Captured. Short Story.

“I have killed thousands of your kind. Hundreds of thousands. It means nothing to me.”
“So you admit to your crimes?”
The woman threw back her head and laughed, it sounded high pitched and jarring, full of mirth and evil. “Crimes? Do you call it a crime when you eat a pig to survive? Or a lion eats a deer?”
“No, but they are animals, you are not.”
“That is correct, I am not the animal, you are. You and your kind are hunted by mine. We stalk through this world, proud hunters looking for our next kill. You are nothing more than cattle to us. Meat that raises itself for the slaughter.”
“We know who you are, we know that you’re human. If you’re hoping for an insanity plea it won’t work.”
“Oh, you do, do you? What do you know about me then?”
“You’re name is Sarah Goodchild, you were born to John and Melissa Goodchild in 1983. You grew up in Fairfax, about sixty miles north of here, you moved here about ten years back, we’re currently tracking down your last employer and landlord.”
“Sarah Goodchild? Is that the name I’m going by now? I thought that was the one before it. It’s so hard to keep track sometimes. Mostly your kind just fall all over themselves to help me, but not you. You’re different. You want names and evidence and everything to be oh so orderly. Why is that?”
“We’re not here to discuss me, we’re here to talk about you and what you did. We found all the bodies, well, most of them, we’re working on exhuming the rest. Why did you do it? What was it about them?”
“I don’t know really, there was nothing specific. I just knew they were the ones. Maybe they were slightly weaker or stronger if I was looking for a bit of fun. For the most part though they presented themselves to me willingly. Oh they may not have known what they were getting into, but they still came to me and I accepted their offers. I can feel them inside me right now you know, their souls. All bundled together, squirming over one another, like maggots in a slippery ball, writhing together as one. It’s indescribable really, I don’t think I’d ever be able to convey the simple pleasure it brings me to feel them inside.”
“So you admit to doing it? To murdering all those people?”
“oh gladly, I feel no shame in what I did. I feel pride. I fought them all and won, where is the shame in that?”

Paul studied her face, she sat there pleasantly enough, smiling at him. She didn’t look like a murderer, she didn’t look like anyone. She was plain, with almost nondescript features, with a bit of makeup she could have been pretty, but that was all she could ever be. Her skin was pale, her eyes an almost boring shade of light green, her lips were thin, almost as though her mouth was just a small line on her face. There was something off about her mouth, something he couldn’t quite place. There was a feeling in the room, a feeling of being trapped, of being in danger.

“So how many are there? Surely you must remember them.”
She looked up at the ceiling for a moment, “Hmm, well you don’t remember every meal that you ate? I can give you a rough number if you’d like.”
“Sure, why not start there.”
“Hmm, well, as Sarah Goodchild, there were probably at least a thousand.”
“C’mon Sarah, be serious here. I’ve been to your house, there is no what you’d fit a thousand corpses there.”
“Well, not all of them remained corpses. We tend to eat every part of our food. Sometimes you can’t finish for one reason or another and then the meat has started to spoil. It’s a waste but then when your kind have such large numbers there’s no need to be particularly careful, is there?”
Paul shook his head, “Look, you can keep up this act as long as you like. It won’t make a difference. We have proof, you’re going to jail for a very, very long time.”
She chuckled again, the noise made Paul’s skin ripple in goose bumps.
“You think I’m your prisoner do you? I’ve merely stayed here because it’s an interesting distraction. I can leave anytime I want to.”
Paul shook his head, “I can assure you there is no way out of here, not for you.”
“Do you think this is the first time one of your kind has caught one of mine? It’s rare but it does happen, less so these days now that you’ve done away with angry mobs. We get arrested every now and then, sometimes we get away immediately, other times we wait. It’s not like we are in any rush to escape, unlike your kind ours has plenty of time. Speaking of time, I feel that I should be going. I no longer find this amusing.” Sarah stood, her cuffs clanking against the table as she did so, Paul stood, unsure of what she was going to try. Sarah held out her hands, “Now. Uncuff me.” Paul laughed, “No, of course I won’t. Did you really expect that to work?” Sarah smiled, her grin was bright and her eyes shone with madness, “I was expecting exactly that.”

