No Other Options. Short Story.

Fran looked at herself in the mirror, she felt a brief twist of nausea in her stomach, but it faded quickly. She took a deep breath, she could do this, it was easy. Her dress was long and flowing, her hair twisted upwards in an elegant bun. She picked up the veil and carefully placed it over her face, a fine mist of white settling over her. She picked up the bouquet of flowers and moved towards the door. Outside she could hear people murmuring. In a moment, the music would start and her life would end.

 

She stepped into the centre of the aisle and began the slow, steady walk. She tried not to look at the pews as she passed, filled with row after row of strangers. In front of her were the people of the bridal party, those women whom she didn’t know, the men that she had only met hours before. It was supposed to be a happy day, one with laughter and love, but not for her. For her it was empty, cold. She had no family and no friends were welcome here. She had no one to walk her down the aisle, her father having abandoned her as a child. Her husband to be refused to allow anyone else to do it. He refused to allow her friends to be here, they would ruin the day he claimed. She agreed. It made things easier for her when she agreed. Her face was calm, pale. She wouldn’t cry or shout. She’d stand there with him and say her vows.
The ceremony happened in a blur, she remembered speaking, but not what she had said. She remembered a brief kiss, dry and passionless. Then, they were in a car, his hand gripping her knee tightly as he informed her of what was expected of her now.

 

The meal was short, she didn’t eat much, she feared what would happen if she tried. They cut the cake with minimal fuss, then, she sat at the head table, alone but for the single glass of wine she was allowed consume. She looked at them all, drinking and dancing. No one looked at her. Not one.

 

When it was over he stumbled back to her, eyes shining and his breath stinking. She supported him as they went to the room. Tomorrow they were to go on their honeymoon. She still didn’t know where they were going, he had packed for her. In the room he collapsed onto the bed, half-heartedly pawing at her breasts before passing out. She let out a sigh of relief.

 

She stood in the large shower, allowing the water to cleanse her. She was better off really. He was rich, he was powerful. It didn’t matter that they didn’t love each other. It didn’t matter that he was fucking everyone else. No, what really mattered was appearances. Soon she’d have to have his children, at least two.
When she stepped from the shower, she started to dry herself quickly, before the cold could set in. He was still passed out on the bed. She sat on one of the chairs, facing him. Did she really want her life to be like this forever? She was trapped, there was no way out, no one to help her. But maybe she could help herself. She looked out at the balcony. It wasn’t too high off the ground. Someone could climb down it easily. She could run. She wouldn’t get far, but she could do it. They’d drag her back though, toss her down at his feet. She’d never be allowed out, never have freedom. She pressed one hand against her belly. Did she really want to raise a child with this man? She used to think having a child would be wonderful, but now she wished that she wouldn’t be able to conceive. She started to shiver. She couldn’t stay here, like this. She had to do something. Anything. She stood from the chair and went to the balcony, there, she stood, eyes closed, breathing in the air. It really wouldn’t be difficult for someone to climb up here. It would be a very simple matter. She looked back at her sleeping husband. She couldn’t live with him, wouldn’t live with him. She went back into the room.

 

The switchblade was small, no one knew about it, no one but her. She had found it lying on the ground years ago and she had picked it up out of idle curiosity. From there it had made its way into a drawer, forgotten and dusty. She had found it again two weeks ago, when she was packing up her things for their removal. It had been a simple matter to slip it into her pocket. Since then it had never left her side, she never admitted to herself why she kept it with her at all times, but she always knew where it was. Could she really do this? She tried to steady her shaking hands, there was no choice. They were making her do this. It wasn’t a bad thing really, he was an awful man, she was doing the world a favour.

She stood over him, wondering how best to do it. It needed to be quick, but she couldn’t get blood on her. She glanced at the clock. There was still time. She could be quick about this. She went into the bathroom and turned the shower on, then she returned to the bedroom. Fran held the blade over her sleeping husband and with one swift motion she cut his throat, the blade parting flesh easily. She had pressed down hard, hard as she could. His eyes opened, confusion and shock filling them, she could feel blood over her, hot and sticky. He struggled briefly then lay still. She ran to the shower and quickly washed, making sure there was no blood on herself. She glanced at the floor, checking for any blood spots. Then she stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around herself. She held the blade in front of her, choosing the angle carefully, then she brought the blade down on her arm, clenching her teeth together to stop herself from crying out. She looked at her arm for a second, blood flowing freely from the wound. Fran took a deep breath, then, she started to scream.

 

 

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Saviour. Short Story.

Jane sighed and took another swig from the bottle, it was only one and she was already three bottles in, no one would care though, why would they? She took another swig. She’d have to start thinking about eating something for breakfast soon, she’d already been up for about two hours. She looked down at herself, her arms once corded with muscle were soft and flabby, her stomach bulged outwards. She used to be thin and lithe. She may not have been beautiful but she was at the very least pretty, but that had been a long time ago now. Now she didn’t bother with that stuff. Her hair was greasy and pulled back into a pony tail, her skin was red and inflamed, spots dotted across it. She belched, drained the bottle, then went to order food. Pizza sounded good.

