refused to hand over the money. Jack simply laughed and walked to the next family. But as we went back into our house I could feel his cold green eyes watching us.

That night I was woken by a loud knock at the door. I heard my father get up to answer it, and so I went back to sleep. The following morning I was also woken by a knock. It was the Sheriff of La Roche. They had found a body.

 

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