The Queen. Short Story.

I’ve been really tired the past few days, I don’t know what it is but it is annoying. Yesterday I did nothing at all, just sat around, trying to stay awake. Today I had planned to get somethings done and the plan was to do them early but I just could not get up. I am not as tired today, thankfully, and I hope that I will be ok tomorrow with what ever it is passing.

I’ve gotten a bit behind on this, there are things that need to be done and that will be done over the next few days. Of course the hour going back here does not help, as it just makes everything that bit later. So I apologise about that, but it will be stopping soon.

In other news, I joined NaNoWriMo, in their month of insanity, 50,000 words and so far I have written 0. I may add the short stories to my word count, though they are not really what I wanted to get done. I worked it out that I write around 24,000 words a month with the short stories, which isn’t really that much when it is broken down. Even NaNo’s 50,000 word goal is only around 1,700 words a day, not a lot when you think about it.

I think that is mostly it. I have a few essay due later on in the month too and I seem to be a glutton for punishment as there are a few ideas I have for this blog and other things that I wish to implement soon, so everything might be a bit hectic for a while. I will also have all my English essays due soon, so I effectively have 6 essays due in the next 3-4 weeks. It sounds like a lot but really it is just a matter of sitting down and doing it. One good thing about the English essays is that they are 75% and instead of an exam so I will only have 4 exams this semester and next semester I will have less. What with the christmas break coming up soon, (sorry to be mentioning it so early and all!) I should be able to be a bit more organised, especially for next semester. Overall though it hasn’t been as difficult doing the short stories as I feared. I was slightly worried that with college and all I might miss a day, but nope! Everything is fine (famous last words?)

Anyway, on with the show!

 

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He had been fired three months ago, well, technically, he quit, but the message was clear. It was such a tiny mistake, insignificant, he had brought it to the attention of his boss and it hadn’t cost the company anything, if he hadn’t mentioned it, the company would have lost money, an unfathomable amount. Everything seemed fine at first, then they called him into the office for “a chat” where they gave him the option, he could quit or they would fire him for negligence. Really, he regretted saying anything at all after that. He would have preferred to have been fired for costing them the damn money. Still, it would look better on his record that he quit. Not that that has helped him get any interviews, his savings were being steadily eaten away and there was still nothing. Not for lack of trying though, he had sent out application after application. No job was too demeaning, anything at all would do, even if it was just a stop gap solution, he didn’t care what it was as long as it brought in money.

Since his little altercation with the company, he started to go walking everyday, just to have something to do, to get out of the house. There was rarely a destination in mind, rarely were they planned, but he enjoyed the wandering, and he was always vaguely hopefully he might see a help wanted sign and miracle of miracles, get a job. Grace was at home a lot lately, not that she had to quit, no, she was allowed work from home and though she was usually nothing but supportive he began to feel her glare as he sat around the house, silently accusing him. This was mostly the reason why he liked the walks, though he would never admit it to himself, it got him away from her.

The day itself was sunny, though a little chilly, bright white clouds drifting across the blue sky, leaves of a thousand colours decorating the trees as they slowly turned. The paths were surprisingly busy for a weekday morning, people dodging and ducking around one another striding purposefully towards their destination, not deigning to look upon those around them. He was different though, he ambled, took in the sights, the smells, everything that was occurring around him. He wondered how much these people missed while they hurried along, seeming to be perpetually late for everything.

He was gazing in a shop window when she passed, her reflection in the window catching his eye, she was tall and statuesque, she seemed to revel in her height, adding high heels making her tower over most of the others on the path. She strode past, never looking in his direction, but he felt a chill. She had passed him when her perfume hit, carried in her wake. It was light and flowery, enough to be noticeable, but not enough to be overpowering. Turning from the window, he began to follow her, feeling a little creepy, but unable to stop himself. He didn’t need to stay close, after all, he could see her head above the crowd, so he continued at an almost leisurely pace.

He didn’t really know what had come over him, having never even dreamed of doing something like this, but yet here he was, effectively stalking some random woman. He caught another whiff of the perfume and these thoughts were driven from his mind. A few other men glanced in her direction as she passed, a few even gazed longingly after her, but none began to follow like he was, none of them felt that same power. They were leaving behind the shopping districts and heading towards the residential areas and though the crowd thinned to only a handful of people, he continued to follow her, no longer feeling self conscious or paranoid that everyone was looking at him.

