By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
(Something a bit different this week. Read only the bold text, ignoring the italics, then when you get to the end, start again at the beginning and read through it again, but only reading the italics the second time.)
Mike watched the tip of the hoodie as it crested above the pot noodle stand. His heart lumped a couple of times as it missed a few beats. Not another one he thought. Jason browsed the garishly coloured snacks on the shelves, shaking his head at the additives and sugar each contained. If his body was a temple, he certainly wasn’t going to be filling it with prostitutes. He edged along the counter to the panic button. At a snails pace, he pushed his hand below the lip of the surface, his finger trembling as it just touched the garish red plastic. He paused his aisle roaming and smiled. It didn’t sound right but he could use that for his art project. He ran a finger along the bottles, their shiny plastic reflecting the lights into tiny UFO trails. He looked out through the building length window. The only other inhabitant of the petrol station was an elderly man struggling to get the petrol cap off his ageing Rover. He would be next to worthless if anything kicked off. Damn it. It was always the way. He shivered and wrapped his grey jacket around him more tightly. He was glad it had a hood, this chill or bug or whatever it might be was really getting to him. He caught a sight of the attendant through the cans of Pringles. Six times the place had been turned over this year and it always happened when it was dead. Well, Mike thought, no doubt the little shits keep watch and choose their moment. He was looking through the window with a far away glaze to his eyes. Jason thanked his lucky stars that he didn’t have to work a job like that. He knew he would probably start hacking into his wrists with that razor again. Thankfully, that was a long time ago. He wouldn’t get like that again. Mike glanced back to ascertain where the roaming youth was now and jolted as he found himself looking into the depths of the hood. The boy’s mouth was drawn in an ugly grimace, the edges drawing up into his cheeks in a way that made Mike think of the Batman villain Joker. He decided to give up his hunt for something to eat and just pick up a packet of cigarettes instead. He moved to the counter and waited, the attendant still miles away. Jason wondered whether to cough. His phone vibrated in his pocket. He frowned, knowing it would be Teresa. She never got the hint. He placed one hand on the counter and pushed his other into his pocket. The boy stood on the other side of the counter, one hand upon the counter, the other hidden in his left hoodie pocket. Mike’s eyes stared at the covered hand, watching for any tell-tale sign of a sharp edge. The boy spoke. Adrenaline shot through Mike’s veins, a slight convulsion rippling through his organs and setting him trembling. He pushed the button. The attendant turned. Mike asked for a packet of Marlboro. The attendant flinched, and the world got a whole lot louder.