Sarah stepped outside of the police station, she breathed the fresh air deeply, the room they had kept her in was not only small but stuffy. Sarah started walking, there was no rush, besides she was quite full after her last meal, it had been a long time since she had eaten more than one human in a sitting. It reminded her of her early days, when she would travel the world descending on small villages, consuming everything and everyone because who knew when the next meal would stumble into her path. Not like these days, where food was astoundingly abundant. She had lived as Sarah Goodchild for long enough, now was the time for a new name, and a new face. She had gotten a little sloppy, she had allowed herself to relax too much and she wouldn’t make that mistake again. There were only ten or eleven bodies buried around her property, those who she couldn’t finish, or those whose meat had been tainted. In a few weeks people would start to forget, it would just become one of those things that nobody talked about until eventually it would be like it had never happened.

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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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First Day. Short Story.

Hey, so just a quick warning there won’t be a short story on Friday, but I’ll be back on Monday and everything will continue as normal then. Going for a colonoscopy and an gastroscopy tomorrow so I figure give myself the time to recover and all that. Not particularly looking forward to it (big surprise) but it won’t be that bad, going by the last time the worst part of it is having to drink what is basically 2 litres of laxative. Yay Crohn’s.

Though hopefully I’ll be able to see what’s happening during the gastroscopy, because it’s not every day you get a chance to see what your insides look like!

 

_____________________________________________________________

First Day.

“They’re real?”
“Yeah? Of course they’re real, I thought everyone knew that.”                                                    “I thought they were like an old wives tale, something you tell to kids so they eat their vegetables and scare them away from crime. How come you never hear anything about them on the news?”
“They report on it all the time, they just leave out the Three Hundred angle, call it gang warfare or something like that. They’ll report it just like any other crime.”
“So what do we do about them?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, how do we stop them?”
“Are you crazy? We don’t. I don’t want to get mixed up in any of that, we just stay far away from them.”
“They’re criminals! They’re murdering people!”
“Criminals with a mandate from the Gods. Do you really want to piss them off?”
“The Gods are real too? I need to sit down.” Jack stumbled over to the small, over stuffed couched, Doug rolled his eyes.
“You’re one of those huh? Atheist? Well, were I guess. Never understood it myself, I mean sure they don’t exactly pop in all the time these days but they’re around enough. Small ways. They’ve stepped back a good bit, still not a good idea to cross them.” Doug looked at Jack for a moment, he was pale and clammy, “You really didn’t know what you were getting into here, did you?”
“No one told me this, no one told me anything about it. I was just told that I was assigned here, that’s it. Nothing else…What else is real?”                                                                      Doug shook his head, “I don’t think we should get into that right now, it might fry your brain. You’re gonna see a lot on this job, if you don’t think you’re going to be able to handle it, it’s best to transfer out now. No one will think less of you, you wouldn’t be the first or the last. You look like you need a drink, c’mon lets go to Joseph’s”

The bar was small, intimate, booths lined the wall and tables were dotted about the room. Doug strolled up the bar, “Hey Tommy, how’s things?”
“Ah same old, can’t complain. The usual for you?”
“Yeah, that’d be great. This is the newbie, give him something strong, would ya?”
Tommy smiled, “Yeah, no problem. He’s looking a little pale though, make sure he doesn’t throw up on the seats. It took me forever to scrub it all out the last time.”
“Don’t worry, I think he’ll be fine.”                                                                                         Tommy put the drinks and the bar and Doug paid. He grabbed the two glasses and joined Jack. “Here, drink this.”
“What is it?”
“Don’t ask, just drink. Trust me it’ll do you some good.”
Jack took a tentative sip, “wow, this is actually really good.”
Doug smiled, “Told you, I’m not going to steer you wrong. We’re going to have to have a conversation. I don’t know why they keep sending people over to us unprepared. Right, tell me what you know.”
“Well, the usual stuff I guess. I went to church when I was younger and just kind of fell away from it.”
“Yeah, that’s happening these days. The Gods have calmed down a bit from their early days, they’re less flashy now, more into the whole invisible guiding hand stuff. They don’t really care too much what people are up to for the most part.”
“So all those stories are real?”
“Well, most of them, you get embellishment, people changing stuff around, but the core of it is real.”
“So the Three Hundred are out there? Just wandering around?”
“Yeah, but it isn’t a bad thing. Usually they take out the worst of the worst. One or two are actually pretty decent, but you will want to avoid them for the most part. There are a couple that are dangerous to everyone, but they haven’t been active in a while.”
Jack took a gulp of his drink, “Why don’t people know about this stuff?”
“They do, they just ignore it. It’s easy to dismiss stuff that isn’t really obvious. The Gods don’t interfere unless it’s really important. I think the last time they popped up properly was about four hundred years back. That was when that false prophet came along, so they took him down.”

