Thursday, February 14, 2013

Featured Creature UPDATE: The Night Thing Part II

The following is the continuation of the short fiction presented for the Featured Creature piece, The Night Thing.  The good news bad news here is that although I am updating the story here, this isn't all of the story.  Once I got fully into editing, several plot points expanded a bit and so did the page count, which created more pages to edit.  Regardless, I will be posting each update to the original post as I go If you would like to read the pieces as a continuous whole.

The Night Thing Part II

Ricky began sweeping.  Margaret had left him a long list of cleaning duties to be done by morning.  The store was being reviewed next Wednesday and Margaret always wanted the store cleaner than a new car on review day.  That always meant more work for Ricky: clean behind the shelving units, dust every surface, reorganize the freezer, sweep and mop twice during shifts.  Margaret was generally a relaxed manager, she even let him wear his earphones on third shift, but when a review was coming around, she became a relentless bitch.

He was halfway down the candy isle when he heard a thump.  He pulled one of his earphones out and looked towards drawer window for customers.  No one was there.  He heard the clack of the front door being tried and then several bangs in a row.  He rolled his eyes and moved towards the door.  Company policy was that the doors were locked at eleven and he was tired of endlessly explaining to the drunks driving home from the Moon Dog Bar further down on highway fourteen.  He moved quickly to the door and glared at the haggard man on the other side.

The man was almost a head shorter than Ricky and very dirty.  His eyes were wet as though he'd been crying.  He was wearing a long black coat that may have been a trench at one point but now was a tattered rag.  His hair and beard were long and as shaggy as the coat and neither had been washed in some time.  The man had both his hands on the door handles and was tugging hard at them.  His knuckles were white with effort and eyes were wild.  As he banged the door, he kept looking back over his shoulder into the night.  Ricky reached into his apron and grabbed the store phone, showing it to the man.

"Mister.  Mister!  HEY!  You're gonna have to stop that or I'm gonna call the sheriff's office."

"Please let me in.  You've got to LET ME IN!!!"

" M'Sorry Man.  Not gonna happen!  Company policy is doors are locked after 11.  Take your hands off the door or I'm calling the Sheriff - I'm serious."  The man clinched his eyes and made a loud nasal exhale, but removed his hands.  He turned away then, mumbling, but through the glass Ricky could not hear him clearly.  It sounded like, "They wouldn't be able to help me anyway."  The man rushed to the edge of the gas pumps, looked up and around, and came back.  His steps were jittery and fast, like a squirrel.

The man returned to the door.  He was shaking.  The man's eyes rolled nervously as he spoke as though he were examining something in the air between them.  Ricky activated the store phone and prepared to dial 911.  The haggard man closed his eyes and held his hands up at shoulder level facing Ricky.  He took several deep breaths.  The change was dramatic and instantaneous.  The man stopped shaking and even his wild hair seemed to settle somewhat.  He opened his eyes again, now clear and steady, and stared intently at Ricky.

"Do you have - uhm -  salt?  One of those cylinder containers of salt?  You know the kind that pours."  Ricky looked blankly at the man.  "Salt!!" the man spat out,"Please!"

"I think so, I'll go check, but you gotta promise me you won't bang on the door no more."  he glared at Ricky then as though he were acting like an unreasonable child.

"I promise."  the man turned to face the night as Ricky moved back down the isle.  "-please hurry." the man whimpered.

"Found it!"  Ricky deactivated the phone as he grabbed the container of salt and moved back towards the door.

"Two!  Bring Two! " the man yelled.  With a huff, Ricky turned back and grabbed a second container.  He moved behind the register and the Man's face dropped in horror.  "What are you doing?  Please!"

"Dude you gotta come over to the window.  I told ya, I can't open the doors."
 The man took several more deep breaths and edged towards the window, facing away from the building as he moved.  He kept looking towards the sky.  The window was just beyond the edge of the covered area for the gas pumps.  Ricky thought from the man's face, it looked as though he thought it were made of lava.

When the man finally reached the window his teeth were chattering and he was shaking again.  He dropped several wadded bills into the drawer.  "hurry. hurry. hurry. hurry."  Ricky rolled his eyes at the man and put the salt in the drawer.  It was too early in the evening for this much crazy.  He looked down and puzzled.  The man had given him a fifty and a twenty.  He began to unfold the twenty and dropped it with a start.  It was covered in fresh blood.

The man suddenly jerked his head away as though he heard someone call his name.  He became very still and quiet.  Facing away from Ricky, he awkwardly angled his arm and slowly reached into the drawer for the salt.  Ricky noticed then three long parallel cuts on the man's forearm.  The sound came again almost immediately, growing louder. Ricky heard it too now, like ice water pouring down his neck, a shrill reverberating cry like the howls of mating cats. 


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