short stories

Adam

Standing on the edge of the rectangular opening, the light bursting upwards illuminating his cracked lips and protruding cheekbones, casting shadows over his sunken eyes. They say man cannot live without hope, Adam had just enough left to hope that his death would be as quick and painless as possible. The fear that had imprisoned him in the attic had gone, everything had gone. Calmness gently flowed through his body; he closed his eyes and stepped into the rectangle of light. The cord tugged at his throat and sparks shattered the darkness as his head hit the floor. He opened his eyes, the cord had snapped, he slowly got to his feet, the buzz in his head sang in tune with the moans of the dead that drifted in from outside

He stumbled down the stairs and pulled open the front door, the dark moody sky rumbled along like galloping black stallions. He looked up and down the street, rotting corpses staggered through the chaos and carnage moaning like demonic cattle. Tanks and other army vehicles sat abandoned and lifeless, monuments to a lost war. The scene was all too familiar but somehow felt different; maybe it was just his thirst and hunger playing tricks. He turned left and began to walk, a silent voice calling him, an invisible hand guiding him. The pain in his joints and the savage headache brought on by countless days of starvation didn’t trouble him anymore. Maybe his prayers had been answered; maybe this was one last chance to find her. He’d made his peace with god a thousand times over, now it was just him and the countless demons in his path, demons that ambled towards him, their moans sounding almost like they were calling his name.

The image of her face glowed in his mind, the same image that had stayed with him in the darkness of the attic. He had tortured himself day after day about what a failure he was, how weak he was, weak for not going to look for her, weak for giving in to his fear. The image was all that was left, like a beacon of light in the empty void of his consciousness. He looked around, he was on a different street, the cries of the dead had faded, the rot and decay not so rotten and decayed. The image intensified, he had to see her again, if it was the last thing he ever did he had to see her again. His pace quickened, street after street went by; only a faint chorus of bird song and his frantic breathing broke the silence. He stopped and scanned for signs of familiarity, the street was unfamiliar but at the end was the entrance to a park. It was the park they had spent endless Sunday afternoons walking in, their love blossoming like the flowers that grew there in the summer, like the trees that shaded their passion. He longed to feel it again, even if it was for the last time, tears rolled down his face as he ran towards the gates.

He breathed in deeply; the scent of the flowers intoxicated him. The memories they released washed over him like the sunlight that streamed through the trees. A lone figure in the distance seemed to shimmer, it was her, it was Rosie. His heart sang a beautiful love song; her name fell from his lips in disbelief. He started to run towards her slowly at first and then faster and faster. As he drew closer he could make out her features, her soft wavy auburn hair, the fullness of her curves and the beauty of her smiling face. As he neared her he slowed to a walk, his legs began to weaken, tears of joy streamed from his eyes. They lifted their arms in unison just feet away from a loving embrace. A sudden pain stabbed at his neck, everything went white. Then silence. His body jolted as the noose gripped his neck and then gently swung like a pendulum. A single tear rolled from his eye and dripped from his chin onto the floor. He was gone, everything was gone.

 

The Old lady.

Charlie checked up and down the street one more time to make sure no one was coming as Jacob put the finishing touches to a pair of breasts on yet another missing cat poster.

“Come on, you draw something” Jacob said, his chubby red cheeked face beaming with satisfaction.

“I’m ok actually” said Charlie. The truth was he felt sorry for the family who’s cat it was, he imagined children sitting at home wondering where their beautiful black and white cat had gone and if they’d ever see it again but he wasn’t going to tell Jacob that, he’d just take the piss, as usual.

Charlie didn’t like Jacob really but their parents were good friends so he felt obliged to hang around with him and it was better than being bullied by him.

“You’re such a pussy, anyway I’m bored with this shit, why don’t we go and knock on that weird old bags door” Said Jacob. “My dad reckons she’s a zombie.”

The old lady lived in the street behind Charlie’s house, the boys had gone there a number of times when there wasn’t much else to do, daring each other to knock on the door and confront the monster that lay within. Neither of them had ever plucked up enough courage to actually do it ending up with Jacob forcing Charlie to.