Jack took another gulp from his glass. “So then is it true? How the Three Hundred were created?”
“Well, we think so.”
“Then why don’t the gods do that kind of stuff any more?”
“Smite people for being sinful and all that? They were…different then, if what I’m told is correct. They’ve loosened up a bit. We don’t really know why but there’s a few theories out there.”
“So I’m not going to be turned into an eternal monster if I sin?”
Doug chuckled, “They’re not monsters. They look like everyone else. They don’t age and they can’t die but they’re not real, literal monsters. Most of those died out years ago. Besides, they only go after bad people.”
“Why only bad ones? They can do what ever they like, can’t they?”
“Well, from what I hear they believe that if they help cleanse the earth of sin they will be cleansed of theirs. The worse the sin they faster they get to die and move on. It’s kind of a double edged sword though, a lot of them can’t really control themselves once they get started so they inflict pain and torment before killing. Personally I think that’d cancel out what ever good they’re trying to do but it’s none of my business.”

Jack drained the last of his drink, “Ok, so what exactly are we going to be doing here? I mean if most of the monsters have died out, the Gods don’t interfere and we leave the Three Hundred alone, what is our job?”
“There’s plenty of people and things out there that aren’t quite every day humans. There’s demigods, heroes, creatures that pass for humans and ones who are no where close. We look after them. We investigate any crimes they’re involved in and just generally try to keep the peace between everyone. When we go back to the office later you’ll see a few of them hanging around, don’t worry they’re all lovely.”
Jack shook his head, “I’m sorry, but you’re joking right? People would know, how could they not? Everyone has a camera in their pocket these days, there’d be proof.”
“Oh it is there. Pictures and videos. We have some people that help scrub out the more dangerous stuff to stop people from getting hurt, but we let a good lot of it through. I could show people plenty of sites with real pictures, and they’ll dismiss it as photoshop or a costume. People don’t see it because they don’t want to, plus a lot of these creatures are adept at using magic, they tend to keep themselves hidden most of the time. Usually if anyone comes out about it they’re labelled as a loon. Remember that singer a few years back? Came out about demon filled sex parties and then her career pretty much died because everyone thought she was crazy? She was telling the truth, or at least it wouldn’t surprise me if she was. I’ve heard stories about the parties her manager throws and let me tell you…Are you ok?”
Jack had gone pale again, he was slightly slumped over the table.
“Look, just take a few deep breaths. You’ll adjust fast, everyone does if they stay. Most people aren’t coming at it from your perspective but hey, you’ll get there.”
Doug stood from the table, “In the mean time I’ll get you another, I’ll even pay if you just do one thing for me.”
“What?”
“If you’re gonna throw up, do it outside, I don’t want Tommy pissed at me again.”
Jack’s eyes widened slightly, he lowered his voice to a whisper “Why? Is he some kind of creature too?”                                                                                                                                    “No, that bastard will just water down my drinks for the next six months.”                      Doug clapped Jack on the back and went to the bar.

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Searching. Short Story.