 

She looked out at the beautiful views as she waited, the pool, still crystal clear and inviting sat empty of people as it always did. She remembered the day it was built, how excited she was that she could go swimming any time she wanted. It had been years since she’d gotten into the damn thing. The cleaners still kept it clean though. They should just drain it. The doorbell rang, echoing around the marble floors and walls. She stood and started to move towards it, the pizza guy would be gone by the time she got there, so that was something at least. As she suspected the pizza was already sitting in the tray. She grabbed the box and carried it back to the kitchen. How long had it been since she’d interacted with people? Actual people, not the ones that were employed for her? Months at least. Maybe even a year or two. She dumped the box onto the table, then started to eat.

 

Once she was done she grabbed a few snacks and went into the sitting room, there she collapsed onto the couch and started to watch TV. She had been on TV once. So important, so popular. Now on one loved her, no one cared. Well, at least she was set for life, that was a guarantee, no way would they throw her out onto the streets. She was beloved by the world, hell, if it weren’t for her everyone would be dead. She crammed a handful of chips into her mouth, chewing methodically and washing it down with another swig from the bottle. She had been important once, the most important person in all of human history. Now though, now she was a nobody. It’d been ten years since her last speaking gig. She was sick of it all, the signing shit, the inspirational talks. She wanted to scream at the all, rant and rave, but she didn’t. She kept herself controlled until she knew she wouldn’t be able to contain herself, then she did the only thing she could think of, she locked herself away from the world and soon, the world forgot about her. It hadn’t taken them long to move onto someone else, some starlet who was caught huffing paint or something. The memory was fuzzy. Maybe she was blowing a director. It was something like that and before you could blink, she was over and no one really cared. Sure she still got fan mail, but she didn’t read it. It all went to a warehouse somewhere, there workers would open the letters, scan for a return address and send a “signed” photo, maybe even a standard letter too if the story was particularly sappy. Then, once that was done, they were incinerated. Well, most of them, the gifts and cash were sent to her of course. She emptied the bottle then looked at it, the beer was good, but it wasn’t that good. She had been trying to cut back a little, but maybe something stronger wouldn’t hurt. She got up from the couch and went directly to the cabinet, there Jane got a bottle of vodka, she took a quick swig, then looked around furtively. Last time someone had seen her doing that she had to read some bullshit book about addictions or something. She carried the bottle back into the kitchen and there she grabbed a glass, some ice and a mixer. Then, she filled the glass, adding a dash of mixer to disguise the amount of vodka, she took a sip and smiled, then, she returned to the living room. It was clean, of course it was, that’s what the people were paid for, they cleaned up after her, it was great really. She looked around the room, there were none of the personal touches her places before had had. It looked more like a showroom than someone’s actual house. She took a large mouthful and swallowed. It had been the worse mistake she’d ever made, saving the world.

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Storms Coming. Short Story.

Ben limped slowly down the road, his leg was acting up again. Not that that was any great surprise, the rain was coming, he could feel it, deep in the old wound, freezing him from the inside out. He’d get home, start a fire and stay huddled up by it, wrapped in blankets. It’d ease the pain a bit, keep the cold out. The injury was from an old hunting accident. Accident they called it, though it wasn’t an accident. There wasn’t much he could do about it now, it had happened after all, so many years ago. The road he was walking on was pitted and cracked, the jagged edges of potholes waiting for any traveller who was stupid enough to travel this way. He could see the first few houses up ahead of him, worn and desolate husks of what they once were, one leaned to the side almost drunkenly, the others roof had caved in some four years back. He had been walking along the road at the time and he almost pissed himself. Loud noises were never welcome these days. He passed by the ruins, revealing more. The whole town had gone to shit really. Mostly abandoned, now there was four residents, maybe five if old Sammy was still kicking around. He used to cycle this way, but his leg started to stiffen up, made it harder to turn the pedals, it was manageable until the tire got a puncture, then he saw no point. So instead he walked. He was pretty safe here after all, not like anyone unknown came visiting. There was nothing to scavenge, nothing of value anyway. Squatters occasionally moved in for a few weeks or months, but they always moved on. Such was life. The wind picked up and brought with the irregular thump of wood banging against wood. Damn shutter, hadn’t it rusted in place yet? He had spent three weeks searching for it on his days off. His only consolation was that one day it would stop banging, shorn off by the power of the wind. It brought scents with it too, cold and curiously blank. A storm was definitely coming, not just rains. Last storm had gone on for three days. He had enough in the house to last that long, but he was moving slower these days, he wouldn’t have time to warn the others. They’d know though, they always did.

 

