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Anthony Blackshaw, 28 Jun '12

        The rain pelted down on Jack. He shifted uncomfortably on the cold hard step and pulled himself further into the doorway. It was the early hours of Saturday morning, and the streets were filled with people heading home after a night out. Some shouted merrily at the night sky and danced along, others hugged together tight and hurried from the cold, still others brawled and promised cruel things before staggering home, but all pretended not to notice Jack.

        From under his tattered raincoat hood, Jack looked out on Morton Street. He imagined sitting in teashops sipping a hot drink and watching the world pass by. The memories where not so old, and for short bursts he could once again find himself in happier times. But all too soon the cold would bite, so that he tensed and shook and woke in misery.
        A little further down the street, on the opposite side Jack observed a girl begging passers by. He'd not seen her before, but by her appearance he suspected she'd been living rough for a while. He noticed that she didn't target everyone that passed, instead only choosing unaccompanied older men. In truth she was fishing and before long she had a bite.
        A smartly dressed man, with thin, immaculately combed silver hair stopped to talk to her. He was calm and sober, a stranger to her but not the situation. They spoke only briefly, too quietly for Jack to overhear, and then the man followed the girl down a dead end alley.

        After a few minutes the man reappeared, he was no longer calm but flustered. His face was sweaty and his hair wild. He looked around nervously before stepping out of the alley and walking briskly back in the direction he'd come from. He didn't look back nor did the girl reappear.
        A while passed, Morton street grew quiet, and still the girl didn't show. Not a good sign, thought Jack. He stood up, pulled on his rucksack, and walked to the entrance of the alley. His eyes conditioned by the bright street lamps could see little more than a few yards in.

        “Please” said a trembling voice.
        Jack peered into the darkness and took a tentative step forward.
        “Please” said the voice again.
        “Hold on, I can't see you.” said Jack.
        Slowly Jacks eyes began to adjust and after a few more steps with his hands outstretched grappling at the dark, he could make out the girl he'd seen earlier. She was sat on top of a wooden crate, head in her hands, sobbing. He stopped a few feet from her.
        "Are you okay? I don't have a mobile but there's a phone just back there if..." Jack started to say gesturing back toward Morton street.
        But the girl interrupted “Please don't leave me, not down here.”
        “I wont go anywhere. Promise.” said Jack and he smiled.
        “I'm Lian” said the girl.
        Jack knelt down so that he was level with the her, put his hand in his pocket and found a napkin.
        “Here” he said, passing it to her “I'm Jack”.
        Now that he was face to face with her he could see she was only in her teens, not much more than sixteen by his reckoning. Her bottom lip was swollen along with her left eye which was barely open.
        “He kept hitting me, he'd have killed me if I hadn't...” she stopped mid-sentence and put her head back in her hands.
        Feeling out of his depth Jack asked “Can you walk? There's a place not too far, I think they'll let you stay tonight, if you want?”
        Lian nodded. She needed a little help at first, but once on her feet she found her balance quickly. From beside the crate she'd been sat on, she picked up a large carrier bag, beneath the bag was a Stanely knife, blade drawn and blood stained. Unbeknown to Jack, she took the knife in her right hand letting her sleeve drop to conceal it, before turning to join him.
        They had only walked a few steps back towards the street when a man passed by the entrance to the alley, as he did he turned his head and looked towards them causing Jack to stop.
        “What's wrong?” asked Lian, gripping his arm tightly and looking up at him her eyes awash with fear.
        “Nothing” he replied.
        “You don't think he might come back?” she asked.
        “No” said Jack, he smiled trying to reassure her and took another step.
        That however was exactly what Jack was thinking, though he'd not had chance to make out the man's features in detail, his height and build alluded to this very possibility, and it filled him with a sense of dread.
        Suddenly the man reappeared blocking the entrance to the alley. He started to walk slowly towards them, his gait awkward like that of a zombie in some B-movie gorefest. In his hands he carried a black box which he held out in front of him at arms length.
        “Don't come any closer!” shouted Jack and instinctively he stepped in front of Lian.
        The man continued to advance towards them, Jack could feel Lian shaking, she clung to his rucksack and hid behind him. Fear gripped him too, beckoning him back into the darkness, but he kept his head and stood his ground, there was no escape behind them.
        The man's face, though the very image of madness, held some relief for Jack. It wasn't that of the attacker. This face belonged to a younger man with a tanned complexion and thick dark hair. He stopped two paces in front of them and fixed his eyes on Jack. He twisted the box he was carrying in his fingers and changed his grip so that he held it only by his fingertips.
        Jack looked at the box and back to the man's face. The man took a step closer so that the box was now only inches from him. It was pure black, polished to a mirror finish, and adorned in numerous strange markings.
        Lian pulled at Jack's rucksack trying to retreat. Jack placed his hand on the box and pushed it away from him.
        “I don't want it” he said.
        As soon as the last word left his mouth he felt the tugging of his rucksack cease, there was a blur of motion in front of him as Lian swooped from behind him and taking her knife, slashed at the man's throat. The man dropped the box and clutched his hands to his neck, blood gushed through his fingers and he fell to his knees. Lian looked down at her victim in horror, then to Jack.
        “I thought... I thought he was...” she didn't finish her sentence, but turned and fled.

        Jack found himself unable to react, his legs were as lead while he watched Lian flee the scene. Once she was out of sight, he looked back down at the man on the floor below him. The blood had stopped gushing and now merely seeped from the wound, his hands no longer clutched his throat but lay lifeless at his side.

Comments · 3

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  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    This hopefully this is the opening to a longer story. Any feedback on the characters, especially Jack would be appreciated.

    • Posted 8 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    I really liked this! The only thing is "shacking" instead of "shaking" which is easily edited out. I loved the pace and the suspense. Jack is a mysterious character with good morals. He has an inquisitive mind and is likeable in the way he seems to be an 'everyman' who enjoys people watching. Good stuff :)

    • Posted 8 years ago
  • Angela Watt said...

    Jack reminded me of a kind of Rebus character - caring but with a hard outer shell and someone who finds himself in unexpected and out of control circumstances. I'd definitely like to see him in action again.

    • Posted 8 years ago