He limped home. The sky was orange with the occasional glow of the street lights as he trudged along the pavement through the path of trees. He mumbled something every other step and jerked his left shoulder as it twitched out of his control. His mother was told that he would live a normal life, but would never be normal like other kids.
He was her special boy and she loved him more than anything in the world. Now all he wanted to do was get home to Mummy. The blood stained the hems of his trousers. She would be upset, he was sure. But nothing a little Omo couldn’t fix, she would always say when he came home from playing soccer. But she’s not gonna like this, he thought as he limped home.
He had trouble expressing himself, even though the doctors said he would never speak with the damage done to his brain from the fall. Now he was thinking how he was going to explain this to his mother. He got home and rushed to his bed. He could still see them; the faces the blood all of the blood and there was screaming the woman wouldn’t stop screaming and then music kept playing the music didn’t care it kept on playing.
The monster ate them all.
“What’s wrong my boy?” she asked as she stepped into the room. His back was turned towards her as she entered and all she could see was a dark outline on the bed. He tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but it got stuck and his head bobbed forward as he gulped it down. It was the same way she came into his room, also at night, when the boys would tease him for being in the special class. Or the way they would laugh at him when he would try playing soccer with them and couldn’t keep up with the others. He would have to play with the younger boys and watch as the others had their fun.
“If you forgot the milk, it’s fine. I’ll just get it early tomorrow” she said as she rubbed his back. There was a knock at the door.
“Ai I wonder who that is this time of the night” she said as she stirred to get up.
“Mummy don’t” he said and grabbed her hand. He turned and grabbed her hand, hard and fast enough to frighten her. She saw his face for the first time since she came into his room. It was pale, his eyes moving around, dart-like movements, searching.
“I didn’t do it” he said.
The interrogation room was grimy and filthy. Not at all like on those American TV shows that Mummy watched. He sat there nervously and waited for the inspector to speak to him. Mummy wasn’t allowed to be with him because, according to the law, he was an adult of sound mind. So he sat there alone waiting. Inspector Kleinhans sat with his head in his hands. He had being doing this for twenty six years and never thought he would see the day when he would say “I never thought I’d see the day”.
He let out a laugh, like a stifled cough, then just grabbed at his hair and scratched his scalp vigorously. One deep breath later, he planted his hands on his desk and shot up in one steady motion ready to take on the boy. He knew exactly how he would approach this man with the feeble mind as he stormed into the passage and walked the four doors down and past the officer standing guard.
He burst into the room which gave Conroy a fright. He looked up, the face still pale, scared and nervous. Inspector Kleinhans slammed the door behind him with no disregard neither for the officer standing guard nor for government property. He slammed his fist down on the table and said “Who did it?”. Conroy looked up at him, mouth agape and his eyes swimming in his skull like tiny fish. Not waiting for an answer he went on and said “I want to know everything, I don’t have time for bullshit you tell me right now who you saw tonight”.
Conroy, mouth still open, couldn’t get a word out as he stared at Inspector Kleinhans, ready to burst into tears. At this point Inspector Kleinhans also looked ready to burst into tears, due to his red sweaty face. He was about to burst into another tirade when he was interrupted. “Eksuus, Inspecktor Kleinhans” said his deputy who knocked and walked in in one motion.
“Ek, uhm, I have to speak to you for a minute” he said.
“Can it wait?” said Kleinhans, not turning his head to his colleague, eyes fixed firmly on Conroy.
“No Sir” he said, “Please Sir. Now”.
He was waiting in line at the garage shop with a bag of milk. He was looking at all the chocolates, but Mummy said that she would rather only give him just enough money for the milk. It wasn’t a very busy night, but the cars came in short bursts and with the money to collect and the shop to tend to, the ladies at the counter always had their hands full.
That’s when a tall man burst in and cut the line before Conroy could reach the counter. The bag kept slipping out of his grip and he had to change hands. The bags were cheaper and Mummy said that they don’t need such fancy things like bottles of milk.
