In the third part of my series, ‘Inspired’, I have been given another amazing image by the talented photographer David Kennedy. As before, I have written a short story inspired by that image alone. If you like David’s photography, and would like to see more, you can check him out on Instagram via @grey.lord. If you like what you read, check out the other stories in the series via the blog calendar on my home page. Don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up to date. And finally, if you are an artist or photographer, or even a poet or writer too, and would like to collaborate with me, please get in touch! Happy reading…
Mark wondered why Sam had chosen to hide the money here. Yes, it was remote and deserted and the likelihood of someone stumbling across their loot was slim to none, but every precarious step felt like a gamble with death. The place was condemned and every shift in his weight, sent pieces of concrete and red brick rumbling down holes and crevices. It was literally crumbling around him. And, if he was honest with himself, the place gave him the creeps. He would never admit to believing in ghosts or the paranormal, but if horror movies and camp fire stories had taught him anything, it was that you shouldn’t mess with that shit.
He carefully made his way across a beam, using it as a bridge between one room and the next, the floor having given up years prior. The more he told himself not to look down, the greater the urge, and he found himself speeding up, the last step being more of a hurried leap. As he wiped the sweat from his brow, he reminded himself to chastise Sam when he got there.
Sam was bright, there was no denying. He was the one who had come up with the plan to rob ‘The Deer’s Head’ on the day of the Grand National. He had worked there before, and knew the owner ran illegal betting for all the major sporting events. On days like that, there was a lot of cash on the premises, and the old man and his son wouldn’t be in a position to say no, staring down the barrel of a sawn off. It had been easy really. They wore rubber masks they bought online, stole a car for the get away and used his dad’s old hunting guns, with a few amendments of course. It had went like clockwork. The driver, Tommy Boy, stayed outside, with the engine running, while Sam and him went in, guns and voices raised. The old man nearly had a heart attack. They took everything, the cash, the Turkish cigarettes he was selling under the counter, the good booze. He even emptied the pounds out of the poker machines, the locks gave out easily to his crow bar and brute strength. In and out in five minutes, and they were nearly thirty grand richer for it. Owner only went to the bank once a week. Idiot.
Sam had suggested hiding the loot here, until the heat died down. Now, they were meeting up to divvy up the goodies, and he had his eye on a nice Yamaha bike. He had torn the page out of the local auto trader and taped it to his fridge.
What the? Something had moved in his peripheral vision, a dark shadow that vanished as quickly as it appeared. He felt himself shudder as the hairs raised on the back of his neck. The sooner he got his money, the sooner he could get the hell out of there. He was suddenly very aware of how huge and how isolated the building was, and he wished he had met the boys outside and come in together.
An old metal sign had rusted, leaving just the word ‘Warning’ visible. Mark didn’t know what the warning had originally been about, but he found it rather ominous now.
It had been a steel works back in the day, but cheaper steel from over seas had slowly crippled the place, along with all the other factories in the area, and it was eventually abandoned and forgotten, like the men who had grafted there. Men like his Father. He was determined not to end up like him. He had worked his ass off his entire life, and for what? He died with nothing but the clothes on his back in a grubby little counsel house. No, not him. He learned early on, if you want something you take it.
He stopped dead in the centre of the room. Had he heard something? He listened hard, holding his breathe in case he missed it. There it was again, a ringing sound, like a bell. It was to his left. He felt torn. The loot and his accomplices were ahead, but if someone else was there, he needed to know. There couldn’t be any witnesses after all. Slowly, he tiptoed across the room, avoiding the discarded pieces of machinery and tools. Through the door way, there was a long, dark corridor. He could hear the ringing, louder now, right at the end of it. Water was running through a crack in the ceiling. It must be raining outside.
He made his was through the gloom, feeling out each step before he put his full weight down. He didn’t know how bad this part of the factory was, and one wrong step could send him to A&E. He could use the torch on his phone of course, but he was wary of warning whoever was down there. By the time he reached the end, his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and he could just make out the shapes of stacked chairs and a desk. There, sitting on the desk, was an alarm clock, new and shiny and brightly coloured; a stark contrast to it’s surroundings.
“What the?” He reached out and pushed the snooze button on the top. The ringing stopped just in time for him to hear a shuffling behind him. But, it was too late. The first blow was enough to cause his vision to blur, and he fell forward onto the desk, the sheer shock of what had happened temporarily immobilising him. Before he could gather himself and retaliate, a second blow came down, and then a third. He was on the floor now, and his left eye was filling up with blood. He just focused his clear eye long enough to see Sam standing over him with a poker raised above his head, before the final blow closed it forever.
Sweat poured down Sam’s brow. He hadn’t realised how much energy it took to kill someone, especially someone as large as Mark. He was a big guy, about six foot two, with broad shoulders and bulging arms. All braun and no brains. Sam chuckled to himself. Tommy had been easier to dispatch. Idiot stood on the edge of one of the holes in the factory floor and commented on how far down it went. One little push, that was all it had taken, and Tommy boy went bye bye.
It had all been too easy. Blood dripped from the end of the poker onto the concrete floor below, joining with the pool which now formed around Mark’s head. Sam stared at what was left of his skull, and laughed. He was surprised Mark had any brains to spill. After he had wiped the poker down, he threw it out of one of the broken windows.
He made his way towards the little storage room where they had stashed the bag. He passed by the hole where Tommy had met his end, and couldn’t help peering over the edge. He still lay where he fell. He reminded Sam of a broken marionette puppet, all protruding limbs and sharp angles.
The bag was exactly where they had left it, in the bottom drawer of one of the old filing cabinets. The drawer had ‘X-Z’ written on it.
“X marks the spot.”
He laughed to himself again, a little disappointed he didn’t have an audience for his joke. He unzipped the bag and stared at the notes within. Thirty thousand quid and some change. It was enough to get him out of that dead end town. He had no idea where he was going, he just knew it would be far from here.
It was beginning to get dark, as he made his way back through the old factory floor. His footsteps echoed around him, and sent little clouds of dust up as he went. He was nearing the entrance way when something made him stop. There was a creaking noise coming from above him. It sounded almost like footsteps. It couldn’t be. There was no way either one of those idiots had survived. And yet, the creaking continued. He strained his ears, listening to see if the noise was moving along, as a person would. He stepped back into the room, and looked up through one of the gaps in the ceiling, trying to see through the darkness at the floors above. He felt dust land on his face, so something was moving up there. When the noise got louder, he realised what was happening seconds too late. A large chunk of masonry had become dislodged, perhaps because of time and degradation, or perhaps because of the sudden flurry of activity within the factory walls. As it hurtled towards the top of Sam’s head, he just about had time to think a single thought, his last thought…Karma’s a bitch.