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July 31, 2013 2 comments

Carl walked into the bar and sat down, grabbing a menu and smiling as he saw real food and not just the average pub offering. In the last few days, he had gotten his fill of burgers and fried pickles so seeing sides that were not fried made his stomach dance with joy.

He was sure that his bowels would also be happier with his dinner options.

He looked at his notes as he waited on the food. If he was right, the big girl would not report anything to the police. He had left her alone, very much alive and with a note thanking her for a wonderful evening. Carl doubted that her lack of remembering would be all that special and as such his efforts would be ignored. That meant he could spare one more attempt before moving to another city.

When the waitress delivered his plate, Carl dove in with a ravenous appetite. Roast beef with potatoes and carrots was one of his favorite things.

He looked around, saw no potential targets, and decided that he could just relax and eat tonight. He would stalk later, for now, the food was hot and there had been desserts on the menu too.

***

Jane went back up to the buffet for the fourth time and loaded another plate. Chinese wasn’t bad but it was far from her favorite. She wasn’t going to complain since ‘all you can eat’ was the important part of the meal. After spending the day in the elevator without killing someone, she was famished.

Before starting on every plate, she prayed for Brian and thanked God that nobody had found her throughout the day. She also gave thanks that the elevator had held. When she came around today, she had sat in awe of the gouges and scratches in the mesh of the elevators steel walls. Jane was not sure, but she guessed that her animal side had taken it easy. Some of those holes looked large enough for her to have crawled out of.

As she ate this last plate, she planned. The man had been at two different bars. In her case, the bastard had drugged her and hauled her to this place. It seemed like there was a good chance he would do that again. Something told her he was close. There was a tingle behind her ears and her nose itched. Jane realized that this would have sounded stupid if she said it out loud, but that did not matter. She just had a feeling.

“Go with your gut,” she mumbled after leaving money on the table.

It was a clear night, and even though it was not all that cold, Jane flipped her hood up as she headed towards the bars. A couple walking their tiny puppy had to pick it up and carry it past her. The poor little thing had ducked behind the man’s legs and pissed itself.

The dog knew who the bigger predator was even if the people didn’t.

***

Carl was trying to chat with an older woman, hoping for a chance to buy her a drink he could spike, but she was giving him the cold shoulder.

Probably wants a younger man, he thought. The definition of a cougar on the prowl.

When he gave up and turned around, the population of the bar had doubled. People coming in for a game and drink specials did not make good targets to pick up and take out. Maybe it is time to go to another bar?

He whistled as he walked down the sidewalk. The little university town had a single street leading away from the campus that held a dozen bars then, more of them leading away in both directions on the next busy street. Carl was at the very end, figuring that, at his age, there wasn’t much chance of picking up anyone in a college bar. He turned to the left and headed away from campus, past a mixture of restaurants and grills before reaching the next place, an Irish pub.

***

Jane stepped out and took a deep breath. The scents of all the people and the food had almost been too much for her but hunger had driven her to stay. Now though, she wanted to clear her head. She started to walk down the street, not have a plan beyond following her hunch about where the man was, when a sudden urge made her look back.

The crowd was light, a few groups of twenty-something’s and an older couple. She almost dismissed the notion when she noticed a short man dodge around one of the groups. He dodged another group and then ducked into a door.

He seemed familiar.

***

Carl ordered juice and sat down. He took a drink and then stared at the mirror behind the bar. The crowd was light, with no single person standing out as a target. It was early, just a little past dinner time, the real barflies wouldn’t be out for another couple of hours.

“Hi.”

Carl jumped and whipped around. A pretty little woman with short, black hair was sitting beside him, smiling. “Hi.”

“I don’t recognize you.”

Carl licked his lips. She was short and thin, with a small build. His critical eye noted that she seemed to match the first subject fairly well but she didn’t look like her otherwise. The eyes weren’t sunk in and her skin was clearer. The hair was different and he noted her glasses. The first girl didn’t have them. This woman wasn’t dressed up to be trolling for company. She was wearing jeans and sneakers, not heels and an easy access skirt. “This is the first time I have ever tried this bar.”