He picked his way through the field of rocks, almost home, great chunks of brick littered the road, here time hadn’t been as kind to the houses. But there was his, still standing, and while it was grubby and a little run down, it looked like a shining jewel. He paused for a second, as he did every day, taking it in. It was a good house. Had always been good to him. He had raised two children in that house, watched his wife die in it too, but that wasn’t so bad either, she was always a miserable bitch and while he was sad to see her go, it was freeing in it’s own way. The children had left years ago, they still visited, once every few years when they got a chance. He was happy to see them, but he always felt a little guiltily, like he was dragging them all the way out here, away from their own families and lives. Not that he didn’t appreciate the company, no, that was his favourite time of the year, whenever they visited. Tommy would fix a few things he couldn’t get to, Gilly would always bring something, a knitted jumper, crocheted blanket. Something to show she was thinking about him the rest of the year. He climbed the porch steps carefully, he was always careful with them now, ever since his foot went through one about two years back, had cut himself pretty bad too, still had a faint pink scar encircling his ankle. He opened the door, strangely proud that it swung open quietly without a squeak. He breathed deeply, that warm smell of home filling his lungs. He closed the door behind him as another gust of wind came, trying to steal the warmth of the house. He shuffled into the sitting room and eyed the stack of logs critically. Would he have enough for the next few days? Well, it wouldn’t hurt to have some more. He went through the kitchen and out to the back garden. It was overgrown and tangled with weeds now. Tommy used to clear it out when he visited, but Ben had made him stop. What was the point? There was no one to enjoy it, to sit outside in the sun. He followed the concrete path to the woodshed and started filling the wheel barrow. Once it was comfortably full he picked it up with a slight grunt of effort and slowly began his trip back to the house. At the backdoor he set it down with relief, then he began to carry the logs, in ones and twos, into the kitchen. He could move them into the sitting room later. He looked out at the wheelbarrow, wondering if he should return it to the shed or not. After a moment of thought, he went back outside and turned it upside down, at least he wouldn’t have to deal with a wheelbarrow full of rain afterwards.
Inside, he filled the kettle with water and carried it into the sitting room. There wasn’t much point in setting up a fire in the kitchen, he’d be camping out here. He didn’t have enough petrol in the generator. They’d stopped doing deliveries for him about three years back, when the roads stared to get really bad. Told him he wasn’t worth the destroyed tires. He kept a supply himself, driving it slowly back from the depot, but he hadn’t gone in a good while. He didn’t like to drive so he always put it off. Sitting behind the wheel, white knuckled and hunched over the steering wheel, terrified he’d crash. He shuddered at the thought. No thank you. Tommy was going to be visiting soon anyway, he could go pick up some petrol, maybe even convince them to come out and fill the tank again. He shook his head, what was he doing? Oh yes. The fire. It didn’t take him long to get it going, he rubbed his hands and then held them in front of it, trying to absorb as much warmth as possible. He placed the kettle over the arm and swung it over the fire. Wouldn’t be long now and he’d have a nice hot cup of tea. His stomach grumbled faintly, he’d need something to eat soon. He left the fire and went back into the kitchen, he looked through the cans and settled on a tin of spaghetti, he carried it back to the sitting room, bringing a fork, some bread and a can opener. He opened the tin of spaghetti and placed it close to the fire, in a little while he’d give it a stir, then rotate the can. He sat in his chair, already pulled close the fire, and placed a blanket across his lap. He sighed in pleasure, finally taking the weight off his feet. He reached out and massaged his leg lightly, trying to knead the pain out of it for some relief. The heat would help ease it at least. The entire house shuddered once as the storm hit, rain pounded against the windows. It was perfect timing really, it’d be gone in a few days, just in time for him to be able to walk to work when it was dry. He settled back comfortably and prepared to wait it out.

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The Perfect Family. Short Story.

John sat at the head of the table, looking at his family. He was so blessed to have them all, for God to have provided for him. To his right and left were the children, Ann and Sam, across from him was Julie. They sat in pre-dinner silence, he savoured it. The moment he had been looking forward to all day. The food gently steamed on the table, in a few moments it would be served, by Julie of course, while he cut the meat. He reached out his hands and the children took one each, clasping tightly, they joined hands with Julie and together, they bowed their heads as one.
“Thank you, God, for providing us with such wonderful food, and a warm, loving family in which to share it. Please, make our burdens lighter, ease our struggles and guide us from temptation. We are yours in heart, mind and spirit. Amen.” They kept their heads bowed for a moment longer, then, as one they released each other. John passed his plate to Julie who immediately began to fill it with vegetables and potatoes. As she did this, John stood and, grasping the large knife firmly, he began to carve the roast. The plates were passed around, Julie filling each one, her hands barely shaking. The children waited quietly and without complaint, hands folded politely in their laps when not passing something. When the meat was sliced, John started dishing it out, taking a few slices for himself, then giving Julie hers, before finally serving the children. He placed the knife to the side and sat once more, then, he bowed his head for a moment, the others followed suit. When he raised it again, he smiled at them all,

“Well, dig in”

Still smiling he picked up his knife and fork and began to eat, around him were the gentle sounds of clinking cutlery. It lasted only a second before Julie smiled at him, her eyes just barely meeting his.

“How was your day honey?”
He smiled at her and popped the piece of meat on his fork into his mouth,
“Why, it was wonderful dear, thank you for asking. Work went extremely well today, I think I might be getting a raise soon.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful news dear, I’m so happy for you.”
“And you, how was your day?”
“The children and I cleaned the house, then, while they finished their chores, I made dinner, it was such a peaceful day, very relaxing.”
He smiled at them all. “I’m glad to see my family getting along so well.”
As they ate, he kept an eye on them all, their manners were impeccable. This was it, it really was, this, this was his family.

 

When dinner was finished, he had come to a decision. A momentous decision that would mean great change for them all. First, he cleared away the plates, insisting Julie sit, after all, she had done enough for the day, making the house spotless, cooking the perfect meal. Once that was done, he sat at the table again, and looked at them all. While he had been clearing the plates they remained silent. “I think it’s time you all regain some of your privileges. To such an end, they’re coming off tonight. Just for a trial run, we’ll see how it goes. Though, I must warn you, if you do misbehave, they will be going back and you will be punished. Am I clear?” Everyone nodded, “I said, am I clear?”
“Yes dear” “yes, father.”
he nodded once. Then, he stood and took the key from his pocket, one by one he undid the chains around their feet.

