#FridayFlash: Leeds Darts Champion of 1977

Leeds Darts Champion of 1977

by Tony Noland

There was a ton of old junk to clean out, but there always was. The hard young man snorted. Old people, they never threw anything away.

This attic was just like all the others, stuffed full of junk. The old toys, old clothes, old furniture ... why save all this stuff? Maybe if there had been children or grandchildren, to give it to, but if not, why save it? Besides, he never took houses from people who had heirs. His targets were exclusively the old and alone, had been his specialization for years. When grown kids were involved, they always screwed up the deal, wanted reasonable amounts for the properties. He wasn't interested in paying that much.

His flashlight lit up stacks of old newspapers, empty cardboard boxes, empty canning jars. The dust was thick over it all. He wondered how many years it had been since the old guy had opened up the attic stairs and been up here. The bright light scanned over the shelves and stacks. It was sometimes surprising what some worthless-looking crap went for on eBay - pens, pins, dolls, collectibles like that. It had to be in good shape to be worth anything though, and this was all pretty worn. He didn't see that anything had been packaged or covered.

The old guy had said in his funny accent that he wanted good proceeds from the sale of the house, to be sure his wife's nursing home bills were paid. The young man smiled at his own industry and cleverness, at how he'd moved within 14 hours after the old man died. His maneuvers to have the place foreclosed in a probate action meant he'd been able to buy the house for a dollar at a closed property transfer auction. Too bad for the estate.

Old people were so gullible, really, especially when they were distracted with senile spouses. He chuckled and said out loud, "I'm gonna make a lot of money when I clean this place up and flip it."

He heard a low sound from the far end of the dim and dusty attic. Like a hum... or a moan. He flashed his light to that end, but couldn't make out what it was. Something glinted back at him. Something big. Gold?

As he played the light back and forth, the glinting shifted, but the sound was unchanged. A piece of equipment of some kind? An attic fan or dehumidifier?

An animal?

"Hello?" he said, and then felt foolish. Even if it were a raccoon or something, talking to it was stupid.

He stepped around more piles of old stuff, to get a closer look at the glinting mass, piled high back in the dimness. As he came closer, the humming moan grew in volume, but didn't vary in pitch. What the hell? The gleaming light was reflecting back at him from a huge stack of... trophies. He brushed the dust off some to read the labels on the corroded and spotted brass.

"Junior Darts Championship, 3rd place 1962"
"Junior Darts Championship, 1st place 1965"
"Leeds Darts League Championship, 2nd Division, 3rd place 1971"

What the hell? The man played his light over the trophies. Small ones were tucked behind and beside big ones. He could see ribbons and plaques stacked on the shelves as well. On almost all of them were darts, or figures of little brass men throwing darts.

"Leeds Darts Champion of 1974"
"Leeds Darts Champion of 1975"
"Leeds Darts Champion of 1976"
"West Yorkshire Darts Champion of 1978"

The biggest of them all had pride of place, if you could call it that, on the top shelf. Atop a heavy, cream-colored marble base, a brass cylinder was capped with a single golden dart, mounted on its fins.

"All-United Kingdom Darts Champion of 1982"

He picked up a dry, crumbling newspaper from the middle shelf, the Yorkshire Evening Post, dated October 14, 1984. It was page 3 of the sports section; the headline of a half-page article read, "Darts champion to move to America; plans to establish professional darts league". The man lowered the paper and looked at all the commemorations and awards, covered in grime and cobwebs.

The man laughed at the absurdity of this pile of crap. "Darts? DARTS? What kind of a moron is a champion at a stupid game for drunks in a bar?"

The humming moan spiked louder, grew angry; the man's throat closed in fear as he finally recognized the sound.

His hand moved upwards, and there, on the wall of the attic, five feet beyond the shelf of trophies was a wasp's nest, bright in the glare of his flashlight. Larger across than the lid of a trash can, the surface of it was alive with crawling, flicking black and yellow wasps, each almost as big as his thumb. Dozens, hundreds, a thousand of them pulsing, crawling out of holes, massing on the surface of the nest. Their droning buzz filled the attic.

He lowered the light and started to back away, towards the trapdoor and the attic stairs. He bumped a pile behind him and a ski pole fell forward, striking the big trophy squarely. The golden dart snapped off and flew in an impossibly smooth arc, to bullseye into the center of the nest.

The wasps boiled into the air, flying toward the light.

The man turned and stumbled across the attic, batting at the swarm of angry wasps as they stung his hands, neck, arms, every bit of exposed skin. He screamed as he came close to the trapdoor. Three feet from it, he tripped on something and fell headfirst down the stairs to land heavily on the hallway floor below. From his back came a sound like a handful of dry sticks being bent, hard.

