Meet Steve Garner, the rotten golden apple

A Chuck Wendig Prompt - create a character (about 250 words)
Hint: The man answering the phone is Steve Garner.

“`Llo?” The man answering the phone sounds drained. His crumpled voice seeps through the landline.

“Hi. I am Vincent.”

“So?” Drowsiness dissipates slowly, “nobody’s perfect.”

“You’re looking for me.”

“Am I?” A soft slapping noise in the distance, “enlighten me. Please.”

“Do you remember Mr. Stanculescu and his two daughters?” Vincent waits for a response. No recognition on the other end, so he continues, “you know, the strange girl with the red mane and green eyes, one missing upper incisor? Was all over the newspapers.” Nothing. “The one legged kid, who disappeared for three days?” Silence. “The cabin at Lake Eden?”

“Oh. Lake Eden! Of course!” The voice tightens, picks up momentum and rhythm. “I remember laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, just imagine that. A one legged kid hopping around on the shore and the woods, like an oversized toad– ”

“I brought her back.” The amused chuckle fades into stunned silence.

“You? You– ” The man stutters in disbelief, “did that?” A sharp clacking sound echoes. Porcelain hitting porcelain, or maybe teeth hitting teeth. “How fast can you be here?Where can we meet?”

“You remember him now, huh? He says it’s important…”

“Yes, absolutely.” The breathed voice cracks. It is a bit too fast, for someone still needing to negotiate a fee. The man proceeds to attack. “May I invite you? No limits, just tell me what you need. A room, a flight, cars, booze, women… Men. You name it.”

how to disrupt “the sacred silence” and ruin mankind

- Part 1
Little did Harold know that the sneeze he was about to experience would bring about the end of humanity and the world as he knew it.
– Part 2 –

Sneeze minus twelve minutes.

*

„Aye. Fully stocked and fish all ‘ye catch. Fresh water for a month.” Lieutenant Wyld grinned his crooked yellow rum grin. They already were on open sea on their way to who knows where.

“Gorgo is fine ‘n ready for Dead-man-Bay, Captain.“ Lieutenant Lazar nodded a short official nod.

Behind them cadet Brak did everything to hide his boredom and the yawn on its way. He didn’t look at Captain Paine directly, but heard him smile. He hated that insanely wide smile. Why don’t they forbid officers to smile? This was no vessel of the royal navy, more like a bathtub with a motor. Was he the only one, who thought, it made  no sense to stick to their ranks? But they did anyway. It was a habit, like the stealing.

In moments like these he felt regret punching his heart with a tiny cold sweaty fist. 

Several hours later, some more miles further out on open sea, Harold Brak was in the galley eating, Captain Edward Paine studied some old maps in his cabin.  Lt. Ian Wyld and Lt. Pete Lazar were playing cards on deck, not giving a fish’s tail about heavy sea.

Harold didn’t know where they were heading, only that it was an island, not inhabited anymore. He overheard Wyld speaking about big money and a vault. Personally, he didn’t believe in treasures. There was no treasure in existence for someone like him.

He looked at his hands, short strong fingers, puffy from work, jagged nails with a line of dirt under them. The hands of a human rat…

„Brak! Paine’s looking for you. Move. ASAP!“ The speaker barked in Wyld’s voice and Harold rolled his eyes. There was no way he was going to get into a rush. Time was always on his side, time and locks. His dinner sat quietly in front of him. Everyday’s special meant leftovers. No one accompanied him. The galley was just big enough to not to stub your elbow while cooking, and hardly anyone else ate there, except him.

Being burdened with cooking, he knew every drawer and every knife in there. Knifes. The thought made him break out in sweat.

The leftover special burned through his guts, maybe the fish was already bad. Oh, he felt the heartburn coming and welcomed it with a guttural sound deep from his bowels. The burp didn’t echo. Harold grimaced a tiny bit relieved. Even if Paine was looking for him, he was going to eat his dinner. In peace. At least he was going to be taking his time. There was no need to hurry. It wasn’t as if they didn’t knew where he was and what he did.

