The Backpack. Short Story.

Well, last night was quite stressful, we were in the sitting room watching TV when there was this horrific shrieking and whimpering coming from the kitchen, leg it in to see blood everywhere. Dougal was gushing blood, wrapped his leg in a towel and carried him out to the car, then went on a midnight trip to the emergency vets. Thought the poor dog was going to bleed to death or something. He’s doing much better now, the cut wasn’t too bad luckily, all it needed was a few staples and a bandage. When you hear Dougal crying like that you know that something bad has happened because he doesn’t cry/whimper in pain unless something is really wrong with him.

He was very good in the vets too, he let them do their thing without a bother, didn’t whimper or snap for the shaving, injection or staples. He was quite frightened and shaking, but he was really good. Didn’t get to sleep till about 3 this morning and kept waking up through the night.

So my night was quite eventful. Which wasn’t fun at all, still though, he’s ok and that’s the important thing.

On with the show!


The Backpack.

He was tired, so incredibly tired, but he couldn’t stop. There was still so much that needed to be done, suppressing a yawn he picked up the back pack and put it on. The backpack was plain and unassuming, but despite its empty appearance, it was quite heavy, he didn’t know if it was the bag itself or if there was something inside. He wanted to check, to see what the hell could be so heavy, but that wasn’t part of the arrangements and he didn’t want to get into trouble. He had to dump the backpack in the spot and he was done with this part.

He left the house, wishing again that he still had the car, it had broken down almost a month ago and was too expensive to fix, it had sat in the driveway, day after day, taunting him, until he finally sold the damn thing. He needed a new one and soon, but he didn’t have the time. Luckily he didn’t have to go too far away, otherwise he might not have been able to get it there. Usually his deliveries were given in backpacks, so it wasn’t too difficult getting on the bus, no one seemed to notice or care. It made life a little easier, though the busses had grown unreliable as of late, coming far too late or too early. He couldn’t be late today, he didn’t have the time for it, so walking it was. He started off at a fast, steady pace, he could feel the contents shifting around slightly as he walked.

At first it wasn’t too bad, the walking, it was a nice day, the sun was out and there was a gentle, cooling breeze, but the weight on his back began to get heavier, slowly at first, but it steadily became more insistent, banging painfully against him as he went, reminding him it was there. He began to slow, his fast pace dwindling, his back sore. It wasn’t long before he needed a break, he took the backpack off and let it drop to the ground, panicking at the last second as it hit. He didn’t hear anything inside it break and, hoping it was still ok, he let out a shaky breath. It would be ok, everything would be fine. All he had to do was get the backpack there, leave it and go home, then he could sleep or watch TV.

After a few minutes, he picked up the backpack and put it on again, there wasn’t too much farther to go. He knew roughly where the address was, probably one of the warehouses that lined the road. When he first began he thought he’d be going to empty lots, covered in weeds and broken glass, or creepy abandoned buildings with flickering lights, but he found the truth much more mundane. The places he made deliveries too were normal places, houses, shops. He didn’t really know what he was delivering, he assumed it wasn’t completely on the level but he didn’t ask and they didn’t tell, he liked it that way. He was paid well and he didn’t have to deal with any guilt, besides, it was none of his business what they were doing. He just wanted to get paid.

He stopped outside the warehouse, certain it was the right one. He glanced around to see if there was anyone else about, then walked up to the door. It was unlocked, as he was told it would be. He slipped inside and allowed the door to close behind him. The warehouse was big, though he wasn’t sure how big as there were large stacks of boxes and crates. He had been told to go to the back office, but god only knew where that was in this place. It seemed like a maze. He started walking, hoping he’d come across it quickly.
After a few seconds, he realised that it was more organised that it had originally appeared, the crates were stacked in neat rows and he could easily see to the ends of each one.

It didn’t take him long to find the back office, it was slightly raised, up a short flight of steps. Large windows looked out at the warehouse. Someone must have left a light on as there was a gentle yellow glow coming from the blinds. He sped up, wanting to get this done with. The backpack was getting heavier and the empty warehouse was starting to freak him out. He went up the stairs quickly and gently knocked on the door, then opened it. The room was empty as he expected. Smiling, he went to the middle of the room and took off the backpack, then dumped it on the table. He turned away, then turned back. He looked at the backpack, wondering what was inside. After all, what ever it was had gotten heavier the longer he had it. He was certain of that much. It was definitely getting heavier. He put his hand on the zip, then took it away. He wasn’t supposed to look, those were the rules. He stepped away, then looked at it again. It was just a quick peek, no one would know. He glanced around the room, checking for cameras. There were none in here and he was completely alone. No one would ever know. No. He was getting paid to take it from A to B, he was getting paid well, if anyone found out he had looked, he might get fired or worse. He resolutely turned away and left the office.

Outside again he felt better, it was stupid to even consider looking, he wasn’t usually a curious person, but he had held out. He smiled, quickly, the smile changed to a grimace as something slammed into his back, hot and painful. He tried to twist away but someone grabbed him. “You looked, didn’t you?” “No, I swear I didn’t.” he was gasping for breath, trying to breath through the pain, something warm was pouring down his back, soaking into his clothes. “You considered it. We saw you. You might not have looked today, maybe you wouldn’t have the next time, but what about the time after that? Or after that?” Bright white pain flashed up his back, he collapsed forward. The man looked down at the bleeding body. It was for the best, he had lasted a decent amount of time, but now his employ was at an end. They were doing important work and it couldn’t be jeopardised. Not for some fools idle curiosity at least.



About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 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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