Never Let Go

Posted: November 6, 2012 in Flash, Published, Stories

The October Flash Challenge on the Aphelion-Webzine was very unpleasant.

The challenge was to write a about a capable, likeable character coming up against their worst fear and losing. No Happy ending, no riding off into the sunset. 

My story ‘Never Let Go’ won the challenge but left a bad taste in my mouth. So, I wrote a follow-up story to right the wrongs, or at least to allow revenge. Is this was American’s call Closure.

Never Let Go

Dean swims up to consciousness like a drowning man through murky water. Opening his eyes takes all he’s got, brings him nausea and pain. His head feels sticky against the headrest. He sees the street lights flash by through a rain streaked window, blurred and doubled. Kayleigh is crying in the back-seat.

“Shut that little bitch up!” A man’s voice, unfamiliar, angry.

Dean tries to turn his head but the movement pushes him back under.

###

The doorbell rang just as Dean took his coffee mug to the sink. Susan was beside Kayleigh at the table, breakfast half eaten in front of them as Susan tested Kayleigh on her spelling words.

“I’ll get it,” said Dean.

The hallway was bright with the morning sun. Dean could see a female figure, blurred through the frosted glass of the front door.

“Wendy?” Said Dean, surprised to see his new co-worker at his home.

Wendy’s blue eyes had dark circles, she seemed nervous. She opened her mouth to speak, eyes darting to the left. A figure, unkempt hair, a beard, swung around from his hiding place beside the door and hit Dean between the eyes with the butt of a gun.

###

“You got it?”

Dean couldn’t look at the guy’s face. All he could see was the gun, the cavernous, gaping hole where the bullet would come.

“Create the loans, transfer them to the business accounts. Transfer the money from those accounts to the offshore accounts. Delete the transaction history,” said Dean, repeating back the instructions. Kayleigh sobbed loudly as Susan tried to comfort her, wrapping their daughter in her arms and hugging her close. Susan’s own face was red and puffy, her eyes wet

“Remember, if Wendy so much as thinks you’re trying something, they’re dead,” said the Goon, waving the gun at Dean’s wife and child

Dean nodded and picked up his briefcase.

###

Dean completed the last transfer, hands shaking. Wendy watched beside him as the completion message came up on the screen.

“If he so much as touches-”

“Shut-up!” Said Wendy, her voice a terse hiss. It was the most she had said to him all morning. “Now the transaction histories.”

Dean opened a new form and rubbed his forehead.

“That’s a humdinger!” Said Ericsson from Savings as he passed their desk, pointing at the growing bruise Dean was massaging.

“Walked into a door,” Dean said, his eyes pleading the man to stop, to make conversation, ask questions, anything.

“We’re kind of busy here,” said Wendy, her hand on Dean’s shoulder, fingers squeezing painfully hard.

“Sure, sure,” said Ericsson with a conciliatory shrug. “Be more careful next time, man.”

Dean nodded as Ericsson turned and walked away. Wendy’s painful grip relaxed.

“The transaction histories,” she prompted.

###

The shakes got bad again as they turned into the drive. Dean tried to stifle a sob, stifle the fear. “If he’s hurt them-”

Wendy gave him a hard look. “It’s nearly over. Keep it together.”

Dean could hear Kayleigh’s whimpers as soon as he opened the front door, audible over the TV noise of cartoons. He followed them to the family room. The Goon had his arm around Kayleigh as she sat beside him on the couch. Susan was slumped across the other side. Her nose a bloody mess, her bruised eyes swollen shut and her clothes torn.

Dean was barely aware of the growl building from inside as he lunged forward. The Goon was faster, more practised at violence. The gun hit Dean in the guts, took away his breath. He fell to his knees and tried desperately to suck air back into his lungs. Kayleigh screamed just as the gun crashed down on the back of his skull.

###

Noise reaches him through the static. Tires on a rain slicked road and wind-shield wipers. He’s so tired, almost slips back under again but he hears voices and knows they’re important even though he doesn’t remember why.

“You said, we’d let them go,” says Wendy

“You dumb-. They’ve seen my face. They know you’re with me.”

“You said no one would get hurt.”

“Hey, newsflash, I lied. Now shut-up!”

Road noise turns to the crunch of gravel, the ride gets bumpy, rocks Dean’s head. Black static takes him again.

###

There’s cold air against his face through the open window, the smell of water. Dean tries to open his eyes as the car rocks, someone getting out.

Incoherent words, arguing, a piercing scream and a meaty thump. Then the car rocks again. Dean turns his head, blinks away the red smear in his eyes. The Goon is pushing Wendy’s limp body into the driver’s seat beside him. Blood is running down the side of her face.

“Murder, suicide,” the Goon says, his voice quiet. He’s singing it, over and over. “Murder, suicide. Murder, Suicide,” and the man is grinning like a lunatic.

The door slams, the car moves, tires on gravel, accelerating. A jolt throws Dean against the seat belt, water splashes his face through the window. The shock of cold as the car fills up revives him. Dean raises his head, vision is clearing, thoughts are coherent. If he can get the seatbelt undone he can get out, escape, make it to shore.

There’s a sob from the back-seat.

Kayleigh sits there, her mother slumped by her side unmoving, the water is already around her little waist and it’s freezing. She can’t swim, she’ll never make it. It’s over.

Dean stops trying to undo the seat belt and reaches back instead, takes his daughter’s hand.

“Close your eyes, baby,” he says. “ I’m here.”

The black water is rushing in now, sucking the car down, he sees the panic in her face just before it rises over her.

Down in the dark, Dean can feel them sinking deeper and deeper. The cold makes him numb but he can still feel Kayleigh’s hand in his own. He will never let go.

THE END

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  1. […] is the following story to ‘Never Let Go‘. WARNING: […]

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