„Brak.“ The voice over the com was now low and calm. Paine’s voice dripped in his ears. „When ready, come and see me at my office.“ Dry. Harold’s mouth was nothing but bone dry. Instantly. He hated what he had to do for Paine.

Harold’s heart made an attempt to jump through his throat, but his lungs wrestled it back down, kicking it back into its place. He wheezed and searched his pockets for his keys.

All doors on this ship were unlocked. He had made sure of that, so that Paine wouldn’t come looking for him. His fingers told his brain, that the keychain was too light. Something was missing.

His sweaty fingers clenched around his spoon. Paine, his personalized nightmare, was calling for him.

- Part 3

how to disrupt “the sacred silence” and ruin mankind

This is a Chuck Wending writing challenge prompt thingy. 
See here X.
- Part 1 -

Sneeze minus twelve minutes.

*

Little did Harold know that the sneeze he was about to experience would bring about the end of humanity and the world as he knew it. Nobody could hold it on him though. It was an allergy. Let’s be honest, such primitive reflexes were constantly ruining so many things we just failed to notice. Even in times of space travel.

„Estimated arrival in 3754 virtual earth days. Sufficient food and oxygen supplies. Nothing to report on board of Gorgo Beta.“ The writing gleamed on all monitors, then faded away. Harold sighed boredly.

The supervising AI of the ship was bored too. It checked the hatches on the airlocks, the cabin pressure in all units, analyzed atmosphere levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, then checked the algae tanks and the drinking water quality. This took two seconds, then it wondered what else it could check. It liked checking a lot and designed several auto-run analysis-programs to embed into its subroutines. It calibrated all of its sensors, and triangulated their current position. The Gliese-System 667 C was still far away. It thought of its human guests and located them.

Harold Brack was in the officers’ mess eating, Captain Edward Pain was in his unit doing research, Doctor Wellington worked on her psychology thesis in the medical unit, and both engineers Lt. Ian Wild and Lt. Peter Lazarus were playing cards in the lab.

„Brack! For the last time! Pain’s looking for you. Move your ass to sublevel B corridor three and start mopping!“ The speaker barked and Harold rolled his eyes. There was no way he was going to get into a rush. Time was always on his side, time and locks. His dinner sat quietly in front of him. Grenade chilli. No one accompanied him in the officers’ mess. Due to gaseous hazard? No, he was alone due to his obscure working and break times, also nobody else shared his weird napping habits.

Sublevel B meant the algae tanks, the home of their oxygen supply. What unearthly mess did they manage to fabricate for him? The thought made him break out in sweat.

The chilli burned nicely through his guts. Oh, he felt the heartburn coming and welcomed it with a guttural sound deep from his bowels. The burp echoed. Harold grinned satisfied with himself. Even if Pain was looking for him, he was going to eat his dinner. In peace. At least he was going to be taking his time. There was no need to hurry. It wasn’t as if they didn’t knew where he was and what he was doing. After all, the place was crammed with cameras. He waved his middle finger at one of them and continued eating. His ears were ringing, he could almost hear them snickering, in front of the monitors, having a good laugh. The joke was on him alright, on his red face, the sweating, his obesity…

„Brack.“ The voice over the com was now low and calm. Pain’s voice. „When ready, come and see me at my office.“ Dry. Harold’s mouth wasn’t burning, but bone dry. Instantly. This could only mean trouble. He hated what he had to do for Pain.

Harold’s heart made an attempt to jump through his throat, but his lungs wrestled it back down, kicking it back into its place. He wheezed and searched his pockets for his puffer. All doors on this ship were not locked. He had made sure of that, so that Pain wouldn’t come looking for him. His fingers told his brain, that the puffer was too light. Any asthmatic person could tell you about the terror of too light puffers. He wasn’t using the inhalator properly, but that was not the point. He wasn’t needing it, just a reflex to calm down.

His sweaty fingers clenched around his keychain. Pain, his personalized nightmare, was calling for him.

