Prey

This one’s pretty short. This idea is also not new, but I’m gonna go ahead and stop pointing that out anymore because really, no ideas are truly original. All that matters to me, though, is that it’s original enough that you won’t see what’s coming next. Enjoy!

Prey

Four thirty, and almost all the other children were gone from school. Tommy Worth was standing out front, and a long way down the fence from him was some other kid, playing with his phone. There was only one car in the parking lot, and he was pretty sure it belonged to the principal. Three teachers had already come this way, two of them offering lifts, and left.

Both boys heard the car coming from a long way off, and turned to squint into the sunset. When it was close enough to tell, the other boy picked his backpack off the pavement and waved to it. A harried looking woman pulled over just long enough for him to get in, after which she immediately began to apologise to him for being so late – Tommy heard her just before the door slammed shut. The bright red pickup sped right by him and he watched it until it turned the corner, a wake of leaves trailing behind it.

He shivered in the wind and waited. Any minute now, he thought.

Just then, another car rounded the corner and came down the same road as the red pickup. It was a wide, blue van with blocked windows. The driver was a middle aged man with a sour face. He was the kind of person who seems to be constantly chewing gum and squinting at everything.

The van slowed as it drew closer. Tommy didn’t pick up his bag, but waited until the van was chugging right next to him and the driver leaned out of the window on his elbow. He gave Tommy a wide smile.

‘Hey mate. You right?’

Tommy shrugged and looked at his feet. ‘Dad’s a bit late,’ he said. ‘Probably will come later, I guess, or I’ll walk.’

The man nodded, seemed to think it over for a bit.

‘Sure you don’t want a ride home? You live close?’

Tommy looked up. ‘That’s okay. I guess I could walk.’

He nodded a bit more, then said. ‘Bit dangerous round now, mate. Getting dark already.’

Tommy looked around uneasily. It was getting dark, but there was no one in sight.

‘It’d be pretty good,’ he said. ‘I’m not really supposed to get in with strangers, though.’

The man smiled even wider and extended his hand through the open window. ‘Well, my names Ken Dallah. What’s your name?’

‘Tommy Worth,’ Tommy said, shaking it.

The man grinned and Tommy saw that not one of his teeth was straight. They all pointed in the different directions, and each one was a different shade of yellow to the others. ‘There you go, then,’ he said. ‘We’re not strangers anymore, are we?’

Tommy laughed and went around to the passenger side. He took off his backpack and rested it on his lap. The smell in the van was a mixture between sweat, grease and oil. As he got in, he was aware of Ken Dallah watching him. Not directly – he was staring straight ahead – but he was watching intently out of the corner of his eye. Tommy buckled himself in.

‘So… Where to, then?’

‘Just up this road, turn left, and then go straight on for a bit.’

Ken pulled out and accelerated down the short stretch of road. For a few minutes the only sounds were that of the car engine and of Ken chewing loudly.

‘Might want to call your dad,’ Ken said. ‘Tell him you’re getting a ride.’

‘Yeah. Forgot my phone at home, though,’ Tommy said.

‘Right.’ For some reason this made the man smile, but he hid it quickly enough. Tommy was staring idly out of the window, one hand playing with the zip on his bag, but he could see Ken eyeing him every now and again. Quickly scanning him up and down, sizing him up. He pretended not to notice, but every time it happened he felt goosebumps running along his skin.

‘So how was school today, then,’ Ken said.

‘Not bad. Got a lot of homework,’ he added, patting his bag.

Ken chuckled. ‘Yeah, homework. Burn it, mate.’

‘I wish,’ Tommy said, smiling. He turned in time to see Ken’s eyes flick back to the road. His knuckles were white. His left hand stayed on the wheel, but his left strayed occasionally to his side, where it rested, near the pocket in the side of the door.

‘Just go down this side road, it’s a shortcut,’ Tommy said, indicating. ‘You have to go really slow, though, ‘cos there’s a lot of speed bumps.’

‘Righto,’ Ken said. They turned into the road, which led downhill on a long, curving path. To their right were houses and to their right was a park or reserve of some kind. Tommy caught a glimpse of someone walking their dog, but aside from that the area seemed quite deserted.

Ken slowed to significantly below the speed limit, so they were practically rolling over the speed bumps. Before the first one, he fumbled with the glove box until it popped open to reveal a miniature treasure trove of candy. There were four open packets of sugar hearts, jellybeans, gummi bears, sour worms, and a box of tic tacs.

‘Must be hungry, eh?’ Ken said.

Tommy almost laughed. Taking candy from strangers. ‘I’ll be alright,’ he said.

‘Sure? They’re really good. The tic tacs are the new flavour, you know?’

‘Oh? Yeah nah, I’m good.’

Ken slowed even more, until they were practically walking pace, and turned to Tommy. His left hand was still on the wheel, but Tommy noticed his right was somewhere behind him.

‘I think you should really have some sweets,’ Ken said, trying desperately to keep his crooked smile on.

Tommy glanced at him and shook his head. His hand was fiddling with the zip of his school bag, pulling it all the way open, then closed again, neither of his hands sure what to do with them.

Ken knew what to do with his hands, though. He steered into a deserted parking lot in the reserve and stopped the engine. He put his left hand on Tommy’s thigh and fixed him with a friendly smile. He was practically drooling. He pressed a button with his right and all the doors locked simultaneously.

Tommy stared at him, for a second, not breathing. Then he said, carefully, in a voice reserved for the dangerously insane, ‘Could you take your hand off me, please?’

Ken raised his eyebrows, as if surprised at the request, but a moment later he was all smiles again.

‘Yeah, sure. Sorry, mate.’ Even as he spoke, he turned away, both hands now reaching for whatever he had in the side pocket of the door.

In that split second, Tommy saw his chance. He reached into his open bag and pulled out a large kitchen knife. It had been made all purpose, so one side was serrated and the other was only sharpened blade. He plunged it up to the hilt in the side of Ken’s neck, just as he was turning around with a knife of his own.

Compared to Tommy’s, his was a butterknife, and Tommy ignored the weak cuts he managed to make in his forearm. He ripped the kitchen knife from Ken’s neck and shouted with glee as warm blood sprayed onto his face from the open wound. Ken’s head hit the window, and Tommy brought the knife down a second time, this one straight into his ear. It was easier to push it in deep this time – brain matter offered less resistance.

Ken dropped his blade and died almost instantly. His body slumped in the seat and erupted in a wave of tremors and jerks.

Tommy wrenched his knife from the man’s ear and stared at the blade of it for a second, savouring the moment as blood flooded the van. A minute later he could barely contain his laughter. The rush was simply incredible.

He unlocked the door of the van and practically fell out, letting his knife fall to the ground.  He took his phone from the front pocket of his bag and called the police. ‘Triple zero, what is your emergency?’ said the calm voice on the other side. He put on the best scared boy voice he could and said, ‘I… I think I’ve killed someone. There’s blood everywhere and… He attacked me with a knife. I’m really worried, I…’ he choked off the last sentence, as though he was too distraught to continue.

‘Police are on their way,’ the woman said.

He didn’t change anything about the van. It was perfect the way it was. Self defence, a known child molester, a scared child: open and shut case.

Tommy walked a few feet away, restless from adrenaline. His heart was going so fast it reverberated through his entire body. He looked at the sky and shouted at the top of his lungs, feeling like a bungee jumper at the end of the drop.

He broke out into another laughing fit, this one fuelled more by relief than anything else.

There was one thing for sure, he thought, as he tried to compose himself for the police that would arrive soon: he would just have to do this again sometime.

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