“Come on, I don’t bite.”
I didn’t move. I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t being bitten I was worried about.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, coming closer. “You remember me. Don’t you?”
I nodded my head, but didn’t say anything. One hand beckoned me, the other held a small plate with a slice of cream cake, white and red, and a plastic fork. On top of the frosting, sat a strawberry. My mother nudged me in the back, but my heels were dug in.
It was two weeks earlier we’d first heard about what was happening. After the first incident, we hadn’t wanted to believe. We had sought help from our parents, from our teachers. Barry Oldham had gone to the police. His brother watched him walk into the station, but he never came out.
The rumours spread quickly, changing even quicker. There was a story that Barry Oldham had been seen down by the park, bent over and white haired, confused and lost. A picture was shared, too blurry, inconclusive. Other pictures too. A video of a strange machine.
“I have to go,” I said, trying to turn and walk away.
“Don’t be silly,” my mother said. “You’re embarrassing me.”
The woman just stood there. She was round, with thick glasses that made her eyes seem huge. She smiled with too much lipstick. I looked around futilely for someone to help.
Another shove in the back, this one harder, sent me stumbling forwards.
I kicked out quickly.
My right shoe hit her shin and she screamed.
It was a loud, high, piercing scream like nothing I’d heard before. It filled the building. It consumed the whole world. It swirled around me like a cold vicious storm as I ran, my fists pumping, my eyes focused on the open door.
Selected: Weekly Write #18
to be published in Issue #31