This is the short story which I sent to Darkfuse, and was refused. I decided there was no reason to resend it and decided to upload it here as a little tiny freebee. The reason for this is that I am not really crazy about this in it’s current form. This is actually the intro to a much longer story that was just rearrenged for the purpose of sending it to Darkfuse. But when I upload this here, then I can’t use it in any other shape or form with any publisher. So I am going to finish the long story that this story is a part of, and upload that here as well, for free. Both as text and as a downloadable kindle version. This short version is edited by the lovely Mrs Ellis. Thank you!
The Sum of Charlie by Idun Mars.
Charlie didn’t know what the hell had possessed him to grab the kid and run. He had just scoped her up and kept going, held a hand over her mouth and ignored the sharp pain as the brat bit his palm. And now, here he was, hiding in the alley next to what looked like an abandoned diner. His lungs protested every time he took a breath, pushed to exhaustion from sprinting for this long with extra baggage.
The kid was sobbing softly in the dark, and Charlie looked over at the dark silhouette and held out his grimy, bloody hand where the kid had bitten him. ”Look at what you did, you little shit,” he muttered sourly. ”What is wrong with you? I’m trying to save you,” Charlie added, but he was just met with silence and a sniffle.
”Shit,” he whispered to himself, slumping back against the rough brick wall. What had he been thinking taking this kid? If Jack or Ramone found him, he wouldn’t even be able to lie his way out of it. He might have had a chance alone, but this, this was gonna get them both in deep shit.
”Wh-what about that other girl?” the kid whispered in the dark, ”She had blonde hair.”
”I know,” Charlie whispered back, ”There wasn’t time to get her too.” He didn’t have to look at the kid to read the horror in her childish face. He was about to tell her how she was the lucky one when they heard a car door slam out on the road. Cold panic prickled under his skin as he heard Jack’s voice yell, ‘They went this way.’
Charlie grabbed the kid’s arm so hard it would probably bruise, and as she opened her mouth to protest he clasped his hand over her mouth and hissed, ”Be really fucking quiet.” Looking around in the back of the building he saw the basement window to what must have once been the kitchen. With no time to find another place to hide, he wrapped his arms protectively around the kid and made a mad roll through the rotten window frame into the unknown of the dark basement. Charlie yelped softly as his back hit the stove and they rolled down on the concrete floor. He tightened his grip around the kid and scrambled to his feet to get out of the unseeing eye of the window. Hunkering against a large industrial fridge, he pulled the trembling girl as tightly to him as he could.
He wanted to cower his head and close his eyes until the fear subsided, but something wouldn’t let him. He had to be alert, he had to know when to run if they came in here. He could feel the girl tremble against him, not that he blamed her, his own hands were clammy and his heart racing. When he heard Jack by the window and saw the glow of a flash light searching over the stove and out into the kitchen, Charlie had to bite down a breathy whimper.
”This place is a fucking death trap,” the man with Jack said. Charlie could imagine Jack’s scowl, he never did like hearing anyone’s opinion but his own.
”Are you down there Charlie? I promise I won’t hurt you,” Jack called out. ”I’m gonna count to ten, and then you come out. One, two…”
Charlie’s hand spasmed as Jack started his countdown. He wanted to believe Jack, but he knew better. Jack would hurt him, that much was sure.
”Oh well,” Jack called as he finished counting. ”Too bad kiddo, ’cause I could have answered all your questions. Guess now you will never know.” Jack waited for a little while, ”Your name ain’t even Charlie, you know that right? All you gotta do is give me the kid and I’ll tell you your name, and where your family is.”
Charlie held the kid even closer. He really wanted to know, but he was not gonna give this girl back to those people. He had been with them for as long as he could recall, and he knew all to well what happened to the kids who had been unfortunate enough to catch Jack’s eye.
”I will find you, you little bastard. And you’re gonna regret this. I will make sure you will beg for mercy through your broken teeth you little shit…make no mistake!” Jack growled as he kicked the wall outside. ”You know what Charlie? if you tell anyone, you are in as much trouble as me. You’re my accomplice, kiddo. My angel of sin. Helping to satisfy man’s deepest darkest desires,” Jack laughed. ”Always my good boy.”
Charlie’s head was spinning. He could just step out into the light. Jack would eventually forgive him, Jack would punish him too, but he would recover, and – What the hell was he thinking? He had done this because he saw no way out. There was this, and there was death. He didn’t know where to go, but he knew he couldn’t stay with Jack.
”Come on man, maybe they aren’t down there.” The other man said.
”Alright,” Jack sighed, ”Go back to Ramone and tell him to pack up shop. I will deal with the buyer, and set something up. Don’t worry we’ll figure something out.”
Charlie sat in the dark waiting for the footsteps to go away, and even then he waited for what seemed like hours before he let go of the kid and let himself breathe freely. ”I think, I think they’re gone now,” Charlie whispered with a relieved smile. Carefully, he crawled out from their makeshift hiding spot, ”Come on.”
To his horror, the girl took his hand, and he looked down at the grimy kid in the yellow summer dress. ”I wanna go home.” She said softly.
He bit his lip, ”So do I”