“Pub,” she corrected. “Be careful calling it a bar, the owner might be offended.”

Carl smiled. “I will remember that. My name is Carl.” He extended his hand and she took it, hers trembled a little. Either she is nervous or excited, Carl thought. Both are good for me.

“I’m Eve. Nice to meet you.”

“Can I buy you a drink?”

She smiled, a look of satisfaction and longing on her face. “I would love whatever you are having.”

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Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror, serial, Were

Results 9

July 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Carl drove to the first test site. He looked around the construction site, leaving footprints in the mud that resulted from last night’s rain, and cursed that he did not think to wear some form of boots.

He moved around, looking the place over, and was rewarded with a rounded depression by the garage entrance.

It was the print of a large animal.

And it was across an overgrown lot from the site of the mauling the day before.

“Seems I left too soon.”

***

Jane opened her eyes and stretched. The cold tile brought her out of her haze and for a moment she wondered why she was lying on the floor. She felt her hand drag the tiles, attempting to adhere there because something sticky coated her skin.

She froze, her breath coming in sharp, short drags as the fog of waking left her. She had started to raise her arm, lift it to look at what was on her skin, but she did not need to.

She remembered waking up yesterday and while she couldn’t remember everything that had happened since then, she had a good idea. She remembered Brian. She remembered sex. She remembered having fun and hope for the future.

That was where her memory broke. She didn’t have clear images of what she had done through the day, only flashes of red. Pain, smells and the salty, metallic taste of blood.

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbled.

She peeled her body off the floor and got into the shower, turning the water on while doing her best not to look down at the water that ran off of her. Jane didn’t need to look to know it was red, she could remember rolling around on the floor.

After.

The woman stood in the shower, letting the water cascade over her face, and tried to tell herself that it wasn’t mixing with tears.

***

Carl stood in his hotel room, talking to himself and considered the last fading rays of the sun set. If he was correct, the woman in his first experiment had survived and was transforming with the sun. It wasn’t what he had expected but it was success.

“This makes a lot of sense. The sun is a much more constant example of change than the moon.”

He reached over and drew a symbol on the notepad beside him. “If that is true, she should be long gone. She will have transformed today, probably killed again, and need to keep moving before the police make a connection to her.”

Carl pulled a fat cigar out of the ashtray beside him and lit it. “I wish I could find her again. I would love to study the transformation.” He exhaled a cloud of blue smoke and frowned. “Oh well, I will just need to make another one.”

***

Jane was careful not to step in any of the puddles or globs that were scattered around the apartment. She had found Brian’s wallet and emptied it into a small gym bag that was hanging the closet. She fought not to cry as she dressed beside the bed.

She had liked him.

A hysterical giggle escaped her as she remembered her grandmother. “You are so sweet I could just eat you up.”

Jane sat down on the floor, pulled her knees to her chest, and sobbed. Laughing every few minutes as other expressions about eating people popped to mind until she ran out of tears. When her thirst pulled her back to the present, she got a drink and looked at her reflection in the mirror beside the door.

“I have to make sure nobody that rode with us yesterday will be able to identify me.”

She pulled herself up, trying to remember what she had seen on her way to Brian’s apartment last night. A Wal-mart, a grocery store, a gym. She grabbed a coat and left Brain and his place.

***

Carl was eating at a bar in the center of the city, trying to make eye contact with one of the women who he thought were on the prowl. He wanted to be sure to duplicate as many of the characteristics of the first experiment as possible.

He looked around, eyes moving from one possible candidate to another. The fat red head with the bad dye job was probably a better choice than the crack whore staring into her glass. The big girl would be cleaner, less likely to have foreign substances in her blood stream.

Carl finished his food and ordered another coffee. It was almost midnight, he doubted he would get a better option this late on a week night, but he couldn’t help wanting to hold out for a better choice, one that would be easier to move by himself.

