(6 minute read)
by Stevie Metcalfe
You keep seeing him, that same little boy. He follows you everywhere. You go to the supermarket, he’s there. You pull onto your street, he’s stood on the corner, watching your every move. He sits outside your house, perched against that battered old bike of his, looking up at your window. You can’t sleep for fear of him crawling through the cat-flap, creeping up the stairs and carrying out his revenge. He’s out there right now, look!
It’s been two weeks since it happened. You’re normally so careful, in control, even after a few beers, but this time you’d mixed your drinks. You can blame that last shot of Sambuca, if you want. Evil stuff. Anyway, the lad shouldn’t have been out at that time. The street lights were on, you remember that much. Kids should be in bed after dark, shouldn’t they? He only looks about ten, twelve at the most. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or, maybe you were.
You close the curtains and turn off the light, hoping he’ll get bored, or cold, and go home. You lie on your soiled, unmade bed and close your eyes, only you know it’s pointless. All you keep seeing when you do, is his scrawny little face. That look of terror mirrored back at you, like a rabbit caught in a trap. That frantic dance of fear the eyes do, when fighting for one last breath.
There’s a light-tapping on the window. He’s trying to get in. You wonder how he’s managed to scale the walls. He must’ve climbed up the drainpipe. You creep out of bed as quietly as you can and peek through the gap in the curtains. Nothing. The street is empty; black but the intermittent flash of amber from the dying streetlamp outside your window. A warning beacon. The wind howls against the glass, pelting rain at its surface like bullets. Your back arches, flinching to the sensation of a cold chill, like an unexpected leak has just dripped down your spine. You shudder, decide you need something to help you sleep.
You curl back into the creeping position, this time down the stairs. You’re careful not to step on the ones that creak. This takes effort. In the darkness you become disorientated, confused. You slip, hit the worst step for noise. The sound startles you back to your senses. You grab the wall to steady yourself. You catch your breath and let your fingertips feel for the way until you reach the bottom.
The light from the fridge hurts your eyes. Blinking through the blur, you reach for a can of lager. A glint of bright light catches the rim, forcing a flash of memory into focus.
… You see headlights. They blind you. It’s hard to make out, but you realise they are coming from your car, and you are standing facing it. The driver’s door has been left wide open, the engine still running. Your eyes hurt, you look down. The ground beneath your feet is wet, slippery. The stench of scorched tyres burns your nostrils. Your mouth’s as dry as gravel. The taste of stale vomit creeps over each of your tastebuds one by one. You feel unsteady and try to swallow.
You place one hand on the rain-drenched bonnet to hold yourself up. Something catches your eye. A pair of scrawny legs in ripped-denim, tangled up in a tipped over bicycle frame, a few yards from your car. Wide, white eyes stare up at you.
There is a loud bang…
You turn to face your back door. The boy’s silhouette is on the other side. He’s waiting. You decide you have to face him, to put an end to this nightmare. He’s just a kid. You unchain the door and take a deep breath.
His body is trembling, his clothes soaked. He tells you he’s sorry. You don’t understand. He starts grabbing at you, crying uncontrollably, telling you that he didn’t mean it. That he wished he’d left it in his stepdad’s drawer where he had found it before going out to play. That you had frightened him and his finger had slipped. He’s pointing to your chest. You look down.
… The wet road reappears beneath your unstable feet. You try to focus, shake your head, blink. You look down once more. You can see a hand, your hand, tightly clutching your shirt. There is blood. Your blood, seeping through the gaps in your fingers. You feel dizzy, nauseous.
Everything blurs as your eyes start that frantic dance of fear they do, when fighting for one last breath.
Copyright © 2021 – Stevie Metcalfe. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Stevie is a split personality Gemini with more characters chatting away inside her head than she can handle. When she’s not changing nappies she can be found lurking behind a coffee, working on getting those fictional characters’ stories down on paper. You can follow her on social media where she posts more about being interrupted than actually writing.
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