In the Woods. Short Story.

His car began to slow, “Fuck-fuck-fuck” he didn’t really think he’d make it home, but he hoped. He steered the car towards the side of the road, hoping that it would at least reach there before giving up entirely. It mounted the pavement, shuddered, then died, rocking back and forth gently for a few seconds. “Shit.” he banged the steering wheel once out of frustration, but he wasn’t too surprised, the car had been on the way out for the past few days, he hoped he might get another day or so out of it, he could walk to and from work if he had to, but the journey was long and dangerous, mostly consisting of turning roads and blind spots where pedestrians could easily be knocked down. He sat in the car for a moment, looking out at the sky, it was supposed to rain tonight, but it didn’t look like it would start soon. He considered popping the hood of the car to see if he could see what was wrong but dismissed the idea, he knew he wouldn’t have a clue if the engine was upside down and backwards. He reached into the back and groped blindly for his briefcase, finding the handle, tugged it free then got out of the car, locking it behind him. He glanced down the road to make sure there was nothing coming, if there was he might be able to flag them down, ask to borrow their phone. Of all the days he could have left it lying on the kitchen counter. He locked the car and turned towards home. He’d ring a tow in the morning and call sick into work, he couldn’t really afford to miss the day but he needed his car fixed as soon as possible and missing a day wouldn’t be too bad.

The walk was long and lonely, with few cars passing by, every time he heard a car coming he had to stop and move further into the side of the road, just to be safe, a few slowed but none stopped to ask if he was ok. He considered sticking out his thumb a few times but it wasn’t that far to the house, not at this point any way and he knew that people probably wouldn’t stop to pick up a random stranger. Finally, he reached the turn for his house, the driveway was long but it was only five minutes or so of a walk. When he first bought the place he liked the idea of having a long drive now, now he thought it was just stupid. Still, the house was set back a bit from the road, dulling the noises of traffic and because it was so far from anything, it was cheap. He never really thought what might happen if the car crapped out, but he had a bike and if worst came to worst he could always use that to get about the place, it would be faster than walking after all.

The house was big and a little run down, he had always intended to clean the place up but it was one of those things he never really got around to. The inside was clean and beginning to take shape but the outside still needed a lot of work. It didn’t bother him too much, after all, it’s not like he sees it all that often, still Mary would probably be pissed when she got here. The purpose of him moving down a few months ahead was partially because of his job and partially to get the place fixed up for her, it was the only way to get her to agree to move in the first place. He had another month to get things ready, so there was no pressure, he knew that he’d probably freak out in the last week but now he was enjoying his slow steady work place. He kicked his shoes off in the hall and left his briefcase beside it, before going up the stairs to change into some work clothes. As he went he made a list of what he wanted to get done today. He was tired after the walk, but he should be able to get a few walls painted, maybe finish putting the doors on the cabinets. There were a few other little bits here and there that’d he’d try get done too. The back door didn’t lock right, he’d have a look at that, see if it was just something stuck in it. Then there was the light bulbs, a few needed replacing and the lampshades needed to go up. It was a little thing but it would help make the house feel more homey and make him feel like he had gotten more done. Then there was the glasses and plates, he’d been taking them out of the boxes and after eating from them, would wash them and put them in the cupboards, he could get that done quickly and easily, clear away some of the boxes too.

He entered the room that he would soon share with his wife and looked at the boxes full of clothes. There was no real rush on those, that was a last minute thing, she probably wouldn’t notice one or two boxes of his clothes after she had brought her own stuff. There was the curtains, they still needed to be put up, the blinds had been enough to block out the light but she would be angry if the curtains weren’t up. He sighed and changed into a pair of grubby jeans and a paint stained t-shirt, then returned downstairs. He’d have to start on Derek’s room soon and Lisa’s, he wanted that to be a surprise. He was going to make hers a princess room and his would be space themed. Both would be hopefully happy with the designs. He had already drawn up the plans for painting and bought the stencils and colours. The beds were to arrive in a few days too, hers a big double bed with a canopy that could be removed as she got older and his a silver frame that he planned to build a domed cover for.

