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Friday short story time: "Utter Shambles"

After last week’s moment of misery, something a little sillier for your Friday distraction this time. I think I might be attempting horror this time, which is a rare genre for me. Whether it’s genuinely horrific, I am not sure.

And yes, other less horrific stories are always available.

Utter Shambles

By Nick Bryan

‘Ben? Did you see this card in the newsagent window?’

Rick stopped and pointed to it curiously. But Ben, wearing huge headphones without any music playing, didn’t break stride.

‘Wait, Ben?’

Ben was nearly two shops further on by now.

‘Ben, come back!’

With a sigh and a toss of hair, Ben slowly retraced his steps. Each pace seemed to take forever, and Rick felt like he was being approached by a gigantic serial killer. He also suddenly realised that his finger was still pointing at the card, and managed to drop it just as Ben arrived.

‘Yes, Rick?’ Ben was considerably taller than him.

‘Um, this card.’

So Ben turned and looked at the chipped, browning index cards racked up in the window. ‘It says there’s a room for rent a couple of streets away. We already have a flat.’

‘No, that one,’ and Rick was forced to start jabbing again.

Ben dragged his eyes to the side and read it out loud curiously. ‘It says “SATAN NEEDS VIRGINS”.’


‘I don’t understand, do you want to apply?’

Typical. Rick sighed. ‘No, but isn’t that strange? Having that up in the window?’

‘I’ll tell you what’s strange: there isn’t actually any contact details. They’ve just daubed it in ketchup.’

‘Oh, good point.’ Rick hadn’t noticed, in all his time gesturing at it. ‘Wonder why the fat guy even put it up. Let’s ask him.’

‘Whatever. I need a shower before going out.’ And Ben got a few steps on the opposite direction, before a hand landed squarely on his shoulder. Rick sometimes wondered if passers-by mistook them for a couple.

‘Come on, Ben.’ He hated appealing for pity, but here he was again. This was a one-sided relationship. ‘Just for a sec, then we can go.’

With a sigh and a nod, his friend wheeled around slowly, hair fluttering behind him and they crashed through the door of the newsagents, despite trying their utmost to stay quiet. That happened a lot.

Their first thought, as it whammed shut behind them, was that it was deserted. No customers, which was normal, but also no staff. The fat guy would normally be glaring before they’d even stepped on the filthy lino, in case they nicked a TV listings magazine. They were twenty-four.

Not today. No nothing. Ben wandered off to read about X Box, while Rick crept up to the counter. No sign stoned friends of his little brother who sometimes watched the shop when the fat guy went to get more pies. Emptiness. If this had been a hotel, there might have been a little bell to ring for attention, but he didn’t even have one of those.

With all this quiet, not to mention the certainty that this place couldn’t afford CCTV, Rick was tempted to swipe a couple of chocolate bars, but that would be wrong. Instead , he yelled ‘Hello!’ into the void behind the shop, where the boxes and tiny staff toilet lived.

No reply. How hard could it be to maybe open up the cash register? Ben, meanwhile, barely registered that any shouting had happened.

Suddenly, a small box was hurled through the back door, and Kit Kats went everywhere. Following it, a large rotting man lumbered. His baggy shirt and horrible vest, complete with tiny curling hairs, somehow became even more disgusting when you added a thin layer of dried gore. It seemed to have dripped down from his mouth, eyesockets and the glistening bite mark on his shoulder.

Ben, finally, looked up from his magazine to take heed of the new arrival. And, as ever, he summarised the situation concisely. ‘Rick… the fat guy’s a zombie!’

And as the enormous corpse shambled out from behind the desk, Rick thought he might be right. Then he thought to run. Ben, even worse, didn’t move until Rick did. For fuck’s sake, Rick thought, that would teach him to float around being cool. The aloof, smug twat.

It was a tiny little shop so they were at the door in seconds, only to find it wouldn’t open. Rick hauled desperately at the door, but even though there was no bolt, it wouldn’t budge at all. As he ripped holes into his hands, his eyes found themselves level with the damn postcard that had lured them in here.

Meanwhile, the fat guy was nearly on them, because it was still a tiny little shop. His bloody footprints were the shitty lino even worse.

‘Dude,’ Rick breathed, ‘I thought Satan needed virgins. Are you saying you’ve not…’

‘Hey, never mind me,’ Ben deflected beautifully, ‘it’s the fat guy I feel sorry for.’

Well, Rick thought as an enormous man’s moustache embedded itself in his spleen, that was a reasonable point.

Copyright me as I wrote it. No stealing. Ask me about my authorised stealing programme!


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