The Shank

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a kind of surrealist, sci fi, experimental short story I've had in my mind for a while. I mean it's pretty different from my usual subjects but I thought it was worth a go. I guess I'll call it dreamlit.

Submitted: June 30, 2015

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Submitted: June 30, 2015



I woke suddenly, to the sound of my alarm. My wooden foot was always a surprise to me in the morning. It was internal, I expected flesh. It wasn't sore anymore at least, just awkward. Hard to walk around sometimes. Of course I'd told my friends and family it was a simple accident. That a pane of glass had fallen from a building, completely severing it. That was a total fabrication. The State and my own subconscious prevented me from telling the true, unbelievable horror that'd begotten me that night.

I had an assignment that day, nothing out of the ordinary as far as I could tell. It was in a place referred to as the Shank. Some old family in some old house had fallen behind on rates. They'd evaded the State for two months and it was my job to establish contact. It was often the case in matters like these that the criminals in question had incurred financial hardship and fled. That's what I was expecting, at least.

Now dressed in white shirt, black pants, black tie, I'd made my way to the station and found a bus to the Shank. It was a long, empty journey over barren landscape. I couldn't really say how long it was, in honesty I drifted in and out of sleep. I found it peculiar I was the only person (besides the driver) on the bus, but I didn't question it. It was a dry, bright day. Windy. I enjoyed the ride.

I got off at The Shank, to find it literally was a field. The property in question was about a half mile up some old game trail. No wonder the State couldn't get these fuckers. My shoes got pretty damn muddy on the trail. Remarkable.

Now when I got to the house it looked pretty abandoned. Windows boarded up. But it was my job to establish this. I knocked on the door. No answer. I couldn't see anything through the planks and boards over the downstairs windows. This was a big old country house though, and interestingly there was an old pickup round the back. It was my duty then to kick in the door, which wasn't hard.

The place stank like, Jesus I'm not sure. There was a hell of a lot of insect activity. It was overwhelming, death and rotten flesh ruled the air. The place was so damn dark I couldn't see anything. I tried for a lightswitch, but there was no electricity. I took a board down from a window in the hall so I could see a little bit. Man the place was a mess, furniture upheaved, broken ornaments across the floor. I heard some scuffling upstairs, someone was up there. They were coming down. I was seriously taken aback.

"Hello up there."

More scuffling. There was some tumbling, the guy'd fallen down the stairs. He was bald and was wearing some kind of dressing gown. He groaned, like an animal. I thought he was hurt. I tried to help him up naturally, but the bastard grabbed my hand and pulled me down with him. In my younger days I'd have stayed up, but my damn wooden foot just slipped and down I went. Now this motherfucker was on top of me. His skin was a bizarre color, his eyes yellow and bloodshot. He had me by the throat, his strength was unbelievable. I thought I was gonna pass out. I managed to get my hand on a brass statuette and slammed this guy in the face. He fell back with another animal groan. By this point I was aware there was another presence, an middle aged woman in the front doorway. I just about made it to my feet when she set on me. I still had the statuette and smashed her. Once, twice, three times. It didn't bother her. I made a break for it. I was freaked hard. She ran after me, the other guy was up now too. I made it out the front door, but this old bitch was fast, she tackled me and again I went down. I managed to get up before her but she bit my fucking leg.

I'm not ashamed to say I ran for it, the whole way back to the bus stop. I guess they didn't follow. I had a good hour to wait for that bus and I was on guard the whole time. When I got on the bus I put two and two together. I remembered a few acquaintances from the Agency of Health talk about people getting sick. Now this wasn't reported in the press at all, naturally, but from what I heard the disease, marked by a strange greenish tinge to the skin and a swelling to the skull, was causing a rapid decline in brain function. I hadn't heard much more than that, but I was convinced that was what I'd run into. Jesus Christ.

By the time I got home the Agency was closed. I bathed my leg and fell asleep. My dreams were filled with the days horrors. The next day I was off work. I saw my doctor, who told me I was unlikely to be infected with whatever it was the crazed woman was carrying. He gave me an injection. I still couldn't get the attack out of my head.

In the afternoon I had lunch with my cousin Emma. I was surprised when a friend of hers showed up. Emma was always a loose cannon, a kind of black sheep. I guess that's why I liked her. But the guy she showed up to the gas station with really did it. He was obviously sick. His skin was green, his head large and swelling. I almost ran. But she introduced him as Colin and to my surprise he was placid. The decrease in brain function was obvious. He was unable to speak. He just looked at the floor. It made me sick eating with him. I couldn't finish my pork chop, so I offered it to him. He just looked up, shyly. There was an innocence about him, and I felt bad for him. I put it onto his plate. He looked up at me again. I got back to talking to Emma. To my great anger Colin got up and scraped his mashed potato onto my plate. Boy I lost it. I got up and punched him. He didn't feel it. He got up and grabbed me by the throat. I knew he could've killed me right there. Luckily Emma stopped him.

The next day I was back to work. I reported my experience to my supervisor, Harburg. Harburg was furious with me. He told me my work was sloppy, I oughta got an agreement. Maybe he didn't believe me what went down. I was just glad to be back in the office. There was rarely violence inside the Agency of Finance. I knew the State was on my back though. A civil servant can't afford to slip up more than once really. I knew I was on their radar. What was more, knowing Harburg he'd want to send me back to the Shank. This was what terrified me most I suppose, the idea of going back there.

I had some routine, menial paperwork to complete in regards to a seperate case and I spent the morning on that. On my way to the cafeteria I was approached by a man I knew vaguely. He was an older man, fat and bearded with grey. He asked if I knew the best way to get to the Shank. I told him the number of the bus I'd got, but I advised him seriously against it. I told him of my ordeal two days ago. I told him it was very remote. He seemed surprised, almost laughed me off. He said maybe he'd wait until tomorrow. I told him that was a good idea, but I didn't see what difference it made if those things were out there.

Sure enough it was the next week I got the order. I was to go back to The Shank. Evaluate that same old house. Jesus I got into a state of pure anxiety. I would've walked out of my job there and then, but I knew I'd go down for desertion. Especially with my foot, I had no heart for a life on the run. I stared at my desk that whole day. Then I decided to get some advice.


I went into the Agency's Advice Bureau, a place I'd seldom bothered with but I was desperate. Now the Advice Bureaus are the most insane places you could ever see, and I'm sure you know that. A large circular room, fifty or sixy advisors from all differents creeds, faiths and philosophies. There was so much noise, desperate people chattering. I queued for the Lutheran minister, I'm not sure why. I honestly couldn't hear a word he said through the glass shield and the black family chattering to the Episcopalian beside me. I was surprised when I realized the Lutheran was the guy who'd asked me about the Shank a week before. Again, I wasn't sure what he said, I could barely hear him. But he did warn that people were getting nervous about me because I was still a single guy.

So I went home, no wiser. I was sure if I went back to The Shank I'd die, but what choice did I have?



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