Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
Fidget by Steven Holding. By Steven Holding
“Whatcha playin’ at fork skies?”
Keith spits out the question with a venom only the undisputed king of the playground is permitted to use. The gawky youth in glasses that he towers over is a new kid, and all new kids must be put in their place.
Especially the weird ones.
The boy, all snot, spots and ill-fitting cagoule, stands cornered, corduroy trousers flapping around stick-thin ankles as he sways on the spot like a haunted rocking chair.
“Teacher says he’s artistic,” shouts out one lanky beanpole from the flock of gangly vultures that are slowly inching closer.
The youngsters head remains resolutely bowed as if lost in prayer, while his constant monotone whispering serves only to antagonise an already hostile crowd. Unperturbed, the youth focuses his energy upon an elaborate set of movements being performed by each one of his grimy hands.
“A painter? Proper Div-inci, eh?”
Keith’s pun generates a series of throaty cackles from his eager audience, even though almost all fail miserably in understanding the gag. The boy seems oblivious, his subtle finger ballet absorbing all his attention. Even Keith finds himself momentarily distracted by such feats of digital dexterity. Fingers speedily stroke palms, tracing out highly intricate patterns with the lightest of touch; the wrists twist as the hands suddenly separate then reform, twitching thumbs interlocking in the tight embrace of a half-formed fist.
Keith stares, hypnotised. It is not just the display of agility that impresses; the movements themselves entrance. As he watches, a feeling of anger washes over him. There is a significance to this ritual, a meaning behind the gesture, he is sure of it. But, as always, his inability to comprehend simply awakens his desire to destroy.
“What’s that about?” yells Keith.
The child lifts his face, the frantic gymnastics occurring at the end of his outstretched limbs continuing unabated. He acknowledges his inquisitor with three crystal clear words.
“Stops the monster.”
An uncertain hush falls over the lynch mob as Keith looks around. He knows that the time has come to re-assert his dominance over proceedings.
Whether the boys blank stare is indeed some form of challenge is irrelevant to Keith. His actions have been predetermined from the outset.
The kid moves his head from left to right; the mechanical shake of a ventriloquist’s dummy. For one frozen moment, a single, collective breath is held.
The refusal grants Keith permission to do what he has longed to do from the beginning. The attack is barbaric; a flurry of pounding fists creating sickening, hollow slaps as flesh connects with flesh. The boy drops to the floor. Keith is on him in an instant, wrapping himself around the child’s quivering body in a predator’s embrace.
The sudden roar that fractures the atmosphere is deafening, fierce enough to even silence the screams of the horde.
Keith whimpers softly as the body in his arms begins to shift, taut muscles pulsating as its true form is finally revealed.
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