IT's WEDNESDAY NIGHT!
horror // absurd // 10-minute read
Although Logan was only sixteen years old, he considered himself a man.
A real man. When he looked in the mirror, he saw pride, he saw power, he saw a bad-ass mother who didn’t take no crap off of nobody! He also had a collection of knives, a samurai sword, and a poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing with a cigar in his mouth on his bedroom wall… for inspiration.
It was on his way home from Wednesday evening kickboxing class when he heard the noise, the electric ringing on the air. The sun was all but down and a gentle breeze passed over his sweat-laden head. His muscles buzzed where he’d worked them good and proper. His kit bag, hanging over his shoulder, felt heavier than it had any right to.
Rest, he thought. A nice hot bath with that muscle relaxant bath bomb that smells of vanilla and camphor oil would do the trick. Maybe get mum to make a nice cup of tea. Yeah… that sounds nice.
He walked past a sign that read Sunnyvale Estates and felt a chill run through him. He’d not taken this route before. Normally he’d walk around the estates to get a nice cool-down and maybe nip into the corner shop to pick up a protein bar or two.
But not tonight.
Tonight he wanted to go home and rest. He damn well deserved it. So instead he took the shortcut, decided to cut right through the Estates.
The Sunnyvale Estates were one of those old people estates. A glorified, expansive old folk’s home. Lots of bungalows and well-kept gardens, hard-boiled sweets and loud TV’s playing re-runs of Golden Girls and Somerset Murders and whatever else the oldies adored.
As he passed the sign a lamppost clicked into life, giving a little light to the street which grew darker by the second. The sun now readying to disappear completely. The windchill gathering momentum. That electric noise still there, riding the wind.
What the hell is that? Logan wondered as he looked behind himself, scanning the area for threats — gangs, drug-dealers, and the like. Not that the Sunnyvale Estates would have any of that sort of thing. It was a nice place. People came here to retire… People came here to die…
Still, though, he imagined a big ratty teenager with a Nike hoody stood behind him, screaming about how they were going to mug Logan. He played the whole thing out in his mind like he was watching it from an out-of-body experience. With expert precision, he blocked the oncoming punch, chopped into the nook of the elbow joint, wrapped his leg around the back of the guy’s ankle, before whipping him over and throwing him to the floor. Easy. From there he’d ground and pound until the guy tapped.
Easy peasy make-him-bleedy.
Logan celebrated the imaginary victory with a chuckle before turning back around and crossing the street. Thoughts of a hot bath with bubbles returned and he barely noticed the figure to his right, a silhouette caught halfway between lampposts lights. The electric noise now silent.
The papery laugh had all but left Logan’s mouth when he saw it. Immediately, he jumped a step back and lifted his hands to their defensive position. The hair on his neck prickled and his heartbeat quickened as he scanned the silhouette up and down.
Keeping his guard up, he laughed. This was no threat. It was some sort-of half man. Was it even a man? It looked as tall as a child but thicker around the base.
“You should be careful,” he said, taking a deep breath. “Sneaking up on people like that. You’re lucky I’m in complete control of myself or I probably would have ended you."
A beat later and the electric noise returned as the figure shunted forth, confirming the source. Now almost in the light, the face was revealed. Still mostly in shadow and topped off with a tweed flat-cap but there it was, emotionless. It wasn’t a child or a half-man but a regular-sized old man on a mobility scooter.
“What’s up with you? You lost your mind or something?”
Still, the man remained silent. His feline eyes, shrunken into the two pits in his face, reflected the lamppost light back to him.
A moment passed and the odd fear returned. Why wasn’t the old man saying anything? Why was he staring at Logan with such intensity? What else was hiding there in those shadows?
Logan stepped back.
Remember, he told himself. You’re a bad-ass mother who don’t take crap from no-
“Getting late toh-night, youth,” the man said, his voice thick and raspy and ready to cough. “It’s Wednesday night.”
“Sir, it’s okay. I’m-
“Is it? Is it okay?”
The man smiled. Logan could just make out the missing front teeth in the gloom.
“I’m just on my way home,” Logan said. “So if that’s okay by you-“
“It’s Wednesday night,” the man interrupted once more. “In the Sunnyvale Estates.”
Logan forced a smile but he felt himself growing warm. He imagined himself throwing the bag to the floor, running and slapping the flat-cap right off the man’s head. He saw himself standing over the old man, lifting his foot, dropping a solid scissor kick.
But he calmed himself. It was just some dithering old idiot. Probably lost half his marbles. Pathetic really. Logan laughed aloud before nodding and saying, “Okay, sir, okay. I’m going.”
With this he turned, walked away, satisfied in his imaginary victory.
Old people, he thought. I’d rather be dead than get old.
The electric buzzing started up again. Logan looked over his shoulder to see that the old man was following him, maintaining that same distance with a quick burst on his scooter every few seconds.
Logan tolerated it for all of a minute before he turned, dropped his bag, and shouted, “What the fuck, old man!? You follow young boys home a lot, yeah? Keep trying and I will fuck… you… up!”
The old man’s face didn’t move. There were no smiles now. The lack of reaction took Logan by surprise. He felt the confidence fall out from beneath him but he remembered how he was a bad-ass mother who didn’t take crap from nobody.
