I hate sitting on this bus each and every bloody-morning. I always seem to get either the fat bastard or the one that smells: from either not washing or not brushing their teeth. Stop breathing down my neck. At least I get to read a lot, that’s about the only good thing about this job, I spend so much time on the bus I get to read loads on my kindle. I love this little thing. But, as an accident on the A1 earlier as caused a major traffic jam, I’m stuck here, about three miles from home on an nine mile ride. It’s 8:44am and I should be in Kentish Town, not Archway. I fucking hate commuting to work.
My bus arrived at it’s destination at 9:28, I’ve got sevenrteen minutes to get to work. It’ll take me twenty minutes to walk it. Another reason I hate this job, after an eigty minute bus ride I have a twenty minute walk, too. Well, i say walk. I move at a pace and before I’m around the first corner my shins are already starting to hurt. I can feel the muscle that runs down the front of my spin contracting too much, feels like it’s going to break loose. One thing you don’t want in any job, especially one you don’t like very much, and that is a journey to work that pisses you off and or hurts if there is a fucking traffic jam that makes you late. Just glad I don’t use the tube network, that place makes me want a fucking shotgun. Man, i hate people!
I’m on Grosvenor Road, Getting here is like the Krypton Factor: Try to dodge as many people as you can while they try their very best to get in your way. People are arseholes. I’m closer now and there are fewer people to get in my way, but as I’m late I can’t go to the shop to get my lunch, I’ll have to wait until my lunch starts before I go get it, which is irritating because that’ll eat up about ten minutes of my break, and that means less time to read. I like to read. I get two thirty minutes breaks. Make that one twenty minutes break and one thirty minutes break… Did i mention that i fucking hate people.
Finally I’m on the street i work on and the door to my place of work is not far now. It’s getting dark, weird as it’s only 9:48am and the weather on the BBC said it would be a nice sunny day today. Actually the weather guy said it would be sparkling, douche bag. They’re not often this wrong. Sure it might not be as hot or cold as they say, or in fact it might rain a little when they said it wouldn’t. But it’s actually getting dark, in the morning. Is there a solar eclipse or something? Surely I would have known about that….. Maybe not, as it’s getting dark and I didn’t know that a solar eclipse was happening.
I can see the door to the shop where I work. I’m late, but maybe I can sneak in without anyone noticing? Doubtful as I have to be let in. Shit!
It’s pitch dark now, like it’s the middle of the night. This isn’t an eclipse, this is something else, there are no stars in the blank sky above. Something weird is going on.
The Guard approaches the door, it looks wrong in oh so many ways. Sure it’s a big fucking door, nearly twice as wide as a normal door and an extra foot taller. The frame of the door is painted black but a window takes up most of the real-estate. The brass letter box slot is just below the window but even then it’s just above the knee, to the left of that are the door knob and the number ’17’. The brass fixtures look unused and weathered. The black paint chipped and blistered. The window, covered in a mold or some other crap, it’s smells musky, and it’s on the inside too. The guard rings the doorbell it’s not the ding-a-ling he expected to hear but a sound like a heavy metal weight being dragged across the road, he waits, confused. No answer. He rings it again and again the sound of asphalt grinding, and still no answer. Now this isn’t all that weird, apart from the darkness and the creepy new doorbell, they often leave him outside for awhile, either as punishment for something or for shits and giggles. Wankers. The Guard pushes in the letter box slit to use it instead of the bell, but the door just moves inward after the door lock disengages after a subtle click. It’s open, unlocked. The Guard pushed the door open and the smell of rot and decay escapes filling his nostrils. He steps back, this ain’t right, but then nothing, right now, is at all right. The door is open enough for the Guard to see inside. It looks like it’s been underwater for decades. Everything is ruined and rotted away.
The Guard looks inside, curiosity takes him and he moves closer, stepping inside. The carpet squelches under his feet, a leak from above couldn’t have done this, could it? He steps in further. As he does the door slowly closes behind him silently. The lock clicks into place. He turns to the door. It’s clean, everything is normal. No green crap on the window, the musky smell is gone. “Morning”. The Guard turns to see a co-worker walking away from him. The store looks normal.
“What the fuck is going on here?” The Guard says.
He shakes it off as a brain fart and takes a deep breath. All is normal. It’s day light, clean. Well clean’ish, and smells of a scented candle. It’s supposed to smell of roses. It doesn’t
The Guard walks through the store to the back and down some stairs to the stockroom. He hangs up his coat and changes into his work shoes. Ties his tie. Brushes off his jacket and takes piss. He then goes back upstairs and gets to work. It’s 9:55 now, he opens to door in five minutes. He takes a stock check of the shop floor. The first of the day is always the longest. He counts it over and over to make sure he has the right numbers. He moves to the front of the store and starts to finish off his paper work. He sees one of the cleaners heading to the door. He opens it and starts to clean it. Then an older man and a young woman enter “Okay, it’s 10” says the older man. It is in fact 9:58.
The Guard reckons that this man is used to getting his own way. He watches as the older man walks in and, with his lady friend, starts looking at shoes. But as the sales assistants are on hand he pays him no more attention. That’s when a delivery comes in. The Guard spends the next fifteen minutes moving from front to back with the delivery guys.