Sally took another swig of her drink and grimaced, she put the tea cup down on the table. She wasn’t entirely sure what was in the cup, but she knew it wasn’t tea. What ever it was it had a bitter, acrid taste to it, dry and sour with a faint, unpleasant tinge of dust. The old woman tottered out of the kitchen a few seconds later carrying a tray laden with biscuits. “I’m sorry, I don’t have much in, I wasn’t expecting company.”
“No, that’s ok, really, don’t worry about it.”
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you too much, I didn’t know her very well.”
The old woman put the tray onto the table and sat down heavily on the couch across from Sally, “Now, you were saying you were looking for your friend, Rebecca was it?”
“Rosie.”
“Ah, sorry, my memory isn’t what it used to be. She was the girl who lived next door, wasn’t she?”
“Yeah, she moved in about a year ago?”
The old woman nodded, “Oh yes, I remember, short girl? Blonde hair?”
“Yes, that’s her, she went missing about a week ago, and I’m not getting much help from the police, so I thought I’d ask around. See if anyone heard anything you know?”
“Oh, that’s so dreadful, not knowing is the worst. My husband went missing about twenty years back now, I still hold out hope that one day he’ll just walk back through the door.”
“I’m so sorry. It really is the worst part, we’ve always looked out for each other, since we were kids. She wouldn’t just disappear like this. I know her, she’d have told me if she was going somewhere.”
“I’m afraid I didn’t hear anything, but my hearing isn’t too great these days. I think I last saw her two weeks ago? Or was it three? Hmm, let me think now, I do my shopping on Mondays and Thursdays, and I had my shopping with me. She offered to help me put it away. No, wait, I think that was maybe a month ago, maybe it was when I bought that new cardigan?”
Sally nodded politely, but the frustration was growing, the old woman didn’t know anything and this was just a waste of time. She had tried knocking into the other apartments but they had all just ignored her, not that that surprised Sally, Rosie had always said that the people in the building were antisocial. Sally looked around the room as the woman rambled on, still trying to figure out when exactly she had last seen Rosie. The room was dustier than it had first looked when she entered and the everything seemed dull and dingy. Obviously the woman didn’t get much cleaning done as she was getting older. That was probably what was wrong with the tea, made with dirty, dusty cups.
“And that was the last time I saw her. I didn’t want to put her out so I turned down her offer, she looked like she was on her way out and I didn’t want to cause a fuss.”               “Did she say where she was going?”
“No, I don’t think so. She wasn’t dressed up, I would have remembered that, though I’m not sure what exactly she was wearing.”
Sally stood, “Well, thank you for talking to me, I should get going, I’ve stayed longer than I probably should have and I don’t want to take up too much more of your time.”
“Oh nonsense, I don’t have much to be doing these days. If you’ve any other questions feel free to pop in anytime, I’ll probably be here. I hope you find Rosie, she always was a sweet girl.”

Sally stood in the lift, she was no closer to figuring out what happened to Rosie, at least her timeline and the old woman’s matched up, give or take a day. Sally was lost in her thoughts when the doors opened, she stepped out into the hallway then stopped. The lobby was large and filled with light, this was a small corridor, dark and with a smell of damp. Sally stepped back into the lift and pressed the right button, she must have overshot and ended up in the basement. She really had been caught up in her own thoughts. The doors closed again and the lift started moving.

The doors opened, revealing the same corridor. Sally desperately pressed the door close button, she had pressed every button on the panel and though she could feel the lift moving it always brought her back to this corridor. Sally leaned against the wall and tried her phone again, there was still no signal, she took a deep breath. The lift was obviously broken and she couldn’t call for help, it would be a fire hazard if the lift was the only access to the basement, therefore there had to be a staircase around here somewhere. She pressed the door open button and stepped outside the lift.

Sally sat down on the ground, not caring that it was filthy, she had been walking for hours now and there was no sign of a staircase, she was lost. The corridors down here were like a maze, twisting and turning seemingly at random. She couldn’t even keep a mental map going because some corridors seemed much longer than they should have been, or they turned in the wrong place. There were no doors, no signs, just endless corridors. Was this what had happened to Rosie? Had she been wandering through this maze for the last week? It wouldn’t have surprised her, after all the basement seemed far, far bigger than the building above it.

Sally broke into a run, she had found the lift again, she pressed the call button and as soon as the doors opened she stepped inside, as they closed again she sank to the ground. She had been in the damn basement for the last eight hours, even now she was certain it was merely dumb luck that lead her to the lift again. She pressed the button for the first floor, half expecting it to not work. The lift started to rise. Sally steeled herself for when the doors started opening, it didn’t matter what was on the other side, she was staying in the lift, someone would notice it was broken sooner or later and they’d find her here. The doors opened, revealing the bright lit lobby. The old woman was standing in the lobby, looking slightly confused.
“Oh, Sally wasn’t it? You’re still here? I thought you left hours ago, did you find anything out from anyone else?”
Sally stood, she was feeling shaky and it was a relief to see the old woman again, even if Sally hadn’t gotten her name.
“Uh no, there was something wrong with the lift, it kept bringing me to the basement. It seems to have fixed itself now, but if you can I’d take the stairs, just in case.”
The old woman frowned at her, “That can’t be right, there isn’t a basement in this building.”

