David had just finished his shift at the Duke and Lion and was walking back to his house, half in a daze, rubbing his eyes slothenly to try and wake himself up a little. The shift at the pub had been a hectic one. The usuals all filling their swollen bellies with the dark brown ale he had acquired from Bournemouth; Purple stout.
He loved working at the pub, mostly because he was so good at it, the patrons thought so too as they bought him round after round as a reward for his beyond excellent service.
He staggered across the road, past the small convenience store across from his rented abode, refusing to look both ways due to his beverage belief he was invincible. Luckily for him, no cars were driving on the road at so late an hour.
His mind raced with all the things he could do when he got home, his home now empty since his five housemates were visiting loved ones for the holidays. He had already returned from his home for his job, needing the money to help himself stay afloat in the financial shipwreck that is university. He didn’t like half his housemates. Some were okay, he was quite fond of the Manc tank, Simon. He was always good for a laugh, or some football.
Others he resented, like the irritatingly obnoxious Mark; a man so destitute with no drive or basic etiquette, he had driven all but three lowlives away from him. The other housemate he had a distinct distaste for was the spineless Goblin, Nathan. A cowardly, shrimp of a man, half resembling a dishevelled dormouse, who’s only real personality trait was a sense of humour one would slightly exhale at through fear of hurting his feelings, the third in the trio of future NEETs was Ned Heaton. Heaton was a small, peculiar child, devoid of any defining personality trait or social group, instead flittering between circles like a ghost. If man had evolved from sloth, he would surely be the missing link.
Luckily for David, they were gone and out of his hair. He thought of potentially having a fifa tournament with Simon online, or a posh wank over Nathan’s mum, who was proof that the apple can indeed fall very far from the tree, as the woman was the definition of a Milf.
As he rounded the corner of his bug infested uni home, ants and termites greeting him home by forming a post-modern arrow across the dilapidated wall, he began to think of the lamb bhuna he had sitting in the fridge, just calling his name in all of its spicy goodness.
He turned the final corner to the back garden and, in turn, the backdoor. His landlord was too tight to have given them all front door keys as well. That’s when he discovered the light to the conservatory was on.
“Odd”, he thought to himself, “I could have sworn I turned that off before I left. Oh well”. He took out his key and put it in the lock to open the back door, but once he tried turning it, he realised its inability to turn any further than halfway anti-clockwise. He tried pushing down on the handle to make sure it was definitely locked, applying some deal of force as a way of double checking. As he did so, the handle fell down in a sudden drop. “I know for a fact I locked it” he exclaimed in disbelief as he paused for a moment before removing the key and giving the door a shove, allowing it to swing open and gain him passage through.
The first thing he did after entering the conservatory was to venture further into the house, creeping stealthily among the cheap and misused furniture. He passed the fridge he would soon return to and walked through the landing into the kitchen, flicking on the lights as he did so.
No one there.
He called out to no one. “Any one home?” to which the only reply was a deafening silence. He was on edge, his pulse started to beat faster and faster with each moment of ambiguity of the imagined intruder in the house.
He looked around the kitchen to see if there were any signs of an intruder but found only an empty pizza package and discarded beer cans overflowing from the bin, though this was part and parcel how the house usually was and so he thought nothing of it.
He tried calming himself down, breathing a little heavier than usual and humming some Elton John to himself.
He trekked over to the freezer, pulling the door open with great force and sliding out the second tray with some effort due to its proclivity to become frozen in place. He displaced Ned’s bag of chicken, which was routinely defrosted and re-frozen in a ritual of salmonella summoning. Underneath he found his Bhuna.
“Absolute Godsend”, he thought to himself. “This should sober me up”.
He prepared the dish and bunged it into the microwave, scrolling on his phone for several seconds as he waited for his meal to finish cooking. Once he heard the faithful ding, informing him of good things to come, he dished up his dinner and brought it into the living room to eat, turning on the lights as he entered.
Let there be light.
He paid no attention to his surroundings walking through the threshold. He turned to sit on the sofa, plopping himself down on the broken wreck of furniture forced onto them by the stingy landlord when they moved in. No doubt this would be unfairly coming out of their deposits. He fell to the cushion and placed his meal on his lap to eat.
Halfway through the meal, he happened to glimpse something out of the corner of his eye. He turned to look in its direction and jumped with fright as he saw Ned Heaton, sat on a chair, just staring at the wall.
The wall was completely ordinary, not a single eccentricity or peculiar occurrence worth staring at. No wallpaper, no graffiti, no paintings and no windows. The wall was just a simple space of beige. Needless to say, this struck David as strange.
The chair was facing away from him, so all he saw was the black back of the leather chair and the shaggy haired, overgrown hairdo of the back of Heaton’s head.
“You alright fella?” he called out to him, shovelling the saucy rice into his mouth. Heaton didn’t move, nor make any reply. He remained motionless, ignoring David’s questioning.
“What you doing lad?” he continued. “What’s up with the wall?”
Once again, there was no reply.
David put down his dinner, placing it on the floor next to his feet, and stood up. He crept towards Heaton, pacing around him until he reached his side. It was at this point that he noticed that Ned was appearing to be transfixed by something. His gaze was fixed on a single point, his eyeballs not glancing around like they normally would.
He looked away from Ned’s face, his gaze wandering over the rest of him and noticing that Heaton was sitting in the living room, completely nude. His sickly pale skin breaking out into a rash and pasting over. David’s eyes un-consciously glanced to Ned’s groin and glimpsed the tiny form of an acorn sized pecker peeking out from the folds of his lower half, hiding itself within the rest of his robust frame.
David jerked his head away on disgust, clenching his hands over his eyes in an attempt to distract himself.
“What the fuck are you doing mush?” he exclaimed. “Put some fucking clothes on.”
Still no reaction.
David was starting to worry. This was most definitely strange. He shoved Ned hard to break his gaze. Heaton’s body jerked but his eyes remained stationary.
David walked around to his front, using his own face to block Ned’s eyeline. He was face to face with Ned.
“Oi. Stop it”, he ordered him. “You’re fucking creepy”.
Heaton remained still.
David was becoming angry at the freakshow event he was witnessing. He pulled Heaton by the arm, dislodging him from the chair. As Heaton fell, the room started to heat up. Flames began rising from the now empty chair, causing sparks to flitter to the ground, lighting the carpet and the rug also. The flames rose higher, lapping at the walls. Heaton started to sweat. Moisture falling down his face. Moisture turning red into blood, and then solidifying into a jelly like substance as skin started to mix with the sweat and the blood, all transcending down his face until nothing was left but a pair of broken glasses on a glossy white skull. The skin and muscles on the rest of his body soon dissipated after leaving a skeleton, now turning grey, then black, eventually burning up into a cloud of ash. An ominous black cloud of smoke spurted out of the ground where Heaton had once laid as a sinister growling laugh bellowed and echoed around the rumour, shaking David to his very core.
Then, it all stopped. The fire, the pool of blood and skin, the smoke, the laugh, Heaton. It was all gone.
David spent no time thinking about what had happened. He hot tailed it out of the house, to his girlfriends until the other lads had come home.
He told no one about the incident however, throughout the police interviews and search and rescues, he remained silent, taking the events of the night to the grave with him.
Credit : B. M. Malone
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