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K. A. Williams
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Storm

 

By K. A. Williams

 

 

     Jack braced himself against an icy breeze as a myriad of stars shimmered above the cold dark alleyway. A crashing roar of thunder made him jump and he looked up to see a fast moving cloud of darkness swiftly covering the stars. Disoriented by the harsh weather, Jack stumbled aimlessly down a sea of endless identical streets, his hope of getting home before the rain dashed by a sudden downpour and a raging wind which tore through his wet clothing, causing a sudden chill.

     With shaking fingers Jack searched his coat pockets for his precious bottle, but when he uncapped it and held it to his lips, only a drop of the coveted liquid slid down his throat. He shivered and let the empty bottle fall from his numb fingers. The glass shattered silently amid a roar of thunder.  Jack headed for home in what he thought was the right direction, when the sky grew quiet and he heard crunching glass. He turned, saw only shadows in the darkness, convinced himself it was nothing, and stumbled onward, streetlights flickering around him. After wandering around for what seemed like hours, Jack at last recognized the name of a street and hurried along with thoughts only of a warm bed.

     When Jack paused to get his bearings, he heard footsteps behind him, stopping when he stopped. He turned but saw nothing. "Are you following me?" he asked, taking a few steps backward. When the other footsteps echoed his, he ran, stumbling over the garbage in the streets, and when Jack couldn't take another step he stopped, panting and listening as the footsteps began to advance slowly. And now Jack could see the source, a faint outline in the shadows. He

 forced himself to run again, veering unsteadily through the darkness, away from the shadows. Soon he could see his apartment building, identical to all the other dingy decaying derelicts which occupied this side of town.

     Breathless, one block from his destination and underneath a streetlight, Jack dared to turn around. His pursuer appeared to have vanished, or been only imaginary Jack hoped. The elevator in his apartment was always 'Out-Of-Order' so exhausted though he was, Jack had to climb the stairs. When he reached the third floor he was beyond winded. After he wiped the sweat from his face with the filthiest handkerchief in existence, he fumbled in his pants pockets for the door key, which he dropped twice before being able to open his door with it.

     Jack looked fearfully down the hallway by the light of one dim bulb before he entered and slammed the door, locking it immediately. Now he felt safe and secure, the memory of his pursuer fading. He knew he had another bottle of liquor somewhere but he was too tired to search for it. Jack stripped off his drenched clothes before he gratefully sank into bed. He covered himself with his thin frayed blanket and drifted towards sleep, dimly aware of noises which he assumed were just thunder.

     With his face turned away from the window and his eyes closed, he couldn't see the lightning flash that illuminated the figure now standing by his bed.

 

 

 

Uncle Andrew


 


by K. A. Williams


 


      Uncle Andrew was wheeled out on a gurney while forensics were checking for clues. I had already talked with the police officers that had answered the call, and now I was being questioned by the detective in charge of the investigation.


Detective Simmons was reading the notes handed to him by the cops that were leaving on another call. "Now you said you never saw anyone leave the house after you arrived and found your uncle's body."


"Right."


"Tell me everything from the time you got here. Maybe you forgot something important."


I didn't think I had forgotten anything, but I repeated what I'd already told the other police officers. "The downstairs door was locked. I entered with my key and called my uncle's name several times, but he didn't answer, so I came upstairs to his study. Uncle Andrew was slumped over his desk. I checked for a pulse but didn't find one, and immediately called 911. At first I thought he'd had a heart attack, but then I noticed the blood on the back of his head."


Detective Simmons was obviously comparing what I was saying to the notes.


"I don't know anyone who would want to kill him. I think his murderer was a burglar who had gotten inside by climbing over the gate in the backyard and entering through the patio doors which were open when I came up," I said, volunteering my deductions, even though the detective had not asked for my opinion on the case.


The detective consulted the notes yet again. He walked over to the open patio doors which lead to the wooden deck and looked out across the well-tended lawn where uniformed cops were checking the area.


Then his gaze swept the entire room and settled on my uncle's mahogany desk. I could see a small black corner peeking out from beneath a large heap of papers.


"I must have surprised the burglar when I entered the house and called my uncle's name. That would explain why nothing is missing," I said, trying to distract him.


He ignored me, moved aside the papers, and picked up the object. It was a digital voice recorder. He studied it a moment before pressing a few buttons.


Uncle Andrew's voice came out of the speaker. "I wanted to speak with you about your gambling problem."


My voice answered, "I don't know what you're talking about."


My uncle said, "I took you in when your parents died and taught you my business so you could take over when I retire because I have no other heir. But you've disappointed me. I know you're in debt, and lately you've been stealing from the company."


"That's a lie," I said. "Do you have any proof that I've been embezzling?"


"No, but a lot of money is missing, and you're the only other one with access to the accounts. You're fired! Tomorrow I'm making a new will and removing your name from the business. You'll still get the house and my personal assets when I die but not the business assets. They will be sold and donated to charities."


I said, "You can't do that, I won't let you."


Then there was a loud thump.


Detective Simmons looked at me and shook his head. He read me my rights before he handcuffed me.


I had wiped my fingerprints from the bowling trophy I'd bashed his head in with but forgotten about my uncle's habit of dictating his correspondence into a recorder.


 K. A. Williams has been published in various magazines, including Black Petals, Bewildering StoriesCalliope, The Rockford Review, and Nuthouse, with upcoming fiction scheduled for Corner Bar Magazine and Transfigured Lit.

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