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Silence is Golden. Flash Fiction.

Simon lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Beside him Angela slept, occasionally she would snore softly. Despite the silence of the house he could feel it, the oppressive pressure that was always there. The house itself had become so steeped in all the noise that it exuded it, even in the quiet of night. He rolled over onto his side, the red light of the clock shone in his eyes, mocking him with the time. He took a long, slow breath, trying to relax his jaw as he did so, it was an old habit, clenching his jaw when he started getting stressed, one he had been unsuccessfully trying to break for years. After a few minutes he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. He needed some air, the room felt hot, stuffy, like it was closing in on him.

In the kitchen he felt a little better, but it was still there, the clattering of cutlery, the shattering of a glass or a plate, the whining over having to eat vegetables, that someone got more ice-cream than the other one. Everyone just constantly yelling over one another. Simon filled a glass of water with shaking hands, he drained the glass in one long gulp then he put it into the sink. He couldn’t go on like this, no one could go on like this. It wasn’t good for him and it certainly wasn’t good for them. He had tried to make things better, God knew he had tried everything he could, but they seemed resistant to change, unwilling to do anything that might better themselves. So instead he would come home from work, already tired and stressed, to be met with yelling teens, a distant, loud wife and a house that was always a mess. The kids didn’t know how good they had it, complaining with their heads buried in what ever expensive gadget his wife just had to buy for them. And she was no better herself, they had spoken maybe a hundred words to each other in the last month that weren’t related to dinner, what the children wanted, or a fight. The sad part was that of those few words, most were just passing politeness.

Simon sat at the kitchen table, his head was in his hands. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t just go back to bed then get up in the morning like everything was fine. Something had to change. They weren’t always like this. They used to be a happy family, full of love and laughter. He didn’t really know what had changed, there was nothing to pinpoint it after all. The last good time he could remember was a family trip about four years before, they had gone to a cave system nearby, though the name of it escaped him. After that everyone just seemed to get worse and worse. Always snapping at each other, baiting each other into arguments.

Simon took another drink, he didn’t know how long he had been sitting here with the bottle of rum, but it had been full when he started and he had gotten through a good quarter of the bottle. He took another glug, it was nice, having the warmth of the booze spread through his body and with it came a kind of relaxed peace. He could be in the moment, he could enjoy the silence. Outside a car alarm started, Simon winced as the noise wormed its way through his skull, it sounded like the alarm was going off inside his brain. Outside the alarm stopped but he could still hear it, and like opening a flood gates the rest of the noises came with it. He could hear the TV blaring in the sitting room as it played some mindless reality show, the radio was belting out some pop song at full volume. People were yelling all around, though he couldn’t make out what they were saying he recognised the voices. This couldn’t go on, he wouldn’t stand for it any longer.

Simon stood over the body of his daughter, the baseball bat had made short work of her skull. Blood and brains were splattered on the walls, on him. He sighed in relief as her voice died out, leaving only two.

Simon walked through the house, there was no need for anger, not now, the noise had finally stopped. The constant shouting and yelling, everyone screaming for attention at once. He breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly, he went into the sitting room and sat on the couch. There he closed his eyes and luxuriated in the calm. He was coated in blood and bits of brain, it felt sticky and tight on his skin. If only they had listened to him once every now and then, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

 

 

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A Strange Encounter. Short Story.

Jack paced in the small white room, it was about six foot by six foot, a bed was bolted to the floor against one wall and that was it for furniture. The floors were hard concrete but the walls were covered in some kind of soft, spongy material. They had thrown him in here hours ago and since then there had been nothing. At first he thought they were arresting him for something drugs related, but this wasn’t a prison or a police station. He had been standing in the street, talking to that strung out woman when he had been tackled, handcuffed and shoved into the back of a windowless van. The van had driven for about half an hour before he was pulled from the back and into an underground car park. From there it was just a short elevator ride and followed by being pushed through a few hallways. No one had spoken to him since they had put him in handcuffs.