He went to the kitchen first and filled the dishwasher, he’d get them all done tonight and put them away before he went to bed. After it was full he made himself a sandwich, seeing no point in dirtying another plate, and wandered into the sitting room while eating it. Popping the last piece into his mouth, he brushed his hands free of crumbs and started to put the lampshades onto the lights.

He just stepped away from the lights, looking at them critically when there was a knock at the door. The rain had started maybe an hour before, batting against the window panes, hurrying he opened the door, there was a small overhand above it but the wind had picked up, sending the rain sideways. He was surprised to see a man in a business suit .He didn’t see any lights coming into the driveway and glancing around the man he didn’t see a car. “Can I help you?” “Hi, sorry to bother you, my car broke down a bit down the road and I saw the lights in your house, I forgot my phone, would I be able to use yours?” he stood aside, “Yeah, sure, come on in, I’m Ted” the man stepped inside the house and smiled gratefully, “Thanks” he stuck out his hand, “I’m Don.” “Must be the night for it, my car broke down too, had to walk home, gonna call a tow for it in the morning.” “That sucks. You wouldn’t have a phonebook or something would you? I’d like to find somewhere still open.” “I don’t, I just moved in, actually don’t have a proper telephone in yet either, though you can use my mobile.” “Thanks.” “Do you want tea or coffee or something? You must be cold.” “No, I’m ok thanks.” they moved from the hallway towards the kitchen as they talked, “My phones in the kitchen, charging, I was on the phone to my wife for a while earlier, drained the battery pretty good.” “Oh, is she still in work?” “No, she and the kids are gonna be moving down here in a few weeks, I was sent ahead to try and get some stuff sorted.” “They probably won’t be able to get a tow out to you tonight, will you be able to get someone to pick you up? If not you can stay the night if you want. We’re kinda in the middle of nowhere out here.” “Uhh, that’s ok, I should be able to get someone to give me a lift.” “Just in case ya know.” “Right, I should be good.” Don walked towards the phone, hoping that whoever he could convince to drive out to him would do so quickly, the guy, though nice, was a little creepy. He picked up the phone and looked at the signal bars, there was nothing. “There’s no signal.” “Oh, sorry, this part of the house is a dead zone, reception is spotty, if you go into the sitting room you should have a full signal.” “Cool thanks.” Don unplugged the phone and moved toward the sitting room. The house was getting darker, long shadows rising up, covering everything, twisting them into new shapes, Don gripped the phone tightly, he couldn‘t wait to get out of this place, maybe tell Joanne about how creepy the entire thing was. As Don reached for the door, Ted swung the frying pan as hard as he could. It connected with a satisfying thud. Don stumbled forward into the door before sliding down it slowly. Ted hefted the weight of the pan in his hand, he told Mary that they wanted a good sturdy frying pan but she wouldn’t listen. He put the pan on the counter and dragged the body towards the basement, his hunting tools had been set up down there, it wouldn’t take him long at all.

He lay Don on the table and, taking a large hunting knife deftly slit his throat. Blood splashed upwards, then slowed to a steady flow, he could hear gurgling as Don drowned in his blood. Once the body stopped twitching, he quickly stripped him, checking his wallet for cash before putting his clothing in a pile. Everything would be burnt tonight. Working methodically he stripped the body of flesh, leaving nothing but bones and entrails. The rest he carefully wrapped up and put in the freezer. Saves him another job, they had a good amount of meat for the moment, means he wouldn’t need to go out and hunt for a while. It was a rare treat that the family enjoyed, not that the others knew what it was of course. He brought the clothing upstairs and placed them beside the fire, after getting it going he tore the fabric into strips, burning each one. He burnt the wallet last, after burning each card individually. He went back into the basement and gathered the bones, he had left chunks of meat on them, to make them more appetising for wild animals. Despite the rain, he went out into the woods and scattered them, a few bones here, a few there, spreading them out as much as possible. Soon there would be nothing left but some gnawed bones.

He wasn’t too concerned about the mans car, they’d think he wandered into the woods or something. He cleaned up the mess that had been made and ran through the list again in his mind. He emptied the dishwasher and put everything away. He realised that the paint would leave some odours and he wanted everything to be perfect for the kids when they arrived. Leaving the kitchen he went upstairs to paint their rooms.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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