While standing at the back, as they were taking some boxes downstairs he could see the older man and his lady friend. He was just looking at his phone while she was trying on shoes. The Guard started to move away from the curtain at the back of the store when a coworker came past “He’s taking photos” she says.
Taking photos in the store isn’t allowed. I mean it’s not like you’re going to get kicked out or anything, and it is a pretty stupid fucking rule. But there you go, he can either let them do it or not, if the manager sees him on CCTV letting the guy takes photos, he’ll be dealing with shit later as to why he let him take photos, he don’t need more shit in his life, not after the brain aneurysm earlier. The Guard looks over to the older man and can see him looking down at his phone. Below that are three shoe’s, lined up on a seat. It did in fact look like he was taking photos. The Guard approaches the older man, “Excuse me, Sir” said the Guard. Nothing.
“Excuse me, Sir” he said again. And still the older man doesn’t even acknowledge that he could even hear the Guard. “Sir, excuse me but you can’t take photos in the store” and again, nothing from the older man. The Guard hates being ignored, especially by pompous assholes. The Guard musters all he could to remain polite and says again “Sir, you can’t take photos in the store”, now the older man just looks at the Guard, he doesn’t move his body or even his head. Just his eyes. He stands there looking at the Guard. He doesn’t say anything, just looks. The sales assistant dealing with his lady friend steps in “He’s not taking photos” she says. Than he finally speaks “I’m not taking photos” The Guard who has stepped back a bit by now, “Oh, I’m sorry I thought you were, I do apologize” The older man replies “You had better apologize!”.
Okay, now if the older man had said something straight away it wouldn’t have gone that far, he could have cleared it up sooner, but no, he just ignored the Guard and then smugly suggested that he’d better apologize. After he just did. The Guard just stood still and looked at the older man, who by now had turned his gaze away and back to his phone hovering above the shoes. The Guard was thinking about how the older man ignored him. But not just that, he felt like he was irrelevant. The Guard thought that his older man was born to money. Not that the Guard was a class warrior or anything. But he felt that this older man hadn’t worked for the money he had. And here he is, in his shop buying obscenely expensive shoes for his Wife-Mistress-Girlfriend. A common courtesy would have been to respond to the Guard when he first spoke. But no. The Guard now stands still, staring at the older man, a cheap Bic pen in his right hand. His first thought was to step over the seat, grab the older man and stick the pen into his left eye. But that was just a thought.
The Guard put such thoughts out of his mind and continued his work, but in doing so had to stay at the back of the store, mere feet away from the older man. Which just made him more angry. Not sure how or why, it just did. The Guard was starting to hate this older man.
The Guard stood between the curtains, his left side in the store, his right side past the curtains in the back of the shop. He was keeping an eye on the shop and on the delivery guys. That’s when he saw it. On a shelf just six feet away. A plastic shoe horn, shaped like a tongue, wide at one end thinner at the other. He reach over to it, stepping further past the curtain, he takes it and pushes it up his sleeve. He can’t get the image of himself stabbing the older man with the pen out of this head, it’s stuck, playing over and over like a broken record. The guard looks into the store and watches the older man, he even throws a smile.
Behind him a black tar starts to seep through the wall, crawling to the floor. Actually crawly, like it is alive, a living sentient life form. It moves towards the Guards feet.
The delivery guys are done, and are now leaving the shop. The guard sees this as the only chance he’ll ever get. He slide the plastic shoe horn out from his sleeve, holding the wider end in his right hand and the thinner end with his left he begins to twist it. More, more, until a ‘snap!’. He’s broken the shoe horn into a shard of plastic one end stabbing his own hand as he did so. He winces but that’s it, he doesn’t cry out. That would give the game away. He stands looking at the older man, the smug, irritating wanker, with his Wife-Mistress-Girlfriend standing in yet another pair of overly expensive shoes.
The Guard grips the broken shoe horn tighter, then steps out from the curtain puts his left knee in to the older mans groin and grabs him under the chin with his left hand, and pressing him down with all his weight. All thirteen stone of him. His right arm cocked with the shard of plastic and he rams it home into the older mans neck, again and again and again every time it strikes the older mans neck he cuts it a little thinner, and every time he pulls his right arm out a gush of blood come with it. The older man’s clean white shirt is now covered in crimson and so is the Guards uniform.
The Guard continues until he can’t move his arm anymore. The older mans neck has nearly been cut off, it hangs on with a small chunk of flesh and the spine, like a badly butchered piece of meat, something that has been played with by a dog, like a chew toy.
The black tar returns from behind the curtain, engulfing everything. Consuming everything. The shop. The light to dark. The happiness to sadness. The joy to grief. The living tar eats everything. Except the Guard. The Guard it leaves for last. He stands as if in a void of nothing. Surrounded by nothing. Then, the tar attacks him, creeping up his legs, under this trousers. Up through his shirt and out at the neck from under his collar, around his neck and into his mouth. Stripping the flesh from his legs, torso, chest, neck, and face as it does so, slowly pulling him apart. Piece by fleshy piece until there is nothing left.
Nothing but the darkness.
Nothing but the man behind door 47.