This is republished for the 'Trick Or Treat: A Spooking Writing Competition.'
10 PM. Wednesday. 14th of June.
I’m a reasonable man.
I pay my bills.
I don’t harass young women.
I have money.
I go to work.
And every day,
is the same.
Oh look. It’s turning into a poem now. How cliche.
I suppose I should stop procrastinating. But then again, there’s no one to stop me. But I sense that you want me to carry on. That you want to know the misery of my life- what it is to be ME. That’s right- ME. ME with capital letters.
Let it bore into your eyeballs. ME ME ME ME ME. Because that’s my life. That’s everyone’s life. We are us. Wait- that probably doesn’t make sense.
Perhaps I should get to the point now.
My story starts… a long time ago. A very long time ago. I was exactly the same as I am now. Same in look. Same room. Same day.
I thought so.
However many years ago this story starts. New York. Wednesday. 14th of June. 6:30 am.
I woke up amidst the noises of New York. The cars always buzzed like angry bees- like they had somewhere so important to be that if they didn’t get there NOW the world would surely explode. But it’s the horns that always got to me- why couldn’t people ever refrain from beeping? Why not just be silent? I rolled out of bed, slamming my hand on the alarm as I went to the window.
I’d grown up in the country, fuelled on orange juice and scones, and warmed by the sun. Here, the children were condemned to a life of choking on smog and being forced into greedy, money grabbing enterprises by their fathers. I leaned my head against the window, welcoming the cold against my forehead. I had a long day ahead of me, as always, and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
“Mr Evesbury! Thank God you’re here!”
I turned quickly, to see my secretary hurrying towards me. Her pink suit made her stand out against the black cloth of the business men, like a beacon of colour. I slowed my long strides, as I knew that she wouldn’t be able to catch up. Those heels really looked like the devil.
Finally she tapped, panting slightly, on my arm. Papers were thrust into my chest, which I managed to work out of her vice-like grip and examine. She gestured to them vaguely.
“Some very odd woman said I’d burn in hell unless I got these to you. Security took her away, but I thought giving you these papers couldn’t hurt.” She paused slightly. “She also gave me a taser to give to you, but I thought that wouldn’t be appropriate in the workplace.” She gave me a meaningful look. I laughed slightly, and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“You can keep the taser, Amelia.”
She punched the air, then hurriedly hung her head as she received glares from the other workers. Muttering a hurried goodbye, she tottered off towards her desk. I watched her go fondly. Amelia was the best secretary I could have hired. Not on account of her secretarial skills- which were sadly lacking- but on account of the fact that she was ever so slightly insane. For some reason, having a secretary that was out for everyone’s blood was comforting. I tucked the mysterious papers into my briefcase, and slid gladly into the quiet of my office.
The coffee shop was a regular haunt of mine when it came to lunch breaks. Although it was small and empty- hardly the place for a high-flying businessman- it was comforting, and I knew the staff well. Alexander always manned the counter, and had come to know me so well that my tea was already waiting for me. I smiled at him as he tucked away the cash I’d given him in the register.
“Any luck, then?”
He shook his head dismally. “Not a singly chick. Not a single chick. Not one. Can God not spare one?”
I cast him a sympathetic look. “Story of a guy’s life.”
He pushed the tea towards me. I hesitated before going to my seat, sensing that he had something to tell me. But in the end he simply caught my eye and shook his head. I took the tea, mentally storing this interesting little nibble of information. Alexander, without knowing it, was gay.
I wondered how I could use it to my advantage.
“Billie! Billie my boy! Thought I’d never see you again, not after Cambridge! Got yourself a girl yet?”
I smiled ruefully at John, an old school friend of mine, and now CEO of Rapier, one of my main investors. He’d come all the way from England for this meeting, so I wasn’t about to let a deal this big slip through my fingers.
“Still looking, my friend. Always looking.”
He laughed and seated himself opposite my desk, a cigar in hand. I felt the scrutiny prickle my skin, so hurried to get on with the meeting.
We were meeting to discuss shares. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you this. So many times throughout my life I have regretted ever walking into that meeting. So many times.
John slapped his briefcase on the table, inadvertently sending those mysterious papers from this morning high into the air. I caught them, and laughed it off like any good businessman. I hadn’t even glanced at them yet, and knew I should, but instead slipped them into my drawer.
Oh, I should have looked at those papers.
John began to talk, and I sensed us slipping into business mode. He set forward an idea, and I rebuked it. I set forward an idea, and he rejected it. Eventually, we were at a stalemate. I sighed and leaned forwards on my elbows.
“So you say that Rapier wants to buy our company?”
He nodded, and said, “But you don’t want to be bought out. However, if you refuse this, Rapier will withdraw its funding.”
I nodded. Stalemate.
But suddenly, it wasn’t. I knew what to do.