***

Jane walked down the street, wishing that she could enjoy the night. After buying a few things at the store she had walked into the gym. Brian had a membership card on a lanyard in his bag. She had walked in wearing it and nobody had bothered to look twice.

The towel she wrapped around her head to hide the dye would be ruined, but she had walked out of that gym in simple clothes with dark brown hair. Now it was time to find her way out of town.

As she walked, Jane thought about the bus station. That led her mind back to Brian and the cab ride, then to the gay men from last night.

And to a memory of a smell.

Jane felt a rumble inside. It took a moment to realize that she was growling. She felt the need to find that man again.

She changed direction and headed towards downtown.

Towards the bars.

***

Carl sighed as he stared at the mounds of pale flesh lying on the table. He didn’t want to stay in this stupid room waiting for the sun to raise but he had to be sure the woman transformed. He didn’t believe that she would, for some reason he felt that she was an unsuitable subject but without experimentation he would never know.

Another hour, and then he would try to decide what to do next.

***

Jane walked into the building and looked around. She didn’t see anyone and the signs said that demolition wasn’t scheduled for two more weeks. All she could do was hope that nobody else would be here.

The sun would rise soon. She had to find a place to spend the day that wouldn’t end with her covered in blood.

***

As the sun rose, a man sighed in frustration and flopped down to plan his next experiment. At the same time, a large cat paced in circles inside of an abandoned freight elevator, looking for a way out of the metal mesh that made up its new cage.

 

Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror, serial, Were

Pseudopod » Blog Archive » Pseudopod 342: Riding Atlas

July 22, 2013 Leave a comment

I just listened to Pseudopod » Blog Archive » Pseudopod 342: Riding Atlas. by Ferret Steinmetz. This is a wonderful story and you should give it a listen. As always, the work of the Escape Artist Podcast group is amazing.

Categories: Uncategorized

Results 8

July 17, 2013 3 comments

A couple of quick notes. First, I did not realize this was going to turn into such a drawn out story when I started. However, I am thinking that there will be a total of eleven posts to this story. I thought you might be interested in knowing that.

Second, after the series finishes, I will begin adding non-fiction content to the posts again. As before, it may not be much and it may not even be original, but I feel that there should be a little more than a story in the posts. I tried it without that for a while but I don’t feel like I am actually talking to anyone with this anymore.

I think I should be.

So, you have been warned. Enjoy the next installment.

L. E. White

Results 8

Carl peeled off the rubber gloves and threw them into the bucket beside him, all the while, watching for any sign of change from the man strapped to the table.

It had taken longer to prepare the serum than he had expected. There was no way to know what exotic, designer drug the man had taken, but it had been hours before Carl could separate it from the sample to a sufficient extent to keep it from contaminating the test. Now, it was almost dawn and he was just waiting to see results.

“I might have to stay here today,” he said to himself as he walked over to the lawn chair. Carl began making notes in his tablet as he waited. According to the Emerald Tablet, the secrets of Alchemy allowed for the distillation of the true nature of anything to be extracted. By combining this with highly energetic particles Carl had hoped to work towards the truth of the Philosopher’s Stone.

I believe that test subject #2 will be a failure, he wrote. I believe this of both the first and second test subject because I am selecting people who are easy targets. My subjects are not pure or spirit. If this is the great work, as is mentioned is so many of the ancient texts, then it stands to reason that only a pure vessel will successfully be able to transmute. I think I am trying to polish turds at this point.

He sat the pad down and lifted his cup to get a drink. At the same time, the body on the table began to quiver. Carl spilled some of the apple juice on his lap in his haste to return to his notes. He sat with a cold, wet lap, and watched the man have a heart attack. Screams were silenced by the gag and convulsions rattled the table, but after a moment, it was over again.

Cardiac arrest and no change in the physical form.

Carl finished his notes, and then stood to clean himself up. Experimentation was often a slow and drawn out process without noticeable results. This combination of science and magic could expect nothing else.