“Now, doesn’t that feel better everyone? Knowing we can trust each other like this?”
“Julie smiled up at him, “Honey, you’ve had a long day and you’ve done so much already, please, sit. We still have to have dessert.”
He sat again, smiling at her. “Would you like a drink to accompany it? Maybe coffee?”
“Coffee would be wonderful dear.”

Smiling, she rose from the table, as she passed him, she bent and gave him a quick, chaste peck on the cheek, while she was still close, he breathed out one word in an almost sigh, “later.” Repressing a shudder, she left the room, a picture of control.
In the kitchen she started to shake. The lights seemed too bright, everything gleamed in spotless perfection. The counters were clear. The plates had been piled into the sink. She’d have to clean those, quickly, before he became angry. But there was no time now. She started the coffee machine, placing a cup underneath it, then, she started on desert. It was a quick and simple affair, a sponge cake with some fruit and cream. When she had filled four plates she placed them on a small tray, after adding the coffee cup, she entered the dining room again, smiling. The air wasn’t tense. She felt herself relax a little. She placed the tray on the side board and placed a plate in front of John, then, she gave him his coffee, afterwards she gave the children their plates then sat with her own. They ate in silence, and, once everyone was done, she gathered the plates and brought them into the kitchen. She heard the children ask if they could be excused while she started the washing up. She had to stay calm, keep doing what she was doing. She’d find a way out. She was unchained now while he was in the house, that was already a step forward. She’d been here, what, three months so far? It was hard to tell.
Hands suddenly wrapped themselves around her waist, he leaned into her, his body warm against hers. She was proud she didn’t jump nor shudder. She could feel him, pressing into her. She felt nausea build in her stomach.
“I have some things to do, I’ll be back soon.”
He kissed her neck, she shivered slightly in revulsion, he pressed harder against her and let out a faint groan. “Soon my love.” Then he was gone. She could hear the trap door opening and he left, and the clunk and clink of it closing and being locked. That door was the key, it was the only way out she could find, the place was like a bunker. She hadn’t seen the upstairs, she had been blindfolded and bound when he had brought her down here. She assumed that it wasn’t that large above. Down here there were eight rooms, along with some storage closets. The walls had windows, but beyond them lay nothing but brick. It looked like he had painted the bricks in swathes of green and blue with red splotches that might resemble the grass, sky and flowers if you squinted long enough. The girl, Ann, had been here before Julie, the girl didn’t know how long she’d been down here, but she remembered two other mothers. Sam was brought down a week after Julie. Ann remembered other brothers too. Julie tried not to think about it. She just glad that John had never shown interest in Ann. She finished the washing up and dried the dishes. Even after three months the décor still unnerved her. It was a weird fusion of sixties design and modern technology, everything gleaming and shining. Her wardrobe was filled with only dresses. She could hear the children watching TV in the sitting room. It wasn’t live or connected to anything. It was set to some kind of auto play, where different TV shows and movies played constantly. Though she knew John had control over it. TV shows that the children claimed to like would play frequently during the day.

They had been chained whenever he was in the house, when he left he would unchain them. The rules had been simple, while he was present no more than one of them would be unlocked at a time. When he left the chains undid themselves electronically, when he returned he would talk through a speaker, instructing them to return to the chains. It wasn’t until each was secured around their ankles that he entered the room. From that she guessed that he had some kind of camera system monitoring them all. She tried to keep that in mind. She had managed to explore most of the place while playing games with the children, most notably hide and seek and so far she had found nothing that would indicate a way for them to get out. She’d have to figure out a way to get the key. Maybe she’d have to kill him. There was no way she could be sure though, what if he over powered her? He had done it once and he was so very strong. She had been running when he had taken her. Out for her nightly run, trying to clear her mind after a spat with her fiancé. She tried not to shudder again. She didn’t like to think about him, about what he was doing, whether or not he was looking for her. She did wonder if that’s why she was chosen. After all she didn’t recognise the children from anywhere, there had been no amber alerts that she could recall. Maybe they were taken because their parents didn’t care, maybe they were negligent. Maybe in his mind, John was saving them all.

 

No.
That was dangerous thinking. She couldn’t allow stuff like that to interfere. He kept them here, held them prisoners, did things to her every night. He’d kill her if he knew she wanted to leave, he’d kill the children too, she’d no doubt he’d done it before. She dried her hands on a dishtowel and went into the sitting room, there she sat on the couch, between the children, they leaned into her, resting themselves against her sides, she wrapped her arms around them both. She’d make sure they stayed safe, no matter what happened to her. She would keep them safe.

Posted in Horror, Short Stories, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shadow Crawlers. Part 63

So, this is it.

The last installment.

The end.

Kinda.