He felt one incandescent burst of pain, and then he felt nothing at all below the middle of his chest. His breathing went wild, as though his lungs had forgotten how to work. His arms and legs were useless as he lay at the foot of the stairs staring up into the attic.

The dense cloud of swarming wasps pulsed and writhed above him in the open trapdoor. He tried to scream as they formed themselves into the shape of a hand, a man's hand holding a large dart

A dart drawn back for a throw downwards.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. I do like a good retribution tale, and I'm not surprised a fellow from Yorkshire would get his revenge from beyond the grave! Thoroughly awesome flash, sir!

  2. LOVE this one, Tony! I really wanted something to happen to him, and darts and wasps are the best revenge EVER.

    Great story, sir.

  3. Thank you, ladies!

    Hideously painful things that go "stabbity-stab-stab" have been on my mind of late, for some reason. Darts, warp stingers, etc.


  4. Excellent Tony. I wanted him to suffer and he did..:)

  5. That guy certainly deserved all that. Glad the wasps could help in beyond the grave revenge. Good story!

  6. Great tale of revenge. We've had a peck of hornets lately, all the heat and no rain, so they're vicious. Hope you didn't get stung while on vacay. Peace...

  7. Creative ghostly retribution! You built a lot of suspense just walking back to the trophies.

  8. pay back is a bitch, great story, seems to have some basis in fact, I read of these huge hives found in the attics of old homes. well done Tony..

  9. Well he got what was coming to him. Lovely tale of revenge from beyond.

  10. There is justice in the world. Such a great context with the darts. Seemingly simplistic yet very tricky. Great idea.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  11. Very Serling-ian... The creep got what he had coming, Tony. Well done...

  12. Bull's Eye!

    It is a human tragedy in the West that people work all their lives and then when on the rubbish heap of old age, they have to liquidate their savings just to pay for old age care.

    Nice story with veritable sting in the tale!

    marc nash

  13. Yes. Good characterisation. I hated him within a few lines. Wasps forming one giant sting - priceless.

  14. HA. That was awesome. Wasps making dart hand thingie.

  15. Loved this. Great little piece of vengeance, and maybe its a little thing but I love that there were no names. Just an old man, his spouse, and a young man.


  16. Perfect ending image, very Stephen King-ish. Even though I despised the character, my back ached in empathy when his bones cracked.

  17. He was a nasty piece of work but what a horrible way to finish up.

    Could easily have a nightmare about the wasps. Thank you kindly.

  18. Oh brilliant - makes me think of a Twilight Zone story, perfect ending for a perfect rogue.

    "From his back came a sound like a handful of dry sticks being bent, hard." A nightmarish ending, as that - but well-deserved.

    Great story.

  19. He got what he deserved. Funny and a little scary at the same time. I wasn't sure where this was going, I was just hoping he wouldn't hurt the old man in any way. A great story Tony.

  20. I knew it wasn't going to end well for him. I just didn't know how. Very, very inventive, Sir.

    Well done.

  21. I'm glad the greedy bastard got his comeuppances. The wasps were a nice touch. Great tale!

  22. "The wasps boiled" is such a fine word choice. Liked the whole thing, but that's where it took off for me. ...Pun unintended, though embraced.

  23. Oh, crap, Tony, this one might just leave me with nightmares. My dad's horribly allergic to bees, and although I'm not, he gave me his fear of them. Otherwise, it was a good story. Glad the old guy got his revenge, and the imagery of the gold dart trophies and then the color of the wasps was great!


  24. Wasps and other stinging insects are a big bugaboo for me. I got the creepy-crawlies writing thing thing.

    Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. Cecilia, I hope you sleep well tonight.


  25. Ah, a stinger of a tale. I've been stung by wasps, scary stuff. Darts is a serious game.

  26. So good I read it twice, and kudos for Leeds!

  27. Excellent. Always good to see someone get his just desserts. Great buildup and a perfect finish.

  28. Excellent build in tension. I was wondering if the sound was the man's decayed body or his ghost. It was a good surprise to know it was wasp nest.

    Last week I went through a tough allergic reaction to something (don't ask, I don't know). My throat closed, as well as my nose O_o. I'm here because someone took me to the doctor in time, so I sort of know what your jerk MC went through. He certainly deserved it, heh.

  29. I was trying to get the pacing right for a creepy buildup, so I'm gratified that it worked for you all.

    That's one of the things that can kill a horror story, is pacing that's off. Too slow and the tension bleeds away; too fast and you are startled, but not necessarily scared.

  30. I've said it before and I'll say it again. You can't exscape Karma. Great story!


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