Haunted. Short Story.

I’m quite tired at the moment. Haven’t been up to much, went out to dinner with my grandparents. Got some bad news yesterday, my sisters dog Edgar had a heart attack on Monday. Apparently it’s quite common for the breed of dog and he was quite over weight when she got him, though he has lost a considerable amount of weight since. The vets say it doesn’t look too good, he could go in a few days or a few weeks. They’re not really sure. It’s pretty horrible really.

On with the show.

_____________________________________________________________________

The decision was easy. You’d think I’d have spent days deliberating, trying to find ways that I could go on, but the reality was much more mundane. It wasn’t a sudden realisation either. It’s been something that has been at the back of my mind for a while now, but I never really paid too much attention to it. Really, I feel almost guilty at how easily I decided I should kill myself. The woman in front of me orders a coffee, black. The queue moves forward a step. Really? You come to this kind of place and you order black coffee? Jesus, she could have made that at home. That’s the one thing I love about these chains, you go in and order something mad, something off the wall and they’ll do it, no questions. My favourite visit was one that just opened. It was sort of pathetic really, there were balloons outside, and I wandered in at three in the day. The place was empty. I was their first customer of the day. I don’t think anyone else knew it was there. I almost missed it, hidden away in the heart of a bookshop. I went in and made my order, working with the people behind the counter to create something truly great. Of course some of the fun is ordering it quickly, so they think it’s a regular drink order. I chatted with them for a while, joked and laughed, they suggested naming my order after me, I would have been honoured if there was any chance that someone else anywhere ever would ever order the same thing. It tasted ok, but I probably wouldn’t ever try it again. The woman in front pockets her change and moves to wait for her drink, she’s sighing and huffing like this is all some great inconvenience to her. My turn.

I order a mocha, extra shot of espresso, a shot of vanilla syrup and a shot of orange. I smile as I pay and am one polite motherfucker. I was slightly disappointed that they never asked for my name. They sometimes do. I always give a fake, not like Hugh Jass or something childish, I go for real ones. Bob, Jack, Joseph, Benedict. It’s fun. For a short while I’m a completely different person, at least until the coffee’s gone. The woman with the black coffee grabs it when the barista calls out the order, she shoulders past everyone, pissed that they dare occupy the same general vicinity. What a cunt. I itch to call out after her, become a sarcastic bastard and tear her down but I refrain. That wouldn’t be nice. I’m trying to be nice you see. See if it makes the world better for me. So far it hasn’t, but it seems to cheer other people up. It’s almost depressing. Till workers ask how I am, I reply that I’m fine and ask them how they are and every time they look surprised, almost taken aback. My favourite are the people who answer, then ask how I am again. Just meaningless words to fill the awkward void while we’re forced to interact. I take my drink and go to one of the empty tables. It’s in a to go cup, but they won’t mind I’m sure. I’m only going to stay for a short while. I sip the drink, much better than I expected. Could probably do without the vanilla. As I sit I watch people come and go, always the same, line up, order, leave. In a few moments ten people have come and gone. I stand again, this place is too small, trying too hard to be comfortable, some bullshit music is playing in the background, similar to elevator music but with vague humming or words thrown in so no one contemplates stabbing the creator in the face.

The door to the coffee place opens easily, only stubbornly sticking once. A new record. The paths are empty enough, not crowded but enough people to make moving quickly slightly annoying. I weave through them, occasionally taking a drink. You’re probably wondering who I am at this point, why you should care? The answer to that I cannot give you, because I don’t really know. Why should you care about me when I don’t care about myself? It doesn’t seem fair. You should be worried about your husband, wife, children, parents. Anyone else but me. But then, I could be anyone of them, well, anyone of them but your wife. I’m decidedly male thank you very much. I’m pretty average. At least in my opinion I am. Then again, is my opinion of myself valid? If I plan to kill myself, does that invalidate everything I think of me? Ok. My head is starting to hurt. I have no destination in mind. Well, I do, I am going home, but I want to go somewhere else first. I’ll wander for a while and then duck into some shop that catches my eye. It’s fun and interesting too. Last time I went into a comic shop, started asking the guy at the counter about the comic with the super hero, the one with the cape? It was fun to watch those closest twitch. I did actually buy a comic after it was all over. I don’t know which one I did get, never got around to reading it, but buying it wasn’t the point, the experience was. I will read it someday, before I off myself. I think I’m going to do it next week, so that should give me time to get through it. Shouldn’t take too long right? It’s only really pictures.

There’s a music shop on the left, inside someone is playing piano. I stop and go in. It’s slightly dark in here, but I can see ok. There are rows and rows of music books, instruments set up either as displays or practise models. I’m not really sure. There are a few guitars, a drum kit, some pianos and a saxophone. I go to the pianos. Carefully, I put the coffee cup on the ground and press a key gently, getting a feel for it. After a moment I start to play. I didn’t know I could do that. It sounds pretty good, at least my ears don’t hurt and no one is trying to get me to stop. I don’t know what I’m playing but it sounds classical. I might just be making it up as I go along. I play for a few more minutes then stop, allowing it to fade. The two other people in the music shop shake their heads slightly and go back to whatever they were doing. Well, look at that. I was good. Smiling, I pick up my coffee and leave. There’s no way in hell I can afford a five grand piano and that was the cheap one. Home. That’s the destination now. Almost there and I can relax for a while. I don’t have anything pressing today, no work, no one I have to meet up with. It’s my own day. Not that I have many friends to meet up with. I’m not some loner freak of course, I just seems to drift in and out of people’s lives. I don’t hold it against them really. It makes life more interesting. Of course I hate work. Doesn’t everyone? But not enough to off myself, if that’s what you were thinking. Life is pretty good for the most part. Nothing too horrendous, but there is something. It’s a pain in the bollocks and something I’m never great at explaining. I drain the last of my coffee, it’s starting to get cold, and throw the cup in the bin. No littering. Not for me thank you very much. I’m almost home now, my street is lined with cherry blossom trees, it’s my favourite part about where I live. Occasionally a strong enough breeze would come along and they’d fall off the branches, flutter around, it seemed almost magical. I walk up the path, enter my code at the door and step into the hallway.  My apartment is the one at the top, I guess you’d call it the penthouse apartment, but that sounds far too classy for what it actually is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty awesome place, but calling it a penthouse just makes me think of streamlined arty shit. At my door I pause, then twist the key. I step inside and take a deep breath. “All right. Can we just get this over with quickly? I’ve had a long day. I’m tired.” There’s silence for a moment, then hell breaks loose.

I’m not sure how long it lasted, but it’s usually no more than ten minutes. My head hurts now, but that’s not a big surprise, a few painkillers will take care of it. “Hey, Jeff, that was really fucked up, really scary.” I don’t know what his name is, or if he’s actually a he, but that’s what I call him, Jeff doesn’t respond, he just fades into the wall. He was some kind car crash victim a moment ago. The others are disappearing. “Same time tomorrow then?” after a moment they’re gone. They all have their own names, Shelly, Rick, Candice. They’ve been with me for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a child, no matter where I go. I wonder if they’ll follow me once I’m dead. I am like their God or something? Their victim? I don’t know and I’m not sure if they know either. Once they’re gone I go towards my room.  I might as well read that comic now.

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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.
This entry was posted in Horror, Short Stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Haunted. Short Story.

  1. A English says:

    Hi James

    Thanks for the story, I really enjoyed it. It broke the crushing monotony of work for me. Much appreciated!
    I’ll look forward to reading some more of yours later.
    All the best,
    Andy

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