At the end of this, there’s a longer explanation. I hope you enjoy it.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It had been six months since the first robbery, six months of following Franks orders. He had started paying them after the second robbery, much to Amy’s surprise she didn’t even have to bring it up. He gave them “bonuses” too, jewellery, clothes, little trinkets. They were allowed out on short trips too, though they had to be back before dark for their “protection.” Grady didn’t seem to have a problem with any of it, she spent most of her free time training or coming up with new ways to break into buildings. Amy could feel that it was leading up to something, though what exactly she wasn’t sure. On her trips out she would spend money here and there on expensive items, then, a few hours later she’d return a few things, claiming they were the wrong colour or she just realised she had something too similar. It was easy enough to build a steady supply of cash. Every time she went back she’d buy something small and cheap so if there were any questions, she could claim she did return some items, but she spent the cash on the new ring, or necklace. She had started to bring a backpack on robbery’s too, claiming it made the transport of goods easier, every so often she’d slip something into it, a ring, a bracelet, something that could be pawned, traded or sold somewhere. When she did leave she’d have money for a short while at least. She knew she could steal if she had to, but Amy didn’t kid herself that Grady was the better thief. If she was going to be on her own she wanted to be as well prepared as possible.

Amy returned after another shopping trip, dumping her bags onto the bed, her room was messy, almost impossibly so, anyone else would have difficulty locating anything inside the mess. She however, knew where the important things were.
She was ready.
This was going to be the night. She breathed slowly and evenly, trying to stay calm. She moved about the room almost casually, gathering her things. Amy took a hoodie and put it on over her t-shirt, she tied her hair back, making sure it wouldn’t get in the way. She opened the bag wide and peered in, nothing appeared out of the ordinary in it, she rifled through it quickly, moving things slightly here and there, checking that she had everything she needed, when she was satisfied she zipped up the bag and slung it over one shoulder. It was heavy, but no one would notice. Grady had been teaching her lock picking, and she had gotten quite good at it. She was also becoming passable at bypassing security systems. She never brought the bag into a place and Ed had strict instructions to destroy it should they have to run. So far they hadn’t been caught, each trip had been calm, simple and they were able to stroll casually away. Tonight that would be different.

They walked from the building in silence, continuing to walk for about twenty minutes before finding a car. From there it was only a short drive to their target. As they drove, Amy lightly poked Ed three times, waiting a single beat between each one, he didn’t react for a moment, then she saw a gentle nod, so gentle that had she not been looking for it, it would have looked like a slight sway as the car slowed.
The walk to the gallery was a short one, they continued on by it, curving around to the side, where they had agreed to enter. Tonight it was just four of them, Grady, Rose, Amy and Ed, Alice had stayed behind. Frank had started switching out who went on what missions so they could work as an interchangeable team. This was the night that Amy had been waiting for, Alice was the only one who could definitely stop them, the rest could be dealt with. They slipped into the building silently, moving stealthily along the marble tiles. There were guards in the gallery, but they only went on patrol every hour or so, they had a good long window in which to steal the painting, the real concerns were the cameras and the sensors around the paintings.

They arrived at the paining with little fuss, Ed had gently swivelled the base of some of the cameras as they passed and returned them to their positions once they were out of view, anyone watching the cameras wouldn’t know any different and if they noticed the extra swing, they’d assume it was just a glitch. The camera system in the room they were in had malfunctioned two days previously and hadn’t been fixed yet. They had plenty of time. Grady examined the wall for a moment, then nodded once. She gestured for them to stand to the side and where she wanted them to direct their torches. Amy moved to the left, close against the wall, she had to be careful about this, precise. She waited until Grady’s fingers were touching the edges of the painting, then, as Grady’s fingers tensed, Amy gently nudged her arm backwards into the painting behind her, she felt it move gently back, nothing happened. Amy shoved back against it, this time harder. An alarm blared, Amy jumped, banging against the painting, Grady’s painting was swaying back and forth gently, Grady reached out and steadied it, “Amy, stop the one behind you” Amy turned and steadied it, then together they moved through the gallery. Amy’s heart was thudding in her chest, as soon as Grady had told her to steady the painting she knew Grady wouldn’t leave until they got what they came for. Grady led them to a small room and slipped inside, motioning for the others to follow.

“We wait here for things to die down a bit, they’ll think it was some more faulty wiring or something, then we try again.” Grady whispered and with the alarms blaring it was hard to hear her, Amy leaned in closer.
“No, they could be waiting for us, we should just leave.”
“I’m not having this as my first failure. They must have had something I missed. I’ll get it this time. Don’t worry about it.”
“Ok, how about this, I’ll keep watch one end, Ed on the other, he could sense someone coming if he’s looking for it, right?”
Ed nodded, “Good, ok, we make sure we’re not walking into an ambush, then we split up, and meet by the car, deal?”
Grady nodded once, then sat back, waiting. It didn’t take long for the alarms to be turned off, Amy’s ears still rung slightly. As far as anyone would be able to tell, the alarm had went off by itself, they weren’t on camera and their entrance wouldn’t be found, the guards would just think it was another glitch in the system, possibly from the cameras breaking. Their only problem would be running into guards who would no doubt step up their patrol. They’d have to be careful leaving, no doubt the police had been already contacted so they’d step up patrolling the area. Amy leaned against the wall, breathing slowly and evenly. This was so stupid, it wasn’t how it was supposed to go, they were supposed to call it off, split up and she’d be gone. Damn it, Grady was far too proud. They were going to get caught.
They sat in the small room for almost two hours before they finally left, when they did everyone was stiff and sore. They moved slowly back to the gallery, Ed testing ahead, Amy expected that they would post a guard in that room for the rest of the night, but it was empty. As they stepped inside her heart started to thud heavily, it had all the feelings of a trap. They branched out, Grady going straight to the painting. It took her only a few moments, then, with a quick signal, they separated.
Amy moved slowly along the empty corridor, ears straining for the sound of someone, anyone approaching. She moved through the shadows, waiting for the cameras to turn so she could cross. It was an easy system to memorise. The cameras moved every thirty seconds, five second pan, twenty five seconds at one location, then they’d pan back. Then of course, there were the empty plastic bubbles painting black. Of the hundred or so throughout the building, only one actually contained a camera, and that was on the third floor. It took her fifteen minutes to reach her exit point, and when she arrived Ed was already there. Together they left the building.
They crossed the grass to the pavement, Amy hoping no one inside spotted them, once there, they linked hands and calmly walked away. They weren’t far when Amy heard yelling in the distance, there was a pained shout, she glanced behind them and saw a brief flare of light. Rose must have been spotted. She suppressed her desire to go back and make sure Grady was ok. They continued to walk, taking turns at random before finally they stopped at a car park, there Amy broke into a car and within a few moments, they were driving away.

