Flash Fiction: Interesting Times

The road was one barely traveled. Tucked away deep in the south west of the U.K, it was a link road between ‘here’ and ‘over there’. The only distinguishing feature was the petrol station. At night, with no street lights on this small and unimportant road, it was an isolated beacon of light in the darkness.

Barry was sat behind the counter, as he was every night. He was the night shift, from ten at night until six in the morning. He honestly had no idea why the owner kept the petrol station open twenty four hours, but it paid Barry enough money to keep him in cigarettes and lager, so he wasn’t complaining. And when it was quiet like this (as it was nearly every night) it gave him the chance to catch up on his reading.

He had a good view out of the window toward the road. At times like this it was almost as if he existed in a vacuum of blackness. The glow from the petrol station lights only stretched so far along either side of the road before fading. The merging of the light and dark actually made the area immediately outside the electric light darker and deeper than it normally would, and in idle moments Barry could imagine nobody else alive on the planet apart from him.

At this moment, he wasn’t concentrating on the outside world, but on the book in his hands. It was the latest one from his favorite author and he was completely engrossed. The only sounds were the slight buzzing of the fluorescent lights that lit up the interior of the building, and the dry rustle of each turning page.

As Barry was getting to a particularly good bit, (this was probably one of the best yet and his mind was completely focused on the narrative), he registered a new noise in his subconscious. A slow, dragging sound followed by a wet slap. ssshhhhhh – slap. ssshhhhh – slap.
He placed his finger in the book at the page he was on, and looked up and out of the window. Slowly moving into the glow from the petrol station forecourt lights, from his right hand side, was a figure. It was indistinct for a few seconds, until it moved further into the brightness. It was a man, quite tall, dressed in a dark suit. And he was limping. The dragging sound was this person pulling his left leg along behind him – the slapping noise was his right foot hitting the floor. He realized the sound made was a ‘slap’ and not a ‘click’ because the man had bare feet.
As the figure moved in line with the big window out of which Barry curiously watched, he was no more than thirty feet away. And then he stopped.

Slowly, as though struggling with balance, the figure turned toward the lighted window. His head was at a curious angle, like a dog giving its master a questioning look. And as the figure faced fully toward the window, Barry saw something that froze the blood in his veins.
The man was missing his lower jaw. The whole bottom of his face was gone, and blood and gore covered his chest. His tongue lolled and flopped around like a dead fish caught on a hook. As Barry’s eyes locked onto this obscene man’s own bloodshot orbs, he felt his bladder let go and a warm cascade of urine filled his underwear.
Barry’s breath locked in his throat. He couldn’t move. He was hoping he had locked the door as was the procedure when alone on the night shift.

After what seemed like hours, but could have only been seconds, the figure lurched around and started to limp down the road, toward the darkness and toward the nearby town. Barry released his pent up breath in a rush. He felt cold, clammy, but his heart was hammering like a playing card caught in the spokes of a bicycle.

Something was happening. And the next few days of his life were going to be very interesting.


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