“From nobody!” he roared suddenly, before picking up his bag once more and turning away.
He walked along, keeping his eyes over his shoulder, long enough to see the old man lift something to the air. A gun? No. It didn’t look like a gun. It was too small. Whatever it was, Logan didn’t like it. He was speed-walking now, his blood beating loudly in his ears and bile rising in his throat.
And there it started once more, the electric buzz of the scooter.
Suddenly Logan ran. All thoughts of pride and fight gone, taken over by the need to survive, of getting home to a warm bubbly bath.
He made it to the end of the cul-de-sac before quickly turning right and running through the dark of the alleyway. He slipped a little. The smell confirming he’d stood in dog-shit.
He continued on, running until he emerged at the end of the cul-de-sac. The sun had set now, throwing the houses into darkness. The lampposts, unserviced for years, offered a muggy orange glow but did little to illuminate the streets. Logan jumped into the first garden and hid behind a shrubbery. He caught his breath and listened but the electric buzz had fallen silent once again.
“What’s happening?” he muttered to himself. He peeked over the garden and looked for any signs but there was nothing. He smiled, shook his head, and would’ve laughed at himself if he wasn’t suddenly washed in light. He looked over his shoulder to see an old couple staring at him from the living room window. The same non-expressions on their faces.
Feeling somewhat embarrassed, he stood up, mouthed the word ‘sorry’, before climbing over the shrubbery and back onto the pavement. He felt silly. He’d gotten spooked was all… and here he was rolling in people’s gardens like some coward.
And then the couple in the window smiled and waved. He waved back, unsure why, but now fully convinced he was getting the hell out of Sunnyvale Estates.
And then there was pain. Excruciating and sudden and focused in his ankle. As if he’d trapped his foot in a vice. All stability fell out as he collapsed over himself and into the rose bushes. Thorns and bracken scratched at his face and arms as he tumbled over it.
“Fuck!” was all he could say. “Ah… fuck… fuck… fuck…”
Still unsure what was happening, he crawled into the centre of the garden, warm blood pulsing out of his ankle, soaking into his sock. He couldn’t quite see the wound in the gloom but he felt the gash and vomited. It was deep, just above the shoe line, felt like tendons had snapped up and coiled into solid balls behind his calf muscle.
The bush shook with movement and Logan squealed. It was the old man from before. Now off his scooter, flat-cap still fixed to his head, crawling over the bush. In his hand was a box-cutter.
“This is the Sunnyvale Estates, youth,” the old man said. “And it’s Wednesday night!”
Logan looked over his shoulder to the living room window. The old couple was still there, smiling.
“I don’t understand!” he cried out as he climbed onto his one good leg, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Help me!”
The old couple in the window’s smiles didn’t falter. They simply continued. The old woman even blew him a kiss.
The flat-capped man spoke: “Cum’ere youth!”
He was now catching up with Logan. Only an arm’s length away. Logan hopped past him, narrowly avoiding the swiping of the box-cutter, and made it back to the road.
The ends of his foot fizzed to numbness. He knew he was bleeding out. He felt light, like he needed to stop and rest, fall asleep for a bit. The pumping of adrenaline only making it worse.
He whimpered as he hopped away to the next house. The light clicked on and another old woman appeared, smiling and waving just as the previous house. Now more lights came on, all along the street as if by a chain-reaction — kitchen lights, living room windows, master bedrooms — each with their own smiling, waving old resident within, wrinkles and missing teeth.
Crying now, reduced to a blubbering child, Logan hopped along the road, doing his best to make it to the entryway which would take him out of the estates and into the farmer’s fields adjacent, but the blood was going and even his good leg couldn’t hold him.
By the end of the street, he was down on his front, feeling the cold of the road on his face, desperately pulling himself along, digging gouges out of his palms on the tarmac.
His eyes grew heavy.
His mouth filled with dirt.
The scooter buzzed once more.
He rolled over onto his back to see at the far end of the cul-de-sac. The flat-capped man was back on his scooter, riding towards him, box-cutter raised.
Now all the residents were leaving their houses, walking to the street, clapping in unison.
“Why!?” Logan screamed. “Why!?”
“This is the Sunnyvale Estates,” The flat-capped one bellowed. “And it’s Wednesday night!””
Thoughts of his mum and dad flashed before him.
“Pride… power… and I don’t take crap off of no—ahh!”
The knife ran from cheek to the top of his right eye. He cupped it and dropped to his back. Fluids ran through his fingers and he fought to hold it all in.
He heard the flat-capped man up ahead, driving in celebratory circles, raising his box-cutter to the air like a cowboy firing off his six-shooter on horseback.
But he wasn’t concerned about that anymore. He was more concerned with all the old people from the houses, now stood around him, smiling and clapping, leering down.
“Why?” he said once more.
One of the old women leaned down and Logan saw she was holding a weapon too. One of those brass letter openers.
“This is the Sunnyvale Estates, dear,” she said as she prodded and poked and cut. “And it’s Wednesday night!”
They cheered, they did. They stabbed, beat, slashed, and cheered.
Because it was the Sunnyvale Estates.
Because it was Wednesday night.
ENJOY THIS SHORT STORY?
...just sign up to the newsletter for a weekly dose of Luke.