Cause of Death. Short Story.

Carl looked at his watch, only another ten minutes and then he’d be done here. The morning had flown by but after lunch everything just seemed to grind to a halt. He looked at the word documents he had open on the computer and clicked around a little bit, he could hear the steady click-clack of Vanessa’s high heels approaching, if she caught him “slacking off” she’d be pissed, regardless of the fact that he had no work to do. She passed by him without comment leaving only the light scent of her perfume behind her, his shoulders relaxed a little, he yawned and clicked back over to the internet again. An email alert popped up, Carl groaned, he was only a few minutes away from freedom, an email at this time of the day usually meant he’d have to hang back for a while. He opened his email and relaxed as he saw who it was from, Dave, he opened the email.

Found this really creepy site! Thought you’d get a kick out of it. Carl clicked the link beneath it, it opened to a black webpage with red writing in a font that was supposed to be scary but just looked a little childish. He scanned through the page which promised to reveal the secrets of your death at the click of a button. Smiling a little he clicked the button and the page reloaded.

Carl Jenkins – Dies at 56, heart attack in restaurant during anniversary dinner, dead before ambulance arrives.

Carl felt a shiver go up his spine, how did it know his last name? He shook his head, probably some kind of software trick, maybe it just used the username for the computer, he was the first to acknowledge he wasn’t the most computer literate of people. He fired off a quick reply to Dave and asked about lunch tomorrow, then the clock struck five and he logged out. He grabbed his stuff and made his way out of the office quickly, before anyone could corner him about staying late to finish off something last minute.

Carl just finished eating dinner when the website popped into his head again, he grabbed his phone from his pocket and brought up the email from earlier, he clicked the link again and the site loaded exactly the same as before, he clicked the button and was brought to another cause of death.

Carl Jenkins – Dies at 46, crushed by a lorry while crossing the street

He shook his head and tried for another one.

Carl Jenkins – Dies at 34, chokes on own vomit after a night of heavy drinking.

That one cut a little close to home, there had been more than one night out which ended up in him passing out and throwing up somewhere. He clicked the button again, one more and then he’d start with clearing away his dishes.

Carl Jenkins – Dies at 29, stabbed during mugging, bleeds out before help can arrive.

He frowned, the ages were counting down every time he refreshed it, he supposed it would make sense to start off at older ages, but why would it only go down? Eventually someone was going to get an age below theirs. He began to close out of the page when he stopped, one more wouldn’t hurt.

Carl Jenkins – Dies at 24, attacked at home during the night. Neighbours hear nothing.

Carl closed the page, he was a little surprised it had gotten his age right without going under it, but then surely it was bound to happen to some people, just a coincidence. He cleared away his plate and settled in for a night of well deserved TV.

Carl lay in bed, he couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t get that weird website out of his head. Sighing he rolled over and grabbed his phone from the nightstand. He opened the page and refreshed it, he expected it to say something new, something about him dying at 19 or something, instead it said the same thing as before. He tried it again a few times but the message stayed the same. He turned his phone off and put it back on the nightstand, must be some kind of bug in the site. Did he have to enter an age earlier? He didn’t think he did the first time he used it, but maybe it was a joke thing where you fill in someone’s details before you send it to them. That would be the kind of thing Dave would love. He rolled over and made himself comfortable, after a few minutes he’d fallen asleep.

Carl woke suddenly, his heart thudding heavily in his chest, he looked around the room, everything seemed to be in order. He lay back down, unsure of what had woken him, maybe there had been a noise outside? He pulled back the covers and got out of bed, he moved through his room in the darkness and pulled back the curtain, he peered out into the street, everything seemed normal. He let the curtain drop back into place and he made his way back to bed, maybe it had just been a bad dream, what ever it was it had gone now. He closed his eyes, downstairs there was the creak of the door to the kitchen being closed over. Carl sat up, panic was rising steadily, he reached out to grab his phone from the nightstand, it was gone. He looked around the room, his door was ajar, he’d closed it before he went asleep. He could hear the steady thump of footsteps on the stairs. Carl got out of bed, he needed something, a weapon, anything. The footsteps reached the landing and paused outside his door. He needed to attack, it was his only chance. Once he got whoever it was down he could run out of the house and get help. The door slowly swung open, Carl couldn’t move, he was frozen in place. The man was silhouetted by the door and the lights outside, he was tall, far taller than he had any right to be, he was thin with oddly long arms that reached past his knees. He saw the man dip his head under the doorway and step into the room, Carl looked at the mans face in the darkness and saw it wasn’t a man. The thing grinned at him, revealing a row of long, sharp teeth. It reached out slowly with one freakishly long arm and gently stroked Carls cheek. Its skin felt papery, dry and delicate but with an uncomfortable warmth behind it. The thing made a strange sound, almost like a dog throwing up, its shoulders heaving back and forth, Carl realised that the thing was laughing. The thing took another step forward, its hand moving up and down his body, a thin line of drool ran down its chin and dripped onto the carpet, it started to talk, its voice was low and guttural, “You have pretty skin. I like pretty skin.” Carl felt a sudden sharp pain as the creatures long nails dug into him. Carl started to scream and he wouldn’t stop for a very, very long time.


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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