Nightprowler-short story

Bill Robinson wasn’t the only one who roamed the streets of the estate by night, but as far as he could tell, he was the only one who did it for reasons not connected to living. The other shapes and forms who slipped in and out of the alley ways, were doing it because of life. They were stealing, or fighting, or prowling, or spying. One way or another, it was all about survival, because that was all they knew. Quitting, leaving, changing or dying on purpose were not things that ever occurred to them.

Bill Robinson considered that his purposes and reasons for roaming, made him different, but then Bill Robinson had always known that he was different, and he held that knowledge in his strong shoulders and steely eyes. Being different from them, being different from anyone he knew, was all he had ever wanted. Around here, being different was something that mattered.

Roaming and drifting took him around the messy edges of the small world he lived in. He remembered that when he was a child, it had seemed so big, so full, so noisy and bright. At one time, he had been certain that nothing else existed beyond the brick walls, concrete car-parks, and connecting alley ways of the estate. Now, he saw it differently. Now, he saw it mostly as it was at night; silent, jagged, black and white.

He left home in a dramatic fashion, which served no real purpose. His father worked nights, so was not at home. If his mother had hung around maybe she would have been the one to hear his bedroom window opening. Maybe that was why he did it. Because he could. Because no one ever heard him leave.

His older brother and younger sister slept through the clinging to the drainpipe which always sent his heart up into his throat. They slept through his leaping onto the concrete wall which separated their garden from next doors, and they slept through his cat-like pounce to the flag-stoned patio, hands and feet prepared in advance with boots, thick socks and woolly, fingerless gloves.

From there, it was a brisk walk to the back gate, which was always left open, as the top hinges had disconnected from the rotting post. After the escape, as he liked to think of it, the outside world was his. Their back alley led onto others, corridors of concrete and fence panels, separated by squares of parking spaces and lock-up garages. He could go left, or right. He could go anywhere. The night was his, and everything about it fascinated him.

The houses, all the same in size and shape, like little black boxes closed up after day. Chinks of yellow light shone behind curtains and blinds. He could see who left their kitchen light on for the dog, and who left the landing light on for the kids. The estate was like a massive, silent, sleeping secret…

Bill Robinson imagined himself to be feline, supple in shape and movement. All he really lacked was a tail. He wasn’t hunting prey, though he was hunting something. Some elusive, mysterious, transient something, which escaped him during the day. A something. A big, soft, sleeping, silent something.

In the dark, rats skittered and their eyes glowed behind wheelie bins and recycling boxes. Broken glass littered the ground. Cats watched him from the safety of walls. Every now and then he interrupted a scraggy looking fox from his scavenging. He often saw them trotting casually across the roads, unbothered in the dark by traffic. And as he wandered, he felt less human in body, like all the pretending that made up life melted away as soon as it was dark. He felt unburdened from all the expectations and disappointments which were heaped onto you from the moment you were born. He felt like he supposed the animals felt. Like all that really mattered was the moment you were in, and what you did while you were in it. One foot fell softly after the after, and Bill Robinson scoured the haunts of his patch, of his place of birth and life. From the school, to the playing field, to the shop shut up tight behind steel shutters, to the youth club behind and the community centre around the corner.

Passing the low red-brick building made his lips turn up slightly, as he thought about next Saturday, like he thought about every Saturday. Him, on the stage, if they let him. You’re not the only one around here who wants to do something, Marvin Grady liked to tell him. Bill thought that he was wrong. As far as he could see, he was the only one around here who wanted to do something. He sure as hell was the only one with any talent…

Beats filled his mind as he by-passed the hall. Beats from last week, beats from the next performance to come. He sometimes entertained the thought of taking his music with him when he roamed, pushing his ear-plugs into his ears and hitting play on his phone. But he never did. Silence was something too. Silence gave you time to just be.

He walked on, crossing an empty dark road, enclosed suddenly in the tight black darkness under a group of trees, before he emerged on the other side, illuminated by the street lights outside a block of flats. Bill Robinson courted danger at night, in a different way to in the day. But he was old enough to understand that danger attracted him, in all its many, complex forms. People were dangerous; he knew that. All of them. Especially the ones who knew you. Drinking was a form of self-destruction, albeit a socially acceptable one. Night prowling was anti-social and strange. It served no purpose, except he did it because he was hunting for something and he knew he would recognise it when he found it.

