The Runner Part 1: The Cookie Jar
Warning: This short fictitious story contains mature content. It is neither intended for young readers or to offend anyone.
This will take roughly 7 minutes to read.
“But my husband is dead.”
The woman’s thin voice echoed into the dark summer night lingering beyond her porch.
“Open it Katie.”
Her tall, well-groomed visitor bristled as the words left him, his tone urgent. The floorboards groaned beneath his shifting weight as he lifted an envelope towards her. Katie’s green eyes – draped with ruined mascara – voiced the confusion her lips couldn’t utter. Her hesitant hand plucked the parcel from its messenger.
“Look,” the man’s defeated gaze floated downwards, a length of wavy, auburn hair dangled before his sun kissed face, “I was his business partner for 20 years. We were… almost inseparable… but that envelope, with your name on it, is all he willed me…”
Her slender fingers fumbled to cut the slit while he spoke. Her clouded mind raced. Her chest knotted. She hadn’t heard a word. And neither of them heard the car parking across the street.
When Katie’s trembling hand produced a sheet of paper, her hungry eyes scanned every inch with haste. Her heart thundered at the recollection of her husbands jagged blue pen strokes:
“I loved your cookies.”
The letter slipped from her quivering palm like a leaf falling to earth. Her bewildered expression jolted to the man before her. A car door slammed shut in the distance.
“Tom,” she gasped, “I never bake – ”
The ringing in Katie’s ears drowned her scream as Tom’s chest exploded onto her pale face; the warmth of his blood draped her like a wet blanket. The corpse lunged at her – eyes frozen open – throwing the petite woman hard against the porch floor.
“DON’T MOVE,” a gruff voice barked from the lawn.
Menacing footsteps thudded up her stairs. Tom’s innards oozed through her black sweater. The metallic scent of blood made her choke. Desperation made her squirm.
Katie slithered from beneath Tom, jumped to her feet, and scrambled inside towards her dark, narrow hallway. Her frantic breaths masked the footsteps rumbling behind her. The yellow glow of her kitchen lights took her in seconds before a set of long, chipped fingernails dug into her blonde hair and forced her to the floor. The hard, grey tile cracked her spine.
Stars filled her vision as hairy knuckles pushed into her teeth.
“DON’T YOU FUCKING RUN!” His words seemed to come from another room.
She writhed breathlessly. Her head spun. Her mouth burned. Warmth dribbled from the corner of her lips. Katie whimpered.
Her stomach erupted in pain as the attacker’s pointed dress shoe thrust her across the floor. The woman’s cabinets announced her arrival with a displeasing crack. Without a thought Katie flipped around and tried to pull herself upwards, yet her nails merely carved into the smooth wood.
Her forehead bounced from the door’s sharp edge. She blinked away something thick and warm from her eyes as her torso slapped the ground. Flopping onto her back, she stared up at him through blood-soaked, blurry eyes. The round-faced man, in a glossy black suit, heaved above her. Rushed, shallow breaths ran through her cracked lips.
Silent tension hung in the air like fog.
“W-what… d-do… you want?” The words floated from her lips with the delicateness of candle smoke while the kitchen swirled around her beaten, slender face.
Her chest caved in.
“We did business with your husband for years…” he oozed, inching towards her, “he never took a dime… all so we wouldn’t touch you.”
Katie wheezed like an old car.
“That was then…”
She screamed as he leaned in – his rancid breath hot on her lips.
“Now we’re going to make a mint off you…”
Katie rolled over, thrust her hands onto the edges of the door, and pulled with all her strength. Her skin boiled as his hands calmly wrapped around her ankles. Then the sound of wood against bone filled her ears as the door exploded from its hinges and planted itself into her nose. She broke into soundless, gasping sobs. Her stinging head came to rest on her shoulder while she slumped to the floor.
It wasn’t long before the cold tiles began to move beneath her. The rough fingernails bit her skin as he pulled her towards the hallway. Her empty eyes fell on the gaping, overstuffed cupboard. And then she saw it.
Katie thrashed her feet – his grip loosened for a fleeting moment – then shoved herself towards the open cabinet with a growl. Before his hands returned to her ankles, her fingers grasped the white porcelain jar labelled “Cookies” in black marker. He tugged hard against her tender skin, forcing the rectangular container from her hands.
Surprise froze him as it shattered against the floor. Shock stripped the breath from her lungs.
Amongst the wreckage lay a black handgun.
She lunged for the weapon. His hands scrambled up the back of her sweater. Hers clutched the grip. She turned.
The man’s blood fell like rain. What was left of his face splashed onto the ground. Despite the contents of her stomach surging up her throat, Katie slipped from beneath him and raced for the door.
The crisp night air took her in. The sound of a car sputtering to life cut the silence as she sprinted down the sidewalk. A church’s illuminated crucifix – some hundred meters ahead – caught her eyes. The glow of approaching headlights stretched her shadow forward. Cool wind stung the wounds on her face. The nearing engine’s roar filled her ears. Concrete nipped her bare feet.
And the church doors opened.
Read The Runner Part 2: House of God here!
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