He checked his watch. Time of death had been no more than ten minutes before dawn. Next time I will begin the injections at sundown, He thought. Give the serum more time to take effect before the natural point of reversal.

It made sense that the legends would have a grain of truth. The transformation should be ruled by the moon. There was no greater sign of continuous natural change. He must be waiting beyond the point of initial transformation.

Carl began to gather his materials, he would be ready to leave the moment the sun went down, then it was time to head somewhere new.

The sun’s light broke over the tops of the mountains to the east. The first rays glinted through the tiny basement window. Carl leaned down to unplug the camera when he heard the first snap.

As the man raised his eyes, he watched the body of the homosexual he had drugged and kidnapped the night before twitch. Another snapping sound came from the corpse and his ribs twitched. The pops continued and the shape on the table bent and moved. Hair sprouted and the restraints strained or tore as the figure moved with each adjustment.

Carl stepped forward, unable to help himself as he stared into the face of a creature that was now more rat than man. The beady black eyes blinked a few times in confusion as the monster woke. It looked at Carl, hissed and raised its free arm.

Then the rat-man whined, a pitiful sound that was a cross between a hungry puppy and a rusty door hinge.  The thing whined, pulled its arm back down the hold it across its stomach, and then blood began to bubble out of its nose.

Carl stepped backward, staring with wide eyes and breathing with flaring nostrils as it died again. Blood and other, fouler, fluids leaked out of the furry form that tried to curl up on the table.

Carl stood in awe struck stupidity as he looked at the corpse. It had changed, even though the night was gone. No moon, it had changed without governance.

Light from the window shined into his eyes and Carl raised his hand to shield them. Why did it change now?

The sun light was warm on his face and Carl gasped at the sensation. Of course it would be the sun. The transition of day to night was the most constant example of change in nature. The shift was ruled by the Sun.

He sat back down, scribbling in his pad, ignoring the stench or the sound of the dripping from the corner of the table. He scribbled and flipped back and forth, making new notes.

He had it.

Carl stood and dropped the pad into the chair. It was time to clean up and leave. It was time to prepare for a third experiment.

Two failures were about to be erased in a single success.

Two?

His hands dropped to his sides as Carl considered the first experiment. Her blood had not contained the chemicals, only alcohol.

What if?

He sat back down and started searching his phone for local news.

“Oh my god,” he said to himself, smiling and wide eyed as he began to hyperventilate. “Only one failure.”

Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror, serial, Were

Results 7

July 10, 2013 Leave a comment

A small ding of a bell sounded from the phone on Brian’s hip. “Yes,” he said, reaching up and flipping off the light that indicated he was available for fares. “We are finally done with this god awful shift.”

Jane looked over at him and smiled. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“That is because you only did it once.” The cabby stretched his arms above his head. “Although I have to admit that having you along to talk to made this night a whole world better than it would have been otherwise.”

“So,” she said as she reached up and played with her hair. “Was having me here to talk to better than trading sex for the fair?”

Brian looked her over and then looked out the windshield. “I don’t want you to be offended. I think you are very pretty, but yes, having the company for the entire shift was better than getting ten minutes of road service and then spending the rest of the night alone.”

Jane stopped playing with her hair, dropping her hand into her lap. She looked at him with a slight gap in her lips and just stared.

“No, no, no. Now I said I don’t want to offend you. That wasn’t meant as an insult.”

“That wasn’t an insult.”

“Right, I said that wasn’t supposed to be an insult.”

Jane reached out and put her hand on his arm. “Brian, I understand what you meant. You don’t understand.”

“Huh?”

“That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me that wasn’t trying to get into my pants when they said it.”

He turned to look at her and frowned. “That is kind of sad.”

She sat back in the seat and huffed out a breath. “Tell me about it.”

As he headed into town, Jane looked over at the man again. He was average in almost every way. She usually went for the rough, scary guys. She spent a lot of time having sex after getting high and most of the time the hard stuff she craved came from hard men with a bad attitude. Brian was nice.