I tapped his arm, and sensed him tensing up. He had every right to, but I knew he would accept my offer. I just knew it.
“Say, John. Remember school? Those days… those easy days… those… nights.”
He had gone pale.
“Oh, I remember those nights. Talking in the dorms, studying, hooking up with girls…but you never did that, did you John?”
His hand was shaking now, and I felt a rush of cold pleasure that I could inspire this reaction from him.
“No… in fact, I remember one night in particular.”
“Don’t do this Billie.”
“I remember getting up to get a glass of water…”
“And seeing you snogging Edward Peate.”
John stilled utterly, face pale. I could see the vein in the side of his neck throbbing.
“So, John, I am willing to offer you a deal. There are two things I want to change. Firstly, I want Rapier to not buy our company. If they do, then the whole world will know your dirty little secret. And I want Rapier to up the funding it is giving us.”
“Billie, you’ve already exhausted the hold you have over me. Rapier buys, and you tell. What else can you threaten me with?”
I smiled. I knew when I had won. “Oh, not threaten, John. Tempt.”
I reached over my desk and drew a picture out of the general debris. It had been taken some weeks ago, and depicted three people- me in the middle, Amelia on the left with her arm cast around my shoulders, and Alexander on the right. Usually, his head was down, black hair covering his eyes, but in this photo he was laughing. His head was thrown back to let in the sun, and his face was lit up with a delighted smile. He was decidedly good-looking, if you liked the skinny, adolescent emo type. John was frowning.
“I don’t understand.”
Pleasure fluttered in my chest like a dying bird. It felt good. “If your company buys ours, I’ll tell. And if your company gives us extra funding…” I tapped the image of Alexander. “I’ll get you that boy. Tonight.”
John eyed me. “How do I know you won’t use this as blackmail too?”
“You have my word. Besides, I don’t want to be known as a pimp. Our little secret, hmm?” I reached my hand towards John. “Shake?”
Alexander turned to me, and I could see the confusion on his face. “Mr Evesbury? What are you doing here? We’re just about to close.”
I leaned on the counter. “I know. I just thought I’d come talk to you.”
Alexander looked even more befuddled at this. He knew I wasn’t a big talker, and he also knew that I didn’t come into the shop at any other time than lunch. The moment was broken by one of the other coffee shop workers, who called out to Alexander to shut the shop when he left. It was just us now. That was the way I’d timed it. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the handkerchief. The one I’d doused with chloroform.
Alexander put up a surprisingly good fight, but he held back. He thought I was his friend. He was confused.
He was so pathetic.
The chloroform was easy to administer when he was beaten and bloodied on the ground. I just clamped it over his mouth and he was out like a light. John’s car was outside. I picked Alexander up under the arms, dragging him outside into the street. The door of John’s car opened, and a voice drifted out.
“This is our secret, you hear?”
I dumped Alexander in the car with a grunt. “Our secret, John.”
With that, the car drove away, Alexander inside. I knew John would return him to the coffee shop the next day, but if he didn’t, then a single serving boy was no loss to the world. I signalled a cab and climbed in.
It was when I was brushing my teeth that I remembered the files that Amelia had given me. I started, as one does when one remembers something they’ve forgotten, but there was nothing I could do. I simply finished brushing my teeth and lay in bed. I fell asleep at ten o’clock. That detail is very hard to forget.
I woke to the ringing of the alarm. Again. I slammed my hand on it and approached the window. Again. I had deep, meaningful thoughts. Again. I won’t bore you with these details.
Things are about to get a whole lot more interesting.
“Mr Evesbury! Thank God you’re here!”
I turned as I heard Amelia’s voice. She was wearing the same pink suit, and still stood out against the tide of black. I smiled at her as she reached me, panting and waving papers at me.
“Some very odd woman said I’d burn in hell unless I got these to you. Security took her away, but I thought giving you these papers couldn’t hurt.” She paused slightly. “She also gave me a taser to give to you, but I thought that wouldn’t be appropriate in the workplace.” She gave me a meaningful look.
I shook my head. “But Amelia- you gave me those papers yesterday. This happened yesterday. Really girl, keep a track of things.” I left her standing open mouthed and stormed into my office to begin my day.
I was worried. I was really, seriously worried. Yesterday, I’d fired two workers and employed two more.
Today, I had fired two workers and employed two more.
My day had been exactly the same, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it. This wasn’t a movie. I hadn’t wandered into the X Files. I wasn’t on drugs.
However, there was one defining thing that would tell me what was happening.
I hesitated at the door to the coffee shop, my hand floating above the door. I couldn’t even let myself wonder what would happen if… if he didn’t react.
But no. I was a business man. I was William Evesbury. I wasn’t scared of anything.
Notice I talk in past tense here.