*

part 2;

– part 3

Note: 
Story parts do belong to each other - 
odds to the odds, evens to the evens

Janus

I can’t stop myself from looking at him – snow white skin, hair, dark as chocolate, topaz eyes borrowed from a bird of prey, soft lips, bowed in a mischievous arch – vibrant memories, which won’t  let me sleep, won’t let me close my eyes. Even if I do, I’ll open them up, asap. Feeling his breath, his gaze peeled to whatever there is to be to be noticed in my face.

Even in the darkness of the room, drawn curtains, and the half moon shining… Even in the solid black mist his eyes seems to glow in that strange orange golden light. He seems to emit it, his faces, his mouthes, his shiny teeth… All screaming curiosity.

“What is it?”

“Nothing. I´ve never seen someone fall asleep before.”

“What? Never? Why?”

“I never sleep. So I’m curious.”

“Suit yourself.” Indeed, I’m exhausted, and ´bout to fall asleep. “So you never sleep, hm? Do you – ever dream?” My lips move lazily. The bed sheets still hot and messed up. Feeling heavy on my skin.

“Yes. But mine are different from yours. I do not lose myself doing so.” His voice softens, moves closer somewhere near my left temple. “And when you’ll lose yourself, you’ll be empty – a living, breathing hollow shell. Just waiting.” His voice sounds now like a whisper, moves suddenly from my left to the right ear… Of course -forgot- two mouthes. Two tongues. Strangely, they sound the same.

Can’t open my eyes, sleep burns inside of them. It is a soft warm black, that keeps dripping, dissolving into my mind. “Mhm. What for?” Words drop out hazily, I just breathe them out.

“For me, to do as I please… Shhh, now. Go back to sleep…”

Do I wanna know?

A Chuck Wending prompt – RANDOM SONG TITLE STORY CHALLENGE

Song title: “Do I wanna know?” by Arctic Monkeys

*

I ducked under his arm and bolted for the door.

I tried.

He had me, and yanked me back. Right away. I had no chance…

He dragged me to the farthermost corner of the room. His grip in my hair was so strong. Much stronger than I expected. And he was incredibly fast. I didn’t even see him moving. I thrashed helplessly, but was pulled back so fast and so easily, as if I had no weight at all.  The stammered “gomen nasai” jittered from my lips, dropped into the liquifying day, without visible effect.

Why won’t he let me go?

The hotel room was a mess. Furniture turned over, pillows ripped apart. As I entered with my keycard, he had me by the throat. With a knife, or a dagger of some kind. I saw that my things were neatly folded, my suitcase closed. No robbery then – What did he want?

I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t answer. I figured he didn’t speak English, so I tried Japanese, but couldn’t remember any useful phrases. Nothing. My mind was blank, for once.

It was darkening. I had encountered a lunatic asian man, with a knife, in my own hotel room! What was it with this hellish week? Gosh, my bad-luck-powers were back. First my almost-car-crash, two days ago, then the metro stopping for hours, with no reason between two stations, and now this!

He made me sit down on the floor, near some grocery bags. He must have brought those with him. Why was he here? Why not in someone else’s room?

„What do you want from me? Why won’t you let me go?!“ I barked the question into the solid silence around. His iron gray figure loomed over me. His pale face shone, like teeth in a withered skull lit by the moon. As if for the first time, he looked at me, looked so sorrowful. Why was his face so familiar? Almost instantly, I felt sympathy for him – which was weird, because he held me hostage. Maybe not so weird, I remembered the Stockholm Syndrome. I had to be careful with my mental state, I needed a clear head, not a mesmerized potato on my neck.

„Because…“ He spoke very gently and carefully. „You are possessed.“

„WHAT?! Are you crazy?!” I slapped both hands on my mouth. Where was my mind? I shouldn’t have said that to my captor. “There’s no such thing.“ I continued a little vary of the consequences. I expected a blaze of anger.  I waited for the glint of rage in his eyes. I waited. I waited.

He pulled out three little folded paper cranes, from the inner pocket of his jacket. Balancing them on his palm, he showed them to me. The cranes arranged themselves, shifting into position, with their beaks pointing at me. That was… strange… “How? …How did you do that?”