“Er, suppose so” Charlie muttered. He didn’t dare say no again and he couldn’t think of an excuse fast enough that didn’t make him sound like a chicken shit, so off they went. They rounded the corner at the other end of the street to where the old lady lived, the Victorian terraced houses with their front gardens like a strip of patchwork sprawled out ahead of them. As they walked the boys argued over who was doing the knocking and who was going to speak but Charlie new that Jacob would come up with some bullshit excuse as to why he couldn’t.

The boys slowed as they approached the old lady’s house, the front garden hidden by an overgrown half dead privet hedge, Jacob tiptoed up to it like a Meer cat and tried to spy through the gaps in the foliage.

“I can’t see her in the window” Jacob half whispered. “Go on knock now before she comes.

Often when the boys reached the house the old lady would be stood in her front window, motionless like a statue shrouded in her brown stained net curtains just staring out.

“III know” stuttered Charlie, but before he could get his words out Jacob pushed him in the direction of the house

Charlie swallowed down the moths that were fluttering around in his stomach and headed for the rusty old gate.

 

The old lady hobbled up to her living room window scanning the wild over grown garden with her unblinking eyes. The bowls of food in the various humane animal traps were still full; the real reason she wanted the animals alive was lost to the rest of the world. She remembered back to when a trip to the pet shop or an advert in the local paper for kittens or puppies for sale was all she needed to quell the burning fire of hunger. Time was slowly eating away at what was left of her, her body; her hunger and her spirit were all diminishing bit by bit. She had begun to contemplate death, real death, not the living death she had endured for so many years; she looked over at the pistol on the mantel piece but hunger distracted her. Out the corner of her eye she saw a figure standing at her gate, the gate slowly opened and the figure began to slowly creep down her garden path. The old lady moved closer to the net curtain to see, suddenly the figure bolted and ran.

“Those boys again” the old lady thought to herself, she had seen them a number of times loitering around her front gate. She couldn’t help but imagine sinking her now absent teeth into their juicy warm young flesh, it had been many years since she had truly satisfied her hunger the remnants of which coursed through her withered body and a smile disappeared underneath her badly stuck down latex mask. She turned away from the window and shuffled over to her side table. As she came near, the cat dropped its ears and hissed at her. Luckily she had managed to tie it down quite securely whilst it was unconscious from the sedative she laced the food in the trap with. She didn’t have the strength to attack it like the old days so she picked up a knife and punctured the cat’s side just enough to get her fingers in. The cat howled like a crying baby as she pulled its entrails out and stuffed them into her mouth. The warm flesh tasted good and slowly her hunger started to subside. She stared at the remains of the cat as she swallowed down her last mouthful; she thought it looked pretty the way the red blood contrasted against the black and white fur. “I might keep this one as a pet.” she thought.

 

The image that had faded into view had sent shockwaves through Charlie’s body. He arrived home after running all the way, leaving Jacob lagging behind. He went to the bathroom and splashed water on his face with trembling hands. The image of the old lady sent a shiver down his back. She might be a really nice old lady, somebody’s Gran he thought trying to shake the image from his mind.

“Charlie, dinner.” His mum called. Charlie did his best to compose himself as he went to the stairs.

“So what have you been up to then?” said his mum as they sat eating their dinner.

“Oh just messing around with Jacob”

“You haven’t been near that old lady’s house again have you?” his dad said. He didn’t like Charlie going near her house; she had lived there even when he was a boy, there had always been rumours about her, why she hardly left the house, why no one ever visited, everyone drew their own conclusions including Charlie’s dad.

“No, we were down the park” Charlie said, his nerve beginning to give a little.

“Well just stay away from her, do you hear” his dad punctuated his point by raising his eyebrows and looking sternly at him.

“Yeah, OK” Charlie muttered and carried on eating.

“Don’t listen to your dad” said his mum “she’s just an old lady, she’s never hurt anything in her life” she flashed a scowl at his dad. “You should go and see if she wants any jobs doing, that garden of hers could do with a tidy up”

Charlie’s dad slowly shook his head, sighed, then carried on with his dinner.

 

Charlie wandered down the road, hands in his pockets, relieved the first day back at school was over. He’d had his usual day of being called freak and weirdo and having his packed lunch thrown around the playground by Jacob and his gang of arse kissers. He couldn’t tell his parents as Jacob had threatened him with a kicking if he did and besides he didn’t want to ruin his mum and dad’s friendship with Jacob’s parents. As he walked he thought about the old lady, maybe she felt the same as him, no one to talk too, everyone calling her names. Maybe he should go and see if she wants anything doing and like his mum said she’s an old lady what harm could she do.