“So,” he said as they made a left. “Do you want me to drop you off at the bus station or at the diner about a block away?”

Jane didn’t answer. She shifted in the seat enough to turn and face him.

He glanced at her, back to the road, at her again and then back out. “What?”

“I don’t think I want to go to either of those places.”

“So where do you want to go?” He swallowed hard enough that she heard it. The outline of his Adams Apple bounced and Brian twisted his hands on the wheel.

“I was wondering if you would mind if I stayed with you a little longer?”

Brian lifted his hand off of the wheel. Jane could see it shaking in the light from the dash as he reached over and put it on her leg. He didn’t slide it up or try to cop a feel. Instead, he squeezed her thigh once before turning his hand over and wiggling his fingers.

Jane put her hand in his and he laced his fingers through hers. “I would like that a lot,” he said.

***

When they entered the apartment Jane stood in the living room twisting one foot on her heel. Brian hung his coat beside the door and stepped behind her so that she felt the heat from his chest against her back. He took a single finger and drew a line from her shoulder to her elbow and then back up.

Jane tilted her head up, expecting him to lean over and kiss her but instead Brian gripped her shoulders with both hand and looked into her eyes. “I don’t want you to feel an obligation to do anything,” he said. “I know the deal I offered you earlier, but this is later, not earlier. If you don’t want to do something, then you can have the bed and I’ll sleep out here.”

“Aww.” Jane turned around and wrapped her arms around his neck. She pulled, lifting herself up and dragging him down so that their lips met. The kiss started out sweet, but after a moment she ran the tip of her tongue along his bottom lip.

Brian groaned, bent his knees and wrapped his arms around her waist. When he stood, she was crushed to his chest, dangling like a kitten after being picked up by a small child. She pulled tight and lifted her legs to wrap them around his waist.

They managed to keep their lips together all the way into the bedroom.

***

Brian was stretched out on top of the blankets with Jane lying perpendicular to him with her head on his lower stomach. The rain had died off a few hours before and the skyline was becoming visible as the sky brightened to a soft grey. With the way they were positioned, Brian couldn’t see her when Jane puckered up and gave him a tiny kiss.

He hissed in response and then groaned. “Really?”

After a moment with no answer, she kissed him again.

“I love your enthusiasm, but I need some sleep.”

“Sleep is overrated.”

“You are insatiable.”

She rolled over so that she was facing him. “Complaining?”

“Oh no. No complaining here.”

Jane smiled and rolled over again.

“How about we get some sleep?”

She sighed and shifted around so that she was snuggling up against him. Brian wrapped his arm around her shoulders and Jane sighed. She wasn’t sure if she had ever had a man hold her in bed when he wasn’t just holding her down.

Brian reached over to the night stand and picked up his phone.

“I thought you were tired?”

“Just checking the bus schedule so that I can set an alarm.”

Jane froze; she almost stopped breathing and felt her stomach drop like going over the top of a rollercoaster. She didn’t want to cry, but felt the hot sting of tears in her eyes as she squeezed them shut. “Would you rather I slept on the couch?”

“Oh Fuck.” Brian dropped the phone before dragging her on top of him. He wrapped both arms around her and squeezed. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t think about how that would sound. I’m sorry.”

She pushed back a little and started trying to move away. “It’s ok. Tomorrow is time for me to go home. I get it.” She tried to shake her head so that her hair would hide her face but too much had been cut off for that to work like it used to.

“No, you don’t understand.”

“I do.”

“No,” Brian said as he tightened his grip on her. “I don’t want to get rid of you. I want you to go get your stuff.”

She stopped struggling and he relaxed his grip. Jane put both hands on his chest and pushed herself up into a sitting position on his lap. “You want me to get my stuff?” When she said repeated his words, her stomach clenched up like she had just went over another hill on a rollercoaster.

“Yeah. I don’t have any girl’s cloths or anything and you don’t have any bags.”

“You want me to move in?”

“I want you to at least stay for a while. I have never talked to a woman for six hours and still wanted to be around her before.”