He sat down on the bed, this was bullshit, he didn’t do anything, they couldn’t keep him locked up like this forever, he had rights. He had tried yelling but that hadn’t gotten him anywhere, the room seemed to dampen sounds and he had heard nothing from outside once the door had closed.

The door opened and a man stepped inside, he was wearing a grey suit, he stuck one hand forward and smiled, “Hi, I’m Sam Smith. I’d like to apologise for all this trouble, we’ve had a bit of a hectic day here and unfortunately you kind of slipped through the cracks. First things first, you’re not in trouble, you are not under arrest and you are free to leave once we finish our interview. You were supposed to be kept under medical observation for only two hours, but unfortunately things got in the way. If you’d like to follow me please.” Sam turned and left the room, Jack went after him. They walked through the halls taking turns until they were in another small room, this one had a large table with two comfortable chairs on either side. A large jug of water sat in the middle of the table along with a selection of sandwiches. “I figured you’d be hungry after that. They really put you in the shit one too, most of them have TV’s or some magazines at the very least. I think the staff have been slacking a bit. I know some of them keep a room spare for sleeping, so maybe they put you in there by accident. Now, I’m sure you have a lot of questions and I’ll be happy to answer them, if you’d just like to take a seat and please, help yourself to the food and drinks there, if you’d like something else like coffee or tea please let me know.”
Jack sat down and grabbed a sandwich, once he had finished eating he took a long drink of water. “Ok, so first I want to know where I am and who you are.”
“You’re currently in a kind of detainment centre, I can’t give you the exact location unfortunately. Don’t worry though, we can give you a lift home once we’re done the interview. As to who we are, well, we’re a small, government run agency, you won’t have heard of us so you’ll excuse me if I don’t give you the name. We investigate cases like yours.”
“Like mine?”
“Yes, don’t tell me you didn’t notice anything strange today.”
“Well, yeah, I did but it had to but like she was just a junkie or something, wasn’t she?”
“Look. I’m not going to lie to you. She wasn’t just a junkie and we need to figure out what happened to her and what happened between the two of you. So, why don’t you start from the beginning?”
“Um. Ok, well, I woke up and had breakfast and all that, then I left the house for work. Everything was pretty normal until I came to South Street, I cut through it because it takes about ten minutes off my walk in the mornings. Everything was fine, I guess the street was emptier than usual. Normally there’s a few people walking along it, or a couple of old guys sitting outside having a smoke. I noticed her pretty quick, she was the only other person on the street. What first caught my attention was the way she was walking. Like she was drunk, I assumed she was on her way home from a night out at first, but then I noticed she was wearing a suit. She was walking slowly and stumbling every few steps so it didn’t take long before I caught up with her. I asked if she was all right and she turned slowly to look at me. Something about the way she moved sent chills up my spine. It was slow, but fast at the same time. I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt this enormous weight drop in my stomach, I knew I shouldn’t have spoken to her. I tried to convince myself I was just being paranoid, after all it was a Wednesday morning for Christ sakes. She looked at me for a second, there was something wrong with her eyes, they were slightly too wide and it looked like she was having difficulty focusing. It was then that I thought she was probably on drugs. She smiled at me, it wasn’t a normal smile, it was threatening some how, like I had done exactly what she wanted. Her hand reached out for me and I took a step back, I didn’t want her touching me if I’m being honest, but I half thought maybe she was going to try and pick my pocket. She frowned when I stepped back, then she spoke to me. I don’t know what was wrong with her but her voice was all wrong, raspy and shrieky, but whisper quiet with almost like an echo? She said “come a little closer, I need to tell you a secret.” It’s weird, the last thing I wanted to do was get any closer to her, but I started to step forward. She smiled at me and I saw her teeth, they were blackened and rotten, with bits of blood pooling around the gums.” Jack shuddered.
“If you need to take a moment, that’s fine.”
“No, I’m ok. It feels good talking about it. I kept replaying it in my head earlier, it’s good to get it out. It kind of feels like I’m draining a wound or something.”
Sam nodded, “Yes, people often feel that way.”
“When I saw her teeth I kind of stepped back in surprise and she looked angry, it was like her eyes got darker, her hand shot out and grabbed my tie, she yanked me forward, she was strong, stronger than she looked. She leaned in close to me, I could smell her breath, rotting and bitter, but I could smell something else too, her perfume and then underneath that a smell of damp and mildew, of dark, wet places that despised the sun. She said something to me, but I don’t really remember. It’s like there’s a blank spot. Then there were people around, yelling at us.”
Sam leaned on the table, “Are you sure you don’t remember what she said? No matter what it was you won’t get in trouble, but it is important that if you do remember you let us know.”

