I just lost my glowing introduction about how I didn't have time to write a blog post this week. I genuinely don't have time to write it again, because, you know: I value sleep too.
So, without further ado, here's a free dark fiction story, Somewhere in the Street, originally published in the British Fantasy Society's "Dick and Jane: A Primer for Adults" back when I was writing as Ed Clayton. If you've been following my ups and downs for some time, you might even remember it.
They wanted stories that showed the world a darkness within the not-so-perfect-really world of Dick and Jane. Here's what I saw and brought back for them.
If you like this, please check the free dark fiction stories page periodically for updates, or add your name to my mailing list so I can send you good stuff.
Somewhere in the Street
By Dean Clayton Edwards
According to the dictionary, it was a ‘mew’. That doesn't do it for me. It was a snarl and a hiss and a wail and nobody wanted to hear it, but nobody could ignore it, no matter how hard they tried. It turned the milk sour and ruffled the newspaper so that you couldn't fold it neatly in half. It lost the car keys and made you late for work. It slept with your wife and dared you to say something, because it knew you didn’t want to make a scene.
The sound resounded in the hearts of those who heard it. It touched a place they would never admit existed; not to you and certainly not to themselves, because it reflected both their desire to escape and the futility of such an idea.
The cat darted back and forth over the grass like something from a Warner Bros cartoon. Somebody somewhere must have had a camcorder as this was the kind of spectacle that regularly made it onto prime time television, although without the blood, and without that sound – screeching, tearing, gurgling - that went on and on.
The dog was as persistent as the cat was desperate. It anticipated the feline's every move. Chased the furball around a tree. Paused a moment. Leapt and snatched an already snaggled leg in its bloody jaws.
Over two minutes the cat's nine lives were strewn recklessly over the grass. Its 'mews' (no, they were screams, like a child might scream if you stabbed her in the throat) shot into the beautiful, blue sky like fireworks. Catherine wheels. They were Catherine wheels.
Eventually, the cat bled to death. It lay on the ground like a bloody hand towel. It had a face, this hand towel, with one eye; glazed and half shut.
The dog crouched a few feet away, growling, as though it believed its prey was playing a cunning trick; playing dead. After a few moments, it eased forward and nosed the cooling carcass.
Somewhere in the street, in one of the houses, a light went off.
Dick released a shuddery breath and shuffled forward, brushing dirt from his shorts with one hand. Jane, who was also hiding behind the hedge, had covered her face with her hands and was blubbering noisily. Dick could hear her snorts and gasps from behind her hands.
“Stop crying,” he said. “I told you Spot would win.”
He adjusted the crotch of his shorts so his erection could stand comfortably and he glanced up at the windows. The few faces that had appeared were gone, because the adults didn’t care what happened in this town as long as you didn’t make too much noise … although, once he had brought a stray dog into the house and when his mother spied the little doggy paw prints all over the kitchen floor she had dislocated his shoulder with a mop handle. Apart from that …
He walked, undaunted now, across the grass.
“Good boy, Spot!” he said; “good boy!” and the dog flinched instinctively.
Dick examined the ragged cat. You could see its stomach and everything.
He picked up a stick.
Jane dragged her feet petulantly, still sobbing gently, as Dick used the stick to raise the cat into the air. A victory flag.
“See?” he said. “You owe me a forfeit.”
“Mother will be mad,” she whined.
“Not if we don’t tell her,” Dick said. “Go and get the shovel. Don’t let anyone see you, or I’ll tell them you did it.”
Later, as they dug a hole for the remains of Little Mew - as Jane would have named her - Dick using the shovel and Jane using her hands, Dick said that one day he was going to kill Mother and Father. If they ever got out of hand, he said, he was going to poison them.
“One day, I’ll tell you not to eat your dinner and I won’t eat mine and they’ll send us to our room and when we come downstairs in the morning, they’ll be dead.”
Jane, who sometimes loved her Father, was distressed at this. Her lip quivered and curled and she pulled that face she always pulled just before she began bawling.
“Don’t kill Father,” she whined.
“I don’t want to kill them,” Dick said. “But one day I might have to. And then I’d have to kill both of them. It’s no good killing one and leaving the other.”
“If you kill Father I’m telling,” Jane said.
Dick brought the shovel down on her fingers.
She let out a glass-shattering scream, which ended abruptly when Dick clamped his hand over her writhing mouth.
“Maybe one day I’ll kill you too,” he whispered quickly. “Maybe I’ll kill you first. Maybe I won’t tell you what day not to eat dinner.”
He could feel her tongue and her lips moving under the palm of his hand. He could feel her trying to say she was sorry.
He looked at the hole they had been digging together and a cloudy idea formed in his mind, ever the opportunist, but no, this was completely the wrong spot to hide a body her size. They’d find her within days.
“Okay,” he said. “Let me finish this hole and I’ll take you to the house.” He looked at her hands. “Mother and Father will have to call you an ambulance.”
Before continuing to dig, he bent to pick something up from the dirt.
“Here,” he said. “Take your fingers.”
And then, as he kicked the cat, Little Mew, into her grave and piled on the dirt:
“Stop crying, Jane. It’s going to be okay.”