The Collector. Short Story.

So the scopes went well, didn’t end up throwing up or hospitalised afterwards this time so that’s a plus! I’m mostly back to normal now, stomach was fairly tender for the last few days. Over all not a particularly pleasant experience, but not crazy bad. I suppose its helps that I have no memory of the procedures at all, the last thing I remember was being in the operation room and the doctors confirming who I was and why I was there and then there’s just nothing until I woke up a while later, don’t even remember getting the sedative. I was even home and all by one!

Hopefully it’ll be another few years before I need one again. Don’t really have any results yet but everything looked fine so I’m taking it as a win.

Also, as an aside, the laxative drink wasn’t as bad as the last time. Still not great but this time I didn’t have to rinse my mouth out after each glass, so that was a bonus I guess. Well, as much as fakely sweet, slightly salty, lemon flavoured drink that’s oh so slightly thicker than water can be a bonus.

_____________________________________________________________

The Collector.

 

Benny sat down, his head was throbbing dully and the constant background chatter wasn’t helping. He reached into his bag and pulled out a pack of painkillers, he took two and dry swallowed them and sighed, that’ll help take the edge off. He sat back into the sofa and closed his eyes, he just needed a minute, that was all.
“What ya doing?”
“What does it look like?”
“It looks like you’re sleeping, but that can’t be right, it’s only two in the afternoon, you didn’t get up until noon too.”
“It was a late night.”
“They’re always late nights, shouldn’t you be used to it by now?”
“That’s only if you can actually sleep during the day too.”
“I don’t know why you’re so grumpy. I work the same hours as you, no in fact I work longer than you and I’m fine.”

Benny sighed, “that’s because you’re dead, you don’t need sleep.”
“Ok, I’ll give you that. Still no excuse for this, you should be up and doing your job, that’s why we’re here after all.”
“I just need a second, it’s not like there’s anyone here to see, besides you that is.”
“Fine. You waste the day, I’ll have another look around.”
Benny took a long, deep breath. If she wasn’t already dead he’d have throttled Mary by now. Relentlessly loud and always pushing for action and they were stuck together. After a few minutes the pain started to recede a little, the dull throbbing becoming a gentle ache. Benny stretched, yawned then stood up, it was time to get to work.

“So do you see anything?”
“No, where ever she was killed it wasn’t here.”
“We don’t know that she’ dead yet.”
“Yes we do. C’mon, how many times have we found someone alive?”
“Yeah, but we’re usually called in after they’ve been killed. This woman is just missing.”
“Missing and presumed dead.”
Benny gritted his teeth, “Do you see anything or not?”
“No, some murkiness around the kitchen, I think it happened in there but it could have just been a really bad argument too. Nothing that suggests murder. I had a look around, no clothes missing, her make up is still in the bathroom, if she left she left with nothing.”
“Did you find a purse? Phone?”

“Purse yes, it was by the door when we came in, you stumbled over it, remember?”
“Oh yeah. I was a little distracted. Sorry.”
“It’s ok. Didn’t find a phone though.”
“Ok, that’s good we-ah!” Benny winced, his eyes closing and his hands going to his head, “What? What is it?”
“Nothing. Just my head. It’s ok, I’m ok.”
“They’re getting louder, aren’t they?”
“Yeah, but what’s new.”
“That’s bad Benny. Really bad. I know you don’t want to think about it, but you have to. It means they’re getting closer.”
Benny shrugged, “I have to find this woman first, get some money in. Then I can worry about the voices.”
“Are they any clearer?”
“No, just chatter, it’s all blurring together.”
“Ok, well that’s something at least. I can have another look around if you want to rest for a minute.”
“No, you’re right, we’ve work to do.”
“I was just teasing, you do need your rest.”
Benny moved into the kitchen, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, pots were hung neatly on one wall, every counter gleamed, nothing seemed out of place, there wasn’t even a mug in the sink.
“She was a bit of a neat freak I think. Bedroom’s the same, so is the bathroom. You could eat out of that toilet, not that you’d want to. Well, I try not to judge.”

“Ha. Ha.”

“Oh. Oh no.”
“What?”
“I think I just saw her.”
“Here?”
“Yeah. Hang on.”

Benny leaned against the counter, he hoped that there would be something, anything to help find her, but the truth was he was out of his depth. He dealt with the dead, not the living and it was hard to concentrate with that damn chatter. It seemed even louder than before, like there were a thousand people crammed inside his head, all clamouring to be heard. He shouldn’t have taken this case. It was a bad idea, why did he allow Mary to talk him into it?
“Ok, it was her. She’s definitely dead. She isn’t saying much, she’s still in shock, but from what I can gather she’s been dead since Monday. I think it happened soon after she left this place.”
“Did she give you any details?”
“No, she just keeps saying why is it so cold and why does it hurt so much.”
“Any visible wounds?”
“No, she looked fine, well apart from being dead.”
“Ok well-”

There was a loud knock on the door, “Hello? Are you still here?”
A man entered the kitchen, he was tall and pale, with dark circles around his eyes, “Ah, Mr. Murphy, I’m just finishing up.”
“Did you find anything?”
“Not yet, no.”

The man smiled, “are you sure? I thought she’d have been back here by now.”

Benny frowned, “If you thought she was coming back, why hire me?”
The man shook his head, “No, not her body, her spirit.”

The chattering in Benny’s head became louder, his hands shot to his head.
“Oh, I always hated that part. Don’t worry, it’ll stop soon.”
The man stepped towards Benny.

Benny groaned and opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed was the silence, complete and utter silence, followed by the darkness. Had he ever actually been in silence before? Ever since he was a child he could hear them, but now they were gone. “Hello?” His voice sounded odd, quiet and muted, like he was in a soundproofed room. He reached out expecting to feel a soft wall, but there was nothing in front of him. Carefully Benny stood, his body wasn’t sore, that was something. He didn’t know what had happened, but he wasn’t in pain and that was a bonus. Benny shuffled forward, his arms outstretched, he expected to run into a wall at any second, but there was nothing. He lengthened his stride a little and started counting the steps.

Benny stopped walking, he was up to a thousand now and he was reasonably sure he wasn’t walking in circles. The room must be far larger than he originally thought. After a moment he started walking again, sooner or later he’d have to reach a wall.

The man placed a label onto the dark, glass bottle, the name Benjamin was written on it in tight, spidery script. The room was large but seemed smaller, every wall covered in bookshelves and each bookshelf was full of bottles crammed in together. He had lost track of them all years ago, but there were thousands. He carefully put the bottle onto the shelf, beside it was another, smaller bottle, this one had Mary written on it. He ran his finger tips across the bottles, shivering slightly as he did. He had been collecting for a long, long time and there was still plenty of space on his shelves.

 

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

3 Responses to The Collector. Short Story.

  1. phil795 says:

    Interesting story.

  2. Pingback: The Collector. Short Story. | Phil Slattery's Blog

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