Jack frowned, “I feel like it’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t figure out the words.”

Sam smiled at him, “That’s ok, it’s common in cases like these. The woman was sick, unfortunately, but she had some good information that we could have used. We’re not entirely sure what was wrong with her yet, she is incoherent at the moment, we were hoping we’d be able to get something from you.”

“I’m going to be all right aren’t I? She wasn’t contagious or anything?”
Sam chuckled, “No, don’t worry, there’s no chance you caught what she had.” He stood from the table, “All right, that’s pretty much it. We’ve you’re statement recorded, you’ll have to sign some forms on the way out but that’s just formality. After that we’ll get you home, we already put in a phone call to your place of work, they know you were assisting us after witnessing an incident.”

Sam sat in the empty room, they’d have to keep an eye on Jack, for the next few months, make sure he didn’t start behaving strangely. The woman was already gone, reduced to nothing but a pile of disgusting mush, but then that was always the way with her kind. Sam believed Jack when he said he didn’t remember but he felt like what ever Jack had heard was important. He always hated cases like this, all loose ends and no resolutions. It wasn’t the first time it happened, nor would it be the last. Hopefully what ever that thing was it wouldn’t be back for another few years.

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Returned. Short Story.

Gwen was dead for almost twelve hours when she started screaming. The high pitched shrieked rattled the windows of the dark room, outside a man walking by clapped his hands over his ears, his palms wet and slick with blood that dripped from them.

The scream slowly trailed off to silence, Gwen sat motionless for a few seconds, then there was a loud gasp and the rushing sound of air as she breathed deeply, coughed violently then breathed deeply again before she spat up a lump of phlegm.

Gwen looked around herself,  the dark room was strange but also familiar.  There was something about it, but the realisation danced just beyond her reach. She coughed again, deep and booming, she spat out more phlegm. She knew it was too dark to see but that didn’t stop her from being able to make out things in the gloom. The worn brown or red couch that was pushed against the wall, the coffee table laden and overflowing with rubbish that sprawled its way across the floor. Gwen shifted slightly and stood, her body felt stiff and pins and needles jabbed at her entire body. A wave of dizzyness hit and Gwen stumbled backwards, falling onto a chair behind her. The chair was soft but the fall was still jarring. She sat for a moment, she felt cold, colder than she ever had before, part of her wondered if she’d ever feel warm again. She pulled her knees up to her chest and looped her arms around them. She was shivering, though she hadn’t noticed yet. Why was she here?  The last thing she remembered was going out to get a cup of coffee early Monday morning. It was night now, wherever she was, was it still Monday? The thought frightened her, how long had she been unconscious? No, she hadn’t been unconscious,  it was more than that. She had been dead. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart stopped for and brief, terrifying second before it resumed its steady beating.

Outside the man got shakily to his feet, he felt sick and disorientated, splatters of blood coated the ground on either side of him. Not sure who, or where he was, the man stumbled on, leaving nothing behind himself but bloodstains and a briefcase.

Gwen gripped her knees tightly. Tears were flowing freely down her face, she wasn’t aware she was crying. Something had happened to her; someone had brought her here, someone had killed her and something had brought her back.

Gwen didn’t know how long she had been sitting there when the sun started to rise. The heat was strangely soothing and she could finally feel her body start to warm up. As the room brightened she could see more clearly, the couch was red and heavily stained, there was a door beside it. Gwen’s stomach grumbled and groaned, she was starting to get hungry. A pang of fear hit her, what if she was some kind of zombie? A sudden image came into her head, French toast, covered in syrup and served with bacon, a flood of saliva filled her mouth, she smiled to herself. At least she was craving normal food.

