‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.Stuart Conover
Darren Phoski lifted the blind and peered out the window. He was still there. Mr. Jackson; owner of the jewellery store across the street. Jackson had been watching him for over two hours now, and Darren was decidedly worried.
I shouldn’t be worried, he thought, if we analyse the basics. There was absolutely no way that Jackson could have seen him during the robbery. He’d been wearing a mask, and hadn’t said a single word that might have given away his eastern European accent. And besides…
So what the hell was he doing out there?
And what the hell am I gonna do about it?
Darren sat back down at the table beside the window, and with a trembling hand picked up the litre bottle of beer he was drinking. The liquid swished and foamed. Pretty much like what his head was doing right now.
The initial shock and horror was now subsiding, to be replaced by unease. Uncertainty. He looked at the bottle as though it may hold the answer or a solution to the problem, and to a certain extent there could be a relation here, he mused. Certainly, after downing the fifth since seeing Jackson the first time, there was a chance he might be imagining it. Alcohol could play havoc with one’s perceptions of things.
He decided to chance another peek. The seventh.
With the tips of his fingers, he lifted the blind, holding his breath without even realizing, and cast a wary eye out.
“Shit!” he hissed, and jumped back from the window as though it might explode at any minute.
Mr. Jackson stood across the road, dressed in his habitual three-piece black suit, arms by his side, and staring up directly into Phoski’s second-floor window. The overhead street light cast an eerie shadow around Jackson that should not have been there either. And Phoski would have sworn that the shadow moved of its own accord, albeit slightly. Swirling, expanding and decreasing as though it were breathing. Partners in crime. A dark one. Very dark.
Darren slumped back into his chair; drunk, nervous, and alarmed. He mentally recalled the robbery. It had gone perfectly. Five minutes before closing time at eight, when Mr Jackson would have no customers, people would be busy rushing home from work, and Jackson no doubt thinking of dinner, and putting his weary feet up in front of the television. He was reasonably old-near retirement age presumed Phoski-thus should provide little or no threat. By simply removing the revolver he kept hidden in his jacket, no words would be necessary. The language of guns was universal.
Jackson had looked scared, as though he might suffer a heart attack even. Phoski didn’t want that to happen. It was one thing going away for a couple of years for theft, another off for fifteen for second-degree. So, he finished the job as quick as possible before anything nasty might happen, and left. The next day, he sold the jewels for a tidy eight thousand, and life seemed wonderful again.
And now this.
Somehow that old fucker had discovered that it had been him. How, he couldn’t even begin to wonder, but then, considering that what was waiting, lurking, outside for him- and who knows what ideas Jackson might have in his head should they be re-united- it might be an idea to start looking at things in a new light
Because Mr. Jackson, owner of Jackson’s Jewellery Shop, should not fucking be there.
All kinds of drunken thoughts passed through Darren’s head. Maybe he’d read the article in the newspaper wrong? Perhaps he was shitfaced and imagining it? The guilt of what he’d done catching up with him. Could it be that…? No. Don’t go there. Because that’s impossible, right? He would be the first to accept that plenty of weird shit happened in the world-often tragic, occasionally amusing, sometimes downright bizarre-but that was the kind of shit you laughed and joked about in the bar with your buddies. The usual thing;
‘been smoking too much dope, have you?’
‘been watching too much X-Files, pal. It’s getting to ya.’
‘good idea to see a psychiatrist, don’t you think, chum?’
On one occasion, during the robbery of a gas station on Halloween of all nights, the employee’s girlfriend had startled him (scared him almost to fucking death actually) by appearing from the office wearing a zombie mask after hearing the ruckus out front. That had freaked him out, and for several days afterwards, had seriously considered a new career. An honest one. But this…
This bordered on abnormal. Beyond comprehension. Fucking neurotic.
Darren dropped the empty beer bottle. He couldn’t stay here all night, on the verge of a mental breakdown, wondering if he had finally lost it, or there really was an explanation plausible, natural. It was time to confront Mr. Damn Jackson who should be somewhere else right now, somewhere specific that did not allow for doubt or certain questions about one’s state of mind.
“Fuck it,” he said and stood up, rapidly grabbing onto the edge of the table to avoid falling back down again.
Two things were about to happen. One: some guy impersonating Jackson was going to get very probably shot for freaking him out so much, or two: Darren was going to need lots of help very probably in the near future. If he survived.
He picked up his trusty revolver, thrust it into the back of his trousers, and before heading towards the door, looked once more at the newspaper article to confirm his suspicions;
JEWELLERY STORE OWNER DIES IN ROBBERY
Andrew Jackson, owner of Jackson’s Jewellery Store, was found dead of a heart attack this morning following a robbery at his store. Police are currently investigating the robbery, but as yet have no leads…
Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.
He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.
He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].
We gorge ourselves on the scents and sights of the street market. From behind the church, a lone flute pipes its melancholy notes. Lured in, we wander over to where the toppled tombstones hug the earth. A line of dancing children snakes out of the graveyard grass. One of them, a bedraggled girl, approaches with a pitiful smile showing rotted teeth.
‘Rosemary?’ She holds out her hand.
You cannot resist her call. The music tugs at your spirit. You are drifting away from me.
Selfishly I have kept you with me too long. It is time to let you go.
Alyson trained originally in the UK as a teacher/tutor. She wrote a couple of children’s books which were published by Collins and Ginn. Now she lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire with her teen son, partner and 3 rescue cats. She writes noir Flash Fiction (some of which is published online) and spooky longer tales (3 are available for download on www.www.alfiedog). She has a collection of her Flash fiction coming out soon from Chapel Town Books in the UK. She enjoys old movies, singing, and swimming. She is a confirmed chocoholic and is still hopeless at maths. Her blog is at http://www.
There was a need she couldn’t fill.
Sex, drugs, rock and roll, she’d tried it all.
It was always there, unfulfilled.
She wanted more. Needed more.
The boys couldn’t help with lust and desire.
The girls couldn’t help in the heat of the fire.
The highs lead to lows and turned happiness to woes.
The music was a reprieve but couldn’t satiate her need.
But one day she found the solution to her pain.
An accident that happened while driving in the rain.
She’d killed her first in that dreary night.
It wouldn’t be the last. It felt so right.
The Midwest’s very own curvaceous author of strumpets, harlots, kink, fetish, and all kinds of other illicit and fun-filled naughty activities!
You can follow her work at http://sccornett.com.
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