#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p7

Night’s End.

A wave of ice hit Jack. He stood frozen, staring down at the dark shapes that used to be his neighbours. A strong smell of gunpowder lingered. After shooting his wife Carl had turned the gun on himself and bought it. In the sudden explosion of light Jack had seen Carl’s head vanish, like watching one of those slow-motion videos of melons exploding. The first aid kit in Jack’s hand was useless now. He had been too late. Carl and Mary were beyond help. Jack wanted to scream but bit it back hard.

“Dad?” Amy stood behind Jack. She couldn’t see very well in the dark by the moonlight but she recognized the shape of her father alright. She couldn’t see the horror in the room beyond. The pale blue light didn’t reach far into the room and the bad were wrapped in shadows.

It took a moment for a Jack to register the voice behind him. When he did a cold shiver ran down his spine. “You promised to wait downstairs,” he said turning around towards his daughter.

“Yeah,” she said, “The power went out and I heard another gunshot, I got scared” Her voice was a strange mix of shame, defiance and sadness. “I thought maybe you had got hurt.”

Christ, Jack cursed to himself, how long had he been standing there like a fool, staring at two dead bodies he couldn’t help when his own daughter had been sitting downstairs worrying herself sick about him. “I’m fine,” Jack said stepping forward into the moonlight to reassure Amy, he held out his hands in a gesture that said, not a scratch.

Amy sighed with relief but she didn’t walk closer. She remained close to the open apartment door. She knew that something was wrong. She sensed death and didn’t want to come close. “What about the Grimes?” She asked not wanting to know the answer.

“I couldn’t help them,” Jack replied.

Amy saw the first aid kit clenched in her dad’s fist, she didn’t push the subject.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jack said, “I want to see if there is anything new on the TV”.

“The TV died when the lights went out,” Amy replied.

“Makes sense,” Jack replied. In the heated moments in the Grimes apartment he had forgotten about the electricity flickering out. It had been one of the reasons Amy had left their apartment on the floor below.

“Wait,” Jack said as they stepped out into the dark hallway. He turned back into the apartment and walked with determined steps towards the bedroom. Deep breaths he told himself. If I’m going to do this it has to be fast and without thinking, deep breaths. He wanted to stop in the door frame, freeze up like before, but he didn’t. The smell of gunpowder was only a faint memory now, the smell of blood more tangible. Jack registered the smell but tried not to think about it. He stepped up to bed and wrestled the gun unceremoniously from Carl’s hand. “Sorry old pal,” he whispered and left the room for good. He couldn’t help the Grimes, but his daughter was alive. And he would keep it that way.

Amy saw the gun in her father’s hand as he joined her in the hallway but didn’t say anything. In silence by the dim glow of Amy’s cell phone they walked back down to their apartment and locked the door firmly behind them. Soon the sun would rise and cast its hard-hearted light on the city.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of Episodes for No Longer Alive

#FridayFlash – Carrefour part 3 (mini-series), conclusion.

“Yes child, I have come” Baron Samedi said. The voice was calm, but the old man could hear the playful undertones dance across the words like a thunderstorm.

The old man sat dumbstruck. He had wanted this, prepared for it, but now that he got his wish he didn’t know what to do with it, or what to do with himself. Baron Samedi loomed tall over him and the old man wasn’t sure if it was a man or a giant crow standing in front of him. Yellow eyes webbed with red veins stared down at him. Under the ancient top hat thick dreadlocks rippled with their own life, twitching eagerly to grasp another soul. His skin was darker than any the old man had ever seen, it was like looking into the void. This must be like dying, the old man thought.

Baron Samedi poked the old man with his diamond tipped cane. “Now that I’m here, what do you wish of me?” His voice, deep, ruined by cheap whiskey and smoke, it raked the air.

“Mistake,” the old man said in a dry whisper. He wanted to look away, but couldn’t. Before him stood a thunderstorm, an ill omen, the harbinger of death. Hot urine streamed down the old man’s ragged trousers.

“No!” Baron Samedi exclaimed. The old man jumped at the deafening sound of that single word. He began to shiver.

Behind them the child looked up. Baron Samedi turned his head towards the boy and smiled. The child smiled back, only for an instant, before returning to what game he played.