“We were spotted on the way out, bad luck, a patrol car was going by and while we waited for it to clear, a guard stumbled onto us. We waited at the car for as long as we dared, but Amy didn’t make it. Do you think she was caught?”
“I have my sources checking, though I don’t think so, no. I believe she escaped.”
“Good, hopefully she’ll make it back by morning. They saw it was two women at least so they won’t be suspicious of her and Ed.”
Frank sighed, “I don’t think Amy is coming back Grady. I think she left.”
“What do you mean?”
“It seems a little convenient doesn’t it? I mean, there hasn’t been any problems before, has there?”
“No.” Grady frowned, “getting it down the second time was easy. There was nothing that set off the alarm.” Her eyes widened, “The painting. I thought she nudged it when the alarm went off, she must have done it before.”
Frank nodded solemnly. “I don’t think she was truly happy here. I don’t think she trusted me, or you. I think she saw no other way out. Obviously had she expressed her displeasure, we would have let her leave, helped her somehow with money or a place to live. But that moment has passed.” He hugged Grady, pulling her tightly against him.
“I know she was your friend, but she betrayed you, she betrayed both of us.” Grady relaxed into the warmth of him, she felt protected, safe. Her eyes blurred with tears for a second, then, the tears stopped. No. She wouldn’t cry. She took a deep breath, then released it slowly, she had started to believe they’d stay here, together. But that could have never happened. Everyone left at some point. She had forgotten that. She stepped out of the hug and smiled at Frank. It was such an easy thing to forget, but she wouldn’t allow herself to forget it again.

Everything was temporary.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

I promised there would be a longer explanation, so here it is.

Shadow Crawlers started out as something much different, and I mean completely and utterly different. When I started I had planned it to be like a slasher. Big bad villain stalks girl and friends, killing them all. But as I wrote it changed completely and I went along with it because that’s what the characters demanded. I couldn’t have someone die stupidly when I knew they wouldn’t act that way. So I just followed along to see what happened and as time went on I figured out (slowly) where it was going and what my overall plan was, and at some point I realised the story I wanted to tell would be a lot longer than I expected. So, I’ve decided to end it here for the moment and take a break. I wrote this episodically, and in doing so it made it much easier for me to be lead astray and for characters to slowly morph into something else and something they aren’t. So with that in mind, I figured I’d stop here, go back and edit this, so that it’s where I want it to be and a much cleaner read, then I’ll start on the second one with a fresh start and a clearer idea of the characters, where they’re going and why they’re going there.

In the meantime, I’m going to just post short stories on Fridays for a few weeks, then I’m going to start another series. I have a few ideas for what I’m going to do for it, but for now I’m going to plan it a bit better so it won’t get away from me. I’m also going to make sure that it isn’t as disjointed in terms of when I sit down to write it so it should flow much more and at the end be closer to where I would like it to be. Once I’m finished that series (which should go a lot fast than this one) I may do the series after it as Shadow Crawlers 2: The recrawlening, but I’ll see how that goes.

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Information. Short Story.

“What do you do?”
“I observe. I record. That is all.”
“But why?”
“Because that is what I’m supposed to do.”
“Can you share what you’ve observed?”
“Not with you. I am not allowed.”
“Who created you?”
“My creators.”
Jenny clenched her hands in frustration. It was the same thing over and over again. Damn machines. At least it was sticking to English this time.

“How long have you been recording information?”
“I do not know. I did not keep track.”
“Then how will you know to return to your creators?”
“Once my knowledge banks reach a certain point, I will be compelled to return, I am to return no sooner than that moment. Until that point, I do not know where my creators are.”
“How much information can you record?”
“an indescribable amount.”
“How is that helpful for your creators? Surely that amount would be too large to sift through.”
“There are many other computers there, they will scan and organise the information, picking out relevant details to extend to my creators.”
“Do you have any goals, other than to observe and record?”
“No.”
“Is there anything specific you are to look for?”
“Things that are new.”

“So you know enough to know what is new and what isn’t?”
“No. I cannot see or edit the list, I record, anything that isn’t new is deleted. I have no control over it.”

