Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 15 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

The isles were bare, save for a scant few bleary-eyed adolescents. They shuffled around, gathering all the necessary supplies required to deal with the after effects of partying too hard the night before. Some still appeared to be wearing the same attire. Though with the youth of today, it was becoming so hard to tell the difference. James was not feeling much better. Spending the last thirty minutes or so pushing a trolley around, could quite possibly be the grand highlight of his day, he thought. Work was mundane and grating, his relationship with Dolores had seen better days and the withdrawal and fatigue of his recent battle with a dead spirit attempting to break out of his mind did not help matters. He was almost waiting for rock bottom to hit even before contemplating a plan of counter-action. All in good time, he thought, stretching his lips to produce a weak smile.

Before leaving home, Dolores had just stepped out of the shower. By his watch, he would arrive home about the time she was leaving to attend to her unexpected Saturday’s chores at her workplace. He may even catch her walking up the street toward the bus stop. That would be good enough to start with. Exchanging just one simple pleasantry for the entire day must be seen as a positive step forward for them, he presumed.

Wheeling up to the rows of cashier checkouts, he was gladdened to see an unoccupied one on his immediate left. At least five supermarket attendants were busying themselves with other weary morning customers along the descending parallel tills. James move over and started unloading his shopping contents onto the narrow conveyor belt. The female assistant offered him a polite nod of the head, beaming from ear to ear. Though it's merits of authenticity were questionable at best. Not several seconds had passed by before a line of people had formed behind him. James snuck a look into the trolley behind as he unpacked. A large bag of potato chips, tin of beans, a lasagna meal for one and a one litre glass bottle of “Famous Grouse” scotch whiskey. Who buys alcohol that strong at this time of day? Unless you’re looking to drown some unbearable sorrows or just plain need to book yourself in at the nearest AA centre.

Someone gave an assertive clear of the throat in the background, grabbing his attention. He looked over as a large, plump man, about mid-forties, glared back in his direction. James grinned and continued with his shopping contents.

He shovelled everything into the plastic bags spread out at the end of the counter. The checkout lady scanned each item whilst attempting intermittent small talk. “Lovely weather we’re having, sir. Hope it’s a taster of things to come for the summer.”

”Yes, it’s a good sign.” He muttered back, without raising his eyes to hers. He glanced up to the growing queue next to him. A band of noisy teenagers had attached themselves to the far end of the line. Other shoppers glared over, though the four of them seemed to remain oblivious to the fact.

”They say this stuff is really good for you. Taste any good?”

James, distracted again by the commotion a few feet away, looked back at the cashier. ”Sorry, what?” He asked, frowning.

”These wheat snack bars. I’ve heard good things about them.” She continued, waving the packet in the air.

”They’re great, sure.” He replied in a deadpan manner. Her smiled disappeared at an instant as she widened her eyes in displeasure, passing it over to his outstretched hand. A tiny part of him wanted to offer up an apology of some sort but time got the better of him. With the ever expanding throng and an eerie feeling of his nerves about to flare again, he thought it best to hurry up and get out of the place pronto.

”That’ll be forty five and seventy.” She said, straight faced and now devoid of her previous charm. “Sure, that’s fine.” He responded, slipping a hand into his back pocket to pull out a credit card. The din within the line had increased in volume as he peered over one final time to observe what was going on. The queue reached back at least ten places now, with the young group now packed into it’s centre.

However, this was not the centre of his focus any longer. James squinted to the last place in the line. A woman stood slightly to the right of everybody else in plain sight, watching him. He squinted at her under the harsh store lights above. A surge of terror coursed through his body. His mother, Debbie. Dressed in her familiar white blouse and long, flowing beige skirt. Smiling at him and baring a set of crimson-stained teeth. The devoted, warm parting image of her on that fateful day when he last saw her as a child, had all but vanished. In its place, a re-creation of vile horror and evil. She stood there, frozen in that nightmarish gaze. He made out a faint look of happiness displayed on her face through the shocking visage. Once considered the dearest figure in his life, now transformed into a hideous demon of the mind, out to destroy him.