They continued through the maze of houses and he realised that they were the only people on the path, not that it was too surprising, most of the kids would be in school, parents would be in work or out, but it was much more obvious he was following her. A few times he thought he saw her glance back slightly before continuing on. She never picked up her pace so he could only assume she didn’t find him threatening. He tried to rationalise what he was doing, following a random woman, but to what end? What could possibly happen? She would probably turn into a house and then what? He wasn’t going to go up to her house or anything, there was no point. Right? Despite knowing this and knowing nothing would happen, he couldn’t stop himself from following her. There was just something so alluring about her, though what it was he couldn’t tell.

The houses began to become more and more spaced out, he didn’t know how long they had been walking and time seemed to have lost all meaning. It was starting to get dark now though and he had no idea where he was. He felt his phone vibrate a few times but ignored it, his focus and attention were solely on her. If she had suspected him before she had to know now that he was following her but she did not appear to be concerned at all. They walked further and further outwards until finally she turned down a long, winding road, it appeared to be rarely used, the bushes and plants either side already overgrowing and reclaiming the road. She walked a little faster here, as though eager to be away from the main road, but she walked slow enough for him to still follow. He had no doubt that should she decide to run there was no way he could ever keep up, her legs were both long and muscular.

When they finally reached their destination it was almost full dark and he had a hard time seeing in front of him, but he knew she was there, he could still hear the noise her shoes were making. They had left behind the streetlights and there was nothing to illuminate the way ahead. They turned a bend and he saw it through the trees. A large house, three storeys high, towering over him. She continued to walk ignoring the sight and after a second he followed her too. She turned into the driveway and walked up to the porch, he paused in the driveway, unsure what to do. He didn’t know where he was and he couldn’t just ask her. He was trying to decide what he should do when she turned to him, smiling. “Well, are you going to come in or not?” “I-Uh…sure.” She slipped a key inside the lock, then opened the door, she stepped aside and waited for him. Hesitantly he moved toward her, up the steps and into the house. He jumped as the door closed behind him, suddenly, he felt trapped.

“I’m Cristina, you are?” “Jason.” “Good. Well Jason, are you hungry?” his stomach rumbled, “A little.” “Well, I am about to have dinner, would you care to join me?” “Sure.” “I will return momentarily, but please, make yourself at home.” She disappeared up the long twisting staircase, leaving him to stand awkwardly in the hall. The carpet was deep and soft, the walls covered with paintings, long corridors sprawled into the distance while periodically placed lamps gave everything a gentle glow. He was still looking around him when she appeared again, he didn’t notice her until she was beside him. “Are you ready for dinner?” He turned to reply and his voice was lost. She was wearing a long red dress, perfectly fitting her form, following her curves. She smiled, “Good.” she began to walk down one of the corridors and again, he followed.

She brought them to a large room with a long table taking up most of the space. There were at least thirty places and each one had plates and cutlery laid in front of them. She took the seat at the head of the table, then gestured to the one beside her. As soon as they were sitting a butler came in, as though summoned and laid dishes in front of them and, after a second, he silently retreated. Jason remembered little about the food or their conversation, his only memory that of her face. He knew that he had enjoyed the food and that it was delicious, but that was his only recollection. Her laugh was possibly the most enchanting sound he had ever heard, deep and throaty but somehow light and teasing too. “Tell me, did you enjoy your meal?” “Yes, very much so.” “I am glad. It is always pleasing to hear that the last meal tastes delicious.” He couldn’t quite hear what she was saying, he was too distracted by her, he could no longer reply, no longer do anything but stare. She smiled again and waved her hand quickly in front of him, seeing no reaction, the smile grew broader. “He is ready.” three men appeared suddenly by her side and grabbed Jason, dragging him upstairs. They would return him to her once he was changed into his work attire. Then she would command him to work and he would, without question until the day he died. Her drones came and cleared away the plates while she sat, each one trying to glance furtively at her. She didn’t mind these stolen glances though, as long as they kept doing their jobs.

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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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