Thursday, October 22, 2015

Without a Struggle - A Short Story

It has been a while, a long while, since I've written a fictional short story. This can be labeled as horror or a psychological(ish) thriller. I hope you enjoy. Feedback and constructive criticism is welcome. Just don't be a dick.

***

The bell above the door pinged as he entered the diner. He stopped to take in his surroundings before his small framed body shuffled toward the red stools at the counter. They were covered in grime built up from years gone by. The place should be condemned.

The servers glanced in his direction as he wiped off the chair before taking a seat. He could overhear their conversation word for word, taking it all in and committing it to memory. The one with the name Peggy on her name tag walked in his direction, grabbing an empty, permanently stained white mug on her way over.

“The usual, honey?” Peggy asked. She was an older woman, her tone like ice. It was just about quitting time, and now she was stuck here until her newest customer paid his bill and moved along with his evening.

He nodded and answered, “Yes. Thank you.”

Peggy filled the corroded cup with stale black coffee spilling most of it on the counter. Her mind was elsewhere. Before cleaning up the mess, she walked over to the kitchen to shout out her final order of her shift.  

“I need a hockey puck, Stan!” Peggy demanded. It was diner talk for a burnt hamburger. She grabbed a used up, contaminated towel to sop up the spill.

At the pastry case she cut a slab of pumpkin pie, some of it toppling off the side of the plate. She lifted her head in her regular’s direction to make sure he wasn’t looking, then picked it up with her fingers and molded it back into its original shape. Once satisfied with the concoction, she delivered the seasonal dessert.

“What’s your name, doll? You come in here every other night, I hand over your charred up burger and watch you choke down the dry monstrosity and wash it down with whatever pie is on special and old coffee. What’s your story?”

“Adam. I’m just Adam. I don’t take to talking much while I eat. Just like to fill the void in my gut and move along,” he answered.

Peggy stood there leaning on the counter shocked by the response. “Well, at least you’re honest. I like that. Food will be ready soon. The burnt part takes a bit longer than is normal,” Peggy shot back at him.

He watched her wander back and rejoin the conversation with the girls. The redhead snorted mid-laugh as she threw her head back, unable to control herself. He knew the chatter was about him.

Each of the women were in costume. He was glad Peggy chose to be Dorothy. It was a much less whorish Halloween costume than what was plastered on the others.

The bell above the counter to the kitchen chimed and once again, Peggy broke loose from the crowd to deliver Adam’s order and top off his coffee.

“At least you decided to be original,” he mumbled.

“What was that?” she asked.

“Dorothy. It’s original. I like the added personal touch with the red and white striped hosiery. They bring out the ruby color of your shoes,” he replied, never meeting her eyes.

Peggy stilled. Her customer continued to surprise her with his conversation. Not only did she finally learn what his name is after months of coming in during her shifts, but it was also the most she had ever heard Adam say. She wasn’t flattered. She was disturbed.

“Huh.” It was all she could muster up. “Can I get you anything else? Maybe some mustard. Ketchup?” She knew he would decline. He always did.

Adam shook his head. Peggy took the hint and walked away.

“Fucking loon,” she said. He made her uncomfortable.

Adam heard her comment and his crooked smile spread wide before shoving a heaping forkful of pie into his mouth. He chewed slow and pretended to keep to himself, but he was eavesdropping on the women’s conversation.

“I’m heading out. Gotta get home to throw candy bars to all the tiny satans who ring my doorbell,” the one dressed as a slutty cat said as she exited. The bell pinged as the door opened and closed.

“I don’t know what she’s all worked up about,” Peggy started, “I can’t wait to get home, open up some windows to let the chill swoop through and put on one of them scary movies. I turn my porch light off around nine o’clock so those kids know I’m done for the night. As soon as you know who finishes eating that deader than dead piece of cow, I’m out of here for the weekend!”

A few minutes later, Adam stood from his stool and threw down a twenty dollar bill. He chugged down his remaining coffee in one gulp, scalding his mouth and throat in the process. He enjoyed the pain. When Adam could torment himself without drawing his own blood it gave him pleasure.

Peggy’s eyes locked on Adam’s. He nodded at her and walked out the front door. Peggy shivered.

“Fucking guy is weird!” she admitted.