“Sorry you can’t burst in” said Conroy. The man just smiled and said “the line starts over here, my friend” without looking over his shoulder. Conroy breathed in. The man was a bad man. The man was a mean man. He was like the others who laughed at him and looked down at him. Conroy breathe out. There was a wind outside, and something was coming. He could feel it. Before he could open his mouth to protest again, it flew down and landed right outside the window.
It stood right next to the petrol pump attendant. It looked right in Conroy’s face. He looked back. It was some sort of animal, like a human, but with wings. Its skin was tight and grey, and its nails were long, sharp and dirty. Just the way that Mummy told Conroy to never have them. It was watching him and as Conroy stepped forward to look at it, it also moved forward. The creature, the same height as him, was watching him like the dogs in the neighbourhood. But Mummy always said he must never run look them in the eye.
“What the hell?” said Kleinhans as he stared at the grainy black and white images on the screen before him. “It starts here Sir” said his deputy Coetze.
The images switch between the parking lot of the petrol station with three cars with young men drinking beer, the typical Sunday night routine and about three other cars at the pumps with attendants seeing to them. Like a photo album, turning the pages with the moving images. The yellow and red sign glowed above the boys with the prices of petrol and diesel, now monochromatic. The other image is of the convenience shop inside. The two ladies at the counter switch between collecting the money for the cars and helping the customers in the store.
At the counter is Conroy with a bag of milk. He is waiting for the ladies who are overwhelmed with the number of attendants waving the money at them, ready to help the next car. The screen changes back to the boys at their cars, eyeing each other’s machines from a safe distance and revving their engines. Conroy is still at the counter, this time eyeing the chocolates and sweets laid out to entice the young kids and their weary parents. Suddenly a man bursts in and steps in front of Conroy and points at the cigarettes behind the ladies at the counter. They both turn towards the tall black man in the Polo shirt and the keys dangling in his fingers. Mercedes, Kleinhans notes, in his head. Conroy unwillingly steps aside and is all but invisible to the ladies behind the counter who both look at the cigarettes.
The one lady goes on helping the attendants at the window, the other assists the distinguished man with the cigarettes. She is smiling and keeps looking down like a shy schoolgirl. She doesn’t even notice the bag of milk that is left on the counter as the young man now looks on as this man was being helped. The black and white image is now back on the cars outside. They drive in, get what they want and leave. The attendants help them with requests for petrol, water, air or oil and get the money. The next image is the tall man, the Polo shirt that is probably lime green and pink, now stained blacked, blood bubbling from his neck and cascades down his front as he lay on the counter. The women are screaming as Conroy leaps forward. He starts by pulling the jaw off one. That was one less scream. The other was not seen as the camera switches to the boys in the parking lot now looking over at the shop. They raced over to where the commotion is. Conroy punches his hand through the glass where the money is collected and pulls the arm off the woman who is watching in shock as he killed the shop assistant.
The boys race into the shop, but the camera switches to the other petrol pump attendants who are now also running over. The boys are now lying in a heap as Conroy walks out of the shop, stepping on and over the bodies lying there, staining the hems of his pants and shoes in blood. The camera changes to the cars outside as he walks right past them.
Inspector Kleinhans was still leaning on the counter as the young man in the surveillance video walked away.
“…how? I don’t… That was him” he mumbled.
“Sir, he’s still in the other room. What should we do about him?” said Coetze.
But as Coetze and Kleinhans, the detectives, the experts now numb angry and confused stepped out of the video room, what they saw shocked them again. More blood. Two bodies slumped over at the end of the corridor, led by streaks of blood as they were dragged there, the door still ajar.
Without a word, they ran over, Coetze reaching for his firearm in the holster on his hip. But there was no one. The killer was gone.
And as the search began for Conroy, he walked home, upright, his face blank as the moon shone full, a shadow crossing his path every so often. He looked up and saw the monster. He smiled. He smiled at the creature that killed all those people tonight and made them stop and look at him, even if just for a second. Only he could see the creature flying in the moonlight. But he smiled at the monster.
<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>