He wasn’t old enough to drive, but he somehow knew that if he ever got behind the wheel of a car, he would want to drive too fast. He would want to take a drink or two along for the ride. He would want to push it too far.

He felt this way about most things. His father and brother called him a bad-tempered wind up merchant. His younger sister, with her narrow-eyed knowledge of the estate, told him he was suicidal.

Bill Robinson, raven-haired and freckle-nosed, with blue eyes that pierced right through you, offering everyone the same rigid level of condescending contempt. Bill Robinson thought you might as well push things to the extreme. He had no illusion or trust in a better life, place or overseeing God. He knew that poor people mostly stayed poor, and angry people mostly stayed angry. He knew that whether you studied life and philosophy forever, or had the odd drunken ramble over beers with your mates, life was ultimately a chance, a fluke, a flash in the dark and in the great big Universe scheme of things, it was pointless.

Not that he wanted to leave. You’d have to be bored or scared to want to leave, and he was neither. He felt like you might as well push it a little, take your chances, enjoy risks and see if you could test the limits – how much were you really meant to be here?

On the night that the unfortunate Lewis Matthews felt his own young life rushing from him in a crimson flood, Bill Robinson, his heart thudding in his chest, was only two streets away.

He heard nothing and saw nothing.

The fifteen year old boy died on the ground with his face against the cold alley wall, and his hands under his chest, clutching vainly at the emptying vessel that was his body.

With the music in his head and his mouth silently singing along, haughty Bill Robinson passed by without knowing a fellow youth was spluttering blood in the very last remnants of his life. He walked on, leaving one alley to join another, and that was when he saw the other night-prowler.

They both stopped and stared. Bill, with his hands in his pockets, and his breath blowing out in front of him. The other form was familiar to him. Round shouldered and round eyed. Their eyes met, and they both squared up, anticipating something…and a decision was made.

You didn’t see me and I didn’t see you.

The figure moved on quickly, into the darkness, head down, feet light. Bill Robinson felt a chill and a thrill at wandering so close to a well-known evil. He had come off okay to still be standing. He chuckled to himself in the dark, and entertained the reasons Charlie McDonnell would have for roaming the streets at three thirty in the morning. Girls. Women. Threats. Drugs. He shivered, and moved on.

The next day, Bill Robinson woke at ten past nine and wondered if he still had two cans of Stella stashed away at the back of his wardrobe. He was rubbing his eyes and scratching his hair, and his lips were already moving quickly over the words they wanted to sing next time in the community centre.

His younger sister burst into the room without knocking.

‘Guess what?’ she cried out breathlessly, while he sat up in bed, yawning in confusion.

‘What?’

‘There was a murder last night!’

‘Eh?’

‘A murder! Cross Road alley. Lewis Matthews got knifed to death, Bill! The dustbin men found his body this morning! It’s all over the estate!’

(This is  a short story related to a book I started but never finished when I was 16 years old – I still have the writing in a suitcase under my bed, with all my other early works and ideas – it is about a teenage alcoholic whose only passion is singing in the community centre at the weekends – it’s been in my head a lot lately, so decided to write  a short, which is basically a prequel to what happens next, and get back to it when I have time, which won’t be for a while!)nightprowler.jpg

 

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In Blood – short story

In Blood

We met in blood.

His and mine.

Sweet, dark tangy blood. Do you know how it tastes? Thick, dark blood. The essence of life. I do. And I like it. I like the rich, metallic tang, and I like the full, intense aroma, and I like the sight of blood in its many forms and shades.

In blood, it ended the same way that it started, and now they call us toxic. They call us sick. But I will wait for him.  We are connected now. His blood runs with mine.

The night of the party, that was our night. Our first night. But I had been watching him for a long time before that.  Let mel tell you what I saw. I saw a brute, a bear, a man, a thug. He was top heavy with arm muscles and his movements were precise and fast. He was a man who had never doubted himself, never questioned anything. He did not know hesitation or procrastination. He knew who he was, and the best thing about him was that he did not give a shit about anything. Not one single thing, not one single person.

Everyone knew who he was. The big lad, the top one, the bully boy from the bad family. Bad reputation. From the estate. Not to be messed with. Steer clear. If you had the brains you were born with, you would steer clear. But silly girls never listened. Silly girls saw his looks and his power and believed they could change him. But not me; I never wanted to change him.