Jane smiled, kissed him and then sat up and grinned. “You aren’t going to get to sleep yet.”

***

Brian was sprawled across the bed, arms stretched out and panting. Jane was on top of him, nuzzling against his neck and trying not to smile like an idiot.

“You are almost asleep,” she said. I can hear you heart slowing down.

“I can still feel yours racing,” he said. “You need to relax.”

She put her fingers against her neck and felt the pulse pounding beneath them. It had been almost ten minutes since they had finished the last time. She couldn’t believe that this was happiness alone. Brian was right, she did need to relax.

“Gotta pee,” she said as she slid off of him and walked to the bathroom. She knew he would be asleep by the time she got back but she felt wired and tense. She was so tight and anxious that she was almost bouncing as she headed to the stool.

Jane sat staring out the tiny window. She could see the light blue of the morning sky and somehow she was sure that dawn was almost there. There were pigeons talking to each other and she thought she could hear other birds singing nearby.

“It’s amazing the different things you notice when you find something good for a change,” she said to herself as she finished the paperwork and stood to head back to bed. Jane only managed a step before the room spun and she went down on the floor.

The tile was cold against her face as her stomach clenched. The little lines in the linoleum pattern were dancing in front of her eyes as she fought to keep from vomiting , praying that she wasn’t going to wake Brian up to have him find her like this.

She managed to pull her head over the edge of the tub before throwing up gallons of thick, black liquid. She heaved and snorted, watching blood and gore come out as she felt sharp pains shoot through her body. A final, searing blast of heat ran up her spine and forced Jane to cry out. When she did, she saw her teeth drop into the goop she had already spewed into his bath.

***

Brian heard Jane cry out and turned to look both ways before realizing that she wasn’t in the bed anymore. He sat up, shook his head and looked around. “Jane?”

The sound of someone retching made him frown. “Great,” he muttered. “She is probably strung out or something.”

Brian sat on the edge of the bed and looked out the window. The first rays of dawn were shining around the building and he shook his head. She was great, but this was still a horrible way to start a day. The next sound he heard was a gasp and an intestine twisting crack. He broke enough bones when he had been playing hockey to know that sound.

“Jane?” Panic changed his voice. She wasn’t just sick or going through withdrawals. He was certain that she had just broken something.

He was in the hallway and staring into the bathroom before he realize he got up from the bed, but once he got to the doorway, he raised one hand to cover his mouth and grabbed the jamb with the other.

Jane was lying on the floor. Her feet and hands were growing longer and another loud pop came out as her jaw broke. Brian watched the woman he had just bent over in his bed twist and sob as her spine stretched and a tail forced its way out of her ass. He made a fist and bit his knuckle hard enough to draw blood when she rolled her neck and chocked as her ribs caved in before spreading out and reforming.

Amber eyes looked into his and his gibbering babble was answered with a mewling sound like someone stepped on a kitten.

Brian dropped to his knees and stared at the great cat that rose to shaking legs while its fur filled in. His mouth worked up and down but no sound came out when the bathroom reverberated with a low growl.

“Jane?”

Brian’s last word was cut off as the beast slammed the cabbie’s shoulders against the wall. He squeaked and choked as grungy, yellowing teeth clamped onto his windpipe and tore out his voice box.

Bones crunched and claws scratched, but no other sounds came out of the apartment for the rest of the day.

Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror, serial, Were

Results 6

July 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Carl had his arm wrapped around Jack’s chest as he tried to keep him on his feet. The drug he used left Jack very drunk, but not as wiped out as Rohypnol. Jack would agree to anything right now. The bad part was that Jack was also making suggestions about what they could be doing and Carl wished he would just pass out.

In a voice that was slurred almost past recognition Jack tried, and failed, to whisper. “Did I tell you how flexible I am?”

“Shhhh.”