“You called, I came. A prise will be paid,” Baron Samedi turned back to the old man, “One way or the other.”

The old man understood these deep unforgiving words well. In his secret heart he knew there was no turning back. He met Baron Samedi’s horrible yellow eyes and nodded.

“So I ask, what do you wish?” Baron Samedi held out his open palm, “You may wish for anything, but not everything.”

The old man’s jaw and lips shivered with fear, “Life”, he spoke, pushing the words through his white lips.

“The payment?” Baron Samedi looked down on the old man, so close to lives end. He wasn’t the first to ask for more, and he would not be the last.

The old man could speak no more, his lips quivered too violently. He raised his thin arm and pointed one gnarly finger at the child.

“Very well,” Baron Samedi smiled, eyes gleaming like hot coal. The demon held out his hand towards the old man who gripped it with his own shaking hand. Strong fingers squeezed, long nails dug into the old man’s skin.

“Seven years. If you want more, pay more.”

The End.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p6

Blood.

The hallway was quiet. Jack looked first to his left, then his right, he was alone. All the doors were closed. He didn’t really know what he had expected stepping out from the safe sphere of his apartment. But he hadn’t expected things to be so normal. If his neighbours were awake they showed no signs of it. Jack squeezed the emergency kit until his knuckles turned white. He drew a deep breath, braced himself and started to move.

He walked past the elevators. He didn’t want to risk getting stuck in a cramped metal box if there was a power outage. Taking the stairs would be faster, and if the Grimes were hurt there was no time to lose. The automated lights in the hallway flickered nervously.

As Jack pushed the door to the staircase open he heard a door on a lower level slam shut. The sound echoed up through the concrete walls.

“Hello?” Jack leaned over the railing and looked down the winding stairs, empty. At least I’m not alone, Jack thought, but couldn’t decide if this was a good or a bad thing.

He hurried up the stairs to the next floor and pushed through the stairwell door. He walked quickly through the hallway. This floor looked exactly the same as his own and for a moment a feeling of being stuck in a loop hit Jack. He would find his own apartment door at the end of the hallway, not the Grimes’ door. The lights flickered like crazy, drew a synchronized last breath and died. The hallway was bathed in darkness.

Jack stopped, reached out his free hand to find the wall. The concrete was cool to his touch. Jack winced at his luck not taking the elevator. He would have been as stuck as you get right about now if he had. Being stuck in a pitch dark corridor wasn’t a whole lot better, but at least he could stumble forward. He didn’t have to stumble for long as the backup power switched on and the lights breathed new life again. A soft blue glow settled over the hallway, it was dim but at least Jack could see by it.

The door to the Grimes’ apartment was unlocked. Jack didn’t knock, he didn’t think about it. He just pushed the door open and stepped inside.

“Hello?” he whispered, “Mary? Carl? You okay?” No reply. The backup lights from the hallway only reached so far with its blue light and most of the apartment was draped with long shadows.

Jack took a few tentative steps forward. The weight of the emergency kit grew heavier with each step. His hand clamped around the bag. Suddenly his palms were wet with nervous sweat.

“Carl?” Jack took a step forward and stopped to listen. This time he heard something. A soft sobbing was coming from the bedroom. Jack crossed the living room, pausing only for a moment when his eyes fell on the thick pillar of smoke rising from the city, a deeper black against the dark night.

“Who’s there?” Carl asked as Jack appeared in the door frame, in the gloom of the apartment they were both just shadowy figures. Carl sounded exhausted, cried out.

“It’s me,” Jack replied and took a step forward. “Is Mary alright?”

“I had to do it Jack,” Carl replied.

“What do you mean, Carl?” Jack strained his eyes to see. Carl was sitting on the bed cradling Mary’s head, running his frail old hands through her hair.

“She’s been ill, Jack” the sobbing seeped back into Carl’s voice. “She went crazy, absolutely crazy. I couldn’t calm her down. Jack, I couldn’t.”

Jack stood frozen in the doorpost, he realized that Mary must be dead, her chest was still. Even in the dark he should have been able to see her chest move with her breathing.

