During 2019, as a kind of literary experiment, I plan to publish a new piece of flash fiction during the first week of every month. These pieces are called The White Rabbit Stories.
Sorry about the delay, but here's July's White Rabbit Story:
He was waiting for me in the Arrivals enclosure, all bulging muscles and wearing a suit that was at least one size too small. His hair was cut short and his eyes were bright. He put me in mind of an over-eager puppy. I hate people who are too keen to please.
“Mr Jones?” His voice grated on me; it was too high-pitched for his frame.
“That’ll be me, I guess.” He smiled because he didn’t know what else to do, what else to say.
“I assume you’re my driver?”
He nodded. “I’m Tony. I’m to take you for your lunch and then wherever you’d like to go next.”
Handing him my suitcase, I walked past him towards the exit. Already, I was bored of him.
As we drove, he pointed out landmarks and I tried my best to ignore his dull commentary. I fiddled with my phone, re-reading old emails and sending a few texts to people who I’d promised to let know when I landed.
The air-conditioning in the car was good. It cooled me down, dried the sweat off my brow and my back. Relaxing into the seat, I started to doze.
“We’re here.” Tony was looking at me from the front seat, all teeth and perkiness. I wanted to shoot him in the face. “Everything has been arranged.”
The backstreet luncheon club he’d brought me to was renowned for catering to a certain type of clientele. They came here from all over the world to satiate their hideous appetites for underage boys and girls. I got out of the car and approached the heavy steel door at the front of a bland brick building. When I knocked, a small hatch slid open and a woman’s face appeared.
“My name is Jones. I have a lunch appointment.”
The face smiled – or tried to. The hatch slid back shut and the door opened. I walked inside.
Tony waited in the car with the engine running. It seemed he knew the score.
The woman’s strange smile caved in when I hit her with the hammer. She smelled of greasy burgers. Her pain tasted of cooked meat. To me, it was not an unfamiliar flavour.
I went through the club like a starving beast. Because it was daytime, there weren’t many customers inside. None of them put up much of a fight. I slit and shot and beat their flesh, smashed their bones, and piled the corpses high, inhaling through my mouth the beautiful energy I had released. It tasted good; my belly was filled. But when it was done, I was still hungry for more.
My own appetites are far stranger than those of the people who came here. Killing was my food and drink; slaughter my sustenance. By dining at places like this one, I could justify the carnage and make a bit of cash on the side.
I let most of the kids from the upstairs rooms out the back way and told them to never stop running until they got somewhere safe. Some of them are probably still running even now. Safety is an allusion, a lie we tell ourselves and each other. I know this: I am an apex predator. Nobody is safe from me.
The little girl I’d come for was in the last room I checked. She was sitting on an unmade bed wearing a white lace party dress. Her face was inexpertly smeared with make-up. I washed her face in the sink and led her downstairs. She didn’t say a word; they rarely did. If she ever spoke again, it would never be of this place and the things she’d been made to do here.
Back in the car, Tony drove slowly away from the kerb.
“Did you find what you were looking for, Mr Jones?” He stared at me in the rear-view mirror, no longer smiling.
“It’ll do for now,” I said. “Until you find me a place that serves bigger portions.”
Tony nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. This city caters for all tastes and her father is a very powerful man.”
There was a black courier case on the floor near my feet. I knew it contained my previously-agreed fee. I glanced at the girl. She was staring out of the window, her body stiff and hunched.
Outside, the sun continued to shine. The people on the streets continued their endless, oblivious dance towards the end of the world. I watched them all, still hungry.
The girl remained silent at my side. After a few moments, she reached out without looking at me and grabbed my hand. For a moment – just the smallest fraction of time – I felt almost human again.
© Gary McMahon 2019