“Icanbendsofaroverthatwhileyouare-“

Carl slapped his hand over Jack’s mouth to stop him from finishing that sentence. A big man wearing a lumberjack uniform grinned at them and winked as he walked inside. Carl sighed and looked at the half open eyes above his hand. “I wish you would be quiet.”

Carl jumped and jerked his hand away when Jack licked his palm.

“Where the fuck is the cab.”

“Yes please take me home.”

Carl looked at the man, considering if this experiment was going to be worth it when a bright yellow taxi pulled up in front of the awning. “Finally,” the sober man said as he rushed through the rain and flipped the door to the cab open to deposit his prize into the seat behind the driver.

“Where to?” The cabbie asked after Carl got around the car and into the other side.

“2121 Maplehurst.”

The driver flipped the sign and pulled away from the club, Carl checked on Jack and found that he had slipped away once he was in sitting in the cab. He was thankful for that, and turned his attention to the cabbie.

And to the woman beside him in the front seat.

“I didn’t know I would be sharing a cab.”

“You aren’t, we are training a new cabbie. She is my ride along for the night.”

Carl looked at the girl. The lights of the dash hid the color of her hair from him, but he could tell she was short and thin. Her hair looked like it had been hacked at by a child, so he guessed she was cutting it herself. Carl would have guessed the driver had picked up a whore and been interrupted, but that was not his problem.

The girl didn’t turn around. She looked out the windshield and seemed to be trying to find landmarks through the rain and darkness. “Bad night for it but good luck.”

She didn’t say anything and the cabbie tried to make some idle chit-chat, but Carl gave nothing but one syllable answers until the driver stopped trying.

***

Brian had told her not to turn around and talk to the fares unless they asked her something twice. “Better if they don’t pay attention to you,” he said as they pulled up to the first call of the evening. “You need to be low profile.”

Jane had followed these instructions, doing her best to shrink down in the seat when Brian was working. He was being an angel and she knew she would have felt horrible if he got into trouble.

When they reached the awning of the bar, Jane was trying to stop giggling at the mental image Brian had given her with his story about the other drunken homosexuals he had picked up at this bar. She bit her knuckle to try and keep from snickering and wished he had waited to tell her this one.

The door opened and the first one, s drunk he passed out on the way into the cab, was shoved into the seat behind Brian. She inhaled as the door shut and smelled rain, car exhaust and the guys overly applied body spray. Jane wasn’t one to pay much attention to smells, but tonight everything seemed sharper.

And something else about this guy smelled familiar, something that made her nervous, though she did not know why.

The other guy, soaked through and grumbling, crawled into the seat behind her.

She took another breath, and squeezed her nails into her palms to keep from turning around. She could smell the second man. Nothing unpleasant like he had not been showering but still something that made her skin crawl.

She knew him. She didn’t know his name, but Jane was sure she had met this guy before. It terrified her, he terrified her, but that didn’t matter. She had to sit still and be quiet.

Brian talked to the fare, and when the guy said something indirect to Jane, she ignored him. The four of them rode in silence, Brian giving up on his usual chit-chat when the stranger refused to keep up his end of the conversation.

Who was he.

Jane looked at the floor when they dropped the guy off. She sat still, praying that the man wouldn’t stop to look at her while Brian waited for the money. It was still raining and the man was fishing around in his wallet while sitting in the cab. He reached forward, his hand holding a bill as he passed it up to Brian. When his arm went by, Jane felt a terrible urge to snap around and bite it. To lash out like an angry dog and tear into the thing that was scarring her.

The guy hurried out and Brian jumped out of the car to help him extract his date. When the doors shut, the cab was on its way out of the suburbs on the other side of town from where Jane had woken up. She memorized the address, reciting it over and over between talking to Brian as the headed back into town.

Two more hours until his shift was over. She wasn’t sure if she would be heading to the bus stop or not. She liked Brian. She wanted to spend more time with him. If he was telling the truth about being single, then Jane had no problem going home with him tonight. If this wasn’t an act, she might not have any trouble staying with him for a while.

And she wanted to come back to this house tomorrow.

Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror, serial, Were