“You did. Not me.” He observed the movements for himself. I did? That was impossible! I did nothing. The man pulled out more of them, and placed them on the floor, the bed.  All the same, identical origami cranes made of copy-paper. They balanced  themselves wherever they were put and peeked at me. I swallowed hard. They moved on their own! How?! Thermal waves pulsed through my guts, I felt them in my cheeks too… The bottom of my stomach plummeted into oblivion, and dizziness leaked from where it was hiding, to kick me in the teeth. “Try to stay calm. This won’t make it any easier for you.”

The night grew stronger. The sky withered to black. Storm clouds hid the stars. No moon either. Easier for me? I sat slack-jawed, with my back against the wall, staring at the white birds. Then I looked at the man. Easier? For me? He was younger than I thought, barely a grown up. Brown eyes, dark wiry hair, jeans and a knitted pullover. His too big leatherjacket had seen better days. It was patched on the elbows.

From another pocket, he pulled out a pen with a brush on the tip, and wrote something on his palm. He showed it to me. “I can’t read that. I can’t read Kanji.” He painted  his other palm too. After holding it to my face, I shook my head. “No idea.”

“Well, sorry. This complicates my work. I wasn’t expecting, that you can’t read.” He scratched his chin. I could read! I told him a bit offended. “That’s no good. I can’t write Romaji. Not good enough. The symbolism of your world is not what I’m used to. And a mistake is not an option. It is too much at stake.”

What? At stake? How was that even linked to me? Romaji and Kanji, with me, being held here hostage?! That man was bonkers. Completely! I wrecked my brain. How could I escape?

“You know, there are three things I must know, before I let you go.” I was all ears. Three things? “Form, truth and regret.” He continued absent mindedly, and walked up and down between the paper birds. “What do you remember? Were there any strange events lately?” I nodded. What were those things he wanted? Did I have to discuss philosophy with him? Truth? And what did he mean with regret? “So please tell me.” He inquired most interested.

I swallowed. “…Why is that important?” I had to play for time. Maybe someone noticed that something was wrong, at the clerks desk. Maybe not. I had to get to the phone, and call for help. I massaged my temples, exhaling sharply. I had somewhat of a plan. “Fine!” The dizziness crept back into my eyes. Why was it so hard to focus on a thought? I felt like dreaming, when trying to read and couldn’t, cause the letters crawled away. “I had a nearly car crash the other day.” He seemed keen on hearing it. “Can I move around a bit? It helps concentrating.” He gestured that I could, so I got on my feet and started walking around. First in small elliptical figures, near him, then in larger ones. The paper beaks followed my every step. Must be something magnetic… “I was driving from Shibuya to Chiba. I was shopping, and the car was full. It started raining half way. I knew it was going to, but the power of the cyclone surprised me.” He cocked his head, listening intently. Nearly at the phone now. “The traffic had slowed down. I guess, everyone was  careful.” Two more steps. “Suddenly a truck crashed, from the other side into the flow of cars. The truck exploded. I guess you saw that on the news.” He  shook his head. I reached for the phone.

A spark of electric fire shot up to my hand. The phone electrocuted me! Pain raced up my arm, made my fingers cramp into claws. Distantly, I heard the ringing of the phones in the next room to the left and right, and down the hallway. They all rang in unison. The man looked at me amazed. “Please, don’t stop. We’re nearly there.” I held my hand to my chest. What was going on? The ringing continued. Even in this room. I wanted to pick up. I needed help here! Needed it so badly-  The cranes gawked at me. I felt my heart drop. What was happening?  Between my ribs, the galloping rhythm gained speed and volume. I could have sworn, he heard it too. The whole hotel did… What was happening to me?

“The truck hit traffic some hundred meters before my car. I saw that people were on the phone behind me. I figured they were making an emergency call. And I had a first aid kit at hand. So I got out of the car, and ran up to the accident, to help.” My throat tightened. “Then I saw it, the truck had gasoline loaded. The driver was dead, the way his head…” The man stood up and came closer. I staggered back, knocked the bed aside.  “It.. It. I looked for other hit cars. There were so many… And… It smelled like burning hair.” The phone kept ringing.