He clenched his fists in front of him, eyes shut tight. Even without his sight, a writhing swirl of tentacles and white flashes bombarded his thoughts. ”No… No… No…” He repeated under his breath, standing there motionless. ”It’s all in your head. She’s not real. Your mind playing tricks on you. That's all. Nothing more.” His breathing became laboured and rapid. He could hear the low hum of people murmuring as he tried in desperation to stay calm. ”Don’t worry. It’s a figment of your imagination. Just will it away, James.” His words sounded clearer in his head than if he had said them out loud. ”Will this away. You can do this.” He told himself.

With a intense desire to regain control of the situation, he opened his eyes. The queue had formed some kind of crude arc so as to get a better, unobstructed view of James. Numerous pairs of eyes stared at him in confused wonderment as he searched around the vicinity for the terrifying hallucination. It had gone.

”Sir, are you OK?”

The cashier's voice. Though he was not certain how long she was trying to get his attention. He looked over and gulped in alarm. His mother’s face had super imposed itself onto hers. Blood seeped from her eyes and mouth. Her skin resembling a thick, green, bloated mess. She smirked at him, exhibiting a row of stained and rotted teeth, gums blackened and diseased.

”My God!” He screamed. ”No! Please, just leave me alone. Not again!” The area erupted into a chorus of frightened shrieks and disarrayed chatter. James crumpled to the ground, his legs giving way to sheer shock and panic. As he fell back, two burly arms caught him mid-fall and supported him back to an upright position. ”Sir, what’s happened? Can you hear me?” A deep voice rumbled next to his ear.

Eyes now closed shut again, he extended a trembling hand out, pointing downwards. ”Look… Look in my jac… jacket pocket. My phone. Call... Call my wife.” The man looked down at James’s face. He was quivering upon the floor, scared to the point of almost losing his senses. He searched for the phone and pulled it out. ”Sir, can you remember your pin. I can’t gain access to it.”

”4… 5,6…. 4. Dolores… My wife.”

He punched in the corresponding digits, scoured through the menus and found her name listed. At first the number he dialled was put on call-waiting, but she answered shortly after. ”Yes.” he began. ”I’m the security guard at “Shop Right” by Creek Lane. Your husband appears to have had some type of seizure or something. I’m with him now. He’s resting on the floor.” He listened in, nodding his head as Dolores explained she was on her way right over. ”No problem. He’s in our care for now. We got an ambulance gonna be here any minute now. See you soon.”

James held a palm over his forehead. Fresh, warm beads of sweat clung to his fingertips. ”Your wife is on her way. Just relax, sir. Help is coming.”

In the disorientation of the moments flitting by, he was aware of the presence of many individuals hovering over him. A cacophony of voices rang out, though he was too focused on himself to tune into any of them. He gritted his teeth in anger. Clawing at every bit of mental authority he had left, James latched onto the grips of his mind. Creating a total blackout of everything and anything in his brain, he inhaled a deep breath, readying himself. The security guard’s soothing words of comfort as well as the din surrounding him, blended into a whirlwind of nothingness. He reached into the core of his mind’s eye, ripping it out with a lustful revenge. He exhaled, then opened his eyes.

At least a dozen foreign, unrecognizable faces met his. Looks of worry, shock, confusion and fear encompassed his peripheral fields of vision. He saw the security guard studying him whilst uttering incomprehensible words of consolation. And sneering back at him, one hand placed upon the guard’s shoulder, was a woman different from the rest. Matted, tousled brown hair. Discoloured, pulpy eyes. Speckled, rotted teeth. Wearing a white blouse and long, flowing beige skirt…

(To Be Continued)


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Hope you enjoyed this story, please look out for more on the way... (author: @ezzy)

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