I didn’t worry about brains, although I had plenty of them. Instead I concerned myself with instinct; where my guts led me. Besides, trouble was fun. Good girls were dull. Life was short, and Heaven was a lie.

He didn’t notice me back then. I was in the background. I think that is how he sees most people. Blurred noise while he cuts through it all. You always see him coming. You always stand back, hold your breath, look on. I remember doing that, when I was just in the background, looking in. I was a self-satisfied,  slinky, skin slashing, know it all. I still am.

I watched him, watched and learned. I was intrigued. I thought maybe, we had things in common. You see the thing about him I liked, was the thing about him they all hated, or feared. He was mean. He didn’t give a shit about anyone. He would hurt you, use you, laugh at you. It was just him and his brother Travis to take on the world; the twosome, one long and lanky and messy haired, and him, solid and immoveable. The younger brothers were not on his radar, not any of them. Not the little sticky fingered brats, and not Joe. If Joe was anything to him, it was a punch-bag.

I didn’t care about Joe. Not much. Or Lou, my so called best friend. I try not to care about people, for numerous reasons. It’s boring, for one thing. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but people are mostly terribly boring. Plus if you do care about them, it tends to get sticky and complicated. So, we had that in common at least. Me and Leon. See, I knew it would work. I knew it was right. If I had said such a thing to Lou or Joe, or to anyone, they would have laughed and jeered, and then looked at me as if I was crazy. Yes, I am a little bit crazy, I want to tell them, so fucking what? Who isn’t anyway? Everyone is fucked up, and that is the truth, my friends. That is the truth. With some people it’s obvious. It’s written all over their face or their body. Some people hide it better, but usually they are the ones who are more fucked up than anyone. At least the freaks and the geeks and the oddities let it loose, let it out, embrace it and rejoice it. Be different.

Don’t be afraid of pain.

That night, we caught each other’s eye for the first time, and it was all how I knew it would be. I get a feeling, a sense about these things. I was tiny and dark in my little dress and shoes, and he was the monster I invited to my party. The kitchen was full of people, packed tight. But Leon was the only one I could see. The rest were blurry-faced. I moved closer to him, and then moved away. I caught his eye, and then refused to look back at him. I watched from the edges as he drank beer with his brothers and Lou. I felt flashes of hot, surprising rage, when she looked like she was in the centre of them. All three brothers looking at her and laughing as she got pissed up.

I made my move when she ran outside to be sick and Travis followed her. Joe turned away from his brother, and Leon was alone.  He took a chair and sat down, and before he could lift his beer to his lips, I was on his lap.

‘It’s quieter upstairs,’ I told him, and then I was gone. I heard his curious tread coming up the stairs behind me.  I opened my bedroom door,  and in he came. Just like that. We didn’t talk a lot at first. He sipped his beer and looked around at my room. Then he went to the window to check out the garden.

‘Your bedroom is about the size of our house,’ he muttered, and I laughed. I was lying on my bed and playing with my razor.

‘Don’t you get bored,’ I said to him. ‘With everything, and everyone?’

He came closer, his eyes narrowing in on my razor blade. ‘What are you, suicidal?’

‘No, not at all. I’m just bored. And I’m interested in pain. How about you? Tell me something interesting about you.’

He was quiet for a moment, just watching me. He looked hungry then, like a dog sizing up a good, juicy bone.  I waited for him, eyebrows raised.

He said; ‘I’ve got a wrap of coke in my back pocket, if you’re interested.’

I grinned and held up my razor. ‘Well aren’t we just made for each other?’

And we sat together at my desk, and I passed him my blade to chop up the coke, and my bare leg was pressed against his denim clad one, and the pulses in my body were on fire, throbbing and swelling. And then she knocked on the door. That little bitch.

Let me tell you a few things about Lou Carling.

She used to be fat, but now she’s not. She’s on a mission to destroy herself, and I am along for the ride. These kinds of things are interesting. After all, isn’t that the gist of being human? Isn’t that the curse? Once we are old enough to understand that everything must die, we start to destroy ourselves any way we can. Drugs. Drink. Sex. Work. Hate. Love. You name it. It cuts us up, from the inside out. Lou Carling is one of these people, cutting herself up on the inside where nobody can see it. On the outside she is tough and sarcastic and slow to smile. For some reason, she cannot see that her best friend Joe is totally and utterly in love with her. It makes me quite sick. It’s almost like incest. I’m not kidding. They were bathed together as kids, ran around naked in the garden, you name it. But now that their bodies have grown and been honed and hemmed and tightened and lengthened, things are getting all screwed up. Believe me, spend ten minutes in a room with those two and you will want to scream at the top of your lungs; for God’s sake just fuck each other and get it over with!