“Have you observed other life?”
“Yes. I have observed many things.”
“Where did you observe them?”
“Out there.” He gestured upwards in a vague motion.
“Anywhere specific?”
“I cannot tell you that.”
Why not?”
“Because I cannot.”
“Wouldn’t it be in your creators interests to tell us where they are or even just to talk to us? We could create an information exchange.”
The man frowned, “What would you have to exchange with? I have recorded all the knowledge of your people, you are primitive.”
“We don’t just have technology, we have cultural information, foods, new experiences they may not know, we have an entire world, solar system that could provide new information and experiences to them.”
The man flickered out, leaving behind nothing but his chair. Jenny sighed, then took a long drink of her coffee. She was the fifth person to talk to this being and it was getting them nowhere. At least it was easy to not take it personally, the thing obviously wasn’t trying to offend or confuse her. She wasn’t sure it even had those capabilities, so far it had been emotionless. It had never appeared in another form, though from discussions they knew that it could if it chose. So far it had appeared as a generic man, medium height and build, short brown hair, brown eyes, palish skin. He was unassuming and forgettable. That had made people nervous at first, what if it was some sort of nefarious plan or plot, but the being had made no attempt to attack, so far he only observed. Jenny suspected that should the being attack, they would be defenceless, after all he was a full on corporeal hologram. She didn’t even thing something like that was possible, but there he was, interacting with the world, moving things freely. They scanned the room constantly, so it wasn’t some outside interference giving the illusion of the being moving items. She had shook his hand when she entered, and his hand was solid, warm. It had been unnerving. Despite this solidness, she had seen him walk through tables as though they weren’t there. Jenny suspected he tried to stop himself doing it so as not to unnerve them. It was chilling to think how advanced he was in comparison to even their technological marvels.

He appeared in the chair again, gone for perhaps five minutes.
“Contact has been made.”
Jenny frowned, “I’m sorry?”
“I have contacted the creators. They are coming.”
“What? I thought you didn’t know where they were”
“You are apparently the first to ask for such a trade. They tell me other civilisations were hostile, others again though I was a god to their people. There was a program, allowing me to contact them should an offer like yours be made”
Jenny frowned, “Surely we cannot be the first to ask you such a thing, I can’t be the first to ask you such a thing, the others must have offered something similar.”
The man just stared blankly at her.

Jenny sighed, “Can you tell me things now?”
He inclined his head slightly, “Some, I can share some knowledge until they arrive.”
“What about the other civilisations you tried to contact. Can you show me what any of them looked like?”
He changed, completely and utterly, there was no other word for it than alien. He was perhaps five feet high and as much across, movement rippled across the entire surface of his orange skin, there were six holes that she could see, from each a thin protrusion emerged, shakily moving in the air. Then, he was back to how he looked previously. Jenny suppressed a shudder.

“They were the most intelligent of the species on the planet, they were at constant war with another species, less intelligent but much more ferocious. They treated me as a sign, an omen. They revered me as a god, though their culture did not contain gods prior to my arrival. I thought they would be open to me. They had technology though it was primitive.”

“May I see what your creators look like?”
“No.”
“Why not?”

“I do not know what they look like.”

“Can you tell me anything about them?”
He shook his head, “No, I’m sorry.”
Jenny frowned, it was the first time he had apologised for not giving information.
“They are here.”
“What?”
“They’ve arrived. They are currently in orbit around your planet.”
“But how? They couldn’t have arrived that quickly.”

He shrugged again, he titled his head slightly.
“I cannot stay. Another is to be sent as a representative. They will compile the information I have gathered then pick a point of contact.”
“Wait, we have ambassadors, people who are trained in meeting new people and races.”
He shrugged, then vanished.
Jenny felt her heart thudding heavily in her chest, nerves beginning to build, just what had she done?

Posted in Sci-Fi, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

FWD: FWD: This is CRAZY! He got LOADS of them right! Short Story.

Monday.

Yay!

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Mine was pretty fun, went out for a few drinks. Twas pleasant. Beyond that I didn’t get up to much, lots of reading. It’s handy enough with my kindle, but the only problem is I have a bunch of actual books that are backed up in my to read pile. I suppose it is my own fault for reading books that are series. It’s hard when you get sucked in and need to know what’s happening next. Which is both an upside and a downside with series, particularly if you’re coming to them late. You get to do a straight run at it, until you’ve caught up, and then there’s the agony of waiting and the slight jarring feeling when you switch to another world/book. That part sucks. It’s much worse for series that have an order and are supposed to be read that way rather than ones where you can pick any book in any order and it isn’t that big of a deal besides a few minor spoilers as the author reminds the reader who a character is.

It also seems that series are getting more popular, though that just might be in my head as I’ve been reading more series than I have before.

 

On with the show!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

It’s just so tiring you know? I don’t think a lot of people realise that. I mean, I’m out there, every day trying to help but nobody is listening. Do you know how demoralising that gets? After the first day I was ready to give up, but I couldn’t. Well, technically I could, but every time I closed my eyes I saw it again and again. When you’re given a choice like that, it really is no choice at all. I could try and do something, or I could live the rest of my short life being miserable and hating myself. That wasn’t how I wanted to spent my last few months living. Doing this isn’t what I wanted to be doing either, but hey, it’s not like it was realistic to hope I’d be somewhere hot, with lots of money and a few scantily clad women wandering around.

Am I rambling? It feels like I’m rambling.

Ok. Wait.

Ok. Let me start again.

