Out of the Frying Pan (Short Story)

So my school ran a creative writing competition recently, guess who entered… me! Guess who won… me! Guess who’s now very aware of his writing abilities… me! So yeh, here’s the story:

The rain beat down on him persistently as he made his way home. It had been a wet week by anyone’s standards, yet today’s weather was extreme.

All around him children were jumping into cars whilst he trudged along, clutching the cheap, fold-away umbrella that offered him his only protection from the deluge. Christian focussed on moving forward, every step taking him nearer home, away from the monotonous rain and away from,

“Christian!”

He sighed briefly but did not alter his step as a group of sniggering boys began approaching him from behind.

“Christian!” one of them yelled again, followed by another burst of laughter from the others. I can’t breathe for the hilarity, Christian thought as he continued to strive down the road, gripping the handle of his umbrella somewhat tighter. He increased his pace, I can out walk them, they’ll lose me soon, yet the sound of their laughter and heavy footsteps on the wet tarmac continued to ring in his ears. Missing the alleyway he would normally have taken, Christian kept walking, his instincts telling him not to look back at the group following him. They’ll get bored, they always do. They’ll stop eventually. Every day it was the same; he left school on the dot, determined to get home before the gang approached him, yet everyday they were there, following his route home before gradually getting bored and trailing off.

Yet something was different today. Their pace did not falter; their mirth did not fade away into silence as it normally would. Christian tensed up, his natural pessimism presenting him with the many awful situations that could follow. Any minute now they’ll stop. I know it. He turned into a side road, his mind solely focused on the group behind him, ignoring the direction he was taking.

“Now.” The word was barely discernible in the pounding rain yet Christian heard it all the same. He broke into a run, sprinting down the unfamiliar street and dropping the umbrella as he went. The group was not far behind him, their loud footsteps and guffawing ringing in his ears, getting louder.

He soon reached a main road and burst across it, cars screeching to a halt behind him. Christian glanced back. They’re still following me, why are they still following me? He hurried down the street, the gang trapped by the slow moving traffic whilst his eyes darted around, looking helplessly for some escape. And soon they settled on a small, shabby looking book shop, standing not ten meters ahead.

He dashed ahead, opened the shop door and entered, a loud bell ringing to sound his arrival. Christian looked around him, noting the dozens of bookcases, the hundreds of shelves, the thousands of books stretching in every direction. The shop was larger than it looked from the outside and also deadly quiet, the thundering rain and the noise from the cars outside obliterated by thick, grimy windows.

“Can I help you?” Christian wheeled around to find a greying, bespectacled man standing behind him and suddenly became aware of his flushed face, and the puddle of water growing on the floor beneath him.

“Um, I” he stuttered. Oh God what do I say? But at that moment the door burst open behind him and one of his pursuers rushed in.

“Stop there,” said then man, in a surprisingly authoritative voice. The boy faltered, glancing at Christian for a second before looking back at the man, his smirk noticeably dwindling.

“Get out of my shop, now. Get out and never come back.” The man took a step forward but the boy was gone, taking one last look at Christian before hurtling back out onto the street.

“Thank you, thank you so much,” Christian said, sighing with relief. The old man smiled before shuffling to the door and sliding a bolt across it.

“Don’ t worry young man. You’re safe in here.” He smiled again before moving further into the shop. “Come inside and have a drink. Tea, coffee?”

Christian faltered for a second, but followed. They’re probably waiting outside. I’m not coming out any time soon.

The further they went into the shop, the darker it became. The huge, looming shelves and the towering piles of dusty books felt eerie to Christian. How many customers come in here? he wondered. How long has this old man been alone?

“Just through here,” the man said, catching Christian by surprise. He was looking at him from a doorway that Christian hadn’t noticed due to the stacks of books covering it. “Come along, just through here.”

Christian moved into a small and cramped kitchen. Even in here the books piled up, covering every surface and even spilling onto the floor at some points. The old man was pouring water from an ancient looking kettle into a pair of grubby looking mugs. He took a seat whilst the man fumbled at the counter, before approaching and placing a mug of greyish tea in front of him.

“Thanks” said Christian, smiling at the man. “Thanks for letting me in, I don’t know what those boys would have done to me.”

The man chuckled, taking a seat himself. “Who would I be if I left you out there?” He took a sip from his mug before looking at Christian, who hastily drank from his own.

He felt a tear begin to form in the corner of his eye, and thought about wiping it away. This man won’t judge me, he told himself. I can trust this man.

“They do it to me every day,” he muttered. “They follow me, shout things. They’ve never followed me this far before, and I don’t know why they do it. I don’t know what they’re going to do to me.”    A trickled of tears ran down his face and fell onto the table below.

“Don’t worry about them,” the man said calmly. “They won’t do anything, just drink your tea.” Christian sipped again, the bitterness of the tea giving him a brief distraction from his thoughts.

The man continued to stare, his dull, grey eyes focussed on Christian. He began to grow uneasy, staring back at the man yet feeling his eyelids begin to grow heavy.

“I’m sorry,” he slurred. “I’m, I’m going to have to get home now.”

“Of course.” Spoke the man, standing up immediately and offering his hand to pull Christian from his seat. “You can leave the back way, it’s just through here.”

He led Christian to another door at the far side of the kitchen. Christian felt tired. It’s probably all that running, he thought. And it is, so hot in here.

The man fumbled with the key before pushing the door forwards. “Just down here, come on.”

Christian felt himself leaning on the man as he led him down the steps. He could hear the rain again. Oh not the dam rain. Why won’t it stop? Christian steadied himself on the wall for the old man had let go of him. He glanced round for the door, but couldn’t find one. He turned round, searching around him for… pwack.

He fell backwards, shrieking with pain as the world spun around him. He looked up, dazed to see the old man standing above him, holding aloft a length of iron pipe.

“What the hell?” he yelled at the man, who raised the pipe higher and swung at him again, hitting him in the stomach with a resounding crack.

“You would have been better with those boys” grinned the old man, staring down at him. Christian flailed on the floor, trying to rise. “Don’t bother doing that, you’re not going anywhere. Didn’t you think your tea tasted a little, odd.”

He drugged me, the old git drugged me. I should have stayed outside, why didn’t I stay outside? He felt the pipe hit him again and shrieked in agony as he felt his bones crack and saw his blood begin to trickle across the already stained floor.

He screamed and screamed, as the man hit him again and again, yet no one came. No one came, for no one heard, over the tumult of the rain.

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2 comments on “Out of the Frying Pan (Short Story)

  1. Me says:

    Woah, that’s a vicious ending! I am not sure whether or not to be worried man. But actually to be fair it twas a very unpredictable twist – solid job there. The rest of the passage read really well. Nice job on winning the prize.

    • Philip Bull says:

      Thanks bro. On reflection, the lack of motivation for the gang chasing Christian is a big of a flaw but, apart from that, it seems pretty solid. See ya 2muruw.

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