Posted tagged ‘short stories’

The Last Flyer

September 14, 2013
The alleyway where two boys would be separated forever.

The alleyway where two boys would be separated forever.

Standing at the end of the block, twelve-year-old Werner turns to his best friend waving a stack of leaflets in his hand. “Bet you a soda I can get done before you can blink,” he says to Hans who smiles and takes a running stance, one hand on the street.

“Three, two, one,” Werner says, taking off at high-speed. He’s one of the fastest runners in his unit—fast enough to receive a commendation, making the rest of the boys work harder.

The boys run up and down the street pushing the notifications into door crevasses and mailboxes until they reach the end of the street. Hans speeds around the corner toward the shortcut to the soda shop. Werner follows suit, but comes to an abrupt halt when he sees about fifteen boys, his own age, less than pleased with what they see.

“Let’s get out of here,” Hans says, backing out the way he came. Werner follows and they walk at a quickened pace, leaving the gang of boys behind.

“Don’t move,” one of them says to the two who are sweating from tiny spigots turned on full blast. Werner and Hans remain silent.

Hans glances at him, releases a mischievous grin and tucks one more flyer into a nearby mailbox. The angry swarm of young men, receiving one too many blows to their hive, rush in a flurry at the delivery boys who take off at a full gait. Hans twists his ankle, staggers, yet regains his footing enough to duck into a darkened doorway, out of view.

The irate mob trails Werner as he runs to a nearby store, rattling the glass door. “Let me in,” he says, demanding as much as asking. A man inside approaches the door and places his hand on the glass, sticking the key inside before he sees the horde of boys approaching. Recoiling from the door, a smug expression of satisfaction washes over him before he backs away and watches the group seize Werner by the collar and drag him away.

Werner claws, bites and kicks until he escapes. He reaches another door, and another, beating on them with bruised and bloody fists, but none will open. Seeing a light blink on a few houses ahead, Werner makes a desperate run for it.

The sound of a buffalo stampede behind him grows closer. Their hot breath creeps up on him like a flame devouring its victim. A burning stab enters his kidney from behind, followed by a flow of warm fluid. “No,” he says, out of breath as he falls to the cobblestone street. They’re on him, kicking, hitting, and stabbing him, calling him names all the while.

Werner blacks out.

When he regains consciousness, his body is cold and achy. One eye is swollen shut and it’s all he can do to get enough air through his throat to breathe. Hans is long gone and Werner is left alone and disheveled. His clothes are a tattered bloody mess, but he isn’t dead. He drags himself to his knees. “I can make it,” he says, breathing heavy. The wounds suck in air, forcing blood from his lips and he crawls to the lighted window, waiting patiently a few feet away. “Help me,” he says, his wet fingers squeaking on the glass. The words are nothing more than a hoarse whisper as his blood-soaked hand slides down limp to land beside him.

A man opens the door and sees the boy, lying dead. The lad’s face is facing up to the heavens, his pale blue eyes staring wide into the night sky. The puddle of blood grows around his head. “The Reds killed one of the Nazis,” he says, a broad smile flickers before fading at his wife’s presence.

“God bless him,” she says closing the door.

Howling in the Night

July 2, 2012

The howling is driving him crazy as Brian clutches the pillow around his head for the fourth night in a row.  “Somebody shoot the damned dog,” he yells as he throws his pillow, knocking a lamp off the desk. 

Brian stumbles across the room in the dark.  He trips on the clothing bundled on the floor he discarded last night and stubs his toe on the wall.  The lights flip on and he crosses to the window, opening the small crevasse to allow a gust of wind.  He pushes the blinds up and stares into the night.  His goal is to find the culprit of the voice so dry and cracked it sounds like an old nun trying to sing while chewing on The Daily News.  But the night yields no one and nothing as he peers deeply, leaning out the window. 

Just as his hands claps the blinds to bring them down, the crying begins again.  This time when he gapes, across the street beneath him, he spots a dog attached to a tree with a rope in front of the apartments.  The dog is large and its fur, probably white at one time, is matted.  Frankly, Brian cannot imagine anyone laying claim to it enough to keep it tied up.  “Just another mouth to feed,” Brian mutters as he rotates from the window, closing it tightly this time, hoping to halt the racket.

The noise quickly commences again as he leaves the window, allowing the blinds to drop.  He scans his room and finds his Red Ryder BB gun sitting atop of his bookshelf.  His junior high friend had been over a few days ago and they had been talking about the days they used to shoot together.  Although Brian hasn’t used the gun since he was a kid, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to bring it back from the dead.

Taking the gun in one hand and flipping the light off with the other, he hurries over to the window and pulls the blinds up again.  The dim lights of the street spray down on the pathetic mutt.  Paper scraps float through the air when a bolt of lightning streaks across the sky, warning of coming showers.  Seconds later, the earth grumbles its discontent.

The pitiable animal whines, squeaking and whistling at ear-shattering pitches until the rain begins to pour in buckets.  As if it can hide from the rain as it pours down, it huddles dismally under the tree.  Brian drops to his knee and sticks the barrel of the gun out the window.  Certain the rain will conceal the racket he takes aim.

The lightning flashes brightly and Brian releases the first shot.  No sound at all flashes from the gun, but it seems to have hit its mark, as the yelps echo through the night air.  The dog sounds like a wailing baby as it hobbles desperately around the tree, proving the hit is in the hindquarter.   “Shut up, or the other side is going to match,” Brian growls through clenched teeth, but the dog continues as he waits for the lightning to strike again.

This time when Brian takes aim, his finger prepares to pull the trigger, focused in on the dog’s face.   A bright light envelopes him and knocks him across the jaw, stunning him. The voyage from the window to the ground takes a fraction of a second, but seems like an eternity as his hip and shoulder slam into the concrete sidewalk.  Pain shoots up and down the length of his spine and he’s afraid to move.  But he needs to get help from somebody–anyone really.  He really needs to get back to his apartment.

Forcing himself to a standing position, his legs are barely able to hold him up, but he staggers toward the apartment building.  He needs to get out of this chilling moisture to warm up before he gets sick on top of being a cripple.   But as he begins his trek to the door, he stops abruptly as something pulls hard at his neck.   His head rotates around to find out what the problem is and he realizes a rope is linking his head to a tree.  Confusion is high, but doesn’t cease as he tries to unfasten it and realizes he has no hands, but tangled hairy paws.

Shaking and frightened, he knows he is alone with no one to explain his situation to, as he feels something odd rumbling in his stomach.  Brian wonders if he’s going to throw up, and tries to prepare, but when he spreads his front legs and points his nose to the ground, the reverberation strengthens deep in his gut.

“Ooooh, owwwwwww!” shoots from the back of his throat, repeatedly.  Having no control, only the gut-retching spasms, he attempts to close his jaw against nature but loses.  “Ow, owwwwwww!” he continues.

From in the distance, he can hear someone moving.  At last, someone who can help him!  He lifts his head and sees a light come on in the distance.  Taking a deep breath, he begins to howl….