Charlie arrived home and ran up to his bedroom to get changed; he still had doubts about going round to her house. There was no denying the place was creepy and the old lady was just as creepy but she was alone and vulnerable and perhaps Jacob would stop calling him a pussy so much.

The early evening sun cast long shadows over the tangle of bramble and bind weed that splayed across the old lady’s front garden. Charlie stood at the rusted gate, his thoughts chattering in confusion, he tried to compose himself but failed badly. He grabbed the gate and forced it open, the bottom scraping on the ground. Slowly he walked up the path checking the window to see if she was there, thankfully she wasn’t. He stood at the door his heart thumping in his chest, his legs shaking slightly; he knocked on the door and waited for what seemed like a lifetime. His nerve gave way, he was just about to turn and leave when the door began to creek open. The silhouette of a wiry haired head peered round the door.

“H, h, hello” said Charlie shakily “I just wondered if there was any jobs you want doing.”

For a moment nothing happened then without a word the door opened a little more, the shadow of a withered hand waved him in. he slowly stepped inside, the old lady hidden by the door the house was filled with the evening dusk no lights or lamps to take away the gloom. The rancid smell filled his nostrils and tested his gag reflex. The door slammed shut behind him, he quickly turned, startled by the noise. The twisted outline of the old lady stood in the shadow of the door an arm slowly raised up and pointed to the living room. Charlie stepped inside and looked around the filthy sparsely furnished room the carpet was sticky underfoot and the net curtains at the window were brown with decades of grime. On the mantel piece was a wooden clock which had long since given up and an old gun on a stand. Either side of the fire place were two high backed armchairs coated with the same layer of grime the rest of the room had. Charlie saw two ears poking up from one of the chairs; he took a step closer and saw a black and white cat lying on the arm chair.

“Hello there” Charlie called as he held out his hand like people do so the cat could sniff at him. The cat slowly turned its head toward him its eyes milky blue like turquoise. As Charlie took another step towards the cat it rolled onto its side, matted black fur framed a maggot infested hole in its stomach, Maggots wriggled on the chair and the cat let out a gurgle. Charlie jumped back, a lightning bolt of fear shot through his body, he was about to turn and run when a searing pain flooded his head and sent him crashing to the filthy, sticky carpet. He could hardly breath, the room was trying to spin and nausea was gripping his body.  The old lady dropped the hammer and shuffled towards him, sheer burning hunger driving her on as she collapsed on top of him. He grabbed her shoulders and pushed but his body was weak as he struggled with consciousness. He tried to focus as the old lady’s face came closer and closer the latex of her disguise flapped open revealing the black putrid leather of her real skin. A scream bubbled in Charlie’s throat as the old lady bit down hard on his neck; she tore at him like a wild animal, driven on by the hunger. Blood gushed from the open wound, his life force draining out onto the filthy old sticky carpet. The black and white cat hobbled up and lapped at the blood like a saucer of milk whilst the old lady gauged on his flesh, it made her feel almost alive like she could get up and go run around the streets like the young women she used to be but she knew it wouldn’t last.

The old lady sat in her armchair, her cat sat gurgling on her lap licking blood from its paw. She watched the boys’ corpse begin to twitch and then jolt as death coursed through his veins. She glanced at the mantel piece and the only ornament on it and smiled.

Charlie walked down the garden path and turned onto the street, a faded almost indistinct image of himself. A shot rang out behind him as he caught sight of a figure coming towards him.

“Hey Charlie you pussy, what you been up to, shagging that old lady” Said Jacob chuckling to himself.

Charlie recognised the voice, the same voice that used to make him feel scared, anxious. Now all he felt was hunger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Craig jones says:

    I’ve just read ‘Adam’ and really enjoyed it, if it is possible to enjoy a tale where the bleak landscape is painted so real that I was almost afraid to look out of the window for fear of what darkness may be out there. To read a story and to feel it so real shows the talent. Describing the noise of the undead as the moaning of demonic cattle is both brilliant and wholy unsettling. Moving onto the rest of Graeme’s work right now… This guy can write the Hell out (or should that be into) a story.

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