Friday, 1 March 2013

#FridayFlash - Don't Look Back


A man broke into our house when I was nine. My dad was away on business - at least, that's what Mom told me. I found out later he was visiting his new girlfriend in Hackensack. Anyway. This man broke in. Turned out he'd been stalking Mom for weeks - the papers later called him the Machete Killer. They were never imaginative with names. He chased her around the house, and the noise woke me up. Mom tried to get me to leave, to go and get help. I ran across the lawn, lights already coming on in the neighbouring houses. Mom screamed and I looked back. I saw why they called him the Machete Killer.

At Mom's funeral, some mad aunt I'd never met before told me the story of Lot and his wife, as if I was somehow to blame for looking back. That guy would have killed my mom whether I was looking or not but I got the point. Don't look back. I never have.

I blamed my dad for not being there, so I went to live with my uncle. He took little interest in me so I sort of drifted through life. I walked out of high school on the last day - everyone else was hanging around, making plans for things to do. I left and never looked back. I met a girl in college, dated her for a while, but she couldn't decide between me and the captain of the football team. I broke up with her in the street, and left her crying on the sidewalk. I never looked back. I got a job in a law firm, did reasonably well, and after a couple of years, decided I wanted to be a writer. I quit, and packed up my few things in a cardboard box. I walked out of the building, and didn't look back.

I got a job in an occult bookstore to pay the rent while I worked on my novel. The owner did weird stuff in the backroom while I minded the store. I never asked what - I just didn't care, as long as I got paid. Earlier today I accidentally walked in while he was busy, found him stood in the centre of a circle of salt, chanting mumbo jumbo and waving something around that looked like a thigh bone.

I just left work, and I'm walking towards the subway. Footsteps echo in the street behind me, footsteps that match mine. I speed up, they speed up. I slow down, they slow down. I cross the street, they cross the street. Except now they're getting closer. I can feel hot breath on the back of my neck, hot breath that smells like something crawled into a hole and died.

But it's okay. If I don't see it, it isn't there.

I won't look back.

(Original photo by ColinBroug, edits by me)

17 comments:

Peter Newman said...

I'd hope that he's employing an perfect defence against occult beasties but he's probably just toast.

Helen said...

I sorta found this story a little depressing. Not only did he have a bad start in life it looks like the ending won't be good either.

Helen said...

I should have added that even despite how it made me feel, the story as always was very well written as all your stories are. ^_^

Sulci Collective said...

I don't look back either, but I think I'd make an exception if I'd just disturbed some black magic ritual and then had something dogging my footsteps! Mind you, it would probably do me as much good as looking back at a machete wielding serial killer

marc nash

Tony Noland said...

The transition from relating the past to the immediacy of the present was shocking - perfectly appropriate for this sad, creepy story.

John Wiswell said...

Please tell me the title came from watching Don't Look Now! I could actually see the whole thing coming from that film, though Machete Killer is a bit more intimidating than a dwarf in a raincoat. Really enjoyed this, Icy.

Larry Kollar said...

This was great, the relentless march, always forward, from the tragedy that was to the tragedy about to be. The monster you never see is the scariest, and you did it so well here.

Zaiure said...

Very gripping story, and I thought the narration was well done. I love when repetition is used, in this case with the theme "don't look back", and I really liked the conclusion. I'm hoping the character escapes whatever is after him!

ganymeder said...

Beautifully executed story ( Please forgive the pun)!

Richard Bon said...

Ponderous are the implications of looking back or continuing to just move forward. Working on his novel, he must not be very good at rewrites.

storytreasury said...

I am thinking it is the machete killer.

DJ Young said...

Such a heavy story - how our childhood traumas shape our future lives, force us into patterns of behaving we can't write ourselves out of. Strong stuff.

jackkholt said...

Big themes at play here, Icy, all wrapped up in a brilliant little tale. Loved it.

Katherine Hajer said...

Interesting voice here! A very quick render of a rather complex character. And yeah, the guy is definitely toast, and I'm not sure I want to feel sorry for him, despite his early trauma.

Sonya Clark said...

Poor guy, but excellent writing as always.

Kath said...

I really felt for the guy here - what kind of aunt says something like that to a kid?! I really like his voice and felt the relentless forward motion but I'm guessing we're not going to see him in any sequels, are we? Excellent piece of writing.

brainhaze said...

I`d make an exception too. Poor guy. Brilliantly written though Icy. Great language and pace to the whole piece

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