But anyway. I digress. Lou Carling, short and sweet and bitter and more fucked than any of us. I hang around with her because I want to see how fast she unravels. I want to see what lies underneath.

She knocked on the door with Joe because she was worried about me. How sweet. What happened next was not surprising to anyone at that party. Leon went out there, called her a few choice names, and then beat his brother up. Meanwhile she stormed past them to see if I was okay, and yes, how surprising, I was okay! I was chopping up lines of coke, and she could join in if she wanted to, but no.  No, of course, not Lou Carling. Not perfect little Lou. Smoking the odd spliff with Joe and drinking cider in the park is fine, but you know, anything else is evil! We had words and she went on her merry way to see to her precious non-boyfriend.

When Leon came back in, he had blood on his knuckles and blood on his face.

‘Little bastard,’ he said, under his breath.

God, I wanted him then. I wanted him so much. I couldn’t even speak. But that didn’t matter, because it was all there in the way he looked at me, and the way I looked at him. He was breathing hard and fast, and part of me wished I had gone out there to watch. Pow! Pow! Take that Joe, you little runt, you loser, you nothing!

I don’t mean it. Not really. I kind of like Joe. I kind of like everyone.

But things get so boring

We got back to business. I watched his face as he cut up the powder. I examined the contours of his features, and the curve of his chest, as he breathed fast, in and out. The muscles flexed on his bare arms. He was so very alive. And so was I. So was everything and everyone. It got so much I wanted to eat it. I wanted to grab the whole world and all the fizzing exploding swelling life within it, and shove it right into open mouth, chew it up and swallow it down. Weird, when you feel like that.

We took our medicine and then went to lie on my bed. We kicked off our shoes and stared at the patterns on the ceiling. After a while, he rolled over and looked at me. It felt like he looked into me. He cupped my face with his hand, held it like it was china…

‘What are you waiting for?’ I asked him, and he shrugged.

‘Nothing.’

That was the first time. But it was not the last. His blood mingled with mine, and then again on the night he rushed in and saved me. I was out of it. Mostly, I was absent. But I do remember his arms scooping me up from the bloody mush of my bed. It felt like I was being ripped from my mother’s spongy womb. I remember the feel of his arms, like branches of a tree, holding me close and holding me up. I don’t remember him ripping his t-shirt, which that night was once again doused in the blood of his brother Joe. I don’t remember him using the cloth to tie up my wounds, but apparently his quick thinking saved my life. He tied me once again to this world.

The thug, the animal, the sub-human scumbag. He came to me that night. He could have gone anywhere. He could have vanished from all of our lives, and Lou and Joe and his mother, and the rest of them, would all have been relieved. Good riddance to bad rubbish. But he came to me. He came to me. With the vilest crime a crimson stain upon his hands and all over his clothes, he came to me.

And our blood met again, and when all of this is over, he will be back.

And I will be waiting.

If you are interested in these characters and would like to find out more, you can download the YA novel they are related to here ; (available in paperback and ebook)12227067_1068628339823097_548647694753202354_n

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mess-Me-Chantelle-Atkins-ebook/dp/B00CSVQ8EQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

He Is A Storm

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He Is A Storm

There is a storm in his head.

It is black and violent and consuming and becomes him.

It has been there for so long, ebbing and flowing, dimming and glowing. It burns from the inside of his brain, begging release. His heart is on fire. Pain explodes in his guts and suddenly he is not human anymore.

Because a fine line snaps.

Because it pulls taut, tighter than normal, tighter than anyone can stand, vibrating like guitar strings. And on this day, and in this moment, it snaps. The line snaps and it sets him free.

He is no longer tethered, or loosely, marginally restrained. He is no longer held back, warned off, given the look, or contained. There is nothing between them now. Nothing except the black storm inside his head and the ping of the line as it snaps inside of him, and sets him free, sets him reeling forwards.

He moves soundlessly in his head, yet somehow he knows his open mouth is bellowing years of pent up rage. He feels his bulk multiplying in size and force. He is like a building rising up before exploding and falling down. And he does fall down.

