SHORT STORY: “Dangerous People”
Here’s something I wrote about five years ago to wake my writing up a bit. It draws back on the kind of stuff I used to write when I first started out. It’s all done as it came out of my head, with no planning other than a rough idea of where I wanted it to go. Oh, and it’s set in Birmingham Centre… I have a great idea to turn this into a screenplay for a short film – very arty and panicky, with the sound of his heartbeat as the main effect running all through the film….
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“Dangerous People” by James Cater
He flinched as the girl reached and took his empty coffee cup away.
Not wanting to make eye contact, he waited until she walked away from his table before he let his eyes fall on her. She wiggled back towards the kitchen area under his unseen gaze.
She was in her early thirties, and carrying enough extra weight to make a slight roll over the waistband of her black skirt. He didn’t know why she was working in a place like this.
Who would want to work in a train station cafeteria, with all these people around all the time?
He subtly looked around at the other patrons.
A man in a charcoal suit, much like his own, sat drinking some type of coffee prefixed by fifteen Italian-sounding names to make ‘with frothy milk’ sound more interesting.
At the next table he locked eyes briefly with a young woman who looked plain dangerous.
So many dangerous people around these days. He could tell from her eyes before he quickly looked away.
He almost felt sorry for her for having that look in her eyes. It was pain and betrayal and anger at the world.
He could feel her eyes boring into him as he rose, heading away and up the escalators into the shopping centre.
A point on the ground two foot in front of him was his friend. He looked there and only there, head down, trying to be invisible as he used his peripheral vision to warily survey all the other threats.
The city had gone to shit. Survival now was to guess which person was going to mug you first.
Looking confident didn’t work, as the gangs would take you on to prove themselves to their peers. Invisibility was the best way.
Leaving the shopping centre, the cold night air hit him hard, causing his chest to clutch even tighter than it had through fear of imminent attack.
Down the pedestrian ramp, youths on each side looking him up from his seventy pound shoes to the seven hundred pound suit. If he looked at them he’d see nothing but their contempt. The briefcase which he carried became heavier in his mind, growing in size to a huge suitcase that he had to lug past the hordes of thieves.
His heart hammered.
Nobody should have to live like this!
He wished he could stroll around the city streets, but the cameras and Police offered no protection.
Not really. The violence would have been all over before any help came. What good was the protection of the Law, when your personal belongings had already been stripped from you, and you lay blackened and bleeding from an assault?
He crossed over the road, and eased over so that he was walking alongside the shop fronts.
A youth of around twenty was coming towards him, baggy trousers flapping about his legs, t-shirt hanging loose over his waist. The lad had confidence, and wasn’t a target in this city.
Before either had to change their path, the youth turned right down an alleyway between the shops.
Turning the corner after him, he fell in two paces behind. Fear was raging inside, but he refused to give the youth the satisfaction of letting it show.
Two feet in front is your friend.
Shadows fell darker, and as he reached a hand around the neck of the youth, he knocked out one of his ear plugs, and tinny sound exploded into the silent darkness.
As the youth gasped in surprise, the wire of the garrote met the killers other hand, tightening and pulling him backwards off his feet.
The youths back slammed into the killers knee just as he hit the floor, and the knee pressed between his shoulder blades as the wire was pulled even harder across his trachea.
With a barely repressed grunt, the killer crossed his fists behind his victims head, and took up the slack instantly as the wire sliced through flesh and gristle, the pungent stench of blood and excrement hitting his nostrils at the same time.
The youth was already way beyond any reprieve as the wire sawed into his spine at the back of his throat, and his dying gurgle was cut even shorter as the knee exerted enough pressure to snap the youths spine.
Pushing the ragdoll body face down onto the pavement, the killer stepped back and marveled at how little blood was on his hands. He brushed down the front of his suit, the charcoal hiding the few flecks of blood well, and then carried on down the alleyway and onto the street at the other end.
He eyed the few people stalking the late evening streets with the same eager anticipation as before.
There were dangerous people out tonight.