Gwen stood carefully, her body felt stiff, uncoordinated, she stretched for a moment, then started walking across the room. As she picked her way through the rubbish Gwen felt her muscles relaxing. The room really was gross, old pizza boxes were scattered about the place, glasses that were half full of liquid and mold, greasy, shiny wrappers and clothes seemed to cover most things. At the door she paused and listened, she hadn’t heard anyone moving around but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. With her heart beating wildly she reached out and twisted the handle, the door opened smoothly. It revealed a short and thin hallway that was also covered in various rubbish, a rickety looking staircase led upstairs. Carefully Gwen moved down the hallway towards another door, this one looked like it would lead outside.

Gwen stood outside the building, squinting in the bright light of the morning. The area was deserted and more than a little seedy. She glanced at the briefcase lying on the ground and continued past it. She wasn’t sure where she was but Gwen knew that standing around would do her no good. She felt like she needed to keep moving, that she couldn’t sit or think any longer. She could feel something crowding at the back of her mind, a heavy pressure, like someone took their thumb and was steadily pressing it into her brain. She hoped that as she walked she would start to recognise things, but there was nothing. The area itself had a few noteworthy landmarks, like the large neon sign of a woman sitting atop a banana, or the larger, flashing neon beside it that promised Girls! Girls! Girls! To the empty street.

Gwen stopped. The sign was familiar. She could see it in her mind, blurry and distracting, the street was full of people trying to push past her, in a hurry to get to whatever seedy place they were going. She had been with someone, but she couldn’t quite picture them. Gwen took a deep breath, she didn’t need this right now, she needed to get home, to be safe, after that she could worry about everything else.

It took almost an hour of wandering before Gwen saw something slightly familiar, it took her a moment to place it, but she knew the café, she had been there on a date with someone, Toby? She wasn’t sure of the name, it had been about five years before, but at least she knew where she was.

Gwen stood outside her door, she was exhausted, she patted her pockets for her key and after finding it she let herself into her apartment. She paused at the hall mirror, she hadn’t had a chance to look at herself since she had woken up. Her hair was messy, her skin pale and her eyes were dark, she looked like she was hung-over and doing the walk of shame. Well, at least none of the neighbours had seen her. She went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water, she drank it quickly, then went rifling through the cupboards for food.

After she had eaten and showered Gwen was feeling better, she had now realised that what had probably happened was that she was drugged and dragged out to that building by someone. It didn’t seem like anything really bad had happened to her, maybe who ever it was had run or gotten distracted by something. Obviously the whole being dead thing was just a delusion brought on by the drugs. She couldn’t really have died, it would be impossible. It was time to just put the whole thing behind her. Going to the police would bring up too many questions she couldn’t answer, most of the day before was fuzzy if not completely gone. Besides she had always classed herself as somewhat intelligent, the thought of going to the police and telling them she had allowed something like that to happen filled her with more than a little shame.

Gwen gasped as she felt a burning pain in her stomach, she could feel something deep inside, cold and twisting, then with a sudden flare of pain, it was gone. Gwen carefully lifted her t-shirt, there near her belly button was a small red line, almost like a scratch, there were more across her stomach, how hadn’t she noticed them earlier? The pain hit her again, this time it didn’t stay in one place, it moved across her stomach and chest again and again, quick, stabbing pains. Gwen cried out and fell backwards.

She wasn’t in her apartment anymore, she was somewhere else, somewhere dark and gloomy, someone was standing in front of her, a knife in their hand. The knife seemed huge and somehow shone in the darkness, she felt it plunge into her flesh. Gwen gasped, the room was bright again, she was lying on the floor of her apartment. She sat up shakily, no, it didn’t happen, it couldn’t have. This was just some kind of weird flashback from what ever they had drugged her with. Gwen carefully got to her feet, she needed to lie down, that was all. She had a stressful day and it was all just too much. Once she had a rest she’d feel better. The scratches on her stomach throbbed steadily as she moved, she could almost feel the cold, sticky blood coating her body. Gwen lay down on her bed, she just needed to forget about it, to move on with her life.

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