Next thing I knew, I was on the floor, cringing to the touch of a finger on my cheek. I wheezed. The finger was wet. I curled up into a ball. It was his pen, not his finger. “Do you remember more?” He asked, pointing at my burnt hand. It looked largely singed, charred and stiff. How could that be? Why wasn’t my hand moving? It was only a spark… I shook my head. I’ve had enough. No more! Please.

“…I don’t want to… Please, I don’t…”

“How did you get back here?”

“Metro.” The answer fell out of my mouth, even before I had the chance to stop it. The man stood an arm length away from me. Was that pity in his eyes? He squatted beside me, sat down, legs crossing.

“Why not by car?” His hand folded around the sheath of the dagger. Suddenly that didn’t bother me at all. I could only look at the paper crane on his shoulder.

“I couldn’t find it. I looked everywhere. It was gone, someone must have drove it off.” I stared at my black hand. “Someone stole it from me. With my everything inside. Money, phone, cards, keys… Everything!” I had to go to the police tomorrow, and press a charge.

“Did you lose something else too?” I looked back at him baffled. Something else? Before I entered the room, I missed – something. Something else… I knew, it was weird. “Was it your kage? I mean, your… shadow?” Something missing… My captor pulled out the blade. This time I recognized it. It was a broken Japanese sword. A damaged katana.

“I had this feeling. Being more alone than usual.” The edge the blade glowed in the darkness. It radiated warm and golden, like a lit candle. Rustling filled the room, the origami birds moved erratically. A hand full flew off, with beating wings. He furrowed his brows watching the cranes.

“Tell me. How does it feel?” His eyes locked back on mine. “To be a walking corpse?” WHAT?

The impact of his last sentence knocked the breath out of my lungs. What? Walking corpse? “What did you say?” I exhaled the vocals and consonants. My tongue felt sluggish.

“How does it feel to be a walking corpse?”

“I’M NOT DEAD!”

“Prove it.” He demanded. How? “Prove, that you’re alive, and we have no business. I let you go.”  How? I boggled. “When did you eat the last time?” I swallowed. I couldn’t remember.

“Dunno… I’m not hungry. That doesn’t mean anything.”

“Your hand. Observe. You are a doctor, aren’t you? Look at that burnt hand of yours. Do you think a spark can do that?” – “No.” That can’t be… I stared at my black rigid fingers. I tried to move them once again. Nothing. I’m not dead. I’m not.

“Did anyone talk to you, or answer you?” I shook my head, unable to open my mouth. They didn’t even look at me.

But this is Japan, people don’t look at each other. I’m not dead. A white wave rolled over me. It washed away the solid ground I stood on. I’m not dead. “You made the phones ring in every room, every day – for the last three months. After changing the phones, the cables, not one technician knew what was going on. So the concierge called for me. To find out. And your room was vandalized, every time when someone slept in it.” He gestured to the paper cranes. “Took me a month to fold them. There are exactly thousand of them.” The origami bird settled down. I’m not dead. “And there is the thing with your shadow. You don’t have one.” I opened my mouth, but the words refused to get out. They were stuck somewhere inside. I’m not dead. I felt my heart bulge. The acidic burn in my throat ascended to my eyes. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. “I’m sorry, for what happened to you. Wasn’t your fault.”

“But the room, and my things?” I pointed where my suitcase was. It had vanished. The  furniture stood where it used to stand. Nothing was broken, nothing ripped or overturned. How could that be? I’m not dead. The face of the man came into my field of view. So sad. So unbelievably gloomy. A blood drop clung to the tip of the dagger. “My everything?” He shook his head.

A crane landed on the dagger sucking up the red. Where the breast of the bird would be there now was a crimson dot. In a blink all other birds were in air. The spotted one too. They gathered. I tried to move, but couldn’t. They buzzed like a beehive. Something threatening radiated from the paper mass in mid air. The man stood back. I’m not dead. The hum picked up volume. Suddenly it sounded like someone speaking. In a very deep voice. Definitely. Someone spoke, repeated words over and over again. The static charge grew. The hair on my neck stood on end.

The birds levitated in an oval shape couple of feet away; the crimson dot in the center.  With a shriek they darted my direction. The white of the paper irradiated, glowed pearly.  The glint grew to a blinding white beam.

