Return. Short Story.

The man sat on the bench, staring at nothing. He wore a pair of converse runners, blue jeans and a blue t-shirt, his hair was brown and cut short. He looked around himself slowly, taking it all in. He wasn’t sure where he was or how he got there, one moment there was nothing, the next he was here, sitting on the bench. His stomach growled and gurgled, he had felt that strange pain in his stomach ever since he’d been here, but he didn’t know how to make it stop. A jogger went past without slowing, the man’s gaze followed the woman as she turned behind some trees and vanished from sight.

“Excuse me, are you all right?” The man turned his head and looked at the newcomer, the man standing in front of him was wearing a long-sleeved jumper and trousers, both green and a high-vis jacket, he had a thick beard, “you’ve been sitting there for a while now, I just wanted to check that you were OK.”
The man stared at him, “It’s a bit cold out today, did you bring a jacket with you?”
Silence. He sat down beside the man, “I’m Jake, I work for the park. Is there someone I could ring for you maybe? Are you lost?”
The man nodded, yes, lost. That sounded right, the word fit. “Lost.”
“OK, do you know your name or address?”
The man stared at him blankly. “Maybe check your pocket, see if you have anything like a phone?”
The man started patting at his jeans, it looked to Jake as if he didn’t know exactly how pockets worked. He tried not to roll his eyes, he always seemed to find the crazies. The guy looked like he was a bit tapped in the head, he was probably slow or maybe he was just on something, it could be hard to tell some times.
“Nothing? OK, well how about you come with me and we can get you a nice hot cup of tea while we figure out whose supposed to be looking after you, OK?”

Jake stood from the bench and offered the man his hand, it always made the ones who were a bit slow feel better, or at least it seemed to make them feel better. The man stared at his outstretched hand, “C’mon, it’s OK.” He just had to get him back to the small caretakers hut and he could leave the guy with Harry or Toby until the police arrived and figured out what they were to do with him.
“Look, you can stay here in the cold or we can get you somewhere warm, that sounds nice, doesn’t it? Somewhere warm? A hot drink?” he wiggled the fingers on his outstretched hand, the man stared up at him, then he leaned forward opened his mouth and with one quick movement clamped it down on Jakes first two fingers. Jake screamed as the man ripped his head away, leaving two heavily bleeding stubs, Jake stared at his hand, “What the fuck?” the man was chewing, he swallowed, his head jerking forward like a birds, his eyes widened slightly and he pounced. Jake struggled against the man, he felt a hideous, wet warmth around his final two fingers and then they were gone. Jake punched the man with his intact hand, he felt the impact radiate up his arm, the man’s neck snapped back with a loud crack. Slowly the man lowered his head again, it moved oddly, like it was loose. He looked down at Jake for a moment, then lunged, his teeth finding Jakes neck and ripping into it. Hot blood splashed across his face, the warmth was glorious. He ripped chunks free with his teeth snapping and swallowing, barely stopping to chew. When he had eaten his fill he was covered in blood and gore, only a few minutes passed and there was no one else around. The man knew that he had to go, that people would come for him if he didn’t. He stood from the body and started walking, he wanted to bring the body too but it was too heavy and he’d no where to hide it, not yet anyway. He knew the hunger would return soon and stronger than ever, but he knew the cure now too.

Smiling he walked through the park, blood drying into his skin. Thoughts drifted across his mind, trouble would be coming, police. He had murdered someone, they wouldn’t be able to let that go. Not these days, they’d come for him. His grin widened a bit more, he’d like to see them try. He knew this world, if not this place, he’d been here before but not for a long, long time. He could sense the memories, just out of reach, but they’d come in time. He didn’t worry about the blood soaked clothes or his stained skin, he wore it like a badge of honour, why should he hide? He was stronger than the most powerful men and soon they’d learn to bow to him, they all would. He stepped from the path and into the tree line, they’d be searching for him and while he welcomed the test of skill he felt that he wasn’t quite ready yet, this body was new, strange, he still had much to figure out. He walked through the trees silently, without the cracking of a branch of the crunch of leaves. They’d be out looking for him soon, but they wouldn’t find him, not until he wanted them to.


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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