“She started beating me, biting me, see.” Carl held out his arm, but Jack couldn’t see the wounds in the dark. The only thing he could see was the gleam of light bouncing of the gun in Carl’s hand. “I shot her,” Carl sobbed heavily. “I shot my wife. Fuck me, Jack, I shot her.”

In one last fluid motion Carl raised his gun to his head, a single gunshot exploded the darkness and in the momentary light Jack could see all of the blood, blood everywhere. He didn’t even have time to react. All he could think was that Carl was too fast, too fast for a goddamn old man.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive

#FridayFlash – Carrefour part 2 (mini-series)

The sun didn’t move, but time pasted. The old man knew this because his hunger was growing. Papa Legba had walked south, his promise that the other one would come soon still echoed in the old mans tired mind. Soon was an obscure promise. Time moved differently for humans and the others, the cross-road demons and the gods of the old world. But he would wait. There was nothing else. Food could no longer satisfy the deep hunger he felt. Only more life would.

The child still played in the dirt. The young boy had no worries and no complaints. If he was hungry he kept it to himself.

Time moved. The old man blinked, his eyes were dry from the dust and the sun, and suddenly the other one had come. The old man startled, he almost fell to the ground at the terrifying sight of the other one. “Baron Samedi…” he gasped.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

Find part one here

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p5

Going into Shock.

The gunshots splintered the last crude hope Jack and Amy was holding on to. They cracked through the night like a dry whip and in the distance they were answered by a much louder and deeper sound. It was the sound of something big exploding, a gas-station or a big truck. Jack turned his head, too exhausted and numb to care about the implications of the explosion, he saw a deep orange cloud of fire reach above the buildings a few blocks down, just outside the city core.

Amy didn’t look. She burrowed her face into her father’s warm shirt, trying to squeeze out any remaining comfort but there was only a lingering feeling of safety left in the familiar smell of the fabric, a memory of a time that now felt strange and distant. “What should we do?” She whispered, afraid that her voice would invoke further gunshots.

“Let’s get inside” Jack replied, “I don’t feel safe here.”

Amy nodded, “Yeah, no kidding.” She didn’t mean to say the last two words. The words just sort of slipped out of her, but she was glad they did, at least she wasn’t going crazy with fear. Maybe the explosion had shaken it all into place, maybe she was in shock. She couldn’t tell, but it didn’t matter. Anything was better than going bat-shit crazy with fear.

Jack had picked up on Amy’s slight change in mood and it reassured him. He would deal with whatever this shit was, for her.

“Amy, I’m gonna go upstairs and check on the Grimes,” Jack said, “and I want you to stay her, watch the news in case there is something new.”

“No, don’t go up there,” Amy replied instantly, feeling suddenly very small and afraid again.

“Look, I have to. The Grimes are old, and Marys been sick lately,” Jack sighed, “They might need my help.”

“Stay, please.” Amy grabbed her dad by the wrist as he pulled away from her. “Someone else will help them.”

“Amy, please. I’m their doctor. I’ll just be gone two minutes then I’ll be right back alright. Promise.”

“I don’t like it,” Amy said and creased her forehead in a disapproving frown, like she had done as a child.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Jack replied and tried to smile.

Amy tried to smile back.

“Lock the door behind me, I got the keys.” Jack held up the modest key-chain which held the key to the apartment, a car-key and the key to Jack’s locker at work.

“Alright,” Amy replied.

“Don’t open for anyone, even if you know who it is alright, wait for me,” Jack said. He pulled open the closet in the hallway and pulled out his emergency medical kit.

“Promise. Just hurry back, dad.” Amy said. She was looking at the green square medical kit but didn’t really want to see it, “I’ll make us some tea,” She added.

“Good idea, Amy,” Jack said, “I’ll be back soon.” But he didn’t feel it. If he was lucky the Grimes would be alright, but that would be some real goddam luck. Most likely, someone was shot.

Jack opened the door slowly. He waited until the automatic lights would blink to life. The hallway was empty. “Alright,” he said, “Don’t open for anyone.” He didn’t wait for Amy to reply. He slipped out into the hallway and quickly shut the door behind him. The sound of Amy locking the door behind him sent a single icy chill down his spine. The otherwise safe and familiar hallway felt like a scene from one of those bad horror movies. He felt terribly lonely.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l