‘Moonlight’ – sketch by an unknown 🙂 artist from the Christmas 1751 edition of the Hounslow ‘Hue and Cry’ News-sheet.

Unplaced entry published in ZeroFlash competition on 04/12/2018.  The rules required a story in no more than 300 words. “Zero Flash is designed to publish works from some of the most creative people around; to praise and support and give a forum for discussion.”


Hanging around Hounslow Heath  

Christmas Eve morning, 1751. Hounslow Heath, London. Fine with crisp snow-covering.

Squire Syntax is being interviewed by Allan (aka Al) Literation, journalist for the ‘Hounslow Hue and Cry’ news-sheet. Making notes for his article, Al has the habit of repeating them out loud as if they are headlines. They stand looking up at a bloodstained sack hanging from the gallows at the Heath cross-roads.

SS:       I was on the 10 p.m. mail-coach to Bristol. Around midnight we reached here despite the snow. We’d just changed horses so the coach was going full gallop to make up time. The Highwayman rode out in front of us.

AL:      Christmas Coach Makes up Miles with Midnight Mail.

SS:       We assume that he shouted ‘Stand and Deliver’ but no-one could hear him for the noise of our transport.

AL:      Masked Man’s Message Missed.

SS:       We were going so fast that his horse took fright, reared up and threw him into the road. As he stood up our horses ran into him.  Then his body was sliced into bits under our wheels. His horse ran off.

AL:      Horses Hammer Highwayman. Mail-coach Mangles Marauder. Horse Hurries Heathwards.

SS:       Thus, his attempted robbery was unsuccessful.

AL:      Foul Fiend Foiled in Felony.

SS:       But he didn’t escape justice.  We put his bits in that sack and suspended them from the gibbet anyway, as a warning to others.  Hung, drawn and quartered; a bit like the old days. Our driver will get a reward for his actions.

AL:      Hit, Hacked and Hung in Hessian.  Coachman Collects Commendation.

SS:       If that’s all, shall we repair to the Inn for some mulled wine and mince pies?

AL:      Hungry Hack Heads for Hostelry. Beverages Beckon old Boy.

SS:       Do you always speak in headlines?

AL:      No, Not Normally.      (Laughs Long and Loudly)


©David Lewis Pogson 2018