As The Footsteps Came Closer – Short Story
They had a perfect life. They had married just three months ago and moved into a big new house with a huge garden quite far away from London but near enough for him to go to his office in the Bank of England and be back
home at seven o’clock every day. She was, in turn, a beautiful, rich and elegant young lady who loved his husband but unfortunately could not take personal care of their garden.
As they entered the new house, they decided to look for an expert gardener. Nowadays, it is not easy to find a responsible gardener who does more than simply using the landmower and watering the plants. Some days thereafter, just in time to stop the grass from becoming a wild prairie, Lady Thornton recommended “the perfect landscape gardener”.
The gardener, who was in his forties, introduced himself to the couple in a sunny morning of June. Well dressed and cleaner than the Holy Grial, he appeared to be an educated and polite person. Everything perfect but, perhaps, his eyes. Piercing eyes of a deep and uneasy greenish colour.
Only had four days passed when the family house’s garden looked as a small replic of the Garden of Eden. The gardener used to start his works very early in the morning and at dusk he walked out the garden iron-barred doors and disappeared until the following day. After a pair of weeks, the usually silent gardener surprisingly told the young lady that the bushes, the gardenias and the oaks would require a higher extra dose of animal protein to grow up stronger. That was indeed a strange comment, even for that well-informed woman. Trying not to show up how startled she was, the housewife answered that she wouldn’t be able to help him but that he was absolutely free to manage in order to provide the plants with the doses of protein, regardless its cost.
That night the happy married couple went to bed with the feeling that something was wrong or misplaced at home. A soft, rotten smell came up from somewhere outside. At midnight, they suddenly woke up at the same time: somebody was in their house. The husband, much more used to cope with bankers than with intruders, tried to call the police when he discovered that the line had been cut off.
Grasping a golf club, the young couple went slowly downstairs. In the kitchen, the gardener’s green eyes were staring them. Dazed by that snake-like look, they dropped the golf club and started to step back while they heard the elegant gardener’s voice saying “Human proteins are the best for gardenias”. Now totally terrified, the fancy couple run down to the cellar, in a last attempt to escape from an unconceivable brand new horror: to be part of the dietary plan of their own flowers and trees. They tried to lock the cellar’s door and walked blindly holding their breath to its farthest corner. They stood together in the dark and waited, as the footsteps came closer…