I pushed open the door, the cheerful ringing reminding me forcefully of the last time I’d opened it.
My tea was waiting on the counter, and Alexander was standing behind it.
He smiled at me, then frowned as he registered my expression. “Mr Evesbury. What’s wrong?”
I walked over to him and seized his shoulders. “Tell me exactly what happened to you last night when you were ending your shift, Alexander. Tell me!”
His eyes went wide with panic, and I could see him racking his brains. “Um… I was just packing up for the night, and decided to go to a nightclub the other side of town… Me Evesbury! Where are you going?”
I didn’t answer, because I didn’t fully know. My feet simply carried me where my subconscious mind wanted to go. Could this be happening? This day… everything that had happened today had happened yesterday, and yet no one was noticing.
As a child, I had always hated these sort of circumstances in books or films- where only one person knew what was going on, and no one believed them, or people would act strangely and no one would notice. It reminded me of being out of control. Control was good. Control was power. Chaos was bad. Chaos was… I stopped suddenly outside a bank. Chaos was this.
The date today was exactly the same as yesterday.
I pushed open their double doors and stormed in. God knows what I looked like- tormented, fractured, my expression that of a man gone insane. The girl manning the desk glanced up as I stumbled in, and I could see her hand creep under her desk to the panic button. I didn’t care.
I’d reached her desk now, and sprawled my top half across it, somehow managing to choke out a question.
“Tell me… tell me what the date is.”
“Sir, please, if you could remove-“
She jerked back, and I heard the click of the panic button. I was desperate now, and seized the front of her blouse.
“Just tell me the date. Please.”
Perhaps it was something in my expression, but she haltingly replied, “Wednesday the 14th of June.”
I was still shaking my head and crying out nonsense about tomorrows and todays when the police came and took me away.
“Mr Evesbury. You are free to leave in five minutes time. This will go on your criminal record, and you will be fined for abuse… Mr Evesbury, are you listening to me?”
The female police officer sighed. I was slumped opposite her in the interrogation room, an untouched coffee cooling by my hand. I was watching my watch tick slowly.
I was wondering.
I was terrified.
What would I do if I woke the next morning and…
I couldn’t let myself finish that sentence. The police officer sighed again, and I distinctly remember her reaching her hand out to pat my arm…
Then my world went black and I was plunged into the false infinity of sleep.
I have had a feeling of complete and utter despair only a few times before. When my wife lay dead in my arms, her blood staining my hands, I felt despair that I would be found out. When I was eighteen and I hacked into the police database and destroyed my criminal record, I felt despair that it may never truly leave me alone.
Now I knew what real doom was.
It was this creeping in my spine, as though my body rejected my thoughts, and wanted to escape. It was this cold sick feeling in my stomach, that forced me to roll out of bed and retch into the nearby sink.
It was looking at my electronic calendar, and seeing the date.
It was the 14th of June. It was still the 14th of June.
“Mr Evesbury! Thank-”
“Thank God I’m here?”
“Yes!” Amelia tottered toward me, her pink suit flashing in front of my eyes like a warning signal. “This odd woman gave me some papers for you! She also gave me a-”
“You can keep the taser, Amelia. Tell everyone to leave me alone today. And give me those papers.”
I don’t know when I remembered those papers while getting to work. I don’t know when the words that Amelia had uttered to me twice started swimming in my mind like piranhas. But I did know one thing.
Whatever was happening to me had something to do with those papers.
I locked myself in my office, striding over to the blinds and drawing them closed. The room now shone a sickly yellow, but it was enough to read by.
I opened the hand that clutched the papers, and they slid onto my desk like a cobra, and lay coiled, ready to strike me.
I reached out a trembling hand, and turned over the first sheet.
YOU DESERVE THIS, MY SON. YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOUR LIFE HAS BECOME. YOU SHOULD HAVE SIMPLY SAT DOWN, AND THOUGHT. NOW IT’S TOO LATE. I’M SORRY, MY SON. YOU CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO DIRTY HEAVEN, HELL, OR EARTH. THIS IS THE ONLY SOLUTION. BECOME A BETTER MAN, MY SON. BECOME A MAN I COULD HAVE BEEN PROUD OF.
-YOUR ALWAYS LOVING MOTHER
I doubled up and vomited into the wastepaper basket. My mother was dead. My mother had bled to death in my arms.
I had killed her.
This couldn’t be possible.
But you see, it was.
I know now what I should do. I have to become a better man in order to live my life. Years later, and now this is the only conclusion I can come to.
Become a good man, and you will be free.
But there’s one problem.
I am not a good man.
I will lay down my pen soon, as I tire of writing. I will walk to my window, as I have done for the past few years now, and I will look out on the world- on the time- I am trapped in. I would say that I was bored. That I was wanting to repent.
But oh- it is so much fun being bad.