Set free, he gives himself totally to violence. It’s blind and raging and delicious and addictive. He falls down upon the smaller body, and they clash, bones jarring, muscles screaming, eyes popping. Game on. And sounds rise into the air around them and above them, as they entwine and entangle, as they smash and crash and dance into the wall.

His own soul bellowing while it dies.

The cries of shock and pain. They make primal sounds, the two of them, dancing. And the girl is in the background but she is insignificant to the fight. A fly in the air buzzing. A bug on his neck scratching. He swats her away like she is nothing.

And the more he punishes the body he has seized, the more free he becomes. An ugly wound stuffed tight now breaks open, and the foul gush runs free, rumbling and turning within the fire that burns. And the more he hates and the more he punishes, the better he feels, the best ever, and he wants to cling onto that feeling for longer. And so the rage screams from his lips, and the fists go in and out, in and out, until the blood smothers them, thick and warm like crimson gloves.

It spatters his face like paint. Droplets in his hair and eyes and mouth. He is eating him alive. Blood brothers. The bug is on his back again, fighting and clawing, her screams mixed with the bellow in his own brain, until he throws her aside and lands on top of her.

And now the storms starts to subside, starts to ease off, like a deep breath taken and held, and everything stops, and he sees his bloody fists and he feels the ache of his knuckles and he sees the terror in her face, and he sees the body lying still against the wall.

But he asked for it. He went too far. Wrong moment. Wrong time. Wrong person. Wrong place. Wrong life. He couldn’t stop. Because he didn’t want to stop. But now he has stopped. The storm betrays him and skies start to clear.

She stares back at him and suddenly there is someone else, coming towards them, shocked and crying out. And this breaks whatever is left of the spell, and the hold the storm had on him is gone, over, broken.

The line tries to find its way back, tries to reattach, but it can’t find its way. He gives up. He gives himself up to everything. He runs from their terror and from the blood on the wall and from the figure on the floor. Like a beast, like a creature, like a monster, he charges bull-like, monstrous, inhuman, thick and hard and powering through everything as he explodes from the inside, and he runs from them all.

Blood in his mouth.

Sweet and tangy.

He spits and retches and heaves and runs. He opens the car door and somehow he is driving. Tyres screech against tarmac. Panic thunders in his chest. He can’t breathe, or see, or think. He is not human, he knows only this. He turned his back on it and embraced insanity. He drives, not knowing where he is driving to.

He drives to her.

Something desperate and clawing, something raw and open and bleeding and weeping and begging and shaking. Something hammering at his blackened mind. Words and visions and blood soaked dreams. His mother washing his mouth out with soap. Picking up the frying pan and battering his step-dad over the head with it. Wanting to do so much more. Needing to.

The door is open. Unlocked. No cars. No one home? It is like the house is waiting for him, door open, enticing, inviting him in. He runs in, blood soaked and calling her name, twisting his hands inside his t-shirt, trying to wipe off his crime.

His mind is chattering. Cold now. Afraid.

Oh what have I done, what have I done, what have I done, what have I done…

            Powers up the stairs. His body is rigid, rock hard with adrenaline tightened muscles. He could run through walls. Sail through windows. Calling her name. Calling for her.

What have I done, what have I done? Oh what have you done? What have you done?

            He finds her lying there like a pale, limp starfish.

Arms and legs all stuck out to the side of her tiny body dressed in black. He finds her open eyes staring, but not seeing. He finds her sheets soaked in blood. He finds her wrists sliced open, undone, like him. Her line snapped too.

Oh what have you done? What have you done?

            He pulls off his t-shirt and wraps it around her wrists, winding the bloody material around and around, binding her hands together.

What have you done?

            He gathers her small body into his big, naked arms, and her head rolls back and he hears her gasp, feels the breath leave her mouth and smother his face, and he holds her and runs.

In the hospital he sits, covered in so much blood, yet none of it is his. They think it has all come from her, the girl he brought in, the life he saved. He sits there, on a hard plastic chair while they stitch her up, fix her, attach her line and shake their fingers.

You saved her life.

            She’ll be okay. What’s your name?

            Where are you going? Where are you going?

            Don’t you want to see her now? You can see her now.

            But he can’t see her now. He can’t see anyone. Least of all himself. He is a storm.

This short story is written from the POV of Leon, a character in my novel The Mess Of Me. If you would like to find out more about his story, you can download the novel here;http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mess-Me-Chantelle-Atkins-ebook/dp/B00CSVQ8EQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1438892427&sr=1-3