A Day in Blyth

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
“Did you hear about SADS?”
“Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome.”
“What’s that supposed to be?”
“Don’t you read the news, Archie?”
Archie shrugged lamely, unable to refute his friend, Trevor.
“You really haven’t heard of it?” Trevor exclaimed. “Hundreds of our fellow men and women of all ages are dying across all of Britain, and you aren’t the least bit aware of it?”
“When you put it like that, I look like a fool,” he replied, his silken voice soft as ever.
“And a fool you are. They say that all the poor chaps died of heart attacks. Completely out of the blue. Even the most healthy bloke you meet could be dead the next day.”
“Then... what if you were next?”
“Don’t be like that, you cynical maniac. It’s always some talk of death or another with you.”
“I’m just concerned. Can’t have my mates dying on me after I just got here. Blyth is a nice place to live in.”
They walked in silence for a while, shivering in their jackets as fall slowly turned to winter. Trevor began to think about the future. Now that they were in their last year of Sixth form, Universities and his future were all he heard about. He was glad he could befriend Archie. Archie was much unlike the other boys; calm, quiet, and gentleness reflected in his grey eyes. He never worried about the future, as if Archie had none to begin with. He breathed in the salty sea air that blew commonly down West Bridge Street. Only one thing bothered him, the distant silhouette of a hooded figure. He knew everyone who lived down this road, but the jacket the figure wore was never one he had seen.
“Hey, Trevor,” Archie’s voice dropped. “Is it just me, or do you feel like we’re being followed?”
“That girl?”
“How can you tell?”
“It... was a guess. Let’s run there.” Archie subtly pointed towards an old warehouse nearby. “We’ll be able to see their face when they enter, and we could wait in ambush too.”
“Good idea. Since I’m stronger, I’ll knock that stalker senseless. You find a pipe or something so I can hit them.”
They bolted towards the warehouse. As they did, Trevor caught a glimpse of their pursuer again. A knife? Are they pulling out a knife?
Creak. Slam! Trevor turned on his phone’s flashlight and scrambled around for a weapon. He ran deep into the warehouse, searching for anything that could be of use. Boxes. All of them full of paper. All the eye could see was paper and pulp, ready to be shipped for some newspaper across the country. Trevor panicked.
“Archie! Did you find anything?”
No response.
“Archie, where are you?”
Trevor ran towards the entrance again, but as he did, he heard it creak open. The stalker was here. In a panic, Trevor turned off the flashlight and clambered atop a stack of boxes. Finding taller and taller piles to climb up, he quickly clambered far above the reach of the stalker. Or so he hoped. Looking down from his perch, he saw the stalker far below.
“Come out,” the stalker called. “I don’t have time to play games.”
It was a feminine voice that addressed them. Just like Archie suspected. The girl took off her hood. She couldn’t have been older than the boys. Even in the dark, he could see her long dark hair. If she wasn’t trying to chase them, Trevor would’ve seen her as quite beautiful.
“Hurry up and come out!”
He almost responded before remembering why he was hiding. Someone else’s arm reached out from behind her, a hood pulled over their face too.
“Just do this.” A familiar, soft voice. The man with the girl reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a matchbox.
“Yes, brother!” She pulled out a match from the box and, striking it, threw it into the warehouse, the two running out instantly. Before Trevor could understand what was happening, the whole building filled up with smoke, the fumes burning his lungs. He scrambled back down. Exiting the warehouse, he turned around and yelled, “Archie! Get out!”
“Oh? But I already am.”
Trevor spun around to see Archie, but it wasn’t his Archie. His eyes weren’t the same soft grey Trevor knew. His voice still suave, yet sinister. The girl stood behind him, matching grey eyes gleefully peering into his soul. Now that he saw them next to each other, he realized that they were identical aside from gender.
“Cerys,” Archie called to the girl. “He’s yours.”
“Thank you, brother.”
“Archie?” Trevor sputtered. “What is-”
Cerys reached up and popped off her head.
“Good night, Trevor White.”
Trevor opened his mouth to scream, but before he could, shadowy spearlike points burst out from Cerys’ neck and buried itself into Trevor’s chest. He felt no pain—only a sudden jolt, then nothing.
* * * * *
“Another tragedy hit yesterday. Teenager Trevor White was found dead outside of a burning warehouse. Autopsy suggests that he tried smoking in the warehouse when SADS struck...”
“Brother, where is our next prey?” Cerys sweetly murmured, interrupting the TV. “You’re hungry too.”
“Don’t fret. I’ll eat the next one’s soul.”
He looked at a map of Blackpool, then pointed at their new home at Nelcon Hotel.
“What a suitable place for a Dullahan,” He mused. “Cerys, did you find someone?”
“Alice Smith. Isn’t it a pretty name?”
“Alice...” a flash of images entered Archie’s mind, each showing a woman in her late thirties. Shadows seeped from his neck like steam rising from a covered pot, wrapping around him until his features appeared more aged.
“Brother, let me do it. You look too much like that model I ate months ago.”
“Do I?” he grinned, “Go ahead, Cerys. You haven’t hunted in a while, have you?”
He hugged his sister one more time before she left, she too now aged in her early thirties. Then he laughed. Laughed at the stupidity of humans.
“To think mortals still brush off our stories.”
He waited there for a few more hours —Cerys always worked fast— before a familiar *ding* came from his phone. The Dullahan smiled. It was time for his next meal.