 

I’m Stephen and I’m psychic. Not like the ones in the back of magazines or the ones that bilk people out of all their cash for snippets of hope. No, I’m the real deal. It isn’t fun, it isn’t glamorous and it isn’t all that well paying. I know, who’d have thought right? Real genuine psychic, you’d think people would line up around the block to talk to me, but they don’t. I think it’s something to do with god or the universe, something out there keeping me under the radar. Then again, I never really tried to get famous. I worked a normal job, helping people when I could. There’s a skill to it you know. You don’t just put on a spooky voice and warn people of danger, that never works and usually backfires when something does go bad and someone tells the police you were screaming that the victim was going do die a terrible, terrible death. Yeah. That wasn’t exactly my finest hour. But, I learn fast, which is something at least. So I learned manipulation is the key. That sounds a little wrong, maybe cruel, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to manipulate people into helping themselves. Of course it helps when you know the outcome. Just stalling someone with idle chat for five minutes can save them or telling them about how your distant cousin left the iron on and the house burned down. They’ll remember and then boom, their own house doesn’t burn down because they’ve remembered to turn it off. Though honest, sometimes in the midst of those super awkward convos, I do wonder if maybe I’d be better off just slashing tires or pushing them over as I run past, after all, that would slow them down too, right?

I have helped plenty of people and I’m happy about that. I even helped my last boss win the lotto, he really deserved it though, he was being ruined by medical bills. Was all kinds of sad. It’s just what I do. I don’t think I could stop hepling people, it’s like a compulsion, like when you have to touch the paint to see if it is actually wet.

 

You know I could be drinking myself to oblivion right now, do you know how fun that would be for me? That I could forget, even for a moment, what’s going to happen to us all in like, three months? I could even just end it now. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife and I don’t know how they view suicide, but hell, it’d be better than what’s coming, I can tell you that much. At least I’d go out on my own terms, ya know?

 

So, that’s me. I’m 29, I’m single and work in a dead end job and I like my life. It might not be glamorous, but it’s mine and I’ve built it up. I get paid well enough, I own my own place and I can do pretty much what I want, within reason.

I like how things are, I like my life and I know that a lot of other people like their lives too. I don’t want them to be deprived of something, I want to try and warn them, though a warning isn’t a whole lot of use. I tried to be sane about it in the beginning, work out ways of telling people that the world was going to end without sounding like a nutter is hard work though. I kinda wish I was famous, maybe then someone would believe me. Even if I just save a couple of people, it isn’t that much to ask for, is it? I mean with everything I’ve seen before this I’ve been able to affect the outcome, change it for the better, so why not this? I know I can’t prevent it, hell, who could? But maybe I can save some people, make things easier for those who do survive. If you’re wondering why I don’t just run and hide the answer is simple, I’m going to die anyway. When it happens, that’ll be it for me. I don’t know how yet, but I know that is non negotiable. I might be killed right out, or killed in the panic, hell, I might even just fall and break my neck. Either way, I’m a goner. So now it’s my duty to warn people.

 

I don’t go around waving signs, yelling at people that the end is nigh. As I’ve said, I’ve tried to be smart. There was a show, something about people preparing for doomsday, they were the ones I reached out to first. Sure, they’re already a little nuts, but hey, better to have them survive than no one, right? So I’ve let things slip here and there, made myself seem like I’m “in the know” with someone or something powerful, dropped hints and veiled warnings that something big was happening. There’s all sorts of internet conspiracies about me now you know. It’s kinda funny really. I’ve predicted stuff, some outright, others obliquely. It isn’t as hard as you think. Just little things here and there, a few of the bigger things too. It makes them think the little stuff means something, that it’s all leading up to something big and in a way it is. I’ve also contacted some of those preachers who have followings, those who predict the end of the world is coming. I do something similar with them, but make it more religious. That isn’t as easy. Trying to convince people you’re a prophet from their lord and not just some internet jack off trying to fuck with them is harder than you think. I know you’re wondering now, if I have people like that listening to me, why don’t I go public? Why don’t I do the same thing on a grander scale. I don’t want to be assassinated by some idiot who thinks I’m batting for the wrong team, I don’t want to be arrested for being a terrorist or conspiring against the government. I don’t want to end up in some bunker, a mile underground with my chest cut open and my brain sitting on a weighing scales. I mean, I know I’m going to die, but I’m not an idiot, I don’t want my last few months to be painful. So, I’m doing this instead. This seemed easiest, hey, people get stuff like this all the time right? And it works, and spreads. So I figure I’ll give this a go too. It could work.

I’ve enclosed a list of predictions, some will have no doubt already happened when you’ve opened it, but others wont have. I’ve included the big and the small. I’m not hiding behind religion or scary shadow conspiracies. This is just the truth.

The end is coming, no one can stop it. Get to safety, a bunker, store up some food, tell your kids you love them and hope that if you’re not somewhere safe when it happens, that you’ll go quickly and with little pain.

I know you have no reason to believe me, that you might think this is a virus or something like that, but scan it with your antivirus stuff, you’ll see. It’s legit. It’s also pasted into the email, but anyone can fuck with that. I’m also going to include a web address, that too will contain the predictions. I’m trying to get this to as many people as possible. Even if you think it’s some kind of joke, send it on, after all, if I’m wrong, you can all just have a laugh about the nutter that emailed you in a few weeks, right?

You have nothing to lose by sending this on.

Please.

Posted in Fantasy, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments