Cold Birthday

“So very glad you could join us,” said Bobby, calmly sitting in a black office chair that had clearly been dragged through the mud. Dirt stains and scratches scuffed its plus leather exterior. “So very glad indeed”, he added before launching into a cheap dime-store laugh as he stroked a rabbit, The Incredible Mr Squiggles. Had he been old enough to grow a pencil thin moustache, he would have twirled it.

“Bobby, what’s going on?” asked Susie.

Bobby ignored the question. “Revenge is a dish that is best served old.”

“Revenge,” corrected Susie, “is best served cold.”

“What are we doing here?” asked William. He, like Susie any many of the other children, were also twelve. All of them had been lured to a deserted building on the north side of town: Old Miller’s Farm. Farm was a strong word, shack might have been closer, or — if Susie had had her Word of the Day calendar handy — she might have called it a hovel.

Bobby leaned back on his chair, adding a slow creaking sound to the confused atmosphere.

“Each of you have secrets,” Bobby started.

“I don’t have any secrets,” interrupted Susie.

“And rabbits. Secrets and rabbits,” continued Bobby with a stern look. “I’ve called you all here today to give you an opportunity to apologise… to say sorry for the outrageous  injustice that you’ve committed against my persons,” Bobby continued. He was particularly proud of that line.

“I’ve had enough of this,” said William, as he made his way for the door.

“For example,” commanded Bobby, “Some of you still sleep with Teddy Bears. How unfortunate it would be if that were to become public. How unfortunate indeed.”

“But I suppose I could stay,” said William. “For the moment,” he added after a pause.

“What are we supposed to have done, Bobby?” asked Susie, adding a sign for theatrical reasons.

“It is now a week after my birthday, July Fourteenth, and each of you have forgotten. None of you wished me happy birthday. No surprise party. No presents given. I have used this time wisely, collecting information on each of you. Each of you will suffer just as I have suffered.” Bobby stopped stroking The Incredible Mr Squiggles, and instead twirled the thin blond hairs of his proto-moustache.

“Today is June Fourteenth,” sighed Susie. “Not July, but June.”

Bobby exclaimed, “Ha! Joking! Social experiment! Guys? Guys? Where are you going? We’re still on for next month, right?”


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