“I know. He can’t be much taller than a gnome. Short and creepy,” the one who thought the cheerleader outfit made her look sexy replied.

Peggy stood there with a blank stare until she realized freedom was just beyond the glass door until Monday morning.

---

At about half past nine, Peggy flicked the light switch off and the front of her house went dark. She poured a glass of bourbon reserved for nights like this. It was time to finish the horror movie she bought at the convenience store on her way home.

She found the most comfortable position in her favorite chair, covered herself with a blanket, and unpaused the TV. The room was drafty and she pulled the blanket up to her chin leaving one arm out for easy access. She sipped her bourbon, the ice clinking in the glass as she set it on the end table beside her.

Midway through the movie Peggy heard what sounded like something being dragged through gravel. She paused the movie again, the frame freezing on a woman holding a telephone receiver up to her ear. The room was silent, the only sound coming from the ice maker refilling in the kitchen.

Peggy’s flesh was covered in goosebumps. A little spooked, she got up to close the windows. She started with closing the front door and flipping the deadbolt then shifted her attention to the living room. She reached up to grab the lip of the window when she noticed the large hole in the screen. “Little shits!” she shouted. Had to be  the neighbor kids pulling a Halloween prank, she thought.

Peggy shrugged if off. The movie was waiting and the ice in her booze was beginning to water it down. In that moment she felt like she wasn’t alone, but shrugged it off to the typical the fears of Halloween night and the movie she was watching. Sleep tonight would include having the lights on in the bedroom as well as the trail that led to the bathroom.

Peggy twisted around and saw somebody in a mask standing in her living room, creating a shadow from the illuminated TV screen.

“You’ve taken your little prank too far. Time to go home and get a toothache from all that candy,” Peggy said, “Go on!” The children in the neighborhood were devious at times but they were all likable.

The kid didn’t move. He just stood there staring.  

“Fine. Take off that mask so I know which house you belong to. I’ll take you by the ear and let your parents deal with you, you little shit!” Peggy started toward the child who was interrupting her perfect night then froze in place when he began to speak.

Drag Me to Hell? Really Dorothy? You disappoint me. Next thing you know you’ll trip and fall when I come after you,” Adam muttered. It was the last time she would hear him speak tonight.

She stood still, her pulse racing.  

Adam?” she asked.

Without a word, Adam shifted his attention to the kitchen. He didn’t bring any tools with him. He wanted the night to be personal for his victim and himself. Grabbing a rather dull knife after rustling through the drawers, Adam moved with confidence and determination back to Peggy. She was in shock and while Peggy couldn’t see it, she knew he was grinning under that white mask.

Peggy made a run for it, without falling, toward the front door. She jerked the lock and tugged on the door, but it didn’t open. She gave up, standing with her back to him.

Adam walked up behind Peggy and placed his left arm around her waist, his erection pressed into the back of her leg. She towered over him but knew there was nothing she could do to fend him off. Her long brown curls hung down her back and Adam took in her scent.

He forced her to spin around wanting to see her green eyes wide with panic. Adam wanted to feel her heart pounding against his own. Peggy’s bladder emptied as the cool blade of the knife was placed against her neck. Adam dragged it across her warm flesh and exposed the velvet red blood. His grasp on her was lost when her instincts kicked in as her hands pressed against the wound.  She fell to the floor and he watched as blood seeped into the carpet.
 
The metallic scent rushed at him. The plain meal he had eaten earlier at the shitty diner stayed where it belonged.

Adam knelt down next to Peggy and tilted his head to the side to take in the view. He focused as the breath left her body.  

Lifting his blood stained hand he removed the mask, folded it, and tucked it into the front of his pants. He smoothed Peggy’s hair out of her face, stood, and crawled back out of the window he came in earlier when her back was turned. He walked around to the front of the house and removed the hook lock he installed a few nights earlier.

His first kill surged through him. It was even better than he imagined. He envisioned this moment since the seventh grade while watching his first horror movie. He worshiped Michael.

Adam left. His plan unfolded almost without flaw.

He wanted to hear Dorothy scream.




2 comments:

  1. Totally love this!! Why isn't it longer? My breathing got heavy and I felt anxious reading it! I pictured the movie I my head.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted to keep it as his first. Will there be more? Not sure yet. This vision came to me in the shower. Ha! He'll probably be back.

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