Friday, 31 October 2014

Probably a Mutoscope

Well, it's Halloween, or Samhain, whichever you prefer; which makes it the perfect time for a short story.

Hope you like it.


When it came, the blow was brutal. It cut across the side of her head and the world just seemed to stop. Well, no, that's not quite right, it didn’t exactly stop; she could see the pearls of blood… Her blood, hit his sneering face, exploding in slow motion into delicate scarlet flowers that spread in a line across his cheek.  She didn’t feel any pain, there was just a burning sensation, but more like the feeling you get from touching a block of ice.  No pain, not really.  The strength faded from her legs and she started to topple backward, she felt the numb ‘pins and needles’ spreading down from the small of her back to her knees and smiled.

Richard had always thought she was odd, for enjoying the tingling feeling that restriction of the blood-flow sometimes brought.  In fact that’s why he left; he came into the shop one lunchtime to find her in the stockroom with the wire bound tightly around her wrist. Her fingers were swollen and purple, the veins standing out on the back of her hand like vines on some great jungle tree.  She hadn’t realised he was there until he spat the word, ‘Pervert!’ at her and slammed the door behind him.  By the time she’d composed herself and got back to the flat, he’d gone.  By the look of things he’d just shovelled his few belongings into a bag and left his key on the bedside table never to be seen again. It was no great loss.
She was still falling.  Her head snapped forward as she clipped the cabinet behind her and sent the credit card machine flying through the air. ‘Damn!’ She thought absently to herself, as it spun towards the floor, ‘That’s rented; it’ll cost a fortune to replace if it smashes.’ She saw the man that had hit her, his eyes wide and shining wetly, his cruel mouth lolling open like a panting dog’s.  He had dropped the baseball bat, but it had not yet landed on the counter, along its length, as it twisted in the air, she could see the glitter of metal sunk into the wood.  ‘Razor blades? No, can you even buy razor blades anymore? Stanley knife? Yes, they’re probably Stanley knife blades.  You’d have thought the bat would be enough, but then what do I know about current weapon fashions in the smash and grab industry?’ 

In time with her weakening pulse, her vision began to fade, the colours went first to make it look as if she were trapped in some terrible black and white film. Then the details started to blur, and the darkness began to seep in from the edges, constricting her field of view even more. It looked like an old-time silent picture now, the type where someone would be playing a piano in the theatre and every few seconds a card would appear explaining what was happening on the screen.

Her father had shown her a machine once whilst they were on holiday, where you put an old penny into a slot in the side and then wound the handle whilst looking through a lens.  Its real name was something odd, she remembered, but she couldn’t remember exactly what it was.  He called it a ‘What the Butler saw.’ But she didn’t really understand why, unless the butlers of the time often saw a set of dusty old postcards clicking past one after another.  Ornate white letters swam in front of her eyes, ‘Kally has been hit by a bat and is probably going to die!!!’ Her heart sank, from what little she remembered, three exclamation marks was never a good sign.

The man was grabbing jewellery from the case now; he used both hands as if he was starving and the diamonds were plates of gravy and potatoes.  Christ, she was hungry – She should have grabbed a sandwich from that shop next to the Tube station, but they’d only had egg, she didn’t really feel like egg, she was in a tuna mood.  She was going to die on an empty stomach, could this get any worse?

Her head continued to slide down the front of the cupboard, the muscles in the back of her neck getting tighter and tighter until she felt something tear and she heard a crack, ‘Owww! That hurt!’ She yelled, the words echoing around her head but somehow unable to escape through her lips.

Then it suddenly didn’t hurt any more.

And there was nothing to see.

And there was nothing to hear.

And as her last breath left her body, her nose was filled with the scent of her father’s aftershave. She’d not smelled it for years, not since she’d taken over the shop after he’d died.

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