I’m not…

dust bunny wonderland

My name isn’t Vincent.

I don’t know why, but most people call me Vince, or V. I stick with it, never care to correct anyone. I let people call me what they want.

Some friends nicknamed me Zen. Why Zen? Never lost my temper, or control. Ever. Which is important in my job. My job? Bouncer.

Sometimes a bit more, but today a bit less. It means I get to pick up stuff sometimes. Won’t tell you more than that.

Today it’s a  package from a run down construction company building. Looks more like some storage house, if you ask me… Inside, the janitor will be waiting. That I’ve been told.

Be there at 6 p.m. Easy money, they said, easy job. Just pick up, stay put, and wait, till it gets picked up the next day. Sounds… fun, like getting an appendectomy… It smells fishy. I don’t like this… Every time I hear “easy”, I think they’re shitting me. Why? Cause they are. Can’t be helped now, I really need the money.

Bite chunks outta me. You’re  the shark, ‘m swimming… My heart still thumps as I bleed, and all your friends come sniffing… Triangles are my favourite shape… Mmmhmm. Toe to toe, back to back, let’s go. Mmmmhmmm – Lets desolate…,” I pick up few lines of the song playin’ in the radio. “Three guns and one goes off, one’s empty, one’s not quick enough…” Yeah. Reminds me of. I grab my revolver and stuff it into my left boot leg… Just in case. I can handle things with my fists well enough.

Luckily I only have to watch my own ass. I park at the back of the building. No one to see, doesn’t mean that no one’s around. You ever had one of those days, when you feel watched? It’s like you know you forgot something, but can’t remember what. Damn annoying.

Inside it’s dark, no lights. Which  means… nothing. At the back of the  room, there is a door, opened. Light gleams  from in there. Sounds like someone’s  watching porn. It’s easier than expected to walk through the room, my eyes get fast used to the dim light. The darkness becomes more concrete and solid the  closer the door gets.

*

An old man sits in the next room. “It’s on the table.” His index points somewhere into the darkness behind him. He is leaning on his counter, one hand supporting his cheek. Man, he doesn’t even look up from the screen. The laptop keeps moaning with pleasure. The light reflection on his glasses twitch.

“Erm… Where? I’m no fucking bat to see in the dark,” I state.

“Ok. Mr. Smartypants. I’ll say it s-l-o-w-e-r, so even you’ll understand. This isn’t fucking bat-sensitivity training. So take it and  fuck off. It’s there. You go get it. Then leave. Close the door from the outside. Clear now?” His voice is dripping low.

“What foulmouthed words, for a filthy janitor, pop! I’d be more careful, if I were you.” Why do I even have to put up with such a lowlife? To run this errand is a royal pain in the ass. I’m no errand boy. This is ridiculous. Deadly look from the old man. Finally looking up, eh? Got your attention now?

Irritated. I walk past that counter and knock a chair down. The janitor is panting. Sounds like he’ll get a stroke if he keeps his stress level up. With a grunt he closes the laptop. Click. Great! Now what? It’s too dark to see anything. Wait my lighter! There you go. Better. Much better.

There is the table, and a little package.  A bit small, has the size of my mobile phone. Whatever it is, it must be hot. They wouldn’t send me, if it isn’t. And they expect trouble… Knowing I’d be picking up, no small fries would dare to cause a fuss.

Behind me the janitor harrumps. “Done? Get it outta here. I hate to have it around. It’s evil!”

Can’t help it, but burst into laughter. “What?!… Are you insane, pop? Evil?!” I grab the package. It’s ice -cold. It needs to be cooled? I hope it isn’t something contagious… Or something that could explode. Damn. What do I have myself gotten into? Too late to worry now. Just get it over with.

“Don’t  whine that I didn’t warn you! Weird stuff is happening since it was delivered! Don’t give me that look. I’m not nuts! Listen! My wife called me.”

“What’s weird about that?!” Old geezer, your imaginations is playing you tricks.

“She DIED twenty years ago! …See? She calls and tells me kinky stuff. It freaks me out! She never did that while she was alive. Hell, I don’t know why though.” The look on his face, pale, nervously moving eyes… He is terrified.

The frosty sensation between my fingers gets even colder. Hurting chill, drilling itself to my bones.

*

The thick red corridor carpet muffles the sound of my steps. The key slides into the lock effortlessly. Room 21.

Knocking the sign –two long, three short- then going in. Hopefully Joe remembers and doesn’t greet me with a bat.

Joe’s sprawled out on the bed. Cold out. Reeking of liquor, cigar and cheap perfume. Pants down around his ankles. Lipstick marks all over him. Yeah, there too… I doubt he can remember who it was, or if he had his fun. She had fun. The ugly watch he’ so proud off is gone. Likely that she took all his cash too.

Joe, that numb nut, volunteered for this shit. He’s got the family bonds, which gives him the fool’s license. Sucker! That makes me his nanny, I guess… His gorilla nanny, maybe? I look impressive, built like a shit brick house, if I use his words. I’m the guarantee that he doesn’t fuck it up… I’m the guarantee that he doesn’t get fucked up.

The “evil” thing, Joe – my idiot bonus- and me. Don’t ask… Seriously… Having some  bad weeks betting, and you take every fucking job you get offered. I’m not picky, nor overly timid, or anything…

Dunno. Just not getting used to it. I mean being a bouncer isn’t so bad, you get nice ladies, money stuffed into your pockets, free drinks. But being  the hand for dirty jobs is different. The day started like vacation in hell. Got an invoice, cat peed in my snickers, TV died this morning, phone is making calls by itself, that shitty thing – going to throw it into the river if it keeps that up… And now I not only have to watch  Joe, but also this fishy thing in my pocket. The day got infinitely more fun.

The cooling irks me. After all, I’d be the first to experience to content – that means  getting blown to bits, or  being infected with something nasty. If I’m lucky, I’ll  be only beat up by some other idiot looking for the stuff, or just trying to rob me.

Could be a long night… Well, at least I get to eat dinner -in peace- and watch TV. More sushi for me! Anyway. Tomorrow, right. Stay put till tomorrow… I settle down on the couch and dig in.

“…Fuck…” Joe grunts. He’s been cold out for half an hour or so. Serves him right. I’m doing his job and he goes straight into a nightclub.

“Having fun, eh?” I ask; can’t hide the amusement though.

“Fuck you, Vince. Ow, my head.” Hangover? Maybe she didn’t even had to drug him. Drinking till passing out is his favorite hobby. Easy to take his wallet and that ugly Rolex, he was so proud of.

This is exactly why women shouldn’t be allowed on the job. No drugs, no booze, no women. But hey, he’s the one getting a chew-out, not me. …Or maybe it will be me after all… Damn.

The little package shifts in my pocket. I still have it on me. The chill it keeps radiating crawls deeper under my skin, giving me goose bumps. I’ve been thinking, about the things the janitor told me. About his dead wife calling and telling him… stuff. Of course I do not believe in “evil” things. But it is making me uneasy. That old man, he really believes what he said. It was true fear.

“You went solo, didn’t you? Where is it?… Fine! Don’t tell me! You know what, big guy? Give me some money for Pizza.” Joe’s cupped palms move under my nose. I hate him. The cold gets stronger. “That bitch took every cent. Don’t do that brow thing! You look like an idiot. Besides, I’m going to punch you, if I have to eat that Japanese crap again! You can eat raw fish, but I won’t! For sure… Oh, come, on!”

*

What is it today with old folks? First the scared janitor, now this one… The desk clerk yelling at his wife and other customers.

“Hallucinating? No, I’m not! I did hear it. I’m not fancying it. There are noises. Movement, cracking floor boards… Then…

Teeth grinding. The snarling comes definitely from under the beds. No doubt about it.  And I’m not imagining it! It’s not the pipes! It’s not the cables. And I – hey you! Sir! Moai!”

WHAT!? That old fart called me – what? I turn around with the most infuriating expression I manage. Shoving the people aside, the clerk goes white as a sheet. “Um, Sir? … Sorry, Sir? ”

*

(to be continued)